Archive for April, 2011

Alone, Alabama

The call came at 10:30 Thursday night. I had been trying to forget I worked for FEMA. I had been studiously ignoring the tornadoes that had been ravaging the country because I didn’t want to have to make this decision: accept a month long deployment or stay in Falmouth with Mirra and Alex.

FEMA pays incredibly well; the hourly wage isn’t much, but then there’s the per diem and the massive amounts of overtime. I was looking at making as much in a month as I could make the entire summer. Or staying with Mirra and Alex and really feeling like we were getting started on our trip.

I sought advice. Sartre says that you only seek advice from people you know are going to tell you what you want to hear. Everyone told me to go. It’s an incredible opportunity, they said. It’s a lot of money, which you could all use.

I made the wrong choice, but sometimes you have to make the wrong choice to know what the right one is. If you asked me what makes me the most interested in community I would have said ‘not being alone.’ Community offers you the choice to not be alone when you don’t want to be alone. To not do, alone, things you don’t want to do alone. And here I am, alone. In two days Mirra and Alex are going to be together in that beautiful house and I’m here all by myself.

I’m going to stick it out as long as I can, but I can’t say how long that will be. All I want to do is to go home. And, as weird as it is to stay, Mirra and Alex are my home right now.

I’m here in my hotel room. Tomorrow we’re shipping out to form a DRC in nowheresville Alabama. We don’t know what we’ll find; disaster or a community that is perfectly fine. We might be overrun, we might be bored to death. We might be set up in a parking lot with no shade and no bathrooms, or we might be in a nice over-airconditioned building. Disaster management is all guesswork and piece-meal.

I’m going to bed now, because I have to get up at 5.30.

Everything I do that is moving towards this trip makes me happy and everything I do that moves me away makes unhappy. I don’t think I’m going to be happy until I’m on a plane, headed home.

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coming together?

i woke this morning hearing spring birds singing and chirping outside. the window was open and cool fresh air filed the room. i was so cozy and worm under the covers next to Gwendolyn. it seems so natural but unreal at the same time that i am here. it feels epic but i guess everyone feels that way when something is happening to one for the first time. it’s already happening differently then we planned. but, that’s how it goes. i like it. i knew it would be like that and it’s exciting to start adjusting to adjusting. it’s great.

so we got up, had breakfast and went to drop Gwendolyn off at the airport. the airport?! were the three of us not all gathering here to spend the summer together and work? well, Gwendolyn got called by FEMA to go help with the tornado disaster in Alabama. so, she’s gone for at least a week and I’m here for two days before Alex comes. we thought Alex may not be getting here for another two weeks and that is why Gwendolyn said yes to the FEMA people; since we were not all going to be together. ah, what a whirl wind of change.
we got to see each other for a bit at least. I miss her again.

i love our room and this house, it is so beautiful and fabulous and fun! all i need now is to start feeling like I’m here. since i was in Boston I’ve felt like I’m dreaming. when will this all feel real! I’m insanely happy and care free. (though i do have cares.) it must be spring and the spring of an adventure in the spring of ower lives. Shesh-cabeesh, it’s all so springy!

mirra

Here I am

so, here i am after three weeks. i was visiting my home in WI, and being very busy trying not to be too lonely. it was a shock to go from community life to basically just me. i found myself calling my Ionian family all the time in order not to loose myself in depression. i noticed how little people touch each other out here. there’s no one i can throw my arms around, no one to go sit next to and talk to. then again, my home in WI is very secluded; a converted log barn in twenty acres of wisconsin swamp and woods.

i had decided before i went home that i would get some violin lessons and see how much i could learn in three weeks while practicing the way i thought people should practice. you know- an hour or two a day, attention to technique, going over the hard spot in a song instead of going back and playing the whole thing again, practicing slowly, etc. it all went really well, but i realized i was falling in love with violin. so now i have to find a violin to play. (oh, the pain and misery of life.)

i’m visiting my sister Arhia in Boston until friday afternoon. she took me on an adventure out and i was well amazed and inspired. i was looking around so much i think that every time we went to cross a street i either was left behind, while goggling at the buildings, or i charged into the street and back again, while goggling at the buildings or flowers or people or pigeons or statues or whatever the heck. but it was all fun. even getting psychologically and socially confused into giving away five bucks was interesting. later some girls gave us free drinks they were promoting. what goes around comes around.

i continue to feel like i’ve gotten into someone else’s life.
how am i here and so happy!
this friday i head to Falmouth to start my summer with Gwendolyn and Alex.

weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!! i’m the luckiest person ever!

mirra

Across the country in twelve hours

This picture would be so much better if I got photoshop to work

So I left Ionia at 10am Sunday morning and arrived here around 9pm tonight. I think I’ve been awake for about 30 hours, but my mathematical skills slipped away a few hours ago. That means I’ve probably been over tipping, so it should make someone happy.

Turns out it was Easter Sunday yesterday- Anchorage was pretty much deserted. I hung out with Cathy and Barry for a while, wandering around, getting snacks for my trip. I went to the Barnes and Nobles (because Titlewave was closed, damn them!) and discovered that paperbacks are far more expensive than I remember them being. That’s okay, though, because the cheapest books in the Barnes and Nobles are the classics (because they don’t have to pay the copywrite?) and so I picked up Ovid’s Metamorphosis, a rambling work that was interesting until I got too sleep deprived to understand it- it’s all over the place; Ovid changes subject, I swear, in the middle of a sentence- and then I switched to The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume 1; an incomplete complete anthology. I have this huge thing for Conan Doyle. Eventually, I just sat there on the plane, my eyes glazed. This not being able to sleep anywhere but my bed thing is terribly annoying. Especially since it takes my brain a few days to figure out I have a new bed.

So I made yummy, yummy mandu (wonton, dumplings, whatever you want to call them) for my trip, and sauteed greens and steamed broccoli, and then bought a loaf of bread so I could have sauteed greens sandwiches and I left the container with all my food in it on the first plane! I ran all the way back to the terminal when I found out, not an easy task, considering I was carrying a backpack, a bag, a pillow, a ukulele, a sweater and a coat. When I got there I discovered that maintenance had cleaned out the plane, my lunch with it. I was forced to spend ten dollars on a falafel wrap with far too few vegetables in it. It was that or a salad and considering how messed up my belly gets when I fly I didn’t think raw salad would be a good idea.

Other ridiculous things about me flying; it takes me five minutes to go through the security thingy. Not because they’re slow; because I am. Everyone else zips through and there I am, pulling off my shoes, rummaging through my bags, going as fast as I can, enduring the glares of the people behind me. I’m like this at cash registers too; it always takes me so long to put my change and my wallet away that the cashier has already started on the next customer and they’re both standing there waiting for me to leave. How does everyone else do it?

I prefer the window seats when I fly. I love looking down on the world, both because it’s beautiful and also because I get kind of anxious about it and want to know where the plane is in relationship to everything else at any moment.

When we took off, at nine-thirty, from Anchorage, the sun was just setting, and the mountains that rise over the city were stark black and white; the bay reflected the pale blue of the sky, except where it was creased by dark waves, and the lights were coming on, a constellation below me. I kept the window open and peaked out as we flew, and even though the night grew, the cloud below us were lit, somehow, enough that I could see their swirling forms and every now and then a mountain, jagged rock cutting through the snow that covered it, piercing the blanketing clouds.

We landed in St. Paul just around sunrise, chasing the sun to speed his ascent; the ground there was mottled, dark gray and light gray, like someone had painted camo on the landscape. I still don’t know what caused it; on the next flight I gave my window seat to a young child and he got to see the cause while I enjoyed the roominess (comparative) of the aisle seat.

When we got to Detroit it was pouring rain and the clouds didn’t let up all the way to Boston; when I checked, sliding the shades up a tiny bit, the whiteness of the clouds blinded me. I spent that flight dozing and listening to the conversation of two men behind me, single serving friends. They were talking about how they had both wanted to do something (architecture and engineering respectively) but then when they got into it they realized that actually that wasn’t what they wanted. They talked about books titled things like ‘Your Inner Millionaire’ and I wondered why any one would want that much money. Maybe that was the direct influence, though, of looking through the Skymall catalogue; I think it’s enough to make anyone swear a vow of poverty.

And then I arrived in Boston; I’m always so happy to get to Boston, so happy to see the familiar city, and of course my mother, and my brother. We went to Super 88, a rather disappointing Asian market (no sarabachis! no burdock!), and from there to delicious Indian food.

The next few days are going to be hard- but fun. I can already see culture shock and Ionia-withdrawal looming. And I’m faced with the enormous task of cleaning out all my old junk, tossing some of it (it’s so hard- especially fabric scraps; I love to hold onto fabric scraps for as long as possible) and getting the room ready for us. But getting reacquainted with living here, seeing my old friends and old haunts, and trying to start my new macrobiotic regime… it’s going to be fun.

Please forgive me if any of this is addled; I am over tired. I’ll fix it tomorrow.

-Gwendolyn

Leaving Home

It’s an hour (knowing Ionians, it’s probably more like two) from when I leave and I’ve been trying to figure out if I’m excited or nervous or what. A little of everything, I think. I’m not afraid I’m making the wrong choice, though. No matter what happens I know I’ll always have a home here, and having a home where you’re happy, although maybe not completely fulfilled… it’s amazing.

I got up early this morning because I didn’t want to miss any of these last moments. I took a bath in the outdoor tub (now I’m going to have to take baths in a little room- how unpleasant!) and made a bag to carry all the things on my airplane, and took a last walk to the beach. Everything I do reminds me of the past; my first walk, with Connor and Claire, sewing the baby’s quilt, how when I got here I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to take baths outside.

Coming to Ionia has been life changing for me. I’ve learned so much- about communities, about macrobiotics, but mostly about myself. I’ve connected with people in ways I don’t know that I ever had before, and I’ve gained so much. I don’t think I leave any regrets behind. Things that I would do differently now, oh yes, but not regrets.

I told Bruce yesterday that I don’t consider this me leaving; just me taking a long trip. I’ve packed a box of things for when I come back, I’ve left fragments of my heart all over the place.

For all the Ionians who read this; I love you. I consider you home.

Gwendolyn

Hawai’i

Me and my baby sister Juliet.

Me and my baby sister Juliet.

I am in Hawai’i!!!!!

Damn, is it amazing here!

This is me and my baby sister; we are hiking through a bamboo jungle on our way to a swimming hole with a waterfall! It was paradise! We swam around, got under the waterfall, dived off some rocks! And hiking through the Bamboo! Damn, that was awesome! I’ve never seen anything like that before. This is the coolest thing I’ve done so far!

I also went snorkeling this morning with my uncle John, in probably the best place on Maui! (sorry no pics) But it was awesome!  We saw all kinds of colorful fish, a very creepy dangerous Eel, a Squid which John startled by accident, it got scared and spat up a bunch of ink! There were so many fish, it was amazing!

I am on vacation (with all of this!) and I still find myself thinking all the time, about what this or that community is like, what kind of job am I going to

Paradise!!!

get in Falmouth? How big our tent should be? Anything, and everything having to do with our walkabout.

Also I am thinking of my friends, Mirra and Gwendolyn mostly, but all the others too.

I recently got in touch with an old friend, we haven’t talked in five years or so. He called me up because he heard about what I am doing, communitywalkabout. He was super supportive! And he is thinking of starting a community! That was pretty awesome to hear! He also encouraged us to do fund raising with  kickstarter.com (look it up it’s cool). We were already considering it, but he pushed the idea through, so we will let you know when our video is done! He also invited us to stay with him, which will be great!

Mostly it was awesome to get so much encouragement!

Alex

Seaweeding

Today we went seaweeding, Aaron, Ted, Cathy, baby Michael and I and Eliza’s cooking class. Ionia usually goes every year around this time; it’s the lowest tide in the spring and so the best time to harvest. I went last year after having just been in Ionia a little while, and so it seems fitting that I went this year shortly before leaving, and with a whole bunch of people I could introduce it too, kind of like passing on a torch- or something. My liking for seaweed has changed dramatically in the last year, too. I used to really dislike it and now I like it- sometimes. The first time I ever liked it was cooked fresh, right after seaweeding.

We got up at five in the morning, before it was light and left just at six, arriving in Homer around eight. Because the best places to go seaweeding are on the other side of the bay from Homer, we had to take a little boat, the Beowolf to get there.

A forty-five minute boat ride took us to the seaweeding spot, a length of beach on which, as the tide receded, was revealed to be covered with the seaweed we had sought; alaria, dolce, and kombu. Alaria is the seaweed we usually harvest, but after the disaster in Japan, international supplies of the other two seaweeds are looking scarce, so we decided to see if we could harvest the others. The wild Alaskan kombu maybe too thick to use and we haven’t sucessfully dried the dolce (Alex tried last year), but we decided to experiment anyways.

The people in the cooking class we very excited to have an opportunity to harvest their own seaweeds.

Fields of Alaria:

Aaron and I concentrated on these more exotic seaweeds- while we worked we talked about how we were planning on drying them and which ones were the best to pick. Aaron thinks that the more we harvest the kombu the more tender it will get, because the plants will be forced to regrow their leaves every year. We also took the opportunity to check out the local fauna:

Besides the starfish I saw seals, sea otters (which can get five or six feet long- they were enormous!), sea anenomes, bald eagles, crabs:

And a colony of living sand dollars:

As if spending the morning seaweeding wasn’t tiring enough, when we got back to Ionia we had to hang it. Here’s Nancy hanging the alaria:

For the kombu we resorted to paperclips:

And three different experiments for the delicate dulse- drying on the tempcast on towels, on a wire rack, on the inside laundry line;

And now I’m exhausted.

Only five more days until I leave Ionia- and I’m just starting to feel like I’m finally here.

-Gwendolyn