Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Ruminations on collective change

What if there was a massive public health threat with big implications for all of humanity, and almost everyone took it seriously? What if local, state, and (most) federal governments bent over backwards to quickly ramp up production of the technology needed to solve the problem while media focused on sharing the skills and habits needed to solve the problem? What if people listened to the scientists and followed their advice, even if it meant dramatic changes in activity, lifestyle, and convenience? What if employers, corporations, banks, and credit unions all agreed they would do everything they could to support individuals and families through the experience? What if the dangerous behaviors that were contributing to the problem suddenly stopped or slowed all across the planet? What if people collectively navigated the economic shift and reorganization that would result from these healthy changes in behavior, looking after one another and remembering to ask questions like, "how do we feed the children"?

If we can do this with COVID-19, we can do this with climate change. We have the collective capacity to kiss the extraction economy—with its objectification of humans, other animals, and planet—goodbye.

Photo pixabay/dimitrisvetsikas1969.

Monday, March 9, 2020

2020 State of the Ark Address

Last time I sat down to blog, I created a draft post entitled "New Depths of Agony." That was almost a year ago, and although the post had no content I think I can recall what I'd been meaning to say—my back was out, and I had never before (and have never since) experienced such pain. WOW. Luckily, that is but a distant memory today. I'm grateful for my partner F (remember, he once said I could have permission to blog about him so long as I used a different initial to name him each time he came up). He literally picked me up out of the bathtub when I first experienced what we think was a herniated disc, and then handled all cooking/cleaning/shuttling/animal care/kid care for the weeks when I was basically a medicated, weepy heap of self-pity. Whaddaguy.

In the year since, I've experienced mostly good things:

After my knee surgery I made a successful recovery, to the point where I am pain-free, most days. My surgeon thought I might need a total knee replacement, but due to the wonders of modern technology (electric-assist bicycle) I've been able to bring healthy, low-impact exercise back into my life and regain muscle strength without eroding what cartilage I have left. (For those who don't know, I was hit by a sledder 15 months ago. I ruptured two ligaments, dislocated and fractured my patella, tore a 3 cm chunk off my femur, and shredded my meniscus.)  I am so relieved and grateful—to my surgeon, to the community that came together around me to support with rides, meals, and financial contributions, and to my body for rebounding so quickly.

My last few posts on this blog were about mortality and finances, both heavy on my mind immediately before and after surgery—I am happy to report that all is well on both fronts! Life expectancy looks good (I'm 40, feeling hearty and hale and hoping to hit 108) and I am delighted to report that my debt-reduction plan is going swimmingly despite a few road blocks (rotting porch, cat emergency).

Tiger had a complicated surgery for a urethral blockage in February, followed by a 10 day hospitalization. His super-human vet said it was the hardest procedure she'd ever done and she honestly thought she'd be calling me to say he'd died, or needed to be put down. He lived, recovered, and is now feeling like himself again! Milo, his brother (pictured), continues to astound me with his splendiferousness . . . to the point where I can no longer say which side of the dog/cat divide I fall on. Maybe I AM a cat person!

Brodie has continued his extraordinary rebound from death's door (December 2017, when he had wasted away from 70 to 37 pounds and when our care team had given up hope of a cure). He is now a slim-but-healthy 60 pounds, and thriving on a combination of insulin for his diabetes, Vetoryl for his Cushing's disease, and an assortment of palatable foods for his intermittent anorexia. He's happy, playful, and shiny! Not only that, but his blindness reversed 100%—he went from cloudy-eyed and bumping into things to 100% normal within a few months of starting insulin therapy. I used to think he wouldn't live to see his eighth birthday, and now we are happily planning his tenth. Clover remains cheerful and rotund, and Russell—at six—is finally starting to have rare, fleeting moments where he acts like a grownup dog.

What can I say—two out of three Jackson-Jones rabbits hate humans. Is it a mini-rex thing? Is it a nature vs. nurture thing? Is it because they have each other, and therefore no need of me? Is it because I was too busy to cuddle them every minute of their bunnyhoods? I've let go of self-blame around this, and instead embraced giving them a rich habitat where they can enjoy solitude and engage in natural behaviors. They have about 200 square feet inside the greenhouse, with burrows, ramps, hay bales, ladders, crates, nooks and crannies . . . plus about 50 square feet of grass outside to nibble on.

Dahlia and Rosie Cotton are thriving at Ballydidean Farm Sanctuary, where I have them boarded. The Sanctuary is just a couple miles from my home and the proprietors are absolutely wonderful. The girls have a comfortable paddock with rotating access to pasture and two handsome old alpacas as pasture-mates. I have even been able to let go of my death-grip on the buy-a-farm dream, knowing that even if I stay here in the Ark for the foreseeable future and put my pasture longings to rest my cows will be safe, happy, and close.

Arrietty, likewise, is thriving in her new spot. She's still care-leased out to a woman on the Olympic Penninsula, about two hours (including a ferry ride) from here. She's a companion to Zoe, a beautiful grade Appaloosa mare. The two of them are wonderful friends, and my beloved trimmer Ali lives nearby and is therefore able to offer frequent hoof care for Arrietty—the best thing for her tricky locking stifles. Ali is a mule-whisperer who knows all the best places to scratch Etty and all the sweet nothings to whisper in her marvelous ears, so I trust that Arrietty is getting all sorts of love despite being so far from home.

My oldest daughter turned twenty last month. 20! Wow. It still surprises me to write it. She's doing a fine job adulting in San Francisco, where she's somehow (barely) managed to feed and house herself despite the city's high cost of living. My middle girl is a freshman in high school, where she's excited to be learning Spanish and dreaming ahead to a possible career in medicine, veterinary or otherwise. My youngest is home sick today but in general she's well—taking drum lessons, making fashion statements, and drawing really cool people and characters. We started an after-school art club together—if you're local and between the ages of 12 and 19, come check us out at Create Space Langley on Mondays!

I still love it . . . so freaking much! My job with the Whidbey Institute has become increasingly complex, increasingly meaningful, and increasingly educational. I am learning and growing so much through what I do and who I do it with. My favorite thing at work lately has been a learning journey around unpacking white privilege. We are a self-organized organization using Holacracy as our operating system and we're also doing a lot of work together on building a resilient culture with good personal and interpersonal skills. I feel like working at the Whidbey Institute is a graduate-level education on Humaning for the 21st Century.

I got this house in October 2016, too. My five-year plan at the time was to fix it up, sell it, and buy acreage. I'm not sure that's my plan any more. I've become fond of this house, and though it will be too big for me one day it's a really fine place to raise a family. I've planted trees and flowers, done enough low-key remodeling to be comfortable, and done the big repairs that were sorely needed. I've turned the greenhouse and part of the yard into a rabbit wonderland, made a super cool fence for my dogs, and come to know and love my neighbors. My new plan is to hold onto this place—maybe use it as a rental one day—and think about acreage when my nest is empty. There's also the schoolbus option: my youngest really wants to live in a converted bus, and I can imagine living that way with her in a few years when she's the last child left at home. We shall see! In the meantime, it feels really good to just BE. After moving over two dozen times in my lifetime and four times between 2014-2016, I'm ready to be still.