The Bicycle Blender Gypsy Becomes an Entrepreneur

My gypsy days or over, at least for now.  I live in the big city of Portland and it’s no fun living on the streets here, so I’m sharing a house with two friends and rent must be paid.  Hence the humble birth of HILLS  (Happiness is Loving Living Simply.)

Fender Blender Pro Hills website and educational events will celebrate lifestyles in which enable people to have an intimate relationship with all they own, use, and live with. We don’t have to move to the country to live such a life.  One example of such a lifestyle would be to grow most of your own food in your backyard using only hand tools.  Another example would be friends or families who share an urban house.  They have a versatile pedal powered machine which can perform many household tasks.   They take turns pedaling to blend smoothies, grind grain into flour, run a washing machine and generate power for electronic devices and led lights.    One more example is my own lifestyle this past year.  I lived on a bicycle and camped in vacant lots.  Most of my meals came out of my bicycle powered blender.

In other words, we’re not talking about token gestures but radical changes that provide real alternatives for an alienated culture and a response equal to the gravity of the present environmental catastrophe.  The challenge is to live a life full of the joy of relationships with the satisfaction of knowing that you are living your life in such a way as to not exploit other living beings.

Hills is a dealer for Rockthebike.com.  This means I sell almost everything on their website.  To date I have one Rockthebike product available in Portland for rental: the Fender Blender Pro.   Rock the bike is in the forefront of the creative use of pedal power.  They manufacture several types of bicycle powered blenders and one bike, the fenderblender pro specifically made to power a blender.   Rockthebike also puts to use efficient bicycle powered generators to amplify sound system for music and all kinds of public events.   With their new one man one speaker system, one person can carry on a bicycle, a sound system, set it up in a park and play music or talk to a small crowd.  Larger festivals are enlivened by using rockthebike’s pedal powered sound systems and light displays.  Entire bands ride through countries carrying their equipment by cargo bikes and powering music on the greens of the towns they pass through with the help of enthusiastic volunteers.   Enjoy their website and YouTube channel.  If you wish to purchase a product on the RocktheBike website please contact HILLs (that’s me).  That way your purchase supports both RocktheBike and HILLS.   (Contact information is below.)

Making a business from peoples wish to live simpler may seem contradictory.    My plan is to continue to live what officially considered to be a “poverty level lifestyle” while channeling extra resources to help other to live simple happy, healthy sustainable lives.

Why pedal power?  Using the lower body to perform useful action engages the entire body in rhythmic activity.  Thus fully engaged we can relax and feel our connection to Life.  We enjoy this open feeling while using the bicycle for transportation.  Pedal power machines allow us to replace the abstraction of power from the grid with the satisfaction of bodily connection to life that we get from bicycling.  Using the powerful muscles of the lower torso is more efficient than hand work so pedal power is a happy compromise between hand labor and abstract power.

The use of power from a large central source makes us dependent on an abstract institution or corporation.  There are also large losses connected to the transmission of power over long distances.  It is probable that the time will soon come we no longer have the resources to power up anything and everything that could possibly make someone a profit or satisfy an indulgence.   Even now we no longer have the luxury of the indiscriminate use of resources because even though they may still be available the waste thus generated is profoundly interfering with the natural earth systems.

Pedal power cannot energize today’s typical house but a very modestly powered home could make do with pedal power.   Perhaps the future of pedal power is a world of less disparate differences in energy use.  The under developed world can use pedal power to live a more comfortable existence and the overdeveloped world will become less sedentary and better able to adopt to the environment.

Mark Harris

707-312-0856

bicycleblendergypsy@gmail.com

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My Life in Cooperative Community

The earth can no longer endure the luxury of each family duplicating the possessions of their neighbors. Is it really necessary for everyone to own their own house, their own television, their own car, their own everything? It certainly has not been the way mankind has lived during most of our history. How much simpler to share rather than strive to hold together a life in which each of us must strive to obtain duplicates of goods that we could share with our neighbors. I’ve lived a life of luxury because most of my life I’ve lived in a cooperative situation where I didn’t have to strive to own. For example, when I have lived at spiritual sanctuaries such as The Mountain of Attention (Adidam) or Tassajara Zen monastery, we each had our own rooms but we ate communally and shared kitchen chores. None of us had a house to maintain or any of the many complications of living separately. In return residents serve the monastery or sanctuary. Nobody gets rich under this type of arrangement, but everyone involved lives comfortably and is guaranteed a lively social life.
Why heat, cool, and maintain a whole building just for one family? Cohabiting is less expensive and more enjoyable than house ownership. Sure it’s also difficult, at times extremely frustrating, to live intimately, It’s a lot like a marriage except that you don’t always get to choose your partners. Even if you do choose who you live with you usually don’t discover their limits until you move in with them. Then not only do you discover the hidden boogie man in others but, even more shocking you discover the patterns that you habitually demonstrate that cause pain to others. . But If we value relationship more than holding on to our self-image, living with others can provide a mirror where we can see our lack of love and move into relationship on a deeper level. With each man isolated in his own castle, we tend to become obsessively self-oriented. The trouble with obsessive self-orientation is that it runs counter to reality. Science is increasingly verifying that all of life is interdependent. To be obsessively self-oriented is insanity, and it appears to be taking over the world.

Sharing food is a step above merely sharing housing. A shared meal can be a sacrament of connection, to our friends, to the earth, to sun and plants. Those sentiments are part of a verse recited before meals at Camphill Village (see the last post). After the verse of gratitude each person is invited to share what was most important to them that day. The sacredness of the meals at Camphill were further enhanced because we had grown the food. We lived with that food long before it entered our bodies. Today too often instead of a shared meal we have the grab and go meal. First we stop at the gas station to fuel our cars, then at the drive-in to fuel our bodies. Both the gas station and the drive-in keeps us on the go, so that someday we may catch up with the dream, which in one way or another boils down to the illusion that by moving fast enough we will someday, somehow be satisfied, but lasting satisfaction never comes as long as we are looking for it in the future . The more cooperative my life has been, the more deeply satisfying it has felt. Even meditating for hours on end did not necessarily illuminate and undermine the limits on love as did living face to face with others.
In his essay “Radical Politics for Ordinary Men and Women” Adi Da Samraj says  “Within the cooperative human community, every member should be guaranteed access to the basic necessities and opportunities of life (provided each individual functions cooperatively and responsibly within the community.)* In the West, especially in the United States we are part of a system that rewards the clever and fortunate inordinately while leaving the unfortunate nowhere to fall but out the bottom and onto the streets. We make heroes of those whose wealth is used only to amass more wealth or to live extravagant lifestyles in the face of the mass of humanity who work hard just to make ends meet. Who has not felt the pain of those who lack even food, shelter or clothing? Who has not feared that they may someday find themselves bereft of even these basic necessities? This is the unspoken rule of our society; that we should be preoccupied with work. Not work for its intrinsic value, but work as a means to obtain what we seek and prevent us from falling into what we fear.
Only for a total of four years in my life have I been part an egalitarian community the highest and most difficult form of cooperative community, one was in Camphill Village, Kimberton Hills and the other was in the early days of the Adidam community. In Camphill we worked within the community and in Adidam we had jobs in the city but in both cases work took on a new meaning and value; work was the joy of giving and the satisfaction of Heart connection.

*Adi Da, “Not Two is Peace,” essay entitled “Radical Politics for Ordinairy Men and Women.”  Online search “Radical  Politcs for Ordinairy Men and Women” which goes to “BeeZone”

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Camphill Village

Camphill Village  is an egalitarian farming commune in Kimberton Hills  Pennsylvania where my wife, 3 year old son and I lived for two years.   The Camphill model, inspired by the towering spiritual figure Rudolph Steiner, is one of hundreds of Camphills around the world.  Living as part of the Camphill community was a lot like life must have been in a European village around the turn of the last century.  Everyone knew everyone else and everyone was valued for their contribution to the community.  This was as true of developmentally challenged individuals (the main service/income of the community) as it was of the rest of us.  We all took pride in, and were acknowldeged for our work whether it was building a house or wheelbarrowing food scraps to the pigs.  It is a human sized world where the interrelatedness of all could be clearly felt.   My son Aaron would ride in my backpack.   “Who built that house” he would say , his arm outstretched so I could see his tiny hands pointing.  “ Loriea built that house” I replied.   “What do cows do” Aaron said pointing to the cows,” They give us our milk” I replied.  Or when he was eating, “where do raspberries come from?” “From the vines below Holstader house where you play in the sandbox.”   It is so satisfying to be able to make those connections for your child and is it any wonder that Aaron now 32 still remembers Camphill fondly.

There was no television allowed, no recorded music of any kind but we were lavishly entertained with the plays and concerts we put on for one another, with the classes in everything from pottery to philosophy and also whole orchestras would come from outside the village to play for us.  The first and only time I took part in a play was at Camphill.  I remember it vividly to this day.

We never worried about money at Camp hill, never fretted over the lack of anything material.  There was abundance everywhere from the sumptuous food to the rich cultural life.  No one was paid a salary, but if we needed anything of modest expense we merely bought it and were reimbursed.  Larger purchases were discussed with our household.   One winter I was pruning cherry trees, a freezing wind cut right through me.  I drove into town and bought a $200 coverall suit.   While I was being reimbursed I was told to discuss it with the household before making another expensive purchase.  I was relieved; I had expected either a refusal or a scolding.  After one year in the community we were sent on an expense paid vacation to the coast.  True, we were told to take along a crew of developmentally handicapped but the crew chosen for us was fully capable of doing chores; they became are willing helpers as well as good company.

.   Camphill was largely self-supporting through the many products and services it provided to the public, the chief of which was a meaningful, non-institutionalized life for the developmentally handicapped.       We worked hard, at least during the growing season, but we never had the feeling of lack because we weren’t getting paid in dollars. In fact, we hadn’t lived at Camphill very long before the very concept of employer and employed dissolved.  We became part of a larger organism whose welfare was not different than ours.  One might imagine that this is the feeling of an individual bacteria within the human body whose numbers are ten times those of “our” cells but who are completely integral to our harmonious functioning.  It appears that community is the natural order, from which we have strayed and to which we must return if we are to mature in our humanity.

 

The poem below was written after a day spent harvesting beets.  It was published In the Camphill newsletter.  “Beet Harvest One” reflects the alienation I might have felt after picking beets all day for a corporation or a farmer who looked upon me as a cog in his machine.  “Beet Harvest Two” reflects how I felt as part of the Camphill community

 

 

BEET HARVEST ONE

The summer heat numbs the mind,

The hand fumbles and is drowned,

Among Pigweed, Purslane and Dock.

But the beet is caught and torn,

From the mangled wreckage of its ground.

 

Crimson shadows stain the baked and stagnant earth,

Winged beasts tunnel through the drowsy air,

As to their blind and crowded destinies they lurch.

We move down the row,

Searching for another victim,

As the life is severed, the tops wither,

Of course the swollen root holds firm,

But who will have it?

 

BEET HARVEST TWO

The root is bursting with the red of life,

Leaves tremble, quickening to taste,

With open cells, the pulsating toasted warmth,

Woven by myriad wondrous shapes.

 

The scented earth yields up her stand,

With the rippling of roots and our firm hand.

This offering is made to our friends,

Who will cherish the red rooted rind,

And find inside the perfect design.

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The Grim Reaper’s Tool of Choice

 

When the tables are turned,

And the Ground which we have trampled,

Rises up to take us down,

May the Grim Reaper come silently

With a steady swing,

A sure balance of the inevitable,

Flow of changes.

 

Cutting cleanly at the base,

As he hovers over our grief,

Strong and steady in his shroud,

May at that moment we bow gracefully,

A willing sacrifice of all our excess,

Falling softly on the Ground,

From which we have risen.

 

These days instead of the Grim Reaper we have the frustrated weed whacker.

The frustrated weed whacker sucks in gas fumes,

Lost in the din of his own machine,

He is frustrated because he can’t connect,

With the grass and the songs that fly by him.

The plastic string slaps us down,

Shredded hopes, fragmented dreams,

Chewed up and spit out,

Into the squalor of our own doing.

 

Our fate is not inevitable,

Watch carefully the arc of the blade,

Let it slide over the ground with steady speed,

Not digging in, not spiraling upward,

But parallel flight, slicing through,

The overgrowth of desire

Skimming over the solidity of retreat.

 

Le the body sway with a strong rhythm,

As the wind moves the forest to dance,

In passionate embrace,

Of Radiant Light,

Felt Mystery of Being,

In every simple act.

The last time I used a scythe was at Dandelion Farm.   The farmers, Candace and Lauren didn’t have a scythe so I bought one just to show them how wonderful a tool it was.  As soon as I bolted it together I walked out on a weedy mound to test it.   The old learned rhythm returned to me within a few minutes.  Using a scythe is relaxing and invigorating at the same time.  The momentum of the forward swing curves around to bring the scythe back to the start.   The whole motion is a circular swing; there no stop and start, only one fluid motion.   The proper use of the scythe requires whole bodily focus, the hips provide the power and the joints of the arms see that the scythe blade glide parallel to the ground. .  I couldn’t stop, in mad delight I searched out every spot with tall overgrown weeds until finally darkness forced me to quit.

The effectiveness of this time honored tool is amazing to feel.

So much happens with an easy swing.

As long as you stay wthin your breath, the work just happens.

.  Deep  exhalation  creates a powerful downswing,

The inhalation on  the upswing

Fully charges, body, mind and

the world at your feet,

Alive with tumble and fall,

a symphony of smells,

A cauldron of endings,

Forming a bed for new life.

 

 

Now for the fun part.  Would you believe me if I told you that in the hands of a skilled farmer a scythe is way faster than a weedwhacker and even faster than a gasoline mower?

Watch the two videos below.

Below is a detailed video on the proper use and benefits of the scythe.  Also demonstrated is a handmade rake for the long grass the scythe creates and the U bar digger for aerating the loose soil that  the no till/mulch method creates.   The growing method being used at Inspiration forms was brought to this country by Allen Chadwick.   I was Mr. Chadwicks apprentice.   I never saw him mulch, the method relies on intensive planting to shade the ground beneath the plants but I agree with the farmer in this video that mulch (when available) is a great addition and for the reasons he states.   The mulch not only discourages weeds but nourishes the fungi, bacteria, earthworms and numerous arthropods which in turn nourish the soil.   Ecology action teaches this method in third world countries.  In many countries, land to grow mulch or mulch material nearby is scarce.  See my blog Day 5 for more on the bio-intensive raised bed method.

 

 

 

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From Portland to Seattle and back

Soon after arriving in Portland I peddled up to Seattle to visit my ex-wife Carol and son Aaron.  I took the less scenic more direct route, not up the coast but by the Columbia River and then roughly following the I’5 corridor.   I enjoyed catching glimpses of the mighty Columbia as she rolled her stately way to the sea.  Riding on the shoulder of US 30 means lots of big trucks blow by.   Many of them carry logs and the bark falls off everywhere.   The bridge crossing the river had only a narrow shoulder and was completely littered with bark.    I focused intently on dodging the bark which helped me not to freak out when huge trucks roared by missing me by only a couple feet.

There were a few small towns after the bridge and then unexpectedly my GPS took me on a bike trail.  Ripe raspberries lined the trail. I stopped frequently to fill up with berries; ever so much more pleasant than gasoline. It was relaxing not having to worry about traffic at all.  I met a few other bicycle tourists including one who had “conquered” many of Europe’s tallest mountains by bike.  There were also lots of homeless people who used the trail as a main corridor and camped in the bushes at night.

When the trail ended a narrow road took me out in the country.   I rode until it was almost dark and found a farmers woods to pitch my tent in.   I had covered 80 miles that day with a bike that weighed close to 100 lbs.  That’s the most I’ve ever done on a loaded bicycle, not bad for an old guy. However, the next morning my left knee hurt as I pedaled.  I experimented by raising the seat a bit.  That’s when my right knee started to hurt, much worse than my left one.  I lowered the seat back down but the right knee continued to hurt.  I didn’t know if I should stop and rest for the day or just push through it.  I was afraid that I’d done permanent damage but I didn’t want to stop either.   In a few miles my knees hurt slightly less.  I was encouraged but now realized I had another problem.  I was out of water and it was too early in the morning to knock on a door and ask for some.  Fortunately a school appeared in the middle of the country.  I found a hose in the back of the school yard and gratefully quenched my thirst.  The knee pain gradually abated.  I was elated.  The body is such a marvelous machine that it can even repair itself when under stress.

When it started to get dark that evening I was riding down a long stretch of woods through the Lewis-McCord air force base.  I thought of camping between the fence and the road, one spot had an inviting bed of sphagnum moss, but the fact that I would be sleeping right outside a military base spooked me.  They might think I was a spy, who knows, so I kept going.  When the base ended I was in a low income part of a city.  It was almost dark.  I had no idea where to camp.  Then I spotted an old cemetery, the gate was still open and it was almost 9pm.  Also it didn’t look like the gate had been closed in a long time.   There were only scattered headstones and the inscriptions showed the burials had taken place in the thirties.  I found a spot between two trees and slept peacefully.  In the morning the gate was still open.  The spot where I had camped was littered with playing cards.  I picked them up as payment for my nights lodging.

I was on the outskirts of a large urban area so I expected a difficult day.  Instead I found myself on the Interurban bike trail with nothing but fellow cyclists and pedestrians.  The trail ran underneath heavy duty power lines for most of the way.   This made me uncomfortable at first but I noticed the vegetation on the trail wasn’t stunted as it had become under the power lines on our farm where I grew up.  Maybe they were using a different technology.  The trail ended in Renton.  After a few miles of traffic Lake Washington appeared with a trail that ran alongside.   The lotus was in bloom along the lake edges.  It looked like a Monet painting. Soon I arrived where Carol was house-sitting, in an old tree lined comfortable area of Seattle.  The last block before the house was the steepest grade of the trip.  It was an 18 degree grade but I made it without dismounting although I have to admit near the end of it I didn’t know where I was going to get any more air.

After living alone in a tent for months sharing a luxurious house with one of my favorite people was a welcome change of pace.  I visited for two weeks.  My son came up from Olympia to visit for a couple of days.  Our main topic of conversation was how to make a difference in a disintegrating world.  My main take on this is on my new business card.   The business is called Hills which is an acronym for “Happiness Is Loving Living Simply” Then underneath it says “Consciousness itself is sufficient”   and refers to one of the websites promulgating Adi Da’s wisdom teaching “Consciousnessitself.org” The core teaching of Adi Da Samraj is about the search.  We are all searching for something, the search itself is agitation and the goal if attained is never fully satisfactory so that unless we understand the failure of the search itself we start searching again.

The world has gone crazy with the search, manipulating “others”, including nature for the comfort control and security of the separate self-sense.   We don’t feel the consequences of our actions because we are out of relationship; obsessed with “me.”   The search must be renounced so that we are uncomplicated enough to feel-intuit that everything is Consciousness, Divine, Radiant, and deeply Mysterious.   With that sanity we can help create a culture that has reverence for what is Given.

While I was visiting her Carol she wrote this Haiku about me which while not entirely true I nevertheless share here.

No ounce of excess-

On bicycle blender gypsy-

Gliding in Wonder.

The first evening of the trip back the clouds began to gather; the wind picked up and blew me down the trail, refreshed after a hot day I didn’t want to stop and no easy places tempted me,      Heavy drops hit my face, soon I could hardly see.   I put on my rain pants and a windbreaker, since I had lost my rainproof jacket.   Then the deluge started.   I huddled under a hedge; then crawled out to ask permission to camp in a vacant lot.   I was hoping they would invite me to camp in their yard but seeing a wet bicycle blender gypsy resembling a soaked rat must have made them nervous.   They were watching me when I went to the house where the owner of the vacant lot lived.   No one was home.  I paused to set my GPS.   “They’re not home” she yelled fearfully, “you’ve better move along”. I jumped on my bike as fast as I could and scooted down the road.  The rain let up.   I was disappointed.  The earth needed the rain more than I wanted to stay dry.  It was dark now making it harder to spot a place to camp.  I saw a woods next to a big house, pulled in the driveway and knocked on the door.  “I’m on my way from Seattle to Portland, wondered if I could camp in your woods for the night.   The elderly man looked at me suspiciously.   “This isn’t the way to Portland,”   I tried to explain that I was just following my GPS and that it took me on the backroads when set for bicycle.   I wasn’t very convincing because the GPS taking me a different way than I had come or maybe it was wrong.  I really didn’t know for sure.  He asked me several other questions.  I felt like I was failing to convince him so finally I said, “Look, it’s no problem if you don’t feel comfortable with me staying here.  I understand that you don’t know me, I can find another place” He relaxed a bit.  Without intending to I had said the right thing.  “Well, how do I know you’ll leave?”  “I’ll be on the road before the sun rises” I promised.

Soon I had my tent pitched in a beautiful, and I thought quiet woods.   Turns out there was a huge party in the neighbor’s yard.   Drunken revelry went on until the early morning light.  What sleep I got was not peaceful.  I got it in my head that I was going to make it the 100 miles to Portland that day.   As everyone knows hubris leads to tragedy.  The wind was against me and the day was hot.   After hours of riding my butt hurt so much I had to keep standing on the pedals.  I was really tired but I had this insane goal in mind which wouldn’t let me rest.  I finally dismounted in St. Helens with 30 miles to go.  It was 6pm.  I calculated I could still make it by 10.   I took a few steps.  I could hardly walk straight I was so dazed.   “Stop!”  I demanded of myself, “If you keep going you’ll get heat stroke.”    Realizing how foolish I’d been I asked if there was a campground in town.  There was, and the cost was only ten bucks.

Turns out it was no bargain.  The setting was nice enough, in a woods near a stream but my nearest neighbor had an anger problem.   He yelled at his wife and young son almost non-stop.  “Washing your hands with soap and water, I suppose you think your better than me”   and on and on.  I might as well have been in the tent with them.  I’d read about such abusers before but now I felt the pain of being trapped by madness.  All three of them were trapped by his madness.  She feigned drunkenness but that only amused him for a short time.  Finally he put himself to sleep playing rap music, loud enough to keep his wife, son and me awake.  Then I became aware of a voice from my neighbor on the other side.  This time it was a woman’s dominant voice.  I couldn’t hear the man but she replied to whatever he said with a steady, strong “You’re a liar.”   I couldn’t tell what was going on with these neighbors, maybe he deserved it, and maybe she was being abusive, maybe merely assertive.  It was almost a relief.  I had to restrain myself from asking the women on left to help the women on my right.  I got a little sleep and snuck out before dawn, worrying that I would awaken the angry man and incur his wrath.

It was the middle of the morning when I got back to Portland. Maybe it was lack of sleep that dimmed my senses just enough that I didn’t see the trolley tracks as I took a rapid turn at an intersection.  My tires caught in the track groove and down I went, the 100lb. bike on top of me.   I lay there for a minute, dazed, afraid I was about to get run over.  Then I struggled to my feet.  It was all I could do to right my bike and wheel it off the road.  My knee was scraped and bleeding and my right thigh was bruised and sore but I could walk.  After a few minutes I could even ride, but much more cautiously now.  For days I felt vulnerable both on and off the bike.  Life in the body is a scary proposition.

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The Bicycle Blender Gypsy Finds a Home

Riding in a car with a restless five year old is not calming and energizing as is travel by bicycle.  Outside the window life goes on and we are excited to catch glimpses of it.  We stumble out of our steel traps to enjoy the view and some air but for a long while we are dazed.

Hustle back inside and slam the steel doors shut,

Keep the oil derricks pumping, the economy jumping

Spewing down the highway,

This is definitely not my way,

Fast food and fast riding.

What the hell are we hiding?

Jolts of coffee do you good,

Salt and sugar on the hood,

We’re riding high into a polluted sky,

No rest, right over the crest;

Getting some where’s the thing,

Where? Not here, this is just a fume filled fling.

I could get off but I’ve forgotten how,

Time rides too fast for me now,

Guess I’m just a gasoline junky,

Hooked on our grossest national product.

Now ain’t that funky?

 

It was in Eugene Oregon that I finally got back on the bike for a while.   Wendy and Gabe found a place for a couple of days but there was no room for me.  I didn’t know where I’d go but I was relieved to be free again.  I coasted a few blocks aimlessly and drifted right past a hostel.   It looked inviting but was filled up as that night was the eve of the Oregon country fair.   The hostel manager told me homeless people camped by the river but they also got run off because it was a park. Camping was only allowed in the countryside many miles south.

I found the river and the narrow paved trail that accompanied it.  The river was broad deep and slow.  Even though there was a drought here too, the river had not become a dry gully as has happened to so many California Rivers.   The water pulled me to her side; I hadn’t ridden very far before I felt drawn to pitch my tent.   If they wanted to run me off, I’d pack up and ride the distance out of the park, but until then me and the Willamette River were going to get close.

I was carried through the night like a log on the river and deposited peacefully on the shore. In the morning  I slipped over my steeds saddle and headed down the trail,  A few miles downriver I met my first genuine bicycle gypsys.   They weren’t raw vegan bicycle blender gypsys, they liked their beer and pot, but the as gypsies they easily had it over me; “been months since money passed through my hands” one of them said jovially.  They traveled from town to town, without goals or urgency.

Riding through the countryside to the Oregon county fair was a treat.  This was real farming country like I hadn’t seen since I lived in the eastern USA.  Sure, I rode through the Salinas valley on my way south but in the Oregon countryside nature is not the seeming victim of man but judging by the landscape, appears to have more say.

Our friends the trees were in abundance,

Rooted in the fields of wind and grass,

Playing a symphony of sun and shadow.

There were bumper to bumper cars for miles trying to find parking for what must have started as a quaint pastoral fair.   When I got to the ticket booth I found that a ticket had to be purchased in town.  Thankful that I wasn’t in a car I went to the nearest hamlet and purchased my ticket.  On the way back I saw Wendy and Gabe stuck at a standstill in the traffic.  I doubled back and got tickets for them.   I handed off their tickets and sailed passed miles of unhappy motorists who I hoped next year would get the lesson and bicycle from Eugene.   Evidently lots of motorists had learned something from the years before as there were hundreds of bikes in the bike parking lot.

I stayed so long at the fair that it was dark when I approached the river.   When I woke up the next morning I discovered I had stumbled upon a camping spot more isolated than the one I found the night before.

The next day I removed my bike from Wendy’s car for the last time.   I was in Portland at the house of a friend where I am now renting a room.   The saga of the bicycle blender gypsy has not ended but it has taken a new turn.  I have fallen in love with Portland and decided to stay.   I look out my window as a near constant stream of bicycles goes by.  You can get most places in the city easily and delightfully.  One glides through streets of towering tree tunnels and old solid houses full of character.  The people congregate to dance and watch movies in the park.   Everywhere creativity is manifest.  It feels like the beginning of a renaissance and I want to be a part of it.  I’m no longer home-free but I’m doing the next best thing; I’m sharing a house.

Sharing a house means paying the rent.  Paying the rent means earning some bucks so I’m starting a business selling bicycle blenders (and other human powered machines).  Running a business just to make money would be a fall back into the rat race.   My plan at this point is to use the business to help flower the renaissance to a culture which is not dependent on an abstract mechanized world but replaces television with ecstatic dance and art, pharmaceuticals with green smoothies and fossil fuel with the supreme machine, the human body.

 

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Health is Cooperation on All Levels

As you may remember I am here in Encinitas studying herbology and nutrition.  Most of my study is extra-curricular.  I want to find the heart of the matter.   The all too typical approach in both conventional and alternative medicines is disease based.  You have a disease, this drug, supplement or herb will combat this disease.   Medical authorities spend a lot of thought on defining a particular disease but prior to all that thought what is a disease? – Only a malfunction of an exquisitely complex multilayered, self-repairing stepped down modification of infinite Light.  (Sound too mystical? Just remember energy does equal the speed of light squared times the mass.)  The body when connected to a natural environment works optimally.  So the question for the person whose health is not optimal should be “what am I doing to disconnect from the natural environment?”

One way most of us disconnect from our natural environment is through lack of feeling.  If we allow it, that feeling can be restored through true art and nature  Something is going on in the depth of the natural world that we will never fathom with our minds.   The next time you go for a walk don’t talk or otherwise distract yourself but take in your surroundings through intentionally relaxing the body-mind, allowing  breath and attention to flow into the surroundings.  This practical wisdom given by Adi Da Samraj is not a prescription for health but it is a description of sane living, and as a secondary matter equanimity and connection with life will have positive health benefits.  There was a working class town in the U.S whose citizens enjoyed unusual good health.  Research revealed it was the close connection the people had with one another that was responsible.

And of course food is a primary way of connection with Life.  The sun, a mass of primal energy, gives life to the plants.   When we pluck a fruit or herb from the wild and eat it on the spot our experience is beyond taste; we can feel the Radiant Light from the sun.  Before eating anything ask yourself “is it part of the natural environment?”  Or did it come from a factory not a photosynthetic factory of Light but a dark factory where so often food is manipulated to maximise profit.     This is not to say food cannot be prepared with love and good intentions.  Adi Da Samraj and Zen Buddhist Masters both insist the preparation of food is best done by one who will impart positive feeling energy into the meal.

Just as we need to make a spiritual connection with life we must connect on a physical level with the teeming life of soil microorganisms. The diversity and hardiness of soil microorganisms make them the best probiotics.  This is the same diversity and hardiness that make a healthy soil.  It is to our detriment that we walk upon an artificial surface and act as if the natural world were a hostile environment out to destroy us.   By filling our inner and outer environment with chemicals meant to kill we create the hostile environment of our fears.   The microbiota of the soil cooperate with the living green world when there Is harmony, but where man disturbs the soil too much, destruction follows.   Just so the latest research reveals that we literally need to kiss the earth.   Instead of fearing the ground we walk on we should embrace it, kiss it and bless the food that it offers us.  That is the cooperation that creates harmony.

So this is the essence of what I got from my studies.  I was expecting to be in Encinitas for the fall term but perhaps I won’t.   I can study independently now, I’ll probably concentrate on gut issues, learn to make more fermented foods and make greater use of wild plants.  When a friend of mine asked me if I would travel to Portland with her and her 4 year old son I decided that not only could I help my friend but I could visit my son and Carol, my ex wife, with whom I am still very close.

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