April 6th, 2008

ayer's rock -

Good Morning!!

Yesterday was an unexpected treat.   My son Chris called and asked if I wanted to go with him to Guerneville to Wildwood Retreat Center.  He had volunteered to help them install a solar apparatus they had purchased to heat the swimming pool.   Delighted to be with Chris, I said, YES!!

The drive was beautiful, and the trip up to the top of the hill long but scenic.   When we got there, Martin was busy, and Chris began but realized he needed help, so up on the roof I went to assist and help unfold the plastic contraption, which we both realized will probably work to heat the water for the pool,  but when one considers the amount of plastic and its rapid deterioration in the sun, it is to wonder how helpful some of these ideas are for the environment.  The apple tree was shading the strips, so I stood up on the roof, surrounded by trees and sky, and trimmed and pruned a beautiful old apple tree.  It was fun, and funny, too, as I was up on the roof thinking what we do for moments with our children when they are grown.

Around five, my work was done, and so I walked out to Julie Andrews Point to watch the sun go down.  Chris kept working.  

There are three benches at one of the most beautiful spots in Sonoma, and possibly the world.  You look out on hills and hills.  It is amazing and this time of year the grasses are filled with wildflowers.   Three men were on one of the benches and I didn't want to intrude, so I was sidling down toward a bench further down that, also,  observes the view and an oak tree that may be the oldest of its kind in California and maybe the world.  It is quite a tangled tree, just like a life, that is fully absorbed and kept.

The men asked me if I would like a glass of champagne.   I couldn't refuse, so joined them, and it seems one man sells champagne and was there for an event the next day, and so we sat until seven drinking champagne out of crystal flutes and talking about the world.   Then, they showed me two tiny, perfect Calypso orchids growing in the grass.   They are rare, it seems, and a naturalist was coming the next day to observe them.   They are exquisite, and I'm not sure how they discovered them as they were off the beaten path, which isn't very beaten.   This place is the end of the road and quite remote.

We could have had dinner at Wildwood with our new friends.  They were opening bottles of good wine and said dinner would be incredible, but we wanted time alone, so went down to the Applewood Inn and shared a wonderful meal, and then, enjoyed a lovely drive home.  I got home at 11:30, so it was a long day for me, and just right.  It was charmed with fairy light.

Wildwood is an enchanting place, and so to be there with all those trees, plants, flowers, and just a few friendly people was quite a treat.

Today I go to Sacramento for Park Advocacy Day tomorrow.   There is a meeting from 4 to 6 today to prepare us on how to most effectively use our influence on the legislators tomorrow.  The parks matter to me.  Armstrong State Park in Guerneville is another one threatened.  I am surrounded by parks and I consider it essential that they stay open. 

Surely the state of California can afford to maintain their parks.  One of the men I met yesterday is from Seattle.  He said they have money for parks, transportation, schools.   Where does the money in CA go?   Prisons.

My feet are vibrating with the joy of the day, and the intention to be effective with our politicians.  I ask for eloquence with my voice.  I still need to read all the literature that was sent to me, and I am looking forward to advocating for the parks I love so much.

Book Cover

What you should know about John McCain!!

10 things you should know about John McCain (but probably don't):

1. John McCain voted against establishing a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now he says his position has "evolved," yet he's continued to oppose key civil rights laws.1

2. According to Bloomberg News, McCain is more hawkish than Bush on Iraq, Russia and China. Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan says McCain "will make Cheney look like Gandhi."2

3. His reputation is built on his opposition to torture, but McCain voted against a bill to ban waterboarding, and then applauded President Bush for vetoing that ban.3

4. McCain opposes a woman's right to choose. He said, "I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned."4

5. The Children's Defense Fund rated McCain as the worst senator in Congress for children. He voted against the children's health care bill last year, then defended Bush's veto of the bill.5

6. He's one of the richest people in a Senate filled with millionaires. The Associated Press reports he and his wife own at least eight homes! Yet McCain says the solution to the housing crisis is for people facing foreclosure to get a "second job" and skip their vacations.6

7. Many of McCain's fellow Republican senators say he's too reckless to be commander in chief. One Republican senator said: "The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He's erratic. He's hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."7

8. McCain talks a lot about taking on special interests, but his campaign manager and top advisers are actually lobbyists. The government watchdog group Public Citizen says McCain has 59 lobbyists raising money for his campaign, more than any of the other presidential candidates.8

9. McCain has sought closer ties to the extreme religious right in recent years. The pastor McCain calls his "spiritual guide," Rod Parsley, believes America's founding mission is to destroy Islam, which he calls a "false religion." McCain sought the political support of right-wing preacher John Hagee, who believes Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for gay rights and called the Catholic Church "the Antichrist" and a "false cult."9

10. He positions himself as pro-environment, but he scored a 0—yes, zero—from the League of Conservation Voters last year.10

What a guy!!
Forward this on!!
owl - great white -

The Olympic Torch -

I plan to go to the city to watch the Torch run by.   I have been considering what it means to me.  I am appalled at the atrocities in Tibet, and, perhaps, this torch is a place where we unite and gently speak.  As Nevius says, the issues are complex.

Pondering the Olympic torch and protest

Olympic Torch In S.F.

Life is always easier if we have a villain. So if a member of the Chinese secret police - someone directly responsible for beating, torturing and jailing Tibetans and Fulan Gong practitioners - would run through the streets of San Francisco with the Olympic torch, everything would be simple.

We could boo him, protest his presence, and deplore his actions. Who in San Francisco would disagree?

Unfortunately, Wednesday's torch run is more complicated. In this case, no one is really wrong. Not the protesters, not the torch runners and not the members of the local Chinese community who want to support the symbol.

The truth is, this is how it always seems to go. As torch runner Lisa Hartmayer, a nurse at UCSF who is running to raise awareness of worldwide climate change, said, "This is one of the largest global events there is." No wonder that people want to make a statement.

And they should.

Consider the case of 36-year-old Jigdol Ngawang. Today he is a bus driver in San Jose. But 14 years ago he was in a Chinese prison, arrested for demonstrating in support of independence for Tibet. Passengers who get on his bus today have no idea what he endured.

"I was living in hell," said Ngawang, who was in prison for five years. "They put your hands together behind your back and hung you from the wall. There were electric shocks, bamboo sticks under your fingernails. They wanted to know who you knew and whether you had contact with anybody."

A Tibetan monk, Ngawang was so committed to the cause that, before participating in a big demonstration in the Tibetan capital city of Lhasa, he went to tell his friends goodbye.

"We expected to be killed," he said.

So, given the chance, do you think Ngawang and his friends at "Team Tibet" are going to miss a chance to protest China's sports festival? Not likely. Do you blame them?

In fact, after hearing that, how could anyone support the Chinese Olympic Games?

Local attorney Edward Liu, for one, doesn't support much of what the Chinese government does. Liu, who immigrated in 1970, says, "I have to tell you, not many of my friends are favoring Chinese officials."

But Liu also speaks of "cultural passion," a large transplanted Chinese community in San Francisco, "who felt a sense of pride, of validation," when they heard that China was going to hold the Games.

"This is once in a century," Liu said. "At last, after a history of put downs and cut downs, to call a truce and set aside our differences. It is almost like preparing and preparing, and then having someone trying to sidetrack your wedding."

Again, Liu is no apologist for China. He travels there on a regular basis and says, "I see problems every time I go." But he's been caught up in the idea of a bridge between nations.

"I suspect that when the Olympic Committee picked San Francisco," he said, "it was because they believed sincerely that this is a symbolic backdrop - the oldest and most historic Chinatown in the United States - for a chance to make a connection with the people inside China."

But what about those torch carriers, running blithely through town? They probably don't have a clue about the issues in China, right?

Not quite. Take torch runner Helen Zia, a writer and activist who was in China when she received her invitation to carry the torch. The author of "Asian American Dreams," an award-winning book, Zia testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in 1997 and traveled to Beijing in 1995 for the United Nations Fourth World Congress on Women.

"A lot of my work has been with those suffering in China," said Zia. "I know what people there have experienced."

Zia doesn't deny that she had some second thoughts when the demonstrations in Tibet - and the subsequent crackdowns by the Chinese police - began.

"But I've been a human rights activist for most of my life," she said. "And I believe that the purpose of the Olympics is to bring people together."

Oh, and she also has a personal cause. In 2004, she and her partner, Lia Shigemura, were married at City Hall. Zia is also running in support of same-sex marriage - in case you'd forgotten, this is San Francisco.

In the end, on the day the first runner takes the first step with the torch, he or she will be following a long tradition. Not just of carrying the flame, but of sparking protest.

In 1980 the Americans boycotted the Soviet Union Games, and four years later the Soviets returned the favor. I've been to eight Olympic Games and there's been a controversy at every one - from the complaints about hunting whales in Norway to the Basque separatists in Barcelona. There were protests about the treatment of Aborigines in Sydney, and a bitter standoff between North and South Korea in Seoul.

There has just been one constant. Although often the causes were advanced by the debate, once the Games began, the protests were put aside.

There's been only one exception. In 1972 in Munich, 17 people were killed in a terrorist attack and subsequent rescue attempt.

As the day of the torch run approaches, and passions run high, it is important to remember what was accomplished by that descent into violence and death.


heart's desire

I am inspired!

There are three times the people signed up for this park's advocacy day as last year.  The governor's proposal has generated a response.   There are 268 of us registered to meet with various legislators in groups of five.  Many people are coming from all over on buses for the SOS rally at 12:00 on the capitol steps.  Obviously the hope is for a huge number of people and media coverage.  The intention is not to alienate legislators but to unite.   One legislator received 400 letters on the parks, and three on education.  Of course, we believe the parks are education, and we do not want to divide our forces.  There will be people here tomorrow for health and education.  We all want to work together to find solutions that work.  How creatively can we think?

It is also interesting to learn that this is not necessarily a partisan issue.  Let's hear it for Ashburn, a Republican who proposed removing any requirements that volunteers in the parks be paid a "prevailing wage."   All Democrats voted against this, while supporting Furutani, who proposed that safety net for only three years.  Boos to the Democrats on this one. 

One intention tomorrow is to ensure that the toll road does not go through San Onofre State Beach.   This is a question of state's rights and that is how we will reach the Republicans.  The Department of Commerce must not be allowed to come in and override the Coastal Commission.  CA has spoken.

Another huge issue is Anza-Borrego State Park and the unacceptable proposal by SDG&E to run an electricity transmission line through 23 miles of the park.  There are six other proposals that are much better.  We are supporting SB 404 by Kehoe "which will require a high standard of protection for state willderness areas in state parks.  SB 404 requires that any decision to de-designate wilderness areas in state parks be made by the Legislature, consistent with current law regarding designation of wilderness areas in non-state park lands."

I arrived a few hours before the meeting and checked into my hotel and then wandered around.  I had never been to this area of Sacramento, and was absolutely stunned by the beauty of the capital building.  The grounds are astonishing and are considered the most beautiful of any state capital.  I feel such hope here.  It is very clear to me that our legislators understand they are here to please us.  We need to be clear  on what we expect.  There is a money problem.  How do we work together to ensure our parks continue intact with access to all?

The attitude was positive today that we can find solutions that will please us all.  There are a number of bills right now that offer possibilities and solutions.  I will study tonight to prepare for tomorrow and I feel optimistic that both Democrats and Republicans can work together on what is so important to us all.  We have a great group gathered here, and people have worked hard to make sure tomorrow is as organized and efficient as possible.  It sounds a bit grueling and we will all go to bed early and arise awake!

I feel our parks are safe!