May 29th, 2008

alan's marigolds

Good Morning!

I realize this morning I am on overload and need to head to Muir Woods......

I see the fog peeking over the hill so it will be cool there and enveloping......

I read Jon Carroll this morning on the insanity of local politics and I read about solar panels on pontoons and I try and balance the negative news with the positive.  I watch some music videos courtesy of Joan and I see that I can take in no more.  I need to decompress and hand it all to the redwoods who will pat my head like parents and say we know history - all is well - sit and rest - let your mind stretch in our hands.  We'll weave you back together.

I'm off to the trees!

And this is not to discount my own beautiful redwood which rises as two which is now shaking a branch at me, saying I am here, but it is a relative newcomer and I need the wisdom of age...

Book Cover

A very special treat -

It is easy sometimes to get down about the world, but I continue to meet people, young people, who are working to unite the world.

I give you the blog of Joanna Carman, who is 24 and is in the Dominican Republic as a peace corps volunteer...

You can start reading at the top or at the bottom of her blog, read her mother's words, as well as her own, and feel your heart grow and swell, and expand the good and beauty in this world which we all share..
alan's beach photo

evening -

Steve and I had planned to go to Italy June 17 to 30th. It felt like a push with the wedding coming up, but I thought it would help to distract and yet when I spent time online today trying to plan the trip I could feel my energy wasn't with or in it.

It was meaning a long time before I could see my friends, and maybe there is something about a wedding that makes one very nostalgic about family and friends. What else matters, after all?

Anyway, the meetings Steve was to attend changed, and so they will pick up the fees for canceling our airline tickets, and I never got any other reservations made. I want to go to Italy and I want to be here to celebrate the richness of my "baby" getting married....

I can only absorb so much so we canceled our road trip and now Italy and it feels right to have a local June, when we had planned to be away for most of it.

I feel the pace picking up around the wedding. I know from the wedding of my son Jeff how emotional it is - we shared beautiful times as it got closer and we knew what it meant in so many ways - marriage - suddenly your life and your family open - you gain a daughter, a beautiful one, in both cases, and a sweet, compassionate, and intelligent one. Okay, I had wine with dinner - oddly, I celebrated not going to Italy........ it was too much.....

People think I am disappointed, but I am not. It was too much for me. I ration what I can absorb, so I am happily aware now of moving into the wedding plans and the celebration of Steve's 60th birthday. A friend is picking me up tomorrow at 5 AM to go into the city to the flower mart so we can fill the house with flowers. We have a friend with a card so we can buy flowers at cost and without tax. If you have never been to the flower mart, it is an unbelievable place. I am so excited!!!

It is a special time to celebrate and flowers with their wondrous pistils and stamens, reproductive parts so visible and friendly, are the perfect way to celebrate how young we all continue to be!!

Enchantment, excitement, love, joy, peace and ease to all!


Hair -

How many of us saw the musical Hair back in the 60's?  I did, and then, my son participated in a production that was much more tame.  All clothes remained on.... and now hair is a solution to oil spills.  Wow!!

Bad Hair Day

by Alistair Bland

Published in the May/June 2008 issue of Orion magazine

Nature provides solutions to many problems, no matter how seemingly hopeless and messy. Take for example the November 7, 2007, oil spill in San Francisco Bay, in which fifty-eight thousand gallons of fuel gushed from the Cosco Busan‘s hull and lathered the water’s surface. It was a local disaster, no doubt, but the spill has also inspired environmentalists to begin redesigning the world’s approach to toxic-waste cleanup with two unlikely yet promising tools: human hair and mushrooms.

Coverage of the oil spill produced few remarkable images, just the standard shots of crews on beaches floundering in black sludge and handling soiled birds. But then media caught on to something that no oil spill had seen before: an activist named Lisa Gautier and several hundred volunteers were using mats of human hair to soak up the oil from the sands of Ocean Beach, just south of the Golden Gate Bridge.

As executive director of the environmental nonprofit Matter of Trust, Gautier had been storing the hair mats for just such an occasion. She explained to reporters that the mats, marketed by an Alabama gardening supply company as soil insulators, work far better at soaking up oil than conventional polypropylene mats, which are manufactured and widely used for just that purpose and are, ironically, themselves made from petroleum. Human hair is organic, biodegradable, and almost endlessly available at more than 300,000 hair salons in the United States and abroad.

Around the Bay Area, a total of nineteen thousand gallons of spilled oil were recovered. Gautier mopped up several thousand pounds of ship fuel with her hair mats. Oil reclaimed after spills is regularly incinerated, but Gautier had a better, cleaner idea. She has long followed the work of Seattle biologist Paul Stamets, who has intensively researched the oyster mushroom’s capacity to reconfigure dangerous hydrocarbons into nontoxic—even edible—carbohydrates, and she called Stamets three days after the spill to ask if he would like to help orchestrate a demonstration of mycoremediation. Hearing that Gautier had enough ship fuel to feed an army of oyster mushrooms, Stamets was keen to offer his expertise as well as donate hundreds of pounds of mushroom mycelium, the underground fungal organism from which mushrooms sprout. But as enthusiasm mounted, authorities abruptly announced that the recovered Cosco Busan oil, along with the saturated hair mats, would be withheld as potential evidence in legal proceedings. So Gautier changed course, securing a twenty-gallon sample of ship fuel from an East Bay freighter company, as well as several buckets of used motor oil, and the experiment went forth.

On a small plot of federal land in the Presidio forest near the Golden Gate Bridge, Stamets, Gautier, and volunteers stacked hay bales like building blocks to construct a thirty-by-thirty-foot enclosure, within which they built eight square chambers. After laying a thick, waterproof tarp over the hay bales, the team filled each of the isolated chambers with oil. Two would be left as controls, one containing just motor oil, the other ship fuel. But in the other six the team added mycelium with varying mixtures of straw, sawdust, and grain. The mycelium reacted, and by mid-January, beautiful oyster mushrooms had sprouted from the cubicles of mulch. Subsequent lab analyses showed that the mixtures beneath the sprouted mushrooms were greatly thinned of hydrocarbons, and in the mushrooms themselves there remained not a trace of petroleum. It was magic.

Already, the idea is catching on around the world. The tremendous oil spills that struck shorelines in Russia and South Korea in late 2007 have been remedied in part with human hair mats after local activists heard of the drama in San Francisco, and in Valdez, Alaska, where oil still seeps from tide pools nineteen years after the terrible Exxon spill, locals have voiced a renewed interest in finally cleaning up the mess using the combination of hair mats and mycoremediation.

Across the water from San Francisco, too, the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland has partnered with Matter of Trust to launch a local hair-mat manufacturing plant—the first such facility on domestic soil (the current hair-mat supply comes mostly from China). The U.S. Coast Guard is considering signing on as a regular buyer. 

alan's marigolds

a peaceful website -

Check it out:

I love the quote for this week:

A complete life may be one ending in so full an identification with the nonself that there is no self left to die.

~Bernard Berenson