A Passion for Peace

Responsibility, respect and a loving connection with all beings and for this Earth we share.


As I walked into work this morning I watched a rhino slowly ambling up a mountainside and a pair of cranes building a nest above a pond. One crane flew to gather a branch or some grass, flew back and gave it to the other who put it in place. I’m told the crane couple builds their nest every year and they have yet to have babies. Both struck me as metaphors for progress: collaboration, positivity, patience, perseverance…pretty much the opposite of the environment here now. I feel like I’ve been transported to 1903 and the worker’s rights’ movement: high ideals of what a union can do with little legal and practical understanding, no trust for The Man (aka management).

On the other hand, my workers are happy and working well. Our coordinator spent all day last Friday assembling a database in Excel of the kids we serve—and it was her first time using a computer! And Saturday a group of us finished our community food garden: 3 beds of winter veggies (beets, cabbage, spinach, beans) & 8 fruit trees (fig, lemon, apple, peach, orange) to start our orchard. (Photo: helping in the garden. So sweet.)

Now that the communities are coming together and our everyday is running smoother, I’m shifting into building a business so we have a steady source of income and can employ more locals. The idea of producing biodegradable stuffs is forcing me to brush up on my chemistry. Today I made milk plastic. It’s not that hard now, but it hardens over time (that’s what she said). I emailed a couple engineer friends for advice, and one said, "You know the question you're asking...is basically how to restart society with nothing...it's gonna be hard to just use the same supplies and compete in the market since people have been using those supplies forever."Ouch, it’s not that dire. A friend & collaborator has suggested that what we need is a Thneed (according to Dr. Suess, A Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need). What’s the point of having a supposedly $200,000 brain if I can’t develop a thneed? (Photo: an ancient fern tree of the ilk that dinos used to chomp on)

The new business (ad)venture, along with some Sunday-poker-in-the-pub friends (horse-breeder friend: “It’s my one year one ear anniversary!”) and my first actual Scrabble game since I left the US are pleasantly rounding out my life like a rhino’s bum. Speaking of rhinos, they’re so fat that in the last month two had babies, and we thought one still had months of pregnancy left. I’ve caught glimpses of the babies, but mostly the parents hover around to protect them so I just get a peek of some extra small tubby chubby legs. Since the gestation period is ??? so they can only have one baby every ??? years, they gotta protect their offspring. Especially when a stupid neighbor farmer starts a fire and leaves the country so we can watch it with worry and chant a stayawayfromourdrygrass mantra. Which is about as effective as a plane full of rabbis praying to prevent swine flu.

Right now it’s the opposite of monsoon season. I’ve taken to pouring puddles around my bedroom before I sleep so thety evaporate and wet the air. (I must just be careful not to pour too near my bed to avoid another mid-night knee wham.)

Yesterday I was asked whether I can sprint (with probing, I find out this means that if I run into Pogenpoel, the lone, angry male buffalo who’s been kicked out of the herd they want to think I can sprint to my escape). The two most popular Zulu questions: (1) Do you have kids, Valer?, and (2) What do you do on weekends [since you don’t have kids or animals]? This weekend I know what I’m planning: inaugural community outdoor movie night! Without electricity. Requested feature film: Mr. Bones. Those 2 ½ years of engineering sure are coming in handy. (Might be postponed due to worker strike safety concerns. Shame.)

Speaking of weekends, I’ve been watching Flight of the Conchords (or rather rewatching the first season it's all I have), and driving home one night hunched over my steering wheel squinting down a dark, dirt country road a little ditty popped into my head: ‘Like a porcupine, you’ve stuck your quill in my spine and I can’t get you out of my mind’. Bret & Germaine could definitely work with that. And the Zulu worry what I do in my free time. (Photo: if only we all had the view of this bathtub at a friend's former house)

Posted byValerie at 11:10 AM  


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