PeerSpirit Blog

A View from Offshore

After some consulting work, Ann and I stayed in Los Angeles for a September weekend to visit daughter Sally, partner Joe, and our two adorable grandchildren, Sasha and Jaden. Hot sun and big city, we revel in the diversity of people, options, and activities going on all around us. And we two island grannies, who live among trees and along beaches, are also a bit overwhelmed by billboards, traffic, street lights, crowds and shopping malls ...
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A Forest Talking

Forests have a lot to say, if we listen, look, and shift our focus from human concerns to nature concerns. Recently friends and I were walking a remote trail in the valley of the Hamma Hamma River in the Olympic Mountains in Washington State. Even though it was late August and a sunny 75 degrees F., it was rain forest lush—mosses, ferns, and Devils Club near all the seeps. The canopy around us was an ...
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Gray hair, wrinkles, and name tags

I walked into the country club, at the west suburban edge of Minneapolis, on a muggy August evening. There were kids splashing in the pool, golfers at the bar, a wedding reception in the main lounge, and two rooms at the back hosting “The Wayzata High School Class of 1964, 50th Reunion.” First stop, the name tag table, to pick up a sticky patch that had my name and current location written on it and ...
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Deep Water Passage

“Grandma, I skipped the stone!” exclaimed our 9-year-old grandson, Jaden. He and I had been practicing in the calmer backwaters of the Gooseberry River and he was ready to try his hand at skipping flat, wave-worn rocks into the wind and waves of the world’s largest lake. Three-year-old granddaughter, Sasha, was having her own fun throwing fistfuls of pebbles into the waves. In the August sunshine, that Lake Superior combination of warm air and cold ...
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Summer sweet & sorrow

Picking raspberries on a Sunday, early evening. The sun is coming through the leaves of the plants, creating a golden green, the veins illuminated, infused. This is how it happens: the Earth doing her earth-thing, providing us with what we need, and more... It is a zenith moment, high summer... just before the first tip toward autumn. We have pulled the peas that our grandson planted last March, visiting us on his spring break. They ...
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Working Bicycles of the Netherlands

We are visiting the Netherlands and learning a lot about this small, densely populated country. One of the most obvious sites (besides the windmills) in both urban and rural areas is bicycles. The Dutch have the most bicycles per head of population in the world. (1.3 per citizen old enough to ride) Many Dutch own more than one—one for everyday use and a “best” one for cycle trips. According to Wikipedia, 27% of all ...
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What my father did in “the war”

My father (who will be 94 years old in July) came to dinner on the patio at our house on an early June evening. We were hosting several lovely colleagues, Holier (age 44) and Roswitha (age 55) from Germany. We had a long meandering conversation talking about different travels and experiences in our lives and then one of us asked him what he did in “the War…” Leo Baldwin was the only conscientious objector from ...
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All we are saying…Peace

Last Saturday, driving to a day of teaching for the Self as the Source of the Story seminar, I drove past the weekly Peace Vigil alongside the highway a few miles from our house. I was so touched I decided to write about this in my blog... and today, into my box came this anonymously penned "history and celebration" of the current peace activism on Whidbey. I have participated in both these events over the ...
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Wilderness Quest

For months the Olympic Mountains had been beckoning. Sometimes veiled by layers of gray clouds, sometimes towering in snowy glory, their many moods called to me across the waters of Puget Sound. Massive rainforest trees, thundering waterfalls, wandering bear and cougar, no highways or roads penetrating their wild interior—I knew it was a perfect place for a rite of passage to mark the transition into my 65th year, and to honor the death of ...
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Dirty Fingernails

Half an hour in the morning. Ann swimming at the club, I’m dressed for yoga when she returns with the vehicle. Dog still in bed. I put down her breakfast to entice her out. I have scrolled through emails, thank goodness stayed off Face Book. My mind is racing with ideas… shall I communicate with myself in the quiet of the journal, or communicate with “you”—whomever reads this blog: today, tomorrow, or in the mysterious ...
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Fist to the heart–Five Months Later

It has been five months since a midnight phone call pulled us into the emergency of our 33-year-old son’s dying. We were on our way to the airport by 3:00 AM, and by 6:00 AM I had sent an email to extended family and friends asking for prayers and articulating what was happening as it unfolded. We flew to Denver. His sister arrived. His father arrived. Friends surrounded him. He hung onto the thread of ...
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Superheroes

“Grandma, I want to be a superhero with super powers,” said our 9-year-old grandson as we headed outdoors to play baseball. The previous night we had watched “How to Train Your Dragon”, a DreamWorks animation film which features a young Viking boy (Hiccup) who defies convention by training, rather than killing dragons. “It would be so cool to have a super power,” Jaden said. “What kind of super power would you like?” I asked ...
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Daffodils and Garlic—the perfect send off

It is mid-March— that time in the northern hemisphere where the sun is once again beginning to have some warming power and the southern hemisphere is moving into shorter, cooler days. Two plants have been lifelong harbingers of spring for me: daffodils and garlic. The daffodils shown here were planted in my neighbors yard decades ago before she arrived. Every year they come up faithfully in spring—early bursts of color and life in the midst ...
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Weather Reports

It is mid-February. A few days ago I was sitting on the deck of our house, in the sunshine—and it was 55 Farenheit/12 Celsius. I hesitate to mention what a lovely winter we are having when across the North American continent there is so much snow and ice and disastrously low temperatures—however you measure it. And England is awash in floods; heavy rains, and storms tearing at its coastal towns. And Australia is broiling hot ...
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Tracking

We rarely get snow at sea level, but this morning we awoke to an inch of new snow. I realize this is almost laughable for my Minnesota, east coast, and Canadian friends. But it brought out a huge sense of wonder for me. On my morning dog walk I made quite a discovery—a raccoon walked down the middle of our road sometime during the night! Maybe we have had a raccoon around for quite a ...
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Who Won?

Nature teaches us many lessons. We tend to like the nice ones with inspiring scenery or cute animals. We don’t talk much about the more disturbing scenes that leave us unsettled. This is the story about a hybrid seagull and a female bufflehead duck. It is a story about a predator that is 7 or 8 times the size of its prey. And I am still not sure “who won”. Watching birds on a winter, ...
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Companionship

She ran circles in the house upon our return from the state park. At our house we call it frapping—frantically running around playing. She was so happy! She had had such a good time on the hike. And I did, too. It was a dreary Northwest December day. Gray, light rain, temperatures not much above freezing. The high tide of despair was rolling in fast. Often the only container large enough for my grief is ...
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Benediction for Brian

It has been a month now since Ann's son/our son, age 33 years, suffered cardiac arrest 48 hours after reparative surgery and a grueling 14 months of recovery from a serious accident in the line of paramedic duty. At his memorial on December 12, I read the following benediction... It is both personal to Brian, and universal to our longing to know and be known. I offer it into a quiet moment in your holiday/holy ...
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Medicine Walk with my Son

On Nov. 23 my 33-year-old son died unexpectedly in Denver after what was to have been his final surgery on the road to recovery from a terrible accident as a paramedic fourteen months earlier. I am still in shock. To prepare myself to speak at his huge “line of duty” funeral, I sought spiritual readiness in the solace of nature. Brian was young and adventuresome. I knew I had to go to a wild place ...
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Enter the winter through e-space

I loved doing the e-course. There were nearly 600 people receiving the emailed essays on "Restorying Your Life." Most of these people received the emails and wrote in private, or tucked them away for a less busy time. I am reading on Facebook that folks are just now settling down by the winter fire and starting (or continuing) to follow the writing prompts. This is true for me too--looking forward to following my own advice ...
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