When water is cut off: from Cochabamba to Detroit, by way of my bathroom

Spring water catch box

In the mid-1990s, the water services of Cochabamba, a town in Bolivia, were taken over by the subsidiary of a trans-national corporation, Bechdel. Water bills rose at an astounding rate, and people were charged even for collecting rainwater from their own roofs.The people revolted.Despite pressure from both private and public security services, the people of Cochabamba won through in 1995, and made a declaration -- reiterating, in more earth-centred language, the UN's declaration of … [Read more...]

Finding Home

View of Mt Rainer from Anderson Island

Today was a fantastic day. I did two unusual things. The first was meeting my fellow Sense of Place author Rhyd Wildermuth for the first time. The second was buying clothes. More on the second in a moment. (Trust me, it's relevant.) Rhyd and I talked about a lot of things, but the thing that stayed on my mind as I left him and set off in search of new clothes was what we discussed about Seattle as a place that we both feel we can call "home".It's not that Seattle is the absolute most … [Read more...]

The power of the song thrush: life, death and the feast of St. John

Image by Jose Sousa, used under Creative Commons license.

"'Twas on the twenty-fourth of June Oh, as I sat weaving all at my loom, 'Twas on the twenty-fourth of June Oh, as I sat weaving all at my loom, I heard a thrush, singing on yon bush, And the song she sang was the jug of punch."These words are the first verse of a traditional Irish drinking song, The Jug of Punch, in its simplest form. I'm thinking of it today, St. John's Eve. The feast of St. John, celebrated on the 23rd and 24th June, is a Christian gloss over the celebration of the … [Read more...]

Home.

Today, I was going to write a long post. About how happy I am to be home after two years of rebuilding. About what home means. About how good it feels to walk around 'our' land and know each plant and bird and critter by name. About how happy those beings seem that we're back -- the non-corporeal ones, too. (I'm sure the sweet things I left in the trees and the little "Happy to be home!" song I sang helped with the latter.)But as happy as I am, I'm surrounded by boxes, the house smells of … [Read more...]

The Housing Bubble

Not my house. Just a building near by that I like the look of.

This weekend we had some friends over to the house. It was the first time we'd had friends over in a long time. It used to be a regular occurrence, but not lately. Before the friends arrived, I busied myself with housework. I cleaned and tidied and cooked. It wasn't drudge work. It was kind of fun. I was focused on creating a nice experience for my friends, so the effort had positive connotations. As I was getting things ready for our friends to arrive, it suddenly hit me that this space really … [Read more...]

The language of birds

Three house finches at a bird feeder

I'd love to be camping right now, somewhere nice and inaccessible, but the fact is I must be on a computer, earning my paycheck. I am fortunate however in that I can work from the comfort of a screened-in back porch with a lake view.  It also has a view of my bird feeder.  I am a big fan of finding the sacred wherever you are, and I was on a futon with a laptop, grading.  If I must sit still for a long period of time, and look up every time a movement catches my eye an … [Read more...]

Wishful Ducklings

Mallard mama and ducklings

I thought I'd begin my sojourn as a writer for A Sense of Place with a bit of discussion of the particular place I find myself in now, and how I wound up here...Recently John Beckett asked "Where are you from?"  and relatedly, "where do you feel at home?"  I'm from north Georgia, just across the state line from where he grew up, and like him I find that glorious southern Appalachian landscape stays with me wherever I go.  But as for where my home is now...well, that's a story.Almost a ye … [Read more...]


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