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Dare to unlearn.
We must dare to unlearn the things that have kept up alive for so long.

  • Welcome to 2015
    My goodness, what a year 2014 turned out to be! I can't think of many things I'd change, though it certainly didn't go as I had planned.

    Here are a few of the big events of 2014:

    • Moved to Olympia (Arrived January 6th-- coming up on my Olyversary!)
    • Nannied
    • Got rabbits and chickens, eventually moved but kept the rabbits
    • Started doing aerial
    • Went to Burning Man and, partly because of that, started to think of myself as an artist
    • Got a job as a real teacher (sort of)
    • Became single
    • Starred in a play
    • Made my debut as an aerial performer

    Some things that I hope happen in 2015:

    • Keep on keepin' on with aerial
    • Get a job as a real teacher (for real)
    • Art, of many kinds
    • Community and relationships
    • Support, both giving and receiving
    • Laughter
    • Adventure
    • Financial stability
    • More of these things: biking, stretching, board games, guitar, French horn, massage, conversations that go late into the night, hiking, star gazing, knowing the plants 'round here, social confidence, sense of place, wool socks

    Let's make it a good one, folks.



  • Hello, blog! I was just telling someone about you the other day. How have you been? I realize I haven't really written a post for you since the summer, and that's no way to treat an old friend. We have, after all, known each other since 2008. We've had almost 400 posts together. What a history!

    I won't bother you with the minute details of my life for the past few months. We can get into that later, if it comes up. Here's the quick run down of what I've been up to, organized as chronologically as I can manage:

    July
    I turned 26. One of my rabbit does had her first litter, of eight kits, and did a great job tending to them. I started applying to a ton of teaching jobs, having decided that I would rather be a teacher than a nanny/farmer/self-employed person.

    August
    I interview for a couple jobs. I went to Ashland, Oregon with Ryan and his family to see some Shakespeare, including a production of Two Gentlemen of Verona with an all-female cast. It was lovely to spend some time with the bard again. I went to Burning Man, where I painted a mural and led a few workshops and had many experiences. I accepted a job as a long-term substitute for a teacher going on maternity leave at one of the best schools in town.

    September
    I slaughtered and butchered that litter of eight kits, tanned their hides, and put most of the meat in the freezer. I decided to move out of the house where I had been living with Ryan, Em, Dee, and Mini. I began the surprisingly long, difficult process of finding a new place and moving.

    October
    I had my first substitute teaching gig, a week-long stint for a teacher on his honeymoon. I moved into the house where I currently live. (The rabbits moved with me.) Ryan and I broke up. I auditioned for a play at a community theatre, in which I was cast as the female lead. I performed in a group dance at my aerial studio's Halloween show.

    November
    I rehearsed a whole lot for this play, which opens on December 5th. I began my long-term subbing placement on November 10th. I decided to choreograph and rehearse a performance piece on the silks for the aerial show on New Year's Eve.

    Other notes:
    I have started playing guitar again. I read a lot for a while there and then got caught up in other things. I have had a CSA subscription for the past several weeks; I am swimming in squash, but luckily it stores well. A student told me that my voice sounds like butter. I cut my hair for the show, and I can't believe I had the patience to let it get long enough for a bob to be "short." All in all, I'm doing well enough.

    I missed you, blog. You help keep me level.

  • Black Rock City silence
    (I realize I haven't written anything in a while. Here's something.)

    A friend of mine at Quaker meeting asked me to write out this story for our newsletter. I told it to her in person, knowing she would enjoy it, and she said that more people than her needed to hear it. I don't know if any of you, dear readers, "need" to hear it, but it's a good story anyway. Please ignore the Quaker-y moral if it makes you uncomfortable.

    -----


    It was well after midnight in Black Rock City, home of the annual festival known as Burning Man. I was out adventuring with my boyfriend, Ryan, and two of our friends. Our friends were heading to bed at the end of their night, and we had all hopped on an art car to save ourselves some energy. The car was modeled after an island, complete with palm trees strung with Christmas lights, and moved at a brisk 5 mph across the open playa. Ryan and I were still full of energy, which he proved by hopping off the island to heckle a group of strangers standing by a giant, lit "INSANITY" sign. The island trundled off, with me on it.

    I had lost Ryan. He was not going to get back on the island. The playa stretched between us, acres of darkness with a scattering of LED freckles. I faced a difficult choice: stay on the island and return to the camp to sleep along with our friends, or get off and search for Ryan. I stepped off the island and walked briskly back to INSANITY. He was gone.

    I had lost Ryan. It was starting to sink in. I was alone on the open playa, in the dark, in the cold.

    I had lost Ryan. I began to walk toward the Temple, hoping to gather my wits. As I approached, I turned off my blinky lights to show some respect. The Temple is a deeply spiritual place. It is a place of mourning and release and difficult discoveries. It is where people bring things they want to let go of, things that are burned on Saturday night along with the Temple itself. I was hoping to center down, to find some strength to get me back to camp, or back to Ryan, or something. I needed centering, and the Temple seemed like a decent place to find it.

    Alas, the Temple was not what I needed that night. I walked in and found myself next to two European men giggling in front of a shrine to Robin Williams. It didn't feel right. I walked out.

    I turned my blinky lights back on (to prevent being run over by a bike or art car), reoriented myself, and started walking back to camp. It's a long walk from the Temple to camp, maybe half an hour, and time moves slowly when you're alone in the dark. After about ten minutes, I started to cry.

    I had not gotten to center down. I had not reached deep for strength or guidance or patience. I had simply started walking.

    You know what I wanted? I wanted a Quaker meeting. But I was alone! Don't you need two people or more? It just wouldn't have felt right to do it by myself. I looked around in desperation, but no one was in shouting distance, and those who were close were zooming by on their bikes. I just needed someone, anyone, to share silence with me.

    And then, there he was. The Man. Faceless effigy though he is, I locked eyes with the Man, gave him a little nod, and settled into silence.

    I don't know if it came from him, from Him, or from me, but the message that I got was: Joanna, you know what you have to do. You have to walk back to camp. It's going to be hard, but you have to do it, and I can't save you from it. So get to it.

    It was exactly what I needed.

    Long story short, I got back to camp to find Ryan waiting for me after an adventure of his own. Reunited, we went back out into the city to have a wonderful time until we fell asleep near dawn. A few days later, when it was time to burn the Man, I again shared silence with him and passed back the message I'd received earlier: Man, you know what you have to do. You have to burn. It's going to be hard, but you have to do it, and I can't save you from it. So get to it.

    Meeting, as it turns out, can happen in some unlikely places, with even more unlikely people. But then, silence can happen anywhere, if you know to make space for it.


  • Long days, bright sun
    It's summer! The days are long, the sun is bright, and I'm wearing shorts. Yay!
    When I moved here from Virginia, one of my biggest worries about adjusting to the climate was that I wouldn't be getting the oppressively hot summers I'd come to love. That's right, I worried that I would miss the sticky Virginia summers. The gray, wet Pacific Northwest winters, I decided, would probably be OK, but it wouldn't feel like home if I didn't have to kick the covers off in July. I haven't had to kick off the covers yet, but at least I don't need a jacket after dark any more.
    I haven't been the only one enjoying the weather. Mini has always hated socks, jackets, and all things warm, so she is reveling in the freedom of shorts and sandals. Ryan has been plotting hiking and backpacking adventures for us, and then spending his weekends and evenings building things outside instead. He doesn't come in until after dark when I scold him, and it hasn't been getting dark until almost 10:00. Boys. The garden has been soaking up all these rays, and is overwhelmingly abundant. (And so are the weeds! Ah!)

    Some new things around here: (Photos after the jump!)
    -Mark and Deepti are working on re-vamping our pond, which had been swallowed by the blackberries and brush. One day we'll have a pump and some fish and everything.
    -We got a couple new hens (1), a Cuckoo Maran and an Araucana. I just put them in with our other ladies last night, so they've been making a racket today to impress each other.
    -Ryan built us a new side deck (2)! With stairs! It's lovely. Our house is looking less and less like a junk pile every day. He also built a lumber rack for the carport. Did I mention that he's been building until dark most days?
    -I finally named the rabbits. I've been reading Dune aloud to Ryan, which inspired their names: Irulan (3) (the tricolor Rex) and Ms. Atreides (4) (the brown Rex/chinchilla mix). Irulan should be due to kindle (give birth) any second now. She is, in fact, overdue, and I'm starting to worry.
    -We (but mostly Ryan) installed 90% of a drip irrigation system in the garden (5). We found out we're just a bit short on tubing, but it's already cut down on the time we spend standing in the garden with a hose.
    -I've been applying for full-time jobs teaching elementary school. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
    -Deepti is officially a third year resident now. Yay! Her schedule will look more like a normal person's and less like an indentured servant's from here on out.
    -Ryan sold his car, and we replaced a non-working 1986 F-250 with a 2004 Dodge Dakota, which brings our fleet of vehicles to 2 working cars, 1 working truck, and 1 almost-working VW camper van.

      (1) 
    (2) 
    (3) 
    (4) 
    (5)     
    For full-size photos, more photos, and older photos, see my Flickr page.


  • All together now
    We are officially a community now! Forming an LLC together didn't count, and having a bunch of meetings didn't either-- it took all of us living together to make it real for me. Em, Dee, and Mini moved in about two weeks ago. I have been sleeping much better than I thought I would with a toddler upstairs, and it's been great to wake up and have Mini right here on the days when I watch her. We're all working on finding the balance for noise levels, sharing the kitchen, distributing chores, etc., but I think it's coming together nicely. The worst change so far is that I can't belt out with my funny voices during nighttime read-alouds to Ryan anymore, and that's really not so bad.

    An update on the rabbits

    Tragedy/inexpertise struck my little rabbitry the other day. I underestimated the wiliness of my Silver Fox doe; she escaped her pen one night, only to run to the road and be hit by a car. Major bummer. I cried about it. After I dried my tears, I improved and reinforced my cage system before buying another doe. This one is a tricolor Rex who's had two litters before, one with 8 kits and the other with a whopping 11! I made her a double-wide cage so that she and her huge litters will have lots of room for hopping. Both her cage and the cage of my junior doe (who is getting bigger by the day) are now suspended from the ceiling, which makes for a much more sanitary situation. Cleanup should be a breeze.
    Ryan thinks the new tricolor doe is less cute than the Silver Fox was, which makes him more comfortable with the idea of eating her and/or her offspring.
    Still. A bummer. I'll be keeping my eye out for a junior Silver Fox doe, just because I'm still excited about that particular breed.

    The beginning of garden bounty

    Even with a bunch of slugs doing their best to stop me, I brought in our first harvest from the garden last week. It was modest, but hey-- it was a harvest! Spinach, mustard, arugula, and beet greens. We've had about a half dozen strawberries a day off of our new strawberry plants, and several more from the plants of our neighbors who moved out. Dee discovered that we have a cherry tree near the road to the west of the house-- score! Our apple trees have bloomed and have teeny, tiny fruit coming in. We've been busy mowing the grass. Things are growing!

    A super worthy cause

    Some friends of mine started an organization that facilitates the escape of LGBTQ people from Uganda. Uganda passed a law in February that criminalized homosexuality, with sentences up to life imprisonment. As a result, LGBTQ people throughout the country have been arrested, harassed,  and attacked. This organization, the Friends New Underground Railroad, is helping LGBTQ people who wish to leave the country to do so. As of June 7th, they have helped 78 people make their way out of the country as refugees, and have 90 more on a waiting list for assistance-- that's huge! I know they are working with a very limited budget, and a little will go a long way if you have the money to make a donation. Please consider donating to them, even if it's just $5, and please help to spread the word. Check them out: Friends New Underground Railroad