Sunday, June 30, 2013

Report on Frack Free North Carolina Forum--June 22, 2013

The rush from the N.C. Legislature to frack us feels like an oncoming thunderstorm we can't ward off.  Photo, Richard Hayes

I was persuaded to attend the Bynum Forum on Fracking program, sponsored by the umbrella group, Frack Free NC, on Saturday afternoon, June 22.  On the program were: Elaine Chiosso, the Haw Riverkeeper; James Robinson, with the RAFI (Rural Advancement Foundation, International, USA; a man from Mebane, working on environmental racism, Omega Wilson; Hope Taylor of the Clean Water for NC org; from Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, Ryke Longest; and finally, two women dairy farmers from Bradford County, PA: Carolyn Knapp and Carol French
There were about 60 folks there, coming from Chatham,  Lee, Moore, Alamance, and other counties, too.  This was a gathering of no-fracking activists, being called “fracktivists.”  Signs and bumper stickers were given out, refreshments were available during the break.  Elaine explained present situation, how many people’s lives are affected, risk to water: contamination of wells through drilling and three million North Carolinians are on private wells (we don’t have as much separation of layers of gas and water as in PA); surface water contamination through spills, deliberate dumping, fracking companies taking water from streams and rivers, etc, (not enough regulations to prevent it or enforce stopping it if it happens); huge amount of water needed, avg of 3.5 mil gallons per fracking well.  Deep underground injection of waste water outlawed in NC, because of an earlier incident in 1968-72 at the coast when Hercules Chemical company did it, and the chemicals came back up to the surface.  Also deep drilling especially sets off earthquakes, and nuclear plant near Jonesboro fault line, and gas under shale in same area.  Rules supposed to be finished by Oct 2013, moratorium until Mar 2015, but even House version says permits could be issued by 2015, and language could be finessed legally.  Unclear whether laws and second vote in 2014, in House version, would hold up permits.  House and Senate presently in committee to work out a compromise.
James Robinson said that RAFI has worked primarily on helping farmers not sign predatory leases.  This may be why few leases have been signed except in Lee County, and that county had many landowners without mineral rights, going back to the days of mining coal there.  He said RAFI hadn’t taken a stand for or against fracking, and he serves on the Compulsory Pooling Study Group of the Mining and Energy Commission (MEC).  RAFI opposes compulsory pooling, which forces landowners who don’t want to sign mineral rights to do so.
Omega Wilson announced that he and Elaine had filed a federal complaint that fracking in NC would violate Title 6 of Civil Rights Act.  It would not only hurt the environment; it would hurt people.  States now receive federal money for health, employment, education, housing, safe drinking water, sewer, and other areas, but they’re supposed to follow federal guidelines re Title 6, but it’s not being enforced by states. “We have to take the responsibility to be the watchdogs,” Omega said.  NC now is the 10th largest U.S. state, with 9.6 million people, fracking affects 12-15 counties, 1.6-2.5 million people.  605-950,000 people of color.  
Hope Taylor announced that they were starting a new petition, with the goal of 50,000 signatures.  It should be available soon.  Their website will have that and other information.  You can email Hope at  Some of the health affects from the chemicals and gasses released into air (primarily) and water are: respiratory diseases, mood disturbers (clusters of suicide in the fracking areas), cancer, joint pain, skin rashes, memory problems.  She also said that in Europe they are being much more careful, and to them our largely unregulated fracking makes the US look foolish.  
Ryke Longest, consulted by Elaine, Hope, and others, explained that one big danger not often mentioned was the casings, where the main pipe going down is connected to other pipes going out horizontally.  A third of the wells have well-degradation of casings.  Once wells are in, they can be there for 50 years.  He thought Anson County’s moratorium could be legally defended in the courts.  It argues that since the county doesn’t have protection and laws in place, it can hold off fracking with a moratorium for 5 years.  In NY state, too, they’re getting help for towns with ordinances forbidding fracking, from the appellate courts.  The public is supposed to be notified if any chemicals are released, but this isn’t always happening with fracking.
The two women from PA were very solemn.  They talked about the attraction of the money, first the bonus, then the royalties, but when their water goes bad, they have to pay huge amounts for water to be trucked in. Carolyn named nearly $200,000 to get water for her cows.  Carol said her water jelled. Many people have illnesses, but people are offered money by the gas companies not to talk about it; Carolyn had rashes, and her daughter got very ill so can’t visit her mother as being there makes her sick.  Cows dying and aborting.  Carol was an organic farmer, can’t afford the fees to get re-certified.  Their state had high income from tourism, dairy products, and many other things, $392 billion; fracking income, $22 billion, but tourism, dairy, and many other things ruined.  Also the gas companies blocked roads for two weeks, so children couldn’t go to school, people couldn’t get to hospitals, etc.  Roads were destroyed by heavy equipment.  They have bills to pay instead of royalties.  Carolyn was crying over her lost just-born calf. She said, “Think about your treasures.  What do you treasure most?  Compare that to the money.”  But obviously the money received can’t compensate for the income lost, the health problems, the new bills.

Some follow-up on the presentations, if you’re interested in seeing the power-points.  Also you can sign up for Clean Water’s weekly Frack Updates by contacting Hope.  They’ll have Carol and Carolyn’s power point on their website and/or in a Frack Update soon.  These available now.

Elaine Chiosso, Haw RiverKeeper:

Mineral Rights Leasing, Compulsory Pooling, and Protecting Landowner Rights - James Robinson, Rural Advancement Foundation International

State and Federal Responsibilities for Title VI and Fracking - Omega Wilson, West End Revitalization Association

Layers vs Loopholes - Ryke Longest, Duke Law Environmental Policy Clinic

Then, I understand that Rev. Barber, at a recent Moral Monday quoted Gandhi.  “When you start a movement (for justice), first, they laugh at you; then they ignore you; then they fight you; then you win.”

Another photo by Richard Hayes of a recent storm coming on.

One of the folks here in Chatham, 79-year old Judith Butt, sent me her report on what it was like to be arrested at a Moral Monday protest.  She also mailed letters to the editor to several papers.  This one appeared in the Sanford Herald June 27th:


LETTER: Conscience drove me to civil disobedience
Jun. 27, 2013 @ 04:59 AM 

To the Editor:
Up until today, I have generally obeyed the law. I am a 79-year-old woman who has one traffic ticket in more than 60 years of driving and never been arrested. I am not an “agitator, "hippie" or “outsider“ as the governor and many politicos on the right like to believe. So why did I choose now to be arrested for civil disobedience during a peaceful protest in the state legislative building?

I have watched in disgust and horror as the super majority in Raleigh has cranked out one unjust and outrageous piece of legislation after another under the complicit nose of our supposedly “moderate” governor. North Carolina is one of 24 states with a Republican governor and both houses of the legislature controlled by ideologues dedicated to the interests of the wealthiest at the expense of the poorest and weakest. In the Tar Heel state, many of those elected officials owe their seats of power to a “cash cow” newly appointed to the influential position of budget director (Art Pope).

Ultimately I was so bothered that my conscience drove me to attend a Moral Monday protest on June 10. While there, I was much taken by a sign that paraphrased Thoreau: “In unjust times, the only proper place for a person is jail.” Silence feels to me like acquiescence. Since the number of people protesting and speaking has been met with only non-hearing and accusations from the majority of our Republican legislators, I decided it was important to do what may not be “lawful” but what is morally “right.” I remember Margaret Mead’s statement, “Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have.” So I signed up for civil disobedience. I hope Margaret Mead’s words prove to be true.

Judith Butt


Along with 120 others, with 1500 cheering us on and saying thank you for doing this, I was arrested for civil disobedience at the legislaturebuilding in Raleigh at the 8th Moral Monday coordinated by the NAACP and Reverend Barber.  The total arrested so far is 550. My warrant reads "Second Degree Trespass; Fail to Disperse on Command, Violating Legislative Building Rule." My Court date is October 4th. NAACP will provide us with bail if needed and volunteer lawyers.

The experience was amazing. After an orientation at a Baptist Church, we were bussed to the mall of the legislative building for more inspiring speeches. Then the 120 of us were blessed by the Reverend and marched into the legislative building singing Solidarity forever-the union makes us strong, and civil rights songs. We continued singing and swaying as the officers instructed us to leave, supporters cheered us and did leave, and then we were handcuffed with plastic ties and led into a room where mug shots were taken, our cell phones, drivers licenses, food, and dangerous instruments taken away to be later returned. We were marched, 
handcuffed, into a department of corrections barred bus used to 
transport prisoners, not air conditioned of course, to be taken to jail. 
And cheered by onlookers as we drove away. 

At the detention center we were taken from one room to another to be registered as offenders, at one point on a chain gang with steel locked handcuffs. The numbers of armed officers guarding us could have paid for the budget cuts the legislature had passed.

The funniest part were the jail holding cells holding anywhere from 6-10 women (men were separated for the whole procedure). We were told only two flushes per hour were allowed or the cells would flood. Volunteers drove us back to the church, after all the processing, where other volunteers had provided a feast for us and cheered us as each group returned. Because I was one of the first processed and out by 9 PM, and the driver for our carpool from Pittsboro was one of the last, we didn't get home till midnight.

An exhilarating experience; I then sent my letters to the editor of all 
the local newspapers. You may see me in a Civitas (think Art Pope) 
blacklist of names and pictures of those arrested. I now have a pin that says "I was arrested with Reverend Barber 2013" which I shall proudly wear.

I hope all those who read this blog think carefully about the dangers of fracking and do what they can.  If we each do a little, we can change this picture. We want rain from our storms, not illness, poverty, and hopelessness. Judy Hogan


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Last Week for Beaver Soul Pre-Sales

Drawing of beaver and snowgoose from Russian edition of Beaver Soul, by Mikhail Bazankov, Editor, Kostroma Writers Organization.

Beaver Soul sales–June 23, 2013

I am happy to report that my pre-sales of Beaver Soul are going up nicely.  As of this Sunday morning, I have 36 and need 19 more pre-sales to make 55 by Friday, June 28, my deadline.  Some of you got my gentle reminders that it really helps me to get this book out to have the minimum of 55 pre-sales.  I’m very grateful to those who responded by ordering it.  Remember, it could make nice Christmas gifts for those on your list who like the natural world, rivers, especially the Haw River here in Chatham, Alamance, etc., are curious about Russia, or know what it means to fall in love with another culture, its people, traditions, natural world.

The ordering info: $14.49 (includes postage), to Finishing Line Press, PO Box 1626, Georgetown, KY, 40324, or on line  If you want to check on whether your order went through okay, it’s to:

You also might enjoy looking me up on the North Carolina Writers’ Network website under Book Buzz, for July 5, a week from Friday,, where the news about Beaver Soul is posted.  Also last Monday, June 17, Jess Ferguson, who also belongs to Sisters in Crime and the Guppies (great unpublished), had my thoughts on being a real writer on her new blog:

Now here’s another little excerpt from Beaver Soul, to inspire you to buy this little book.


A drawing of Russian Cathedrals in Kostroma, by Mikhail Bazankov, from Russian edition of Beaver Soul.


Belief.  In the secret life of
the beaver to which she devotes her whole
intelligence in order to preserve her life,
her livelihood, and the lodge where her
children grow fat and strong; the lodge she
has hidden so well that I am baffled: I
can’t read the signs, tell whether the old
lodges are newly inhabited; I think not.
Probably she has a new nest; has outwitted
me; has not only safety on her mind, but
longevity.  She has learned from the river
winds how to fool the eye, how to blind the
heart that isn’t pure and able to believe
what it has seen.  The truth is always there:
it’s in the way the current follows the
river bed, however dammed and held back that
flowing is.  And the beaver’s life leaves
proofs a trusting heart has no trouble taking
for evidence: a few fresh chips of wood,

and she knows the whole story. 


Judy Hogan, as Mikhail Bazankov saw her in the 1990s. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Why I Am An Activist

Judy after a successful local election, November, 2004, in General Store Cafe in Pittsboro, when the Chatham Coalition elected our enlightened new County Commissioners, Mike Cross and Patrick Barnes.  Photo by John Hammond.  I had been secretary and volunteer coordinator.


My son was visiting me this past week, and at a dinner with friends, he said he didn’t see how protesting against the big corporations did any good.  They were so powerful.  It made me think about my own life, and what I as one person, usually, of course, working with others, have helped to make better.  Herewith part of my letter to my son.  We had been talking about the Moral Monday protests being in held now in Raleigh at the Legislature building.  Judy Hogan


My friend sent two articles from the newspaper about the Moral Mondays happening in Raleigh at the Legislature building.  She asked me to send them on to you.  In both the writers try to be realistic.  Sometimes such protests set off a harsh response, but ultimately, they admit, they usually have an effect, especially as more and more people get involved.  My friend said: “Protesting can seem futile at times, but it’s still the right thing to do.  Just ask the Germans who didn’t try to restrain Hitler while it was still possible.”  She also said that I am “irrepressible.”  (!)

It got me thinking, your wanting to know how protesting and being an activist could change anything when it seems like the big corporations, often supported by the government, seem to have all the power and control.  They certainly have a lot.  Since I moved here to Moncure, I’ve been working, since 2002, toward safer nuclear storage at the nearby nuclear plant, specifically to stop the train shipments of irradiated rods being shipped to that plant through Moncure (right by the PO) from other Progress Energy plants southeast of us.  I spoke to the Chatham County Commissioners back in 2003 about it, and they did write to the Attorney General of NC and ask that those shipments be stopped, as a train accident could endanger people here.  I worked with a group called NC Warn, that works on environmental issues, and is still working on them.  Progress Energy said they’d stop the shipments, but it took them two years. 

I also worked against air pollution, which had been going on here for ten years, with the regulators (Dept of Environment and Natural Resources) knowing it was bad from a combination of plants polluting our air.  People have been dying of cancer in Moncure for a long time.  The worst plant, a particle board plant, polluted more formaldehyde than any plant in the country.  I heard their vice president talk about how formaldehyde was quickly dissipated into the air, etc., as if there couldn’t be a serious problem, but we involved the county commissioners, and I wrote articles about it for our little community paper, and more and more people got involved and upset.  In the beginning people wouldn’t look at me, afraid they’d lose their jobs, more worried about that than dying.  Gradually it got better; that plant finally had to put in new machinery (expensive, so they sold it, and the new owner put it in), and people here, including me, were getting fewer colds.  A lot of people in the area had asthma, too.

Then I worked on county elections, 2004-6, because the commissioners were letting in every developer, without regard for the cost to the county and its people.  We changed that. 

So I have seen how my work can help, which is why I started talking to people here, putting up signs, and getting signatures on a petition to keep fracking out of N.C.

I like Margaret Mead’s wisdom, that it’s only small groups of people trying to bring about good changes that ever do change anything.  I also assume that our human life has both good and evil in it, and my job is to be a good human being and to do what I can to keep the balance on the good side.  I don’t think all my counter-players (opponents) are bad people.  Some good people become convinced that they’re right, when I think they’re wrong.  Few people are truly, deliberately evil.  

In the case of fracking, a lot of the challenge is education.  Natural gas released this way from under the shale rock can seem like a good energy choice, but I’ve learned that the toxic chemicals put into the huge amounts of water they use, and then the toxic waste water, often acquiring unsafe minerals and radiation from under the ground, which isn’t always carefully disposed of, represent a new source of air pollution, water pollution (some frackers have poured it into streams, drilled deep in the earth setting off earthquakes, and we in Moncure, with the nuclear plant, live on an earthquake fault), and earth pollution.  

How can we grow organic vegetables and fruit with this pollution of our atmosphere, water, and earth?  I was very worried, so I began to do something to keep me from getting depressed.  It’s the best antidote I know to worry, is to work on the problem.  I was amazed at how people welcomed me and thanked me for giving them a sign, for doing something.  Most of them were poor and hadn’t understood the danger, and most were elderly and wouldn’t be going out to put up signs or protest.  

Photo of yard signs on Moncure-Pittsboro Rd, photo by Keely Wood.

In my lifetime, I’ve seen how things can change.  When I was seven years old, living in Norman, Oklahoma, in 1944, Negroes couldn’t stay in that town overnight.  When they came to a meeting on race relations at the University, where my mother worked, there was no bathroom they could use, nor in town, and Mother brought them home to use the bathroom, and told me.  I was upset for them, and Mother said I could write to the Mayor of Norman, and I did.  I entered the University of Oklahoma in 1955, and the first young black woman (only one) was in my freshman class.

If it hadn’t been for the Civil Rights movement, and the new Desegregation decision from the US Supreme Court, in 1954, that wouldn’t have happened in 1955.  Even in NC in 1974, when we were living on a Cedar Grove farm, and I published a review in the Durham paper, calling black poet T.J. Reddy, a saint, our farmer got upset.  T.J. was sent to prison for burning a stable of horses, with two other black men who were also innocent.  Their “crime” was urging young black men to evade the draft, and witnesses against them were paid by the Justice Dept and sent to Mexico, to put The Charlotte Three behind bars.  

Two days after my review came out, our farmer came to tell us we had to move.  That was why we ended up in Chase Park, an integrated housing project which had grown out of the Civil Rights Movement in Chapel Hill.  Things racially were still tense in NC.  I began publishing black writers through Carolina Wren Press in the mid-70s, and I got away with it, but at the time there were no publishers in NC who were publishing black writers, except one in Charlotte, Red Clay Books, and she thought T.J. was guilty!  I published him, proudly.

This is Judy, Chair of the National Small Press Association, COSMEP, at the annual convention in Austin, Texas, 1976, the year I began publishing Carolina Wren Press.  Photo by Foster Robertson Foreman.

Anyway, your mom, as my friend says, is irrepressible.  I want my books to help make things better, so I take up issues that concern me.  Right now the fracking is my big social concern, and the new novel I’m starting now is to be called Don’t Frack Here, and will take up fracking and its dangers to NC.  Love, Mom

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Review: Escape From Paris by Carolyn Hart

Escape From Paris.  Carolyn Hart.  Seventh Street Books, Amherst, NY.  ISBN: 978-1-61614-793-8, trade paper, 286 pages, $13.95.  E-book, 978-1-61614-794-5.  With an Introduction by the author.

Carolyn Hart has published fifty books: traditional novels in four series, stand-alone thrillers and suspense novels, and young adult novels.  I was privileged to receive a review copy of a re-issue of Escape From Paris, set in 1940, near the beginning of World War II in Europe.  In her introduction Hart comments that, to get the original novel published in 1982, she had to cut 40,000 words.  The re-issue is the original uncut manuscript.  She further notes: “I hope readers will share the struggles of brave men and women who defied the Gestapo during the bitter winter of 1940.  They knew fear, found love, grieved loss.  Their lives and deaths remind us that freedom survives only when the free are brave.”  This is a timely message at this point in time, when we are beset with economic, political, and weather crises.

I’ve read many novels about World War II and the Nazis, but Escape From Paris cuts to the heart of the emotional challenge of such times, describing the mind-numbing, paralyzing fear, and those who engendered it by their brutal and absolute indifference to the sufferings of other human beings.  The mindset of the Nazis saw other people with contempt and needed to have absolute control.

Linda Lassiter and her sister, Eleanor Masson, are Americans living in Paris in 1940.  France, after its defeat by the German army, signed an armistice.  Part of France was still controlled by the Vichy, pro-Nazi government, but Paris and Northern France were directly controlled by the German military and Gestapo (Geheine Stats Polizei).  Jews were being rounded up and shipped to Germany in cattle cars.  The abstract nature of such a statement is turned inside out here by vivid scenes: gentle, elderly Jewish women, cold, hungry, scared, one with an incipient heart attack, then falling in the mud and breaking her hip, and having no hope of a doctor in filthy conditions unfit even for animals.  Such vignettes, with their small details, reveal the full horror of what the Nazi cruelty was like.
Eleanor, married to a Frenchman missing in action, is working with the Red Cross to take food to wounded soldiers in Paris hospitals.  When Linda takes her place, a wounded British soldier asks her to help him escape by letting him ride in the trunk of her car.  She is terrified, yet manages to fool the guard and get him back to Eleanor’s apartment.  When the Gestapo arrive, Eleanor’s thirteen-year-old son Robert hides the soldier in a secret compartment in the basement, and the two women bluff their way through the Gestapo search of both apartment and car.

This successful rescue leads to their further efforts as part of the forming French Underground.  When a British Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot comes down in Northern France, he is helped to Paris by the new Underground, and the sisters take him in, get him a doctor for his wounded leg, which now has gangrene.  With the new drug sulfanilamide that the doctor tries and the sisters’ nursing help, he pulls through, and during his slow recovery Jonathan and Linda fall in love.

This is a suspense novel, and the fear in the reader that something bad will happen to Linda, Eleanor, Robert, and Jonathan, as well as to the escape route they work with, runs parallel to the terror these characters live with every day as they help people leave Paris via the Pyrenees into Spain and hence to ships that will take them away from increasingly Nazi-controlled Europe.

To me the greatest gift of this novel is a thoughtful analysis of how one can learn to cope with fear in such overwhelmingly difficult conditions.  We know that what separates cowards from heroes and heroines is something deeper in us even than that fear which so easily undoes our conscious good intentions.  What does cause us to calm ourselves, act normal when we feel terrified?  Some resource I can only call spiritual.  Something that helps us remember that other people depend on us and we must not fail them.  Something that sees beyond the present moment and yet saves us in it from despair when we know we have no safety net.  We must risk everything and have no guarantee we will win or even survive.  We could call it love.

This is an apt time in human history to remember and re-live how people coped and risked their lives some seventy years ago.  In 1940 those alive then had no idea how bad World War II would be before it ended, nor have we any certain knowledge of our future.  We’d best learn to be brave if we want to stay free.

Look for another World War II reissued novel this summer: Broken Hearts, which chronicles the courageous efforts of Americans trapped in the Philippines after the Japanese invasion.


Carolyn Hart’s fiftieth novel, Dead, White, and Blue, was published in May 2013.  Her books have won Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards.  She has twice appeared at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC.  In May this year the Malice Domestic Convention honored her with the Amelia Award for her contributions to the mystery community.  She is thrilled that some of her long-ago books are having a new life.  She lives in Oklahoma City with her husband, Phil.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Report on No-Fracking Work--March-May 2013

Signs along Moncure-Pittsboro Rd, near Jordan Dam Rd., Moncure


I began canvassing my neighbors here in Moncure, which is within a mile or less of the Lee County border, in late March.  At first I made up my own petition, and then Bonnie Bechard and Elaine Chiosso helped me with a non-partisan petition.  I made up a flyer, which I showed them.  Keely Wood in Lee County with the Stand Your Ground No-Fracking group, gave me a dozen signs.  I began near home and worked my way toward Pittsboro along Moncure-Pittsboro Rd.  Where people weren’t home, I left a flyer: Why I Oppose Fracking.  I went out for two hours eight times, got eighty signatures on my petition, which will go with the on-line petition started by the Chatham County Democratic Women (also non-partisan), put out thirty plus signs, and Keely brought me a big one, aimed at Jordan Lake traffic: “Fracking Will Kill Jordan Lake” on one side, and “Stop the Frack Attack” on the other.  About ten people refused to sign, only two of those in favor of fracking, some debating the issue still, others cautious about signing.  I also arranged for Elaine Chiosso of Haw River Assembly to give a presentation on fracking at the August 20 meeting of the Southeast Chatham Citizens Advisory Council.

I always dreaded going out.  I made myself do two hours on Saturday afternoon, except when I had a workshop and once when I was out of town at a mystery convention.  About a third of my neighbors I had met or knew slightly.  Others knew of me or had seen me walking my dog on Jordan Dam Road.  About half had never seen me before when I knocked on their doors.  What kept me going were the men and women who welcomed me, many not knowing until I came how fracking threatened our lives and homes.  I’ll never forget their gratitude, their eagerness to help, and most were elderly, often living alone on very little money.  Moncure is multi-racial, and I talked to both black and white folks.  

I check my signs as I drive the main roads where I left them.  This is mowing season, but the signs are looked after.  When I put out some flimsy signs Elaine got me as a temporary measure, a big thunderstorm “tore them up.”  Those folks were so grateful when I replaced their signs.

In recent weeks people I call on have told me they see the signs.  I had also put out flyers and one on the bulletin board in the Moncure post office, over a two-month period, but one day recently I found the flyers gone, and one on the bulletin board, too.  I asked our postmistress if she knew what had happened, and she and I found them torn up in the wastebaskets in the lobby.  She was more distressed than I was.  I remembered the words of an old friend, Len Randolph, when I was chair of COSMEP, the small press organization back in the 70s–a wild and wooly group it was then.  “When you make enemies, it means you’re getting something done.”

I began working against fracking to keep myself from despair.  A man I talked to yesterday said it well and simply: “Instead of worrying about energy, we should be worrying about having enough drinking water.”

I thank all those neighbors of mine who trusted me, welcomed me, and thanked me.  Given the heat and my need to do a lot of new writing this summer, I will be working mainly on line now.  Here’s a poem to end with.  Check out the earlier blogs here on fracking: (March 17, 31, and April 7).  That link to the online petition is:


RIPENING XXIX. May 26, 2013

You never step twice into the same river
for different waters are always flowing.
–Heraclitus, Greek philosopher, 600 BC

Clearly I am
valued: my words, the way I see the
world and other people.  My tribe
includes all of us living in this planet
village.  If we harm each other, we
harm ourselves, too.  The globe has
shrunk, and we need now to save
our water, grow sufficient healthy
food, refuse toxic waste and trespass,
live more kindly, submit to 
enlightenment, replenish joy.
Ripening XXVI.

What if that is my main purpose
here on earth?  To submit to
enlightenment, replenish joy?
I do that faithfully, set aside
this Sunday time to dig deeper,
seek clarity, a kind of prayer, 
an opening to the Inner Self.
I listen, willing to love and also
to let go if no loving strands
come toward me.  Nothing ever 
does return in exactly the same 
way, and yet the river of love 
still flows, and we may step in 
if we don’t expect the same 
waters to be flowing.  With these 
gossamer strands I may, one at 
a time, change the world.  Two 
women my age were welcoming.  
Both lonely.  One, sewing, still in 
robe and pajamas, signed my
petition, then wanted to take me
to her church where people loved
each other.  I thanked her, left a
sign along Old Number One:
“Water equals Life: No Fracking.”
The other woman was on her
way to feed the birds.  She planted
clover for the rabbit she saw one
Easter morning.  Her husband is
ill, but she wanted his approval
before she signed the petition.
She grew up in Moncure, but,
returning, finds no one will talk
to her.  I leave another sign,
meditate on how quickly both
women, whom I surprised, 
came to trust me.  It’s all we
have in this life that’s permanent:
these threads of connection–so 
fragile, so easily broken, yet 
persistent and nourishing of our 
souls, our lonely, individual selves.  
How we long to know: someone 
else is there; someone else cares 
what happens to us.  The secret 
of a long, fruitful life is to let 
other people near enough to 
remind us to submit to the truth 

in our depths and replenish joy.