Guest Juice California Current: California’s Energy Efficiency Pickle, Part 2. February 19, 2016

In last week’s Guest Juice I explained how the California Public Utility Commission and California Energy Commission are in a pretty pickle in implementing AB 802 and SB 350, the two intertwining laws aimed at overhauling energy efficiency.

AB 802’s provision to count and incent efficiency savings from existing building conditions and energy use (“existing conditions baseline”), instead of the state’s minimum building energy code requirements, is not the guaranteed boon to SB 350’s mandate to double electric and natural gas savings by 2030.

Even though the Energy Commission’s existing building energy codes are not being met, the CPUC’s efficiency savings and goals incorporate an expectation that energy code savings are reached.[1] That is, the CPUC’s efficiency goals are “pre-loaded” with these questionable savings, and programs start above them.

That leaves a lot of unmet opportunity for efficiency – stranded where codes are not producing it, and CPUC programs can’t touch it.

A first step out of this pickle regarding overly rosy energy efficiency gains based on modelled codes and standards is for the CPUC and Energy Commission to agree on reasonable methods to count and account for efficiency savings from existing buildings. Efficiency happens for different reasons, including: energy price-induced owner changes, building code-mandated changes, and voluntary improvements prompted by utility programs and incentives.

This is NOT some casual conversation supported with back of the envelope math. Over- and under-stating efficiency savings has potentially costly implications in the state’s energy demand forecast and the procuring of too many or too few electric resources.

The core truth of the existing conditions baseline is also the reality of grid management.

Even so, the complications of changing baselines are multi-dimensional with widespread implications for the many ingredients that have to mesh in the CEC’s forecast of state energy demand, the CPUC’s procurement of electric resources, and the California Independent System Operator’s operation of one of the largest power grids in the world.[2]

To enable AB 802 to contribute to SB 350’s doubling of efficiency, the CPUC needs tests and demonstrations of new meter-based transaction structures and business models that leverage building efficiency improvements as a capital market investment opportunity.[3] That way efficiency can be viewed as a persistent (20+ years) and meter verified validated resource. Utilities then could count on the metered negawatts from building retrofits just as much as they do the megawatts they get under power purchase agreements with generators today.[4]

Building owners, project developers, and capital markets testing and demonstrating meter-based transactions need to look beyond the CEC’s and CPUC’s current baseline counting and accounting pickle.

Businesses and markets care about how to pay for and profit from building refurbishment upgrades. If building refurbishments and retrofits can be justified in part or whole with energy savings, then that contributes to the overall value proposition. Whether the energy savings are due to the CEC’s energy code, or CPUC’s utility efficiency programs, or other related or independent actions, does not change the net savings effect at the meter. All of this is invisible to businesses and markets, however important to policymakers’ recordkeeping

To meet both regulatory counting and accounting needs, and to test and demonstrate meter-based transaction structures, the CPUC needs a set of reliable and standardized protocols.

Using the existing meter feed as input, counterfactual metered baselines that are dynamic over time can track what a building’s energy and load requirements would have been but for energy efficiency and other distributed resources.

A series of algorithms define the building’s energy and load requirements by compliant physical models that can be normalized over time, reflecting changes in the building’s energy math. Such dynamic metering solutions can track both savings (existing conditions baselines), and various regulatory baselines, thus allowing tracking for policy purposes of program effectiveness separately from the building’s core concern with savings measurements.

This all becomes much simpler and cleaner if separate ratepayer efficiency incentive dollars are not involved in metered transaction structures because of the separate measuring tools.

Metering techniques should account for incentive program effects from efficiency gains.

To avoid all of us stewing in the pickle barrel brine, we need to remember the bottom line: that the building owner is making decisions and to him or her it is the dollar savings that matter.

California can have one very sweet pickle implementing AB 802 by ensuring that any existing conditions baseline savings are properly counted and accounted, opening the door to new meter-based transaction structures that can be supported by capital market investments.[5] That would allow utilities and industry to realize just how compelling a business opportunity efficiency is.

Cynthia Mitchell is a 40-year veteran energy economist and utility consumer advocate and consultant for The Utility Reform Network. The views expressed herein are her own.


[1] As the CEC’s existing building codes have become more rigorous and complex, many stakeholders contend that they are not being met.

[2] CPUC Proceeding R. 13-11-005, D. 14-10-046, Oct. 16, 2014, p. 61.

[3] Going after stranded efficiency with ratepayer-funded incentives and technical support could mean increases in the CPUC’s $1 billion annual efficiency budget, with only minimal gains in incremental energy savings. Utility efficiency programs already cost as much as alternative generation, transmission, and distribution. In the CPUC’s own words, the utility efficiency programs “are on the verge of no longer being cost effective.” See R. 13-11-005, D 15-10-025, October 22, 2015, p. 2. The vast majority of SB 350 efficiency savings will result from investments outside of any utility incentive programs. See CEC “California Existing Buildings Energy Efficiency Action Plan”, p. 26.

[4] See California Current Guest Juice “Capitalizing Energy Efficiency”, C. Mitchell, Oct. 9, 2015.

[5] California has 2-3 times more efficiency that is economic than what is being achieved, requiring a shift in investment perspectives from short-term consumer finance to long-term (20+years) utility asset-based finance and cost of capital. CPUC R. 113-11-005, D. 15-10-025, pp. 15-16.

Water for cows

The Nov. 23 stories “The city as sponge,” about Los Angeles possibly designing its way to water independence, the related story “The Revival of Mono Lake,” and the cover story, “Water Hustle,” brought back the July 16, 2015, TED Radio Hour: “Finite: Ideas about the Resources We Use and How to Make the Most of What’s Left.” About 14.5 minutes in, John Foley, an ecologist who runs the California Academy of Sciences, offers this observation (which I paraphrase): “Just think about the last 50 years. Population has more than doubled, our use of water for food production has more than tripled, and our use of fossil fuels has more than quadrupled.”

Focus in on water for agriculture, Foley continues: “Seventy to 90 percent of all water used around the planet is to irrigate crops. California’s water problem is a food problem. The biggest consumer of water in California is alfalfa. Alfalfa alone is using more water than all the other water uses combined, and most of it is being shipped overseas for use as feed for dairy cows. So we are exporting California water to the Middle East and China to make milk.”

So, yes, while the possibility of making LA water independent is tremendous, the darts we are throwing are still missing the bull’s-eye — California alfalfa exports — which Gov. Jerry Brown, for all his 2016 green energy and water policies, has said is “off the table.”

Cynthia Mitchell

Reno, Nevada

HIGH COUNTRY NEWS  January 25, 2016

Water for cows


The Nov. 23 stories “The city as sponge,” about Los Angeles possibly designing its way to water independence, the related story “The Revival of Mono Lake,” and the cover story, “Water Hustle,” brought back the July 16, 2015, TED Radio Hour: “Finite: Ideas about the Resources We Use and How to Make the Most of What’s Left.” About 14.5 minutes in, John Foley, an ecologist who runs the California Academy of Sciences, offers this observation (which I paraphrase): “Just think about the last 50 years. Population has more than doubled, our use of water for food production has more than tripled, and our use of fossil fuels has more than quadrupled.”

Focus in on water for agriculture, Foley continues: “Seventy to 90 percent of all water used around the planet is to irrigate crops. California’s water problem is a food problem. The biggest consumer of water in California is alfalfa. Alfalfa alone is using more water than all the other water uses combined, and most of it is being shipped overseas for use as feed for dairy cows. So we are exporting California water to the Middle East and China to make milk.”

So, yes, while the possibility of making LA water independent is tremendous, the darts we are throwing are still missing the bull’s-eye — California alfalfa exports — which Gov. Jerry Brown, for all his 2016 green energy and water policies, has said is “off the table.”

Cynthia Mitchell

Reno, Nevada

Sunday, September 6th

Back in Reno-Reno yesterday afternoon two o’clock. Twelve hours Friday Olympia to Mt Shasta. Biked in Eugene on the way down. Beautiful thunderstorm building from the west that an hour later I followed Eugene to Ashland. Buckets of rains, slushy ice drops south of Eugene. Couple hours later, the rains running in the streets and gutters Ashland.  I knew I was good to go from Olympia 8:30 Friday morning seeing Roy’s clock was within one minute of my phone. Took all the tour for Roy to finally sink with real time, not “2:47” at 6 pm, or “8:41” at high noon. Friday night camped rest stop with truckers and RVs outside of Shasta City. Nice that I can do that. Get some sleep, toilet, running water. Breakfast in Shasta counter talk with Missouri couple there for a niece’s 400-guest wedding. Sacramento life-long civil servants relocated a few years ago to Missouri. Tired of Sacramento and grandkid babysitting. Loving their new life.. They thought Bellingham move was a great idea. Julie said “Be ready for lots of new day at school days, getting out and meeting folks.”  Yeah, I could see that. Will take a lot of new day at school days to cut a new scene, way of living, being, in a new community, new region. I also get more Cynthia time, less responsibilities and duties. Still some doin’ to pull it all off; very doable.

This is my 530 Chicken Court greeting Taylor and Asia.

170 Asia Taylor171 Asia and Taylor173 flowers174 tomatoes175 kitchen


We three had a blast last evening. Still, I ended up sleeping in Roy. That could happen again tonight.


Friday, September 4th

The tour is in the wind-up /wind-down. I’m over the deal making a few days ago of “I can keep living in Roy when back in Reno”. I had a hot shower this morning in a really nice clean bathroom and I gotta say, it was mighty nice. Two nights in Olympia with family Corina and Mitch after a week of Olympic rain forests. Being with Koos and Mitch took off  the edge of re-entry. Their dog Sprout and my buddy dog  in Roy ready to drive!

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Visited the Olympia VW dealership again for Roy a new battery. So, my $300 coming and going Roy on the gypsy tour. Koos said to just think of it as rent. That totally works. Jeff got us in Thursday with diagnosis dead battery, maybe a coming on alternator matter. We’ll see…Roy’s rent.   The last few days had been a bit sketchy camping and waking up to rain forest dead battery. Wonderful folks in Sol Duc campground jumped me evening and morning.  Lovely Hood Rive family – Erin, Sam (9) and Casey. I could have visited with them most of the morning and look forward to staying in touch. Actually, I could of hung out all day with them, but I needed to get Roy to Olympia VW.

151 Erin, Sam, Casey

Before Sol Duc, I met up at Bear Tracks with Sarah, Dillion, Steve, Cami, Kathy, more family and friends, out at Bear Tracks for  big Monday clean-up. Kathy (mom Dillon and Steve) put my on kitchen cleaning. Then, Sarah put me on lunch round-up. Set up Roy’s kitchen down from the cabin, we got a table for chopping and slicing  vegetables. I cooked up my turmeric,cinnamon, sundried tomatoes, chopped nuts, raisins,  blessed rice. Kathy, Sarah, and I cooked up the purple cauliflower, orange carrots, chard, onions, garlic, leek; with scrambelin eggs and smoked salmon skillet cooked in. Topped with crisp cucumber and pepper slices. Pink salt to taste, hot sauce.  Kathy and men cookin’ pics won’t up load (Carlo!s).


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Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, August 31st – September 2nd

My first week of the gypsy tour was daily near “I’m going to melt down moments.” Seven days and more. My test. My tour. My experience. There were so many edges, with two emotional choices or “doors” to choose from: A. secure, B. insecure. My choice, my choosing, my doing really. That’s Destiny defined; stepping up and taking Faith, my faith, and doing something with it.

I’m due back in Reno this coming weekend. It’s going to be tough or at least very different, odd, being out of the forests. I could do this much longer, this being with nature, with beauty. Considering, trying on a perspective of smallness, of gratitude, to beautify my gaze. A keeping with what should always be my first prayer: “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Five nights now in Olympic forests — rain, rain, rain. Deeper rain forest now, about an hour west of Port Angeles. Ranger talk this morning asking where closest public internet was, they said “You’re out in the country now. ” So I didn’t need to work today after all.

So here I am, at drippy damp Sol Duc Hot Springs and campground. Hot soaked last night, and again here soon (Tuesday evening).

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Rain forest hike today (Tuesday) through the forest of all good, goodness, good enough, good God, and God is good. My experience was revelation — as defined by O’Donohue, To give over to experience, soften, gentle, my gaze. Come from a place of smallness, gratitude.

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Today’s hike became a forgiveness hike. What came to me is that the practice of forgiveness is the hardest practice of all. I have missed the point that forgiveness is the way I heal. Forgiveness is about me understanding how and why someone is hurting, and how I am involved, my contribution, role, and my own hurts and confusion. Then, forgiveness is about figuring out best how to forgive and be compassion. Compassion is born from my woundedness; and woundedness refined is beauty. (O’Donohue p. 181).

My head over heels love of the forests is much about light. Again O’Donohue: “Light the greatest unnoticed force of transfiguration in the world: it literally alters everything it through colour dresses nature to delight, befriend, inspire, and shelter us.” p.82


Saturday morning, day of the McNabb hitching, I was walking, running, skipping, laughing, singing through a short loop hike near the forest service visitors’ center. It was the tail end of the evening’s rain and wind storm — the wild experience of rain forest winds. Boughs snap, rip, tear and tumble– cascading down through fifty feet and more of dense forest. Thousands on thousands of cedar and fir needles flying through wild canyon winds. Sunlight and reflective stream light transfigure needles to golden wings. Golden wings that illuminate and create a surrounding, engulfing “gold out” — flying, spinning, twirling. Me too! Me too! The light, the light.

A few days earlier Port Townsend State Park, dense forest biking, light spoke to me: “Yes, right here. Here you pray.” So I did. Certainly not enough; I wanted to ride the big forest loop up and down and around. The light, the light. Seeking, discovering, opening — light. / Allowing, being — light.

This from campground signage reflecting some of the power and force of the rain forest:

“Blow-Down: On the night of February 12, 1979, a windstorm blew across the Olympic peninsula. Along the coast, gusts reached 98 miles per hour. Trees fell like toothpicks — 92 toppled in this campground alone — leaving a quarter-mile long corridor of downed trucks. The same storm sank Hood Canal Bridge. Blow-downs are only a phase in the forest’s life-cycle. In the new clearing seedlings thrive on sunlight, and can begin life on the decaying trunks of storm-downed trees.

Driving into Port Angeles this morning from Sol Duc, forest debris all around, at least one large tree recently sawed into sections and rolled, cleared from the road. So much aliveness, wildness. A friend in Bellingham reports big windstorms there with now torrential rain. Dennis says his rain barrels dry a few weeks ago could have been filled several times o ver.

The gypsy tour is also about Green: The Colour of Growth; the Colour of Hope. (O’Donohue p. 104). Recalling childhood summer meadows: “When you opened the gate, you could almost feel the meadow breathing.” (105). I know that! Tennessee gates tractor wide and more. Me getting into pastures right away, walking the hills, humming, singing; exploring, experiencing; communion, reverence.

“Green is the colour of relentless desire.” (p.105) And, from the Irish famine, a man found dead in the mountains (spring) how his lips were green: “The hunger had driven him to eat grass.” (p. 106)

Sol Duc campground site #63 two nights of steady rain (Wednesday morning). Big dollups and splashes, powerful rhythmic movement, dance really, on Roy’s pop top shell, less than two feet above my head. How to describe, write about, express in words? The rain is audio massage through my skin, muscle, and bone, to all of my cells, reprogramming me at a cellular level a la Bruce Lipton’s Epigenetics. Letting the rain in and through me; a paint by numbers in reverse to create new perception at the cellular level. My brain turning new perception into chemistry — a new paint by numbers kit. Lipton: “Your belief carries more power than reality.” And, “We came here to experience Heaven.” Also, “Each of us is a cell in the bigger organization of humanity.”

“What we think, we become.” Buddha

“I’ll see it when I believe it.”

Sunday, August 30th

Today marks seven full weeks of the gypsy tour; tonight the 49th sleep out in Roy. My Oregon-Washington map is worn into three pieces. I’ve lost one toenail (left pinky) and have one smashed finger (right pinky); showers total over a dozen, six plus loads of laundry, and three thousand miles under my / Roy’s belt. The closest to city sleep was one noisy RV park outside of Eugene first week of the tour. Other than that, it’s been country, rural, state and national forests and parks.

My sister’s middle child, Sarah (28) and darling Dillion (local Port Angeles) were wed yesterday evening in a beautiful woodland setting outside of Port Angeles. Rain did not deter the fun, with dancing and music till let’s see, 4:30 am by my clock, camping as I was at the venue. There were hundreds of dahlias! A few made it to Roy as part of the morning’s clean-up. Pictures of Sarah and Dillon coming! This pic adorning Sarah with my wedding pearls.

141 Roy dahlias140 Me and Sarah Pearls

I started in again on John O’Donohue’s book “Beauty, The Invisible Embrace: Rediscovering the True Sources of Compassion, Serenity, and Hope:. I’ve never made it all the way through, picking it up again and again. This trip I will. If I could have but one book, this just might be it.

The gypsy tour theme of “follow the love” could as easily be “follow the beauty”, or “allow the beauty”. One passage early on calls to me again and again, fitting so well with these seven weeks of deeper intimacy with the natural world, with the Divine. I’ll give you just snippets from the section with the heading “In Difficult Times to Keep Something Beautiful in Your Heart”.

“It was Blaise Pascal who said: ‘In difficult times you should always carry something beautiful in your mind.’

Rilke said that during such times we should endeavor to stay close to one simple thing in nature.”

Certainly, I agree. My take is that O’Donohue is suggesting that we should always hold to beauty and nature as our daily practice; not just something we reach for in troubled times. Cultivating an intimacy with beauty, with nature, as daily practice, serenity is more easily restored; experience of prayer deeper and more meaningful.

The following passage speaks deeply to my gypsy tour experience as an event of revelation — wonderfully unsettling and disconcerting to again and again to just “be with me”.

“When we go out in nature, clay is returning to clay. We are returning to participate in the stillness of earth which first dreamed us. This stillness is rich and fecund. One might think that an invitation to enter into the stillness of nature is merely naive romanticism that likes to indulge itself and escape from the cut and thrust of life into some narcissistic cocoon. This invitation to friendship with nature does of course entail a willingness to be alone out there. Yet this aloneness is anything but lonely. Solitude gradually clarifies the heart until a true tranquility is reached. The irony is that at the heart of that aloneness you feel intimately connected with the world. Indeed, the beauty of nature is often the wisest balm for it gently relieves and releases the caged mind. Calmness flows in to wash away anxiety and worry. Over against the world with all its turbulence, distraction and worry, one should cultivate a style of mind that can reach through to an inner stillness and calm. The world cannot ruffle the dignity of a soul that dwells in its own tranquility. Gradually, this serenity will begin to pervade our seeing and change the way we look at things.”

Here in the Olympic forest, the stillness and quietude create an aloneness that I get to choose, define, as anything but lonely. Am I serene? I believe so when I open to the interim world, the invisible territory of creativity and imagination. To accept, embrace, with an open and humble heart the invitation to a full life. For a very long time I the statement “Just once, I wanted a task that required all the joy I had.” stared at me from my desk. Certainly motherhood, and sometimes my right livelihood, but what now? Open to the beckoning, the calling.

I’ll leave off with “Beauty” with just a small bit from the next section headed “To Beautify the Gaze”.

“Each of us is responsible for how we see, and how we see determines what we see. Seeing is not merely a physical act: the heart of vision is shaped by the state of the soul…if our style of looking becomes beautiful, then beauty will become visible and shine forth for us. We will be surprised to discover beauty in unexpected places where the ungraceful eye would never linger. The graced eye can glimpse beauty anywhere, for beauty does not reserve itself for special elite moments or instances, it does not wait for perfection but is present already secretly in everything. When we beautify our gaze, the grace of hidden beauty becomes our joy and our sanctuary.”

Beautify our gaze, beautify my gaze. Can I do that? Not just in national parks and forests, but in traffic and cities with their shares of unpleasantness. Beautify my gaze, beautify my gaze — it all comes back to gratitude doesn’t it? From the book “One Thousand Gifts”:

“If the heights of our joy are measured by the depths of our gratitude and gratitude is but one way of seeing, a spiritual perspective of smallness might offer a vital way of seeing especially conductive to gratitude.”

I like that, a “perspective of smallness”, of gratitude, to beautify my gaze.


Friday, August 28th

I am in the Olympic National Park right outside of Port Angeles, Washington northern coast. Arrived Thursday, took in the views and hike in “high country”, around  5200 feet. To the west a range of a dozen peaks in the 5 – 6,000 foot range from otherwise sea level base. It’s dry dry dry here, with the scattering of glaciers across peaks largely gone — forever. There is still quite a pocket of glacier pack further back in a cluster of far away peaks.

Driving from Port Townsend (after spending Wednesday in another mossy ferny state park) to Port Angeles I came across some native American totem poles, and, Fat Smitty’s lumberjack, burger, and Pepsi totems.


131 Totem130 Fat Smitty's132 Totems

Played over and over again a new song “When the Rains Came”, singing, praying, affirming. Gentle rains started about midnight Thursday of the full moon in my mossy ferny campground. Morning mediation sitting / reading I am cocooned in the receding forest mists. Soon I will venture out for a long day’s forest hike. Just now a crow was in my campsite cawing several times, calling, beckoning me to not be afraid. It’s Jo Anne Garrett (Baker NV decades friend, deceased 2 years this October) who came to me in a dream years ago, landing on my shoulder, her right eye to my left, looking out into the future, “Don’t be afraid Cynthia, don’t be afraid.” I am filled with deep gratitude, purpose and desire.

Quite an amazing 7 mile loop hike with / through / in mists, sprites, and spirits. With vision limited to foreground, I realized I did not need to see further, trusting, knowing the path before me was sure and true. What did the mists want me to  hear? The absolute silence beyond the three levels of OM (or “AUM”): waking, dreaming , deep sleep; gross, subtle, casual; conscious, unconscious, subconscious; coming, being, going. The absolute silence beyond the three levels is the silence after OM – AUM.

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What did the mists want me to see? The spider web?  Look very carefully!!!

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Wednesday, August 26th

I tore myself away from Bellingham yesterday afternoon, saying so long for now to Ruth, Carole, and “The Homestead”. Headed south and west back to port side Anacortes for regional community group “Sustainable Connections” 15 year anniversary celebration. Sustainable Connections is engaged in cultivating sustainable economic and environmental practices via energy efficiency and renewables, food and farming, business development, green buildings and smart growth, and think local first. Right up my alley! Great group of folks that I am looking forward to engaging with mid-2016.

Leaving Bellingham stopped by The Center for Local Self Reliance — bicycle-close to Ruth and Carole’s. Their amazing community garden caught my eye and heart a couple of weeks ago. The pictures don’t do justice. First time there a week or so ago I was particularly struck by the tomatoes! Larry — garden manager (?) explained the “tomato project” of field testing Eastern Europe Mediterranean varieties as more suited to the region’s climate conditions, noting the recent “exception” or changing trend in weather (for instance little if any rain in the otherwise “all rain” month of June) toward dryer / hotter Northern California. Okay, I wasn’t quite skipping through the gorgeous garden — more like a butterfly flitting here and there.

101 Tomato Project100 Dahlia


The Center for Local Self Reliance will be holding their “Skill Share” event this weekend. That’s staffer Bill holding signs for me. Looks to be a great event. Can’t wait till next year.

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Before leaving Ruth and Carole’s, I sautéed up a huge mess of greens with “tons” of onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, carrots, zukes; some rice stirred in, topped with cucumbers and avocados. Roy makes a great near outdoor kitchen with plenty of room to cook my favorite way — wild and messy. Ruth sent me to a local produce stand about 5 minutes away. Directions — after 2 rights and 1 left, keep going down the road and “you’ll be on it [Joe’s]”. No kidding! I squealed with glee, did a u-turn right there and snapped these two pictures. HUGE fields (by my standards at least) and all the produce I could ever want or need. Glad to know my local source for boxes of canning, freezing, and dehydrating peaches and such next year!

123 Ruth and Carole So Long120 Joe's fields121 Joe's Sign

Ferry ride me and Roy from Whidbey Island to Port Townsend in a couple of hours. New experience for us! Darling niece Sarah’s wedding in Port Angeles Saturday! Back to Reno from gypsy tour in about 10 days.

Saturday August 22nd

Made it through quite a bit of California work last week without it “killing me” — that is, just the logistics of back and forth campground to town for internet and cell, keeping computer charged up via campsite — coffee shops and pizza parlors. Not my usual work style. So very good for me to go beyond comfort zones and figure it out! Make work, well, work, from Bellingham, WA.

Got out and around all over Bellingham yesterday hybrid biking. So fun to be in a community that I can cruise-bike one end to the other and bisect across, have a bite to eat, all in a few hours.  I am staying a few nights in Roy at my Spring 2016 new Bellingham home. Met Carole and Ruth at the Center Spiritual Living last Sunday and had an instant connection. They have been together for 30 + years, living not in town but up out a bit on close to an acre, called “Homestead”. Modest / small country home, a few old sheds, Ruth’s sculptor studio, and the Butterfly House. That’s Ruth holding the big piece of tree cut shaped like an angel that she found being thrown out / away. That’s Carole holding a couple do garden “tools” a la Ruth.

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112 Ruth Studio

The vegetable garden caught / stole / has my heart. Of course things just grow here, but I on / here/at this plot of God’s earth, I feel, relate, commune with / to / through the soil, vegetables, flowers,  fruit trees, all of it, already in much of the way Ruth and Carole do. I’ve found a little Tennessee heart here in Bellingham and I am happy. Now I can let go of my 530 Chicken Court “paradise”.

So the Butterfly House is to be mine to live in when in Bellingham — a place to come and go from — a new touch point, grounding, here in the Pacific Northwest, a place to call home. About the size of 3 Roys now, it will be about a third again bigger after  a pretty simple expansion that will in part connect the butterfly house with a back shed. All close to the main house kitchen and bath that I share with Carole and Ruth. I’ll have a sink and hot plate in my back shed, closet there too, wood stove lower level butterfly house, electricity.  That’s about it  — pretty country. “Homestead” has -the smells and textures of country — worn, somewhat wild. I guess that’s the way I feel also. I like this living with one foot outside. The change will do me good.

113 Butterfly house






Wednesday, August 19th

I have been camping in Larrabee State Park 10 miles south of Bellingham since Sunday, having come down from quite a Mt Baker National Park high. Access to showers again is nice, along with internet and cell (when I come into town). Though I have been working some along the way of the gypsy tour, California has definitely caught up with me this week! After a lull in the energy/utility regulatory action, the public utility commission has in a few days issued long-time coming proposed case decisions. Working with CA-attorneys Hayley and Elise, I read these things and try and sort out progress, setbacks, and stalemates – and concoct draft comments. So, in other words, back to work on the gypsy tour! I am finding ways to be creative and focused in campgrounds, coffee houses, and parking lots.

Larrabee State Park nestled between road way and train track, is also bay side in (again) a mossy ferny forest. Chuckanut Drive runs about 10 miles parallel the Samish Bay – part of the larger bay system throughout this region. I can get a good 20 – 25 miles in on my road bike both directions Chuckanut Drive, with lots of dappled shade and over the top elegant bay views. South end of my ride I sometimes turnaround here at the “Zen Cooperative Living”. First time there I thought I had found a meditation community. Big green “red cross” marks the spot for Washington marijuana dispensaries.

106 Zen living


I went to the Bellingham Center for Spiritual Living Sunday and fell in love with the minister and congregation (my sister church in Reno). Yesterday I fell in love with hair stylist Kristen. Two major touch stones – what else do I need? Per Ester “Abraham” Hicks, my grid is filling in!

First wall mural here downtown Bellingham: City of Subdued Excitement!

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I am backtracking on the gypsy tour to Friday evening, July 31st. I have been wanting to describe a sensory experience that I started to write about, but held back as weak and incomplete after reading Diane Ackerman “A Natural History of the Senses” , p. 18: “One of the real tests of writers, especially poets, is how well do they write about smells. If they can’t describe the scent of the sanctity in a church, can you trust them to describe the suburbs of the heart?”

Camping in the North Bend – Snoqualmie Falls area, country road bike riding, possibly the most powerful of all Tennessee smells came back to me — the luscious mix of green pasture grasses topped with grazing cow manure.

My Mitchell grandparents had 100 acres in the far eastern corner of Tennessee from “the top of the ridge to the middle of the creek”. Small scale, self-sustaining, do “everything” to live and grow family. Tobacco was the cash crop; hard woods in the hills for fences, haying for beef and dairy cattle in the fall and winter months, a few head of beef cattle in the hills and hollers for family meat and market cash, chickens for family eggs, “dress money”, and an occasional fryer, two or three vegetable gardens (summer and fall), hand milling of wheat, canning and preserving, sewing, herbs and healing treatments. No more than a dozen milk cows — milked morning and evening — every day. Milk cows otherwise turned out to pasture, creating that smell of the luscious mix of green pasture grasses topped with grazing mill-cow manure. (“Milk”not “dairy” — this is Tennessee please!)

Grasses so green that green is not a color but a smell–fresh and crisp like celery, full of photosynthesis chlorophyll – almost minty, somewhat astringent, acrid even – calling to be chewed and spit out.

Cow manure – large patties in layers of stages of drying and decomposition — aged patties breaking open like large flakey muffins. In open fields, the smell is musky and resinous – blending and melding — giving depth and body — grounding, ground, earth, soil, to sunlight, growth, green.

The smell resonates in my root chakra, grass and manure intertwine and weave and  wind up through my core, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye, to crown chakra. Heaven and earth are joined, heaven and earth.

My grandfather sits in his porch chair after the evening milk, elbows on knees, hands clasped, rocking and humming: “Humm, humm”, pitch up and down. “Humm, humm”, rock forward and back. “Humm, humm; humm, humm”.

Friday, August 14th

Where to begin? There is nothing to say; everything to say.

I had gotten tired of travel — driving every day one locale to the next — figuring out roads, towns, places — maneuvering Roy and 2 bikes — maneuvering me.

I had chosen to get upset, react, to another chapter in an ongoing CA-energy/utility drama with a long-standing powerful “David and Goliath” nemesis (not utilities) over their fictionalization of a disingenuous CA energy efficiency (EE) success story. I had thrown a long ball down the field via my Nov. 2014 Electricity Policy article “CA Energy Efficiency Manifesto” (see article Chickenomics tab), and “Goliath”, with resources and influence well beyond my wildest dreams was releasing a report (my work unnamed, unreferenced) that would travel far and wide California, national, and even international. One hour with their draft, I dissected the same handful of myths and distortions that they had been bantering for years. Steamroller tactics (again!) when, the way forward on such weighty climate change matters was public dialogue and debate. I was first angry, and then exceedingly weary. I wanted to throw in the towel and quit CA altogether.

Son Ted bolstered my spirits, reminding me that I was doing good and important work, and, to not take it so personally. You know, that’s right, I thought after our call, take my ego out, and remember this is a huge chess board. My work is good, and, I like to think of it as somehow important. Stay on the path, and give it over to god/goddess/universal consciousness. So, I made my way to the mountains, this time Mount Baker National Park, bordering Canada, inland from coastal town Bellingham, merging to the east into the North Cascades National Park. Camping by the Nooksack River, Roy pop top three sided windows zipped open, eyes closed in morning sits and evening sleeps, the river fills my head, flows across my mind, third eye, eyebrows, eyes. I allow, let go, be.

71 MT Baker

I am now delighted with this new “Goliath” CA opportunity! (Well, mostly.) I see, appreciate, embrace, and give thanks for this gift, this opportunity, this FUN, to step up and be heard. Speak my truth, again and again. I have been too small, have not “Leaned In” enough (Sheryl Sandberg), or risen to the example of Elizabeth Warren and countless other women, to hold nothing back, break all the rules.

“It is not enough to put your heart and soul into something, the really important things require much more than that: intention, spirit, love, balance, risk, patience. Some thin require all of our given grace.”  Curly Girl Design notecard, “Send Love: Really Important Things”.

Terry Tempest Williams, in her book “When Women Were Birds”, offers up the following on the fear of speaking.

“I take a deep breath and sidestep my fear and begin speaking from t where beauty and bravery meet — within the chambers of a quivering heart.”

I am reminded (again and again) of Yogi Bhajan’s “Five Sutras for the Aquarian Age”.

  1. Recognize that the other person is you.
  2. There is a way through every block.
  3. When the time is on you, start, and the pressure will be off.
  4. Understand through compassion or you will misunderstand the times.
  5. Vibrate the cosmos, and the cosmos shall clear the path.

All five sutras equally vital and synergistic, I am most drawn to “Understand through compassion or you will misunderstand the times.” I recall Greg Braden’s (see early blog Greg on “OM” as universal vibration, frequency) discussion on compassion, where in his extensive global travels to ancient and indigenous peoples, to one group of elders he asks: “Is compassion an internal feeling state or external energy, frequency?” Response: “Yes”.

“Your work is to discover your work and then, with all your heart, give yourself to it.”  Buddha

38 dashboard buddha

Chain Lakes hike yesterday, bend in the trail, smack-dab first view of Mount Baker since arrival. The massive snow pack, glacier fields, gave immediate connection to recent visits to Mt. Rainer and Mt. Hood. Beyond fertile soil and green and blue, snow pack and glaciers draw me to live further north. My heart has been heavy, sad, the last many years in Reno with the summer dwindling, now disappearance, of Mt. Rose snowpack. I need to gaze on mountains of snow and ice through the increasing landscape of hot and dry.

74 Mt Baker

Arriving mid-afternoon to the park two days ago in time for a short Baker Lake hike from the 360-plateau Heather Meadows parking lot, I prepared dinner taking company with the sunset. Roy side door open, sitting on running board and chopping vegetables, the sound of knife through carrot to wood reverberated in the mountain basin around me. I am “vibrating the cosmos, and the cosmos [is] clearing a path.”

72 Baker basin

So delighted with the beauty of my stir fry and wanting to share a picture with you all, I set the hot skillet on my doormat for photo shoot. Quite the melted plastic grid design on the cast iron bottom don’t you think? Quiz question to fellow travelers: Which has more brains, me or the skillet?

75 skillet dinner76 skillet

I fit this day like a glove. Campground all morning to sit, picnic table yoga, write. Early afternoon the rains came. A drive up the mountain gave way to more rain and clouds settling in. Back to camp, I realize, it was not so much rain or so cold. Hour and half later from long delightful walk with sweet wild raspberry breath, there’s a dry spot under a large cedar tree for hand weights and hula hooping to old Jackson Brown tunes. Roy’s floorspace is just enough to accommodate planks and sit-ups. At last, plenty of damp and messy clothes, pony – pigtails. I light the candles.

Pictures below of site #8, Silver Fir campground with mossy rock and campground water pump: three pumps, hold up water jug, lift pump basin fill knob, fill jug; repeat 3 times and jug full.

77 campground78 mossy rock79 water pump

My rain walk brought out how much I relish the accelerated processes of decomposition generally all around me on the gypsy tour — organic substances breaking down into much simpler forms of matter. One of my cravings for moss ferny forests is simply to be surrounded by decomposing forest and plant life. Certainly to see and observe, but also to smell and breathe deep the spores of giant uprooted trees becoming habitats for lichens, mosses, ferns. Eroding, rotting, certainly more slowly than this body of mine. I am enveloped, engulfed, elevated — carried home-OM to something long before me — and heaven help us, long after.

Beyond Beautiful

Yes, I am beyond beautiful. A loveliness from the heart that will see me, carry me,                        through my days on this linear plane.

I will sit, and be still, and accept that my flesh is falling from bone. That skin is fading and will dissolve. That muscles will relax, tendons and ligaments give way.

Arteries, veins, collapse; blood cease to flow. This body, mostly water, will transpire,                    evaporate.

Skeletal released. Vertebras collapsed. Jaw falls open, eye sockets bare.


I started the week in the seaside town of Bellingham, camping Monday night 10 miles south in Larabee State Park in a (all together now!) mossy ferny forest, and Tuesday night 20 miles north in Birch Bay State Park (in of course) mossy ferny forest lulled to sleep by gentle breaking waves. I love Washington State Parks — 2 bits gets a warm 3 minute shower, flush toilets, and plenty of sweet families and delightful children. AND, I love Bellingham! I feel like I can get my arms around this town of under 100,000. There appears to be plenty to do and lots to engage my interests. Next week I’ll camp in Larabee and bike / drive into Bellingham for internet, cell, CA work, AND, a getting to know my possible new home. Creating, allowing, synergies, noun: “The interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements, contributions, synergism. Cooperative action. 53 Zinnas60_Little free library70 Bellingham lemonade

Monday, August 10th

I am making my way further north along the Washington coast. Saturday visit to Anacortes (16,000 population 2010) took in farmer’s market, art fair, harbor, seaside and about town bike ride, and mid-day seafood, wine, followed of course by ice cream! Anacortes is known for the Washington State Ferries dock serving Lopez, Shaw, Orcas, and San Juan Islands, as well as Victoria and British Columbia on Vancouver Island.

I have several pictures to share with you that need no description. Check out the two “Free Range Chicks” below I met! It was the name of their team for a local organized run. Don’t we ALL want this T-shirt? I’ll take orders….

51 Anacortes Harbor55 dry dock ship54 Chippino58 me Causland Park56 Free Range Chicks

I also came across the community sculptor “How Much Longer”, Peregrine O’Gormley, with the following quote on the plaque.

“Mother Earth bends over backwards to accommodate the very increasing weight of humanity. In her grasp she holds the scorched earth. Man’s left hand faces out from the surface. Will we continue to burn up what remains, or can we begin to reverse the cycle? How much longer can She sustain us?”

57 Woman and World

This brings me to the 150th Anniversary Issue “The Nation” Magazine, April 2015, Section “Radical Futures: Harbingers of change, peeks over the horizon, maps of Utopia – and other struggles for keeping hope alive”. Rebecca Solnit’s “Unpredictable Weather: Forecasting the future is perilous, but we have to believe in change – or at least be willing to gamble”.

I read this early on the gypsy tour, and it has not left me. I share with you some of the parts that most move me.

“Most forecasts of the future presume that something in the present will continue to grow and increase its power of influence. It’s as simple as doing a math problem on compounding interest or multiplication tables….Among few certainties about the future are the following: climate change is here, it will get worse, and it is irreversible. What’s uncertain is whether, through extraordinary effort, we will meet the crisis a we should, with speedy exit from the Age of Fossil Fuel, or whether that age will drag on and foreclose the possibility of our choosing the lest rather than the most terrible future. We are now essentially hostages to a small group of people who benefit most from the fossil-fuel industries, as well as the politicians in their pay – although remarkable victories have been won against them in recent years – from Ecuador to Nigeria to New York State…”

“The next few years will be crucial in steering us toward the least devastating of the futures that await us. It’s hard to see how we will get there, but it’s important to try anyway – and part of that work involves knowing that we don’t know what will happen, what kind of a world we will inhabit in 2020, let alone 2115…You have to be willing to gamble on a world not dominated by fossil fuels and the power that fossil-fuel fortunes give to a handful of people and corporations. You have to be willing to imagine a world in which we recognize that what we’re called upon to do is not necessarily to sacrifice; instead, it’s often to abandon what impoverishes and trivializes our lives; the frenzy to produce and consume in a landscape of insecurity about our individual and collective futures. It also means appreciating the value of many other things – confidence in the future, a greatly reduced fer of contamination or poisoning, economic justice, local engagement, decentralization, democracy – in which weve been poor during the Age of Fossil Fuel. Those are the things we stand to gain if we conquer the fossil-fule industry and reinvent energy in our time…”

“You don’t act because you know what’s going to happen; you act because you don’t. Not knowing is an important part of knowledge. If knowledge is a continent to be mapped, the unknown is the oceans surrounding it…We don’t have a map for any of this, which is what all the confident prophecies of predictable, linear future pretend to offer us. Instead, we have, along with the capacity for effort, a compass called hope: a past that we can see that we can remember, that can guide us along the unpredictable route, along with our commitment to beings now living and yet to be born, that commitment called love.”

For me, this connects to the following poem I wrote in June that I will be reading tonight at the Bellingham library open mic.

The Likes of Me

The likes of me comes charging these days. Side-saddle, one hand parasol, the other reigns. Skirt spread, wings tucked.

My cantor is sweet and light. Hoofs lift, tilt, sweep the air. Click-click. Lift, tilt, sweep. Click-click. Prance, dance.

Of yes, I can gallop, run with the wind. But with new Spring pin-feathers emerging, why not fly?

You see, I use to keep ME to myself. A self-imposed Cynthia lock-down, Cynthia closet.

Too big, and my husband, his family, past friends, were uncomfortable, scared.

Now, there is nothing to lose. It’s time to break all the rules. The planet, this sweet sweet Mother Earth, implores us, to please, please, stop our linear thinking, our engineering constructs, our culture of fear and shame.

Our self-imposed beliefs of limits, a need to horde, consume without end. Until, as with the Buddhist parable of the Hungry Ghosts, we are completely flushed, turned inside out, exposed, RAW.

Come and sit with me; be still. Look in the mirror and say “I love you” again and again and again, every day. Until you see the likeness of God in and through you. Peaceful, joyful, happy.

Then you will know, All Knowing; not just how to be, but a Being of Self, that is not alone, but part of the Divine Frequency of Thought to Form. The power, ease of Transformation, the Manifest.

The Ultimate Substance of Gratitude as your waking thought, your sleeping prayer, your every step.

You see, it’s always been a Gift. Plain and simple.

Clap your hands, raise your arms, spin, twirl.

Yes!    Yes!     Yes.

Sunday, August 9th

Okay, I’ve been off running around again – one island to the next. (Not nearly as exotic as it sounds, Roy and I are pretty low key.) Wednesday afternoon I hopped over from my base camp here on Camano Island to Whidbey Island, (with of course a stop off for lunch at the Skagit Valley Food Co-op in Mt. Vernon (4th visit there so far)). Whidbey is the largest of the islands composing Island County, Washington, in the United States. (The other large island is base camp – Camano Island, east of Whidbey.) Whidbey is about 30 miles north of Seattle, and lies between the Olympic Peninsula and the I-5  corridor of western Washington. The island forms the northern boundary of Puget Sound.  It is home to Nava; Air Station Whidbey Island. Whidbey Island is approximately 55 miles long (from the extreme north to extreme south, and 1.5 to 12 miles wide, with 168.67 square miles.

I camped Wednesday night at Deception Pass State Park (George Vancouver gave it the name “Deception” because it had misled him …) – with the iconic Deception Pass Bridge. Curving gracefully between Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands, it crowns the most visited stat park in Washington. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, this bridge is recognized for its engineering and the elegant architecture that complements the scenic and geologic wonder of Deception Pass.

decption bridge


Evening prior, I started in on Diane Ackerman’s “A Natural History of the Senses” (1990) – smell, touch, taste, hearing, vision, and synesthesia. Here now crossing Deception Bridge, dropping down into my forested coastal bay campground, the gypsy-me was deeply, fully living “synesthesia” – “the stimulation of one sense stimulates another, from the Greek syn (together) + aistansethai (to perceive). A thick garment of perception woven together by overlapping thread.” (Ackerman p. 289). She offers up a new term for me: “Sensuists. Someone who rejoices in the sensory experience. A sensualist is someone concerned with gratifying his sexual appetites.” (p. xviii). For me, my camping synesthesia led to a sensual, sensuous evening and next morning in the experience of the senses – with any context of sexual too small, limiting, for my union with nature.

To sit on the floor board with Roy’s side door open and chop up onions, kale, chard, peppers, for dinner.

44 Dinner Deception pass

To allow dinner to become breakfast.

45 Breakfast Deception Pass

To have morning picnic table yoga and tree top gazing.

42 Deception Pass Tree Tops

To rinse peaches and marvel at sheer luscious beauty.

43 Peaches Deception Pass

To charge up my toothbrush with campsite electricity!

46 Tootbrush Charger

My time on Whidbey was love without question; as has been this now month long gypsy tour, with kind and generous people everywhere I went. Thursday biking and hiking, exploring my way mid-way down the western side of the island to Fort Casey State Park, I camped by the Keystone Ferry Landing that runs a large ferry to Port Townsend. (camping to left of ferry.)47 Ferry

Thursday’s short Deception Pass walk down the water’s edge, I came upon the tree pictured below and immediately thought “oh how different, how interesting”, only to catch myself in the irony of if the tree had been a person, I would have more likely thought “oh how deformed, crippled.” What does it take to change such conscious and subconscious judgement to more neutral observation? As a very young child I was scared by my Tennessee Uncle Hershel, born breach with significant physical and mental lifelong handicaps. Kept on the farm without therapy or training, Hershel was a wild human-creature to me, used for his brute physical strength and otherwise allowed to generally roam as he pleased.

41 Crooked Tree Whidbey

AND, close with some BIG NEWs reported in the “Cascade Weekly”.  “It’s a big week for breakups. In addition to the news that Gavin Rossdale and Gwen Stefani have split after about 13 years of marriage, Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy also announced their separation via Facebook posts: “Our personal lives are now distinct and separate, and we will be seeing other people, frogs, et. al..” they wrote. This is our only comment on this private matter. Thank you for understanding.”

LAST BUT NOT LEAST, the “Pee Count”…definitely more outside than in!

Wednesday, August 5th

Lavender fills Roy, buds from the lavender wand I purchased Saturday in Snoqualmie Falls area have been shedding all over the place. At home, I would likely feel compelled to “clean up”. Here in Roy, one step from the outside, it’s natural, nature. Lavender is my new floor whisk broom, what I walk on, scoop up crush in hands, rub in palms; as in medieval times when bundles of herbs were room fresheners, floor sweeps.

37 lavendar wand

Sunday was a travel day to new friend’s house on Camano Island, about 90 miles north of Seattle, parallel east of larger Whidbey Island. Camping three nights now side lawn Beau’s developing farm. What a treat to cook in a full kitchen again, rattle a bunch of pots and pans, explore cupboards and drawers. Beau has traveled more backroads than anyone I have ever met, having gone through a few Roys with his four girls. He particularly knows this region like the back of his hand, giving me an incredible boost in my exploring confidence. His house is something to see. Books everywhere! 6,000 I believe, with many maps and atlases scattered around. Incredibly kind and generous, Beau is quite the new friend to enjoy and appreciate. I had the pleasure of listening in on a Beau two hour travel guide talk with artist friend John tracing part of the Lewis and Clark trail from Bend, Oregon through Western Montana. John and two brothers embark for ten day tour end of August to retrace part of the Lewis and Clark journey. Incredibly fascinating and entertaining, I am inspired even more to take to the road as much as possible

“The world is not going to come to you. The sooner you realize this, the more time you have to pack. Some of the best living, the most valuable living, happens on the side roads.” Curly Girl Design “Send Love” notecard, artwork and words Leigh Standley.

Camano Island is just lovely — less than 30 miles drive around. In the Puget Sound enclave of islands and artists now, the air is rich and cool, breezes gentle. And, per sign below, a “swinging place”!


Inland parallel now, north of Seattle upward to Bellingham and beyond to British Columbia, it’s quite a bit of rich agricultural lands – farming and dairy, with fields and fields of corn for dairy feed. I am still figuring that one out as to efficacy of corn for cows.

I’ll make it sometime today to Whidbey Island for two nights of state park camping. Rest of week will be poking around urban areas of Mt. Vernon, Anacortes and Bellingham. (Getting new wheel road bike Mt. Vernon bike shop. Got super bent when someone yanking on it bike rack. From now on, bike goes in van when I am away from Roy. All good.)

Hanging out in THE AMAZING Mt. Vernon food co-op – 45 years and going strong. Puts Mt. Veron on the towns to move to possibility list. Picture from back parking lot; note entire building is co-op.

36 Co op

Across the street from co-op, this large chalk board is in a big alley.

37 before i die


Off to Mt Baker National Forest and North Cascades National Park next week, then back in this area to head over to the San Juan Island. All I have on my busy calendar is to make it to niece Sarah’s wedding Port Angeles August 29th. I am settling into this region of Washington State for the month. It is gentle here – which is what I realized while in Rainer I was after – gentle. As an adjective, gentle is “moderate in action, effect, or degree; not harsh or severe”. As a verb, gentle is to “make or become gentle; calm or pacify”. Gentle – an allowing to be, just simply be, who I have always been.


AND, some Liz – Owl Sightings: Several blogs back I explained how my copilot Liz the Owl got her name. Update on a three “Liz Sightings”. First goes back to my time at Lost Valley intentional community – permaculture – east of Eugene outside of Dexter, Or. Liz – picture below – is the lovely Lost Valley staffer that took me under her wing my time there.17 me and Liz LV


Same day late afternoon bike riding country road through mossy ferny forest, walking a steep stretch, a fledgling owl flew through the canopy of trees from up the road to first closer to me, then back off into the dense forest. Possibly a Great Horned. Viewed only in underside flight, wings were light – white.

And, this past Sunday driving around Camano Island with Beau, we came across a fledgling Great Horned Owl smack dab in the middle of the road, pondering how to get a big dead delicious squirrel off into the trees for feasting. With a big stick I rolled the squirrel off to the side.

Mousetrap score: Mouse 5; Cynthia 0. Time to re-set.

Floor food rules: Minutes not seconds; nuts, days okay.

Saturday, August 1st

I don’t feel like doing a damn thing today! Transition yesterday from near-week in Rainer to first Starbucks north of the park, was well, weird. Good to have internet and cell though. I put in an hour CA-consulting, posted a cache of blogs, made a couple of calls. Did you hear me say it is hot, damn hot? Old normal average temperatures mid-70’s, new normal (?) mid- to upper 90’s. Made it about 80 miles up the road (north and slightly west) from Rainer to the little urban area of North Bend (aka Twin Peaks show), Snoqualmie, and Fall City, to see Snoqualmie Falls — taller than Niagara. Impressive yes, but all I want today is a pedicure and air conditioning. Sweating just standing still! Waiting now for my burger and fries at Tweeds Cafe, “home of Twin Peaks cherry pie.

31 Snoqualime Falls30 Twin Peaks


Way back to camp I stopped at a lavender farm stand. Cornia and Mitch, amazing tree snag carved into lavender gnome whimsy.

32 Lavendar Gnomes 33 Gnomes34 Gnomes 3

After nap, reading, and waiting for afternoon heat to abate, it was country road bike blackberry hunt — which were of course everywhere. My waking hair is resembling the masses of berry brambles, snuggling down in Roy is gooood sleepin’. Roy’s pop top creates a nice little “envelope slip bed” with canvas zip open screened windows three sides. The addition of a memory foam topper and the sweetest dainty floral cotton sheets, is simple abundance.

So I learned a thing or two yesterday in North Bend.

First, put dry clothes in with your wet in laundromat dryers. Dry clothes will absorb some moisture from damp, and in tumbling, get the wrinkles out. “Makes your quarters go further,” two nice guys told me. Compassionate pause. When was the last time I worried about stretching a dollar, much less a quarter?

Second, if Roy’s steering column is locked, the ignition switch will not turn on. Okay…so I was supposed to know that? Well, a mechanic across from the laundromat was kind enough to try and jump Roy, and eventually diagnosed the locked steering column. Dave, with a wife and two little ones, wouldn’t take $20, saying “It’s a North Bend thing.” Sure is. Everywhere I went North Bend, folks warm and friendly. As in, never has anyone – much less a woman older than me (!) – bagged my groceries so nicely and efficiently.

So I might as well keep going with true Roy-confessions. About ten days ago I was at a campground in the McKenzie national forest and couldn’t get Roy started. Family reunion camping brothers Richard and Robert tried to jump Roy. Finally, we figured out Roy has some “anti-something” brake pedal system where if the brake is not depressed the ignition doesn’t work. Okay…so I was supposed to know that also? Well, here’s the deal, it’s only a “sometimes thing” with Roy on depressing the brake pedal. And, this stuff ain’t in the owner’s manual! (BTW, one of the few times in my life I’ve ever much perused a manual, much less with my highlighter.)

Roy has had some getting used to mechanical personality. And, I am obviously outside of the fairly predictable routine and know-how of my Reno daily living. I am finding my edge, and going beyond, baby steps to be sure. Poet David Whyte in one of his CD collections speaks of the need to get so tired of our ways of being, that we break out of patterns, ruts, to take courageous new actions, directions. I have certainly become bored with my life, ever so lovely as it is. I am looking out on the world from the same beautiful windows day after day. Variations on the (same) theme are not working for me. So here I am, three weeks into the gypsy tour still facing the choice of how to react, respond. Two “air boxes” pop up: “secure” or “insecure”; secure / insecure; secure, insecure – again and again. As Ester Abraham Hicks discusses, it’s really only our feelings that we have control over. So how do I choose to feel?

Thursday July 30th

Second lovely night in the northeast portion of the park, White River campground by the river same name. Hikes yesterday and today up close to Rainer’s northeast side, sunny and hot. Spectacular views to Seattle, Mt. Baker, and Cascade Peak. Dry, dry, dry. Fellow hikers telling me “it’s scary, I’ve never seen so much exposed ground.” More than scary, it’s quite sobering, consuming my thoughts, my heart. How can I better contribute to mitigating this climate mess? Is it Bill McKibben’s; campaign reform including, organic sustainable farming?

27 Rainer Sunrise Station


Score on catching the little mouse in my little Roy house: mouse 3, Cynthia 0.

My I-Pad got hummm, a little wet Saturday during misty picinic table planks, pushups, and yoga. Overnight bag of rice all functions worked again in the morning (just like when I dropped it in the bathtub a couple of months ago); but for the bit of rice that got stuck in the charger plug. Today finally that half rice grain fell out, so I am back in music, Ted talks, etc. business!

In cleaning Roy a bit a found an ancient fortune cookie fortune: “When in doubt, mumble.” I would have thought: “When in doubt, speak from the heart.”

Tomorrow I am looking forward to a shower, laundry, internet, cell, and dinner out; though I will very much miss Rainer! To visit again…