fabrics jan 2009


In April and May of 2006, I wrote about “Tredway’s Fen” a narrow strip of land I own which fronts on Lake Superior. After clearing part of the land and building a board walk over a marshy area, I had built a shed and added a composting toilet.

At this point I was ready to construct a deck as the foundation for the yurt, a kind of stationary round tent. The week before the yurt was to arrive, my carpenter called and told me that there had been a “stop work” order put on the property.

It turns out that the next door neighbors didn’t like the idea of having to look out their window at something other than woods, so they called the county building administrator who put a stop to my project. It seems since I didn’t think I had to have any permits, I hadn’t gone through the proper channels and hadn’t gotten the appropriate permits. I didn’t have the proper setbacks for my buildings either and was fined $500 for starting building without permits. I was in big TROUBLE.

I hired an attorney, thinking he would know what to do and get through the red tape but by now the DEQ (Dept. of Environmental Protection) was also involved. That meant that the local arms of Government wouldn’t act until the State DEQ interest was taken care of.

By the fall of 2007, nothing had changed so I headed south for my two-three month winter visiting. When I returned to Michigan, in 2008, the DEQ had dropped the case and I was ready to apply for a variance for the setback.

Meanwhile, this summer, my yurt was still in its crate, well covered with tarps. I had hoped to have the yurt on the deck and finished for indoor use but the deck was still open to the elements, finished for outdoor weather. I tried to reason with the neighbors but they were adamant. They wanted nothing in their view of the lake.

The variance hearing was set for August 2008 and I looked forward to the resolution of this mess. However, the officials denied me my request. Afterward, they did assure me that if I worked with the authorities to move my shed and deck to adhere to the setbacks, I would be able to proceed to erect the yurt.

That is where it stands now. In the spring I will figure out how to move things so that I am totally within the law and hopefully, two years behind schedule, be able to put up my yurt.

Who would have thought that I would have such troubles? None of this would have occurred if the neighbors had not interfered.

It seems I am being taught once again that I am not in charge. In other words, I am powerless once I start something in motion, as to what happens. Then I have only choices as to which course I will take.

My choice is to go with the flow.

Palma (Nov-Dec. ’08) adds, “If I had hindsight, I now know that I may not have had all this trouble if I had hired a professional builder, but I thought I could do it myself, so I live with my mistakes…”




I do have to assure myself that my energy in this relation-ship is not so much directed by need, as by truth and/or desire.

I can get caught up in what everyone else wants (in this case what Bill wants) and forget that I have needs. I forget about myself until I start feeling a disassociated burn of anger. That’s when a little switch trips reminding me to beware of becoming a “human doing.” (Bill likes to “do” and likes me to “do” with him. I can buddy around with him pretty well and enjoy it. On the other hand, I want to sit and read or weave beads or play and just BE.)

Bill has ‘gotten’ that aspect of me, but I have had to stand my ground now and then to remind him. On the other hand, I want to be willing to share my time and “do” with him although I may not always want to right then. And, I also want to watch myself to make sure that I don’t violate Bill’s “cave” time.

We continue to work our relationship and it is good.

I believe I made a good decision this time.



Linda (Oct.’08) adds, “I am working on a ‘Goodbye Sailboat’ story. I had thought it lost, but accidentally found it and realized it needed a serious rewrite. I had written a screed on the lifestyle of the folks who had given it to me — and much of it was not helpful or healing. I want to find a better perspective for the tale, rather than the bitter end.”



Visiting The Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine dedicated to

Yogi Paramhansa Yogananda

Final chapter

As I sit meditating and observing the bright blue-blossomed garden, I see a dark sha-dow. I study it. It seems to be a little cat that weaves in and out of the glorious blooms. Since I’m a cat person, I want to get closer. But whenever I make eye contact or approach, the creature melts away like calligraphy written on water. I come to think of this feline as “doubt.” Like misgivings, It’s always there casting its shadow, but disappears upon examination. Maybe it was never there at all.

I gaze at the temple, of the Lake Shrine, a beehive filled with the honey of peace and love. Above, two hawks circle. Nearby, honeybees buzz in pale yellow roses. A gardener throws food to gliding white swans while smaller ducks tag along. I hear, “crack!” A tree limb breaks. A golden hummingbird sips from the bubbling top of the lotus fountain.

I breathe in peace. A footstep sounds behind me and I am suddenly back in the material world.

After three days I left the shrine and picked up my real world responsibilities.

Back home a month later, I gaze into the eyes of Paramhansa, my guru/teacher in a small picture propped against my computer.

I sit and contemplate my photo of the Lake Shrine behind him and consider practicing my lessons learned: live simply and appreciate the beauty within and without, my higher power is watching over me with infinite love, and to be self-realized is to be higher power realized.

Liz/Moscar (Nov.-Dec.’08 adds, “I am always a part of the flow — I know I don’t have to be at my garden retreat to experience this and am grateful for my time there.”



Although I have been collecting postage stamps intermittently for over fifty years, it was not until October ‘08 that I allowed a portion of my collection “out” for a public exhibit.

The theme of my exhibit was “Fun with Duplicates.” I created a stamp collage for the title page. Ironically, it was the most difficult page to make.

I added thirty-one other pages from my albums to show. Each page, or group of pages, had its own theme. A few of the topics were: the Lunar New Year, Sojourner Truth, gardening, Elvis, John Singleton Copley, the U.S. Flag and the Statue of Liberty.

Many philatelists (stamp collectors) collect mainly mint (unused) stamps or very rare used stamps and old envelopes for investment purposes. When I was a kid, that kind of hobby was too competitive for me. I gave it up for many years until I realized that stamp collecting did not have to follow anybody else’s rules. It didn’t even have to involve a major amount of money.

I soak used duplicates off my mail, and friends also save stamps for me. When I get together with other collectors, it’s more to socialize than to buy, sell and trade. I think my collection reflects this attitude.

Carol (Sept.’08) I love free associating when I look at stamps. Each of my album pages uses duplicate stamps to frame a postcard, photograph or story. I began creating these pages about fifteen years ago and now have quite a varied collection.



A heart attack in my early forties changed my life from active participation to a more passive observation of everyday events. Although I could no longer engage in professional listening and observing, I still found reflecting on the actions of my fellows to be of keen interest.

My new watchful existence as a couch potato made me appreciate the level of voyeurism that exists within our culture. We watch our fellows in a variety of compromising, embarrassing, tragic and humorous situations.

From our living room couch the world unfolds on TV. Starving children with big eyes and even bigger bulging stomachs stare at us as we finish our dinner. Wars in remote areas of the world flow before our eyes, thermal images on night scopes showing ghostly figures that run in shadowed light to suddenly fall silent or disappear in a blinding green /white flash of phosphene brilliance. In airports, waiting rooms, and cues at shops we watch the world on parade.

I am as guilty as most. I watch and wonder at the lives of those that enter into my space and my mind. Some are as close as the person pushing the grocery cart next to me in the food shop. Others are like the distant astronauts who float weightlessly in space, the Earth only a prop gliding slowly below them.

Amongst these images every now and then one brings a laugh and I stop to absorb the scene, savoring it as a fine wine or an exquisite bite of food.

Wallace (Apr.’08) says, “In a way watching others makes it easier to be aware of my own absurd behavior.”



Part III

In his father’s old toolbox, Le has discovered a birth certificate for “John Johnson.” Le has been asking his brothers and a Registrar of Deeds and to find out if it might be for his father, who he always knew as “George Johnson.” The mystery continues.

I hadn’t noticed it before, but there in the lower right hand corner, was evidence that on November 23rd of 1943, some-one had obtained this copy of John Johnson’s Record of Birth! Now I wondered, “Who had obtained it and for what purpose?”

By then in 1943, Brother Bob had volunteered for the US Navy and was on active duty on a sub chaser. I had been drafted into the Army in January of 1943, sailed away from the US in July, and was by then attached to the British Army in England.

I speculated that since Bob and I were now in the military, that Dad — if he was really John Johnson — had decided to change his name to “George Herman Johnson” — the name by which we all knew him. But, why the name “George,” and why “George Herman,” since he had a younger brother named Herman?

Could it be that Dad was — in his own way — extending the life of a guy buried in Boot Hill whose name was listed as “George Johnson” and was “hanged by mistake?” I know my dad had been aware of that headstone. He made several references to it over my growing up years.

Brother Bob and I wondered, too, about the secrecy. Why didn’t our folks mention the name change to us? Was dad ashamed of his name? Maybe this was the reason. I remember-ed years ago in that locale, it was a racial slur to be called, “Yonny Yonson, frum Visconsin!”

Le (Nov.-Dec.’08) adds, “I needed to complete this investigation by visiting the Circuit Court in Bessemer, Michigan. There I would inquire as to when, Dad changed his name from John Johnson to George Herman Johnson — and if a reason is given.”

Silence is oft misinterpreted,

but never misquoted.

James (Nov. -Dec.’08) adds, “Words spoken will not retreat.”

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