Sunday, March 31, 2019


This is a review of the life path that got me where I am.  This dislocated shoulder, the maniac politics, the aging-unto-death of many of my key people, and stuff like computer business that claims to be renewing while it becomes more and more pointlessly complex -- I need to locate my compass.

You remember the almost overconfident little bruiser I was until there were two brothers aligned to resist me.  You remember my terror of school and my fear that my family would abandon me.  I was such a "good girl" until, as one counselor explained rather late in life, that I "flooded" with too much information to compute but didn't know I could say, "Hey, give me a few minutes, guys.  I've gotta sort this out"  There was so much tension beneath the surface and it was so powerful and subconscious that I couldn't do it.

High school saved me in several ways: dramatics, single female teachers born in the Edwardian Era, and a humanistic stable world.  Even so, I've always been haunted by the WWII images -- not the patriotism of thrilling dogfights in the sky, but the starved and broken people on the ground.  Why was I so privileged?

Barry Lopez didn't come to my consciousness until the Seventies when I bought "Of Men and Wolves" to give my brother.  It was another attempt to create a link, but though he liked the book, it didn't work.  Lopez lived just over on the coast and I thought of visiting him but people told me he was was difficult and didn't want intruders.  Those were the years after Browning when I was doing animal control and reading the NA Renaissance novels, and it turned me back away from writing to DOING SOMETHING to improve the world.  Which led to seminary, which was disappointing.  Most were avoiding the world.

One of the nose-bumps I got at the U of Chicago Div School was their obsession with what I called "pyrex and stainless steel thinking."  No emotion.  No feeling.  I was off-topic.  But I found ways around that, most markedly Richard Stern and his concern for narrativity.  This is the beginning of my -- and possibly the world's -- rediscovery of "felt meaning" -- which is now sometimes called "embodiment thinking."  I'll post a bib at some point.  

Reading this stream of work -- along with the research on Deep Time and Thick History which have not contradicted Western Thought but simply jumped over it as minor -- has separated me from teaching, universities, denominations, conventional compliance, and my relations -- even my friends.  One old friend suggested that if I had just learned to write like James Michener, I might have been a success by now.  So James Michener, whom I have never read, has become the symbolic rep of the 19th anthropological sexist white man's way of thinking.  The empire loves cruise ships.

I do remember when I thought that way.  Most of the kid books in our house were those of my parents, who valued and kept them.  My father's were about adventures and partners, two boys.  Everyone knows Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn books. Fewer know Booth Tarkington's Penrod and Sam, diluted versions of Twain. But my fave was "Two Little Savages".  When my father was older, he acquired books like Halliburton's "Royal Road to Romance," to which I added H. Rider Haggard, since the movies brought him up at that time.  ("King Solomon's Mine".)

My mother's books were standard: "Pollyana", "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm," and naturally -- since I had red hair -- "Anne of Green Gables." I loved the books and read Lucy Maude's journals when I was in Canada. The same facts, very different in real life.  (I loved the recent contemporary "Anne with an E," but have contempt for the reduction to pinafore tales in the series.)  Most of these books urged adventure and nonconformity, but pretended that there actually was a world to which most conformed and which was much safer.  (I don't think there is.)

Barry Lopez' most recent book is "Horizon," in which he gathers up his many expeditions into remote and quite different places.  At the beginning he does not print "Sliver of Sky," a short essay that has been widely reprinted, but he makes it available through a footnote and internet access so it won't trigger rejection. <>  We are still not accustomed to people talking about the sexual abuse that shaped and drove them.  It is everywhere in different degrees.  

Lopez describes how painful and mysterious his version was and how he both assumed it was somehow deservedly his fault (partly because of the way his parents reacted and then how law enforcement quietly dropped the issue) but also felt that there was some answer in the world, that he should search for it, and that it was a lonesome quest.  All his wanderings and challenges were guarded by having that same homebase on the coast as well as marriage to noninterfering women.

I see Lopez' book as a continuation of the stream of books that lead from the pasts of my parents and teachers, across the stage, onto the high prairie, to seminary, and beyond to this twenty-year seclusion for the purpose of thought -- make that "felt meaning."  The narrow seam of coal in Lopez' basic self is also present in me, though not so explicit or illegal.  I'm surprised that my family and friends deny any such feature.  They feel denial protects them, but I feel it dooms them.

When I began writing, I expected to compose natural history essays; people who knew me expected more adventures on the rez.  No one I knew has even heard of people like Porges, much less his idea of polyvagal function.  Yet today I get a note from a "third cousin," great-granddaughter of one of five Welch sisters who emigrated from Scotland to marry.  Her ancestor made a good choice but mine chose the most problematic man.  Somehow this cousin is the member of my family most like me, full of exploration and ideas.  She easily picked up on all this stuff.   Somehow, years after my family had left NE15th in Portland, her family moved into a house on the same street.  It's a gift to have found her.

I'd say "truth is stranger than fiction" except that I don't believe there is anything more than provisional truths.  But they are deep and thick.

Saturday, March 30, 2019


Last winter at just the beginning of the siege of snow and wind that for weeks closed roads and burdened stores, I woke up one morning so dizzy that I had to crawl to the bathroom on hands and knees.  It was Monday so the once-a-week clinic was "on."  It's only a couple of blocks away. Normally I just go wedge myself into the schedule, but this time I wondered if the doc had gotten through the roads, so I called.

One of my main defense mechanisms is getting jokey, so I told the receptionist, so young she must have been barely out of high school, that I didn't know what my problem was, but it seemed serious -- maybe even a stroke.  The nurse was overhearing and remarked, "A person with a stroke shouldn't come to a little clinic like this.  She should go to the main hospital."  The receptionist formally advised me of this.  I took it as being turned away

Actually, I was pretty sure I didn't have a stroke but anything is possible.  Stroke:
Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body).  Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech.  Sudden vision problems in one or both eyes. Sudden difficulty walking or dizziness, loss of balance or problems with coordination.  Severe headache with no known cause.

I was confused, needed a little sympathy and help thinking.  It has taken me a long time to realize that this young woman didn't have the experience or training to respond any way but according to dogmas.  In fact, if she had believed that I was having a stroke, she should have insisted that I call an ambulance, first, because nearly-closed winter roads meant even an able-bodied person shouldn't drive unless they had to, and second, stroke is time-sensitive and proper treatment FAST can save lives.

So I got mad.  Hunkered down and toughed it out for the several days it took to clear up.  Ever since, I've been trying to pull together some kind of understanding.  When I was teaching, I threw one student into a crisis because I mistook his deafness for balking.  Later a whole class was so rowdy that I called for an audiologist to test everyone, including me.  "Kids" nowadays, who seem to be any age up to forty, need to have loud music all the time.  When my neighbor wakes up in the morning, he plays pounding raucous songs so loud that they make my house rock'nroll.  Sometimes I wear earphones to block out his sounds, including motor noise, though I can't afford the high-end versions.

It wasn't until I ran across Dr. Porges and his emphasis on intelligibility in speech/hearing that I began to figure it out.  First, one needs to know what a "formant" is".  (Porthes will expand your vocabulary!)

"A formant is a concentration of acoustic energy around a particular frequency in the speech wave. There are several formants, each at a different frequency, roughly one in each 1000Hz band. Or, to put it differently, formants occur at roughly 1000Hz intervals. Each formant corresponds to a resonance in the vocal tract."

(  Lund University (Sweden), has a phonetics lab.  As it happens, my basic BS in speech education at Northwestern University included a dose of this material about how we understand each other.  In humans, the second and third formant in both male and female speech always occurs within the sound frequencies of 500 Hz to 4,000Hz.  "We can't understand the meaning of speech without processing the formants, and this difficulty is a feature of individuals with auditory processing difficulties."

Porges is convinced that an important part of the Social Communication System's ability to signal safety is that the sounds must be in the proper range and be highly modulated simulating vocal prosody.  Since Bob Scriver knew more about prosody than one might expect -- being a musician (including singing} -- used to joke about "the right emPHAsis for the vocaBUlary.  Living around speakers of original Blackfeet, as he did, also raised consciousness that unless the proper emphasis, the right prosody, was used, the right words would be unintelligible.  Since Blackfeet used several more consonants (mostly back of the throat sibilants) than English does, it was a major stumbling block for would-be speakers.  An English person trying to speak Spanish can be unintelligible if not hilariious.

This is NOT a matter of pronunciation, so Heart Butte kids used D and T interchangeably.  ("Sattle".  You put it on a horse.)  It is NOT a matter of subtext or a tone indicating sarcasm or amusement.  It is NOT Algerian French theory of meaning, etc. etc.  In fact, the Porges team was looking at frequency bands among mammals in terms of how they conveyed that they were attracted to you or about to eat you for lunch. 

Once I sat in on a piano lesson Bob gave Karen Douglas before a competition.  I see now, looking back, that he was teaching her "modulation" -- when to get a bit louder, when to lag a note or two, etc.  I couldn't even hear the differences, but taken together the prosody affected the whole.  It is so subtle that a person whose middle ear was full of fluid or pus would probably be blocked from picking up the near-subconscious reassurance of prosodic and properly pitched music.  (I've always been a bit jumpy.)

In this high and dry country with its extremes of hot and cold, driven by high velocity wind, everyone is prone to ear troubles, but esp. kids who hate to wear a hat.  When I started trying to search the internet, all I could find was advice for  deaf children, who are already challenged to learn language.  When the old-time Blackfeet men discovered the white man's silk scarves, they were happy to tie them around their throats, but also they tied them over their head like a babushka to protect their ears.  The photos are a little startling.  I'd insert one here, but Google doesn't recognize them.

As a child just beginning what is misleadingly called "latency," I had a lot of tonsil trouble, so my businesslike doc, who lived blocks away, took them out along with adenoids.  Since then and probably because of narrow eustachian tubes and waxy ears, I have never quite warmed to the spoken word as I ought to have.  I'm a lousy singer.  This was not noted in the Speech/Audiology overviews that I studied 1957.  Maybe the ideas weren't known yet.  After a certain point in time, there are no pop songs that are my favs.  I much prefer reading.  Audiobooks are a bit blurry. 

There's a clerk in town who ends up saying to me, "Whut?  Whut?" because I'm not grasping what she's saying.  We end up practically leaning foreheads together in order to clarify.  Luckily, she's not scary.  She just has a different mind-frame and slightly different prosody.  She sold me some Sudafed to keep mucus under control.  Elsewhere I bought a Neti pot because a doc in the past suggested that I blow my nose too hard, driving phlegm up the E-tubes.  A Neti pot is a classic Eastern way to clear the nasopharynx.  Google approves.

There's so much to learn and so much people know but don't convey.  I do understand why interference with radio or tv image is called "snow."  Little bits that can become a dangerous storm.

Dr. Jennifer Jo Brout established The International Misophonia Research Network (IMRN) in 2015 in order to facilitate cross-disciplinary research. Disappointed by her own experiences with the state of the field when seeking help for her own child in 1999, Dr. Brout began efforts to establish better research practice, improved diagnosis, and innovative clinical practice related to individuals with difficulties processing sensory information (with a particular focus on auditory over-responsivity). Dr. Brout established the Sensation and Emotion Network (SENetwork) in 2007, and founded the Sensory Processing and Emotion Regulation Program at Duke University in 2008 ). The Sensory Processing and Emotion Regulation Program was renamed the Misophonia and Emotion Regulation program in 2015.

Friday, March 29, 2019


Dr. Porges work on the polyvagal nerve system has my attention.  It's like the "Blue Tooth" mysterious connection between computers and printers or cordless earphones -- but in this case between humans.  

I always look for ways to talk about empathy without having to tediously disentangle it from sympathy, which is when one has an emotion about someone else but doesn't really feel what they're feeling.  It makes me impatient when people say, "Oh, I just know exactly how you feel!" when they don't at all.  Trying to claim commonality when it's not there only disrupts understanding.  There is no possible way they could be participating in my inner life -- they just want to think they are.  This is the problem between those who think that DNA protein recipes mean something (like blood) but have no participation in the deep relationship to the eco-world that forms our under-human animal understanding.

Real empathy means real connection, mysterious as it may be.  Now with Dr. Porges' research on the cranial nerves that create what he calls the "social engagement system" we can pull several things together, like mirror cells, Victor Turner's "liminal time," and D. W. Winnicott's space between the attached mother and infant.  "Social engagement system" is a safe name for the connected loops of Dr. Porges' discoveries, but it sounds too much like a Daytimer or a dance card.  So far I've not found a better name, but it will be a synonym for engagement or "in sync" but less mechanically based.

Many people are preoccupied with the "boundary" between who is "civilized" and who is not, except that it is much confused by our realization that those who seemed to be savages were simply part of culture we don't recognize.  And then there is the realization that "cultures" are enforced via the uncivilized barbarism of stigma, that cultures can be inappropriately enforced by people who have left the ecosphere where they were invented and fitting.  Something similar is true of education, bureaucracy, and religious institutions:  all forms of elites and hierarchies meant to guide power.  Everyone wants to take it with them.

Another set of worriers concentrate on the fat and wavering boundary between humans and "other" animals.  Clothing, tools, words, and inhabitation are all fascinating and susceptible to declarations about what they mean.  These folks proud of being human are about the "other" who is even more "other" than people who dress differently, cook differently, raise their children to be "other."  Then in strolls a bonobo wearing a top hat and smoking a cigar, who goes to the drinks tray and pours himself a libation.  Just don't rile him up -- his way of solving disagreement is sex.

I'm still drawing on a vital document:  "The Polyvagal Theory: New Insights into Adaptive Reactions of the Autonomic Nervous System."  Among many other things, it is the apparatus of peace, which we have largely eliminated from our world.  Even in vids of speakers or on Skype the editor inserts illustrations, graphs, background info which eliminate our access to the human "screen" of face and attitude, posture and neck tilt, from which we derive our commonality and understanding.

Here's a more technical quote:  " . . . through the process of evolution, the brainstem nuclei that regulate the myelinated vagus became integrated with the nuclei that regulate the muscles of the face and head. This link results in the bidirectional coupling between spontaneous social engagement behaviors and bodily states. Specifically, an integrated social engagement system emerged in mammals when the neural regulation of visceral states that promote growth and restoration (via the myelinated vagus) was linked neuroanatomically and neurophysiologically with the neural regulation of the muscles controlling eye gaze, facial expression, listening, and prosody."  [I added the emphasis.]

THE MYELINATED VAGUS:  First think of the cranial nerves that come out of brain parts and reach the rest of the body.  Myelinated means insulated with a form of fat in order to travel faster and carry more info.  

BRAINSTEM NUCLEI:  If you want to really grasp "understanding brainstem cranial nerve nuclei" this is the link to a lecture. .

BIDIRECTIONAL COUPLING: These strands of nerve plug into each other and the "bi" ones send messages both from the brain or into the brain.  This is the key.  What you are doing is directly connected to how safe and confident you are.  The more your homeostasis is good, the better the system works.

NEURO ANATOMICAL VS. NEURO PHYSIOLOGICAL are (first) the arrangements of the structures and (second) how they operate.  Together they are NEURO REGULATION.  If you were a piano, they'd be music.

This system regulates the muscles controlling eye gaze, facial expression, listening, and prosody.  This means that all "felt" thought is transmitted to expression, whether small tensions in muscles around the eyes or full-on facial transformation in joy or rage.  Even if a person tries to be expressionless, the felt meanings will be there.  In fact, animals may be better at detecting them than are humans.  (They "cheat" by adding smell.)  The difference is that animals don't have this exquisite ground of presentation from scalp to collarbone, which turns on the Blue Tooth function of empathy.

I need to go think this over some more.  What happens when are confronted by Trump via video?  If a delusional or consciously acting person uses the screen meant for communication, what is happening?  Actors and some therapists will tell you that they still feel empathically what the presenter is expressing.  They participate in the emotion, even if it is "felt" in bad faith, untrue.  But also they pick up the more subtle undermessage. Trump uses his "flubber face" of heightened emotion to conceal the small giveaways that sneak through when he's enjoying the crowd response.  It works on a podium.  On a vid, not so much.

Thursday, March 28, 2019


Two "practices" of evolution are that 1) everything that changes is based on whatever happened before, and 2) pre-existing and functioning structures and functions are often converted to something that was never done before -- sometimes that changes everything.

Cranial nerve Number 10 is like that.  It's double, both taking in and directing out.  Also called the vagus nerve, the pneumogastric nerve or simply CN X, it is the longest cranial nerve in the body, reaching from the brain down through the body with high-speed effectiveness.  "The vagus nerve is so named because it “wanders” like a vagabond, sending out sensory fibers from your brainstem to your visceral organs. The vagus nerve, the longest of the cranial nerves, controls your inner nerve center—the parasympathetic nervous system."  Google has not quite caught up with Dr. Porges' research on the polyvagal theory about the 'Social Engagement System.  (Maybe it needs a snappier name or slogan, like "we're in this together.")

The tenth cranial nerve connects brain direct to gut, heart, lungs and maybe indirectly to a lot of other vitals, the things a lie detector records.  (They're called vitals for a reason --if they get out of homeostasis, life is no longer possible.)  It's also the nerve system that makes us mammals by damping down the impulse to murder our own babies as though they were prey; and makes us human by allowing empathy to bind us into cooperating groups based on common understanding and purpose."  

Both influences are so recent that some people slip back into deadly parenthood and only a percentage of humans are capable of real empathy, which came out of a happy infancy supported by a care giver.  That's a major third characteristic of evolution: it is the product of shaping by the environment.  Whatever capacity it has pushes against what is around it.  Protecting children and sharing affinities is what makes us human.  If the capacity is organically missing or the environment prevents it developing, empathy will be missing.  Children will be at risk and relationships cannot form.  It's not a matter of wealth.  The refugees coming north tenderly hold their babies against them.

"Theory of Mind" refers to one animal's ability to predict what another will do.  Based on predator/prey interaction, it tells the fox where the rabbit is likely to go and tells the rabbit what the fox will do.  The "fight or flight" famous choice is present in reptiles, which also have a choice to "freeze" that is near death.  The mammal nerve action can do more.

I'm too new to these ideas and possibly there is not enough research to tell us what and how to switch the reptilian system to mammal response, but the answer must be in that one third of the vagus nerve.  Two crucial functions are important.  One is the "vagal brake" which is a direct inhibition of the violence left over from predation, either the prevention of violence against children or the "berzerker" reflex in which all restraint is lost in battle or survival.  The other is empathy, which must be closely related.

It seems obvious that the plots of our entertainment and news, the strategies of our politicians, and the structure of our cybergames. are building on our reptilian love of predator/prey Theories of Mind.  Also, it is notable that the body's direct interaction with the world outside the skin, the wisdom that comes from the senses' understanding and seeking both the joy and the pain of being in relationship with simple existence.  Perhaps as a reaction, we sometimes seek at least sympathy for those who are hurt, restored from danger, burdened by hardship.  We have an oddly focussed curiosity.  But it takes extremes to break through what we take for granted without participation at least through identification.

Having said this, it becomes clear that our practice of allowing our leaders to be sequestered in environments that are sensory-impoverished, encourages them to stay with "Theory of Mind" and to behave with reptilian disregard for suffering, reducing it to numbers:  how many people suffer, on a scale of one to ten how serious is it, what is the cost?  People and nations become prey.  What mitigates against that?

A story about an invasion or rebellion tells about a soldier intent on capturing a woman. Both were "civilized."  The man had an upraised club and was gaining.  The woman's shoe came off and she instinctively stopped.  The soldier's behavior was transformed as he too stopped and picked up the shoe, courteously handing it to the woman. Then they resumed fox-and-rabbit.  In that place and moment, culture was stronger than violence.  We need to know much more.  I like this rough, tentative vid of thought happening.  Grannon is the only counselor in the vast tsumani of counselors who comes out of a force and then abuse sort of paradigm explored by empathy.  I love it that he's sometimes confused, tentative, funny, and often very insightful.  Those who are incapable of empathy will hardly be able to sit and watch.  If you don't watch as many Aussie films as I do, you might have problems with his accent, but the more you listen the easier it will get.  The good thing about Richard is that he's so animated, you can often read his face. He ain't no reptile.

The other major insight from this polyvagal system is that the nerves that serve the face, the breast, the muscles of speaking and seeing, work together to be a vocabulary, an alphabet, that the empathic can read and produce.  It can be very subtle or it can be frank and open.  It's the part of Grannon we are watching via camera.  If I had a clientele of "at risk," traumatized, only partly empathetic, kids, I think they could still connect.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2019


Because both science and demographics are changing so rapidly, health care is  transforming daily.  This patient/person is also changing.  Yesterday I didn't post because I drove to Great Falls to see a doctor I respect. It was a big deal because it was the first time I'd driven that far after dislocating my shoulder.  I still can't dependably turn the steering wheel except with my right arm.  There's little traffic here and I was only in the big town for about six blocks, so I risked it.  It's been more than a month since emergency care.

I got to know this doc because she was the physician at the one-day-a-week Valier clinic.  In twenty years I've seen a long line of professionals there, mostly women. I won't go back until I see who the next turnover brings.  The supporting hospital, which is in Shelby, has also deconstructed and reorganized in the last decade.  I hear they have joined a consortium of Mormon-sponsored hospitals around the NW, but there's little info.  In the process most of the docs scattered to other towns.  

A small group formed in Great Falls and called themselves Family Practice.  My doc was part of that group.  More recently that practice has changed and is now called Alluvion Health.

"Alluvion is federally funded and the target demographic is those at 200 percent of the poverty level or below. Besich said last fall that there are 32,000 people in Cascade County in that category.

"The federal poverty level for 2018, according to, was $12,140 for an individual and 200 percent of the poverty level is $24,280.

"Alluvion is a non-profit with a governing board.

"CCHD opened what was previously called the Community Health Care Center in 1994 to support increased access to care for the uninsured, underinsured and underserved patients. In 2012, the CHCC started operating as a separate department within the county with a long-term goal of becoming an independent agency, according to CHCC.

"Alluvion offers medical, dental and behavior health services. They’ve also partnered with Gateway to provide addiction services."

I do not think this agency could exist without so many women becoming doctors or without the overwhelming army of women occupying quasi-physician positions.  No longer are doctors typically male, older, white, high prestige, high pay positions.  There are young, male, white, often unidentified or unlabeled in quiet offices, suits who are NOT doctors.  They have degrees in business or finance.

Two things have damaged the profession of doctors in Montana.  One is the very long distances and remoteness which hamper establishing a reputation or building a big practice.  Another is that in the ranking of regulations and ethics-reviews, Montana is at the bottom -- fiftieth out of fifty.  A defense of that is that by keeping secret insurance decisions or malpractice issues, more physicians are willing to work in Montana.  We won't ask why.

I had not understood the nature of Alluvion but am happy that I qualify for their remit.  There's another practice like it in Cut Bank, but I'm following Dr. Marler.  Besides the changes in the medical providers, there seems to be a change in the people served, partly because of more universal health care -- at least until this administration gets their hands on it. Partly because of an almost religious realization that what happens to one, happens to us all.

The questionnaire at intake is always interesting as an indicator or orientation of the agency.  This time they asked whether I'd had sex in the last decade (I'm 80.).   I had three choices for "sex" identity, basically male, female or mind your own business.  (The Valier postmaster's doctor offered six sexes, including transitioning, cis, and fluid.)  They pressed hard about addiction.  I confessed that because of my shoulder I'm taking enough aspirin to make my ears ring but wasn't sure that's what they meant.  They didn't ask whether I had HIV.  (I don't.)  My records from earlier years were misplaced.

Great Falls doesn't have a lot of street people -- it's a tough climate -- but there were questions about access to shelter, food and so on.  No question was about access to bathrooms or sanitation supplies.  None were about a criminal record, but that's easily accessed by internet.  The small city does have a great many shelters, supported care facilities, and SRO hotels.  17% of the population is considered aged.  Several versions of question wanted to know whether I were unhappy, depressed, or isolated.  (If I were not isolated, I would be depressed.)

I suspect that some people served by this practice will be troublesome, not quite socialized, organically or psychologically damaged in a nonconforming way, separated from family, unattached.  The attention given to mental help is indicative.  

A growing different group are people like me. There was no question about education level or vocational experience, I suppose to escape from stigma in this place where everyone thinks a high education guarantees security and income.  If you're poor it's because you're stupid.  Parents have pressed their kids to be professors rather than plumbers.  Too many, even young ones right out of college, cannot find a place in the world, even as employers complain that no one will take their jobs.  As insurance leaves its connection to work, people neglect prevention.  Families are problematic.  There is no expectation that ordinary people can send their children to college. 

I know too much to be blindly obedient.  I will not accept patronizing or bullying, esp. from a quasi-professional woman educated via a correspondence course.  Media-promoted pharma issues are dishonest.  At least meds are standardized for white people like me, but not for women or the aged.  I took college statistics three times before I passed the first half of the course, but even I can see that many medical studies are shoddy.  Research travels fast.  

I have diabetes: there are five proposed KINDS of diabetes at present.  Each addressed a different way.  More than one doctor has bluntly told me that I will gradually increase my meds until I'm taking several that are no longer effective and then on insulin for $1000 a dose.  Then I'll be blind with amputated feet.  And I'll die.  Their chosen method of persuasion was threats.  Behind that power position was the craven feeling that I'm not worth their time, unimportant, too much trouble for a woman like them who is at the top.

Many of the indicators of "losers" and low status people are out of date: clothing, tattoos, vocabulary, blue hair, lack of money, skin color.  Old, slow, unfashionable.  A practice like Alluvion understands that life is a stream.  (Alluvial is an environmental term.)  It changes all the time.

If you have the guts for it, this is a story about a homeless woman who died under a GF bridge a few days ago.

Monday, March 25, 2019


Many of the people I know -- not just here in this town but through other contacts all over the world -- did not want to know what Trump et al were up to and still do not want to know.  They only need one of the three monkeys -- the one with the bag over its head.  They got rid of the cooperatives because they were too much work and they sold the town waterworks (that was in Missoula) because it's smart to let other people do the work.

Now they confirm that Trump, as he boasts, could murder someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it simply through denial.

We SAW what Mueller was documenting, possibly with videos but certainly with sound recordings and photographs.  We SAW that Trump was in Putin's pocket.  We SAW that his hairdo, even though cleverly devised is now growing almost too thin even for that and is sometimes dyed strange colors.  We SAW how demonic his "angry face" is.  We heard how his staff is afraid to tell him bad news because he storms and blames.  Now we pretend we didn't.

Did all this drive the conscientious opposition underground?  To some degree, I think the answer is yes, but they didn't have to struggle to do it with the people who didn't want to know, who didn't think anything would REALLY happen because all that political stuff is fake.  For many years "politics" has been delegated to a class invented by money whose "price" is being labeled not wicked but sordid.  Not just in Washington DC.  And not suddenly.

I started out on the rez teaching, which was gerrymandered to prevent outrage, so that some students who could not meet standards for graduation were allowed to go through the ceremony, receive an empty box and a handshake, and then stand with the others for the gifts meant to congratulate achievement.  There was little difference from the true graduates except the lack of education.  This has progressed until a recent story was about several -- SEVERAL -- valedictorians of their class who had gone to college -- not Harvard but a state college -- and found that they couldn't do the work because they had not been taught necessary things.

In the Sixties I heard a state professor say in the face of criticism, that it didn't matter whether his "Indian" students learned anything because they would never get jobs doing anything but teaching other "Indians."  People assumed because I (white) was teaching on a rez, I must be unqualified elsewhere.  They might have been right, but plenty of "Indian" students just learned anyway.  All the while schools elsewhere were being "normed" down, they were "norming" up. 

But here in town (300 people) we had a mayor who won but couldn't remember the words to the Pledge of Allegiance.  He was totally dependent on the clerk, who already had enough work to do.  Finally he rather transparently moved his office into the Boy Scout room, saying he was willing to "share" and some people woke up.  He moved elsewhere.  

In other small towns across Montana the athletic program far outweighs the learning curriculum and the superintendent is well aware that only if the kids "take state" has he got a job.  Not only that, but a cloud of monetary peripherals depend upon it:  photos of the teams, expensive uniforms, highly technical helmets that don't prevent concussions, a floor for the gym that costs a fortune to maintain, hours and days of stressful bus travel to games across a vast state in weather that's sometimes as dangerous as outer space.

In Portland, OR, I've worked for the county and the city, in situations of high ris in the 70's, like animal control law enforcement or leaving City Hall after work into police roundups of drug dealing gangs who held the bus at gunpoint.  Behind the scenes were accidents and missteps that were covered up.  Little money- draining schemes and stress-produced violence or self-harm.

They tell me I'm too idealistic and out of date, so I went to seminary and became a minister.  Another curtain. Skating on sentimentality and out-of-date beliefs, the ordained were siphoning money and sleeping around just like everyone else.  If there were ever a hard choice, they slipped out of it.  Or were sent on their way.  I loved a few of them.  Not the ones who made drunken confessions at national conferences, male or female.  Usually about sex.

Trump is in their eyes despicable and corrupted in a laughable way, but they recognize him and his fragile alliance with Putin.

For twenty years I've had the privilege of living alone in a remote place so I could read and write without interference.  This is because of the great good of Social Security (which Trump wants to cut) and a pension from the City of Portland so long as their investment scheme works.  What I've discovered is that the world as we know it is arbitrary and often imaginary. I could see it coming and had hoped I would die before it got here.

But there are people re-envisioning some new way, which is sometimes a very old way.  One of the hardest parts is building in the Internet into the rules of democracy, partly because it is fragile and hackable.  But without it I would not be so vividly aware through lectures, documents, messages, of a horizon that few people I know can see past.  Even in the most scholarly circles, it is necessary to rebuild the brain.  I can't DO it, but I can understand the necessity.  And I have read the steps to it.

Trump is a chump.  He fantasizes that he was judged and set free.  Neither happened.  He's the same Adderall addict he ever was.  (I looked up Adderall on Google and found it just now changed to sound safer than the earlier version.)

Sunday, March 24, 2019


To read this post, one might do well to start with this article linked below.  It will also introduce the reader to "The Tyee," a word that those of us who had Mildred Colbert, Chinook elder, for a 4th grade teacher will know is another term for a leader.

Lopez asks, "What comes after capitalism?  What comes after democracy?"  I ask, "What comes before we leave capitalism and democracy?"  Both of us are talking about sequence, cause and result, process, the flow of events and the lives they shape.  I'll tell you the answer to my question.  It is now. 

I do think that we will find the new eco-social patterns that will save us, but we don't know their names, though we might know the concepts somehow right now.  But I also think that the climate change, famine, environmental disasters, limits of material resources, blackouts and internet failures, resurgent microbes -- all these things will persist and kill us in great numbers.  We saw this coming.  I used to have nightmares about it, but not now.  Now I just live in circumstances that are modest, beneath notice except for this blog.  I'll slip away quietly.

Though I have no descendants in the direct sense of children, I have enormous respect for demographics.  The kids I taught in the 7th grade in 1961 have carried the Blackfeet rez (which includes more than Blackfeet in addition to Blackfeet of every kind and degree with the BIA on their back) through fifty years and the whole area is better than it was.  (One must take into account that I do not get excited that Browning, the capital, is no longer a town.  I don't care what you call it -- it's organic.)  

Those 7th graders were identified as future leaders and the designators were right, mostly because the kids were part of conscientious families.  They were the parents of the first Head Start kids and that movement has been a key to progress.  Head Start was a valuable institution, but it also paved the way for many other experiments like Immersion School or Catholic school.  (I always remember the kid who came to an early school so full of hope and love that he had put on that morning the only clothes he could find, which happened to be his grandmother's.  Luckily, she wore jeans and sweatshirts.)  These were the kids who made their parents stop smoking.  Now those same kids, after decades of service on the rez, are retiring.  Charlie Farmer is in the paper because he's retiring!  Whaaat!  I still remember him vividly as a kid full of beans and ideas.

All the time this community has been growing and worrying -- it's drugs that they feel are a problem at the moment -- a world of research and thought that reaches around the world has been revealing a planet of exploding knowledge.  One silly guy will say, "Well, we've made all the discoveries, been every place, taken history as far as it can go, founded all the nations, etc."  And a good proportion of the rest will roll on the floor laughing.

Life is a process and no sooner do we think we've got it all nailed, than it changes.  Have to start all over again.  I'm reading Quamman (horizontal gene transfer) and Porges (the third vagus nerve complex of the autonomic nervous system.)  Most of the pretentious atheists or apologists never escape the Christian system which they claim is Judaic, while they demonize Islam which is a direct derivative.  They ignore Asians and make the autochthonous Americans into fantasies.  When they say they value all religions, they usually mean they have collected the bells and whistles of many places and stashed them in their bookcases.  But the people who are coming out of biology, medicine, close study of the land -- they sound to me like 19th century Transcendentalists in terms of their wonder, their acceptance of all things being related.  A new religion?

No, because the way we think of religion is as established, bureaucratic, monetized, architectural, political power-mongers, wearing grandmother's clothes.  They say "sacredness" but they really mean, "We get to draw the lines."  Myself, for one thing, I would "love" to see the social lines on sex redrawn, since they have become so embedded in hypocrisy, ownership, stigma, pharma and so on.  But I would never expect any lines about love (limerence, attachment, response) to be successfully drawn.  It blows where it listeth.

I'm saving articles about the new ways to organize land, since the ocean is redrawing the coast again (I said, again).  One way is to organize around city/states.  (Again.)  I would like to see Valier reorganized complexly to include water service area, service area for gas and power lines, same for phone and internet, and to supply rational transportation.  Another way is to organize according to the carrying capacity of each eco-system, particularly in terms of water available.  But who says who can live where?  Before destiny intervenes.

Sometimes the people vote to leave Europe -- sometimes the sea just takes it.


Saturday, March 23, 2019


For the past days Spring has smiled on us with sunshine.  When it does that, the morning sun forms a big square on the yellow kitchen floor where the kittens (I call them the Sparrows) do their early tumbling.  I'm going to imitate Mueller by being domestic, picking up the debris, reshelving books, washing dishes, and trying out my new vacuum cleaner wand that sucks up sideways so a person can stick it in on tops of books to remove dust.  Also, I have this cute little gimmick called a Wonder Washer, which is really just a bucket with an agitator in the bottom, about the right size to do kitchen laundry like dishcloths or maybe the socks that fascinate the Sparrows so much because they are the right size to drag everywhere and because they're smelly.

I'm going around the house taking down the winter curtains, checking now and then to see whether the snow has melted enough for me to get into what I call the "Bunkhouse," which is really a storage shed.  The rooftop snow everywhere is about gone, so I'll see if there have been disastrous leaks. Of course I'll also check every now and then to see if Barr has released anything.  (I still haven't recovered a straight face after Colbert referred to him as the frog who swallowed John Goodman.)  

The bull tomcats in the nabe have been so determined to get into this house at night that they broke the cat flap!  Not the hinge, but the little plastic flap!  I made a temp fix with duct tape -- big strips of the stuff across the hole.  In the gaps the occasional baleful eye of a frustrated tomcat peers in at us.  A new catdoor is in the mail.

Conferring as injury veterans, some of us discussed the fact that pain killers as strong as opioids are simply off the market.  All docs and pharm folks are afraid of the paperwork necessary and the threatened consequences of misuse.  We're shifting to vibrators (They don't have to look like private parts.) and gizmos with faint electric pulses.  But opioids have a place and simply bureaucratizing them is no solution.

The discussion about the Mueller report varies from the sophistication of Seth Abramson, who has written two books, "Proof of Collusion" and "Proof of Conspiracy" (in case you need an overview) and those who fall for the TV series interpretations in which one brilliant man saves everyone.  No one is talking about China, Mafia, world-wide money webs.  No one is realizing that no matter what the report says, what we know so far has destroyed every henchman whether or not they are sitting in the slammer yet.  (Safer place for some.)  There's still a flurry of Brexit in the background.  The nations who were once the salvation of the world -- it was only a little while ago in the years that I was a child -- are now ridiculous, helpless, and looking at famine.  FAMINE.  (Like Ireland!)  Their citizens can't get their meds or even clean water.

How desperate was Putin to think that using Trump as a pawn would work?  A side show cannot save a circus.

I won't think about that for a while.  Now the sun is growing dusky and they say snow will be back, though it will be rain in the afternoons.  Curry's  Market was selling oxalis plants (four leaf clovers) just the right size for the kitchen windowsill next to the bits of geranium that always break off.  I put the ends in tumblers and soon they'll have roots for pots outside.

All winter I've been pitching empty cardboard boxes into the space between the two banks of filing cabinets in the garage.  Now I'm making the boxes flat and piling them so I can begin to empty and remove some cabinets.  It's clearer now which things I saved just in case, so can be taken away, and which things are important to keep. 

The world has changed.  The real work of redesigning and refitting our culture is already underway.  OUT with the electoral college.  OUT with electronic voting.  OUT with gerrymandering.  OUT with poll taxes.    But there are still mysteries.  I understand Trump, a hollow tin man.  But what accounts for the Repubs?  They have destroyed their party.  Many of them will soon be dead.  At least Nunes has left us his cow.