Have you tired yet? Will the burden of disconnection ever be so great that it simply must be dropped?
Are you ready for compassion and love to overcome the stifling power of the ego and fear?
Well it’s been a productive time at Anne’s place. I am finally feeling like we are going to make it with getting her a place for winter. We have a nice week ahead of us and the recent progress has been amazing.
Less than 2 weeks ago, the trailer had a saggy kitchen, holes through the floor, two old electrical boxes (one with screw-in fuses, one with breakers), a cracked toilet. We had no electricity, no heat, no plumbing. We had two scrappy trailers in the yard that need to be hauled away. Then there was a ceremony for quick progress and, like magic, it seems to be working. Thank you amazing goddesses!!
Thanks to many people (and for sure I am forgetting several someones) we have made a TON of progress. Noreen Hautala, Ralph and Paulette Friday, Larry and LaVonne, Peggy, Steven and his buddy, Cheyenne and Gene, Cedar, Becky Littlewolf, Corey, and, of course, Anne herself.
The old bathroom toilet and kitchen cabinets have been removed. The floor has had all the holes fixed and new subfloor is in the process of being added to the LR/Kitchen. And the flashing and caulking have been done for the doors so no more moisture infiltration! 😀
The kitchen has been primed! This top cabinet may still have to go… it looks really saggy and we can give Anne something better.
All the windows have been covered with plastic for winter. It already feels warmer. We have a new electrical panel which has been hooked up and THERE IS ELECTRICITY!! It was positively roasting in there with two space heaters Anne has in the LR/Kitchen – I had to take off my coat, & long-sleeve shirt and wear only my short-sleeve t-shirt!
The Bedroom is painted and has the new subfloor, luan, AND FLOORING installed!!! Just need the trim, boxing around the electrical wires, final light fixture repair, a bit more paint and we’re ready to install furniture and decorate!!
The sewing room was pretty good though Anne has really made it hers with a paint wash on the barn wood wall – it looks really great. Perhaps in another year or so, all the walls will have this treatment… 😉
The bathroom has a good floor but we’ll need to tweak the cabinets for better storage. And, we still need to get the plumbing in place…
This week we hope to get a propane tank set – let’s hope the furnace works!
We hope to finish the subfloor so we can begin the kitchen reconstruction. We need to move a bunch of stuff around and then reconfigure the outlet for her new fridge placement. Then we’ll need to build some new cabinets and paint as Anne sees fit.
Meanwhile Anne is there everyday getting lots accomplished. I’m feeling better as we’ve made good progress and I’m going to hope it continues. It’s a village working on this and it’s been really fun to be a part of the crew.
As many of you know, we’ve been following the Valve Turner Trials since their Direct Action on October 11, 2016. The last of the first round trials happened near our place this past week. It was a whirlwind of excitement, surprise, happiness, and disappointment.
On the way home from the first day of trial last Monday I was overcome with feelings of concern. I knew the jury pool was weak and worried that NO ONE on the jury would have a clear understanding of Climate Change. With the judge ruling that none of the expert witnesses could testify to Climate Change or Civil Disobedience (because “everyone understands” them), and with all but two jurors in the pool saying they did not think it was okay to break the law for moral reasons, I knew it would be an uphill battle. And I knew that most of those people were lying to themselves and everyone else. Who hasn’t broken the speed limit because they had to get to church on time?
Seriously, I was fretting. It seemed the ability of the defense attorneys to prove our case was being shredded. But as I drove south on County 2 toward home, an eagle flew across the road just as I was approaching. I looked at that eagle and remembered a story a friend told me recently when she was talking about being nervous about an upcoming action. She said that an eagle had flown in front of the car as they were heading to the action and she remembered many Indigenous telling her, “If you see an eagle, you know the Ancestors are with you,” so she relaxed and felt like all would be well.
So I saw this eagle and felt a bit better. But I also knew that we see eagles often up here. So there was still some doubt. That evening, as I wrote a reply to Mom’s comment that my blog last week made her proud and happy, I burst into tears. I was suddenly overwhelmed by the emotion I was feeling for her and it was like a dam burst and my entire being just succumbed to the terrible feelings of fear for our trial, for our children, for our community of beings, for our planet. I thought about the IPCC report that was just issued that day basically giving us a dozen years until we reach a tragic, unrecoverable situation with regard to climate change. I thought about the Valve Turners and their words on how urgent this crisis is. I thought about how many people are doing nothing, except maybe holding the pedal to the floor burning through fossil fuels without thought or consideration. I just sobbed and sobbed.
Dan said to me, “Are you all right?” I replied moaning through tears with a towel held to my face, “Nooooo!” He said, “Don’t forget…” And this was a moment. I wailed, “I know, I know! The asteroid!!” You see Dan keeps saying, “Just think, any moment, an asteroid could hit the planet and it’s game over!” Sometimes he adds on, “Splat!” And he’s been doing this for a while so now it’s basically to a point where he just says “Splat” and it’s all clear.
I managed to stop crying and work on the pots of soup for Wednesday’s party and watched some TV to take my mind from it – numbing behavior is sometimes the only way to deal with the pain. And in the morning, I resolved to be calm, to keep my head in a book, to just watch the process as calmly as I could. And as I drove to the trial that morning, as I drove down US 2, an eagle flew directly across the highway in front of me. I calmed. I thanked the Ancestors for telling me they are here. I decided to trust in the Universe – at least for today. And then the first day of testimony began and it was crazy.
We had entered the day finalizing the jury pool – wasn’t sure any of these were good potential jurors as we’d been removed from the courtroom during jury selection (voir dire). I just couldn’t put many faces with their answers from the previous day. But I knew chances were good we had a total jury of climate deniers.
It was pretty remarkable to watch the judge as he thanked the jurors for their service and walked everyone through the process. If you haven’t experienced this, I recommend a visit to your next local jury trial so you can see how things work. Hopefully you will have a judge as dedicated to the record as Judge Tiffany.
Then began the opening statements. Al Rogalla had a very strong performance presence, full of deliberate placements of evidence, strong and dramatic language, and only a few stumbles in his verbiage. It was a bit overdone in my opinion and much of the jury seemed unphased as he breathlessly said (complete with a cutting motion as if there was a giant hedge in front of him), “And then they CUT the CHAINS!” His main point was that there was video evidence of the crime that the jury would see in testimony so they must convict. Then Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center presented the opening statement for the defense team. She gave a well-presented explanation of what she intended to present, what her clients had done and a bit of why, and some information on the urgency of climate change. It was thorough, informative and professional.
After this, Al Rogalla presented the case for the State of Minnesota with two witnesses, Clearwater County Sheriff Darin Halverson and Bill Palmer, Enbridge Energy’s Clearbrook Terminal Supervisor. Sheriff Halverson was able to assure chain of custody for the evidence and identify the three defendants sitting at the table adjacent to him.
Halverson walked through the events of the day and was on the stand as the video footage that Ben Joldersma (third defendant) took during the action was shown for the jury. It depicted the entry into the valve stations and included the safety phone call that Ben made to Enbridge before the action occurred asking them shut down the line.
Kelsey Skaggs of the Climate Defense Project did the cross-exam. She asked about the two calls made to the Sheriff that morning, the first from the media and the second from Enbridge, both around 9:15 AM. She verified that the defendants were waiting for him on arrival at about 10:30 AM. She asked if he could identify the fourth person arrested that day, Steve Liptay (seated in the rear of the small courtroom, 4th row), but he was unable to identify him. This, planted a small seed of doubt in the Sheriff as Kelsey made clear that the original fourth defendant was present.
As I put the pieces together, it seems that the action took place about 8:30 but the Sheriff was not informed until 9:15 with a call from WCCO who had seen footage on FB. They didn’t get to the scene until 10:30 so the defendants waited two hours for their arrest. This behavior doesn’t seem consistent with people who want to get away with criminal damage.
Next on the stand was Bill Palmer. His work history was reviewed and his assessment of the photographic evidence was gained by Rogalla who seemed tickled by reminding Palmer of the flowers in the chain that had been added to the valve after it was turned off. Palmer confirmed that oil flow was stopped for about 8 hours that day on Lines 4 & 67 and he noted the extra staff verification that was done in turning the valves back to open. This included a flyover (which is done regularly by the pipeline anyway – not sure if it’s a safety requirement or something the company just does but they fly over our place regularly).
Lauren did the cross-exam for this witness asking if he was one of fifteen employees at the Clearbrook site. Palmer corrected her noting 17 plant employees but agreed. He agreed that this is an automated facility and that he was informed that morning (but could not specifically tell her when) by Enbridge of the shutdown. (I was kind of thinking, gee, if I knew I had to testify on this at a trial, I probably would have brought all my notes on the day with me and been able to answer a question like this. But then, I am a woman, of German heritage, who has a strong tendency for documentation so I’m left with the impression that this guy isn’t real strong on documentation or details. Not sure if this is the guy we want running a major fossil fuel terminal…) Palmer was only informed of one call (though the defendants had assured two calls, one from a party off-site and one ten minutes later from Ben, fifteen minutes prior to closing the valves). Lauren asked if Enbridge shut down the line for batch changes and he noted that they do not but they do shut down for maintenance. He also noted that a shutdown does not cause damage “if done correctly”. He verified that Enbridge shut down the line at 6:40 MST that day (seeming to have a little trouble translating that to local time of 8:40 CST for a moment). When asked if there was ever damage to the pipeline from others, he agreed sometimes there is third party damage but he could not recall an instance where he ever received fifteen minutes notice prior to any of these instances.
The State rested its case and Lauren asked for a 5 minute break.
On return, Minneapolis-based attorney Tim Phillips read the defense team’s motion for acquittal. It should be noted that the jury was not in the room at the time – the court took care of a lot of administrative type activities while the jury was out, bringing them in only when it was time for evidence to be presented. Tim asked the Judge to approve a motion for acquittal for all three defendants based on the fact that the State did not prove their case and that the evidence would not allow a reasonable juror to find guilt.
I sat in the rear of the room next to Andy Pearson of MN350 and I looked at Andy expectantly. He is one cool character, this Andy. He leaned over and quietly said in my ear, “He’s going to deny.” Well, Judge Tiffany kept us at bay, first explaining the legal code that allowed for a defense team to request acquittal following the presentation of the State’s case. He noted the requirements on him as a judge for considering said motion in making his ruling. Then he spoke about the Minnesota code defining pipelines and I began to get hopeful again. He was doing a LOT of explaining… Andy looked at me with a surprised hopeful look and then grabbed my hand as we continued to listen. And it was just a matter of a few more moments until the Judge granted their motion for acquittal and banged his gavel noting that, “We are adjourned.”
The courtroom erupted in cheers, tears, and a level of dumbfoundedness. Could it all really be over like that? It was surreal. This was almost immediately followed by the realization that our Climate Necessity Defense was not going to be presented. With cheers, smiles, and disappointment, we gathered at the stairs to hug, celebrate that our friends would not face prison, and commiserate our loss. Annette’s husband put it very succinctly. He said he was happy for his wife but wished we would have been able to present our case.
The press conference that followed was amazing (second half of press conference here). Expert witnesses Dr. Jim Hanson (former NASA Chief Scientist), Dr. Anthony Ingraffea (an expert who authored the American Pipeline Institute pipeline safety guidelines), and Dr. Bruce Snyder (reporting on the public health concerns and associated financial aspects) appeared alongside the defendants and attorneys Kelsey and Lauren. Vivienne joined as well, bringing the real reason for our fight to the forefront. I was always so amazed with Ben’s ability to bring the focus back to our children – all our children – and his feeling of obligation to do all he can to protect their future. It was nice to get a quick chance to hear some of the testimony we would have heard had our experts been able to take the stand.
After this excitement, I headed to Split Oak Farm to drop off a pig bucket. I gave Jeff and Angie the update on what happened. I texted their expected house guest for the evening to let them know of the acquittal and the two of them decided to turn back at St. Cloud. The fun of logistics begins anew! People who planned to come support the trial canceled plans or turned around mid-trip. Folks from Seattle to LA to NY worked on their plans for returning home. It would be a whirlwind for the next few days.
I headed home to regroup and prepare for an evening of James Hansen and a likely good celebration at Brigid’s Pub with the Valve Turner gang. I needed a nap! And as I drove east toward County 2, I spotted an eagle as it flew over my car. I guess I need to start trusting the Ancestors are with us… especially in times of need.
Democracy Now! did a great interview with Kelsey, Emily, Annette, and James the next day. (Part 3 is more of a summary of the story including some footage of our good friends Leonard Higgins & Michael Foster along with more explanation of the Necessity Defense.) It was nice to get some exposure for the movement and share some information with the public.
Bill McKibben did an MPR interview on the issue and also wrote an Op-Ed in the LA Times giving much of what he would have testified to had be been allowed to do so in Bagley and indicating that we need climate civil disobedience if we are to save our planet.
“Politics as usual is not working to address the climate emergency, save for a few outliers like California or Norway. And a few outliers is not enough.” ~ Bill McKibben, LA Times
And for my friends in Alexandria (with a REAL newspaper), here’s the coverage from the Echo Press which was in large part accurate (compared with the confusing and unclear coverage the trial got in our local Bagley paper).
So the title includes a month and year because I am certain to be writing another “My Life is Magical” blog again one day. Seriously! My Life IS Magical!! So what’s so magical of late? Here’s what.
I meet the most amazing people…
Tom & Rita prepped tents for two Valve Turners (see more on them below) during the recent Interfaith Power and Light vigil at the Mississippi Headwaters. I had met them briefly before but it was really lovely to have a little time to chat and get to know them better. Such interesting lives they shared with me and I am impressed with all they are doing in this Line 3 fight. While I couldn’t make Sunday’s vigil, Dan was able to get some great photos and share some interesting culture with Annette. First Colony of the United States?? WTF does this mean?
Instead. at Art Leap 2018, an event I planned to attend with Connie weeks ago, I visited Beagle and Wolf Books and made a purchase. I also wandered to the local health food store which was closed but where Cathy, owner of Bella Caffe and daughter-in-law to the originator of the Third Street Market, was willing to not only let me in but also give me a grand tour and history of the place. It was fascinating and she was delightful! She even offered to buy me a coffee! But I knew I’d be back for lunch any minute with friends Deb & Paul so waited until lunch to get coffee. Their coffee was very good – should I say “beautiful”? I recommend checking them out if you are in Park Rapids. After lunch we all enjoyed the bluegrass sounds of Unpolished. I found them to be quite polished and quite funny (that’s you Mark Bridge!).
During the Leap, I headed over to visit Lauralee Studio where Laura Grisamore has some really interesting art. She and her husband made me feel so welcome and I really enjoyed seeing all the really cool skulls they have there. Neat stuff. I also got to meet Maureen O’Brian who had a GORGEOUS painting of Minnesota’s state flower. But maybe my favorite was Pat Pope the Bead dude who was hanging out at Smoky Hills Art. He refers to himself as a Social Artist and his intricate bead work is truly amazing. His endeavors are very time intensive. In the background of this photo you can see a bit of the amazing quilt by Robin, owner of Smoky Hills Art. I recommend you visit to see this lovely work.
The night before I’d been down to PR for The Great American Story event. It was a very nice event where I had connections to all four of the stories or storytellers. Two of the contestants were friends. Paulette Friday and the WonderWeavers (Tina Rohde and Colleen Shashkin) have all captivated me with stories for the last few years so I knew the event would be a good one. I also got to hear the winner Sue Searing who told a story which began by noting her plans to retire to Minnesota… and during which she regaled her endurance of the heat of Texas during a job interview. I really loved her story. And I got to meet more intimately Rose van der Berg whose story was about her relation with her father. A tale of heartache, abuse, joy, and redemption, it was good to hear. After she and Paulette did not make the final round, I went over to chat with her. It was really wonderful to share with her about my own father disowning me for unknown reasons. And to hear more of her story. While she and Paulette both got prizes for being in the final four, she and I agreed that the connection we made was worth far more. I am hopeful our paths will cross again.
Hope returns to the Harn…
Speaking of crossing paths, you may recall meeting Hope the Turtle in my blog from August 13 this year. While I thought the chances of us meeting Hope again were quite slim, we did in fact meet Hope again! It happened about 6 weeks after Hope was brought to the Harn for a shell repair (after being hit on the road near Itasca Park about 10 miles south).
As Dan and I drove home one afternoon, I saw a small turtle crossing the road in front of the house and we stopped. The car behind us passed around us with no danger to the turtle but there was a large semi coming in the turtle’s lane. That driver was able to make a switch to the left lane and thus, avoided hitting the little turtle. And when I rushed over to snatch the turtle up from the asphalt, I saw the duct tape. I knew it was our friend Hope.
We drove Hope into the driveway and we gave Hope a NEW duct tape job. The shell appeared to be growing out and the legs and tail were functioning very well. In fact, the tail was so tightly tucked when I was working the duct tape, that Dan had to hold it out while I eased the tape into place. We called Lee, the one who originally brought Hope to the Harn, to let her know. And then we assured that the edges of the shell had no sharp edges to catch and put Hope in the yard to roam free again. Hope found the little pond in our yard and found shelter there.
So this is the most magical part of the recent past… I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Valve Turners to the area. It’s been on our white board for months. And after the last two weeks, I’ve seen so much of them I’m constantly pumped up!
We were able to watch the pre-trial adventure at the Clearwater County court house in late September and it was quite amazing. [I predict Mayberry meets NYC… Hopefully the technology of their building will allow for a 21st century trial because this may be the Trial of the Century… McKibben, Hansen, and Lessig, oh, my!!]
We were honored to host three of the Valve Turners for the night recently and it was wonderful getting to know these people. They would want you to know that they are nothing unusual. They are normal, everyday people. And this is true. They are just normal people like you and me. I know I see them and speak of them as Rock Stars. This is because I value the risk they were willing to take to send a message that we ALL need to be working to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of fossil fuels. I am humbled by their willingness to risk jail time to stand against the corporations and governments that do nothing to help mitigate our tremendous addiction to fossil fuels. For me, they will remain Rock Stars in the fight to end our addiction on fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy. I’m glad to be fighting with them. And, yes, any of us can join them.
We had a chance to host some kids recently at the Harn and our lovely neighbors with an Appaloosa farm let them ride horses, see pigs & geese & turkeys, and pet cats. It was a lovely day on the farm – thanks to Devin and Amy (and the kids!) for all you shared!!
Our one neighbor Tom has an abundant apple tree in his yard that we love. Every year Tom let’s us know when it’s time to pick. And I let my other neighbor Connie know. This year was so busy for me that Connie got out on a Saturday and by the time I got out three days later, the tree was picked cleaned!! Luckily for me, Connie was willing to share her haul!
I could go on. I have the most fun experiences with music, art. fun, food, and life. I feel like life is very magical indeed. I hope you can find the magic in your life as well.
What a whirlwind many of us have been through this past week with the Kavanaugh case. It’s a roller coaster of emotions for many of us. I have run the gamut. And I have realized much about myself and others through this process. Much thanks goes to my good friend who texted me about this whole mess late Saturday night. It is she who has brought my perspective back into one that feels most familiar and compassionate.
But before I get to the compassionate part, I have to talk about the bullshit part. One, because I think we need to establish truth and two, because there is a LOT of humor being generated off this situation. [Yes, I am a horrible person.]
First, I have to say that lying is my least favorite thing. Ask my kid. He could pretty much do anything, and as long as he was honest about it, he’d not get in too much trouble. But if he lied? There was holy hell to pay. So, because I hate lying so much, I find it quite comical when someone is revealed in their dishonesty, and I must say, especially when that someone is trying SO HARD to convince the nation that his horrible behavior never happened and that he is, in fact, a complete innocent. Did you see how he jumped up to take his oath? It was like watching a performance of Shirley Temple jumping to attention to salute!
So one of the things that came up in a review of Brett’s HS yearbook entry was a question about the Devil’s Triangle. As you may or may not know, a Devil’s Triangle is “a threesome with 1 woman and 2 men. It is important to remember that straight men do not make eye contact while in the act. Doing so will question their sexuality.” Well, after Thursday’s hearing, there are a whole bunch of NEW definitions added to Urban Dictionary. Here are some of my favorite entries. For each definition, there is the definition and then an example of use. [Note, the links are also full of humor but watch out as they can be rabbit holes…]
CORNYN: So this is not a job interview. You’ve been accused of a crime. If you have lied to the committee and the investigators, that is a crime in and of itself, correct?KAVANAUGH: That is correct.
CORNYN: So in order to vote against your nomination, we would have to conclude that you are a serial liar.KAVANAUGH: Yeah.
I do often ask, “What is WRONG with people!?!?” We saw a posting at the gas station the other day about an older white couple who are suspected of human trafficking and I was like, “What is WRONG with these people?? What makes you think this behavior is OK??”
Most recently, I have been asking “what is wrong with people?” as I listen to Ford’s account of her sexual assault by Kavanaugh and Judge. Yes, AND Judge. He was there. He was egging on the behavior. He did nothing to stop it. He is complicit. Perhaps this is part of why he had such a horrible drinking problem. Alcohol is widely used as an antidote to remembering… Problem is, it doesn’t change the truth. The horrible facts remain, even when we “have no memory” of an incident.
I do believe taking personal accountability for the truth is the way to freedom. And forgiveness. If Kavanaugh truly wants redemption, he can come clean. He can make amends, in whatever way that might occur, and perhaps even his wife and children will be able to forgive him. But for now, he remains scared and angry. And I know how that can feel.
I don’t know if there is hope for him spiritually. But I fear there is a good chance he will be voted in as a SC Justice. I’ve asked all survivors call the four potential swing Senators and let them know how you feel. Tell them to vote NO on Kavanaugh. He is unfit for SCOTUS. Republicans can do better. If those two women could have that much influence on Flake with their elevator pitch, imagine what 250,000 of us calling into these four offices to tell them how we feel can have. Those numbers are hard to ignore whether or not they are your constituents. They only need to lose two votes. Call all four and two of them may join us in opposing putting an angry man-child onto the Supreme Court.
Time’s up, motherfuckers.