The Annual Christmas Letter
Daniel (16), Carol, Jean-Luc, Jeremy (19), and Jules (21)
Our 2009 Christmas Chalet in Quebec
January 4, 2010
Palo Alto, California
Dear friends and family,
We had a wonderful family reunion in Quebec over Christmas break. Jules flew in from Oberlin; he is a senior and will be graduating this year. Jeremy caught the bus from Dartmouth (where he is a freshman) to Montreal, after recovering from a five day backpacking through the snow trip to visit with his aunt, uncle and cousins, before we arrived.
Since my very wonderful mother and father-in-law have moved into a luxury condo in Montreal, and have sold their chalet and the family home/practice in Montreal, we have been renting chalets for the past few years. Sometimes we are luckier than other years, as it is hard to gauge what a place is like just by photos and words on internet sites. This year our brand new chalet was perched atop a cliff with a spectacular panoramic view; it was beautiful, remote, quiet – and almost impossible to drive to and drive away from – with roads that reminded me of roller coasters. You couldn’t actually see where the roads would go til you reached some of the crests, and we had to abandon the car and walk many kilometers to get home and get out when the time came to leave, but aside from that – it was gorgeous, comfortable, and we enjoyed our time together! The flights were a bit of an ordeal, a red-eye on the way there, and a security nightmare on New Year’s Day, when we had to go through Security four times, including the body searches in Toronto on our way back across the border. Jules flew from Montreal to D.C. to spend his Winter Term as an intern with a non-profit group working against torture.
We did forget to turn on the phone answering machine, before we left, but did come home to avalanches of email and Christmas mail, so I’m not going to try to answer each letter, but sum up the events of the past few months and the choices that I see before us this year.
I sent out my last Christmas letter in August 2009, just before the big 5th Annual 9/11 Film Festival, a benefit for the Northern Calfornia 9/11 Truth Alliance, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, and the NYC Coalition for Accountability Now which was a success (The report and links to media coverage are posted here.) The report does not include what an ordeal it was for me to try to do my usual organizing work when a few people decided to impose a steering committee on me. I was granted ad hoc executive authority by the larger group, but issues of “governance” have certainly curbed my enthusiasm to pour all my effort into the group and the 9/11 Truth Movement. Also in September, I attended the American Monetary Institute’s Annual Monetary Reform Conference in Chicago (See my report on that here.) and I am drawn to working once again on changing the monetary/economic system and moving from a war to a peace economy. I couldn’t resist building an altar this year to The Death of Empire and Dollar, Birth of Life Honoring Currency at the 30th Annual Spiral Dance (See here for photos and a report.) I had hoped to publish the new Deception and Perception Dollar, by July, then September, October, December…. But Blaine has been busy and the artwork still isn’t finished. If we had been able to publish before now, I might have considered running for Congress again, but now I have decided not to- there are simply too many other creative, interesting things for me to do.
January 20, 2010
A beautiful Christmas tree and decorations greeted us when we entered the chalet over Christmas. Jean-Luc usually brings the toys and presents from home. We are getting less materialistic as the kids grow older. They have so much stuff, sometimes they don’t even have time to open and learn how to play the new games that they are given. Jeremy said he wanted “Love and Attention” for Christmas… which is what I try to give everyone, as well as cooking everyone’s favorite dishes, although this year I had to add socks and long underwear to the luggage- since the kids were vocally in dire need…
As a present to Jean-Luc, I did take everyone to see a new film that had just come out, that Jean-Luc really wanted to see- Avatar in 3D. We all were very impressed. I even saw it a second time when I returned (taking another friend and her two kids- who also really enjoyed it). The art, special effects, were stunning, and the story was classic, although the setting was the distant future.
Subsequently, a friend sent me a link to an interview with the publisher of the Ringing Cedar Series . I was intrigued and purchased the books. I must say that I would have liked to have believed that parts of the books were true, especially since they are written in the style of a first person account of actual events. The latter books, however, consist mainly of the author imagining stuff, and trying to flesh out some of his fantasies of the past, present, and future. However the books have had a big impact in Russia, as well as other countries, and sparked a new “back to the Earth, eco-community movement,” strongly pushing for the gift of land (a hectare or 2.5 acres) to every person who wants it in Russia (or the former U.S.S.R.) as a remedy to many of that civilization’s current ailments at the soul, personal, family, community, country levels. I can understand the allure of creating a family home and garden, which could also feed and meet the needs of a growing family, especially in these times of economic chaos and distress. I also believe that empires arose when people were forced off of their land, forced into slavery, or into a cash economy where they could be exploited and were unable to simply grow their own food and meet their basic needs.
I also think that monetary and land reform are two sides of the same coin, and it is almost impossible to reform one system without reforming the other. One of the central themes of the book series is that man is a divine being, a co-creator with God, who has lost many of his abilities, particularly communicating with nature, God’s creation, which is here to serve, help and heal man (or human beings), and that technology is a weak substitute for the superior latent powers of conscious thought, which when developed allows man to create or do anything imaginable, particularly when collective thought is focused and harnessed towards a shared goal.
It does seem that there is a huge struggle going on right now to influence and alter humanity’s worldview, emotions, and to harness it to pull us in opposing directions- since some people’s dream turns out to create a nightmare for the larger population.
There are so many varying/competing interpretations of human history. Over Christmas I brought along one entertaining novel (The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown), but otherwise I caught up on some of the non-fiction books that I have been meaning to read- including Women and the Gift Economy whose subtitle is “a radically different worldview is possible.” (I also contributed a short chapter entitled- Facing the Shadow of 9/11.) The book was a compilation of speeches, presentations made at “The Gift Economy Inside and Outside Patriarchal Capitalism Conference” held in Las Vegas in November 2004, which I had attended. I was very impressed by the speeches, at that time, but it was good to be able to “read the edited version.” While I have thought that the Gift Economy would be the ideal economy, I have always struggled with figuring out how do we get from where we are now to there? Should we do it slowly, incrementally, through raising consciousness? Is it possible to alert people to the larger picture and make the invisible economy, which is the larger economy- the gifts of Nature, women’s unpaid work, the networks of cooperation, voluntary service to the community, the “love economy...” visible and clearly show how destructive, parasitic, harmful the exchange economy (the war economy) is, so that we can let the exchange economy dissolve on its own and nurture a robust gift economy to replace it, entirely.
Earlier this month, I attended the annual meeting of the Society of Christian Ethics, to participate on a panel on Monetary Reform. George Crowell had organized a working group within the society to look at the problems with our monetary system. I met him in Chicago last September. His daughter, Sarah Crowell, lives in the East Bay and is a Director of a theatrical/dance group (Destiny Arts) that performed a wonderful 15 minute theatrical/dance piece entitled “Money, Money, Money.” Ellen Brown, author of The Web of Debt- The Shocking Truth About Our Money System and How We Can Break Free, also came up for the event and spent the night at my house, and together we made lunch the next day for George and Sarah and had a good visit with them. I hope I can work more with Sarah in the future. I still think the arts are the best way to overcome the media censorship in getting out ideas and information.
Just this past week, Blaine began working again on the art for the new Deception and Perception Dollars.
Draft of the new Perception Dollar
Draft of the back of the new Perception Dollar- (The new art is BETTER!- It is posted HERE)
I also got a call yesterday from The Progressive Radio Network, asking me to host a new weekly one hour radio show.
I do feel like I have “taken time off” from the intense triage activism mode that I was in for years, and that I needed the time to reflect, recuperate, restore my energy.
At the same time, our lives have changed dramatically, Jeremy has left us. I think he is adapting to Dartmouth, but still hasn’t quite found his niche or made close friends that are able to make up for the loss of his close childhood friends. Jules will be graduating in May, and none of us knows what the future holds for him, except that “employment opportunities” are probably at an all time low, and might even get worse. Daniel is immersed in activities, like Jeremy, he is trying to do an Eagle Scout project, on the Gunn Robotics Team, and can’t resist being involved with Theater, while trying to keep up his grades, so that he can get into the school that he wants to go to, after high school graduation. My nieces, their cousins, are doing really well in school, and their extra-curricular activities. (Keri is getting a doing a double-major at the Colorado School of Mines; Anne-Julie just had a wonderful semester in Paris- we missed her and her family over Christmas, since Marie-Elyse, Pierre and Florence left shortly after we arrived to join her in Europe for the holidays). It is going to be a challenge to figure out what, where, how our immediate family (and the larger family) will be able to get together next summer to reconnect, visit, play, vacation. When the kids were younger, we used to vacation and visit with family regularly in the summertime. My mom is selling her place in Colorado, and she and Woody have bought and moved to a new place in Arizona. My brother also bought a beautiful new home in Kauai, with a great garden and view.
Although I still feel passionately about the political/consciousness raising/social change work that I've been involved with for so many years, I am shifting my time and energy away from the hardcore political groups to other groups, where I am finding more support/encouragement/kindred spirits. Other people are taking leadership within the 9/11 Truth Movement, especially Richard Gage, founder of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. I don't think that I'm particularly needed for that work, anymore, at least not as much as I am needed for other issues- particularly the economic crisis. I've joined a women's spiritual circle, a hiking group, locally, and continue to network with groups that are not local. The radio show will enable me to reach out to a wider group of people without the clashes and conflicts that have dampened my enthusiasm to organize local political events.
This year Jean-Luc and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. (We spent our honeymoon and our 10th wedding anniversary in Kauai). This year, I doubt if we’ll get to Kauai for our anniversary. Jean-Luc might have jury duty. Jeremy will be coming to visit during his spring break. Daniel will be going with the Gunn Robotics Team to Atlanta for the Nationals in April.
I’m still horrifically disorganized; I have everyone’s addresses/contact info somewhere, but in multiple address books, directories, online, on cards, pieces of paper- and I can rarely find phone numbers or addresses (the recent ones) when I need them. If I can get out this letter, this month, it will be a major accomplishment!
I was very glad to receive so many emails and letters when we returned from vacation (which is one reason I started this letter). It is good to hear the news and catch up with friends. ( I just wish I could find all the addresses and friends that I’ve managed to lose over the years.)
This year is also a special year for Jean-Luc, who will turn 50 in April. I’d like to throw a big party for him (I certainly owe him for the year that he washed dishes for me for 7 hours on my 40th birthday…) My Great-Aunt Lucille will be 102! Our kids are our yardsticks, reminding us of how quickly the years have gone by. I still feel like I haven’t begun to realize more than a small fraction of my dreams, but I console myself by remembering that if you can achieve your dreams in your lifetime, then you aren’t dreaming big enough…
Update- February 16, 2010
I obviously didn't get this letter out in January. With over 100,000 emails in my IN box, I began to create a simple mailing list and eliminated 30,000 messages, but hardly made it through the "E"s and then the computer died. Jean-Luc revived it with a new operating system that I am still figuring out. This week is totally crazy with the new radio show starting Thursday with Richard Gage, AIA, founder of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth and Physicist Steven Jones, founder of Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice, who will also be attending a big press conference/luncheon/event on Friday in San Francisco announcing that 1000 Architects and Engineers have joined AE911Truth.org in petitioning for a new investigation of 9/11. I'm trying to help with the press work, and still cooking for Daniel's Robotic's Team, and organizing the new printing of Deception and Perception Dollars. And my dear friend, Janette, has been in for Brain surgery twice this month. We've had some amazing technical difficulties to overcome, including a power outage earlier today when the Media Alert was supposed to go out! I'm trying to pace myself, and accept the fact that I am never going to catch up with my life and all my friends and family...
Update- April 19, 2010
I still haven't managed to compile a comprehensive email list- nor organize my mailing list. However, we did finalize the art and printed the new Deception and Perception Dollars in March, in time to get them out at the March 20th anti-war rallies. We also had a booth at the Green Festival in San Francisco this month, which took a lot of my time and energy. I'm also hosting a weekly radio show entitled Community Currency on the Progressive Radio Network. Time has never been so precious to me, and I am trying to make the time to be with Jean-Luc, my kids, my friends. I am planning to go to the Understanding Deep Politics Conference coming up this May, and I am organizing a smaller retreat following the main conference to give several of us an opportunity to slow down, think more deeply about where we are, what we are doing, and how we can work together to help navigate our way towards a better future for all life. I also am trying to help with the upcoming Firefighters, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth events coming up May 7th & 8th in Marin and San Leandro.
In addition to the 9/11 Truth work, I'm also planning on going to the Future of Money and Technology Summit next week, and the American Monetary Institute's annual Monetary Reform Conference next fall. Both issues are related and touch deeply upon our individual and collective sense of identity and values. Besides the radio show, I'm not sure where I will be able to put the rest of my time and energy. A friend warned me that perhaps we do keep ourselves "busy" to avoid the deeper questions and maybe I should be doing less, thinking more, slowing down... I have tried to do that, to some degree, but I just can't resist trying to do the things that I passionately want to do. I can enjoy quiet and resting in small doses, but feel much happier when I feel like I am "doing something positive and constructive-" like catching up on my mail!
Wishing you good health, happiness, and the realization of your dreams in 2010!