The 13th Northern Winter Solstice Epistle

Jamaican Sorrel

Evening in Dupont Circle
Evening in Dupont Circle

Hibiscus sabdariffa
On this day when the calendar changes, and you're reminded of the passage of time, remember this. Whatever the month, whatever the year, now is the time for you to live, this is the moment for you to act.
~ Ralph Marston, 1961- ~
The knowledge that we will die burns out our attachments to the dignified madness of our socially constructed existence. Death is an ally that helps us to release our clinging to social position, material accumulation, and superficial desires as a source of ultimate security.
~ Duane Elgin, 1943- ~

Last year this time i was beset with a series of aches and pains which gave me cause for concern. Indeterminate chest pains triggered anxiety which fed on itself bringing me squarely face-to-face with my mortality. Having a family history of cardiovascular disease and hypertension only increased my dread. I lost my sister Lily just last May and have only one sibling left. Was my time coming up?

Then i seemed to recall these symptoms recurring each year at about this time and wondered if i might be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). However, i was not depressed, depression being a classic sign of SADness — but somehow less sunlight seemed to be implicated. Further research on the internet led me to believe i was suffering instead from Vitamin D deficiency which is characterized by chest pain, particularly a tenderness in the area of the breast bone, bone pain even, and other symptoms that can mimic and exacerbate heart condition and hypertension.

Long story short, my lab results showed severe hypovitaminosis D which was treated with a megadose - 50,000 units per week for 4 weeks - of Vitamin D supplement. The symptoms all but disappeared. The cycle has started again this winter so i'm on another megadose. The cardiologist wanted to put me on statins because of a high LDL reading but i declined, prefering to use diet to address it. I increased intake of flax seed oil and meal, hemp seed meal and walnuts, all high in Omega-3s, combined with oats. My LDL level dropped back to normal limits. Now i only contend with pain related to arthritis and a frozen shoulder.

If you live in temperate zones and/or do not spend much time outdoors, i suggest you have your Vitamin D level checked. The amount you may absorb from fortified milk is hardly adequate. Your physician may also not be up to speed on the latest Vitamin D research, so you may have some skepticism to contend with. It's your life, your body, you choose.

Rather than a morbid sense, these creeping signs of ageing and decrepitude are a memento mori that heightens my appreciation of life, of waking up to another day. It reinforces my resolve not to waste time on distractions and trivialities, but to make each moment count. This must be what they call the fierce urgency of now, knowing that there is so much to de done and little time to do it.

Oat breakfast

Ingredients for a tasty cholesterol-lowering holiday treat. For variations, use hemp seed meal in place of flax seed meal. A splash of rum with nutmeg gives it that festive taste. (Right click on picture to see larger image.)

Death gives value, and in a sense almost infinite value, to our lives, and makes more urgent and attractive the task of using our lives to achieve something for others … which apparently embodies more or less what is called the meaning of life.
~ Karl R. Popper, 1902-1994 ~

Gwen and family

Visiting with sister Gwen and her family in Orlando, May 2010. Celebrating her birthday were Melanie Chin Peffers, me, Mike and Mary La Grua (since separated), Alexis Peffers, John and Gwen Chin, Glenn Peffers.

My travel is restricted by lack of funds and a reluctance to increase my carbon footprint. I tried to justify my Orlando flight by offering to speak on Transition to a group in Orlando but they weren't able to get it together. I can see how difficult it will prove to to localize there where everyhting is so spread out and totally car-centric. The recently reported first homicide in a Disney town shows that they will not be exempt from the challenges to come. Peak oil, climate change and the economic collapse will force many to awaken from the American Dream of corporate greed, unfettered exploitation, individual distraction and instant gratification.

Two other trips i made were to New York by bus to handover the GFM archives to the Schomburg Collection of the New York Public Library; and to Tennessee by road and rail for a Solidarity Economics seminar at the Highlander Center.

Highlander Center

The Highlander Research and Education Center, in the Smoky Mountains near Knoxville, Tennessee, has had a long and noble history of supporting social activism. There is an extensive library and a working farm with apple orchards.


Celebrating GFM archives handover

Celebrating the hand-over of GFM archives, retrieved by Thomas Glave from Kingston, to custody of Jonathan Ned Katz, eminent LGBT historian, before being deposited in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, March 27, NYC. Left to right, Brad, me, Thomas Glave and Jonathan Ned Katz. Not in picture, Julius Powell, formerly of JFLAG.

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.
~ Marcus Garvey, 1887-1940 ~


Meanwhile back at home ... with some other residents i helped organize a farmers' market in the Petworth neighborhood of DC. There used to be a market but it closed about 5 years ago. Many tried to restart it but we were the ones that brought it back. At the height of the season we had 16 vendors serving an average of 300 customers. The market offers art, antiques, used books, and prepared food in addition to locally-grown produce.

Petworth Market Opening

The founders of Petworth Community Market with local officials who welcomed and supported the project. Left to right, ANC4C Commissioner Shanel Anthony, Founders Jennifer Lehman, Tom Pipkin, me, Rob Mandle, Doreen Thompson, Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser, ANC4C Commissioner David Tumblin, and Founder Joel Finkelstein in front.

Petworth Market Awards
Photo Joseph Martin

ANC4C Commissioner Janet Myers presenting me with an award of appreciation for helping set up Petworth Community Market. Founders Jennifer Lehman, Rob Mandle and Joel Finkelstein join in the moment, awaiting their awards. Not in picture: Founders Doreen Thompson, Tom Pipkin and board member Lucan Klyne.

Issuing 1000th Potomac

Issuing the 1000th Potomac to H Y Griffin at the Petworth Community Market, July 2010. Circulation now tops 1300.

Plaque and Resolution
Photo Rob Mandle

Official Recognition Resolution of Petworth Community Market from District of Columbia City Council and the Plaque of appreciation from Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4C.

  The internet is an exciting game-changer. It really is Universal Mind made manifest. Of course the GIGO rule still obtains. What you put in determines what you get out. Through Facebook, i started a group for the school i attended half a century ago. As a result i met up with Jackie Barrett, sister to Rae and Ann, and daughter of Mrs Ena Barrett who taught me maths. I also got a call out of the blue from another friend emerging from the mists of the past. Dorren Renae, who frequentd my home at Gallery Way in Kingston found me through the internet. Many years and many miles later, turns out he lives an hour away in Baltimore. We have yet to link up as our schedules have not coincided but i expect soon. Jackie Cooper
Photo Joanne Blake

Meeting up with Jackie Barrett Cooper, formerly of Brown's Town where we attended prep school together at the Servite Convent. We had not seen each other in over 40 years. She was visiting DC from Toronto in November.

  These are exciting times and we have so many tools at our disposal. We are now more intelligent and more prepared than anyone who has gone before to take the next evolutionary step. Welcome to another year, another life. Rather than make yet another resolution, just do what you know to do.  
  Words, ideas, theories, have become much more important than actual living, which is acting, doing ... Love is tremendously passionate and therefore it acts immediately. It has no time interval between the seeing and the doing. And when you have that love you can put away all your sacred books, all your gods. And you have to put away your sacred books, your gods, your everyday ambitions, to come upon that love. That is the only sacred thing there is.
~ Jiddu Krishnamurti, 1895-1986 ~
"The Sacred," The Awakening of Intelligence, 1973

Year-end 2010

These annual epistles have been archived for ready retrieval:
1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009

Quotations from Wisdom for the Soul: Five Millennia of Prescriptions for Spiritual Healing except otherwise credited.

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