Politics, Road Trip, thin Coffee and Meditating with Monks

We were lucky enough to be invited to a “Friendsgiving” potluck dinner with the San Luis Obispo (SLO) Progressives. The local “Guild Hall” was filled with over 100 folks and tables packed full of food. There was even live music and Susa and I got to practice some partner steps.

I’ve been going to the SLO Progressive monthly meetings. The group came out of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. I think originally they were called Our Revolution. The meetings are very well attended with maybe 50 or 60 people and extremely well organized. They have only been together for a year but are very active. In effect they are a Democratic Party group whose main project is to push progressive democratic candidates. That’s not really my thing but there are other committees doing other stuff. One group had a canvassing day where they knocked on doors to talk about single-payer health insurance. Another group is putting together a campaign to put an initiative on the ballot to ban fracking and any new fossil fuel production in the county. California has a great system of direct democracy. They only need around 9000 signatures to put the proposition on the ballot for next Nov. and the people of SLO county can then decide whether or not to stop oil and fraking production.

Politics in the US is crazy these days. Being in California, though, I feel about as close to the hatred and meanness coming from the White House as I did in Germany. My main connection is through the media. In the cool, progressive town I live in we seem well protected from Tr*&//mpf madness. I do hope and pray that they will not pass the terrible tax reform initiative this week. It looks to be a massive gift to the wealthy and a disaster for the general public.

Susa arrived safe and sound a few weeks ago and now we are four in our cute little house on Skyline Dr. Its a two-bed, two-bath place with a great living room and dining room. The kitchen is too small and is actually in a hallway-like space leading to the girl’s room. We manage well though. Our landlords just improved the kitchen and now we have a gas stove and a convection microwave oven that’s good enough to bake bread in. The bread around here really sucks.

We had a great week-long road trip in our minivan over Thanksgiving and went to Ventura, Joshua Tree National Park and San Diego. We left SLO at around 5 in the morning and while passing through the wine country just to the south, we were treated with the rising sun illuminating the fog rolling into the small valley.

I had promised Theresa a real American breakfast so we stopped at the International House of Pancakes in Santa Barbara. We weren’t disappointed. All the syrup you could eat in five different flavors. All the coffee we could drink in our own thermos. The pancakes and coffee haven’t changed in 30 years. The pancakes are fat and sweat and the coffee so thin you can see the bottom of the cup. Yum yum.

img_20171121_145909.jpgJoshua Tree National Park was incredibly beautiful and the sunset vistas from the mountain tops unbeatable. It was great for me to be back in the desert. I was brought back to the Great Peace March of 30 years ago when I walked across the entire country and spent about 4 weeks walking and camping in the Mojave Desert. Theresa couldn’t believe how I could have walked through this moon-like landscape. I actually can’t imagine how I did it either. We climbed up a Ryan Mountain and hiked into Hidden Valley. My favorite moment was at the end of the day just before sunset. The low-lying sun created a light which illuminated the trees and mountains.

One highlight was a morning retreat at Deer Park Buddihst Monastery near San Diego. Its part of the group around Thich Nhat Han. It started with a Dharma Talk, then a walking meditation, then a Thanksgiving potluck lunch under the shade of oak trees. Its a real sanctuary there and I want to return for a week-long retreat this winter or spring.

We stayed near Oceanside and after a long drive from the desert we arrived at the coast just as the sun was setting. I parked a couple blocks from the beach and we all ran over to the pier to catch an amazing sunset. IMG_20171122_164124The ocean water was calm and the surfers enjoyed the gentle waves. With the pier as a backdrop, the sky remained red for what seemed like an hour.


Back in SLO the girls started their second trimester at SLO High. Theresa is happy to have a break from pre-calculus and is happy about her classes. We bought a ukulele yesterday and Lisa brought home a guitar so already last night the house was full of music.

Today, Susa and I walked to town for the first time. She injured her knee up top Ryan Mt. in Joshua Tree so she coasted part of the way on the bike. The walk took about a half an hour but was very nice. The neighborhoods are so pleasant here with the small houses and mostly lovely front yards. It was windy today and a bit cooler. For the end of November, the 70 degree weather is a welcome change from the 90 degrees we had last week in San Diego. The forecast for this week is 65-70 degrees F (around 15-20 C.) which can feel cold, but really pretty perfect. I know for Germany it sounds amazing. I hope you all are managing with the cold weather over there.



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