Sunsets Swans & Clouds

Photographs of Sunsets Swans & Clouds Providence, Rhode Island July 2018

Sunsets Swans & Clouds Providence Rhode Island July 2018

Sunsets Swans & Clouds
Providence Rhode Island July 2018

I ride bicycle but also have been slowing down to walk, particularly along streets with really old majestic trees, properties that value their foliage, and light up the graceful branches of bushes and trees, because obviously they are of HUGE value. I slow down to take it all in, and love especially to here the cricket chorus.

I’ve found a few places that I just absolutely love the trees that the people have kept in their grandiose properties. So glad that I listen and smell and pay attention to details.

So glad that I tune in to this, rather than a phone.

Social Hazard | Cellphone Compulsion Chalk Series | Cellphonitis

itis suffix state of mind compared to dis ease

itis suffix state of mind compared to dis ease

 

Sure, I have a cell phone, although to save money, I don’t have a plan, and only get internet access when I know the password of a local site where I happen to be.

I use the internet and look at Facebook, where I read articles, comments and post things, and typically turn FB off when I’m working on writing. By the way, work for which I do not get paid.

 

However, I see an extraordinary amount of people, mostly in their 20’s (although there is by no means an age limit) walking around the College Hill area by Brown University looking down at their phones. If they aren’t, they have headphones on. Many have blue tooth speakers in their ears. Invariably I rarely see anyone who isn’t walking ALWAYS with a phone in their hand.

What? Always wired? Never simply present in the moment with one’s own thoughts and sensing the world around them? Most joggers also are adjusting their pockets where their phone bounces or are running with the phone in their hand. I heard a long time ago that one should not run listening to music with headphones; not because of the danger of not being aware of one’s surroundings, but because the blood is pumping harder while running and loud music could damage ear drums.

Anyway, here’s the beginning of my series.

ideas about cell phone compulsion

ideas about cell phone compulsion

Paper and chalk images of people looking down at their glowing blue phone with blue bluetooth speaker.

cellphonitis series on paper

cellphonitis series on paper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And some more.

 

downtown_shavedheadgirl

downtown_shavedheadgirl

downtown_post naked woman beneath

downtown_post naked woman beneath

 

 

 

 

My idea was to do something along this line.

cellphonitis series on paper oblivious to surroundings

cellphonitis series on paper oblivious to surroundings

evolution of man

evolution of man

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unplug Turn It Off Tune In

Unplug Turn It Off Tune In

 

 

Carol Keiter aka nomadbeatz welcomes donations for her writing, photography, illustrations, eBook & music composition

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Carol sitting under the trees

Carol sitting under the trees

I’ll be continually adding images.

Caught my Eye…One Year Later | While Looking over Blogs

It wasn’t till a year later, glancing over what blogs were viewed, from what countries, making corrections, just looking….that I noticed this image.

I hadn’t noticed my shadow as I took the picture.

shadow merges with bark of tree

Title, because of the love portrayed between myself, the photographer and the tree I stopped to admire.

and really hadn’t noticed till i looked more closely how the bark’s texture and shadows and form of the tree creates quite a real, perfectly angled and proportioned body melding with the tree.

 

Here, I’ll accentuate it a bit.  Kind of magical no?

photoshop traced shadow of blogger merged with tree, photographer carol Keiter gold

outlined shadow of blogger, photographer carol Keiter gold

and again

 

 

photoshop outline of shadow merging with contours of tree green

photoshop outline of shadow merging with contours of tree green

I changed it from this version with the pointier chin.

Outlining using photoshop the image I see through the shadow and tree bark and lines.

Outlining using photoshop the image I see through the shadow and tree bark and lines.

 

Kind of ironic, no, that the blog was about Being Intensely Present, and I missed seeing this!

Be Intensely Present

Be Intensely Present

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Carol Keiter aka nomadbeatz welcomes donations for her writing, photography, illustrations, eBook & music composition

Carol Keiter contact

Carol Keiter contact

blogger, portrait drawer, painter, photographer, musician, composer

Have you Heard of Global Warming? | Apparently 60% of Providence Hasn’t | Simple Solutions | Turn off Your Idling Engines

Make America Cool Again

Make America Cool Again

You know that Facebook post in which the kid in the car seat is sobbing about the fact that people are killing animals and causing harm, well I’m feeling that way, except that the emotional devastation is being channelled into anger.

Although I had already heard that various oil companies had known of the dangers of extracting and burning petroleum…it wasn’t until I read this article two days ago
Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change” By Nathaniel Rich
Photographs and Videos by George Steinmetz
….that laid it all out so clearly, that I feel fully incensed.

As I bicycle by idling cars continually and witness the complete disconnect – lack of awareness among the people, I realize that they are completely unaware.

My feeling of exasperation is not going away.

In fact, after talking to a German woman I overhead speaking German today on the sidewalk, walking with her three kids produced clearly through marriage of mixed race, that of course, Germans do not leave their engines idling, they are aware of how their individual and thus collective actions affect the environment.

It occurred to me today that the reason I came here was to encounter this. Coming from the outside and looking in, after having lived in several European cultures in which walking and gathering in public outside of their cars, is extremely more common. Americans are isolationists. They are spoiled. They feel entitled. They seem to be clueless. The technologies (which I use for contact) are pulling them away from an awareness of their connectedness to their immediate present environment. I see students passing by in the neighborhood housing the Ivy League Brown university walking around with heads buried in their cell phones. Incapable of walking without it being in their hand to perpetually be connected to FB or whatever.

This blog is born however from witnessing the exorbitant number of people I pass by sitting in their cars with their engines idling. I’ve asked individuals, have you heard of global warming? 1% respond with recognition. I don’t think that I’m exaggerating.

United States of Addiction, United States of Avoidance

How many times do people reach for their cell phone to avoid eye contact? Inconclusive at this point, but clearly apparent. What about rates of food, drug and alcohol addiction?

With reference to the media or governments’ lack of response, talk about betrayal. The article is long, yet methodically lays out the facts of recognition and then a series of doing nothing, if anything, exacerbating the problem by denying that it exists, discovered over one hundred and fifty years ago.

It was fully understood and undeniably something to act on through diligent awareness, but put aside for business as usual.

US Govts Misleading Public 50 years

US Government administrationss Misleading Public over 50 years regarding the connection between petroleum extraction and burning and subsequent climate catastrophe

in addition to polluting the immediate environment, idling cars and indiscriminate use of plastics are collectively suffocating the planet

This is the letter that I am still attempting to send within the ‘form within the RI governor’s office website’, which doesn’t allow specific characters – like email addresses – to be incorporated in the body of the automated system.

Climate change is real, enforce laws against idling engines to generate income.

This article should be required reading for someone running a US State government office. I have been riding bicycle every day and night for the last 13 weeks throughout the city of Providence, RI. I have discovered that no matter where I go – regardless of age, gender, race, socio economic class (in fact it seems to be more pronounced among middle class professionals), 60% to 80% or more of the population are habitually sitting in their cars with their engines idling. This is not for a quick pickup, but for sustained periods, leaving their engines running. I encounter, regardless of district or neighborhood, a startling number of cars, per block, per minute, with people sitting in their cars, or on top of their cars, or walking away from their vehicles, with their engine left idling. Perpetually running engines. I feel the heat as I cycle by and smell the fumes.

There appears to be a complete unawareness among the population of the fact

1) That global warming exists at all, and is happening all over the planet, today, every minute.
2) And that people in Providence (collectively), indeed affect the air quality of not only other people and animals (if they still exist) in the immediate vicinity of their vehicle as well as what is happening ecologically on other parts of the globe, where warming has already been apparent for the last decade.

What is going on?

• 31 other US states have anti-idling legislation; either statewide or in a particular municipality or county
• The NYC metropolitan area have $2,000 fines per bus if caught idling.
• Citizens in Germany and Scandinavian countries turn off their engines, ALWAYS, some even during red lights. They are completely cognizant of the ecological emergency and climate crisis, with which the United States is perpetually not dealing with, regardless of the fact that we are the primary perpetrators of this crime to humanity and to all other life forms and systems that also inherited the planet.

What are you going to do about it?

It is unconscionable that this is happening and no one is doing anything (except for the scientists and individuals aware who are perhaps silently suffering in the understanding of continued political deadlocks and misinformation due to participating in an economic system based on perpetual growth and profit that has already killed 87% of the other species and will have large swaths of the US turned into a dustbowl and submerge most coastal cities under water.

This is not an economic issue, this is above economics or the Gross Domestic Product.

This is about whether we want to take steps ourselves, together, to do what our federal government has not been able to achieve, and in fact submerges, suppresses and turns a blind eye.

Human actions are creating an inhospitable planet for most other life forms through blind, headlong consumption and a complete disconnection with the natural world and blind faith in advertising and manipulation.

We are destroying the habitats of most life forms on the planet, and simply turning a blind eye. It is your responsibility as a leader, to take measures to impose legislations that will raise the awareness of idling and censure the actions of your populace.

https://sustainableamerica.org/blog/anti-idling-laws-around-the-nation/

https://www.edf.org/attention-drivers-turn-your-idling-engines

http://ksltv.com/394228/students-test-ozone-levels-cars-idle-schools/?

Officially the population of Providence is 179,300. 60 to 70 percent of the people who are in their vehicles, leave their engine on. Let’s say 60% of the inhabitants regularly sit in their vehicles with their engines idling = that’s about 107,500 people.

A fine to cars for idling of $50 x 107,500 residents = $5,375,000. That’s 5 million. Fines to diesel engines – city, state and independent contractors caught idling could be $200 + per vehicle. Fines for cutting down trees, $1,000, for endangering other creatures’ habitats through negligence or pollutants, ranging from $300 per individual to $10,000’s per business.

If nothing else, imposing fines would be a deterrent, and would immediately alert and inform people of their participation in increasing global temperatures and carbon monoxide levels, contributing to the continued increase CO2 levels and global temperatures rising to levels that in 30 years could prohibit human life. If citizens are not informed of this through education or the media outlets, it is your responsibility as a leader to recognize the crisis, and to enforce education and implementation of penalties as deterrents. Ecocide and homicide continues to take place, by ignoring the issue. Fines to coal and petroleum companies, could be in the $100, millions.

India planted 1.5 Million trees in 12 hours, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/india-plant-66-million-trees-12-hours-environment-campaign-madhya-pradesh-global-warming-climate-a7820416.html by creating the possibility and enforcing it, certainly in a manner that brought people together to do something that will benefit each.

We could have many simple solutions through seemingly small actions, in steps that could make an enormous difference. Such as;

asking people to turn off their air conditioning units (except for hospitals and care facilities) – 3 days of the week – as a starter.
To attempt car pooling, public transportation, bicycling or walking several days of the week
To authorize penalties to the use of plastics
Create jobs for people to educate people about plastics
To inform people about how their participation in using plastics and idling cars are collectively suffocating the planet in addition to polluting the immediate environment

Measures could be taken globally to do this together as the human race, instead of being in competition with one another in terms of a race to increase the GDP.

With the fines, you could use the money to pay a fleet of bicycle cops to enforce the law and establish a safe bicycle infrastructure in various municipalities and between them as well as money to invest in public transportation.

After approaching people individually, talking to the mayor, sending a letter to the mayor’s office, talking to someone in a state legislative office to convey the message about the need to enact legislation to raise peoples awareness, I find it necessary to contact the governor.

Let’s do this together and make America a global leader in dealing with a crisis that we have alone caused, instead of turning a blind eye.

https://digesthis.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/peoples-climate-march-in-nyc-ww-september-21st-2014-flood-wall-street/

Rising Tide of Awareness, Great Pacific Garbage Patch, NYC Climate March 2014

Rising Tide of Awareness blogger talking about Great Pacific Garbage Patch at NYC Climate March 2014

Portrait of a guy

Here’s a portrait of a guy I drew in about 15 minutes, after we did an even shorter portrait exchange. It was an evening when I needed to quickly make some money and brought my sketchbook with me. We not only laughed and had fun, drawing one another and then doodling more, but I made the money I needed to as well.

portrait of a guy

portrait of a guy

subject of portrait

subject of portrait

he drew an ink portrait of his cat and dog merging from the middle

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Carol Keiter aka nomadbeatz welcomes donations for her writing, photography, illustrations, eBook & music composition.

Carol sitting under the trees

Carol sitting under the trees

EchoActivate | Education, Communication & Fun | Working Side-by-Side, Empowering through Participating | Cleaning, Reusing, Planting & Restoring Habitats for All Creatures | Global Climate Action Summit

If India was able to plant 66 million trees in twelve hours with a million + people side by side doing it, this same action could happen around the world towards any environmental movement.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/india-plant-66-million-trees-12-hours-environment-campaign-madhya-pradesh-global-warming-climate-a7820416.html

actions, EChOACTiVate

Word cloud of involved actions in EChOACTiVate

I meditate daily and ask the four forces – earth, air, water and plasma – practicing heart rhythm meditation. My intent is to carry my voice to peoples’ platforms I can participate in and for information and guidance to be carried to me. It’s an intuitive process of trusting in the intelligence and consciousness of the universal force. I feel that many things that appear to ‘happen’ serendipitously, arrive because of intention to connect to this information. Magic? Today, for the first time i clicked on and read this info from this community that I learned of while taking courses when living in Pennsylvania. Interfaith Power & Light: A Religious Response to Global Warming. I’d go to multidisciplinary talks with religious leaders from all these different faiths putting forth their viewpoint on various questions. Opening it, i found out about this, http://globalclimateactionsummit.org/. The Global Climate Action Summit happens to be taking place in San Francisco, September 12th to 14th. Just a week before the ccc reunion.

lets mots, les activité
pour EChOACTIvate

It seems to be an excellent place to continue to disseminate my idea. The idea started years ago, imagined actually right before the COP21 Paris climate talks, which I went to, to Paris for two weeks with 20 dollars.

Previously I named the idea Eco Revolution, then EcoActivate, because the first was taken.

https://carolkeiter.wordpress.com/2015/11/21/calling-for-echoactivate-partners-core-team-refugee-manpower-best-weapon-is-education-and-empowerment/

https://digesthis.wordpress.com/2015/11/21/calling-for-echoactivate-partners-core-team-corporate-sponsors-government-subsidies/

lo que tu puedes hacer con EChOACTiVate

The idea is to bring the information to the people, through a cyber portal of information, and a mobile unit that comes to a community with needs that people perceive or perhaps aren’t aware of at all, that they can then do together to clean up and build sustainable energy, transportation and to plant community gardens, bee and butterfly highways, plant trees and build animals bridges…

The idea is to bring people together in a celebratory, participatory way. With the knowledge they need to create, transform and participate in greening their own environment.

Education is the tool. People power is the engine.

was EChOACTiVate ist

was EChOACTiVate ist

C o l l e c t i o n o f D r a w i n g s a n d P a i n t i n g s J u l y ‘1 8

Here’s a link of some art I’ve done over the last few years.

collection of some art by carol keiter

Here is a collection of drawings and paintings that I’ve done in the last years

Here are some photos I took in the last days.

lighthouse, East Providence, bike path, June 2018

lighthouse off of East Providence seen along bike path June 2018

goslings guided between goose parents on river in Providence

blogger Carol Keiter

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Carol Keiter aka nomadbeatz welcomes donations for her writing, photography, illustrations, eBook & music composition

Progressive creation of the captivating tree | Faber Castell Water Color Pencils

captivated with this tree

I completed this first one, captivated with the tree on the lower right hand corner, in two sittings. . I did this today, Cinco de Mayo at Roger Williams park in Providence, Rhode Island, outside of the Botanical Gardens.

Here’s the latest rendition

elegant tree, robin

elegant tree
new rendition
robin that lives there

tree i’m captivated with near the Botanical Garden in Roger Williams park

by the Botanical gardens in Roger Williams park, Providence, RI

Below is my first rendition.

tree, captivated , Botanical Garden, Roger Williams park

elegant tree, robin

Faber Castell water color pencils with a brush and water

flickr link to my colored pencil watercolor painting of the elegant tree that I fell in love with a week ago

This is today’s, May 14th, a week later – more space in between to breath.

The Eloquently and Elegantly stated Truth

Nothing is more important than reading this. And then reading it again.

The most elegant and eloquent presentation of the facts, that anyone who can understand words, must be persuaded to hear and respond to emotionally and intuitively as the truth.

I have merely copied and pasted the text of this writing within the link below (minus the original links within it), feeling it to be the utterly most important statement of vast insight, that everyone must read. And continue to talk.

-.—.—-.—–.——.-.—.—-.—–.——.-.—.—-.—–.——.-.—.—-.—–.—-.-.—.–.-

http://www.grenzbegriff.com/2017/10/leaving.html

 

these are my words at the time of writing — I am more like tree than rock — as I bend to reach the sunlight

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Leaving

Hi friends,

I’m leaving Google at the end of next week.

There’s too much I want to say.  🙂

I spent the summer away from work, outdoors in Oregon, awash in beauty.  I learned a lot.  I wept at how we’re treating the earth, as I rode past mile after mile of logged forests, polluted streams, and lifeless monocrop fields.

I got to be part of what I’ll call “alternative culture”, to explore ways of meeting all of our human needs through local community alternatives to basically everything we currently use money for.  I wrote some about this time here on this blog.  I barely scratched the surface though.  More and more people, perhaps millions now even in the West, are devoting their lives to new (and sometimes ancient) ways of living in healthy relationship with each other and with the earth.  While they are usually partly within the current system, when all of these new ways of living come together, the current system becomes obsolete.  I see joyous glimpses of this everywhere.

Meanwhile our dominant civilization is killing its own foundation: the healthy web of life on earth.  Through deforestation and pollution we are destroying the ability of the planet to support all forms of life.  We can see this in the oceans where the fish populations are collapsing, the silent fields that were once thriving forests, and the deserts where millions of people go hungry in drought.  This ecological crisis can’t be solved simply by swapping oil for solar panels.  I’m no longer optimistic that we will soon fix these problems with some new technology.  It’s quite possible that climate change is exacerbating the storms and droughts and fires, and that these will continue to become more severe in the next years.

The effects are not evenly distributed.  The unhoused breathe wildfire smoke while many of the housed have filtered air.  Some of us see our homes flooded or burnt while for others business continues as usual.  Most communities in the country and increasingly in the world have lost the ability to sustain themselves from their land, and now must import almost everything they need from elsewhere, which becomes precarious when those importing the goods see no profit in it (food deserts), or when disaster breaks down the supply line like in Puerto Rico.  Many communities no longer have access to clean water, or are losing it as I write.  On Monday I listened to a man from Guatemala talk about a new silver mine near his home that is polluting and drying up the water supply for many villages there.  Almost all silver is used to produce electronics, and demand is rising.  In Oregon this summer, ancient trees thousands of years old were cleared for fire breaks.  The entire planet is being saturated with chemicals that we ought never to have created.  These kinds of damage cannot be undone or fixed by technology.  The story for other species is even worse, as most wild animal populations have died off and we pack billions of animals in cages in horrific factory farms.  The coral reefs, the rhinos, the ancient forests, the whales, and even the insects… who speaks for them?  Some people do, and they end up in jail if their actions threaten profits.  Profits are made at the expense of Life.

And within our civilization, we have more prisoners and refugees, more drugs and anxiety and depression and stress and addiction than ever.  Even in wealthy regions, most people don’t like the work they do all day.  It’s also not physically healthy to be indoors or using a computer or riding in vehicles for as many hours as many of us who are “successful” do.  What is happening to us?

It seems the leaders of our world are apathetic or powerless, as they fight over the most gaudy deck chairs on this titanic.  While it pains me, I don’t hate them for this; their actions are the product of a traumatic history that touches all of us.  They don’t know what they’re doing.

I envision a more beautiful world where humans have a healthy part to play, to love and respect the earth, not to dominate and exploit it.  I see many people living that vision already, and want to live my life in service to it.  I see the extremes of both ugliness and beauty grow more stark.  Ugliness as we close down and protect ourselves from the ‘other’, beauty as we come together in community, in love with mother earth.  Will “society” as a whole make some kind of transition, or continue the march into dystopia and eventual chaos?  I don’t know.  It will be both at the same time.  Some people are already in an obvious dystopia, some are in a beautiful place yet in the shadow of a collapsing ecosystem.  To hope for a peaceful transition would be to ignore the incredible violence on which the current system lives.  It will be violent because it already is.  May we learn to be kind to each other as these changes unfold.

It’s been said that we need the darkness to see the stars.  We can open ourselves to what is happening, feel and honor our pain, grieve what is lost, and revel in our deep gratitude for the beauty of life.  I don’t mean to be a downer pointing at all this ugliness.  I feel that we have a deep need to see it and acknowledge it.  It makes the beauty that much more precious and worth living for.

“Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?”
-Mary Oliver

What should we do then?

I don’t know exactly what we should do.  I don’t have a rational “here’s what everyone needs to do” that will resolve all of these crises.  I want to let go of my need to control what happens, because I’m really not in control.  At the same time, even if I let go and accept whatever comes, I am a human being and it is natural for me to care and want to help, to serve what I love.  I will not deny that part of me either.  So I find myself thinking about how to help, even if it seems “hopeless” overall.  I need not stress about the outcomes, but I will still act.  What else would I do with my few short years here?

So what might I do to be practical?

I don’t believe our technology is serving us well.  We, the wealthy humans near the top of the power hierarchy may see it as indispensable, but if we consider the animals or the fish or the trees or the laborers in the sweatshops and mines and plantations, it’s not working out so well.  Yes, our technology relieves some suffering in some places, but at what cost?  We simply do not, and probably cannot, count the costs of development.  I am not enthusiastic that further technological progress will heal us.

I also don’t believe that our problems are mostly due to money being in the wrong hands.  Measuring everything by monetary value seems to me one of the roots of the crises.  The mentality that values money over life drives much of the pollution and resource extraction and oppression around the world, since humans first accumulated “property” and enslaved each other.  I don’t feel that getting as much money as I can and giving it to the non-profit side of the system is the best way for me to serve what I love.  I feel that the money abstraction and the distance it puts between us and the effects of our actions makes us feel disconnected and alone.

I also don’t like our culture’s valuing of measurable impact over everything else.  Much of what is precious to me cannot be measured.  What’s the measurable value of a 5000 year old yew tree?  What’s the measurable value of caring for a disabled child?

“May what I do flow from me like a river
no forcing
and no holding back
the way it is with children.”
-Rilke

So I don’t know what we all should do exactly, and I don’t know what I will do beyond the short term.  I’m skeptical of money and the dominant culture’s value system.  I want to trust what makes me feel alive over our culture’s normal stories that usually are rooted in fear.  I recognize that I’m one of the most privileged people in the world.  I know most people do not have the options that I have.  I don’t mean to judge, only to encourage.

Right now what’s happening is I’ve been living in a homeless protest encampment in Berkeley the last couple months, which has given me still another perspective on our society.  It got interesting this weekend and we’re fighting eviction, hoping to benefit and inspire homeless communities around the country.  With all of the disaster and war refugees today, and housing crises in many places, there are more and more people who can’t have regular housing, and we could learn to live together with more kindness and understanding.  I’m also involved with the community here in other ways like Food Not Bombs.  I expect soon I’ll be moving on to other places, to learn and to live in service to what I love.  To restore soil and help plants grow and be community.

I’ve learned I don’t need much money to live well myself, so I don’t need to earn it for myself.  Perhaps my perspective on money and impact will change and I’ll eventually decide that earning money and supporting my many friends who don’t have much money in their various causes is the best way to contribute, and then I might return to a job, but we’ll see.  “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

Wherever I am, I’ll be with some kind of community learning how to live in healthier relationship with each other and with the earth.  There’ll be dark moments and joyous moments, and this is life.  Life is good.  Whatever comes, I will give attention to the beauty around me, the beauty of community and of nature and of every form.  Beauty everywhere begs our attention.

“An eye is meant to see things.
The soul is here for its own joy.

A head has one use: For loving a true love.
Feet: To chase after.

Rumi quote Spirit Mind

Rumi quote Spirit Mind

carol return hitch from Taos, New Mexico

carol the blogger on her return hitch from Taos, New Mexico to Santa Fe. One side of my sign said Santa Fe, the other, Fanta Se

Hitchabout Nice – Antibes – Aix-en-Provence – Arles | back to Montpellier

I think it was the fastest I’ve ever gotten rides in my entire hitchhiking experience. Residing in Montpellier, France, I had decided to hitch to Nice, the day before. I had anticipated it, knowing that my sister and her British husband go there regularly to escape the York, England chill. It was these two who had visited Montpellier several years earlier on a regular basis. That put this town on the map for me. I liked the sound of it. When I’d googled the town back when I suddenly had the proposition to go to the East coast from Taos, New Mexico, I learned that it’s the fastest growing city in France, of which 25% are students that emerge during the academic year. I sort of made the decision to go there in particular, and base myself . I was actually still deliberating on whether Portugal might be a less expensive and lively place to live while I was purchasing the bus ticket from Paris for Montpellier. At some point I decided I wanted to be closer to other countries in Europe and also where I have a semblance of knowledge of the language.

Mont_Saint-Victoire Paul Cézanne

Mont Saint-Victoire notoriously painted by Paul Cézanne among others

Nice, didn’t appear to have any available couches to surf on. The weather which has been continually warm and sunny, dropped about 10 degrees with predicted rain. I decided to go anyway. My bicycle had just been stolen 4 days earlier in the middle of the day around the corner from the cafe I was working in. After the initial discovery, I decided it was a gift for whoever took it. They not only got bad karma, but also a bike that didn’t work. It was hurting my knees because the gears basically didn’t move and I had to get off frequently, to walk up hills. Montpellier is full of them. Many at gradients of 55ª angles.

When I’d arrived in Montpellier the first day I asked a woman sitting on the tram near me “where is the mont”? She discussed it with her friend and decided that she didn’t know. My guess is that the whole town is so hilly that they decided to call it Montpellier, which means mountain. So, the missing bike precluded transport into town outside of the tram TAM, so it was as good a time as any to check out some other places along the Mediterranean. Nice, France is really close to Italy and Switzerland. By the time I finally left the house after consulting google maps to know what destinations to write on a sign, it was going on 2pm. The drive is a little over 3 and a half hours.

I strolled to the end of these outdoor tables with people seated there where I spotted a large white clean piece of cardboard tossed on the ground beyond the tables. I was already steering myself towards this cafe to ask for cardboard. Nice start, I had markers. The entrance to the highway was basically right there. This area was a short walk from where I’d currently been living, conveniently on the edge of town. I noticed several cheap bus lines departing from there, Sabine. I incidentally had been told two days previously that I needed to move out by the end of the month, a day after the bike theft. I had two weeks to decide my next moves. That was another reason to make this trip, a few pairs of ears to discuss my options. I was now less convinced that I wanted to stay in Montpellier. The housing situations had been a challenge.

I watched traffic stopping and starting at a traffic light, and was standing right before an indentation in the road for busses, perfect for cars to pull over. I had written Nice on one side of the sign and was starting to write Aix-en Provence on the other, flipping it up for cars to read both sides, when the first small truck pulled over after only a few lights. I hadn’t been there more than 10 minutes. He’d been working in Montpellier for the day and was on his way to Aix. He’s an Albanian man from Kosovo, his name packed with consonants, Xhemil Iveseldaj.  He’s been living in Aix-en Provence among other members of his family, for 40 years. He was returning from his work week in Montpellier where he stays in a hotel. His boss pays for that, along with his tolls and I guess all travel expenses. He works in such a specialized field, that he’s been accustomed to these long commutes for years, sometimes sweeping countrywide. He’d previously commuted to Paris from Aix, and before that by plane to another town. I learned a fair amount about his life and his two sons. He is one of 7 siblings, five brothers and two sisters. He said in Albania the families tend to be even larger. He said he doesn’t believe in a ‘God’ but in nature. We agreed about that, ‘Nature’ is our ‘god’. I asked if he believes in climate change. We discussed it for quite a while along with other topics.

He had missed his turnoff and I was wondering if I was going to be dropped off in the middle of the highway at an inconvenient place, but he then went back through toll booths, and tracked back to the highway where we were now still heading towards Aix-en-Provence en route to Nice. He’d seen the Aix on my sign. Works every time to have a sign. Xhemil always seemed a bit impatient when coming to any toll, as if seconds shaved off his time were going to critically screw up his day. I guess he was simply in a big hurry to get back home at the end of his workweek. He brought me to a good place where all traffic was heading in the direction of Nice.

I was happy to find a bathroom next to an odd parking garage area where on one side there were buses, ironically, one on its way to Nice. I had covered half the distance already and didn’t bother to approach the bus to ask the driver, preferring to hitch. Someone saw my signs and was yelling out to me from the top story of this large round parking garage building. I ignored him/them. It took about 6 minutes, maybe less, for a car to stop. I heard the responses from above as I was getting into the vehicle. The driver was Olivier, a local who lived in a little town with a great view of this mountain outcropping Saint Vincent from one side. He was on his way to Cannes for the evening. Olivier is an engineer, specifically works on plane engines. He lived in Paris for a stint, said he learned a lot working for Air Bus. He still works for them, and was relieved to move back to his home ground.

Mont Saint-Victoire, Paul Cézanne

Olivier says this landmark outcropping of rock Mont Sainte-Victoire, changes color frequently and has been a feature of many painters.

He and I had a nice rapport. We talked the entire time and really had a lot of similar points of view about the quality of simple things in life that give it value. He dropped me off at a very convenient location at the entrance to highways from Cannes. I was sorry to see him go.

My next ride was with a professional chauffeur, John Christopher. He had made sort of a precarious stop to pick me up. I guess as a local he knows what he can get away with. He was going to pick up his clients on this late afternoon to take them to a fundraiser gala event, hosted for wealthy families who were donating money to hurricane victims in Saint Martin, a French island in the Caribbean. He has worked for this same family exclusively for 15 years. He said that this event was perhaps at a hidden location. He knew that football stars, actors and actresses were going to be there among the very wealthy patrons. He described what these evenings could be like, and how he had to always be available for and and all things that might occur. He might have to make the commute over the bridge to pick up one item left behind, or drop off kids at different places. I enjoyed this little scope into the lives of the upper crust there, from the chauffeur’s point of view. A very gentle guy, he left me off before taking his route to the home of his employer. We left with smiles lingering.

Nice, France first shots - pastry and me

A bridge separated me between where I stood where everyone seemed to be racing to their next destination. I’m guessing I was at St.-Laurent du Var by this bridge. I wondered how long this ride would take, since now I was extraordinarily ‘out of place’. A hitchhiker with a backpack among demonstratively expensive cars and high income drivers. Surprisingly, a car stopped. It was Raphael a medical student in Nice, where he also was raised. He looked distinctively Spanish or Italian. He did me the courtesy of using his phone to dial my contact number and drop me off after crossing into Nice to a very familiar cement way lined with Palm trees before the beach. The Promenade des Anglais is where a demented man drove a truck moving down pedestrians on Bastille Day on the evening of 14 July 2016. The Nice attack killed 86 people and injured 458. Sound familiar? The whole area has since been reinforced to block vehicular traffic, involving bringing in full-grown palm trees with cranes.

historical Nice, France and cemetary

I wound up spending several days in Nice, endowed with lovely weather. Took various local rides ferried to different parts on cool excursions with family into the hills looking back down over the city. I had particularly wanted to see Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

Nice page 1 of second group inlaid stones

Nice, France inlaid stones

When it came time to leave, I finally noticed a text message on my cheap French phone, an invitation from a friend I’d met years earlier, who had actually invited me to stay at her and her boyfriend’s place. I texted her back explaining I’d missed seeing her text. In a little while I made my way to make a start, found some cardboard and what appeared to be the entrance to highways. I stood there a short time up in the hills. I saw a dread-headed girl across the street who when she crossed, approached to tell me she’s hitched a lot, and if I’m going to Aix-en-Provence, I’d have better luck down standing down by the water – once again before the Promenade des Anglais. I thanked her and walked down the hill. When I turned the corner I saw a group of people waiting for a bus a hundred yards away. I thought to myself, they’re probably wondering about what I was doing. Within several minutes, my first ride stopped. A smartly dressed man in a nice car on his way to Aix-en-Provence. I laughed to myself at how easy I made it look for the people standing there waiting for a bus. He made a phone call to his wife indicating he was on his way. I mentioned that I’d come from Montpellier to Nice and still was trying to figure out where to land. He mentioned that for using English, Aix-en-Provence would have better opportunities than Montpellier due to its larger influx of British because of the nearby seaport. He convinced me in fact. He said forget Montpellier, it’s mostly a college town, whereas Aix has an English speaking presence and a sophisticated flair.

mazza

mazza

 

Manu

Manu

The text was from a woman whom I’d met with her boyfriend 5 years earlier in Krakow, Poland. I was now getting out of the car upon receiving the text, only half an hour or so from Nice and 100’s of km before where I thought I was going. That was a great timed text, minutes before the Antibes exit. I had a splendid visit with these friends and their wonderful feline creatures. It was the therapy I needed, the playful cats along with friendly and inspiring conversation and inclusion.

Edwige and Bernards in Antibes

Edwige and Bernards in Antibes

 

Edwige, Antibes

Edwige in Antibes

Edwige and Carol Antibes

Edwige and Carol Antibe

I departed from my friends and the kitties in Antibes who I was already missing. Once again I got fantastic rides, two rides from Antibes. A young baker, boulanger, who told me stories of his life and his wife and 2 kids. At the moment that I noticed a sign for a rest stop I asked him whether there was another like it prior to where he was going. He wound up immediately pulling over, because he in fact was getting off soon, where the town was so small he explained I’d probably have very fewer ride possibilities than here at this highway stop. I parted farewell from this sweet guy and was walking into the rest-stop restaurant and showed my signs to the people as I was walking by them. They were a couple, and happened to be driving to Montpellier. I said that that’s where I live, but am going to Aix-en-Provence. They said they could take me there, it’s on the way. I hung with them a bit at the outdoor tables after I returned. We had a few interesting exchanges before getting in the car. A huge lovely white dog accompanied by a man entered the picture. I said, ‘elle est belle’, and the girl laughed, saying she has exactly the same type of dog, whose name is Belle. It’s unusual for a couple to offer a ride, very rare. They have to be really confident with one another, and these two were. Thomas and Gwendoline were very animated. At one point I mentioned out of the blue that I’d like to go to Istanbul, and they laughed, saying they’re going there next Thursday. They each engaged in conversation the entire time. We really connected. He owns 2 businesses in (IT), one which he originally started doing web design and the other advising companies on how to work more efficiently. She isn’t currently working. We talked the whole time, They were on their way to Montpellier to visit his father, and in fact he drove me into the center of Aix-en-Provence which he loves, and Gwendoline had never been.

Eight weeks earlier I wouldn’t have been able to understand but a quarter of what they were saying, now 8/10th percent. She spoke some English cuz she lived a year in New Zealand doing a WWOOF with baby sheep! She visited Australia too. She joked that she’s probably more conservative politically than he. He described that he believed the French president Macron would have more possibility to take a center stage in the global political arena. As we were driving into Aix from the highway, I commented that I believe trees may be more conscious than we are. To my surprise, Thomas the computer guy, heartily agreed, saying that he despises that people believe that they’re at the top of the pyramid of life, when in fact all life forms have intelligence. Thomas so much admires the town, that I decided after walking around a bit that for my saturday night, I’ll stay in Aix-en-Provence, regardless of where I may or may not sleep.

Aix-en-Provence, France

On this late summer Saturday afternoon in the street of Aix-en-Provence  I came upon a group of woman doing a spontaneous dance exercise; an an all female dance troupe. They were doing an improvisation exercise in their practice. I sort of guessed that this is what they were doing. Later when they were less involved in any presentations, I asked a few. One woman with eye that met mine with a sparkle in her eyes and large smile approached me and handed me a flyer.

She was in fact the director who organized this theatrical dance art group. http://cie-mariehelenedesmaris.com

I had decided to stay there regardless of not having looked for couchsurfers. It was a Saturday evening, it’ll be fun. I asked the right couple on my walk, who described several different options, pointing to areas on a map I had of specific areas to find things going on.

I went to a cafe to catch up on writing and organizing my pictures, and wound up hanging there into the late hours, with co-workers and guests. As the evening progressed, I was invited not only to stay that evening, but for an extended length of time, if I was demonstrating that I was doing the work I needed to do. I could now stay at this apartment there in Aix-en-Provence with these two brothers. However that vanquished at the point that the one breached my trust, and caused me to launch myself out back into the streets of Aix with the approaching dawn. It seemed like it might have been the semblance of a good thing, if not for the immediate security violation. One of the brothers was already in bed, it appeared. I was ushered into a room, fine, ah, but wait, no lock on the door. I waited before getting into bed with my pully and pack on by the door. listening for a few moments, when suddenly the door swung open, with me standing right there. I’m sure it surprised him as much as it did me; bursting into the room allegedly having misplaced his cell phone. Not only did this maneuver make me feel quite uncomfortable with the thought of sleeping there, but it also immediately dissolved that opportunity. So, I was heading out from Aix that morning, and still not sure what would define my future. This town hadn’t particularly welcomed me; no couch surfers, no housing possibilities and no tolerance for an opening in a bachelor den that was the epitome of neglect.

 

Arles, France, Nice, hitchabout

I hitched to Arles from Aix-en-Provence that morning. Maybe I’d go to Nimes (Roman ruins in both towns) on the same day.  The two cities located in the Occitanie region of southern France, were an important outpost of the Roman Empire. Nimes is known for its well-preserved monuments such as the Arena of Nîmes, a double-tiered circa-70 A.D. amphitheater still in use for concerts and bullfights. Its Maison Carrée white limestone Roman temple and Pont du Gard tri-level aqueduct are around 2,000 years old. I wound up staying in Arles instead.

Shortly after arriving at a good departure point in Aix, a woman stopped in her sleek car. I assumed the boy of about 11 sitting in the passenger seat was her son. She was an attractive, well dressed, middle aged woman who appeared professional, everything intact.  She was on her way to Nimes. The song that was playing on the alternative rock station was fairly pop, and each of the songs became progressively more hard-edged. The music didn’t seem to go with her appearance at all. The volume was so high that it impeded the ability to talk. When I asked, she staccato answered that she lives in Aix. That was my first and last question in an attempt to engage them in conversation. Her son and she didn’t say a word to one another the entire time.  She drove very fast and agilely on the highway on her way to Nimes, maneuvering efficiently. I was surprised she picked me up at all.  I pictured that she was dropping her son off at a midway point in an agreement with her ex, as they trade time with the child since divorcing. I decided that she was annoyed to have to drive him there, the hour and a half, now wait, 3 hour journey altogether to drop him off in Nimes and return; an invasion on any other activities she might have wanted to do on that Sunday. I didn’t ask. I let them ‘not talk’ to one another or me. I felt sorry for the kid. The music was quite loud. The silence was fierce.

Michael Jackson T-shirt, Always Be Yourself

Michael Jackson T-shirt
Always Be Yourself

I’m sitting in a cafe putting these pages together, sitting near the bathroom entrance. Many people flow by. One guy was waiting in line, a tall Arab guy, I saw in between the edges of his jacket a skeleton, and I said pointing, “is that Michael Jackson”? He said, yes and opened his jacket. I said, trying as I could in French, after multiple plastic surgeries that destroyed his cartilage, he’s now a skeleton. He said, exactly. He and I were both laughing pretty hard at this point as he was now walking into the bathroom, since it wasn’t supposed to be that obvious. I asked him when he came out to get a shot of the shirt, which is even more hilarious, saying below the image ‘Always Be Yourself‘.

In Arles I met a man whose eyes met mine from where he was perched on a balcony of this cloister.  I was like, what, are you WORKing there or what? Later we met on the stairs where he offered me an extra ticket to the last day of the photo exhibit there. He’s local. So, he’d waited until the last day of the exhibit to finally go see it. I had the impression that in this town that flowed regularly for most months of the year with tourists, that it was well stocked with woman accessories.  I wondered whether he took advantage of this, and lead a sort of double life. I was sort of expecting that we’d hang out together more, but he had other plans, probably a dinner gathering, or going home to dinner with his family. He bade his farewell and disappeared into the dusk, cutting through this building. Perhaps I seemed too risky, an American woman who happened into the town and didn’t know where she was going to sleep that night.  It was a nice exhibit. I wound up wandering away from the middle aged man who vanished to walk up a hill to find myself watching bats fluttering about and looking out over the valley, and instead talking to some young North African teenagers.

I had wandered around the periphery of the olympic Roman stadium and along streets in the town looking at the sites. I had gone into a lovely church where I learned some history. It was later, much later that my bed found me.  I was walking around a building and saw this little sort of fenced in courtyard that was merely following the contours of the rounded building. There was a low decorative iron fence around a small curved plot of soil, encasing a few bushes and a tree or two. I spotted large pieces of cardboard neatly wrapped up and tied together stacked vertically on the outside of this area. I learned years ago from a French (North African) truck driver that cardboard can be used to insulate from the cold. (Who I wound up driving with through Italy to Germany where during Ramadan, he’d chain smoke and start drinking his coffee before the sun came up or went down, and had packed a delightful gourmet assortment of foods home-made by his wife who packed them for his holiday fasting). I picked up the cardboard, pulled the pieces out, saw that they weren’t soiled and laid them out to form a platform to lay on. I had no sleeping bag. It wasn’t cold. I felt quite safe there and happy to not have to carry my backpack any more.  A pretty ‘sleepy’ town, I didn’t sense that anyone was going to look for me there. I didn’t sleep, but was comfortable. The night before in Aix-en-Provence I hadn’t slept at all.

I had already decided to stay in Arles that night. It was still pretty warm, September 25th, 2017. Later that evening, my resting place found me.

Arles rockin an auberge cardboard style at the hidden concave of a building

It was the last ride, Phillippe Lu, (great grandparents or grandmother came from China to Cambodia, where his parents were from. It was the intelligent conversation I had with him and his power of persuasion, which now convinced me after all that I should in fact plant myself in Montpellier; offering English courses with all the university separate buildings spreading over the north of town. He said I could make €15 to 20 per lesson. He texted his son to get the coordinates of an umbrella organization for all the universities called CROUS. He helped to give me some wording for a sign to put up. I since had looked up C.R.O.U.S. and gone there several times to get as much information as I could from what I’d written down while riding with him. They had info about housing, the university of lettres (languages) and basically I followed through and later wandered the labyrinthe of different buildings that a part of the university, that spreads across the north part of town that had been 50 years ago, fields. When I’d returned to Montpellier I was now homeless and searching through many different sources, mostly online, for housing. It was on the eve of the beginning of the month that one friend pointed out a site I’d already disregarded, judging that it was too expensive. I told him I’d already looked at that one, and it tends towards more expensive listings. I noticed that my friend had fr.fr in the beginning of the web address and mine us.fr, because I had first viewed it from the United States (I started viewing housing listings from the moment I booked an inexpensive flight). Turns out the subtle difference in the website made a huge difference in what was offered. The local listings offered a category unto themselves, anglophone families looking for English native speakers to live with them for reduced rent in exchange for some prerequisite time and activities. I’ve since found the most remarkably perfect situation, a win-win.

my signs for the return trip

my signs for the return trip

Montpellier Zoo, Jardin des Plantes

Montpellier Zoo Jardin des Plantes and street pics

It started, or rather was continuing a year ago in another desert, in the high desert of New Mexico, bordering Colorado. Luna was Bill Light’s dog, who built his home in the canyon 5,000 feet above Santa Fe, New Mexico en route to the ski area. His wife had died a few years earlier. I stayed for several months in a cabin adjacent to his home which he built for his daughter. I lived there in the autumn of 2016.

I quickly became a fan of going on walks with his dog Luna. She was a fan of walks as well, and would actually come over to the cabin and tap on the door with her foot. Wow! She absolutely loved the excursion off the property and a long a path cutting through a narrow valley to the National Forest land. In the late summer twice with Luna, I was exposed to bears. It was because Luna discovered them, and barked them into submission.

 

Luna, Bill Light's, Santa Fe New Mexico 2015

Luna my friend at Bill Light’s cabin in Santa Fe New Mexico 2015

I lived in the cabin next to Bill Light’s home in my first months above Santa Fe, New Mexico where my nice landings began. Luna and I would cut through trails up to the National Forest land and then either move further into the canyon’s or launch up to the ridge. These became my sketching/water color excursions. Luna launched and climbed the hill with ease and I followed.

Bill who had an earlier bought with cancer which had gone into recess, got it again, and died from pneumonia since I had moved out. It’s a strange thing that he was there and actively doing all sorts of things, and now gone. I don’t know what happened with Luna, certainly she was completely at home in the mountains. I hope a neighbor took her in. Besides seeing lots of deer in the late summer and the few incidences with Luna barking a bear and her cubs up a tree, I would mt. bike into town from there, regularly. I cycled 7 miles up 5,000 feet to get to the property. I never used any bike lights or reflectors, despite the fact that there were no street lamps. My eyes would adjust whether it was a new or full moon. i figured it was a good way to balance out staring into a computer screen. I find a bike wherever I go and also animals that I love. Now there are stray cats where I am, and I’ve just landed, with muscle and sweat and help with several bike mechanics, a bike that I am delighted to ride.

Now there’s no dog present like in Santa Fe and the ones I affectionately grew acquainted with and loved immediately in Taos, New Mexico the following spring. There are a bunch of stray cats however here in Montpellier. It occurred to me to look for a used bike at this place I’d become a member of months earlier. Le Vieux Biclou. After asking a guy in the street when I knew I was in the vicinity of the bike shop if he knew of where it’s located, it turned out he was on his way there. There I spotted the mt. bike I wanted, and the following day during opening hours learned of its one major obstacle; a seat post jammed all the way down that wouldn’t budge. Several technicians, pounding and myself instructed to scrape off the rust of the now ejected post, and a day later going to another bike shop to get a lock appropriate for the rampant bike thievery in this town, I purchased bolts to replace the quick release wheels and seat, and was assisted in mounting the lock to the frame. After riding it the second time i realized that this bike runs flawlessly, enabling me to climb any steep slope with ease. Stoked!

I’ve since made my signs and printed them and edited my contact cards. I wanted to get this blog out, put up the signs in various excursions, and begin today on a singular path to complete my book between my father and mother’s birthdays. That’s pretty immediate. The difference, no noose around my neck to pay a rent that squelches my time and psyche.

And as is typical, I ask for donations. Thanks! PayPal Donate Button  Carol Keiter aka nomadbeatz welcomes donations for her writing, photography, illustrations, eBook & music composition

carol keiter, blogger, Nice

blogger in Nice