How I became a hippie

After stumbling across a YouTube clip today that shows a video I remember watching as a child, I realized I’d never fully explained to my readers how it was that someone my age could have turned into a hopeless bleeding-heart hippie.

If I remember correctly, it was a seven-step process, recounted here and accompanied by helpful visual aids:

1. After consuming organic baby food made from vegetables Mom and Dad grew in their garden, I was exposed to repeated viewings of Iron Eyes Cody’s tears:

2. At age 3, I received a Greenpeace mailer with a sweet little face like this one on it. I perused it after I got bored with the Mother Earth News article I was reading over Mom’s shoulder. Mom offered to match my donations to keep somebody from clubbing the little guy in the head and stealing his fur. Between us, I think we ponied up about eight bucks. (Twenty-seven years later, I watched March of the Penguins and discovered that the fuzzy baby seal I’d helped rescue probably grew up to be a scary, bloodthirsty carnivore with big teeth … but never mind.)

3. MTV spent my entire fifth-grade year using this video to remind me that there were starving children in Ethiopia:

4. Two years later, combining the starving-children-in-Africa theme with the fragile-environment theme, Mom suggested that my best friend and I do our seventh-grade science-fair project on desertification. We won a superior, then followed it up the next year with a project on the greenhouse effect, for which we took home another superior, largely because we did not have to compete with Al Gore.

5. Also in junior high, I launched my first serious protest against injustice by circulating a petition demanding that the school offer a girls’ track team (we were offered softball, which I wasn’t any good at, while the boys got to run track), then defiantly showing up at tryouts and outrunning several boys who had ridiculed my protest. No luck forcing the district to give me a spot on the team, but the warm, fuzzy feeling of making a couple of my detractors eat my dust stayed with me for a long time.

6. Two years later, I began a four-year quest to overthrow the homecoming queen on the grounds that our school’s homecoming tradition was inherently sexist due to the absence of a comparable beauty/popularity contest for the boys. My efforts resulted in a task force being appointed to review our school’s homecoming practices. Their conclusions led to a dramatic reduction in the size of the homecoming court.

7. Using money earned while babysitting the Oestmann kids, I purchased a copy of 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth during the 1990 Earth Day celebration, began dreaming of Trombe walls and graywater tanks, and the transformation was complete.

I should probably see if I can find Jamie a video of that Keep America Beautiful ad and a plush harp seal for his birthday….


Wild thing in progress


I finally got some time to work on my mural again tonight. I put second coats on most of the large areas of color and started doing the detail work with the paintmarker.

Jaiden and Corbin were eager to see my progress, so I promised their mom I’d post something online for them as soon as I had something to share.

Right now, the mural looks sort of like Maurice Sendak meets Dr. Seuss, because the colors are more vivid and less nuanced than Sendak’s work, which is largely a function of the medium and the nature of the project. Sendak rendered his Wild Things in watercolor, with pen-and-ink details. Obviously watercolor is not an option for a mural painted directly onto the wall, so I had to settle for acrylic, which gives the work a much different feel. The paint dries too quickly to get faux-watercolor color variations and subtleties when you’re dealing with large areas of color, plus I invited a couple of munchkins to help with the project, so I reduced it to a sort of paint-by-number affair that has all the subtlety of a Peterbilt.

It doesn’t look exactly like Sendak’s work, but I think it looks pretty cool, and Corbin and Jaiden and I had a lot of fun painting it, which is the important thing. The amped-up color is kind of fun. I debated doing a scene from The Lorax before I settled on Where the Wild Things Are. That bright coral tree behind the monster looks rather Truffulaesque against that bright turquoise sky, don’t you think?