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Pondering the ecstasy, agony of the feet

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By Hannah Hayes

There was a time in Evergreen in the early ‘70s when you got your Birkenstocks from Pat Pendleton and Ted Lothammer out of the back of a Chinook camper. They also offered human-potential workshops at their Evergreen Retreat Center up above the Lake. The couple’s work eventually morphed into People House, Facilitator Training and so much more. Ted’s legacy has been documented in a new book, “Patron Saint of Rascals,” by Cheryl Williams Card.


The intimate biography is graced with a beautiful cover painting by Pendleton.
Perhaps they married you, helped you move Beyond Divorce or ministered to your health based on Ted’s personal experiences with cancer.
I stopped wearing Birkenstocks quite awhile ago. The sandals felt too firm, and I moved toward cushioning, more support and orthotics, amassing an amazing variety of shoes, each with a single purpose.
In “Feet Upon the Earth,” local author Louise M. Mitchell notes the footwear she uses when exploring our Southwest region — “… Merrells, heels, flats, Birkenstocks, moccasins, skates and snowshoes” — and all while reflecting on spirit guides and past lives. Mitchell examines both soul and sole.
I’ve been focusing on my own feet lately and their new favorite footwear — none. I like to credit the musician Michael Franti with first introducing me to the barefoot concept. Since 2000 this amazing poet and composer has shorn shoes. He dons flip-flops to go into restaurants.
Those who have gone barefoot, or oxymoronically are wearing the new “barefoot” shoes, report interesting changes in the way their feet interact with the ground, and the improvements in flexibility and alignment are impressive.
A desire to change a heel-striking pattern brought me to the shoe stores recently. I tried on several pairs of really weird five-toed shoes and discussed the merits of the movement with a couple of different salespeople. At one store, in the throes of indecision, I looked down at my naked feet and said, “Guess I’ll just take these.” It was easy to foot that bill.
I must admit I eventually succumbed to some new “barefoot” shoes. I hope they will allow me to tread more softly, to leave nothing but footprints. But Card’s book is a timely reminder of another’s path upon the Earth, one to be admired because of his legacy of service that impacted so many.
My friend Ted Lothammer left big shoes to fill.

Hannah B. Hayes is a former Both Sides Now debate columnist, small-business owner and peace activist. She has been a part of the Evergreen community for more than 35 years.