Thursday, August 21, 2014

1st Day of Kindergarten - Rowen

He's going to do great.  He walked in to his classroom with his usual big smile. He gave the teacher a big hug, then hung up his backpack and found his seat.  I'm sure he's making lots of friends, because really, he's never met a person he didn't like.

There's always that worry, did we do enough? Will he thrive?
Here's hoping he does. 
Send him good vibes today and tomorrow. He's out in the big world.  Expanding his horizons.
Go baby go!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fall crops are up!

When I pulled the garlic from my kitchen garden, at the end of July, I immediately started prepping that space for fall crops. Garlic harvests best when the soil is dry, so that soil was very dry. I added a couple of buckets of compost, and roughly hoed that in a little. Then a bunch of water, (the kids wanted to play in a sprinkler, it was a win-win operation.)  Then I  seeded Swiss Chard, Red Russian Kale, the last of the onion sets that were still in a plantable state, some green beans, white turnips and Cylindra beets. It might sound like a lot, but there's only 2-3 feet of each one.

Thanks to a week of rain and a waxing super moon, I had GREAT germination on all of them, and with any luck, it will be a welcome wave of fresh veggies at the end of the season.  I'll be curious to see if the beans will have enough time to produce, they are bush beans, so I only need them to put on that first big flush.

Worst case, they'll shade out some weeds and be interesting from a research/trial-and-error stance.  But I'm betting at least half will give me food. That Swiss Chard and Kale will probably give me food well into winter, they are both super hardy.

Some notes for future reference. No onion sets for sale this late in the season. Keep more onion sets in a dry dark location after spring plantings. That means I have to buy enough in the spring so I'll have leftovers that I can plant in fall. And actually get them into a safe place. I had probably 3 little bags of sets this year leftover, but one got wet during a watering "incident" that soaked my whole gardening basket, so it rotted. One was left in a sunny place and sprouted, then rotted.  Only one was in a dry dark place, and of course, that was totally by accident.

Other food related things going on, include a bunch of canning. Dave has really stepped into the lead on preservation work, but we still work together on most batches.  We've done a couple rounds of zucchini relish. Bread and Butter pickles are still to do this week.  Some sweet corn next week. We've dried a lot of herbs. Tons of oregano, some mint and parsley.

I don't know if we'll get a tomato glut this year, it's been so mild, there are barely enough heat units to ripen anything. I'll just have to wait and see how the rest of August plays out.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Beautiful Bits

I know, I'm a worrier.  I'm a downer. I see the world through my doomer glasses, most all of the time.  That doesn't mean I don't have beauty in my life. It doesn't stop me from enjoying that beauty. And today, it won't stop me from sharing some with y'all.  Enjoy. (I'm sure the next post will be back to doom and gloom and atheism.)

Here are a few of my creations this spring/summer. The bits of beauty I try to fit into a hectic life.

I'm working on some sandwich board signs for my market stall. Here's the first one done. This is two quarter sheets of outdoor grade plywood. Sanded, primed, painted with 4 layers of chalkboard paint, and some exterior "patio paint."  I have screwed in hinges at the top, and a chain to keep it from sliding all the way open.  The chalkboard was a pain to paint, it was never going to get as smooth as I wanted it. But even so I think it turned out ok. Very pretty, and functional.

Here are some pretty garden shots. This is the view from my newest garden.  Peaceful, in an Iowa monocrop sort of way. :-)
 And the kitchen garden has a pretty new addition, thanks Mom!
Some of the garlic, looking fresh. This garlic has now been harvested, and is on my front porch curing.

Here are some cute kids, I helped make them, so it counts.

Of course I let him chalk on the new sign board. :-) He helped paint a couple parts.

Some of my recent Mixed Media work.  This one is an oil painting with fabric decoupage so far. May do a bit more painting on it. Some falling Matrix like symbols in gold? Some mehndi style swirls? Still trying to make up my mind.

 This medium sized square one is meant to pair with the larger one above. It too is an oil painting with fabric, but yo-yos this time. Still a WIP, but you can maybe see where I'm going with it.
The itty bitty one is going to pair with a painting I won in a silent auction this spring.  All four together should give us enough to shake up the art work in a couple of rooms.

I'll have to find a new place to get my art supplies, before I embark on the next round.  All of my canvases came from the local Hobby Lobby store a year or so ago. You can guess how often I'll be returning there.  Anybody got any good internet craft suppliers? 

How are you incorporating beauty into your life? Share in the comments if you like.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Collecting Children

I've had the urge to adopt for awhile now. I know I love children, I know I'd love to raise a little girl and I know I don't have the time to play roulette with another pregnancy, hoping it's a girl. Thus the urge to adopt. So I follow a few adoption oriented blogs. One of which recently posted with some thoughts about the Marion IA gal with 15 kids, 8 of whom were adopted from Africa, who just died in a car accident. It shouldn't surprise me, the adoption community, especially the uber-Christian one, is kind of a small world.  

After reading the post, about the shock the adoption community felt to have lost a mother, I wondered, are there any among the adoption community that sees this as the terrible situation it really is? That husband now has 15 children, a couple of which are special needs, and no one to stay home with them and raise them, as he has to work.  Is there any talk in the adoption community about the morality of continually adopting, past the point of a dozen children? It's only possible from 3rd world nations where they don't care about things. And only possible with the encouragement and financial assistance of Christian organizations. No adoption agency in America would let another child go to a home that already had 14 youngsters. For just this reason, among others. 

Sure she left a legacy of love, the service was standing room only.  But that won't get that family very far, the husband literally can't even transport all the kids by himself, much less raise them on his own. They've all been homeschooled, so none of them have experience with even the simple routines of leaving the house for school, even if the dad could physically get them there. Every one of those children is now stuck in a terrible situation. The eldest are likely going to have to raise the younger kids themselves, probably foregoing the last of their homeschool education to do it, no matter what their transcripts say. What a great thing to do innocent children. Oh...wait.. not really.

The adoption community, and the Christian groups that funnel money into it, really need to see this tragedy as what it is. Christians playing the savior, and collecting children like they get more grace points for it, nevermind the consequences for the children in question when things like death or illness come along.

I don't like to speak ill of the dead, but the enablers of her children collecting are not dead, so I'm directing this at them.  Did they think that with enough children and enough prayer, the family would be spared the normal realities of life, like sickness and death, that make 15 children problematic? Probably, it would match the other crazy things Christians like to believe.  Is the community going to step in to raise those 15 children? Probably not.   I'm sure they'll pray for them though.


Speaking of kids in a bad place, I'm going to boost the signal on this group, a little bit.
1000 kids.  A foundation seeking to open Iowa homes and hearts to 1000 of the unaccompanied minors at the border. If every state would take in 1000, the humanitarian crisis would be well under control.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Is The End Still Nigh?

Jennie, you haven't mentioned the end of the world lately, are we still on for that?

Yes. Yes we are.

Here are some points to consider.
The US is a net importer of natural gas and will remain in that status for the foreseeable future. There will be no exporting of gas to Europe. We are not the next OPEC.  All those oil and gas fracking sites, the science says they'll experience sharp dropoffs in production after their first flush. The Frackers say, "Oh, we'll get more efficient and just keep drilling." Meaning every last unspoiled piece of land in this country will be spoiled in our efforts to feed our addiction.  Those lofty reserve estimates for what's in the ground? Total bunk.  If we want oil independence, we NEED TO GET OFF OF OIL. Period.

Speaking of the stuff in the ground. It really needs to stay there if my grandchildren are going to have enough liveable areas to survive in. Yes, survive.  A 4 degree Celsius warmup would make large
swathes of our planet too warm for humans. Too warm for our crops to grow, too warm during the heat of the day for a human to literally survive in.
In 2012, the writer and activist Bill McKibben published a heart-stopping essay in Rolling Stone titled “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.” I’ve read hundreds of thousands of words about climate change over the last decade, but that essay haunts me the most.
The piece walks through a fairly straightforward bit of arithmetic that goes as follows. The scientific consensus is that human civilization cannot survive in any recognizable form a temperature increase this century more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Given that we’ve already warmed the earth about 0.8 degrees Celsius, that means we have 1.2 degrees left—and some of that warming is already in motion. Given the relationship between carbon emissions and global average temperatures, that means we can release about 565 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere by mid-century. Total. That’s all we get to emit if we hope to keep inhabiting the planet in a manner that resembles current conditions.
Now here’s the terrifying part. The Carbon Tracker Initiative, a consortium of financial analysts and environmentalists, set out to tally the amount of carbon contained in the proven fossil fuel reserves of the world’s energy companies and major fossil fuel–producing countries. That is, the total amount of carbon we know is in the ground that we can, with present technology, extract, burn and put into the atmosphere. The number that the Carbon Tracker Initiative came up with is… 2,795 gigatons. Which means the total amount of known, proven extractable fossil fuel in the ground at this very moment is almost five times the amount we can safely burn.
Proceeding from this fact, McKibben leads us inexorably to the staggering conclusion that the work of the climate movement is to find a way to force the powers that be, from the government of Saudi Arabia to the board and shareholders of ExxonMobil, to leave 80 percent of the carbon they have claims on in the ground. That stuff you own, that property you’re counting on and pricing into your stocks? You can’t have it. -source

Here's some of the salient parts from that Bill McKibben piece linked above.
In fact, study after study predicts that carbon emissions will keep growing by roughly three percent a year – and at that rate, we'll blow through our 565-gigaton allowance in 16 years, around the time today's preschoolers will be graduating from high school. "The new data provide further evidence that the door to a two-degree trajectory is about to close," said Fatih Birol, the IEA's chief economist. In fact, he continued, "When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of about six degrees." That's almost 11 degrees Fahrenheit, which would create a planet straight out of science fiction.
If you told Exxon or Lukoil that, in order to avoid wrecking the climate, they couldn't pump out their reserves, the value of their companies would plummet. John Fullerton, a former managing director at JP Morgan who now runs the Capital Institute, calculates that at today's market value, those 2,795 gigatons of carbon emissions are worth about $27 trillion. Which is to say, if you paid attention to the scientists and kept 80 percent of it underground, you'd be writing off $20 trillion in assets. The numbers aren't exact, of course, but that carbon bubble makes the housing bubble look small by comparison. It won't necessarily burst – we might well burn all that carbon, in which case investors will do fine. But if we do, the planet will crater. You can have a healthy fossil-fuel balance sheet, or a relatively healthy planet – but now that we know the numbers, it looks like you can't have both. Do the math: 2,795 is five times 565. That's how the story ends.

The numbers are simply staggering – this industry, and this industry alone, holds the power to change the physics and chemistry of our planet, and they're planning to use it. They're clearly cognizant of global warming – they employ some of the world's best scientists, after all, and they're bidding on all those oil leases made possible by the staggering melt of Arctic ice. And yet they relentlessly search for more hydrocarbons – in early March, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson told Wall Street analysts that the company plans to spend $37 billion a year through 2016 (about $100 million a day) searching for yet more oil and gas.
There's not a more reckless man on the planet than Tillerson. Late last month, on the same day the Colorado fires reached their height, he told a New York audience that global warming is real, but dismissed it as an "engineering problem" that has "engineering solutions." Such as? "Changes to weather patterns that move crop-production areas around – we'll adapt to that." This in a week when Kentucky farmers were reporting that corn kernels were "aborting" in record heat, threatening a spike in global food prices. "The fear factor that people want to throw out there to say, 'We just have to stop this,' I do not accept," Tillerson said. Of course not – if he did accept it, he'd have to keep his reserves in the ground. Which would cost him money. It's not an engineering problem, in other words – it's a greed problem.

There's disagreement as to whether 2 degrees actually is a safe level of warming. "Two degrees is actually too much for ecosystems," wrote George Mason University's Thomas Lovejoy in the New York Times. "A 2-degree world will be one without coral reefs (on which millions of human beings depend for their well-being)." Certain island nations will disappear at 2 degrees by the rising oceans.
Either way, we've waited so long to begin cutting emissions that two degrees looks flatly impossible. We're on track for 4°C of warming — which is nearly the temperature difference between the world now and the Ice Age. That's a nightmare for the planet. The World Bank tried to model it and realized that they had no idea what would happen — or whether humans could manage. There's "no certainty that adaptation to a 4°C world is possible," they concluded.

Our crops, like ourselves, are adapted to the climate we have now. Temperatures too hot will keep corn from pollinating. Weather patterns that change too much, too quickly will most certainly cause crop failures.  Oh, and our global stockpile of emergency grain? Already at the lowest levels possible. Our domesticated animals won't get off free either, rising temperatures will most certainly mean increasing frequencies of disease and parasites. Water supplies are already feeling the crunch in Western and SW states, another 4-11 °F of warming will only take that crisis to higher levels.  There's no way we can "engineer" our way out of all these problems simultaneously. We'll be too busy putting out the fires (literally) and trying to keep our basic (and aging) infrastructure from melting in the heat and washing away in the floods.

The problem goes so much deeper than oil, we can have a discussion about oil, and most people will agree that we need to get off of it. Every president in the past 50 years has remarked on how critical it is that we get off of oil. But nothing happens, because no one wants to talk about what that would actually mean. No one wants to talk about how stupid our fantasies of infinite growth are on a finite world.
The inescapable failure of a society built upon growth and its destruction of the Earth’s living systems are the overwhelming facts of our existence. As a result they are mentioned almost nowhere. They are the 21st Century’s great taboo, the subjects guaranteed to alienate your friends and neighbours. We live as if trapped inside a Sunday supplement: obsessed with fame, fashion and the three dreary staples of middle class conversation: recipes, renovations and resorts. Anything but the topic that demands our attention.
Statements of the bleeding obvious, the outcomes of basic arithmetic, are treated as exotic and unpardonable distractions, while the impossible proposition by which we live is regarded as so sane and normal and unremarkable that it isn’t worthy of mention. That’s how you measure the depth of this problem: by our inability even to discuss it. -George Monbiot

Your friendly neighborhood doomer, signing off.
Oh, somebody buy me some of these Calamitywares.
- Jennie

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What Could Get Me Back in a Church?

Not all of my readers will be interested, but I think some of my readers might be curious.
What follows is based on a response I made to a post on the Patheos blog network, in regards to a book that tries to list the top 7 things that will get young people back into the churches they are leaving in droves. 

I've not read the book. :-D Check out the link above if you want to see a summary of what the 7 things they listed were.

I am a Millennial, and I left the church when I left my parents' house, and I haven't been back since.  If I was to make a list of the 7 things that would get me back into a church, it would look like this:

1) Quit preaching hate. I got so tired of hearing about all the sins and sinners I was supposed to not associate with or participate in. Half of them seemed arbitrary, none of them seemed logical or helpful to living in a pluralistic society.
2) Respect women. Some faiths are better than others with this one. But pretty much any religion that wants me to take back seat, second seat, or any seat other than an equal one, is never going to get a second of my time or a cent of my money. I'm also not interested in hearing how some random part of my body is sinful and should be covered up. Neck, shoulders, ankles, knees, face, elbows, breasts... bah. They are no more sinful than my ears or my knuckles or my forearms.
3) Can you revise the bible? I know, it's supposed to be the "word of god." But, let's be honest, it's not. It was written by men, translated by men, revised by men. Update it for the new millennium already! Drop the bronze age anachronisms, nobody cares about tattoos, seafood or mixed fiber clothing anymore. It would be nice if there were more women's voices in it, telling their stories, perhaps even stories where the women are something other than a whore or a virgin or the "wife of man #3." Some nice warrior women, leader types would more closely match what I strive for in my life.
4) Be more open to those of us who question. I don't believe in deities anymore. But, that in and of itself, is not a part of why I don't go to church. I would still go if it were a welcoming community that accepted me AND my disbelief. I like helping my neighbors, I like living a life of service and kindness and sharing.  I like singing songs with my neighbors and celebrating life's milestones together. Can you divorce all of that from the Thou Must Believe bit? I certainly don't want to go to a church for the community aspects and lie about it, I'm not a liar.
5) Yes to the local point. I'm not going to drive a long distance to get to a church I like. There is a Unitarian church I feel like I might be happy at, but it's an hour drive away, so it's a no go. Every church within walking distance is .... well.. not meeting my criteria.
6) Work to build up the wall of separation between church and state. I'm not interested in living in a theocracy. Not of any stripe. Churches don't pay taxes to the state, so they should have no say in the governing of the state. Period. "Leave unto Caesar" and all that. Quit sending money to PACs that work to implement Sharia law, whoops I mean Christian values into law. Quit preaching from the pulpit on political candidates and their level of acceptableness to the particular brand of faith you practice. Continue that practice and you'll never see me step foot in your building.
7) This is an addendum to the "be local" point. Support locally. Keep service projects local. Mission trips to 3rd world countries look great in the church bulletins, but they aren't really great at helping people. Time and time again, the missionaries leave and the super great technology that they installed works for a while, then breaks and with no who knows how to service or fix it, the people of that village go back to whatever unsanitary, dangerous or inefficient thing they were doing before. There are plenty of people who need help in every community. Young families who could use help with child care, elders in need of food, vets in need of someone to talk to, new comers in need of a friend or a meal, kids in need of a big brother/sister or adopted grandparent. It's not as flashy and exciting, but it would be of more actual help if the church focused locally first.

Non-belief is growing rapidly in my generation. If the only young people you're interested in adding to your church are the ones that already agree 100% with your faith and your rules, you may find those numbers dwindling, no matter how many big fancy worship concerts you plan.  You should maybe look at the actual beliefs of those who are leaving, and ask how you can better align your church with what they actually need and actually believe in.
Or not.
Just don't kid yourselves when the numbers of "Nones" keeps growing and the average age of your congregants continues to rise, while their numbers fall. The Nones are not confused, misguided or "lost souls." We're sick and tired and fed up with the churches.

If you want to find me on Sunday morning, I'll be in my vegetable garden, happy and content, free of divisiveness, free of arbitrary rules, wearing what I like, and making my own decisions, although maybe a little lonely.  All you have to do is match that experience, minus the lonely and you could get me back into a church. Will you?

My bet is no.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Spring Doings and Plannings

Some of y'all might be wondering what I'm up to. 
Some of y'all know what my plans are in general, and some are still in the dark because plans are still close to the vest.

So here are some general things that are going on. Some of you will know how these fit into my larger plan, and some of you will just have to be patient until I can reveal all.

I've got my spring garlic count! 90 made it through our harsh winter.  I lost some, in places where I didn't get enough mulch on top of them.  But 90 is still respectable. If I get 3 big cloves from all 90, planted this fall, that will be around 270 garlic plants up in 2015.  My crazy old lady co-gardener was surprised to see garlic in the plot this year. Most people around here are when I tell them what the plants are.  :-) It just means I'll have a monopoly on the market when the scapes are ready in June.  The scapes may be about all we eat or sell of this crop. Well, those and the smaller cloves I don't want to plant. This crop is meant to be the seed garlic for a larger cash crop next year.
My daddy asked me if there is a large market for Iowa garlic. I believe there is. My farmer friends at Coyote Run Farm, south of Des Moines plant something like a half acre of hardneck garlic every year. They have a picture of baby Rowen and I out for one of their garlic planting parties in 2009, so I know how much they plant. I know I will not be anywhere near that level. I also know they sell out every year.   The trick is nice big bulbs, and tasty varieties. Those two things are impossible to find in grocery store garlic. Get people hooked on the deliciousness that is locally grown hardneck garlic, and they'll never go back to the sad little grocery store garlic.

My cold frame performed well again this year, in all of its DIY glory.  The last frost date is this week, (and true to form for this spring, we have a frost chance for Friday) and my spinach has been producing like crazy since the beginning of May. Another week and we'll be buried in lettuce, some of which was also in the cold frame and is beginning to crowd out the last of the spinach.

My farmers market in town continues it's downward spiral.  This year the Chamber of "Commerce" has decided that it won't start until JULY 2nd!!  For fucks sake!  The other local markets are already starting, we went down to the opening weekend for Sioux City's market this past Saturday. And sure, it's no July market, but people were THERE! Vendors had greens, onions, eggs, meat, transplants and crafted goods. Customers were THERE! Why our Chamber thinks May and June don't deserve market times in our town, I don't know.  I strongly suspect it's because they are fucking morons.

Moving on. I've decided I will still register as a vendor and go in July-Oct.  I've also decided I'll start when I have the produce to start, and damn their official start date.  I'm making my own sandwich boards to offset the lack of city support for earlier selling dates. (Their limited support of the market includes signage along the main highway through town pointing motorists one block North to the market location.)  A big shout out to my dad, who brainstormed a bit with me on the sandwich boards. I got a start on them this past weekend, and my rusty woodworking skills came back to me. I even remembered to buy sandpaper and sand the boards before applying the primer. *high five* I'm making them really solid so they should last quite awhile. I'll be adding other things to my market stall this year. A scale is top of the list. I scored a big food-grade tray last year in a trade with a fellow market vendor, so that will find uses this summer. If I have enough of the chalkboard paint left when I'm done with my sandwich boards, I might make up some small boards for labeling prices/varieties of veggies.

In the fun news category, I'm signed up to run in another 5k this summer. The Color Run in Omaha in mid July.  I've been out jogging a few times this spring, in between the rains and storms. So far I'm running better than I did at the beginning of last year, much better. So, I didn't lose it all over the winter. Looks like this week might actually let me start the 3 times a week training that I did last year. If things go to plan I'll get to run with my younger brother, the ex-Marine. It sure would be nice to have a good time with him, it's been too long. And knowing that I'll be running with him will certainly keep the pressure on during my training.  Us two, competitive? ....yea.   :-D

So there's what's going on right now. We're keeping busy and holding on. How are things with all y'all?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Strong Women

A bit of poetry for the end of this week.  It's been a rough few weeks. Our savings has been going backwards, my job has been just as stressful as ever and I'm having to break in new ground for my vegetables because of the crazy lady and the girl scouts.
There have been some bright points though, Rowen got a new bike, a tag along that hooks onto Dave's bike, and he LOVES it. He was a happy little kid.
Logan is learning words, more every day, and continues to be just the sweetest little guy.
I've been painting and running and biking and doing some yoga to try and offset the hard work and stress.
Half of the Mother's Day cards are on their way South. Got to finish the last few though.  :-)

This poem spoke to me, and I thought I would share. I know a lot of strong women in my life, and I'm humbled that some consider me one. Enjoy.

"For strong women"

A strong woman is a woman who is straining.
A strong woman is a woman standing
on tiptoe and lifting a barbell
while trying to sing Boris Godunov.
A strong woman is a woman at work
cleaning out the cesspool of the ages,
and while she shovels, she talks about
how she doesn't mind crying, it opens
the ducts of the eyes, and throwing up
develops the stomach muscles, and
she goes on shoveling with tears
in her nose.

A strong woman is a woman in whose head
a voice is repeating, I told you so,
ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,
why aren't you feminine, why aren't
you soft, why aren't you quiet, why
aren't you dead?

A strong woman is a woman determined
to do something others are determined
not be done. She is pushing up on the bottom
of a lead coffin lid. She is trying to raise
a manhole cover with her head, she is trying
to butt her way through a steel wall.
Her head hurts. People waiting for the hole
to be made say, hurry, you're so strong.

A strong woman is a woman bleeding
inside. A strong woman is a woman making
herself strong every morning while her teeth
loosen and her back throbs. Every baby,
a tooth, midwives used to say, and now
every battle a scar. A strong woman
is a mass of scar tissue that aches
when it rains and wounds that bleed
when you bump them and memories that get up
in the night and pace in boots to and fro.

A strong woman is a woman who craves love
like oxygen or she turns blue choking.
A strong woman is a woman who loves
strongly and weeps strongly and is strongly
terrified and has strong needs. A strong woman is strong
in words, in action, in connection, in feeling;
she is not strong as a stone but as a wolf
suckling her young. Strength is not in her, but she
enacts it as the wind fills a sail.

What comforts her is others loving
her equally for the strength and for the weakness
from which it issues, lightning from a cloud.
Lightning stuns. In rain, the clouds disperse.
Only water of connection remains,
flowing through us. Strong is what we make
each other. Until we are all strong together,
a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.
-Marge Piercy

Friday, May 2, 2014

Food for Thought

Food for Thought, For Becoming at Home in Our Place, For Thoughtfulness in Producing Food

With future generations in mind, may my family and friends never leave the land we steward poorer, nor its water scarcer than conditions were before we acquired responsibility for their care.
May we keep land meant to be farmed from being de-veloped, and re-envelope it with people dedicated to keep its inherent productivity in tact into perpetuity.
May we work as “greenhorns” to offer dignity, reciprocity and respect to the “grayhorns” willing to offer their land to us, and to never betray our covenant with them and the land itself.
May we seek to enrich the soil, diversify its plant cover and deepen its roots both within and beyond its harvested fields, its grazed pastures, or its orchards.
May we be diligent in learning how our practices affect those who live above and below us in our foodshed and watershed— not only the human lives, but all other-than-human lives as well.
May we participate in the regional culture of this land, and whenever possible, engage in the community rites and calendric rhythms that bind us to our place.
May we work to link the consumers of the food, fiber and timber we produce to the land on which it is produced, so that their values and ours are developed in harmony rather than in completion or in conflict.
May we encourage our members, friends and neighboring consumers to vote for what is best for the land at the polling booth where our choices help determine its governance, and at the table where what we choose to eat can benefit rather than harm the community at large.
May we share with our neighbors not only our successes in stewardship, but cautionary words of wisdom gained from our past failures as well, so that the principles that guide us and the practices that work on the ground are spread throughout this landscape.
May we refrain from solely focusing on increasing the saleable products from the land, but also on investing in the underlying natural processes which generate those products.
May we experiment with ways to control pests, diseases and weeds in a manner that does least harm to pollinators like bees and monarchs, predators, and
May we make long-term decisions about the destiny of the land and the choice of its future caretakers by asking a simple question: “What would the land itself want?” just as some Christian land ethicists often ask, “What would Jesus do if he were a farmer, fisher or forager?”
May we stay as humble as this blessed earth itself.
Message sent through Brother Coyote, OEF, aka Grayhorn Gary Paul Nabhan, to celebrate the Agrarian Trust forum in Berkeley CA in April of 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Nervous Stomach

Yes, I have problems with my current work situation. The stress is not good for me. And I don't mean that in a may-shorten-my-life-span-someday abstraction. It's not good for me in ways that are immediate, painful and occasionally last days.

I went to my doctor about the problem, thinking maybe I was sick, or maybe there was a way to treat the symptoms so I could ignore them.  (Because that's always a healthy reason to go to a Doctor.. geez...)
He said that stress absolutely could cause the painful gastrointestinal symptoms I'd had. He said the only thing he knows to call it is Nervous Stomach.  He said there's nothing he can give me for it, but over the counters like Imodium could help quiet things. The yoga and running and gardening that I do help, but only in the evenings/mornings when I can do such things, they don't help in acute situations.  Situations where the only thing I can do is stay in my cube and try to code/email/document my way out of the stressful situation.  In between trips to the bathroom that is.

It's not a good situation.  I know I do better with stress when I can move, physically move and exert myself, but that's never the solution to the problems and stressors at my current job. The solutions always involve more screen time, more cube time, and/or travel to places with bad food using uncomfortable company cars.

I know any career I have will involve stress. I push myself too hard for that not to be true. But surely I can find a career that has more physical work to balance out the times I'll need to stare at a screen.Surely I can find a career that has solutions to stress that are physical in nature.

I can see what a career in cube-land often leads to. Most of the programmers here have a less than healthy body weight, and postures that would make my yoga instructor cry.  I literally couldn't take the pain of a sit down cube anymore, a couple of years ago I had to switch to a standing cube in order to lessen the physical pain I experience with the sedentary work style.  Even with the standing cube I still find myself antsy, pacing, occasionally on tip-toe to stare out at the slim swathe of grass and sky I can see over the cube walls.

Does the pay I receive for this work mitigate any of that? Do I get paid "enough" to write off the health damage?

No, not in my mind. Maybe others here think differently, would answer affirmative to that. Others probably don't even think about things in that light. But, for me the answer is no.

Knowing that, I'm seeking an exit. I'm not running hysterically towards the nearest exit, but I am exploring what other options could look like.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Losing Ground

One of the main drawbacks to my current style of Urban Farming is that space can disappear. Not like it vanishes, the dirt is still there, but suddenly I find out that my share of it is only 10% of what I expected because now the old gal wants to let a girl scout troupe plant it to earn badges.  Or the church decides they are much more comfortable about spraying Round Up around the food plots than they are about letting me hoe and mulch the weeds into submission.

Oh and the other drawback is having to deal with the crazy. I got a call from the old gal this weekend about the whole scouts-taking-over news, and she was chewing me out because I was planting peas too early.  Didn't I know they are supposed to go in on Good Friday?   O_o

No, lady, I did not know that I had to plant my seed based on the schedule you expect to see from your lifetime of living in this small isolated Christian town.   I thought I would just plant my peas as soon as the soil was workable.

I'll be happy when I have plots of land that I have contractual and agreed upon rights to plant on. Enough space that my succession plantings can be done logically and not squeezed in to any random available space. Peace of mind as I plant my garlic in the fall that I'll still be growing there in the spring.

So I'll be in new ground again this spring. :-) It's good practice for me.  Got some feelers out already.  And of course that better solution is waiting in the wings for next year. As long as my courage and savings don't give out.

Speaking of practice, so far I'm really liking the looks of my tomato and pepper transplants. Still a few more weeks where things could go horribly wrong with them, but I feel like my years practice is finally paying off. I actually have pepper seedlings.  Literally a first for me. I'm trying onion transplants again too.  Been a couple of years since I tried, and I've learned a lot since my last attempt.

I've got big goals for this year. I can't let something like losing half my grow space deter me.   Onwards!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

How Have Thigns Been Lately?

I know, I know, the blog has been quiet lately.
There are multiple reasons for this. I've written a couple of posts that didn't get published. They were mostly written for me. But I may publish them later, as certain break points get closer.

The short story is I'm not really happy with how my life and work are aligned right now. Dave and I have exciting goals for this year, in relation to this disconnect. We're going to make some changes. Some changes will be more drastic than others. Some changes I can't talk about yet, because we're not ready for them to be public knowledge. Most of the changes will happen in late fall/winter.

Life is too short to suck it up and deal. Not that I'm not doing some of that. But you know what I mean. If somethings not working, I'm the type that wants to try to fix it.

The high level breakdown is I want job #3 to replace job #1. It will mean turning a hobby into a fully fledged business, my own business. It's a hobby with a decade of practice and a hobby that I find myself more and more passionate about as the years pass. It's a hobby that I'm used to documenting and tracking; numbers and money. The passion will help, and I'm quietly confident in my skills.

I am doing lots of number crunching right now. We have savings goals for the next year, broken down into month goals.
I have business planning to do. I'm taking an online course in the type of business planning I need. (This is another reason the blog has been quiet, my personal online time is more focused on that class and the work I'm doing to set us up for next spring. In fact, I should be working on my homework right now. :-D) New tax forms I need to get familiar with so I document the right things this year and next year.
Moving expenses plus start up expenses. Ouch.

Is it going to be easy? No.  Is it guaranteed to work out? No.

Does any of that mean I'm not going to try? Fuck no.

So, that's how things are right now. :-D

On a lighter note, seeds are already sown for spring, I have onions and leeks in my little greenhouse doing their germination magic.
We bought a new car! Well, new to us anyway. It's a 2011 Subaru Outback. The boys have plenty of foot room, Dave doesn't hit his head on the roof of it, and it will handle more of the things that I like to haul around, and more of our leisure activities.

The boys are growing bigger by the day. Rowen is excelling at his preschool work, and we're trying to figure out how we want to do Kindergarten. We homeschooled the preschool, and since we're probably moving before next spring, we are likely to home-school the kindergarten too.  Logan is practicing all his words, learning new ones every day.

Hope all is well with all of you.