Wednesday, December 29, 2010

the gift of the present

it's amazing, this
when you wake up brightly
another twenty-four hours to experience
where you
worrying and wishing about
tomorrows yet to come
when all you have been
comes alive from your past
~and you are awake enough to see it~
'cause when you know where
you're going, where you've been
suddenly makes sense
it was all leading up
to just this, right now
breathe deep and wake up to
the gift of the present

Monday, December 27, 2010

Meatrix Mailing Mayhem

I have a fun idea and need everybody's help...

I want to spread the word about factory farming and the importance of building sustainable local food economies and share the Meatrix short films from Sustainable Table (which I think are pretty freakin' creative). So- I decided to combine some of my favorite things: my silly letterboxing hobby, getting mail (that isn't bills), writing, and making friends! I happen to have a DVD copy of the films and was thinking of launching a fun, Flat Stanley-esque mailing tour for the DVD so it can be shared with lots of folks. This is the result of all that pondering...

Here's how it would work:
  • You tell your friends about my mission and you or they decide to participate. You send me an email @ with a mailing address I can send the DVD to.
  • The DVD arrives in the mail with a little booklet. Happy day! You invite a couple of friends over and make popcorn, share it with your church group or neighbors or whomever will join you, then all hang out and watch it together and build a little community.
  • You add a picture, a drawing, a poem, a recipe, or something (anything really) to the little booklet~ maybe share what you've learned or plan to do differently in the future. Just a little something to show everyone who you are and why you feel sustainable food production is important.
  • You pass the package on, either back to me to send to the next person or to someone you know and send me a quick note about where it went (where the next adventure will be). Updates, photos, and what-have-you will be posted here on the blog for everyone to enjoy. Sometimes fun little tasteful treasures for you to keep might show up in the package~ just make sure the DVD and booklet stay together and make it to their next destination!
So- who's in?? My goal is to hit all 50 states at least. At the very least hopefully there would be a new recipe or two, maybe some neat pictures, and I'd make some more friends, all for the price of a few stamps. Sounds like a great deal!

I'd love to see just how far we can send this film and how many people we can reach, so pass this on to EVERYONE you think might want to play, post it on your Facebook page, tell your mailman, pin notes to your kids and shout it from the mountaintops! And, of course, send me some emails. :)

 Thanks so much for your help!

Images from here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

earth and becoming

it's amazing the little things we
come across each day when we
open our eyes to it
there in the light glows the
wisdom of someone else's years they
share out of love and
generosity- a common link, this
love of dirt and wool and
funny how all the things you
never knew you could be or
swore early on you'd never want are
the most precious gifts and
so blessed we are to hold in
our hands a ripe tomato or
padded paw or have a
baby's grasp wrapped round
a finger so tightly
as greenhorns all around this
land are snuggling under handmade
quilts in rural rooms i count myself
blessed to be among them

there is earth in my veins

the shortest day of the year

Maybe you were lucky enough to catch the lunar eclipse last night, amongst the frostiness and clouds. They say it is the first time in nearly 400 years that the winter solstice and a lunar eclipse have overlapped this way. Maybe that makes this year special, a time unlike any other for new beginnings.

For thousands of years and in many societies, the winter solstice marked the beginning of the new year, a time for rebirth and regeneration. Today's the day when time sort of stops and, after today, the days will start to get just a little bit longer. And when you are itching to grow things, the solstice means hope that spring is eventually coming. Today's a first-class shout out that, even in the bitter cold, cloudy bleakness that surrounds us, there is life and the potential for it. The earth is resting, taking stock, and preparing for another year.

Deep inside my bones, it feels like I should be doing the same. Every inch of me can't wait to get started with growing my own food. I have so many plans and so much to learn that I am perpetually in a tizzy and can't sit still. My mind drifts from vegetable varieties to one day having sheep to spinning wool to the roving in my closet to the knitting projects I need to finish to the socks I want to learn to make to the woods that need clearing and the fence that needs buying and the presents that still need wrapping (literally jumping from one to the next, just like that) and- it's MADNESS! Yesterday I spent nearly the entire day busy. I didn't have to go to work, but I think I sat still for all of twenty minutes before bed. (The holidays aren't helping this either, with the go-go-go of it all. Such a flurry of activity.)

This is killing me...the hustle and bustle creeps up my toes and the length of my legs, tensing and tightening along its route, before it arches over my back and settles in my shoulders as full-blown stress and brushes my creativity entirely away like blowing snowflakes from the palm of your hand.

What I really need to do is step back from the madness and chaos and follow that nesting instinct into a dark and quiet place and simplify my life a bit. I am thankful today is shorter~ there will be less time for hustling and work and more time for thought, reflection and planning, more time to sip tea with my dog's head in my lap and a book in my hand, more time to notice the beauty and stillness right outside my door. It's high time for some beauty for beauty's sake.

Today I will celebrate the solstice by dreaming and wandering, stopping and pausing. I will list out my worries and plans and my dreams and put the poetry back in my journal. Today, for me, is all about the pause before the movement.

How will you mark the shortest day of the year?

Photo from here.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Church of the Almighty Dollar

Not sure how many more years in retail I can take...watching the freakish ways people treat each other this time of year turns my stomach and distorts the spirit of community and giving that the holidays really were meant to embody. I'm fighting off a bad attitude and it absolutely sucks. I need a hefty dose of good cheer right about now.
I love a good documentary and in my web lurking I found this random bit of happiness. This is absolutely hilarious... and it left me wondering, if it really WERE all about consumerism, What Would Jesus Buy? If salvation is out of stock, I'll take a set of those sweet shiny rims... LOL.

Amen, Reverend Billy... Amen!

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's Snowing Sideways

It's blistery, blustery and blowing. I think every school within an hour's drive is closed today, and there is a drift of snow near my garage that's pushing 5 feet tall. This is my wake up call that winter has arrived in full force, in case I wasn't paying attention. I was, by the way, and the season doesn't officially begin until December 22. I'm all about getting a jump start on projects, but really wish this could have waited until January. Maybe she is getting it all out of her system and spring will come early this year. I would LOVE a longer growing season!

Since my mother is ill and can't watch my daughter today so I can work, we're spending the day snowed in. I wasn't really looking forward to 50 mile-per-hour winds anyways and haven't seen a snow plow go down the road all day. I've seen LOTS of propane trucks though. Hope that means my neighbors are staying warm too.

Days like today are good for only a few things, in my opinion: hot coffee, good books, needlework and housekeeping. Right now the dog and I are doing laundry and napping, enjoying the snow from inside where it is warm. (My daughter is enjoying her day off from school with a little Club Penguin and an all-day teleconference with her best friend.) We'll stay tucked in here all cozy until closer to time for hubs to come home, and then I will briefly bear the elements so he can locate the driveway when he arrives at home. If we have to be stuck here, it's a good time to finish all those half-completed knitting and crochet projects, put together food gifts for neighbors and co-workers and heat the house up with some baking. Who knows- maybe I will even try my hand at knitting some socks! (My tootsies are cold and crying for wool.)

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Dark Side of Factory Farming

I was hanging out at today just looking around when I came across this ingenious video about factory farming. Points for creativity on the spoof!
Check out the link list in the sidebar for more info on Sustainable Table and the Meatrix.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

snow and juxtaposition

How fitting that this, the first of December, we get our first real snow here. The dog is in the backyard eating it off of the porch. For some reason, he really enjoys the snow as it tumbles out of the air silent and fluffy. Rain, however, does not amuse him in the slightest. He detests it and won't go outside at all. For now, he is leaving little snail trails with his tongue, blending paw prints into an indiscernible line leading only in circles.

Inside in the warmth of my house, I get to watch for the first time the way the wind carries the flakes here: nearly horizontal now, with great white swirling masses blowing out of the roof ridges and across the stillness of the yard. I adore watching the snow so long as I am not looking at it through my windshield. It is the epitome of peacefulness this way: still, silent, and graceful, whether it stays or quickly melts away, all traces of its brief existence erased from history. When I am behind the wheel of my car, I perceive the same thing quite differently; it becomes a monster of sorts, swirling, torrential, nearly venomous in the driving conditions it creates. Most of the danger is a product of my overactive anxiety and tensing my muscles as I brace myself from the cold probably doesn't help either, but I hate driving in the snow. If all that fell on the road melted away or I could simply stay indoors the four months out of the year it decided to fall, I'd be perfectly content in my little illusion.

Funny how something so simple as water can morph itself into several different forms and take on so many attributes, from the placid calm of a woodland stream to a ranging hurricane. The gentle rolling of a river can carve out marvelous canyons given time, and can also just mosey along, gently nurturing the world around it, providing a life-giving source of refreshment. Water holds in its nature strength and power yet it is gentle and yielding. It just as easily will crash violently over rapids or flow calmly around a fallen branch.

I've always admired simple things but I especially admire water and it's unique ability to fill so many roles and change so easily and often. My goal is to learn from it today, as it swirls around my yard in a fury, and more willingly embrace change in my life.

How amazing it would be to be like water, flexible and supportive but strong enough to move mountains.

Image from here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Food, off the grid

We got our Seeds of Change catalog in the mail the other day, and already Rich and I have looked longingly through it's pages, circling and putting stars by way more varieties than we could ever hope to fit in our little plot of earth. It is so exciting, how as the weather grows colder, we can look through the pages of seed catalogs and envision what we could possibly have accomplished by this time next year.

We have decided to forgo growing corn. I am hoping to preserve something of the variety of plants that grow here and corn is on almost every lot near here. It's impossible to tell whether it is intended to be used for ethanol, or feed, or if it is the yummy edible sweet corn, that if we are patient, we could buy at hundreds of farm stands that will spring up around harvest time. Although we could grow an heirloom variety and might try sometime, Rich and I both agree it is less expensive and a better use of our land to support our local food systems and grow other things.

Oddly enough, the one produce item we seem to have the hardest time narrowing our choices on is lettuce. So many of them look so fascinating and tasty, it is very hard to choose. We still have all the containers we grew in this last year though, so we very well could grow our lettuce on the porch, do more varieties, and have it more convenient for frequent harvesting anyways.

I am so excited and anticipating all that is coming in the next year: the garden and landscaping, learning to can and preserve food from the garden, and the upcoming fiber festival in May. Add to that if I am able to secure any decent paying writing gigs, and this coming year is shaping up to be a whirlwind of activity.

Image from here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Someday I'll Be...

There's a vision in my head as I browse my library books tonight and sip my tea of the kind of life I wish I led. I love and enjoy many small parts of what already is, but I'm missing something in the authenticity of it. As I rush through my days and destroy my to-do list with x's, it feels false. I don't feel entirely me sitting behind a desk staring at televisions, waiting for opportunists and the needy to help themselves to things. Something's missing. Something where I can be creative and maybe get dirty, where I can run my fingers through fur or wool and find peace in physical labor. Other than the love that comes from my family and the basics of food, shelter, clothing and health, I need only three things: I need to farm, I need to create and I need to write.

My visionary homestead is quite simple. It's where I already live. When I close my eyes, only a few things are added or different at all. In my imagination, there is an herb garden by my front door, with purple coneflower and St. John's Wort. German Chamomile grows along the sidewalk that I can pick and steep for tea, and my small brick patio holds a pair of rocking chairs. I'd sit in them with a friend or my husband and sip lemonade in the late springtime from mason jars as I wait for my daughter to get home on the bus, the dog laying calmly at my side until she arrives.

 Indoors there is comfort and cleanliness, but no sterility. We each have a comfortable bedroom and my husband and I each have an office. Mine has a over sized armchair near the window that pulls out into a twin bed for guests and a steel desk with a vintage rolling office chair. The walls are a pale green and there is artwork hanging- photographs mostly- with nature themes and barns. There are bookcases brimming with treasured reads, a soft rug and a small stereo with quiet music for inspiration. A sturdy apple crate stands on its end near the chair, doubling as an end table, a place where I can set my salt glazed coffee mug in early mornings. And here is where I write, where I work, how I provide for my family and give to the greater community with my words. No more CCTV, no more rampant consumerism, instead replaced with creativity and curiosity about the world.

Out back is where the real magic is. By the shed is a chicken tractor with a couple of girls for eggs. The garden they hang out in sometimes is just a few more feet back behind the swale. It's lush and green and a tad bit wild, full of tasty morsels like broccoli, snap peas and tomatoes, all loving grown from organic seed. Just a few feet beyond, the pasture begins. At the near edge sits the garden shed and sheep shelter, with a pile for compost between the pasture and garden, conveniently close to move the black gold to and from each place.
And in the pasture, little black and white horned creatures, our three Jacob ewes, peacefully enjoying the sunshine and hay.

None of this is there right now. Instead it lies cold and empty, damp earth out in the dark night, full of nothing but hope and promise. And I wait, sometimes impatiently, for the next step, with hope and faith that I am moving in the general direction of my dreams. I'll keep this in my journal and hold it close as my road map in case I get lost along the way. I know the road won't be easy and will quite surely be full of pitfalls and setbacks, impatience and frustration. Maybe with my tattered map in hand, together with my family, I'll still find my way.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Big Up Your Chest

At the risk of looking like a complete poser since Jenna and Ashley have already posted this today, I have to pass this on~ it is hilarious and amazing all at the same time. Enjoy! Dairy people represent!

Monday, November 15, 2010


his preference is isolation and
mine is community
but we fall each into
the others
out here in the wilds
there are few people to
choose, to really befriend~
for me, there is no other,
makes him more rare, like emeralds
i amongst my chickens and poetry
and him all absorbed
in gadgetry and advance
the people they gravitate towards
his kindness like moths to flame
and I alone remain
visualizing a world where things
are still done by hand
with effort and pride by
artisans while he
automates the world
with his smile,
an art all his own

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

now i'm ready

i once read in a book that to build a writing life i should write 1000 words and a "charming note" each day to someone in the publishing world that i admire- an author, an agent, an editor. now, it should be said that i hate rules and guidelines. they suck me in and make be believe there is one "right" way to do things and no other. i get fixated on them, to my detriment, and flounder around, searching for something to compare myself to and to measure myself by. usually, there is nothing there, and i am left a little devastated that i tried so hard without any real, traditional "success" to speak of. but who should measure my success and what that looks like but me? at any rate...
i read these books because i struggle every day, all day, with sitting still and what to say and how to say it and who is really listening anyways, and so forth.  sometimes everything can seem utterly pointless. but i want to write because i want to make art. art doesn't really need a reason for being. it simply is. and yet i over think it.
so being a fairly new writer, i don't know where to begin, and in my newness i thought, screw 1000 words  a day (some days i write 10 and others 3000- but i write everyday), but, because i'm shy and introverted by nature, i'll send out just a few charming notes on my terms, to people whom i idolize for their accomplishments, if for no other reason than to prepare for the crushing rejection that often comes with trying to get published. and so i did. keep in mind, my heroes are not grandiose, godlike creatures. they have jobs, families, responsibilities and struggle like i do to keep it all balanced. they've just been printed somewhere. that's all that sets us apart aside from geography, really. several weeks passed and i began to believe i came off in my letters as some kind of stalker and that my vain, if not lame, attempts at networking were pointless. and then i opened my email today.
inside, in two lovely little words, in the subject of an email: thank you.
i received responses from 2 of my little notes i cast to the wind, one from author Ashley English of Small Measures, and one from John Gladden, a local columnist for the Medina County Gazette. i am elated that both of them thought enough of me and my inquires as to how they succeed to take a moment and write back. i have printed them and tucked them lovingly in my journals, my mobile reminder that art needs no real purpose to be and if i just keep moving forward something might happen on it's own.
if the daily grind at my regular job had really sucked out my creative soul, this helped to coax it back a bit, because people i do not know but admire took notice that i exist. it really is the simple things that keep me going, like frost on the grass, a quick email or art for art's sake. i don't need strict regimented routines to have a writing life. i already do. but the charming notes are fun.
and now i'm ready to begin, braced a bit against rejection and failure and setting out, moving forward.

we could all do with a little nap in the sun

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

you and me against the world

I need to share this with you~ because it struck a cord with me~ and summarizes exactly how I feel. It is not my work, but that of Leo Babauta, author of the blog mnmlist, one of many I read when time allows.
I know I work for a corporation and I am sure you can all sympathize with the predicament of needing income to feed and house my family and the way that this sits directly juxtaposed to my beliefs. While I feel like a sell-out most days because of it, I console myself that I personally contribute only minimizing loss, primarily by theft, and do not directly drive the consumption spiral by my actions.
Your continued support as I develop a writing career is appreciated. Some day I'd like to be free of all this.

For your enjoyment, the mnmlist post:

minimalism vs. the corporation

Minimalism isn’t just about having fewer possessions or developing a beautifully minimalist aesthetic. It’s a striking out against the corporations that are increasingly in control of our lives.
Every aspect of our lives have been pervaded by corporations. We eat not just fresh, simple food grown from local farms, but processed food (sometimes “organic” processed food) packaged by corporations, or fried up at chain restaurants. Coffee brewed by Starbucks. Computers made by Apple. Programs from Microsoft and Adobe. Shoes by Nike, clothes by Gap, homes by Crate & Barrel. We spend time at the malls, watch TV shows and movies made by major entertainment conglomerates, read books and magazines and newspapers by those same conglomerates, listen to our iPods, watch on the iPad, talk on the iPhone or Blackberry, get our email through Google or Apple, say hello on Facebook, get our news from CNN and The New York Times Company, do our workout at Gold’s, eat our Weight Watchers, connect via Verizon.
And yes, I’m a part of this.
What part of our lives isn’t controlled by corporations? A tiny portion, one that’s shrinking rapidly.
Minimalism is a way to shake free of those shackles, slowly. It’s a way of saying, “I don’t need to buy more, to work more in order to get more of your products and services. In fact, I can be happy, content, joyful, creative without spending a single dime. All I need is the sun and the trees and the water and a good friend.”
Minimalism is finding ways to live that aren’t controlled by the corporations.
A human being is a living, feeling complex organism whose single goal is the perpetuation of its genes through survival and reproduction. A corporation is a non-living, non-feeling complex organization whose single goal is earning more profits for its shareholders. And while I’m not against making money, I do think that the pure profit motive isn’t always compatible with our survival interests as human beings.
Consider: a corporation wants to maximize profits, and to do so it will often cut corners, endangering our health and the environment. It will deceive us so that we will spend our money on its products. It will treat its employees horribly, to cut costs and drive up production. It will treat living, feeling animals like objects to be manufactured, cut up, processed, fried and packaged, ignoring the suffering of those animals because profits matter, not compassion. It will happily make us fat, because it knows that selling fried food devoid of nutrition is good for profits, while we die from heart disease and diabetes and cancer. Our earth is being devastated, which is good for profits but not for us as humans.
It’s time to stop this madness. The corporation is a hungry beast, and we keep feeding it. Let’s walk away, and let it die from hunger. Let’s free ourselves, and create a world where living things are more important than profits.

all my fridays are black

bumped and jostled and
dodging the flailing limbs of
the desperate middle aged bent on
hoarding piles of random plastic
all hail to
percent off! scream out the
last vestiges of paper: sale signs half
buried in the debris, a swath of
fabric madness tumbling
towards the floor
oh to find the exit to this pit of
mass consumption would be
blissful~ a sweet respite~ in the
distance i see men with
canes take flight, leaping shopping carts like
hurdles toward freedom
~the parking lot awaits!~
the roar is deafening: hundreds of
snippets of conversation gasp and fight for
air. grandmothers ponder mitten sizes out
loud to waiting husbands with
heavy, glazed over eyes and
sullen, featureless expressions like
so many mannequins.
 fiscal caution is tossed to the wind and they
throw in one in every color and
something for the dog too, never mind
that closets overflow already and
the cashier dutifully (but violently) cramming
treasures once discovered into
gray green bags by design destined to
camouflage and obscure their contents and
barely mustered niceties like the
"thanksforshoppings" and the
"comebacksoons" blend with the
siren song of tired shrieking toddlers.
meanwhile, tinny emotionless holiday carols croak
out over rusty speakers that also promise
bargains to be had in aisle three to
only the quickest and most nimble.

more and more sheep in human form pour in
through glass portals steamed over from the
hot breath of the rabid masses already
inside the concrete box and the mechanical
voice beckons more bodies to
assist at the checkout lanes in
stripping workers of their wages for
things they do not need
and i, like so many others who
feign at fighting crime, am
in quarantine alone in my tiny, windowless
room watching the evolution of
the disease of holiday chaos as
it blossoms before me.
from now until bleak february arrives
all my fridays are black.

Monday, November 1, 2010

All I Really Wanted Was Eggs

Found this on the laptop today. It seems my husband has been dreaming of little cluckers in the backyard too.
All I wanted was some company and eggs for baking. I think visions of Hot Mustard might have been dancing before his eyes. Who knows where this madness will ultimately lead us.
I have no idea where the photo came from- all credit to whomever you are though...
A Happy Monday to all!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

this barren patch of earth

It's downright nippy outside this morning and the wind is howling around the house, as I sit, tucked inside in warmth, admiring the sunshine and enjoying my morning coffee. It's just before work and everyone is fed and off to jobs and school and I have time to reflect and write. Just me, my coffee and my laptop, watching the day unfold with silent curiosity. It's this time of day when I begin to realize that no matter what I have planned, I have absolutely no idea what direction today will take. It's wait-and-see.

Looking out on my backyard, after a long and dry summer, my grass is finally vibrant and green, especially against the backdrop of the empty nakedness of the trees. It's stunning, really. Though all the world is winding down, to me this part of my corner of the earth is brimming with possibility.

When you look at this picture, you might see just a rectangle of brown or a pile of dirt. But I hope you don't. Don't be deceived. If you look really closely, with your heart and with faith, it is entirely different. When I look at it, I see sunflowers with their hairy, prickly stalks straight and tall, heads turned upward to the sky. I see deep purple eggplants and luscious crimson tomatoes handing on gnarled vines, large green leaves of bean plants and light blush of sweet pea blossoms. I can smell the moisture of the soil and feel its softness as it squishes between my toes. This is what it really looks like, all hope and promise and tasty things. I am so excited I can hardly wait.

I think I'd like to face my days like this, more with openness and eager anticipation. I want to see the possibilities that lie just past the obvious. Busyness blinds me sometimes to what isn't just inches from my face. It's depressing living that way, seeing only dirt and no flowers. I want my days to be lush and sweet-smelling.

So all day today and then tonight, when the day has darkened and the mercury dipped to nearly freezing, from inside these toasty warm walls, I will hold in my mind visions of the salad bar that my yard will become, and bear in mind that I need to practice patience to see promise.

I can almost taste the tomatoes.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Muse is Plaster and Lathe

My daughter took a photograph of an old white house, a snapshot in time from a friend's homestead we visited today. I wished the walls could talk, so perhaps I'll lend them my voice...

I'm imagining in my head tonight a story of a young girl, perhaps near fourteen, who lives in the country on her family's farmstead in the 1870s- with draft horses and chickens for her companions. A gnarled old oak tree stands by the roadside, perhaps, and she is at odds with a local boy named Jacob, whose family lives near the local church.

I picture her in a two story clapboard house that's been whitewashed, but not too recently, and she sleeps on a straw mattress set atop a rope bed, with calico linens and a well-loved patchwork quilt. Her favorite patch on the quilt is a bit of chocolate brown corduroy from her grandfather. It smells faintly of grass and tobacco smoke.

There's a garden under the bedroom window with morning glories, daisies, german chamomile and black-eyed susans, and when the window is left open on cool evenings in the early summer, she can almost smell the dampness of the earth as the night air wafts through the room. Moonlight sets the wooden floor, worn smooth by the years, aglow in blue light. Her name, I think, is Rachel.

Her favorite place is the hayloft in the family's bank barn, where she spends hours hiding with her cat Clementine, who is a tortoiseshell mixture of blacks and browns, with shiny, smooth fur, other than the cockleburs that often get stuck behind her ears as she chases mice and mischief along the edge of where the wheat field meets the forest. In the loft, amongst the sweet sticky smell of the hay and the scratching sounds of mice searching for stray grains, Rachel finds a space all tucked away from the world, and it is here she imagines herself as many things, chief among them a world-famous artist.

Maybe someday soon you can meet Rachel as she comes to life in my imagination and watch her grow here on the blog...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Abundance and Antiques

I'm a bit old fashioned.

I like my buildings with character: cupolas and cornices, smooth brick and weathered siding.  I like to do things the hard way, from scratch. I bake bread for my family, (plan to) grow my own vegetables and knit all our hats and scarves. I prefer used things to new. For me, antique shops and thrift stores are like a trip back in time, and remind me a bit of an archeological dig. There's layers of history in each of those places if you know how to look.I like the cozy feel of a fireplace, the taste of homemade gingerbread, yellowed photographs of my town's history and the texture of wool.
The comfort of an tattered quilt, the smell of the pages of an old book- these things are golden to me.
Stuff you bought back then was made to last and with pride. These types of things get better with age.

Autumn also brings out in me this bizarre hoarding instinct. I feel compelled to stuff every corner of my living space with food, clothing or blankets. With all the trappings of modern convenience, I am sure my family would survive without 20 pounds of bread flour stashed in the freezer. My husband routinely reassures me that the apocalypse is probably not tomorrow and that I work next to a Walmart. Chances are I can get whatever I want fairly easily when the need arises. Thanks to a close network of friends and family, we've never lived in poverty, but yet, somewhere in my core, it's like my very soul remembers a winter without mittens and is terrified to experience it again. I think I inherited my grandmother's Depression mentality.

If I'm not anticipating my family's survival needs, I'm thinking about the upcoming Christmas holiday, and how, as an American, I'm supposed to help the economy by indulging a rabid need to consume and then giving the stuff away. With the frost on the ground in the morning as my daughter gets on the bus, it's hard to deny that winter is well on it's way. Working in retail, it feels as if I am drowning in a sea of stockings, candy canes and Santa Claus starting twenty minutes after I finished back-to-school shopping all the way through to Groundhog Day, when I simply can't take anymore consumerism and just stop paying attention. I loathe the holiday season. It's become about "stuff" and greed and it disgusts me. The holidays are certainly not eco-friendly either, as half of what we give and receive either replaces other perfectly good things that get tossed in the trash or ends up in a landfill itself after a few days of amusement. Utterly pointless.

So this autumn morning finds me thinking about all I am appreciative of and the spirit of giving. I want this Christmas season to be different when it comes. I want to share what I love with the people I love and encourage them to remember and cherish a humbler time in our history. I don't mind gifts, but they really ought to be useful. I don't want to give people "things" so much as feelings: warmth, joy, beauty, happiness and gratitude. Our world needs more of these rather than more plastic crap.

So when you find a loaf of bread, a scarf or a used book in your stocking this year, it will be from me, with a little bit of who I am and all my love and affection inside with it. Let's save the sugarplum dreams for the children and let them have theirs, but you and I, let's feel the earth sigh a bit in relief. Maybe when the kids grow up they will remember our example and appreciate the gifts they already have a little more.

My house is made up of mostly flour and yarn anyways and I can't find a path to get back outside until I give some of it away.

Share yourself with me- in the comments- tell me what you really love, want or want to give others this holiday.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

evolution of progress

my eyes are heavy and
my toes cold and i
write these words for you
to show you my perception of
you just for now

i often wait so patiently to
hear you speak and then you
walk away and leave me
wondering what
just happened

what was the purpose
of it?

honestly i wonder if
you intend to do this,
treat the world as if it's
such an inconvenience
to you...

do you ever see
the sun as it
warms and lights the
faces of daisies?
do you notice other
people as they
walk past you on
the street?

i imagine that somewhere
inside you actually
might feel pleasure, love,
and pain instead of
writhing in an endless
list of things to do

what is to be lost by
letting down your guard and
being simply human to
someone other than yourself?
does outward vulnerability show
weaknesses you will not
even unto yourself
admit that you have?

i consider you a mystery my
mind cannot unravel
but want to share that i
am very saddened that you seem
to live asleep.

when your life has reached
its autumnal phase and you
lay face up wondering
in the grass just why
you were here i hope
you will not be lost and
pondering much as
you leave me

what was the purpose
of it?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Just Because

Hi everyone! My newest article is posted over at my page. Been working on little bits 'o' fiction- finding the time to write 1000 words a day is kind of a challenge! I've been getting something down though, mostly pieces of stories. Today's was about a 22 year old artist who was running from a man she had met in the city who was stalking her. She met him while sketching pigeons in charcoal pencil down near the markets and he offered her a job at his antique shop. Still working on developing the characters and setting, and will really only write it until it bores me I think. It is kind of morphing into other story lines in my head and spawning other ideas... Will share the finished product though when (and if) it arrives.
Listening to these two songs (among many) as I am writing now- just to share. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Communion at the burn pile

The night air is cool and crisp. A faint breeze carries the scents of the farms nearby: the hay, cows and the musty smell of wet leaves. The dark and stillness let me remember for a moment that in a short amount of time it will be too cold to really enjoy my yard. Soon I'll prefer mittens and cocoa to the grass and night sky. The year has passed so fast. My shoulders tense a bit as I consider all the things I still have yet to do to prepare for winter.
I can't shut off from the worries of the day sometimes. The should-haves and need-tos too often drown out the wants, wishes and dreams until they fade into the background. I know this about myself- that sometimes my focus is so deep everything turns mundane, routine and dull. I push too hard and plan too much. All fades into grayness and begins to seem so purposeful that it hardly feels like living. And yet out here the trees are so vibrant and the weather so beautiful it seems a shame to waste it. I'm surrounded by such simple beauty if I would simply open my eyes. I want to fill my lungs with it and pull the season in close around me. I want to, I need to, slow down and savor it like the gift it is. Too soon it will have left.
As the sky grows darker, the chill sets in. So does the dew, and our shoes are now wet and slick. I breathe in deep. This is my season. 
We stand silently in awe as flames lick the sky, my husband, daughter and I. All three of us are captivated for just a moment by the flicker and glow. There is a reverence in this firelight. I move in closer for warmth and am grateful for the reason to pause. So often pulled different directions by life, here we are together again, if just for tonight. I feel suddenly both safe and whole.
I just love it out here.

Friday, October 1, 2010


In crisp autumn air, my footsteps crunch
the technicolor memories now laid over grass.
Yellow and auburn gowns at their feet,
the stark trees stand, shivering and nude.

All the world seems emptier, abandoned,
a shell of its former self.
Summer's vibrancy whisked away on the wind.
There is no room for pretense here.

If I close my eyes, the rustling sounds like rain and
if I am not careful
all I pretend I am
might get washed away.

Moments have passed we cannot use any more
and, our cloaks surrendered,
the trees and I
wait for spring.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Looking Forward

The seasons have changed and with them I need to shift my "farming" focus from containers on my back porch to planning for next year.
I think we have decided (finally, officially) on plans for a chicken coop. Well, it's more like an A-frame ark that we can modify to be warmer in the winter fairly simply with a little ingenuity. Dad offered all the lumber in his backyard free of charge and I asked to borrow his tools and skills as a birthday gift. Hopefully we will tackle this sometime this winter.
Meanwhile, rain falls on the backyard- my future garden- and I have absolutely no idea where to begin to plan. This presents a problem.
Sure, it seems simple enough. Dig a hole. Put in seeds. Wait. Pick and Eat. Repeat. But- whoa, Nellie- first I guess we should decide WHERE it is going to be. Hmmm... no clue. And apparently I need to prep the ground for next spring, turn it over or something and let the winter work it's magic if we aren't going to go the no-till, lasagna gardening method (which is my preference- why move stuff twice, right?). One version I got of this step involves killing off the grass with Roundup. This is where I think I got hung up in the process because I really loathe Monsanto and am not too keen on purchasing their products if there is any kind of alternative that actually works. All I can find on Google by way of a natural alternative is white vinegar, so I think we will try that, as soon as the ground dries out again enough to try (and I can make sure Rich agrees on placement).
Since we are off and running doing new things around here, we are adding the new freelance gig to the mix. The link is here, and, although the site doesn't display the content yet, there is an article I wrote (really!) about local foods- so check it out...please. And tell your friends.
How's this read for a sleep deprived, kind of rushed update? It will get better- I promise....

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Everything Must Have a Beginning I Guess

I just got "hired" as a freelance columnist for for the Akron market writing about green parenting. It is a paying gig, though not very much, as it pays on a per-hit basis (maybe a penny or something like that- didn't really pay attention to that part). Not something that makes a living, but it will give me some kind of publishing cred to put on my resume and include when I send queries out to magazines and such. An added plus is I retain all the rights and can "cross post" anything I want that I wrote.

Should be kind of interesting to try at least. I'll keep you posted as to when I am up and running.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why I am Shy

Check out this post: The Four Levels of Social Entrapment
This pretty much sums it up- Allie from Hyperbole and a Half had me rolling on the floor. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


The street was paved with red bricks that were worn smooth with age. "Are you okay?" I asked.
Looking down at his feet, he silently shook his head and began to cry. "That was the hardest thing I have ever done," he replied.
Crisp leaves crunched under foot as we walked silently in the sun, the quiet only broken by the occasional acorn as it popped from its cap and plummeted to the ground. Leaving my aunts and uncles behind, we moved swiftly, as if we would simply walk forever. I had nothing to say but "I'm sorry." Somehow the words just wouldn't come.
I held his hand and just let him talk, recalling the days they all played in the creek near the railroad trestle at the end of his grandmother's street. His stories seemed to ease his pain and he shared more memories as we walked on between the gray and weathered stones. She was a remarkable woman, an inspiration, and his best friend.

Bricks gave way to blacktop. We reached the chapel and stopped, waiting for the rest of the family to join us as she drifted further away from us on the wind. "We will still have memories," I said, and we collected acorns and pods from the Catalpa trees to plant at home as a reminder of the day. "We'll have our trees," he said. "We'll just have to take good care of them."

Meanwhile, out across the rolling hills, the earth was preparing for its long rest, pulling on a colorful cloak of leaves and preparing to hold its children near as the days grew colder and shorter. I can do nothing more than keep holding his hand as long as I am given that gift.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Crooked Still is Coming!!

To the Cedar Valley Settlers Festival in North Olmstead this weekend. Thank the Cleveland Metroparks for the free show (and to Jenna from Cold Antler Farm for the recommendation)!

Check them out Sunday the 19th @ Frostville Museum in Rocky River Reservation.
YAY! Crooked Still!

Crooked Still - Half Of What We Know

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

25 things

25 things I want to do in my life:
  • gather eggs from my own chickens
  • plant my own garden
  • sit on an old quilt under my trees and read
  • hug my daughter
  • walk in the woods with my dog, going no where in particular
  • can vegetables
  • knit a whole sweater (adult sized)
  • spend a weekend alone in a cabin in the woods with my husband
  • build something with my dad
  • make a pieced quilt
  • make a friend that just stops by to visit unannounced, to sit and have tea
  • pick flowers and put them in a glass milk jar on my kitchen table
  • buy all my food locally for one week (at least)
  • go tent camping with my family in a park
  • visit Hale Farm again
  • write a novel (or several)
  • cuddle with my husband on the couch
  • go to garage sales with my mom
  • do yoga or hike every day for exercise
  • have another baby (?)
  • feed a jersey cow
  • gather stories from my family and write them down in a book
  • take my family out to cut down a tree one year for the holidays, then buy a live one and plant it another year
  • grow fruit trees
  • card and spin wool to make yarn

Monday, September 13, 2010

Just This

The next week and a half of my life are just packed with madness. There is so much on my schedule at work I have run out of room on the little squares of calendar. I am splitting my time between two stores now and feel like I am going to be lucky to show up at the right place on the right day. Oh- the insanity!!

No- really- I am trying not to think about it much because one of the things on my to-do list I simply loathe and am not at all looking forward to, and that is prepping for inventory. I hate all the sifting through dusty things and making sure everything is organized and labeled properly. It's drudgery. At least this year I will have some help in the form of the auditor, Christina. Company's good at any point in a job where you are mostly alone.

Trying to find my routine at the new store is daunting too. I am pretty shy, generally, so I am hiding in the office a lot, and it is very dull. I'm not really sure what to do with myself, so I find myself concocting these lists, with a million little tedious items on them, just to have something to do. It's like crossing something off this list, even it was my own invention, gives my day meaning or something sick like that. I am fully aware that I am the inventor of all my stress. Mostly I think I am just kind of lonely.

The oddest thing is that part of my motivation for going to the new store (aside from being closer to home) was to obtain a slower pace that would allow me to leave work at work and have more time for home, and for reconnecting with what is important to me: my family, my "future farm", cultivating a sense of community and practicing writing.

Sometimes what I do makes no damn sense, even to myself.

So I am focusing this week on what I can control. I am trying to remind myself often throughout the day that all that I need to focus on is my presence of mind. I need to remember that it is when I stop trying so hard that all the good things come to me of their own accord. (See? Even as I write, my head spins. Just the curse of creativity I guess.)

I need to be still and be me. Just now- just this.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Settling In

Getting used to changes all around lately- a new schools for Lexi means new friends, a new store to work at meets new co-workers for me, a new skill/career goal means more time spend honing my craft.
It may not always be good, but get set for more frequent posts.
Nothing beats practice (and persistence) when it comes to trying new things.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cider Weather

The last of my vacation time has been spent and the sky grows cloudy here. Even though the calendar would disagree, it's officially fall.
Every year about this time I get nostalgic for the things I remember we did when I grew up here: the apple harvest in Brunswick at Mapleside Farms, the fall foliage festival, hayrides and hot caramel cider. My roots are here- this is what I know.
Fall is my favorite season, but it's also a time for reflection. As my birthday approaches, I watch the world around me start to change, the earth pulsing with a last flash of color before the decay of winter sets in. It makes me think about aging, how fleeting and cyclical all of time is, how I should enjoy it daily since it doesn't last.
In a few weeks I am making a trip to PA with my dad so we can scatter my grandmother's ashes in her hometown. I've never been there before and am sad that we are going for this purpose, but at the same time, I am eager to see what it is like there and where she came from. It is really strange, but the more I do for myself, the more connected I feel to her. Each time I make bread by hand or cook from scratch, it feels like she is a little bit closer. It seems to work that way with my dad too. Every time I plant something, I know he approves and it gives us something in common. My in-laws were here this week and we connected too, over food.
Bless this little old lady that used to live here. I am indebted a bit to her for having her home to share with my family and draw me closer to where I come from. This house keeps pulling me closer to who I am, giving me a purpose, and making me stop and reflect on what I want to share with my family and the world. Right now, it's a warm wool sweater and some cider, but hopefully soon it will be my voice in my writing too.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Special Kind of Lonesome

Today was another in a series of firsts- the first day at a new school and the first day my daughter rode the school bus. I know, nine is a little old for the first time on the bus thing, but we've never lived where she went to school before. She's always depended on me or her grandma to take her to school.
This morning, I watched her climb aboard and into a little independence (and, I'll admit, died a little inside). My little girl is not so little anymore, and I guess when you get to nine years old, it's not as cool if you wave to your mom or she blows you kisses as you drive away- apparently, it's just embarrassing- so I refrained. She seemed okay, mostly just a little nervous since the neighbor didn't get on the bus with her. I think it was harder for me, really.
My husband has said he doesn't get why I always take the first day of school off from work every year. It's for this: the first time all summer when I get a day of peace, all to me, but it is bittersweet. In the same moment, I am forced to remember that time slips away; as I age, she slowly grows up and further away from me. The first day of school is as much about beginnings as it is the ending of another year of her childhood.
I take the day off to mourn that loss.

This is the good kind of lonesome though- the setting-free-the-things-you-love kind. Can't wait till she comes home and tells me all about the rest of her firsts, today and in the future. The dog and I will be happy for the break to the silence.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Spreading the Poultry Love

My co-worker, Teresa, and her husband Jerry are also taking up farming, but for environmental reasons. I feel quite blessed to know them. It's kind of like having a personal trailblazer ahead of you, trying things out before you and helping you along. They are raising poultry this year and a variety of produce, including some heirloom varieties. I think their hope is to sell the produce- Teresa has said Jerry takes some to market now- not sure if they are thinking of a CSA or not.
Teresa is my "chicken friend". She is my mentor on all things poultry and is patiently waiting for us to have a coop. She says she has chickens to add to our operation- a sort of living housewarming gift- when we are ready.
I need a snow blower for the coming winter before I can even consider a chicken coop. So no chickens this year, sadly.
So, instead she brought me some lovely eggs to try from her chickens and ducks, all organic, unpastuerized and free range. The dozen I got is called the "fashion pack"- they are all so beautifully unique are artfully arranged in the carton. Sounds SO deliciously yummy and local. I can't wait to try them tomorrow!
In my case, yes, the egg comes before the chicken.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Of Worm Farms and Patience

One of my favorite discoveries as I grow older is that if you stop trying so hard and just concentrate on having fun, sometimes the good things just come to you. Take as an example my daughter's "worm farm" she created at my father's house as he planted his garden this spring. What began in a child's imagination as simple exploration of the dirt around her turned into something beautiful, something edible even...
After sitting around outside for several weeks in the bucket she built her "worm farm " in, a plant appeared inside. It followed us to our new home soon after, and, since we have no garden, found a home in an old landscape planter at the front corner of our house, because it was fun and seemed the right thing to do with a worm farm plant. We started watching and watering. And it grew. We waited. And it flowered. We waited some more. And, behold, tomatoes! (They are pretty darn tasty too, I might add.)
I found a few other things that spontaneously grew here too, with no prompting from me. Like these:

These successful surprises led to other experiments in buckets with dirt, this time my own (and my husband's)...and for the first time ever...
there is food on my porch and in my yard. I am so blessed.
Next year, a garden.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The View from Out Here

When I have my morning coffee, this is what I see- a vision of the idyllic Ohio countryside, right outside my house, with Jersey cows, chirping birds and, if the dew point is right, some fog rolling across the back.
Now- don't be shocked- this is not a picture of my house. It's my neighbors. But in combination with the Internet, it is close-by inspiration for what I really want to do with my life: I want to write and I want to farm.

This blog is (hopefully, to become) a chronicle of my evolution, from a suburban housewife and retail employee into a freelance author/photographer and farmer.
My husband, daughter and I bought our little slice of heaven this spring, and right now there's not much to talk about as we get settled. We have no livestock and no big garden (yet), but we do have 2 cats, a very furry dog, and solid mid-western work ethic. There will be lots of learning along the way I am sure, and probably some tears to come as well, as we will learn a lot of it as we go, but for right now, we're just getting started...