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!