Sunday, October 07, 2018

part of the human heart

First you'd have to understand just how WHITE it is here.  I mean, it is WHITE.  I'm not sure what percentages there are, but like 2 or 3 percent black?  Yep, I just checked.  95% white.  Now, I've lived some places that were not so white.  Where I grew up was more like 6% black.  That's still pretty white.  I've lived in a majority black population for a few years, although there was enough segregation there to mean that I lived in a pretty racially even population.

So anyway.  The anti-Christ is President (that or Hitler, someone really really bad) and it's been two years of trying to do something to ameliorate that horrid situation, and two years of blame and mud thrown around a little indiscriminately.  And mid-terms are now a month away.  The pace is incredible now, unrelenting.  But you don't really dare to hope, just to ameliorate.  Ameliorate.  Meanwhile there are people who don't really think anything is much wrong, and people who are fine with the Christofascist American Taliban (CAT).  You believe there are enough of us if we just vote.  It has been two years of introverts feeling like the fate of democracy rests on our shoulders, introvert-ness be damned.  Meetings, protests, meetings, talking to people, calling.

And that last part, talking to people, strangers, indiscriminately, whew.  Knocking doors, calling, leaving messages, even talking to folks randomly in the grocery store.

One of my grocery stores is more diverse than the rest.  It is, not surprisingly, called ghetto food city, although they just rebuilt it so it is bigger and quite nice, and truly it has *the best* crew working there.

And it is here that my story really begins.  I've been in there, with this burning to make sure people are registered, and to talk about voting, and there have been black people there that I really want to talk with . . . and I'm afraid.  I'm afraid to impose.  I'm afraid to be judged.  I'm afraid to offend.  I'm afraid I'm offensive.  And I don't end up saying anything.  I know quite well they could see me as enemy, that the privilege of my whiteness comes at their expense, that I shouldn't be looking at them to save me, but lawd knows I can't count on white women to help me out.

And then Kavanaugh gets confirmed.  And then, Bredesen, who was not my first choice to run but who the scion Democrats SWORE was a great candidate because he could bring in the MONEY, and so hey, he's within the margin of error and so I go out and canvas for him, and then he says that if he'd been in the Senate, he would have voted FOR the hysterical maniacal assaulter partisan perjurer missing documentation not actually investigated judge.  And you just want to give up.  Politicians who will pander to anything for a vote and who stand for little or nothing ARE the problem, and are what elected tRump.  That and that most Christians have never met Jesus and instead worship money or "the market" and thus tRump.  It's a gut punch.  It's a low blow.

But we can't give up.  We have to hope.  And what will come?  I don't know.  How unsafe for my daughters will it be?  I don't know.  How bad can it get?  I don't know.  And I feel like giving up.  I feel despair.  Hopelessness.  Fear.  Sorry for myself.  And then I think of the rest of the world.  Children in Syria.  Refugees crossing a sea.  Villages facing Ebola.  Children in cages and parents deported, facing separation and death.  And I thought of black people, every day.  Even we have had discussions with our kids about how to interact with the police, but not because we thought they might get shot by them.  No one is afraid of us, or suspicious of us, because of our color.  I'm not pulled over for driving while white, and last time I was pulled over, for a burned out headlight, it was a good interaction.

We must persevere.  We must hold to what is right and good and just and hold and hold and hold.  We might have to scream some.  Voter registration drives in the south in the 60s had folks killed.  We must hold anyway.  Wealthy old white men and the women who are dependent on them might scream back.  Change is not comfortable.  We have to make a more perfect union, with liberty and justice for all, not a few wealthy white psuedo-Christians exploiting everyone and everything else.  Women's rights are human rights, and bodily autonomy is a thing.  Black lives matter.  Cops may not shoot unarmed POC.  The environment matters to us all.  No one should be hungry.  Public education is important.  Healthcare is a human right.  We need to not bomb people all around the world.  We need to not consume the planet up.  We need to look for win-win not win-lose.  Cooperation needs to be valued over competition.  Frugality and cleverness needs to be valued over ostentatiousness.

We are part, part of the human heart.  Act like it, damn it.


Wednesday, October 03, 2018

pay the piper

The piper must be paid.  The dance must be danced.  You can pay in joy and honesty or in bitter regret.  And probably a few other combinations.

It irritates me when people know exactly how it is about something they have absolutely no idea about.  I mean, it is fine to have an idea, it is fine to have a way to think about it, but it is not fine to tell everyone else how it is, that they must see it exactly that way, or that, well, even that you are gonna see your momma again.  Much less the rainbow bridge shitstorm crap.

Well anyway, two years ago I thought Clyde was dead.  Turned out, we think, EPM.  Maybe spinal lesion.  We treated EPM.  There was improvement, but there was continued cycling.  Nothing very bad, some really good.  But every now and again, he'd get down and couldn't get up.  And we would flip him, and he'd get up.  But you know (and this you DO know) that isn't going to last forever: There is going to come the day he doesn't get up.

It came.  It was hard.  It wasn't pretty.  It wasn't easy.  But there are seasons.  I had all that anxiety when he came.  He was so very very good for me, stretching me, testing me, teaching me.  And now he is gone again.  The ground is prepared, the seed is planted, the corn grows, the bears eat half of it, the corn is harvested, the ground is fallow.

And how do I look at it?  I doubt very seriously that we are one thing.  I doubt very seriously that we can see things as other than "one things" and separate in this incarnation.  I bet we probably see truest in fever dreams and that funny sleep before wakefulness and highs and hallucinations.  I think attachment is a root of a lot of ills.  When we think we have to know exactly how things are.

I think the piper costs a lot less when we let him call his own songs.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

what fools these mortals be

I am disappointed in myself.  Or disturbed by myself.  Or something.

Non-violence.  What is it?

I'm pretty sure it is violent to scream in someone's face, "You are going to hell!" especially when I don't believe in hell but she does.

Calling them fools, I'm good with that.  I find it amusing to the point of laughable when bulldog woman says to me, "It will be a terrifying day when you stand before the Lord to answer for this," when "this" is preventing her from harassing women seeking healthcare.  And at least one couple walking in found it supportive when I yelled, "You all go on in!  You're fine!  Don't listen to these fools!  You do what you need to do!  They don't give a shit about you!"

People, go the fuck away.  Believe over in your little corner whatever fantasy you want to if it helps you sleep at night.  If it actually helps you to be a better person, great.  Offer it up.  Offer up any of the support for those things that you want, but a WILLING AUDIENCE is a part of free speech.  And people going in to a health clinic, or me for that matter, are NOT a willing audience.

Truth should also be part of free speech.  That fetus you have labeled as 8 weeks is NOT what an 8 week fetus looks like.  (Not that what it looks like matters but you can't actually tell a human from a lot of other animals at that point, and there are still tails involved.)  Satan is the father of liars and YOU ARE A LIAR.  If person-hood begins at conception, what about the 60% of all fertilized eggs that completely fail to implant?  What was God thinking with that?  All those little babies burning in hell for the glory of God?  Like anybody knows anything about after (or before) life anyway. 



But I'm supposed to be talking about being upset with me, am I not?  Well, maybe I'm not so upset.  They have this fake, "Hey let's talk" thing going when all it is is, "You are wrong and I'm going to tell you about how you are wrong."  I'm saying, "You go be wrong to yourself over there and leave me and these other people out of it already."  Geez, the Crusades were WRONG people.  It is STILL wrong.  You believe in The Great Commission (which wasn't put in there until later but hey, never mind Biblical SCHOLARSHIP), great.  See how you can live so that someone ASKS you about your God.

You believe abortion is WRONG?  But that a crisis pregnancy is a great opportunity to introduce a warped view of Christ to someone?  And that's why you don't want readily available birth control or real and accurate sex education?  Because IF your interest was to continue the decline in the rate and number of abortion, comprehensive sex ed and freer access to contraception is the way to go.

OMG I'm writing this at the library because my laptop lost too many letters and composing on the phone is horrid and I don't want to go home and it is too rainy to ride and. . .

. . . and two women near me on other computers are both homeless, likely addicts, unlikely completely honest in what they were saying but likely as honest as they can be in that moment, and it was just heartbreaking and yet, nope, I did not say, "Ya'll just come on home with me now."  I didn't even offer a fiver because I didn't want to admit I was listening to their too loud for the library conversation.  And I'm like, you know, real people need real help.  Right here.  Right now.  And you are off to Africa or DR or Arkansas or the Women's Health Center?

WTF.  You are going to hell.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

doctor your religion is oppressing me

Do you remember a time when you didn't worry about your doctor's politics or whether he was part of some whacky religious cult?  My dad was a pharmacist and everyone knew he went to the Methodist church but it didn't affect his pharmacy-ing any.  The optometrist went to First Baptist; so what?  When the Indian (from India) doctors came, no one worried too much about their religion either, even if turbans and jewels in the faces of the women was . . . interesting.  I still remember when my mother went to her doctor friend's mother's funeral, a Sikh funeral:  She came away saying, "They believe pretty much what we all believe."  Well, not with any depth of understanding they don't and yet, viewed another way, viewed within a "we're all the family of man" paradigm, yes.  Love.  Love wins.  Or as my friend says, "You can never really go far wrong if you choose kindness."

So I have my first doctor's appointment in almost 20 years.  It's TMI but I want an IUD out.  That's been in there for almost 20 years (the last doctor's appointment).  I am able to go to the doctor because I finally qualified to buy insurance in the marktplace.  Thanks Obama.  No thanks state of Tennessee for not expanding Medicaid just so you could thumb your nose at the black President.  I was assigned a primary care physician by the insurance company.  My PCP thinks IUDs cause abortions so his receptionist told me to just ask him for a referral to a GYN and not mention the IUD.  Well, thanks for being helpful receptionist but DON'T YOU SEE A PROBLEM WITH THIS?

I was blissfully unaware that this could even BE a problem until a few years ago when one of our daughters wanted to access birth control.  We made an appointment with the PA at our long time doctor's office, a doctor I dearly loved.  I still love him, I still acknowledge all the help he gave us.  I remember at one time he viewed his job for us as, "I'm your consultant, you are in charge."  Well, somewhere along the way, that changed and that change betrayed his patients.  His PA did not even know about the newer forms of birth control, and it didn't matter because *THEY DON'T PRESCRIBE BIRTH CONTROL* because they think it is all abortifacient.  Face palm.  HELLOOOOOOOOO, you are an internist and pediatrician and you refuse to prescribe BIRTH CONTROL?  Can an ER doctor refuse to provide transfusions because he's that weird religion that doesn't "believe" in them?  I mean, sure, don't use birth control, fine.  BUT YOU ARE A DOCTOR!   The PA kept saying, "Have you looked at the side effects?"  Honey, are you aware of the side effects of PREGNANCY?  She even asked if there was a forthcoming marriage!  Like it would even be ANY of her God Damned Business.

So anyway, I about recover from that trauma, and it was a trauma despite it not actually being me but to lose the doctor who I had so trusted was and still is a trauma.  To even think that I trusted him feels like a mistake.  So I finally get a chance to go to a doctor.  And the doctor the insurance company assigns me to is . . . a member of a cult church that does not believe in birth control, actively works to prevent women having access to healthcare, does not allow women in leadership positions at all, and believes homosexuality is a sin.  This is a church that has actively not allowed people to "leave" and when they did anyway, they were shunned.  This is a cult that people have moved from all over the country to be a part of.  This is a cult where they laugh about drinking kool aid.

All the while the Republicans in government work as hard as they can to make sure that I can't actually access healthcare anymore.

I'm a little stressed about this.  Be nice, hide it all, get what I need?  Or confront the bastard and cause enough of a stink to initiate change?  I am so tired of these religious bigot fake liberty fuckers.

If my language offends you more than the so-called medical system and the actions of these so-called doctors, something is wrong with you.  The language is BECAUSE of the outrage.   What are we doing allowing people like this to be doctors?  What are we doing assigning women to have to go to doctors like this?

UPDATE:  It's kind if a non-issue in that we've figured out at the last minute that we can access the GYN of our choice without a referral so we're cancelling the appt with doctor culto.  But the reality is, it IS an issue.   And the reality is, I'm not through this process yet either.



Thursday, July 26, 2018

garden dinner by description

We've been taking turns with dinner, all of us, punctuated by a known snack party night and days we know we're going to be out or are just exhausted.  So I said, "I've got Thursday."  I knew there were things in the garden that needed to be eaten.  It is funny that that is sometimes the hardest part of the garden -- getting it out, getting it up, getting it eaten.  I said I'd cook everything that was ready to be eaten.  That turned out to be:  kale, new potatoes, green beans, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes both ripe and green, country gentleman corn.

I actually didn't take any photographs of the process.

The husband and I got in a hassle on the way down to harvest.  Because, you know, real life.  I picked beans from three different spots.  He graveled out a few potatoes and cut the kale.  I gathered cucumbers off of vines that are dying. Mice ate the plants meant to replace these that were in the greenhouse, more's the pity.  He gathered the ripe tomatoes and the largest green ones.  We picked the corn last.  Then we realized we'd forgotten the onions so he went back for them.

The bag with the tomatoes was splitting.  I had the green beans and the corn in a peach basket already, but I had to tie the tomato bag to that handle to keep it from falling out and support it from splitting, so I ended up walking up the hill to the house with the basket balanced on my head as it was too heavy to otherwise carry.  The little button on my cap didn't help but it IS a handy way to carry things.

I sliced cucumbers and onions into vinegar and water in one bowl; vineger, sugar, and water in another bowl.  We strung the beans while the kale soaked in salt water to get the bugs and slugs off.  I chopped the kale.  We shucked the corn.  I washed the potatoes.

The kale was a whole big pot, once wilted just covered the bottom.  After it was steamed, I added salt and oil and "fried" it to reheat it.  The beans and big new potatoes went in a pressure cooker with some fatback.  The small new potatoes I boiled, then drained, put milk over it, added pepper and some thickening.  I put a pot of water on to have hot to put the corn in for just a few minutes right when we were ready to eat.

I ran out of steam before I got the green tomatoes fried.  That will have to be another supper's endeavor.  I did do filling for potential later fried pies -- raspberry and blueberry.
***************************
Rave reviews.  Even from the goats who got the green bean strings, and the rabbits who got the corn shucks and cucumber peelings

Friday, June 29, 2018

Fried Pies

I don't know for sure that I haven't done a "how to" on fried pies before, I didn't go look.  It ain't like it's hard or anything.  But everybody needs fried pies in their life!

So it is really simple and it is really local and it is really cultural evidently.  It is certainly important in my culture.  First make your filling.  Any fruit.  Slightly tart is best.  A little thickened makes for less messy eating.  Today we had cooked apples with breakfast (apples peeled, cored, sliced, cooked with a bit of butter and some sugar, usually brown, how much depending on the apples).  I used what was left of them and added the blueberries we picked on our early foray into the garden.  Cooked up a little, added a little cinnamon because I like it.  *And let it cool.*

The crust is just a biscuit.  You can make them yourself but we usually just use the cheap canned biscuits.  Buttermilk, not flaky and for goodness sakes not butter flavored (with those little butter lumps in there?  I have no idea if they still make those but I tried to use those once a long long time ago and it was a mistake!).  Cheap, little ones, not big ones.  Not frozen ones.  Canned biscuits.
Roll them out on a flowered board to sort of a circle.  Pretty thin.
Spoon some filling into the middle.  Just all in the middle, it'll find its way to where it needs to be.  Probably less filling than you think too.  Fold over and seal.  Pay attention to the sealing.
Then fry them up in a skillet with a little oil.  Probably medium heat.  It doesn't take very long.
Coat with cinnamon sugar.  We make these often enough, and a few other things that require cinnamon sugar, that we keep a mason jar with it premixed in our pantry.  It is just white sugar and cinnamon mixed to taste.  We add to it every batch.  Do this right out of the skillet, white they are still a little oily and hot so it will stick good.
Let the eaters know which plate has the first ones fried on it because they will be cool enough to eat.  And they'll soon be gone.

This process is much helped by having a person for each station: one person trying to do it all will end up with, well, it isn't fun anymore that way.  It's fun to do it together.  Then everyone gets to eat!

Call them turnovers at your own peril.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Skills, people, skills. Practical skills.

I pulled into the barn just as he pulled up to the upper fence line in his ATV.  With a dog (do not bring your dog to someone else's farm), he crossed the fence (electric, or supposed to be), with a bucket, and started calling for the horses.  WTF.  I thought, I better go up there and see what this dude is about.  On my way, I called and found out that almost assuredly he was the rich "developer" who'd bought the adjoining property and completely, like I don't even know a term for it anymore but made a mockery out of expanding and redoing the house he'd bought.  He's about to do the same with the land it turns out.  SMH.  Anyway.

Oh, he'd be made fun of later for his "bravery" in entering a field with four horses in it with an entire bucket full of treats, but no one but me would tell him to his face this is a stupid thing to do.  And even I wouldn't use the term "stupid".  "The situation that you and I are in right now is one of the most dangerous positions one can put themselves in with horses," I said.  Eventually I said, "This horse will become downright aggressive if you keep doing that."

Here's what he said.  "Do you know my daughter?"  With further explanation of why I should know his daughter, which was because she'd shown, rather big time. BFD.  I really don't care.  I'm into horsemanship.  "My daughter, Blah blah blah."  Look mister, I don't care who your daughter is, or who you are for that matter, I'm trying to make sure you don't get killed.  When the electric fence popped a horse in an adjoining field whose curiosity had been aroused by his bucket of treats he said, "Wow, that's on?  It wasn't on yesterday."  Sigh.  Yes, the electric fence is on.  Except when it isn't but it not being on is not a good thing and hopefully never stays that way for long.

For a girl child born in the early 60s deep in the Appalachian coalfields, I had a very privileged upbringing.  I know what it is like for someone to hold that privilege against me.  I don't want to do that to this guy.  But he showed up a few weeks ago in a fucking Ferrari not believing that the guy who owned a couple hundred acres adjoining his could possibly live in this humble a house, so we'd already not started off well.  Ok, mostly I call him Mr. Ostentatious.  But this interaction, with the bucket and the horses in the field longing for me think he was ok in this situation because his daughter showed on the A circuit was something else again.

This interaction, with the bucket and the horses in the field insisting that I must know his daughter because she had shown horses and I should therefore infer that it was ok for him to be here in this field with this bucket and these horses was him wanting to be ok because of who he was and who he knew rather than for the skills he had. 

Anyone with any horse savvy at all would never put themselves in that position.

And a little horse savvy, a little animals savvy, is not rocket science.  Like a little electrical wiring and plumbing and basic auto repair isn't brain surgery.  Growing some food, it isn't rocket surgery.  Cleaning your own toilet, sorry but that is the beginning of morality.

Skills, people, skills.  Practical skills.

Friday, May 04, 2018

What are riches for?

"You just seemed so happy and excited," she said.  And I had been.  It had been a different day, an out of the ordinary day, and I'd had a little tiny bit of money to spend and we splurged on a few singletrees, a vintage bike, a good pair of work boots, an adz.  The boots were truly needed, the singletrees will come in handy, the bike was cheap, the adz promises new adventures.  For us, this is a bit of opulence, petite opulence perhaps.

"You know, if you accumulate some money, somebody just tries to take it," she said.  Although in this case it was not identity theft or fraud but just the IRS auditing a farm write-off.  And Trump claims that "people of wealth" are involved in payoffs all the time.

And the question I have is, what are riches for, anyway?  For opulence?  For show?  For someone else to admire?  To make someone else do your bidding?  To accumulate yet more again?  For security?  For one-upmanship? Does it take money to have free will?

Riches are for one thing.  This is Biblically true and morally true:  to share, to take care of others with.

"If he can afford it, more power to him," is the most immoral common modern saying there is, and yet rarely does a week go by that I don't hear it, usually when I'm remonstrating some conspicuous consumption.  If he can afford it, who did he exploit the money from?  Because a single person can only create so much and no more.  A family might work together and SHARE but a person is just a person and any.more.than.that.is.accumulated.by.exploitation.

We all need a bit of opulence.  A needed pair of work boots is an opulence when you haven't been able to afford them.  A bar of chocolate.  A beer.  This is why so many poor people smoke -- an affordable opulence.  If you've had beans all month, are you really going to deny them a bit of a tough cut of steak?  Or a birthday cake for a kid, even if food stamps buys it?  Can you imagine the BMW Prius convertible Mustang driving mum thinking a birthday cake an opulence?  Naw, not going to Italy to see the Caravaggio in person is a hardship in her world.  Well fuck that shit.  That shit is immoral.

Excuse the f-bomb but this is serious.  Riches are for ONE thing:  To use to take care of others.  To give away.  Not to control.  Free will.  There's the real f-bomb: free will, not just for you but for those who think you are wrong, for those you think are wrong.  Someone asks for a dollar, or you see someone in need of a dollar, and it is no hardship to you to do without that dollar -- GIVE THEM THE DOLLAR even if they will spend it on MD 20/20:  give them a dollar because THEY ARE A CHILD OF GOD JUST AS THEY ARE.  I AM A CHILD OF GOD JUST AS I AM, heretic and all.  And if giving them that dollar was no hardship to you, then it is also no commendation of what a great person you are:  it is no great feat to give from wealth.

I know you think I'm going to hell but you might have noticed that I don't buy into that fantasy.  I realize that you don't know another way, another possibility (because I've been there too), you think that it is quaint that those Greeks believed in Zeus and Mount Olympus and all but it isn't like that stuff was REAL, not like Jesus and streets of gold and all that.  You think if a person doesn't believe that, they must believe something else just as ridiculous and far fetched.

But if we buy in to your story, the Biblical story, we ate of the tree of knowledge.  We know, already, right from wrong.  Some guy named God doesn't hold us in check but rather our own conscience and our own free will.  God doesn't bless the righteous and punish the wicked but rain falls on the just and unjust alike. When seeking the compassionate course, look in desperation's eye. Know that we all get tangled up in worldly things and ego and fail. But don't look toward worldly things and ego for guidance.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Pagan Fire

The day came when none of us work off the farm.  The day was some grey, it had rained overnight, a good day for burning.  We'd previously dismantled the old big hot house that appears as the bones of some beached whale or something in many of our photographs, and there was semi-rotted wood with nails to dispose of.  Burn in a barrel.


About half was done before the barrel was full of charcoaling embers.  The night would bring a full moon, the first full moon after the equinox.  Quite the appropriate time for Pagans to have a Fire.

Not that I'm averse to a bonfire for the sake of a party.  A party is a worthy cause.  But a party, like a gathering, or a show, or a vacation, or a religious ritual, or anything contrived, is not life.  Life is the daily, the small, the repetitive, the cyclic.  Life is how freely we give, how graciously we accept, sometimes how tenaciously we fight.  Live for a living.

This is our second spring fire so far this year, with at least two more needed -- one to finish what needs burned in the cornfield, and one to finish burning the remains of the hot house, and both to clean off for what comes next for both areas.  Six adults, and sometimes a seventh, can have a lot of projects going at the same time.  Not much remains idle.  Nothing is for show.  We don't do a lot of rituals, and mostly we rely on work and flow, not magic.

I stayed with the barrel as the fire burned down, everyone else went on about their tasks for the day.  It would sprinkle a bit of rain sometimes although the forecast said it was over.  The bare trees on the hill against the grey sky looked amazing to me, their pattern of lines branching and scalloping.  Youngest adult reappeared to water the dog.  #3 came on her way to graze in the garden for her rabbits and took a moment to feel the fire's warmth.  The day had turned cool after being t-shirt weather yesterday.  Husband went back and forth getting the correct tools to put the gas tank back on the rototiller.  I could hear the rain coming each time before it would get to me, but always very light.  The creek roaring.  The neighbor's 5 Pyrenees barking -- so that I knew husband was checking the mail then.  Various birds calling, lots of crows.

But then there was a sound like a bumble bee against a glass, except it moved around, and it took me a good while to figure it out.  There was one crow with a broken voice.  Flying around and around me.  Hello crow with the broken voice, hello.

Even after the two fires needed to finish in the corn field and the hot house, there's plenty other to burn.  We need to clean out the ditches.  I'd like to begin the transformation of the front.  It never all gets done.  What a small life it would be if we could finish it.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

wasted

"I like to think of hope as a fact," she said.  I was listening to the radio.  This was a promo for some show I'd never hear, a singer-songwriter writing whiny songs.  That she felt were hopeful.  "I like to think of hope as a fact, because no matter what you are going through, you do get through it."

Hope at Yule is faith, and faith is what you believe in that you know isn't true.  Hope at Yule is a head down slog, one foot then the next.  Let's have a party, in fact, lets have several because there might not ever be another chance.

Hope at Imbolc is something you can almost smell but not quite identify.  It is not the parking lot outside of Little Caesar's; it is not upwind of your neighbor's grill; it is not french fries even when the oil is fresh.  Hope at Imbolc is remembering that I knew what my mother's perfume smelled like.

But hope when the coltsfoot blooms, that is a fact.


"What looks like a dandelion on top of an asparagus stalk?" he asked.  "Oh, that's coltsfoot," we answered.  It only looks like that for a day or two, the whole bloom takes maybe a week, maybe two?  Then it has leaves that resemble a colt's foot, both of which vary a good deal in size and outline.

After coltsfoot it will all come hard and fast.  The season of behind already will start, grown from the season of there's nothing I can get done.  I haven't checked for birthroot yet and won't gather any but I always love to admire it.  Tennessee iris are up in droves but not bloomed yet.  Will I catch and remember a sarvis tree or three this year?  Will the grapevines grow?  How much of the orchard can we get cleaned out?  Front pasture?  Milk?  Rocks on the road?

Coltsfoot likes to grow on waste places.  It grows where not much else will, there, amongst the gravel and rocks, unnoticed.  What plants you are drawn to will tell you a lot about yourself.  I like being a waste places girl.  There are so many waste places plants -- mullein, canes, elderberries.  There are too many waste places.

This cattail may not be a waste plant, but it is a survivor, still standing, against all odds.  Babies are sprouting all around it.  The light was hitting it beautifully and it called to me.

Listen.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

love your food


This is Ferd at a few days old.  You can't not love that.  It took him until day 3 to take his bottle.  That was a tough and tense couple of days, sadness held at bay with hope.  Then when we switched him to a bucket, that took until day three again.  Again, he could die, and his dying would be a sadness. And then the horns.  He's going to be a bull, and a dairy bull at that.  Notorious.  He could kill you with or without horns but we dehorned him as we thought they could hasten our death.  But dehorning isn't a painless process without risk of complication.


I spent hours and hours thinking about him getting on that trailer.  See, we do this without all the "proper" equipment.  If  he did his job and if both cows are pregnant and if I get them both milking nicely and if I can sell one as a homestead milker, then I might use that money to buy some proper equipment and deal in AI (artificial insemination) instead of bulls and castrate any boys born on their day of birth and still have to rely on the generosity of friends to provide a ride to the abattoir.

I spent hours thinking of how to get him on that trailer, how to prepare him best I could; what all could go wrong and how to stack the deck against it going wrong.  Feed him there, get gates set up, practice with the trailer doors. In the end it is that same old tried and true pressure and release that works, and at the very moment when the human thinks, "oh he's going in the right direction; let's increase the pressure and make him do it," is the moment when all pressure must cease absolutely and with its cease he will walk on in.

This is Ferd in the trailer, eating.

Of course I love him.  Of course I thank him.

People seem a little more accepting of killing a chicken.  "I couldn't do that," is usually what they say.  But with Ferd, they said more of the order of, "You can't NAME what you EAT."  Well yes I can, although at times it has been named Tamale or Stew.  Ferd we named to invoke that magic, and that's pretty much who he was, always calm.  But we still didn't walk freely in the field after a certain point -- always have an exit, always have a stick.  People act like carrots don't scream when you pull them from the ground but mostly they've never pulled a carrot, much less eaten it right there with carrot-ness filling their sinuses.

I'm not saying it is all equal, but I am saying that there are choices to be made.  Local is better, more whole is better, less processed is better, home grown is better -- for the grower, for the taster, for the community, for the earth.  I am saying that connection is better, and you better believe I'm connected with those brown Ferd eyes having petted his head hundreds of times.  I am saying that love is better, and isn't usually what you think of as love, at least it is not only that.

I asked the husband, "Why do I get mad when people say, 'I hope he won't get in the trailer,'  'I hope he runs away,' 'You can't name what you eat"?  And then I answered my own question, forcefully, "Because they eat.  By gawd they EAT."  And they don't love their food.  They don't even know their food.

Ferd had a good life, and an honorable death; a purpose, and he was loved. Quite honestly, for what more could any of us ask?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

winter squash




I didn't capture, here anyway, the beginning in the garden, or the end on our plates.  I even missed the final step of a piece of cheese melted on the top.  But this is my favorite method to fix winter squash:  slice them, clean out the seed cavity (and the chickens love those seeds), spray with a little oil, pre-bake a bit turned upside down, turn over, fill cavity with diced onions, cover with diced bacon, bake until bacon and squash are done, top with cheese, melt, eat.  If you are using a normal oven, it would be at 350 but in a wood oven, well, it would be obvious why they call a cooler oven which is what I had most of today a slow oven.

It was a good squash year.  We have a couple buckets of acorns, some butternuts, and some others including a pink oblong thing that was prolific and tastes good.  But acorns are always my favorites.