Monday, September 29, 2008
The House may eventually pass the bailout, but they'll pay for it come election time. What a juicy time for this crisis to happen. Apparently, American taxpayers are announcing their objections to raking us and our descendants over the coals. I feel like such a Republican being against the bailout!
I read that the bailout would enable banks to loan money again, for things like mortgages, business loans, student loans, etc. I honestly don't see the benefit in this. It seems like slowing down the pace of rapid-fire loans would be a good idea. I don't know who in this economy survives on credit, but it isn't me.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
This is my home. It is where I come from and come back to. It is the place I sit to understand.
This place has been here since long before us and will be here long after us.
Because it's not that we're destroying the world.
We're only destroying our ability to live on it.
This place will be here forever.
But where will be the eyes to love it?
--by some minor superhero called no impact man
And lastly, there is a picture of our ripe and ripening tomatoes. I find green tomatoes on the ground and bring them in to ripen. The winds from the remains of hurricane Ike blew over the cages, and we've been ripening dozens in the house since then. The bowl of tomatoes in the front of the picture is what I harvested in one pass through the garden. I haven't harvested in a couple of days, but this is kind of ridiculous! I'm going to be processing soon enough!
Friday, September 26, 2008
Still laughing over that one. Police are monitoring gas stations that have gas in the southeastern U.S. I see that gas is only $3.59 a gallon here. That's cheap.
"It's been a nightmare for everybody," one driver said.
A petroleum executive suggested that the football game between the University of Georgia and University of Alabama should be canceled this weekend because fans could drain all the gas in the Athens area, WSB-TV in Atlanta reported. "That gas needs to be used for people to go to work, and for people to take care of their families," Tex Pitfield, president and CEO of Saraguay Petroleum in Atlanta, told WGAU radio in Athens. But representatives of Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue said he would not consider "a ridiculous idea like this," WSB said.
It seems like if they (whoever is running this country, whoever they are!) rationed gas, this would solve a lot of the fuel shortage problems, especially since the press stresses how most of the gas shortage is caused by consumer stupidity--hoarding. Why aren't they rationing? That would be a big psychological defeat in the American dreamworld where We Still Rule. Next we'd be closing down stock markets or banks to get a handle on the panic. We surely can't do that! Printing more money is a much less psychologically painful option.
Another quote from someone and something that happened a long time ago:
"Mr. Chairman, we have in this Country one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever known. I refer to the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve Banks, hereinafter called the Fed. The Fed has cheated the Government of these United States and the people of the United States out of enough money to pay the Nation's debt. The depredations and iniquities of the Fed has cost enough money to pay the National debt several times over.
"This evil institution has impoverished and ruined the people of these United States, has bankrupted itself, and has practically bankrupted our Government. It has done this through the defects of the law under which it operates, through the maladministration of that law by the Fed and through the corrupt practices of the moneyed vultures who control it."
If you're way interested, the whole shebang is at http://home.hiwaay.net/~becraft/mcfadden.html But yikes!
I'm glad I'm not hung up on this future that has been written for us, that I can use my imagination and creativity, that I can rely on my neighbors and community, that I can survive in trying times, that I can provide for a lot of my needs directly. I have a clear vision of my future, and there is no doubt in my mind that I am living it already.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Later, I ate a lot of processed foods, lots of spam and gravy, lots of koolaid and extruded foods like cheese curls. I drank a lot of soda. I ate very little, starving my body, and only feeding it tiny amounts of non-nutritious foods like chips, soda, and candy. I grew up in a dysfunctional family, with physical and mental violence being normal. Guilt was abundant. I worked a lot of hours while maintaining good grades. I've washed my hands in gasoline. I worked in a paper factory, Wal-Mart and in fast food. I was a substitute teacher. I've spent many years in front of a lead screen with an aching back, and talked on a cordless phone countless hours.
I never brushed my teeth at all nor bathed more than once a week until I was a teenager. I never washed my hands after going to the bathroom until I was in my twenties. I've only had a flu shot once. I avoid doctors, but even if I didn't, I have useless state-provided health care, good only at the ER. I ride a bike in Springfield's traffic, without a helmet. I lived on a major commuter street for a year. I jaywalk.
I don't always wash my produce before I eat it. I eat out of dumpsters and off the floor. I'd rather eat weeds than have a full-time job. I eat expired food, dairy that's gone "bad" and fermented cabbage. I drink alcohol on a daily basis. I don't take prozac, nor talk to a counselor. I don't use antibacterial soap. My child is not fully immunized.
I know this world is toxic, and you've got to take precautions. But for today, I feel strong.
I second all of what Abby says. I think we have lost sight of the paradigm of the god of money, and it seems we are well on our way on the path of community. When money means nothing, and people mean everything, we find ourselves living in a different paradigm. It's bound to happen. Feedback makes changes, as surely as three of the top 5 financial players have ceased to exist, there will be a future that does not revolve around money. It has to be. America will never be as wealthy as it was 60 years ago. Good-paying jobs will not be available for every American to access.
And it will not matter. We will have ourselves to rely on to create a meaningful future, in places and with people worth caring about. It is one option available to all, without regards to race, gender, age, caste status, or capabilities. I have no faith that a system of representational leadership will end institutional racism, sexism, etc. A woman now earns around 75% of what a man does, and in my state you are 57 times more likely to go to prison for drugs if you are black. It's been generations since the civil rights era, and this method, the feedback tells me, isn't viable.
We can think a lot. We can explore our passions, get to be creative generalists again. We can share knowledge, assistance, and good will. We can bridge the gap between the paradise we lost (eden) and the carrot-on-a-stick paradise (heaven) not attainable. We can raise children who function as part of society, not cogs to be managed from birth to death by schools, jails, workplaces, and nursing homes--bureaucracy for all! We can be part of an integrated community, neighbors who belong to a place for as long as the elms.
Yeah, what Abby says! America, are you tired of getting screwed? Finally?!?! Is it so blatant and in your face that you can't deny the corrupt corporate government that was not elected by the majority? There are vast numbers of nonvoters who are in reality voting for something else. Who cares what happens the next (s)election day, when it's really what you do the other 1,460 days of a presidential term that makes a real difference.
The socialists and anarchists had a lot to say after the depression, and a lot of people were listening--they had nothing else to do. And then came massive government intervention with pumped in money, mass production, and a war to focus on. What will happen after this depression? There is no money to be pumped in (and if it is pumped in, it will go only to corporations). There is no war we can win. And mass production fled long ago. Will people be talking about things that matter, instead of nascar chariot races or the dumb things the president does? Will people be more attuned to think about the writings of people like Abby?
A lot of people are searching for something else, because they know this exponential growth economy has hit a dead end. Well, I'll be in the ghetto, forgetting about politics and major league baseball, and remembering how to save seeds, share plants and food, kicking it with my unemployed neighbors, laughing and carrying on especially with the kids, eating raspberries and holding babies, hugging friends in need, listening. We'll be living life every day, bringing joy to ourselves, using creativity as a key to the locks of the next paradigm. Won't you join us?
"With as much love as I have, and as much heart as I can give, I am yours, each of yours, through and through. Let's stop trying to put up with this crazy world and start envisioning our own lives becoming fulfilled and abundant. I promise that we can do this, we can truly build our lives differently, and it doesn't take change from the top down. Change You, and the world changes. "--Abby
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Surely some of our elected leaders have more vision and scope of creativity than just rewarding greedy bankers with wads of someone else's money (our lives even, which is what we trade the money for, and those of our grandchildren, observing the raising of the absolute maximum debt cap!) when the pyramid scheme flounders. It seems the same old isn't going to do much lasting adjustments, but will continue to reward those who invest in short-term get rich, long-term bankruptcy kinds of options. A public works administration focused on rebuilding our country's infrastructure and vital necessary non-industries (farming!) could employ thousands of Americans, effectively jumpstarting the economy rather immediately. Why is giving money to guys in suits considered good for our country, but to give money to our citizens disgusting and pathetic welfare?
Loved this book by Curtis White, The Spirit of Disobedience: Resisting the Charms of Fake Politics, Mindless Consumption, and the Culture of Total Work. (The author lives an hour from me, but we'll never meet in person, because neither of us drive. Ha!)
This first picture is at one of our family get-togethers. We're at a park, under a big shelter, and believe me, we took up all the tables. On the left is me, and to the right are my cousins Carolyn & Davy. We are toasting marshmallows, if you can't tell, over a grill. In the background between us is my cousin Beverly holding my baby brother Cory. Standing and sitting are the aunties and unks. The guys would shoot the breeze, talking about work and cars. They'd pitch horseshoes. The women would talk about their gardens and their kids. These family get-togethers were often held around my birthday, so we'd get the added bonus of cake. Everybody brought food, all homemade. My tribe of cousins and I would play til it got dark. Nowadays, some of my cousins are grandparents, and some are still in middle school. Some have died under mysterious circumstances, and many are alcoholics.
This picture is of me (at left) with my gramma (hair in pincurls), and my cousins Jody and Linda. When I was a little kid, we'd always go on these fantastic vacations. My grandparents had a pick-up shell camper, and one aunt & unk had a pop-up tow-behind camper. We'd drive out west, down south, out east, camp & eat, and see all the beautifulness of what used to be. My grampa would often get preaching gigs, which would also get us some hygiene, some hot food, free parking, and access to a kitchen to prepare next week's food on the road.
One year we went to North Carolina, to visit the remnants of Cherokee tribes (my grampa was half Cherokee). But mostly it was out west, going from national park to national park. One year it was a huge family event, and this is where this picture was from. It was still my grandparents & one aunt & unk, but we had a mob of cousins going as well. Some rode on motorcycles and dirt bikes, others piled into vehicles. We caravanned, slept out, and had a generally good time. In this picture, you can bet we were all wearing homemade clothes (and most likely hand-me-downs), and don't we look styling, especially my cousin's huge sunglasses!
And finally, this is a picture of my brother and me, with our dog Snapper (names so because he liked to nip your hands as you walked). This is right after we moved out to a big old Victorian house that had been abandoned for decades. It was a trip. The house itself was quite beautiful, in all its falling-down glory. I lived there with my grandparents mostly til I was ten, and sometimes after I stayed with my grampa for lengths of time. We had two giant woodstoves that kept three rooms warm, and the rest of the house was closed up in the winter. We slept in cold bedrooms, all together. There was, of course, no air conditioning, and living in a valley full of corn, you can imagine how hot it was in the summer.
Once my grampa saw a panther, and we had to stay inside for a week. It was never spotted again, although coyotes, foxes, and snakes continued to be a good deterrent for me to go exploring on my own very often. We had a chicken coop, and always had plenty of eggs & fried chicken for Sunday dinner. The house was torn down after my step-grandmother insisted on moving to town. My grampa had an auction (he was a pack-rat), and moved out. I like to think if I had not chosen to go to college, this house would still exist somewhere besides my head.
Until I was 17, I lived in the "modern" house next door, about 100 yards away. This modern house had no bathroom, and only a hand pump in the kitchen when we moved in. It took a while to convince animals that they were not welcome there any longer. My parents still live there, although the place will be torn down when my step-dad passes away.
I grew up poor, but I never felt in need. I didn't realize the depth of the poverty until I spent a semester in college and came back to visit. Although I had a brief affair with middle-class life, it felt extremely uncomfortable, and I am now happily deeply poor again. I can feel a lot more riches in community than I do in material possessions. Although I do not have my big family of cousins, I have a big family of good friends. I still feel the same comfort and security in my community. I feel blessed, and I am.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Banks are failing, coming down with a loud bang, dust and debris. I read that the FDIC has $50 billion to insure $1 trillion worth of assets. That doesn't seem so good a plan. I hope they're insured! Oh, I guess they are insured by us. I sure don't have $1 trillion to insure anyone who has money in the bank. Maybe our government will borrow it from our grandchildren, hoping that our economy will be doing a bit better in a few generations, you know, after all these service industry jobs we've been creating begin to...oh wait. This is a plan that is going nowhere.
The national debt right now is almost $9.7 trillion dollars. We owe about $1 trillion of that to China and Japan. The National Debt has continued to increase an average of $1.93 billion each day since about a year ago. Your personal share is almost $38,000; yes, that's every man, woman, and child in our country, hocked to the gills by our government and freely selected bureaucrats. You too can learn many sordid facts about the state of our government and economy at the U.S. National Debt Clock site, http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/ including this nifty quote: "The budget should be balanced; the treasury should be refilled; public debt should be reduced; and the arrogance of public officials should be controlled." -Cicero. 106-43 B.C.
It amazes me that we can live quite easily in "deep poverty", and yet the men in suits can't figure out how to do it. It's easy to borrow ahead when you are not concerned about paying it back. But if our nation isn't concerned about paying it back, not any more concerned than banks loaning outrageous sums to low-wage workers living paycheck to paycheck, well, I can see why major banks are failing and the U.S. economy seems to be tanking as well. Maybe in a few months there will be another glistening day on wall street, when someone figures out how to make some money, and we will forget this ever happened. But I think we'll see a lot more crumbling financial infrastructure.
FEMA is at it again in Texas. I have read some nasty things about people who are staying at stuffed shelters--nothing to eat, nothing to drink, not being able to even go outside. I do not understand how Cuba has an excellent disaster preparedness program, but the U.S. obviously does not. As our climate begins to destabilize, I imagine a lot more of us will be going through natural disasters, and we'll get to experience this frustration intimately. I imagine FEMA will continue to be ignored like they were after Katrina, where anarchists and other do-gooders snuck into New Orleans with risk of arrest, to help folks & bring some relief. It's communities of people who help, much more effectively than government bureaucrats.
I personally was amazed at the lack of government assistance and attention after the tornado we experienced. I went to the FEMA office, where I was shuffled around from person to person, and spent a lot of the time waiting, even though I was the only non-staff of a dozen people in the building. I filled out an application, but nothing happened. It was a waste of time, and a lesson I only need to learn once. Our community, on the other hand, was awesome!
I am really enjoying listening to the flobots.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
There was a ferocious wind this morning that toppled the tomatoes in the garden. The Jerusalem artichokes are nearly horizontal between the rain and the wind. A few small dead limbs are down. Our yard is a pond, at least in the kid area. Places just north of us are getting this rain atop 3-5" in the last couple of days. Flood warnings are everywhere, as every creek and river is above flood stage. There's been too much rain to accurately predict a crest, says the weather service.
I attended a canning party yesterday. It was a lot of fun, and I feel way more comfortable trying out my pressure canner now. My friend Cecily and I are going to gather piles of seconds from the farmers market & can this week. Kaleigh and I are going over there today also. Kaleigh is going to play with Patrick, age 20 months, as she is really taken with him. Cecily & I are going to make rhubarb wine.
This week Don is working two days & has trainings on two days. We also have a food not lawns Springfield meeting on Thursday, and I'm facilitating the girls' book club on Friday. We're reading Daniel's Duck by Clyde Robert Bulla, and our craft will be sewing. It's going to be fun! Hopefully it won't be raining.
Monday, September 8, 2008
A study released here http://www.springfield.il.us/Education/StudentAchievementReport.pdf says that our schools are failing Springfield's African American youth. Whether teachers motivations and expectations are so low, whether parents (often single parents or grandparents) are working as they are mandated & don't have enough time to spend with their kids, or whether these kids just don't buy into the so-called promised future of a nice job & are not motivated enough by the reward of good grades, I don't know. I don't know why it's so bad, but it is.
I have heard that talented and successful African Americans have to leave Springfield to find any future in a good job, law enforcement, or society in general. These would be people who buy into the system, and who also happen to be African American. They leave, because they have no access to a life like that here.
I ride the bus all the time with black folks going to work. One or two work for the state. Most have uniforms with logos and name tags, and hats. Minimum wage is the future for a lot of people who do not do well in school, and actually, also for a lot who do okay in school. Why do schools fail kids? Why does our society fail kids? John Holt wrote a book about it: why children fail.
What goes in on school doesn't seem to have much to do with what goes on in real life. It seems like a substitute for real life, a lot like working is. (I am not an actor, but I play one at work. It's another layer of substitution!) It's a lot of busy work, shutting up & taking any humiliation, and not having the ability to say no. It's good training, in other words, for the future to come for many: work, jail. I can see why kids are not valuing this experience enough to consider it valid, and real. They have lost faith in the institution, and it is fading away before our very eyes.
Who stops learning when they get out of school? Well, a lot of kids, who hated being forced to do something they were disinterested in (sound like work?). If you wanted an uneducated populace, I don't know what you could do to encourage it more but build more bland apathy-inducing concrete bunkers.
What would a real education look like? I like to think I am living it. I am not talking about educating only children, but all of us who love learning. Those of us who didn't get all that curiosity and passion for life squished out of them in school, or found it again after they got away from it. Kids, adults, old folks, everybody, living together, learning & taking care of each other, an education worth having. Sounds an awful lot like a community.
I wonder why we learn things in school, like Revolutionary War dates, algebraic equations, the periodic table, names of all the bones, diagramming sentences, etc. Does anyone remember that stuff anymore? Chances are you only do if you were really interested in the subject when it came around in school, or maybe even read about it on your own. (I know I am not the only geek who enjoys reading the encyclopedia.)
There are things I think are even more important than the multiplication tables, like being able to build a decent shelter, acquire and cook our own food, learning to live with people without drama, how to live a daily life without destroying just a bit more of our habitat & making a few more species extinct. These things are important too, and school doesn't seem to be a place where important stuff like this is being taught.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Sharing wine & food, it's so fun, so rewarding, just sitting back and kicking it with just folks. It makes me feel human. We get to know each other a little better, revisit old times, and strengthen the bonds of community. It doesn't get any better than that.
Earlier, while making hummus-for-a-crowd*, I was listening to QNA, our local quasi-community radio. I was hoping to hear the bluegrass show (which is delightful), but today there was a guest dj who was playing car music, in appreciation to the massive car show constipating most of downtown Springfield. It was quite interesting, as I am reading James Howard Kunstler's book Road to Nowhere, about the hand-in-hand growth of the automobile and the suburbs. Whew.
*hummus for a crowd
6 cups garbanzo beans (hydrated/cooked)
3/4 c. tahini/natural peanut butter
3/4 c. lemon juice
3/4 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. salt
9 cloves garlic (really)
Blend in food processor, or mash heartily by hand. Add water (up to 3/4 c.) to make as smooth as you want it. Top with diced fresh garden tomatoes.
Friday, September 5, 2008
I like this video of Hurricane Ike:
And also this picture here. Ahhhh, fractals. It could be water swirling down the drain, the galaxy in motion, the seeds in a sunflower, or a hurricane. One of the most beautiful patterns of nature I think I've ever seen.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
We are getting the house & yard in some kind of order for the garden tour, wine tasting & potluck (yee-haw!!) coming up this Saturday. Some kind of order is extremely vague, as this homestead always was and always will be a work in progress. But it's tidied enough for people to walk through (er, except the wee back yard), and clean enough to use the bathroom. We have wine bottled, and I'm thinking I may repeat the yum potato salad that we served when Hakim's parents visited. I have been craving that, and it's soooo much better than mayonnaise, and why? Because the sauce is goat and veg broth, silly! I am looking forward to seeing friends & meeting people.
I have new revisions of how big an "average" wolf spider is. Jesus. We found a dead bat in our yard, which is both yeah! and oh! We're glad bats are around to eat the plague of mosquitoes, but sad that one died. Our cats are exceptionally good hunters, and they leave us gifts, as well as supplement their dollar store food diet. We've seen a million big fat crickets; a million more spiders of allllll shapes, sizes, and colors; praying mantids; and butterflies. The diversity of life increases each year, repopulating the disaster zone through succession.
Don't know if I mentioned, but we transitioned rather quickly back to graywater in our kitchen. The pipes do not drain, never have well & never will, I imagine. Hauling graywater is definitely easier than the alternative!
I had a very nice chat with our food stamps caseworker, who fixed her mistake that stalled out our food assistance credits. I have never, never had that experience before (being, a good one). I was very thankful I could resolve that over the phone, instead of having to spend many hours in a standing-room-only welfare office waiting room, to be herded like a doomed cow through a squeeze chute of cubicles, and then yelled at for needing a pen to sign the inevitable snafu paperwork. Whew. She dissed school and everything!
K and I went to the library today & read a lot of awesome stories by Amada Irma Perez, who has written a few books of her childhood life. It was written in English & Spanish, although I can only read the English part. They were terrific stories, and I kept wishing for more. Amada has a real gift for storytelling. K also brought home six, 6!, boxcar children books. It'll be rainy tomorrow, and a great time for reading (after gymnastics class, woo!).
I am really enjoying Rosalind Creasy's edible landscaping book. It has plans and plants & more. I also got today a solar food drying book from the library. This is something I really want to try out. I just gotta build myself a solar dryer....
Still utterly disinterested in politics, and am glad there are only two months left of this ridiculous nonsense spectacle of the wealthy and easily distracted. Professional wrestlers and vice presidents want you to believe them, saith the flobots. But I turned off the tv, and starting playing in the dirt with my friends. That's a lot more enriching, both outwardly & inwardly.