Thursday, December 24, 2009

breakdown breakthrough 2010 tarot forecast passionately infused with a kiss of pronoia

“At the heart of the pronoiac way of life is an apparent conundrum: you can have anything you want if you’ll just ask it in an unselfish way. The trick to making this work is to locate where your deepest ambition coincides with the greatest gift you have to give. Figure out exactly how the universe, by providing you with abundance, can improve the lot of everyone whose life you touch. Seek the fulfillment of your fondest desires in such a way that you become a fount of blessings.” –Rob Brezsny, author of Pronoia

I feel like a banker in the economy of the community–taking inner wealth, making it visible, and sharing it with others. There is so much! There is so much to be thankful for! There are so many blessings! No matter how terrifying our unknown future presents itself, we must not forget that the holy spirit (the homo plasmate, for all you PKD fans), has not abandoned us. It is inside us. Jesus, son of man that he was, said the kingdom of god is to be found not in heaven, but within us. We have it in ourselves to realize the garden of eden beneath our feet, to spit out the original sin. We thought we were getting a taste of the knowledge of good and evil, but that is for the gods alone. So, have we learned our lesson yet? We can sneak into the garden, through the back door, where angels with fiery swords do not deter us. The symbols, signs, and stories–they’ve all been given to us. Making any sense of them is the hard part.

We are in fact living through the apocalypse right now. It’s a slow crash. You wouldn’t even notice if you weren’t paying attention, as usually these happenings are invisible. The ice cap melting–well, now, that’s a bit more in our faces, eh? Even with the silly repetitive blather about global warming, our blind spot is becoming obvious. The media-glorified spectacle of our culture may be able to distract some, but ever increasing numbers of us are waking up out of the trance of the cave of treasures, becoming cognizant of the bars of the black iron prison, wondering where are the keys to our gilded cages. There’s good news and bad news: there are no keys, and it is up to us to forge our own.

The apocalypse (from Greek, to uncover) is as much about rebirth as it is about collapse. It’s damn hard to convince the nightly news of that, though. They enjoy telling us about murders, bombings, punishments; fear sells way more crap than telling us about people in blighted areas tilling under our yards, sharing seeds and produce, and forging community in abundance. For certainly, the primary way we experience apocalypse is through the intimacy of our daily lives. Ideas like abundance, chaos, beauty, community, love, passion, care–these are real things that exist, as long as we believe in them and enact the stories behind them in the background of our daily lives. These are the things that matter, and they don’t cost money. You do not have to enslave yourself to get them, nor shop at Wal-Mart.

It’s exciting, isn’t it? We realize we have in ourselves the power to shape the humanity of the future. We realize we don’t need to trust someone else to take care of it for us. It doesn’t need to wait until the next president takes office, or even until tomorrow. As Thom Yorke says, “No more talk about the good old days. It’s time for something great.” It’s exciting to see the paradigm shift taking place before our eyes, in the fabric of our daily lives, and to look around at all the other robots, waking up out of their trances, realizing our minds, bodies, and souls are drawn into the process of figuring out the answers for ourselves. It’s not that we follow one answer or another, it’s that we think!

During this time, we will instinctively be drawn towards that which encourages blossoming and abundance, and away from that which is of no help. Our ideas and inspirations come from our direct personal experiences. We are becoming what we are becoming. This dangerous and unknown future is being lit from within in our process of healing and renewal. We hear the call within ourselves that wakes us. We arise and begin a future of doing something different than age-old destructive civilization. As brief love affairs become distant memories, so too do the memories of full-time employment, health care benefits, and retirement packages. Into our lives waltz joys of deep human relationships, care for each other, and sharing wealth and scarcity, the joy and the sorrow. It is raw. It undeniably can hurt. But the joy of life shared in community is unmatched.

“If you’re really listening, if you’re awake to the poignant beauty of the world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; its purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold ever-more wonders.” –Andrew Harvey

We have indeed passed through an arid stretch of our journey, but now, through the process of rebirth, we find ourselves in more fruitful surroundings. Times of desperation and inner tension, when recognized, can be some of the most fertile beginnings of our lives. We trust that the destruction of stagnant ideas and ways of life can only set us free, allowing us to assume the innocense of a child, and wander through the garden unhindered. If we allow ourselves to walk in the hands of the gods, we will.

“The moment you come to trust chaos, you see god clearly. Chaos is divine order, versus human order. Change is divine order, versus human order. When the chaos becomes safety to you, then you know you’re seeing god clearly.” –Caroline Myss

Retreating from fear or pain denies a central part of ourselves. Abundance comes from giving without question. We trust in our perception that the more deeply we are engaged in feeling the spectrum of human emotion, the more comprehensive our insights will be. We can trust in our intuitive nature, our inner voice, and our ability to heal ourselves. We trust in our responsibility to ourselves, the responsibility we have to our community, and the responsibility of our community to us. Introspection allows us to find our way to the fertile oases within, the source of which becomes a fount of our strength, courage, and creativity. The more we accept ourselves and share with others, the clearer our individual and collective vision will be. To transform, we relax and give ourselves up to the dance. To walk in the hands of the gods, we give up our worries and embrace the entirety of human existence, to remember the garden beneath our feet. Anamnesis, the loss of forgetting, is our recollected blessing.

Contained within our daily lives is everything we need to remake, rebirth, recreate, realize–REALize–our future as humanity. It’s a challenge, no doubt, but surely one that our giant brains, vivid imaginations, and unending creativity are up for. It’s the greatest challenge of our lives, of the life of humanity as far as we know: turning on a dime, throwing our useless baggage into the gears of the system of destruction and death, and walking away into creation–giving birth to ourselves.

The origins of any kind of wealth lie in human consciousness. When we bring these hidden treasures into the world, they manifest in our daily lives. The blessings overflow into our physical, spiritual, and emotional modes of being. We share the blessings, making them ever so valuable and abundant. Giving ourselves up to live this life we all know is possible takes courage–a tremendous amount. We discover this courage deep within ourselves, deep into where we radiate a satisfied sense of self-sufficiency. We draw up our courage and feel it spilling forth as we look around and see the strength in our numbers. Our fears have nothing to do with reality. Wake up and see what is really happening! Wake up! We are already free!

Shine the spotlight directly into our blind spot. We become the black swans, the outliers, the butterflies of chaos, the unexpected events that change reality as currently perceived. Let the power of your inspiration liberate you from the bonds of your conditioning. Let the apparently impossible manifest itself in marvelous ways in our daily lives. In the course of human existence, we trust in our own energy and move with it. We give birth to ourselves, as do stars, which reflect every fractalized cell in our bodies. We have boundless potential. We face insurmountable opportunities.

We have attracted to ourselves everyone who is a part of our lives. We have created and participated in every situation in our lives. Indeed, we create our own reality. The wealth we hold in our hands is ours to do with as we choose. It is our freedom and our responsibility. What a blessing to find ourselves endlessly wealthy in the things that matter.


I mirror the universe–
a constant state of flux
to maintain some sort of
chaotic balanced order
so complex it cannot be perceived
and then, I explode, collapse
grow and expand
turn inward and get to know myself
an endless spiral of growth and decay
being reborn again and again


There is infinite abundance born from the dust of a decaying star, the love and strength and beauty flowing through us remind us of this. Everything unfolds at the proper time when we relax and trust in life. There is no fear or danger when we let go. Having given birth to our own souls, it becomes ever easier to support others doing so. We crawl out of our collective exoskeleton that no longer fits, and we follow our hearts as they push forth in search of beauty. The untrodden path beckons us to behold a new life waiting to be lived.

“Learning is finding out what you already know. Action is showing you know. Teaching is letting others know that they know it as well as you.”


Many thanks to Robert Brezsny for his book Pronoia and to Gerd Ziegler for his book Tarot, Mirror of the Soul. These two books have had a tremendous impact in my continuous breakdown breakthrough of the last six months. Also many thanks go to my community, for reminding me of my strength and courage when I forget.

Friday, December 18, 2009

pronoia: the universe is conspiring to shower you with blessings

I am reading this fantastic book, Pronoia, by Robert Brezsny. An updated version came out, and I highly recommend taking a look if you can get your hands on a copy. I LOVE this statement:

"At the heart of the pronoiac way of life is an apparent conundrum: you can have anything you want if you'll just ask it in an unselfish way. The trick to making this work is to locate where your deepest ambition coincides with the greatest gift you have to give. Figure out exactly how the universe, by providing you with abundance, can improve the lot of everyone whose life you touch. Seek the fulfillment of your fondest desires in such a way that you become a fount of blessings."

I think this is how one walks in the hands of the gods. I really feel this is an accurate description of how I live my life on a daily basis. I'm so blessed! So blessed! I have everything I could need, and I am satisfied. What more can I ask for, than to share my abundance with those in my life? A fount of blessings. I'm glad have courage.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

well, pyramid workers, what shall we do?

planting seeds of paradise
weeds, herbs, sustenance
relationships, community
wealthy in time and company
abundant in just enough
remembering ourselves as indigenous
belonging to this place
part of all that is sacred
alive, sentient
spitting out the fruit of the tree
of the knowledge of good and evil
and returning to the tree of life
to sustain us

this is today
where it all begins.

Monday, December 14, 2009

the sky is falling

I know this may come as a big surprise to you, but an ice cap is melting. Global warming yay or nay, ice cap is melting. Instead of global warming, let's call it climate change. No matter what the data and the politicians and the news media say, we have eyes that can see, don't we?

Nowadays, anytime you open a newspaper, you can read a story of the slow ecological crash. Today's story is an update about the Arctic being ice free. A mere 8 months ago, scientists expected to have to start worrying about the ice cap melting in 2030. But today, we're down to an estimate of 2014, and what do you bet that'll be reconsidered when the latest models come in.
Gotta love this graphic of sea ice predictions. The red line is actual observed sea ice, which makes the models laughable. This kind of thing should make clear the limitations of science and the knowledge of humanity. As big as our brains are, they are overwhelmed by the complexity of the order of the natural world (being...chaos!). We don't seem to grasp the volumes of what we do not know.

Ever hear of the Arctic Dipole? That was yesterday's news. Interesting stuff. I wonder what tomorrow's sky is falling/slow crash keeps on news is going to be.

In my life as a learning person, I've sought out a lot of generalized basic skills, from foraging to sewing, raising food to making bread--anything that interested me, usually focusing on low-tech, low-cost methods of making a living instead of making a dying. It's crazy reading books from the 70's. I feel like many of these authors were my contemporaries. We're interested in the same issues and lifestyles. I'm just amazed that I never even heard about any of this stuff until the last few years. It seems like keeping our habitat a viable living space would be one of our foremost concerns as a thinking and doing culture.

Honestly, though, I think a good many citizens are brainwashed. Whatever and however, many people go through life, distracting themselves by whatever means possible. It's almost like they're robots, because they don't have the capability of saying no. It doesn't even occur to them. It seems like consumer culture has become the global religion, with its god Mammon firmly in place on top of the money-backed hierarchy. Mammon's temples have quick checkout lines for your convenience! There's something about the abstraction of money, something one trades her life for, and the abstraction of stuff, supposedly valued and of value, and these damn screens that keep us occupied, for our every last moment.

Of course, not growing up in a culture of understanding, of having to figure out a way that we can live in a manner that suits us without destroying the foundation of our planet's vital processes, is challenging to say the least. It's a lot of hit and miss, following interests and intuitions, observing feedback and putting plan b in the loop of chaos and seeing what happens.

Fortunately, I feel at some point I stumbled into a positive feedback loop with community at the core. I honestly feel like I walk in the hands of the gods every day. Whatever I need comes to me, in random blessings from others. I do spend a lot of my time and energy in returning these blessings to those I can, but giving and receiving are flip sides of the same coin. It's awesome either way. It is how to have power with instead of power over those in our communities, whether you're talking about a close-knit group of friends you potluck with, or you're talking about the flora and fauna of your habitat.

I feel so very blessed. I don't know how I came to rest at this place, but I am here. I tell you, it looks and feels awfully similar to the garden of eden in my mind's eye. I feel this is a key to the problems we as a global community have right now. There's absolutely no government that can get us out of this, no movement that can stop it, no hope in some wonderful new technology to be our pop-up savior. We have effed up, royally. We can take responsibility for it, talk and think about it, and do SOMETHING DIFFERENT. Doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different outcome is silly.

Part of this is each of us taking responsibility for our own selves, our actions that either consciously support the living processes of our planet or consciously support the Mammon pavement machine. I mean, we are consciously acting, right? I think a lot of people realize that things are messed up, even if they don't have a clue what to do about it. No president seems capable of righting wrongs, only doing complete evil.

We the people have our power back again. We have the power to ask ourselves questions that matter, and to talk to each other about what's for real. What do we value, and how do we support that? How do we live without destroying the ecosystem? How do we share knowledge and skills in a world that demands payment for either? We can create myths and legends that contain meaning, and name every living thing that surrounds us and teach it to our children--on and on, with different questions and answers for each of us. There's so much we can do that does not support empire. There's so much we can do that supports life. We have a choice. We just have to enact it.

Yeah, so what, the sky is falling. It won't be the first time. We pick up the pieces and move on. We cope, we adapt, we create, we change, we pass along what we've learned. This is human culture. We love a challenge.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

meat, woodstove cooking, and presentmas

Yum. My neighbor brought over a deer leg for me. As squeamish as I can be with bodily secretions, I seem to have no problem butchering meat. A deer leg has a surprising amount of meat on it. Thanks go to Patrick for butchering tips. In the woodstove picture, in front is the deer chili I made, with the heirloom garden tomatoes I canned this summer, and fresh onions and chard from the garden, and some garlic harvested earlier this year. I made it as spicy hot as I can stand it, and it is delicious. In the pot on the back of the woodstove is simmering deer bones and trimmings, making some of the most delicious fatty deer broth imaginable. Five quarts of venison chili and seven quarts of slow- and long-cooked venison broth set me up for an enjoyable winter.

Here's a picture of a spider, making a home in the rosemary plant I brought in from outside. I am hopeful it will keep the spider mite population down this winter. I only noticed the web because I was spraying water on my plants to pamper them.

It's been brrrr cold and super windy. The woodstove is keeping up, somewhat, but it's been chilly in the house, especially in the mornings when we first get up. My bedroom is about 45 in the mornings, and the house has been around 55. It doesn't take too long to warm up, but today the sunny living room is where we're at. We're taking the day off gymnastics and music class, not interested in waiting in the cold for the bus. Kaleigh's finishing up reading some library books, and we've been wrapping Christmas presents and making Christmas plans--or Presentmas, as Kaleigh likes to call it, being most UNinterested in God and Christ.

I personally am looking forward to being toasty warm sharing a jacuzzi suite tomorrow! Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

ernest hemingway sings the blues

The age demanded that we sing
And cut away our tongue.

The age demanded that we flow
And hammered in the bung.

The age demanded that we dance
And jammed us into iron pants.

And in the end the age was handed
The sort of shit that it demanded.

Monday, December 7, 2009

i am breathing oxygen because i am on fire

and sometimes you might feel
as though you've been taken captive
by lunatics and that's cuz you have.

upon realization of said quandary,
fasten your seat belts,
and take off, blast off.

in inner and outer space
you may find yourself in a
better position to think,

removed from the
dust-attracting qualities
of every day life.

it just might happen.

Friday, November 27, 2009

living without money

My thanks to my friend Ran for passing on this great story of a woman who lives without money.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

dropping out and dropping in

Per Lesa's request, I'll type up some more on dropping out and dropping in. Ten years ago, I was a professional employee, complete with suit, health insurance, regular shopping trips, car, salary, and ever-increasing debt. I did NOT enjoy the middle-class life in the least, but felt trapped. I mean, I couldn't just quit my hated job, could I? How on earth, in the free-est country in the world, did I manage to enslave myself?!

I was blessed to have Michael Fogler's book Unjobbing: The Adult Liberation Handbook cross my path. After reading it, I realized that with all the expenses I had from work, and all the time commitments as well, I was making chump change--and this was the "best" job I ever had! Fortunately, our at-the-time foster daughter arrived, and although I had planned on working from home, that did not work out. I quit my job and became a stay at home mom. Between diapers, spitting up, and learning to walk, somehow I found my way to paradise.

We consolidated our debt and focused on paying it off. We bought a small inexpensive house, and made extra principle payments to pay it off quicker. We kept track of where every last cent we spent went, and were appalled. We changed our behavior accordingly, shopping at 2nd hand stores and asking around for anything we needed. We grew some of our own food, and dumpster dived. The car died and was not replaced, except by bikes and a bus map. We stopped paying for entertainment, got rid of the tv, and made good friends instead.

It turns out, friends, aka community, is where it's at for me. I stopped focusing on the money economy, where scarcity rules, and started focusing on the abundance in my life, mainly human relationships. It turns out community can provide anything and everything I need, and it does, without bureaucracy, paperwork, and undignified subordination.

Sure, I still have a part-time job that pays the bills, but my bills are miniscule compared to most. I rarely shop, and if I do, it's usually for 2nd hand items, having replaced most of my "disposable" consumer goods with the real deal (hankies, cloth napkins, etc.). The waste stream in America offers plenty to choose from, as does the friend network (friendcycle). I don't know if I have amazing karma or what, but whatever I need seems to find me. I live in the hands of the gods, as do the lilies of the field, and I am cared for, without a doubt.

So when I blow my nose into what used to be my t-shirt, I don't feel any sort of hardship, just relief that I didn't have to take a bus to the store and trade my life's energy for what used to be a tree, that I'm just going to throw away anyway. When I grow my own food, I don't worry about the labor it takes to plant and harvest, I think about the good medicine entering my body, keeping me healthy. When I hang out with my friends, listening to the deafening roar of crickets punctuated by our laughter, the thought of what movie is opening this weekend doesn't even cross my mind. When I get to spend each day with my child, watching her grow and learn, I feel so blessed. There's no money in the world I would trade for these experiences.

There's dropping out of the money economy, and then there's dropping into the community economy. I've been told by people they admire me, or respect me, for my "sacrifice", but really I do it for selfish reasons. Living in a community, living in the hands of the gods--it just feels right, and it makes me happy. It's a life worth living, full of meaning. I am wealthy beyond compare. I turn my eye to look for beauty instead of despair, and amazingly, beauty is everywhere I look. I have no doubt I live in the garden, in paradise.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

dropping out

The more I drop out of the money economy, the more I drop into community, the more awesome life gets. It doesn't matter if you take it fast or slow, follow your heart or your brain, how much you work, or whether you stay put or travel around for mental and physical stimulation. If it doesn't feel good, don't do it. Ask yourself, if you weren't a slave or living up to someone else's expectations, what would you be doing with your life right now?

When you get to that point of doing exactly what you want for most of your hours, you may find yourself in some sort of paradise. It's not to say that life is sparkling and happy face all the time, but it's real and immediate, rich with experience, and if you can figure it out, rich with human relationships. I live in the hands of the gods in the world of community, and they treat me well. Yeah, I live in utter poverty in the world of money, but I tell ya, I wouldn't trade it for anything.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009


the great escape

listen, he said, you ever seen a bunch of crabs in a bucket?
no, I told him.
well, what happens is that now and then one crab
will climb up on top of the others
and begin to climb toward the top of the bucket,
then, just as he's about to escape
another crab grabs him and pulls him back down.
really? I asked.
really, he said, and this job is just like that, none
of the others want anybody to get out of
here. that's just the way it is in the postal service!
I believe you, I said.

just then the supervisor walked up and said,
you fellows were talking.
there is no talking allowed on this job.

I had been there for eleven and one-half years.

I got up off my stool and climbed right up the supervisor
and then I reached up and pulled myself right out of there.

it was so easy it was unbelievable.
but none of the others followed me.

and after that, whenever I had crab legs
I thought about that place.
I must have thought about that place maybe 5 or 6 times

before I switched to lobster.


I've been reading a lot of poetry by Charles Bukowski. Reading his work is like a sucker punch to the heart. It's great proletariat poetry--sad, dark, bitter, raw, stark, and often pleasurable. I'm glad I finally have had the bukowski experience.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

what's new

Per Lesa's request, I'm posting!

Of course, there have been a lot of changes going on. Don and roommate Joe are getting settled into their house a few blocks away. Don is working a temp job, doing data entry, and going on a Halloween date tonight (hope he doesn't mind me updating him for this blog!).

Kaleigh is getting settled into the fall routine of classes: art, swimming, gymnastics, and music, plus an unschooling/knitting playdate, plus any other extracurriculars pop up. In other words, we spend a lot of time socializing--too much for my homebody self, but not enough for superextrovert Kaleigh. Anytime at home, Kaleigh's been reading furiously. She's had a few days of laying on the couch in utter exhaustion, where she's plowed through 5 or 6 novels.

My mind has felt unfocused, and I have to remind myself to not be too hard on myself about it. It's okay to sit around and do nothing, but it's a lot easier for me to do that in a clean house with everything on my to do list crossed off. Type A!! Most recently, I cleaned everything out of my bedroom and painted it. Since I got the furniture put back into place, my insomnia has disappeared. I'm sure it's all symbolic and placebo, but I'm very thankful to be sleeping every night once again.

I've been dating a guy from Normal of all places. I have enjoyed hanging out and getting to know him. We seem to have a pair of fairly compatible personalities. So, we're taking it slowly and enjoying all the niceness and newness of our relationship, and hanging out online a lot, which seems necessary with the hour plus distance separating us. However it works, yes?

I'm not looking forward to the holidaze coming. I just don't care anymore, and I seem unable to acquire any sort of enthusiasm. Oh well! I've done a lot in past years, so it all averages out.

Knitting has become my regular past time, what with Kaleigh's activities taking me out of the house, and needing to rely on a portable hobby. I've been knitting fingerless gloves, and I seem to be able to do a pair a week. I got an order for a pair for Christmas, which is awesome. I keep feeling like once I get "enough" to stock a place, I'll take them in and see if I can peddle them, but honestly, they'll probably all go to Christmas presents, and that's okay too.

The last month has also been big in preserving garden flow. I finished canning the tomatoes and green tomatoes. There's not much in the garden now except onions and chard. I've collected raspberry, strawberry, and peach tree leaves, as well as mint and the herbs I have, parsley, oregano, basil, and sage. My kitchen looked like a jungle for a bit, there. I'm slooowwwwllllyyyy getting caught up. I still need to jar up mass quantities of kraut, for instance. Last weekend, we enjoyed some passion fruits we found in an alley. They were sooo good. We saved the seeds, and the cutting I got earlier this year is still showing signs of life.

So, there's the update on life at the little house! Lots going on, but nothing that seems extremely important, as usual!


Saturday, October 3, 2009

new beginnings

Ahh, it is quiet at the little house, with the wee one at her dad's for the last two days. I had time to clean and move furniture. Quiet time is so nice. Actually, I should say alone time, because I've been listening to a lot of loud music: Tom Waits, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Rev. Peyton and His Big Damn Band, Radiohead. My mind is slowly decluttering as is my house. The state of my home has always seemed to me to be a reflection of my mental state.

I have some bread rising in the oven. It's the first time I've made bread in a long time, driven by having to eat white wonder bread, the only stuff in the house. Yuck. I forgot the luxuriousness of making bread: the smell of honey and yeast perking, the feel of coarse flour in my hands, the baby butt feel of the bread when it's done being kneaded. I'm excited that in a couple of hours, I'll be eating toast fresh from the oven, with tasty butter and homemade jam.

It makes me feel self-conscious to say this, but I've signed up for online dating. The main reason is that some of my good friends met each other online, and I am hopeful to meet someone as awesome as they are. The other reason is that I am not fond of bars, and in the evening when people usually hang out, I am here with my kid asleep. I've met some cool people so far (and some not so cool people). And it's often really hilarious. I can't believe how much I've laughed. Thanks go to my friend Mark of the Beast for being my online dating guide and giving pertinent guy advice.

And so, life as a single parent begins. I am really enjoying myself so far.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Good Bye Little House

Well, it's been an interesting summer for Donald. Two days ago, Joe and I moved out, in between rain showers, into a rental house where we still can't use the shower or kitchen; the workers are still finishing it up. But we crammed our stuff into the two bedrooms and carved out spaces to sleep on the floor. The Little House is much more spacious now, with two guys' stuff outta the way! I'll still be around from time to time, kicking it on Sundaze and unschooling Kaleigh.

But before I sign out, I gotta point y'all to this page on The Illiterate Minority. It's basically patriotic protesters with misspelled signs, but the pics are PRICELESS. I needed that laugh!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

happy satan tomato and a new bike

Seriously. It even has the little goat horns and everything.

I didn't end up going to see the Rev. Peyton, which was really disappointing. I was supposed to go to the show with my roommate Joe, but he decided that he wanted to keep his options open after the show, and I didn't feel like walking or biking home at 3 a.m. by myself. Next time, I will make sure to go with someone I can count on, someone who does not get blackout drunk and need to keep their options open.

Saturday, Kaleigh and I went to Super Saturday at the Illinois State Museum and learned about archaeology. It was cool, and I got to meet the new educational intern. She's really nice, and I am looking forward to talking with her more in the future. They were making and playing with old timey kids' toys in the discovery room. Kaleigh made a button spinner, using a piece of wood instead of a button. I don't know what they are actually called, but that is what we called them when I was a kid. I remembered too we used to make hankie babies, and if I'd had a hankie on me, I would've showed the kids how to do it.

Sunday was an awesome fun day in Zomba. Mike and Don and Kaleigh went down to Don's future rental house to do some mudding on the walls. This is what Joe had told the landlord he could do in exchange for the security deposit, but Joe was nowhere to be found. Luckily, Mike knows how to mud drywall, and he's a nice enough guy to give up many hours of his free time to help out. Kaleigh learned how to mud drywall as well, as she mudded over the screw holes, and also cleaned up the tools. Patrick, Abby, and I stayed here and made PIZZA!!! It was wonderfully yummy, complete with currant tomatoes and other veggies from the garden, as well as local cheese. Even our vegan wheat-free friends ate it! There's something to be said about sacred food shared in community with good friends. The recently-bottled raspberry wine was also delish.

Ahhh, a new bike! Well, it's an old old bike--even my mother would have been too young to ride this bike when it came out. But it fits me. It's a 24" girls' cruiser, a Hiawatha. With the seat up and the handlebars tilted up, it fits rather well. The coaster brakes will take some getting used to, but I like it. A lot. Thanks go to Bill, who bought it, and brought it over to see if the size would fit me, and who was nice enough to sell it to me, even though he wanted to chop it and make it into a trike. And also thanks to Bill who raised the seat and adjusted the handlebars. Woo! I can't wait to ride it!!! I haven't ridden a bike in 4 or 5 days now, and it's starting to get to me. I need to ride my bike!

Tonight we're going to Sarahlin and Julian's house two blocks down from here that they picked up cheap at tax auction. They refer to it as The Sanctuary. Mike is helping them get the house ready to put the electric back on. It'll be a lot easier to repair and clean when there is electricity and water. I'm going down with loppers, clippers, and a hand scythe to see if I can make the yard somewhat presentable to give the house a claimed look. I feel like I've been receiving so much help lately, it will be nice to be on the giving end again. Ahhh, community--giving and receiving being the flip sides of the same coin.

I wrote a bit the other night, and at some point, I'll post it here. I'm still working on making my thoughts clearer. I hope to get a Folktales book together and (self) published this winter. It's just nice to write again. I've had it bottled up for some time now.


Friday, September 11, 2009

tomatoes, spiders, and bikes

Tis the season of spiders. Anywhere you walk outdoors, you are likely to walk through a web or strand, or even smack into a spider. I took this picture this morning in a tomato cage of a beautiful yellow garden spider. They are huge, but are quite harmless. This one had a couple of small bugs wrapped up for lunch.

We've had a few 80 degree days, and the tomatoes are booming. I picked four bowls of them this morning, and there's many more that need a couple more days to ripen up. The tomatoes have some yucky fungus. So far, it hasn't affected fruit development, but the plants are looking sad. The stems are not very strong either, so I've picked up several fruits off the ground. Oh well. Next year I know: yellow fungus gets trimmed immediately.

And bikes. I biked out to Rochester on the Lost Bridge trail a few days ago. It's about 13 miles round trip from my house. I am surprised I managed the whole 13 miles pretty much in one go. The last mile home was hard and slow, but I did it. I'm hoping to find some more low-key bike rides, like the critical mass bike ride. I can't afford to pay money or wear fancy clothes. And biking to the far west side to begin a bike ride is too much for me. The Springfield bike club has two weekly rides that go on the Lost Bridge trail, so I hope to go on one of those before winter hits.

I went to the bike shop today, and there was a really sweet used bike. It had a 15" frame, and it fit me well. I couldn't get my feet flat on the ground while in the seat, but pretty close. It has the handle bars kind of raised up, so I wouldn't be hunched over in my seat, killing my shoulders. It's a hybrid bike, meaning it has not thin racing tires or fat mountain bike tires, but ones (new) suitable for city riding. The price? $250. Oh well. Maybe at tax return time I can think about that, but otherwise, I'm going to have faith the universe will provide.

I'm thinking about putting Kaleigh's tag-along on my current bike and trying it out with her. It's not the safest thing in the world, but I hate riding the bus when I could be saving money and getting exercise at the same time. We'll see how it goes.

I'm looking forward to the Rev. Peyton tonight. Hopefully I won't get too trashed I won't be able to bike home.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

good music

Since I don't know how to pirate music, I listen to youtube.

Here's the nimble Curtis Eller, playing Sugar In My Coffin

and the Talking Heads, Don't Worry About the Government

the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Cornbread and Butter Beans

John Hartford does a kick ass Long Hot Summer Day, which I especially enjoy since I spent my first seven years looking at the Illinois River from my upstairs windows. Sarah Watkins does a great rocked out live version.

the Reverend Peyton and his Big Damn Band are playing in Springfield next Friday, and I am going to see them. I am looking forward to it.


Friday, September 4, 2009

biking again

Today I biked to Wal-Mart. Really. I had never been to the south side Wal-Mart, but today I broke my tradition of not patronizing any business newly built, and biked out there. The only vision care provider in Springfield that accepts the medical card is, you guessed it, Wal-Mart. I don't link up the words Wal-Mart and quality very often, but the eye doctor seemed competent and all that (and had the same name as my dad).

Since Wal-Marts are usually built in sprawl, they can be a challenge to get to on bike. Fortunately, the frontage road goes right to it, and that road is not too scary. Courage!!! It took me about 25 minutes to bike there, and I didn't nearly die playing in traffic. I like to bike in the driving lane, as generally the road is smoother and I can go faster on the street than on the sidewalk. I've learned, though, if I hug the side of the road, cars pass me ridiculously close. But if I get waaaay out there in the middle of the lane, they tend to pass me more like a car, staying well beyond my perceived safety zone.

I rode to the bike shop on MacArthur to check out their used bike selection. I am looking for a bike that fits me a little better. They had a couple of nice old bikes, but nothing that fits me any better than what I currently have. Partly, I am just so short. I can't touch the ground on my current bike. I'd like to be able to tag-along with Kaleigh, but I don't feel safe enough when I can't touch the ground. The other issue with my bike is that the handlebars require this aching shoulder kind of position. I can sit straight up on my bike as long as I'm not too worried about being able to reach my brakes. I'm biking enough that it makes a difference to my body, and I want to be comfortable.

I've looked into bike auctions. The city only auctions off the bikes that aren't functional, and the rest they donate to Catholic Charities (although no one at CC knows how to apply for a bike, and they swear they don't get donated bikes). The county auctions off recovered bikes, but they haven't had a bike auction for two years, and don't know when the next one will be. I will keep my eyes open and hope the universe provides something for me.

Did I mention how much I enjoy riding my bike? I think I rode about 11 miles today, which is the most I've ever ridden in one day. I am hoping in the next week or two to bike out toward Rochester on the trail. I'm told it's really pleasant out there, and seeing a river and trees and hearing quiet sounds like a nice change.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I think nothing beats riding a bike. It's not only great exercise, it's so much fun. I like to bike and sing (horribly off key, but whatever), bike and talk, bike and observe, and just plain old bike. I had a wonderful time biking and getting to know people at the last Critical Mass bike ride in Springfield. I had a great time biking south and west and back east tonight; it was my first biking at night experience, and it kicked ass. I think I biked about 9 miles altogether. I love riding a bike. I hope winter doesn't come for a while.


Monday, August 31, 2009


The picture after another big day of work; it's sure coming along! John and his crew came out for another morning of sawing and splitting. Kaleigh and I picked up 6-7 buckets of kindling, plus filled one of the ash cans with kindling. Joe helped me stack wood, and made braces for the wood to stack against. Mike came over, and with Joe, threw wood from the far pile to the near pile. Thanks to Dan again for the log splitter and to Don for doing the dishes.

It was nice, having a lunch of brats, getting to know John and his crew. Some of them live around here, and all of John's properties are in the general southeast side neighborhood. He's an honest guy, a good guy, a landlord worth having. He offered a house to Joe and Don, and as soon as it's ready (another week?), they'll be moving to Renfro Street, just south of Ash. I am very excited to have him as the landlord to the house behind me, and I may never need worry about the resident pit bulls again.

We had a Sunday get-together with the old crew. I had no time to cook, but friends and the Ods provided. Abby brought borscht, a winter soup that really hit the spot in the chilly yesterday, and also some gluten-free brownies made with rice flour and chia seeds. Patrick brought over some cheese he found on the sidewalk (in a bag with a butter knife), and he made up this delicious plate of sliced cheese and tomatoes, with basil leaves, with vinegar and truffle oil drizzled on top. The honey goat cheese was particularly marvelous. We dumpstered some scones on the way back from listening to bluegrass at the park (which also hit the spot), and also dumpstered some pallets to stack the wood on (we ran out).

In the evening, since the backyard is relatively cleaned out, we had a fire. New energy flows throughout the place. The fire was a great idea with the chilly evening, looking at the few stars and the almost-full moon, drinking wine, and sharing the whole experience with friends. There is abundance, there is community, and it's all present here, in the little house in the ghetto.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

community in action

This is the before and after. Most of the wood piled in our back yard is now cut, split, and stacked in the woodshed, which became so full that we had to start an auxiliary pile in the lee of the house, that we'll cover with a tarp. There's still more wood scattered here and there, and we'll tackle that tomorrow, but we got a lot done.

The actions resulting in these beautiful pictures are courtesy of John, the landlord of the house behind us, and his crew of four men who like their chainsaws and work damn hard; Dan, who loaned us the woodsplitter, and then stuck around to help, and his son Denison, who thinks work is fun; my good friends Joe, Mike, and Abby; and myself.

I feel pretty good about winter coming now, knowing I and my daughter will be warm. I appreciate all the help that everyone gave.


Friday, August 28, 2009

no way health care

I am quite fortunate to be in good health. However, I have some pesky spots in my molars that appear to my layperson's eye to be cavities. They're my first cavities, but four of them at once. My last dental checkup was three or four years ago, when I was pronounced "dentally boring" by Dr. Said.

I have a medical card, which sounds terrific in theory, as it pays for any doctor and dental visits as well as prescriptions. But in reality, for me it's not worth the paper it's printed on. I got a letter a few weeks ago, advising me that I was overdue for a checkup. I can't remember the last checkup I had. I also do not have a regular doctor, since I never go to the doctor, as I am rarely sick. The last time I attempted to see a doctor, I called the clinic, but it's a 2-week wait to get in, no matter how sick you are.

I think it's a good idea to have an established doctor, as well as to get a checkup, so I called to find a permanent doc. Turns out the only docs taking medical card patients are at the clinic. It's not a problem to wait a couple of weeks for a checkup, but in times of illness, like the last killer sinus infection I had (several years back), two weeks is way too long to wait to see a doctor. (Fortunately for me then, I had a friend with a couple of left over high powered antibiotics that cured me). I guess I will keep relying on health instead of health care. The ER takes the medical card, which I guess is why I hear about so many people with medical cards "wasting the time" of the ER when they should/could be going to a regular doctor (if only they can get an appointment!).

Today I went in search of a dentist. Five of the dentists who take the medical card are at the clinic, but the clinic is not accepting adult dental patients, only kids. The sixth dentist also is only accepting children. I called back to find out names of more dentists, but they are all out of town (the next three closest are in Taylorville, Virginia, and East Alton), and I have no vehicle to get there.

So, any ideas for diy dental care? Someone suggested superglue. I will research it at some point, and if I find out any useful suggestions, I'll let yall know. Right now I am feeling no pain from the cavities, but I know it's only a matter of time. The longer I wait, the bigger they will get, the more damage they will do, and the more it will cost if ever a dentist in Springfield decides to accept medical card patients.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

being poor

I found a slip of paper reminding me to find this great essay, Being Poor by John Scalzi. I found myself smiling though, at the ridiculousness of it all and the memories it invoked of my own childhood. I might add a few of my own:

Being poor is not being able to go to school for a week because you lost your shoe, and you only have one pair.

Being poor is putting empty food cans back on the shelf so the social worker will think there is enough food in the house.

Being poor is sitting in the dark, sharing one can of corn among five people.

Being poor is your parent's alcohol and drug addiction.

Being poor is not feeling your fingers most of the day in winter, after a morning tractor ride through snow drifts up to the hard road to catch the school bus, with no mittens.

Being poor is an hour bus ride to school and using text books published before you were born, or xeroxed text books.

Being poor is no music, no art, no culture, only tv and the bible.

Being poor is grateful for Christmas vacation, mostly because the well always freezes up about then, and there's no bathing for two weeks, and toilet flushing is rare.

Being poor is converting to being a Jehovah's Witness, because then there's a good reason you don't have any Christmas presents.

Being poor is feeling your friend's luxuriously soft rabbit fur coat, and wondering why you get nothin for Christmas.

Being poor is never believing in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy.

Being poor is not going to the doctor because you can't afford the gas money to get there, even though the medical card pays for the visit.

Being poor is having fun playing in the dug out septic tank after a rainstorm or cooling off in the creek 1/4 mile downstream from a hog confinement farm.

Being poor is being the last person to live in a house, in every place you live.

Being poor is having a chronic sore throat because you have no heat in your bedroom and most of the house.

Being poor is 30 cousins taking turns using the same crib and wearing the same baby clothes.

And the flip side:

Being poor is an adventure.

Being poor makes you adaptable.

Being poor makes you mighty thankful for anything and everything.

Being poor gives you discipline.

Being poor forces you to rely on your community and the gift economy, and all the good feelings that come of it.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009


"What's gonna set you free
Look inside and you'll see
When you got so much to say
It's called gratitude"
--the Beastie Boys

Last night I cried. I haven't cried in a while. My heart was bursting with so much gratitude, I couldn't keep those feelings inside anymore.

Yesterday, my good friends Mike and Abby came over. It's so good to hang out with people I care so much about and that care about me. They both listened to me venting about my current living situation and frustrations, and they shared similar happenings and views from their communal living situations. (People can be good people, but sometimes it just doesn't work out living together. Got it.)

Abby put away the massive mounds of dishes in the kitchen. Mike replaced the spurting leaking hose on the sump pump in the basement with a permanent drain so I don't have to switch out the washing machine hose with the sump hose every time it rains hard (which is nearly every time it rains), and so that water doesn't run all over the floor, further contributing to basement mold. When they left, I gave them homemade lacto-fermented sauerkraut and feralberry wine made from yard berries picked by friends.

Ahh, community. If we translated all the good gifts of time and stuff into money, did we equal out? Probably not, but that's the beautiful part of community. Giving and receiving are flip sides of the same coin. It's abundance, flowing freely, acquiring the wealth of community and investing it in renewed friendship. And knowing that I have friends that I can count on, no matter what, there is no substitute, there is nothing that money could buy that can even come close.

The house behind ours is a rental house, and it has a new owner now. I've been talking with the handyman who's fixing it up, and told him we were putting up a privacy fence, and that I really appreciated them cleaning up the overgrowth from their side of the fence so it's easier to get it all done. The owner came by yesterday with a crew of guys with chainsaws. They are not only got started on cleaning up the rest of my side of the fenceline, they also offered to chainsaw the giant pile of wood in my backyard into stove lengths.

I mean, what possesses people to be so utterly nice and selfless? Four guys with chainsaws can make quick work of the pile and the fenceline, so much more than one worn out housewife with hands that can no longer grip anything. I know they are getting a neater property and will hopefully get better tenants, but still. To me, it's a miracle, a godsend. They are going to keep me and my child warm this winter, and there is nothing I can do or say that will ever repay them personally. It's a debt I owe to the universe that I will repay each time I help someone else, and I intend to repay that debt for the rest of my life

And say what you want about rednecks, but they rock in my opinion!! Community still exists, and they get it. I don't care what someone's political beliefs are--you either get community or you don't. They get it loud and clear.

I am overflowing with gratitude.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

lazy men and the art of frustration

I've heard that dishes can make or break a communal living situation, and I'd have to agree with this assessment. I've lived on occasion with other people, and when it goes sour, it seems that dishes or generally cleaning up after one's self are right there in the forefront.

I was last in the kitchen four days ago, when I did a heaping pile of dishes, canned 6 quarts of tomatoes, cleaned up all the canning mess and dishes, and scrubbed clean a dozen canning jars from the last moldy box in the basement. Since that time, I've been focused on working outside, putting in a full day of hard physical labor, trying to get yet another giant ignored pile transformed into what it was supposed to be. This doesn't leave a lot of time and energy to come inside and be the domestic servant that magically outputs good food and clean dishes.

Every dish in our house is dirty: every bowl, plate, glass, cup, and eating utensil. But no one washes the dishes. It is extremely frustrating. I know that not all men are lazy, but I am begging for examples to the contrary. I don't know what it is about having a vagina that makes one the most appropriate candidate for dish doing.

When discussing the lazy men phenomena with my daughter a few weeks ago, I told my daughter that I hoped she did not end up marrying a lazy man. She shook her head and said adamantly, "I'm marrying a woman!!" If I ever end up having another partner or roommate after the current pair move out, I hope they understand how community works. I hope they get the idea about giving and receiving. I hope they can clean up after themselves.

Gratitude is the highest vibration. I'm looking forward to living on my own, and believe me, I will be full of gratitude at that time. I'll miss the company, but not the upkeep lazy men seem to require.


Monday, August 24, 2009

all chaos, all the time

The little house is experiencing chaos at this time. Don and I (Carey) are separating and Don is moving out in the next week or two. Daughter Kaleigh and I are going to be womyn homesteaders, providing for ourselves as best we can and relying on the strength of our community to help us where and when we cannot help ourselves.

People grow apart and that's just how it is. The last 15 years of marriage have left me with good memories, but I am ready for new adventures. Don and I remain friends, and I think, in time, we will both be better off leading separate lives following our divergent passions.

I love the homestead life, blending the ideas of work and play, providing for myself/ourselves the best I can, while contributing to the abundance of my community. Today I learned to chop wood with an axe! I might have gotten a whole day's worth of wood stacked up before I pooped out, but it's a start. Already I can hit the axe in the same place more than once. And if elm wasn't the hardest wood on earth, I might have gotten two days' worth of wood stacked! I'm not stressed YET that it's almost September and that this wood is the first to get stacked for the upcoming winter. But with everybody talking about an early winter this year, I might get to panic mode shortly. At least it's happening, and I will keep making it happen.

Other projects I've been working on have been cleaning out the basement. When I started, there was a narrow path from the door to the washer. Several dozen moldy boxes later, there is room. It's amazing how much stuff we had that could have or should have been thrown away. It's gone now, but there is still mold. Little by little, I'm reclaiming the space.

The behind us neighbors moved out, and now seems like a good time to get up the privacy fence we bought earlier this year. Joe and I cleared out old fencing, grown up trees, and miles of nightshade. I'm almost ready to start digging holes for posts, at least along one side. The other side is pretty well full of wood-yet-to-be-cut.

Oh yeah, and it's tomato canning season. Six quarts so far. If we get some warm weather, I'll be processing a lot more and how.

I plan on updating this a bit more frequently in the near future. Sorry to leave y'all out of the loop, but it's been all chaos, all the time, and that's just how it goes sometimes.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

social networks

Sunday morning, when Carey turned on the computer, it made sparking noises and flashes. She unplugged it right away. I took the power supply out and something in there is kinda charred. I didn't want to try plugging it in again. I just hope the hard drive is OK. So, we've been offline since Saturday night. It was OK. If anyone has tried to email any of us, that's why we haven't written back.

It turns out we can survive in the wilds of real life without this particular shining rectangle. But fear not, we shall be back in cyberia soon enough. I'm on a friend's laptop right now. Another friend is going to talk to his friend who might have a usable power supply for our PC. And so, real life social networks (as in, face-to-face) help facilitate our re-plugging-in-to the shining rectangle of blogging, facebook, email, myspace, other email, information, image, representation, mediation, eyestrain, wrist strain, back strain, and all that fun stuff. Don't worry, we'll be back! But--this IS an example of tribal economics--people providing services to one another, with it all going around in circles of reciprocity, no serious accounting, just giving, sharing.

AND with the new computer possibilities, I gotta figure out my permaculture talk for this Saturday morning, and maybe come up with some kinda handouts to have the printer crank out. The fun never stops. Though I do love talking about permaculture!

now listening: Sacred Dub Podcast Transmission 055

Saturday, July 4, 2009

the day of loudness

The rain has finally ended, and revelers all over Springfield's east side have begun shooting off their loud makers. Finally. We're used to hearing loud popping noises on a regular basis at least from the beginning of June, usually going well through the middle of July. This year, it's been only the past few days we've heard the works. Now, everyone who drove to Missouri and got their fireworks (or got them from Dupage County), is setting them off. And it's loud! And constant!

The rain was welcome, with a warm and dryish spell, and I just spent many hours this last two weeks in the yard. The rain also conveniently prevented us from biking downtown (no buses today), and attending an all-day festival with only $4. I really enjoyed this dreary rainy chill day, with hardly any traffic or noise other than the rain falling....until now.

It's not even dark yet, and the war zone atmosphere has begun. Normally I don't like a lot of noise, but I really enjoy the 4th, probably because of all the people who enjoy celebrating their 4th by shooting off illegal fireworks. I also enjoy the smell of bbq. Later we're making popcorn. Right now, Kaleigh is making a mud cake by the waning light of the misty day, and the intermittent light of fireflies.

Last night we saw a [insert mike myers' voice] laser light show in downtown Springfield with the cousins, and a serendipitous run-in with the Williamsons. A fun time was had by all.


Thursday, July 2, 2009


All kinds of pictures, at last. The first two are of the woodshed, which also functions as a tool shed shelter. The tool shed we bought is so flimsy, it doesn't hold up to the least bit of wind. Amazingly, it's still in one piece. Now it's firmly ensconced in the woodshed, bolted down and everything. There's still plenty of room for wood and a walkway beside.

Below, hopefully in the order that I'm naming them, are pictures of flowers: blue chicory, white buckwheat, orange daylily, and pink and purple rose of Sharon.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Zomba is blooming. Well, about to, anyway. The onions and tomatoes certainly are blooming. The peas are about done with the intense heat of last week. The picture at left is a pea vine, demonstrating the fractal spiral nature of nature. The tendrils are cute. The other picture here is an onion blossom.

The Springfield in bloom contest is supposed to be judged in a few weeks. I walked around the other day, realizing there was nothing at all in bloom. But now, with the heat and the mad rain, fertility is abundant. The rose of Sharon bush bloomed today, and the mullein rosette is starting to pop out in yellow. There's so much more about to pop.

I transplanted five tomato plants today, and realize I have a ton more to transplant. I am hoping to rework one of the beds to put the volunteer tomatoes in, at least the healthiest and biggest of the bunch. We've been picking raspberries for a couple of weeks now, and I made some wine, with more to make. We've been eating a lot of green beans and onions. The lettuce in zomba has finally started to grow, but it's already bitter with the heat. Still, the bitterness is kind of a nice taste, especially with peas, tamari almonds, green onions, cheese, and raspberries tossed with it. The garlic scapes are taller than me.

The real news around here is that the woodshed is being built. The frame is up, quite sturdy, thanks to our friend Joe and Don. All that's left is findin some more purlins, and hopefully scaring up some metal roofing. The shed is already moved inside and bolted into place. I'll get a picture of it sometime to show the zombans away.

Kaleigh and I are reading the Chronicles of Narnia. It's great! I enjoyed reading them when I was young, but haven't read them for a long time. We're on the 3rd book. I especially enjoyed the 2nd book, as it pretty well sums up the state of the natural world and the human-built world of our own times.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

This Just In

Hello, folks. Kaleigh and I are back from camping with 200 Quakers. We enjoyed ourselves and it was OK, my being back in the company of cap-F Friends for the first time since like 1990 or something (except for a few weddings and funerals).

In my In Search of Simplicity workshop handouts, I listed this blog, so (I hope) a few new readers may come browsing by. Probably, everyone getting home from QuakeCon ("Illinois Yearly Meeting") will need some time to rest, reflect, and recharge, before diving back into everything we experienced and discussed in the past several days. But if/when you click by here, greetings and welcome!

Dear friends and Friends, I normally would prefer to actually write something to post here, but I gotta share this link. One of my favorite bloggers, Ran Prieur, points to this long article that I haven't actually read just yet (but I printed it out). I did scroll down and read all the powerpoint slides in the article, and I loved it so much I had to share. The title sounds intimidating: Definancialisation, Deglobalisation, Relocalisation, but just reading the powerpoints was so fun and insightful that I encourage all y'all to at least do that. It's shifting my paradigm--good thing I'm well lubricated!

peace, and may the Lord bless us and awaken us,


Friday, June 19, 2009

making way for summer

Summer technically begins in a few days, but summer began here yesterday. Although it was only in the low 90's (and central Illinois is a place where you can say "only in the low 90's"), with the humidity the feels like temp was over 100. Fortunately, we had some big windy storms in the early morning that brought some temporarily cool air. I blasted fans in all the windows & was able to cool the house off several degrees to a quite livable 75. By evening, it was 81 in here, and by 10 p.m., it was back to 81 outside, so I could open up the house for some hot non-fossil fueled breezes.

Today is different. It only cooled off to 78 overnight in the house. It's 9 a.m., and already 83 outside, with the feels like temperature at 90. I need to do yardwork, but can't seem to force myself to go outside. I sat on the porch for a while and braided garlic, but that was all the motivation I could muster. Tomorrow it is only going to be 88 for a high, so maybe it will be better tomorrow morning, I hope! As it is, today I am planning on stripping off most of my clothing and staying inside with fans running, drinking ice water.

Don and Kaleigh are camping at an IYM retreat, where Don is presenting a workshop on simplicity. Kaleigh is having a great time running around with the kid pack. If we called it vacation bible school, she'd probably have refused to go, but the Quakers don't seem to care if you believe in God or not. There are crafts in the morning and afternoon, and last night was a bonfire and hay rack rides. She doesn't get to do things like that very much. There won't be much sleeping going on! Don is feeling a bit overwhelmed with talking to people constantly. He's introverted and needs down time.

I have been home cleaning, organizing, getting my brain organized with the tasks I need to do. Don built some wonderful shelves in the kitchen before he left, which I organized. It freed up kitchen space like nothing else. I also moved furniture around in our living room. Since we no longer move every year or so, I am compelled to move my furniture around to give my mind a break from the static stimuli. It's been soooooo hot. It's actually not that hot at all compared to what August will bring, but adjusting to it is difficult, and it's hard for me to maintain my motivation to move.

I have spent some time putting together a map of auction properties. Springfield hires an auction service to sell off its abandoned properties. Starting price is $600, and lots range from a 6 x 30 strip to small acreage in rural Sangamon county, from floodplain to a house on a double lot. Most properties for sale are regular-sized city lots, approximately 1/10 to 1/8 acre in size. There is a lot a few houses down from us that is for sale, one we've been eyeing for a while. There was a decrepit abandoned house there when we bought this place 9 years ago, and the house has been torn down since. It would make a lovely sustainable wood lot, a place to raise corn and potatoes and beans, a fruit orchard--the possibilities are unlimited. I'm not sure we can swing the price, though, as we are trying to get several construction projects done this year. We'll see how it turns out.

I am telling all far and wide about the property tax sale. There are so many vacant lots in our part of town. The ones for sale don't even dent the vacant lot market. The soil here is extremely rich, with many feet of thick black topsoil. Despite the southeast side's reputation as a gang haven, controlled by thugs, with nightly shoot-outs and murders, it is a great place to live, as all these reputed goings-on are false. If only people would give up their negative stereotypes and discard the sensationalism brought to them by local media. I like my house and my neighbors and my neighborhood. People are friendly; it's like a small town. It is soooo quiet here, really. At night we'll sit on the porch sipping wine, with cricket music ringing in our ears, watching the lightning bugs flicker. I feel safe, no problem. Of course, I'm not racist, and I think that makes the biggest difference in my opinion of the place.

So, anyway, if you're interested in being part of the new consensus, moving beyond sustainability, come and join us.


Monday, June 15, 2009


These pictures are all of the lovely Kaleigh. First up is at the Earth Awareness Fair (did you know we live on the Earth?). It was, unfortunately, held inside the convention center, which meant concrete floor and fluorescent lighting, and not much passing by traffic. It was a step down from the park, but we still met a lot of interested and interesting people. Kaleigh had a terrific time hanging out with Lynn Young Buck in the tipi. Lynn taught her the uses of many things in the tipi, and Kaleigh even figured out the low-tech pump drill. Lynn let her dress up in a buckskin dress, and you can see how proud she was. At one point, Kaleigh hid behind a seat in the tipi and asked Lynn to pretend she didn't know where Kaleigh was. Lynn said she shrieked, "Where is my child? Has the white man stole my child?" We laughed our butts off about that one.

The second picture is Kaleigh at the top of the ladder. Don was cleaning out gutters yet again, and installing some kind of gutter guard to prevent the millions of tree seeds from clogging up the gutter. Kaleigh likes to climb ladders. You can't see it in this picture, but her prehensile toes are gripping the ladder rung.

The last picture is of Kaleigh's painted face. This was from the opening day of the library's summer reading program. She didn't wash her face for days after this, but it slowly degenerated into Kaleigh looking like she had a dirty nose.

So, spring is here and almost gone it seems. We have a nice big full garden this year. While we are not nearly close to growing everything we eat, we are getting ever closer. We've been steadily eating onions, peas, and pea pods out of the garden. The mulberries are ripe, and I've already made a carboy of wine. The raspberries are just starting to ripen. I am making feralberry wine today out of the mulberries and raspberries. The small currant bushes also have ripening fruit.

Although the area has seen a lot of rain, our house has not. Even the west side of Springfield has had considerably more rain than we have. I don't like watering for many reasons, primarily because I don't like paying money to put chlorinated water on plants. But water I have. I want my plants to grow before hot and humid summer gets here.

We've had a return of community, it seems. Friends have been stopping by and hanging out in abundance. We've made tentative plans to have a few friends camping out and helping out this summer. I like the idea of collectively working in the yard and on the house, and preparing and preserving food. It's almost a return to the "good old days" when all of our friends were unemployed. I miss it.

In other encouraging news, Springfield is having a tax auction sale in a few weeks. Vacant lots are selling starting at $600. Some lots even have houses. Our neighborhood has many vacant lots, and we're encouraging any and all to come and live and garden here. It would be wonderful to have beautiful gardens all over the place here, entertaining the ideas of community and sharing and caring.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Eating fresh locally grown and produced food is refreshing to the taste buds as well as to the feelings of community. The two are wholly intertwined.

These pictures are of today's lunch. The salad was made with mesclun greens, walnuts, and chive flowers from farmers at our local farmers market. We dressed it up with some homemade lemon balm vinegar, and the only thing not locally produced, olive oil. The quiche crust is made with butter from Wisconsin, and flour milled in Effingham. The filling is asparagus, onions, and chard again from the local farmers market, along with milk from Illinois and eggs laid by happy chickens at Bear Creek Farm & Ranch. We also had some Ropp Jersey cheese (their blue ribbon winning recipe green onion cheddar) on the side, with plain old yummy sweet local strawberries from Live Springs for dessert--so delicious that no sugar is needed. Most all this food was bought face to face, sharing good conversations with the people who harvested it. It feels good to know and financially support your farmer.

We shared this lunch with a friend, one who has been very nice and thoughtful, and it was nice to be able to share this kindness back to someone whose friendship we value. Food and community, there's just no separating the two.

And here's a goofy picture of me and Kaleigh chopping strawberries (the picture of us diligently working was too boring). We made six gallons of strawberry wine, so far. See that fan behind me? We needed it! I am still in the process of making rhubarb wine (and doing dishes). Tomorrow is hopefully the day we make low sugar strawberry jam for Kaleigh and leftover wine pulp "butter" for Don & me. The scraps are going to our worms, who will probably really enjoy the sweet ooshy rotting goodness in a few days. And we harvest the worm poop and turn it into food! No part of the strawberry is wasted. Kaleigh's had many strawberries at this point. Can you tell? I would think I've had too much coffee, but actually, we got up early so we could get strawberries at market.

Last here is the most beautiful edible pea I've ever laid eyes on. It's called the blue-podded pea, and I ordered the seeds from Baker Creek. The blossoms are these beautiful pinks and purples. The pods are a dark indigo blue. They're good dried for soups, and also the pods are edible. We ate the pods in some breakfast eggs the other day. They are by far the healthiest peas I've ever grown. I stuck some regular dollar store seed packet peas in the ground, and they are quite smaller plants and not yet producing pods.

My friend Kaya is visiting Friday, and I am really going to enjoy that day! Saturday we are tabling at the Earth Awareness Fair, handing out copies of our basic comprehensive gardening zine and hopefully parting with the rest of the bulk seeds I've been carting around with me for over a year now.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

rain barrels!!

Oh yeah. Don got the first rain barrel hooked up last night. It's a reclaimed food grade 55-gallon plastic barrel we got for $4, with a flexible downspout to go from gutter to rain barrel. This was given to us. We paid for miscellaneous parts which include a spigot at the bottom, and I'm not sure what else. Even the concrete blocks were given to us by a friend and our neighbors. Friends are fabulous!

The rain barrel got a good test run last night and today. Water started whizzing out the small hole near the top Don cut for an overflow earlier. With more storms on the way, we attached the hose and ran it out to the garden, and slowly the water drained from the barrel. Now we're waiting for more rain. And it looks like the weather will not disappoint. It's in the mid-70s, with almost 100% humidity, if I remember this close feeling correctly. Oooh! And we're sandwiched between tornado watch areas. Fun! We haven't had enough quality time huddling in the basement this spring.

The other picture is a yard remodeling project we've been working on. After giving away hundreds of daylilies, we now have a 10 by 12 patch of ground clear, except for a plum tree that we planted there last year. I planted a wee redbud tree there, along with a few widely spaced daylilies. You can see parts of our old sweet gum tree, which Don sliced into rings to be used as planters. I planted a TON of seeds here, mostly perennials and self-seeding annuals. I am hopeful they will sprout in this heat, humidity, and rain. We entered the Springfield in Bloom contest, and this is where I am hoping to put the sign, at least if the flowers can out-compete the weeds.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

spring on the homestead

Here are some more pictures of life going on, as usual, here in Zomba. We had nice weather for a few days, followed by lots of wind, then a couple inches of rain, then a few days of cold (you know, spring!). We managed to get a few tomatoes and peppers planted despite the ceaseless wind, and they seem to have survived the beating rain. It is warming up outside, so maybe they will start growing again.

Coming up in the garden now are peas, onions, garlic, asparagus (too young to eat, but growing), and potatoes. I planted a ton of garlic this spring, experimenting with it. We had a fall crop of garlic last fall, with the weather being so mild so long. I don't know what will happen, but it'll be interesting. In addition, we have lots of fruit happening, raspberries, red currants, and strawberries. The cherry, pear, and apple trees bloomed this year, and I hope we get fruit on them. The mulberries are just starting to pop out wee plops of green.

The ground was too wet to work today, but I did manage to dig up a few more bucketsful of daylilies; I've given them away to more than a dozen people through freecycle. I'm going to divide them up and space them out, but I have way too many.

Don and I whacked weeds and grass today. With the rain, it's been hard to get much done, plus everything is growing so fast. I used the hand scythe, and I really like it. I managed to only nick myself once. It's more fun than a lawnmower, although it takes a lot longer to be "done". But I get to find what's hidden in the grass, like lilies of the valley and healthy strawberry plants. Kaleigh and Merry used the reel mower on the inside of the yard, and Don used it on the outside. Don also used the wedge trimmer, which is used with the same stroke as a golf club. The yard is looking a lot more kept up. I like the wild and free look myself, and I'd surely let the weeds and grass grow up because I think it looks nicer, as well as is a lot healthier if a diverse and functioning ecosystem is your goal, rather than...what's the goal in maintaining a lawn? But, here we are in town. It's still pretty wild, as what we have growing is not "grass", nor does whacking it manually with various implements result in a smooth 1.5" carpet of sod. The hand scythe is fun because I'm not only mowing the grass and pulling weeds, but also I am making mulch.

The seed swap was yesterday. I got some nice plants. We had a lot of people, although a smaller crowd than last year. There was a rush at noon, then the rush left with most of the plants. It was unfortunate that the cool vibe of mass sharing did not go on for more than 30 minutes. Actually, there was a lot of sharing after that, but more of time and connection than plants. We had several kids coming through to get their mom's birthday presents or plants for their gardens. They were excited. There were a few young moms who seemed interested in growing food, but didn't know where to start. Well, it was very nice talking to people.

Kaleigh has been interested in a lot of summer camps. Her grandparents are graciously paying her way. I know she will have a lot of fun, and I will enjoy the quiet while she's gone, and hopefully get some work done.

We haven't had the woodstove going, and the weather was damp, followed by hella windy, followed by rain and cold--not so good for the drying clothes on the solar-powered clothesline. Our basement got water in it with the mass rain, and I had to wash the clothes that were sorted down there that got wet. It was a super windy day, so I put extra clothespins on all the clothes. Nothing blew away, and the clothes were dry in two hours. Yesterday and today I did laundry and hung it on the line, and got it all done. Ah, I love the clothesline. The clothes smell so good, and it's nice to know when I am out working in the yard, there my clothes are, drying themselves.

Hmm, seems like mother's day is coming up. I think I am visiting with my mother.


Saturday, April 18, 2009


A few days of rain, followed by warm temperatures, and it's officially spring in zomba. Misty leaves outline trees, and all kinds of good eating is coming up in the yard. The spring bulbs bring bright color, as do the pear and redbud trees, and all the pretty weeds: creeping charlie, violets, ground ivy, dead nettle. It's the amazing pushing up feeling surround us, once again.

We were able to get some shiitake mushroom logs. One is ours. This fall we might have some shiitakes.

Kaleigh found another mutant dandelion. I thought it was a freak occurrence when we found them last year, but I guess not. Here's another. And no, we're not downwind of a nuclear power plant.

We've been working on the garden like crazy in this warm not-too-wet weather. The onions and peas are coming up. The starts inside are doing well. We're attempting to get our mailed edible landscaping in the ground as fast as possible. I finally got the three blueberries and seven elderberries in the ground, and now our chestnuts, hazelnuts, and K's pink seedless grapevine are here. No rest for crazy gardeners.

It's earth day week. For some reason, I've never gotten too excited about it. I don't think I've even attended anything earth-day related. I'll probably stay home, listen to birds, and play in the dirt. Again.

I've been thinking a lot about ideas that work. This seems like a good thing to keep in mind. The ideas are out there, and if our culture unbusies itself for a minute to think, I imagine we could come up with broadscale workable solutions with immediate applications. Yep. This idea has intrigued me, along with the idea that sustainability is the least we can do. I know it's trendy and all that, but really, breaking even? It's an honorable goal for addicts, er, adherents to American culture, but I have a kid to think about, and I want a lot more for her than breaking even. I like the idea of leaving a legacy of good soil with active microbial life, forest gardens, community, and basically, systems that function with minimal inputs, but that are easily tweaked by those who are living with them. This seems like a good idea too.

Interesting stuff:
5 Things You Think Will Make You Happy (but won't)
This book: Edens Lost and Found It's full of ideas that work, in all kinds of scales with all kinds of practical value.
Another idea that works: The Amazing Benefits of Grass-Fed Meat. Even if you're a vegetarian, it's relevant, as an idea that works much better than what our market determines as having value.
Crazy Somali pirate story--very interesting!
Growing Power is a Milwaukee-based organization, and they have these great From the Ground Up! Workshops. Although too expensive and too far away, I hope to find out if they have any literature I can peruse here, especially about community organizing. This seems like an excellent project.

I recently reread the city of Springfield's paid study of the east side (warning, pdf). It's an area north of where I live, and the study is from 2001. It's amusing to read of the study's stern warnings for the need of aggressive action, since I highly doubt Springfield's city government had any intentions of doing squat. They also made a note of how the designated area had no parks or playgrounds outside of public schools (which are always posted no trespassing (and so ignored)); installation of parks and green spaces was a recommendation as well.

I'm sure there's no money for east-side parks, especially because all the new suburban parks paid for by Springfield taxpayers are using up any available money. The newest one, Southwind Park, is touted as being accessible for everyone, with the awful irony that it is so way out of town (built in what was a cornfield), and yes, you guessed it, there is no public transportation there. It is accessible only to those with vehicles as it is far away from all but one subdivision neighborhood. No one likes a complainer though, and life isn't fair.

I've gotten the basic comprehensive gardening zine done, and hope to get the printer working long enough to make some copies of it.

Until then, breathe deeply, and enjoy ourselves.