Tuesday, December 7, 2010

By Way of Introduction

Hello there.

I’m not entirely certain who I am addressing, but whoever you are, I would like to henceforth issue my warmest greetings.

My name is Molly, y soy la compaƱera nueva de Don. I have been living in the little house for a couple of months now. Perhaps I shall regale you with the delightful tale of how all of this came about… but, some other time, for it is long and complicated and not entirely delightful. But here we are, and life is indeed quite blissful in this present moment.

For a brief introduction: I am a “twenty-something” and a student at the University of Illinois at Springfield, studying experimental psychology. I am interested in homesteading (obviously), brewing moonshine fruit wine, growing, wild crafting, herbal medicine, studying psychology and philosophy (particularly the phenomenological and anarchist varieties), reading and learning, and pretty much anything that gets slapped with the “radical” label.

I reviewed some of the Little House blog to see what it is all about before I start posting. The history of the Little House, as well as that of the Zomban community, is quite fascinating. The recent posts seem to have taken on a rather philosophical tone, but as I went back, I found many different focuses, including a variety of homesteading activities as well as the importance of community.

As for my focus, at this time I am deeply interested in gardening, and I will likely be posting a great deal about my various adventures therein. Given the fact that it is currently just the beginning of winter and, though I’d like to deny it, I saw snow flurries this very morning, I find it quite the misfortunate timing. To turn a problem into a solution, however, I am focusing on reading (I’m engrossed in a copy of Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew, which is acting as an excellent guide), planning, building, and experimenting with winter gardens and methods to get an early start come spring.

Speaking of winter gardens, I already have a charming little garden growing in our large, lovely, south-facing window. In a long thin planter, members of the mint family – lemon balm, mint, and tulsi (holy basil) – are growing quite vigorously. Along side, my basil plant has exceeded 18 inches in height and my little rosemary plant is flourishing. I’m sure though, that they will all be exceedingly happy after the solstice, as the days begin to lengthen and they get more sun.

I have plans to continue to expand on this garden, hopefully in the coming week. Mi compaƱero, after reading a chapter of Square Foot Gardening, noticed that our milk crates are 13x13 inches – perfect for the square foot method – and we began to formulate the idea of growing vegetables in milk crates. I’m planning to line the crate with cardboard, filling it with potting soil, and plant some carrots. Left near the woodstove, the soil would get warm enough for the seeds to sprout. Then, being in a portable milk crate, they can be relocated to the sunny window to flourish into food. If all goes well, we might build something more elaborate… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

We’ll see what happens.



Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Circle Turns

Wow, it's been a while. Things have changed, things have stayed the same.

Sharqi and the sprout (she's more of a sapling now, actually) have moved to Urbana, which sounds WAY cooler than Springfield. I am back in the little house, feeding logs to the woodstove, snuggling with Snapper the Mouser, and scheming ... it's easier to imagine a complete sustainable utopia, than it is to see what steps to take here and now to get there!

I have invited my companyera, who's been spending a lot of time at the little house, to blog here. So y'all may be hearing from us, from time to time. Though we don't have Internet at the house, so we do it at the public library, where I am right now. And now I gotta catch the bus home, probably chainsaw some firewood, and get ready for my folks to visit.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I Love Swimming

by Kaleigh

Swimming is fun.
Running is fun, too.
Sports are fun,
And almost everything is fun.
I love kickball.
I love scootering.
A lot of things are fun.
Best friends are funner.
I love swimming,
Because it's fun.
And so is writing.

Monday, May 17, 2010

my mindbody enjoys

Love the earth and sun and animals,
Despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,
Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
Devote your income and labor to others…
And your very flesh shall be a great poem.

Walt Whitman

Monday, May 3, 2010

smell this

Onions and garlic (bulbs and tops) sauteeing with the first two shiitake mushrooms (from my front yard log), with cleavers and new lambs quarters (edible weeds), seasoned with oregano and rosemary (from the garden)....topped with three eggs (straight from a friend's chickens' oviducts), scrambled, and fresh homemade chevre (goat cheese).

And, of course, being a midwesterner, I had to put ketchup on it!


Thursday, April 29, 2010

birds bords burds byrds

Birds, birds,
They come in herds.
Birds, birds,
Shaking the trees.
Maybe the trees have bees!
Be careful,
Birds who are shaking the trees.
You too,
Be careful too.

poem by Kaleigh

Saturday, March 13, 2010

festival of life in the cracks

Life in the cracks can be looked at in many ways. Weeds growing up through the cracks in the pavement are a fractal assertion of all life revealing itself through the cracks of civilization. My neighborhood is indicative of that. This year’s Festival of Life in the Cracks (March 10) coincided with a meteorologically beautiful day, one of the first of spring’s blessings of warmth and sunshine. On a typical working day, most “normal” neighborhoods are empty, their residents off working to pay for all the stuff in their fine homes. My neighborhood, on the other hand, is full of life. People are in the streets, walking and biking, wholly ignoring the hierarchy of vehicular traffic. My neighbors are out and about, getting stuff done and hanging out. I had the pleasure of washing and wringing my clothes outside in the bright sunlight and warm breezes, and hanging all on the clothesline to get that fresh earthy smell that cannot be extracted from a bottle. After my work was done, friends dropped by, hearty beers in hand, and we sat on the porch, talking, relaxing, spending time reinforcing the ties that bind our community together.

The blighted areas of Springfield, Illinois, are a microcosm of the ruins of cities like Detroit. The neglect and abandonment of our neighborhoods by those to whom we pay taxes is evident. And these feelings are reciprocated. What is the point of being a citizen in a city that doesn’t claim you? We are well aware that we have only each other to rely on. A tornado ripping through our city four years ago with its subsequent FEMA encounters made that obvious. If it were not for the good will of my friends and neighbors, who knows where I’d be; still waiting for FEMA assistance, maybe?

And yet, there is life everywhere. Nature is reclaiming the pavement, the falling down houses, and empty abandoned lots. The people who remain here are here for the long haul. Poor people are well aware of the economy of the community, even if most of my neighbors do not know what that term means; it flows freely from their hearts. When you have not money to purchase the assistance and care you need, you use the time you have to assist and care for others, and they reciprocate. It’s security that life in civilization cannot buy, especially now that we are in the horribly depressed phase of our bipolar economy.

A neighborhood filled with people on a traditional work day begs the question: how do these people get by? How do they pay their bills? It is increasingly challenging as the economy tanks, with middle class people lining up to take jobs that were formerly the sole purview of the poor—minimum wage service jobs. Many people here survive on government handouts, be it in the form of social security, disability, or welfare. Many people work nontraditional jobs (like metal recycling or giving plasma), have start-up companies in the black market (many people currently in prison were merely trying to make a buck and support their families), or live exceedingly frugally.

Last year, I made less than $2000 from my job, but I want for nothing. Most people here live in a similar fashion. We get by the best we can with what we have. Many live by the mantra of the depression-era grandparents who raised me: use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without. We are scavengers, opportunists, and we share the bounty. We are producers, not consumers. We create abundance by our ability to share what we have. It’s an odd thing, coming from the money economy, where scarcity is the model. There is only so much pie to share, and each person for themselves! The competition is fierce, and if you can’t compete, too bad, you die. In contrast, the economy of community is based on abundance. There is pie for everyone, and more pie can always be had because we had the forethought to plant orchards. The more we share, the more we each have and are willing to give.

We don’t each need a lawnmower; one will suffice for many families. Actually, we don’t need lawnmowers at all if we plant gardens to nourish ourselves and the entire community of life. Bioconcrete in the form of the American lawn is a delusion of idiocy; it makes no sense. One of the blessings of creating a new paradigm in the crumbling ruins of the old is the ability to throw out things that make no sense and replace them with things that do. Observation and feedback are excellent tools in paradigm building. Need generates its own power, and this is where our hope lies: we are what we want to become. There is nothing more adventurous and rewarding than real life.

The challenge is creating systems of living for ourselves, cultures and rituals that provide for our needs. It is quite difficult, being raised without an understanding of what a viable human culture could be like—being raised in a culture of not understanding. Our reality is constructed by our beliefs, reinforced by our rituals. Many people now believe that working, consuming, and dying is the way to go, and they reinforce this belief by their daily patterns of working and shopping. Somehow they’ve become slaves of a system that makes no sense, and is indeed, killing off the basis of life itself.

Waking up from this entrancement and becoming aware that options exist has given me opportunity and motivation in my own life. As hobo poet Vachel Lindsay remarked, “I am further from slavery than most men.” This has been an unexpected gift from downshifting (dropping out) from mainstream consumer culture and exploring what can variously be called simple living, “green”, diy, urban homesteading, welfare and poverty, community, or even paradise. As Greek philosopher Heraclitus noted, we must expect the unexpected, or we’ll never find it.

The wealth we hold may not be obvious. Indeed, it takes an eye for beauty to see the wealth that abounds in my neighborhood. Our wealth lies not in consensus reality dollars, but in our collective security and abundance. We have each other, and we will always have each other. As governments fall short on cash and their enforcers (police, zoning, etc.) disappear, our freedom increases. We use this freedom to create realities that make sense in light of the world we inhabit. We invite homeless people to squat the houses that are falling down from neglect. We scatter seeds of plants that nourish ourselves and the community of life in vacant lots and alley ways. We rediscover handy skills in the dumpster of history. We raise animals and build structures that do not fit into zoning’s view of safety, but that do fit into a paradigm of making sense. We raise our children with the knowledge that another life is possible, and provide them the tools they need to make a living in the economy of community.

Disintegration and renewal are happening side by side—calamity and fertility, rot and splendor, grievous losses and surges of invigorating novelty. Yes, the death of the old order is proceeding apace, but it's overlapped by the birth pangs of an as-yet-unimaginable new civilization.” —Rob Brezsny

There is life in the cracks, for which we are ever thankful. These pioneering plants and people are the seeds of a new paradigm, of what comes next. Life explodes into fecundity and abundance, emerging from the cracks with a fierceness beyond compare. It is a birthright our culture seems to have forgotten, but through the magic we create in our daily activities, we illuminate our culture’s collective blind spot. We discover the strength of ourselves in the love and care we share with each other. Who knew life could be such an adventure? Who knew life could be so sweet?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

do what you will

“Reach within you, and fight with tools.” —the Flobots.

Belief is a tool, perhaps the most effective one in our soul battle, in the landscape of consciousness, where paradigm shifts occur. How do we make this consciousness real without losing ourselves? How do we enact a story we’ve never been told? How do we reclaim our birthrights of mental and physical health, freedom from bureaucratic oppression, a membership in the reciprocal divine trust, and countless others we’ve forgotten? How do we begin to envision this story, knowing that our wildest dreams of freedom are mere seeds of this next beautiful paradigm?

I get the feeling the word paradise and the visions of the garden of Eden are concepts we can’t yet fully take in, even if we think we’re ready for it. But still. Belief is a tool, and quite an effective one at that. We say “abracadabrazomba”, flap our butterfly wings, and find ourselves taking the form of chaos magicians, with change springing up in our footsteps, akin to the fruitful oases springing up in the wake of the Green Man, Khadir. We endow ourselves with magic spells, super powers—whatever it takes to make us powerful, full of energy and spirit. We radiate the golden cords, illuminating the way in front of us, the untrodden path.

Somehow, we make it together. We figure it out—all of us. If there is a human story a few thousand years from now, this will be a part of it. There are no slaves in the landscape of consciousness. War is confusion, trickster friends and allies; we must remember our heritage. Hermes, divine thief, is poised to steal this current absurd reality of civilization. For a chaos magician, presto change-o reality is easy. Our consciousness manifests as reality. They make believe they are still in charge. We make believe we are in charge—of our own selves, to be sure!

The ties that bind us to the old ways are slipping away. We have only to create new ways of living, to participate in a new kind of economy. We create rituals and myths around things that are actually important, not merely advertised as sacred. The relationship between city and citizen is practically nonexistent, but the relationships in our communities are born of love and are getting stronger with each day. These things are real. If you’ve ever lived through a natural disaster or (gods forbid!) encountered FEMa, you have learned that our government cannot take care of us and does not look out for our welfare. You remember that we have only each other. We are our strength, courage, and love. If you’ve never lived through a natural disaster, there’s no reason to wait. Community, yep. All that.

Nature practices fecundity. It is organized to create abundance; we are nourished by it, in vivid contrast to the stark neglect we experience from those to whom we pay taxes. Pavement and poison are effed up, tentacles of the destruction empire machine. We extend our own tentacles, aiming for the blind spots of civilization, filling them up with love, beauty life—manifesting the reality of this as-of-yet unveiled paradise.

The landscape of consciousness, this divine boundary between worlds, is where trickster warriors play. It is where “do what thou wilt” becomes the whole of the law. I shall meet you there. Who knows what we may create with our many allies, with our minds fully engaged in the task before us? Adventure to those who seek it!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

the gospel of beauty and the art of appreciation

Springfield’s hobo poet Vachel Lindsay worshiped in the church of the open sky and lived the gospel of beauty. As I remember my outdoor self who greatly enjoys her time in the divine church of the open sky, I usually find myself (weather permitting) with my hands deep in the dirt on the Sabbath. Often was I extended an invitation to join dressed up passersby on the way to their houses of worship. I cannot imagine a church inside four walls to ever be as inviting as communing directly with what I consider the divine, the higher power, life itself. I can’t really describe my religious beliefs, because I don’t believe in absolutes. I don’t hold much in the way of opinion for others to believe or disbelieve. But I do have feelings for what my perception of the divine invokes within me. My hands soak up the earth while my third eye soaks up sunshine. I nurture as I am being nurtured. In what possible way could I more directly commune with the divine than what I experience in the church of the open sky?

Francis Bacon said: “There it is. I don't believe in anything, but I'm always glad to wake up in the morning. It doesn't depress me. I'm never depressed. My basic nervous system is filled with this optimism. It's mad, I know, because it's optimism about nothing. I think of life as meaningless and yet it excites me. I always think something marvelous is about to happen.”

That is one way of living the gospel of beauty; doubtless there are many others. Again, it is hard to describe the gospel of beauty, because it seems to contain just about everything–all members of the set of reality—the milky way, little babies’ eyes, a butterfly’s proboscis, tears, cracked teacups, crooked teeth, wrinkled skin, sexy curves of fat people, duct-taped shoes, a bum who talks to your kid about Santie Claus, teenagers that cry in public, weeds that sprout up in potholes and in vacant parking lots—all manners of seemingly beautiful and ugly that can be appreciated for the uniqueness they provide to enrich our lives in the presence of never-ending awe of the immensity of what is (the wabi-sabi manifesto!).

There is an art of appreciation that comes along with the ability to recognize beauty when your eye rests upon it. If I see weeds reclaiming a parking lot, I don’t tut-tut the downfall of civilization, our bankrupt economy, and the lack of eternal infinite progress. Instead, I welcome the beauty weeds provide, knowing they are helping break down the pavement, to create soil full of nutrients, and return the vibrancy of life to that deserted place. If I am dumped by my boyfriend, I relinquish my longing, and remember that I am a strong person, complete in and of myself while at the same time feel firmly supported by those in my community of friends. Going through hard times is what gives us our strength, and at some point, we may find we are a fountain overflowing. Many times, our struggles become a turning point in our lives when we realize the blessings in disguise.

The shaman Bear Heart said, “Whatever we do in life starts with us. To be replenished, we need to keep emptying our selves to receive more. In that way, we become vessels, holding up one hand to receive the blessings and then opening up the other hand so that we become channels, letting those blessings flow into the lives of others.”

It does not seem to matter if a situation can be labeled good or bad; the art of appreciation is an attitude taken to cope, adapt, and thrive in the realm of chaos, which orders our everyday lives. One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read about is a Jewish woman who found herself in a pit, holding her grandson as soldiers took aim. She looked the baby in the eyes and cooed and smiled. I don’t know if this story is true or not, but I cannot imagine a more beautiful moment in the existence of humanity as her gesture of love.

Growing up in America, the art of appreciation is generally not part of our shared culture, with many exceptions, of course. I grew up in often-violent poverty in an atmosphere of ignorance, alcoholism, and fundamentalism. I think the deprivation of normalcy (whatever that is!) has enabled me to wholly appreciate the good in my life now. I live a life full of blessings. Whatever I need seems to find me without worry on my part. And I appreciate it all, especially the people and the interactions we have. I find my outlook on life mirroring Francis Bacon’s: life is sweet, and I savor each mouthful. Whatever happens, things will be all right. No matter what happens in my life, I will find the truth of beauty in the reflection of each particle of this holographic universe. The gods will always smile on me, and I will see the fruits of each blessing. I will continue to reside in paradise.

The shaman Bear Heart said: “The power of love—if that love is sincere and true—is the only force that can melt the human heart. Love repairs and heals; it comes from forgiveness being channeled into the lives of other people, making them feel their worth and stimulating their potential. Love is expandable. It can encompass this whole universe. It can heal.”

francis bacon said it all

There it is. I don't believe in anything, but I'm always glad to wake up in the morning. It doesn't depress me. I'm never depressed. My basic nervous system is filled with this optimism. It's mad, I know, because it's optimism about nothing. I think of life as meaningless and yet it excites me. I always think something marvelous is about to happen.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

how much water under how many bridges?

It's been a long time, and to catch up would take an even longer time. So, I'm just going to plunge into what's going on in the present. I just wanted to point out a site I've been writing for, for a wee while. It's called these new old traditions. I recently wrote about my wabi sabi life. Here's the first part:

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese term that does not translate well to English, but using a thousand words, perhaps we shall begin to understand. Wabi originally referred to the loneliness of living in nature, but now reflects a meaning more of rustic simplicity, freshness, or quietness. Wabi also refers to the quirks and imperfections that arise during the creation process. Sabi refers to the beauty which comes into being as something ages. According to wikipedia, “if an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi.” Also, wabi-sabi “nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”

You can read more about wabi sabi in operation in Springfield especially.

I've recently been infused with divine RRRRAAWWWWRRRR!!!!! I think it is because spring is nearly here, or possibly, I'm just crazy. I got my seed order done today, and finally, FINALLY, found a 3-prong adapter so my grow lights can be powered by coal. Cabbage and broccoli sprouts, here we go. I'm re-learning how to prune as well.

Life is pretty sweet in Springfield, having many friends who moved into the neighborhood, all with an eye for community, beauty, gardening, all that good stuff.