Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving Thanks

Due to job schedules, we had to cancel plans with family friends for this holiday. At the last minute, I realized I'd better grab the few hours we did have together and make those memorable, even if they weren't what I'd usually think of as ideal.

We ate quite a bit earlier than we normally would have, and rather than having a crowd or being part of one, it was just the three of us. These days, getting the three of us together for any amount of time can be a feat, so I made food so that we'd have our own celebration. It was relaxing...everyone in their Tshirts or houserobes, nobody to go visit, no time to indulge in much extra activity. If that's how things work out, I'll take it :) So I put a turkey in the oven to cook overnight, set out the ingredients for this and that on the counter, and got up early to see that everything simmered, roasted, and got gravied up by noon.

Here's what we ended up having, even if I cut corners to save time:

Turkey, baked and roasted the last few minutes. Seasoned with a rosemary herb mix.
Cranberry Sauce
Pickled Beets
Mashed Potatoes
Turkey Gravy
Brussels Sprouts
Hot Rolls

Pie for Dessert (But everyone was full and didn't want dessert)

Normally I wouldn't have that many starches, and that few green and colored veggies. But it all tasted great and "ate well." :) And we have leftovers that will last a while. But most importantly, we found our niche of time to relax, eat, and not rush...and to be thankful. My daughter has a few welcome days off school, and I got some much needed sleep after the Tryptophan kicked in post-meal. Hubby and I got a nap in together before he had to head to work, and R and I sat around and watched a couple funny movies together in our comfy clothes. My pillow was never far away...I seem to be able to sleep at the drop of a hat today. Caught up later with a couple of friends from afar, which is always nice, and now, sleep! I think it's all the carbs...or is it the fact I use real butter in everything? Anyway, seems like my body is really taking its time digesting today.

A great day...together. And for that, I give thanks!

Here's hoping your day was equally wonderful :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Did I really say my husband had off for Thanksgiving?

The phrase that did it: "My husband has off for Thanksgiving."

NEVER say this four days before the big day. It tempts the fates. Stars re-align. Conspirators conspire. Icebergs melt, seismographs tremble, migrations are thrown into confusion, the earth wobbles on her axis. Lemmings stream over cliffs into the pounding surf below. Pigs fly. The pope is no longer catholic.

Bosses telephone.

Ring ring. Ring ring. Ringgggggggg ringgggggggg.



"Hi, J, this is _____ at ________"


"What? I can barely hear you? Is this ___________?"

"Yes!" ZZzzspssssphhhhhtttzzzz "Can you hear me better now??" ZZzzspssssphhhhhtttzzzz "I need you to work Wednesday and Thursday!" ZZzzspssssphhhhhtttzzzzzzzzzzzzssssssphttttppp

"Wednesday and Thursday?? I'm still having a hard time hearing you -- it sounds like there is static on your line"

"Yes! Nights!! OK, well we'll see you then!" ZZzzspssssphhhhhtttzzzzyttppgbzzzzzzzzzzzz

"Hello? Hello? Hello? "

(Dial tone)

*******Two Hours Later, husband to wife, upon see her awaking*********

"Hi, honey! You're must have been really tired. I didn't want to wake you up"

"Oh, thanks :) What's going on?"

"Oh, nothing much, except I got a phone call"

"Oh yeah?"

"Yes, your cousin called. I told her you had to work last night and were sleeping. I told her you might call her back tonight"

"Oh, good! Haven't talked to her in a while."

"There was another call, too"


"Yes, I got a call from work. It was hard to understand...a lot of static. But they called to let me know I'm scheduled to come in on Wednesday and Thursday."


"Yeah. I tried calling back a few times but there was no answer. Anyway, I guess that's how they're leaving it. I have to work Wednesday and Thursday."

"But Thursday is Thanksgiving. The only Thanksgiving we've had together where nobody was scheduled to work!"

"I know, but what can I do? I tried calling back and nobody would answer"

"But Thursday is THANKSGIVING!! No way, you didn't really tell them you'd WORK Thanksgiving????"

"Like I said, there was a lot of static, and when I tried them back several times, there was no answers...what was I supposed to do??"


Monday, November 19, 2007

Working Nights, Or Don't Give up Your Day Job

Alrighty then! This 12 hour nights job-a-ma-thingy is messing with my sleep cycle!

No complaints, though. If this will further our progress FASTER to Get That Land, then so be it... a night owl I shall be. And speaking of which, there is a very loud real owl that patrols my night site and makes his presence known. We were introduced as I sat in a very very DARK parking lot, being watchful (as the job requires), and about scared the bajeebers out of me when he first made himself known...LOUDLY, overhead.

There are also four cats that lurk--which isn't that easy to see in the pitch dark, but they are different shades of the surrounding dimness-- two black, one gray, and one black and white. They prowl around like fingers of shadow-on-shadow during the night. They must still have a bit of kitten in them, as they chase bugs a lot and at times will do the four-legged Sproingggg straight up in the air when surprised by some poor insect they're batting around. I meant to bring them a bit of dry food the past few days, but forgot, so last night they got some cumulative leftovers. They lucked stomach was iffy and the grocery-store salmon "sushi" rolls (I think it was smoked salmon) didn't swim well in my digestive tract, so those were offered (geesh...!) And on top of that, J stopped by to surprise me with a hot meal from the local Greek family restaurant. What would usually have been my favorite (lamb!) was nibbled on by me, and FEASTED upon by the kitties. I can't believe I've been reduced to sucking peppermints while I watch furry midgets eat the good stuff, but these night-and-day switcheroos have put my stomach on the high seas.

Ah I put together a tray of some of the collected leftovers for the cats, and they spent most of the evening making trips to the buffet, which also included some leftover hamburger and some italian bread, mashed potatoes, and green peas. Hope it holds 'em...the next few nights might be limited to yogurt and saltines, at this rate :)

Thanksgiving should be interesting, but my daughter's sorely disappointed that there's been a major change of plans. Her boyfriend, new to the Navy, had planned a Thanksgiving visit to his parents here locally, and was scheduled to arrive last Friday. Alas, the Navy had other ideas, though, and ON Friday as he was about to leave, they told him he had to stay and report to be shipped to a location overseas. He knows to expect the unexpected, but even so...I know they were really disappointed. She'd bought a couple of new outfits and made plans for each evening he was to be here. Now they're beginning, again, to count the days till they THINK they'll see each other next. Hopefully, she'll have her nursing training closer to completion by then. It should keep her pretty busy in the meantime. I'm glad she's here for the holiday. If luck holds out, all three of us have the same day off together...something that's becoming rarer and rarer.

J is working crazy hours, too. Those off days are becoming more and more important, especially trying to steal some time together. There WILL be a payoff, and not just in dollars, in sight. He told me tonight he can SEE the progress in the bills, and we're getting closer to that day we'll be able to Do This Thing (make our move to acreage). Can it really happen in the next few months?? He thinks so! That fuels my resolve and my ability to drag myself out of bed after a SHORT sleep between 12 hour shifts.

I wish my car would cooperate better. We're in a car quandry. J has the good vehicle, a truck. R has the Old Faithful 17 year old Nissan-that-thinks-it-can. (I LOVE that car! it's minus AC, though, and R's blown the speakers out. Or in her words "those have BEEN like that for years!" ha! yeah, the years SHE'S driven it ;-)) MY car is the one we got in a hurry, the Taurus SHO V8. It drives like a $30,000 vehicle (or such is my guess) spoils a person. It was a bargain, IF it actually WORKED. We have now exceeded the original (reasonable, affordable) used car purchase price in REPAIRS. Yes, our ONE American made car is the only one requiring baffling numbers of repeat visits to the shop. I've had people on the street (men only, actually) stop me and want to see the engine of this car. They are amazed at the wonderful condition the vehicle is in, and tell me WHAT a GREAT car I have. I want to fall down on my knees and sob and beg them to PLEASE have MERCY on me and take this beautiful leather interior superior handling lumbar supporting spacious interior handling like a dream DEMONIC LEMON CAR OFF my hands NOW, only we owe the balance of the loan for it.

Here is a typical day in our CAR life. Hubby drives off to work in his Dependable and Attractive Truck. His AC works. He gets the basic maintenance oil changes periodically. He has bonded with his vehicle. He adores her. They have a special relationship I am not permitted to share. Even though he spits out the window, she adores him and gets him where he needs to go...without drama.

Daughter drives The Nissan That Thinks It Can. It is old. It is opinionated. It has survived a tree falling on it, a single mother learning to care for a car alone for the first time, and a teenager learning to drive for the first time EVER. Its dings are its badges of honor. It is a nice dark neutral gray, which hides most age spots and wear. It endures my 19 year old's taste in seat covers, its respectable sedan seating now punctuated loudly with a very LOUD and RED beach pattern. There is the small stuffed monkey hanging from the rear view mirror. There is the Happy Meal Mr. Potato Head toy that resides in the back window ledge, announcing every turn with a skitter and a Bam! against the opposing glass. And the detritus of textbooks, workout clothes (in various stages of cleanliness), a few petrified french fries, the picture of the boyfriend suspended from the visor, makeup/sunglasses/ID card, etc all smooshed in the valley below the hand brake, and a collection of empty water bottles. This car is a chain smoker. Something somewhere had a small oil leak and fizzes a bit of oil round and about enough to cause the heated engine to smell as if it will burst into flame at the least provocation. However, I'm assured (knock on wood) it is perfectly safe, just a little annoying. And not worth the money it would take to fix it. Hmmm... There's no AC, so you have to roll down the windows and drive fast. And it steams up the windows during rain, which is a real pain. But this will GET you there!

MY car. Will make you want to drive. It floats. It is a dream, a vision, a magic carpet on the interstate. It barely gets warmed up at 80 mph. I've never allowed it its full potential, this finicky thoroughbred, and let it go "all out", I rein it in, but even so, that 8 cylinders purrs at 80 and feels like it's holding it REALLY wants to do 180, and you're just barely budging. It's beautiful. It WAS affordable. I even gave it a name...back then. Back in the day when it.....RAN. First the AC gave out. That was the day after we bought warranty. Blahblahblah. Then one day, it would not turn on. That was Week Two. The week we got the payment book from the bank and it was too late to beg the saleman to take it back. Then it began needing more and more coolant. It drank coolant. Coolant was its beverage of choice. It developed a Coolant Fixation. It needed it. It needed a twelve step coolant codependency intervention. The habit became more and more frequent. Then the car was committed...yes there were tears all the garage. The sort of garage that was given a laundry list by a family with grim clenched jaws and even tighter clenched pocketbooks, and asked to FIX IT ALL. Oh, they promised. We paid. I drove. It was supposed to last, this happiness, yes. But I had this sick feeling, this apprehension. Had Stella (yes, that's her name) really gotten her groove back? There are so many things that go wrong with her SO frequently, she is a vehicular hypochondriac.

I'll let you be the judge. Day before yesterday, I drove 30 minutes away. This little jaunt required a full container (think BIG container) of coolant, just before heading out. I GET there. I prepare to get home. What does the little light indicate? Another ENTIRE container of coolant needed. I'd continue, but just think quantity quantity quantity and enjoy the thought that my present job requires long periods of sitting in a dependable vehicle.

And then laugh I I don't scream and cry and throw a tantrum.

A guy actually stopped me at the gas station to rave about my car. He's a collector...he loves the Taurus SHO models, etc etc. He WANTS it. (As he's talking, I'm peering past his shoulder to see if there's a conspicuous green liquid trail yet under her front tires) He wants to talk purchase...while I'm silently going over all the full disclosure lemon laws and thinking of my duty to mankind to just put this vehicle out of its misery once and for all, and I get a sudden urge to confess CONFESS all her BAD BAD THINGS. He hands me his name and number "in case I ever want to sell her." I tell him "I'll think about it."

Oh, I think about it...I fantasize about having a dependable car! At this point, to sell her for what we've spent on her would take the original used purchase price PLUS all the repairs PLUS all the repairs to come between now and when she is actually in new ownership, plus the potential attorney fees AFTER having sold her with full disclosure when some night, in the darkest hour, I find her BACK in our driveway with a sign on the front windshield demanding money back or ELSE.

So, for now, I spend time with my broke-down undependable fickle fickle fickle gorgeous little lemon car, leaning back in her leather interior, imagining what it must be like to have working airconditioning, a lighter plug, tires that cost less than $125 apiece, an engine that cools efficiently, a commute without drama....all these little thoughts I have whilst the engine is turned OFF.

I am opting out of car selecting. I have commissioned my husband to find me a no-nonsense get-it-done bastion of dependability. It will be will will chew through mud and be impervious to nails and razor wire. It will be able to haul manure, a busload of kids, a farmload of animals. And it will be able to tow....the fabulously gorgeous and defunct Lemon Car of Horrors. ;-)

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Oops, forgot to mention this in the update! We're really wanting to try to understand the permaculture concept and its applications for us better. I read one of Bill Mollison's books, and really need to get myself our own copy, since it's something we need to study to really grasp. I did a search for permaculture resources in Florida, and discovered that Dan and Cynthia Hemenway are in Florida and have a course of study online, through their Barking Frogs site.

It's cost prohibitive for us just now, but maybe not in the future. At any rate, I'd LOVE to know more! Just thought it was worth a mention.

Permaculture principles seem to really be a key to healthy soil and a beneficial design to promote a lot of diversity and abundance. I saw this online G Living video clip, called "Greening the Desert," which is an excellent example of how permaculture principles, when applied to even the most forbidding sites, can really transform the infertile to fertile. You've got to see it...amazing!

I'm also inspired by this reprinted article by Brad Lancaster I read some months ago, entitled "The Man Who Farms Water," about a Zimbabwean man who turned his small acreage in a desert-type area into a water-and-plant rich garden that meets his and his large family's needs.

Those reading roads led to many mentions of Masanobu Fukuoka, and this page of links. I first saw mention of his use of seed pellets on the Path to Freedom site, and I'm delighted to see that Stuart and Gabrielle at Permaculture in Brittany have made their own video (see their blog entry for Saturday, November 3, 2007) of their first attempts at making their own (kudos!!) I've not had the opportunity to get my hands on a Fukuoka book, but this will be on my reading plate VERY SOON!

Anyway, I'm all excited to find a permaculture resource here in Florida...and to have the opportunity to tailor permaculture principles to a property very soon :)


Yesterday was busy...went and filled out two files worth of applications for ONE job (took an hour!), and thankfully got the job...yay!! We're needing the income to continue with our goals for this next few months.

We've honed in on a property we hope to get...another yay!! I won't write more about it unless it comes to be, but we do know we love the area and are likely to buy there...another yay!! It's nice to narrow things down considerably. This is farther than we've ever gotten to having our own place, and it's really motivated us...especially my husband. He's fervently unearthing anything and everything he can think of that we'll need to help us make decisions or to use to fashion a plan, a living situation, and less dependency on things we want to cut out of our budget. Our mutual goal is to substitute things we can do ourselves for things we're currently spending monthly. We've got files going to collect ideas and resources for 1. land related legal things 2. things related to construction on the property in that particular county, permitting, regulations related to the structures we want to build -- size, meeting county standards, etc 3. the sort of house and buildings we want, how we'll build, what we'll do ourselves and what we'll contract out, floor plans, materials, siting 3. the order in which things need to be undertaken 4. how to do it from a distance, seeing that we're several hours away, and how to transition there

There's a lot more, but thankfully some of those things are things we already have a lot of ideas about. Any advice from those of you who've done this already, or are doing it now, is appreciated!

For this week, I'll be training at the new job, and have to work Thanksgiving 12 hours...ugh! And still cook for it, because this is the first year my daughter has been HERE for Thanksgiving in years, and I'm not going to pass up this opportunity, even if it's scaled down somewhat.

That's the quick scoop. I'm having to scurry around today to get some things done before training. I'm praying this is a way to pay off debts faster and get ahead the words of J..."so we're that much closer to working for ourselves on our own place!"


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Of Guest Rooms and Family Portraits

Remember the scary old sepia print portraits that hang on the bedroom walls of old bedrooms, the sort that stare at you relentlessly in the dark when you're a small child asleep at an older relative's house?

My father's father was a preacher, and though we visited rarely, when we did, their home's decor always fascinated me. Their house had many things ours didn't, a separate library, namely, where Granddaddy would study behind a large desk situated in front of a wall of bookcases, all lined with biblical texts and sets of commentaries, shelves crowded with exotic carved figurines from his many travels. I always wanted a retreat just like his, with a green-shaded desk lamp, the smell of volumes and volumes of books, the leather chair, and motes of dust dancing in the half-light. Perhaps it's from him I inherited my love of books, of solitary reading, of searching out word meanings and other treasures in biblical texts. At least that's what I love to think...

There was also a sitting room situated near the front of the house, a place where Grandmother had a little iron cart filled with her collection of African violets, windows that had drapes and sheers, wallpapered walls with large oil paintings, sofas with crocheted doily antimacassars on the arms and backs, porcelain trinkets, and antique glass lamps with colored spherical double globes.

And always, there was the ticking of grandfather loved collecting every sort. Time had a way of always passing, and Granddaddy was informed of its progress at every quarter, half, and full hour. There were wall clocks, grandfather clocks, cuckoo clocks, mantel clocks, serious desk clocks and fanciful porcelain clocks. Clocks of every style. Handcarved clocks, handheld clocks, metal ones, Art Deco ones, clocks embedded in elaborate or not-so-elaborate statues. There were no battery-powered clocks...they were all the hand-wound sort. Many clocks had an elaborate system of weights and pulls, and Grandaddy knew their secrets, and that they must be balanced on a completely flat surface to keep accurate time. Their tones were all different -- some slow and mellow as an old cello, some marking the hour in a rapid, tinging falsetto. That's one of my favorite memories of their home -- the ticking and chiming clocks, the slightly unfamiliar scent of someone else's house mingled with the fragrance of my Grandmother's kitchen.

It was in her kitchen I first learned the difference between storebought and REAL homemade bread. Grandmother made all her meals from scratch. It wasn't just was just the way things were done. And she did them well!

It wasn't often we enjoyed an overnight visit there, but when we did, we slept in the guest room. Proudly displayed on the walls were more paintings, but the most prominent hung in direct view of the bed always...two pastel portraits drawn of my eldest first cousins, Alan and Laura, when they were only a little older than toddlers. The portraits were quite large, nicely framed, and were Grandmother's pride and joy...likely a family gift to her in years past.

In the daytime, the portraits were just that...lifelike images in charcoal and pastel. But by night....when huddled under the bedcovers and with only the benefit of a slice of illumination coming in through the door "cracked open," they took on eerie dimensions. I'm no great fan of portraits in guestrooms. THESE portraits were downright chilling in the dark. They. Looked. At. You. No. Matter. Where. You. Were. While the clocks ticked. And ticked. And ticked.

You could hide UNDER the extra pillow UNDER the extra blanket. But you could not escape the cousins' pale gaze, at least until the welcome moment that wonderful dinner you'd just eaten, and the full day of exploring--and intermittent "behaving"-- you'd just had, worked their magic and you found yourself soundly asleep.

Most family portraits I've noticed from the early 20th century are of rather serious-faced folks. Not a lot of smiling took place in those formal shots, for whatever reason. Maybe, as it's been explained to me before, it was seen as saucy or inappropriate to smile for them. Or maybe it was because of the strain of corralling everyone in their clean Sunday best and getting them to sit still long enough for those older cameras to do their thing without flinching and blurring the photos. Or maybe it was because women were a bit grumpier in corsets and men in wool suits? Heh heh...

At any rate, my sis recently found a photo from the other side of our family tree...this photo of my maternal grandpa's sister and her friend. And it's an oldie! I just love it :) Obviously, my family is the entirely serious sort ;-)

I think it was taken somewhere in the vicinity of 1910 or thereabouts. All my forbears were originally country folk, hardworking, and family-oriented. They all came from big families, with loads of brothers and sisters, and family reunions were a noisy confusion of all their descendants.

Whenever they got together, Family was discussed...the marriages, fall-outs, intrigues...and of course the laundry list of physical ailments. But most of all there was laughter...and often singing. Both sides of my family had strong traditions and grass-roots connections to their families and their faith. All were protestant christians of a denomination with very scaled-down beliefs, even to the omission of instrumental music from their hymns. So they sang. And since you pretty much had no other way to play a hymn other than to sing it, 'most everybody had had enough practice to be pretty good at it, or at least to read music. So when gatherings happened, so did the singing...and sitting there as a child in the midst of it, warmed by soft laps and good food while everyone sings, all's right with the world and God. It's another of my favorite memories.

I posted this picture of Aunt Lois taken when she was a young girl. (She's the one on the left, sticking out her tongue, ha! ) I love that it shows her laughing! She ended up being a matriarch of my maternal grandpa's side of the family, only survived by one remaining sister, Aunt Bunny. Aunt Lois had a crackle of a laugh, a deep kindness about her, a no-nonsense demeanor, and a steely resolve. She was a strong woman. I love most that she, like her siblings, could laugh. She aged into what could be called "a handsome woman"... regal and yet down-home. She had impeccable manners, and no false "airs." She had opinions. She was nobody's doormat, and her husband and children adored her. She never forgot a birthday, no matter how remotely-related you were on the family tree, and made handmade items to send for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations. She passed away, after a full and long life, adored.

I've been sent a few pictures here and there in the past few years...some of my childhood, some of my grandparents'. There are no scary portraits among them...they are all unexpected windows into the moments of their lives long before I came along. A picture of my Grandma and Grandpa grinning underneath a huge oak tree, before they were even married...two co-conspirators. A picture of Grandpa dressed up, playing the dandy in his early twenties, leaning on a Model T and foot on its running board. In them I see the younger version of my Grandparents ...having fun, full of mischief, laughing, unposed, loving, joking. It's not so different than the older version I knew, only with younger faces and different surroundings.

If I ever have a guest room set up, these will be the portraits I hang. They may not stare a person down in the darkness of night, but if their eyes do follow, they're filled with a conspiratorial twinkle, perhaps a wink. The ticking of the clock may remind of how quickly time passes, and maybe sleep will come accompanied by the memory of long-forgotten songs.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Shabbat Shalom

May you each have a wonderful rest with family and friends! I'm so grateful to God for His many, many blessings, and a wonderful week.

Blog is now retired for 24 hours :)


I've recently become interested in a product I've noticed on some blogs here and there -- a natural fruit/nut from Southeast Asia called the Soapnut. Here's the source I found for purchasing them. Two to four dried berries from the Chinese Soapberry Tree are put into a small cotton sack and tossed into the washing machine instead of using commercial soap. The berries contain Saponin, which forms a natural soaping action when combined with water.

In the reading I've done, it seems there are medicinal uses for these berries as well, and you don't want to ingest them internally, but my focus is on their use for a laundry cleanser. I was drawn to statements by users of Soapnuts testifying to their usefulness as a hypo-allergenic cleanser not only for laundry, but also as a foamless shampoo and body soap. My own skin, over time, has developed a sensitivity to perfumes and chemicals in commercial soaps, and I've simplified my regimen to very basic cleansing products. My laundry soap has to be perfume-free, and I can't tolerate laundry softeners or dryer sheets. The idea of a completely natural, fuss-free berry to toss in with the laundry -- and even to re-use several times -- is really appealing.

In reading about the natural soaping action and its long-standing traditional use by native peoples, it reminded me of something I found out a few years ago when considering a move to Missouri. I was trying to find out about uses of plants used by the native Americans, and I ran across a mention of the use of Yucca roots as a laundry cleanser. I don't remember all the details, but I do remember that Yucca roots could be combined with water to form an effective washwater for clothing, after which the root could be saved for further washings. I wondered why someone hadn't marketed these roots for that reason, since it seemed so straightforward, except that few people these days handwash the bulk of their laundry.

When I found the Soapnut links recently, and saw that a lot of people are using them, I wondered if there are regional Soapberry trees a bit closer to home. If so, I could plant some and have a free source for years to come. I'm in Zone 9, which sometimes is restrictive as far as being able to grow trees found further north in the U.S. I was delighted to find that there are two soapberry trees that not only can be grown here in Florida, but also in the upper 48. The Western Soapberry (Sapindus Saponaria Drummondii) is found as far Northwest as Washington state, its territory arcing across the central and southern US and up through the mid-Atlantic seaboard -- and the Florida Soapberry (Sapindus Saponaria Marginatus) is found in some parts of California, and Florida.

The berries of both species here in the U.S. have been used traditinally by native American and Central American populations as soaps. Upon further investigation, it appears that not only is this tree easy to grow and adaptable to a variety of sites and soils, but it's non-invasive and is attractive as well. I'm definately interested in finding out if I could grow this tree to eliminate our need to purchase commercial soaps, both for laundry and for household cleaning and shampoo/body cleansers. How exciting a possibility, especially since it's supposed to be an excellent hypo-allergenic soap strong enough to get really dirty clothes sparkling clean as well as gently enough to use for babies or sensitive skin!

Now I'm hot on the trail of other native plants with traditional uses similar to the Soapberry. Since Saponin is the "soap agent," a basic Wikipedia search showed a long "laundry" list (haha, pun intended!) of other plants that also contain Saponin. Does this mean some of them can also be used similarly??

Here's the Wikipedia list:

Asparagus (as
Bacopa monnieri
Chlorophytum species
Chlorogalum species, soap

cucurbit species
Digitalis (as digitonin)

Goldenrod [1]
Gotu Kola
Grape skin[2]
Gypsophila (Baby's Breath)
Panax (as ginsenoside)
saponaria (bois de Panama, member of the
Rosaceae family)
(poke, pokeweed, pokeberry, poke greens, poke root, inkberry, poke
salit, poke salad)
Soapberry and many other
members of the family
Sapindaceae, including buckeyes
(Soapwort, Bouncing Betty)
Tribulus terrestris
(as protodioscin)
Wild yam

Isn't that list interesting...that all these plants contain a natural saponins...and applications... of some sort?? I don't have time to dive in depth into investigating each one...yet. But seeing such familiar plants on this list fascinates me as to how they, too, might be utilized in ways "lost" to our "modern" world. At any rate, it would appear we DO have plenty of natural laundy options, if only we'll keep looking. Looks like that will be material for a lot of upcoming reading!

Picture link:

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Bronchitis...chicken soup time...warm blanket. No posts today but still making lots of lists with pen and paper. Hope everyone is having a great week!

I still can't believe how beautiful our last day trip was a couple days ago, going acreage hunting. We keep getting more and more optimistic with every trip! The fact that it's easing out of the 80s finally also makes it more enjoyable, plus the fact I'm with my favorite person (hubby). It's nice to actually visit some areas we've researched from a makes all the difference.

More later, when I'm feeling less achey. I'll now fall back on my old faithful Constant Comment hot tea standby. Mmmmmm :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

2nd Senator's Insta-Response to NAIS email

Here 'tis, from Senator Bill Nelson...a bit later than Senator Martinez's and a bit less clear on his position.

Thank you for contacting me regarding H.R. 2419, the Farm, Nutrition, and
Bioenergy Act. I am committed to providing for the needs of our agricultural
industry while also protecting Florida's environment.Congress passed the last
Farm Bill in 2002, during the 107th Congress, and many of its programs are up
for reauthorization this year. This large, complex bill authorizes numerous
projects including conservation and stewardship programs, subsidy payments to
farmers, alternative energy initiatives, and programs to stave off domestic and
world hunger. The House of Representatives recently passed a version of the bill
and the Senate is currently debating this bill on the floor. I will continue to
follow this bill closely to ensure the protection of Florida’s interests.I
have been meeting with constituents to hear more about Florida’s agricultural
needs, and I appreciate your opinions about the impact of the farm bill. I will
keep your thoughts in mind as we work through this legislation. Please do not
hesitate to contact me again.
I won't hesitate (except to get a good night's sleep first!) :)

P.S. Very long and WONDERFUL day today...started in the wee hours, lots of driving and picture taking, etc. and time with my wonderful hubby. Does it get any better?? Even so, I'm exhausted. Whatever...I LOVE looking at land! Here are a few pics...not enough to do justice to such a great day, though :)

Earlyyyy Morning

The caffeine has not kicked in yet, but we're leaving now in the wee hours to have a day looking again for land far from the madding crowds. Let's see what the day's always fun to discover new places!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Our Basic Human Rights Precede and Supercede the NAIS citizens of the United States governed by the U.S. Constitution. Our rights as animal owners and citizens are under attack.

Here are the Amendments specifically guaranteeing our freedoms...freedoms that were hard won, and should not be compromised:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances

For many, the fundamentals of the NAIS are in direct violation of some seminal beliefs and practices of recognized religions of United States citizenry.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

ALL of these points are at issue with the NAIS tenets. See beyond the rhetoric and preserve the underlying guarantee of free citizens to have this protection FROM interference and seizure, rather than a guarantee OF interference and seizure.

As a member of a participant nation of the United Nations, under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights/General Assembly Resolution 217 A (III):

Article 12.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Not only does this reiterate the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution (above), but it protects against libel and slander as a tool of coercion or vindictiveness.

Article 17.
(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

The proposed seizure of animals deemed in a close proximity to "questionably safe animals" on nearby properties, without the benefit of testing and without compensation for the arbitrary loss of said property, as well as the ruinous effect of livelihood on unproven grounds and WITHOUT AVENUE of RECOURSE is in violation of this basic human right.

Article 19.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

This would apply to the targeting, by the authorities, of NAIS opponents as subjects of harrassment, and of being "made an example."

Article 20.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

This applies directly or indirectly. The are the words "compelled" and "association." Farmers are ALREADY being COMPELLED. If a politician today can't accept gifts and bribes as part of a political campaign in order to effect later legislation, neither is it ethical to offer monetary incentives for the adoption of ANY voluntary "association" with the NAIS. Farmers should be free to associate, or to DISASSOCIATE with, this ORGANIZED MOVEMENT without coercion or interference.

Article 29.
(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.

Summed up, you can't enforce the legislation of something that conflicts with basic human rights and freedoms, as stated in the articles above.


I believe a review of the above Articles and Amendments reveal basic human rights-related issues directly correlating with the proposed NAIS adoption that is already being promoted without the general awareness of American citizens, be they consumers or farmers.

That this campaign is a marriage of big business interests and big government under the guise of "public health interests" and "security interests" is a breach of the public trust.

Let us read our guaranteed rights. Let us understand them. Let us not give them away.

Issues Update: Sweet and Sour

Good news from black dye in raw milk! HOORAY!!! For the details, see Laurie's post.

Bad news from Illinois...Mandatory Premises ID Requirement was recently adopted for all Illinois fairs. This is a dark day. The new rule applies to all livestock exhibitors and takes effect next year. See Phelan's post for the grim sure to read the comments. Folks, our basic constitutional liberties are very much at stake here, and this has such far-reaching implications for the future of farmers and animal owners everywhere that the government is downplaying publicity and pouring MUCH money into this stair-stepped plan, emphasizing "public health" and "anti-terrorism" in its campaign yet NOT emphasizing that within the NAIS plan itself, it is designed to transition from voluntary participation (registration, microchipping/tagging) to MANDATORY. PLEASE take note of this issue, while ANY opportunity still exists to impact its full adoption legislatively. This IS a basic human rights issue...the right to own PRIVATE PROPERTY, the right of the individual to DECISION-MAKE in matters of profession and family without government coercion and interference.

This is also a RELIGIOUS right, for those who oppose a mass registration based on biblical prophecy.

Folks, BEWARE of ANY LEGISLATION that can be enforced at will, WITHOUT PROOF and with no questions asked, with no accountability or system or checks and balances, especially relating to the seizure of privaty property and with no legal recourse or compensation for the citizen. That is NOT A TENET of a free society.

Pass the word, quickly!

Quotable Quotes

"Few have been taught to any purpose who have not been their own teachers. "

Joshua Reynolds

Old Guys Suck

Apologies for the crude title. This was the slogan I recently saw in traffic on a bumper sticker.

The very same day, I had learned that a friend who had been battling terminal cancer had just been hospitalized and was not expected to live through the night. His wife and three sons were gathered at his bedside for what ended up being two more days, as they had final conversations (as possible), and stood vigil. One son is in high school and the other two are young college students. At 1 A.M. this morning, I received the call that my friend's life was over.

To a young person, my friend was probably an "old guy." To me, and likely anyone beyond the threshold of "adult," my friend died young. He should have had the pleasure of seeing his children settled in their lives, and been there for the ups and downs of their own households through the years. He should have grown old and gray with his wife until they automatically repeated remembered stories, bickered about the forgotten details, and comforted each other in loss. He should have lived to be "an old guy."

I will miss you, my friend. Your wry humor, your ability to emphathize but not pity. Your ability to admit failings. To argue but not hold grudges. To genuinely care about people.

I live in Florida, the state where 75 is the median age. Stop signs are sometimes run. Some retirees drive at a painful crawl, in any traffic lane, while others barrel onward, blind to pedestrians and changing lights. The older crowd has its definate opinions, and by age 75, those opinions are pretty set in stone, for the most part. I've had the pleasure of meeting many of our older citizens in the workplace, and their histories are fascinating...their experience vast and varied. Some of our elders mellow smoothly; others ripen sharply. Hairlines separate (or disappear), wrinkles and gray hairs march on, gravity becomes a force to be reckoned with, and the less glamorous physical complaints become routine. Some seniors can run a mean marathon and look smart in the latest styles, while others fight "rusting out" or have to opt for replacement "parts." Others are happy being unfashionable, wearing comfortable shoes, and relaxing the gut.

Our seniors are eligible for the best lunch counter specials; they'll often congregate around the local donut shop, keep to the golf course, greet you at the supermarket checkout, run charities, teach, volunteer, cook, care for other generations of family members, or defy all universal standards of Speedo propriety while chatting up women half their age at the beach. Some hone their professions, polish portfolios, amass assets. Some invent and develop cures. Some tour and make speeches. Some become President. Collectively, they pack political muscle. At any rate, our elders survived enough years to now be "old."

There is a collective memory, experience, and wisdom present in our senior community, and more often than not, too few of the younger generation who pause to listen and learn from them before they're silenced by the passing of time. We lose much, if that is the case. Our aging are deserving of dignity and respect, rather than cheap shot slogans.

Despite the snickers that may be generated by a passing bumpersticker (or not), I'm reflecting on the life of my friend, and how it seems to have been cut many years too short. It's not old guys that "suck"....but rather my friend's no longer having the option of ever being one.

Missing you, Gary. I thanked you in person for all you did for us in the hard times. I hope you are awarded eternal comforts beyond this life.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Ever Feel Like You're Being Watched?

This little bird, or others like him/her, often sits on our phone wire perusing our comings-and-goings. If you look up, all you see is his slim silhouette against the sky, and he's always alone.

I've never been able to get a very good view of the little fellow until I recently got the camera and zoomed in a bit for a peek. I'm not a very steady hand, and the wire's pretty high...etc this pic is grainy and fuzzy, but still a better glance than what I've had before.

I'm not sure what sort of bird this is...does anyone know? My uneducated guess, based on a list of Florida birds and a few pictures to go by, is that maybe it's a flycatcher...or vireo...or phoebe?

If anyone knows, I'd appreciate it. He's a tiny little thing...

NAIS: Response from Senator Martinez

Using the contact information from Phelan's post, I recently emailed both of my state's senators about the NAIS issue, to express my desire that they consider the implications of this issue and not support mandatory IDs, etc. This is the response I received a day ago from the office of Florida Senator Martinez's office.

I'm going to be resubmitting another email in response. My husband is dubious about whether they're actually reading their emails, or just passing it off and sending a pre-generated response. Nevertheless, I'll be sending something back.

I'd appreciate any perspectives and insights from anyone out there about what the response his office wrote (below)...I'd like to write back soon. I'll also be looking at the links his people sent. I just want to make sure I don't miss some key elements to include in the correspondence.

It's my first attempt EVER to contact government about any issue. I'm not rusty at this...I'm entirely new at it. Maybe it's sad that it's taken this long in my life to stir me to do something "officially" but hey, better late than never? :)

All comments on this are very welcome...

Below is a response to the recent comments I received from you:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the National Animal Identification
System. I appreciate hearing from you and would like to respond to your
concerns.Animal identification (ID) was developed in order to maintain a
tracking system of individuals or groups of commercially and privately owned

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) initiated the
implementation of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) in 2004 as a
voluntary program for animal owners. Although there is not a nationwide animal
ID system yet in place, the main objective of the USDA's NAIS program is to
standardize animal ID use in order to promote animal health, human health, food
safety, and quality assurance. In recent years, the threat of international
animal diseases has increased, and we must create a system to keep this problem
under control.

The NAIS was developed to curtail the potential spread of
diseases. This program is not meant to invade the privacy of any individual.
Tracking animals, including exhibition animals and pets, is meant to prevent the
spread of diseases, such as the avian flu virus or mad cow disease. As you may
already know, the 2006 Agriculture, Rural Development, and Related Agencies
Appropriation Act (H.R. 2744) was signed into law (P.L. 109-97) by President
Bush on November 10, 2005. This bill provides over $33.3 million for the NAIS

If you would like more information on NAIS, I encourage you to visit the
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) website at any
related legislation be introduced in the 109th Congress, I will be sure to keep
your thoughts in mind.

Again, thank you for sharing your views with me. If you
have any additional questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.
In addition, for more information about issues and activities important to
Florida, please sign up for my weekly newsletter at

Sincerely,Mel MartinezUnited States