Thursday, April 22, 2010

More Yard Snacks: Gotu Kola!

Hooray for wild edibles! (Even though I can to date only identify less than a handful)  In addition to the pennywort/dollarweed that's growing in several places, yesterday I found a similar plant with a different shaped leaf and what appear to be inverted scallops along the edge (wish my camera would load pics to this computer!)   I came in and looked it up, and I'm THRILLED to find we have another type of pennywort...the asiatic kind, which is also known as Gotu Kola.   Gotu Kola is an herb I used to take as a supplement, and it's widely used for many benefits.  So YAY that it's literally growing outside my bedroom window!  Wooo!!

This has nothing at all to do with herbs, but I spent a bit of my down time at work last night indulging in thoughts of tipis.  Not that tipis and Florida man-eating bugs and reptiles go exactly hand-in-hand, but there's just something latent in me that wants to head to the upper 48 and end up somewhere I can drag things about with a horse and travois and sleep at night in a tipi.

Told ya, totally from left field.  I just rack it up to my Onset Offgrid-itis.  Good thing Jack's got the same affliction  (Well, minus the tipi, unless he could design a passive-solar one, ha) ;-)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Irritable Bermuda Syndrome, ha

Note to self...we're amending the use of Bermuda as a supplement and we'll utilize it in other ways rather than pureeing and putting it into the smoothies ...the fiber is too insoluble and we can do infusions (tea), juice it , roast the roots (which we haven't tried yet for substitute coffee) etc.  But not blend in smoothies.  Definately felt a good boost from the juice portion but the fiber was mildly irritating to our digestive tracts...which is something we never have with smoothies.  So, we tweak :)

I still want to try some wheat grass and any other proven grasses that are good for juicing, as a supplement.  It's so easy to grow enough to add some ooomph into our diets.  I wonder if I'll have to find a way to get one of those grass juicers, though.  Casual google survey shows most regular juicers aren't up to all that fiber.  Lets's see.  It's on the back burner for now.  We've begun adding in more plantago/plantain leaves to the smoothies.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Aunt Jessie

My friend who is like a sister often regales me with tales of family to the point I feel I know some of her relatives I've never met.  Her Aunt Jessie is a kindred spirit, a former rebel of the family who settled down in a remote country acreage for most of her years and even now in her advanced years pores over the seed catalogs and plants her yearly garden with great anticipation.  She offers sage advice and self-sufficient pragmatism, and her mind is seldom far from her old home place.

When it comes to self-protection, she carries a tiny pearl-handled revolver tucked neatly beneath her skirt in a concealed holster something like a garter belt.   Her advice for women's safety is something along the lines of "I know you have yourself a gun, right?"  To her, that's the most obvious solution for home protection based on her own experience...political correctness never quite made it that far out into the Mississippi bottomlands. 

Tonight, I was alone at home and I heard Jack trying to open and unlock the front door.  Kaleb began barking menacingly, as he's so good at doing when I'm alone, BUT it dawned on me that Jack was not due home from work until hours later.  In fact, it was not Jack...he was still at work.

Somebody was trying to get into our house.

Long story short, they gave up when they heard the dog making a racket.  But the area in which we live is not heavily traveled nor very populated in comparison with the town we're near, so it was not an accident...not a salesman, neighbor, or door-to-door evangelist.

We had a lot of near misses in the past compared to some of our neighbors whose houses have been broken into.  I was home a couple years ago when someone was scoping our house for entry by trying windows before realizing that we were inside the house.  This time was different because I now have a pistol of my own.

I had wondered how it would make me feel if I were ever in a situation where it might have to be handy.  Well, though I was a bit nervous and went through the obvious steps of notifying the police and turning the outside lights on (even thought it was daylight), felt just fine.  I did not feel like I'm just sitting around hoping not to be a victim.

I grew up with an aversion to firearms, probably because my household never went hunting or had much need for them for protection, but my comfort zone has transitioned somewhat now.  The point is to never have to use one but to have one if there's no other choice than being a victim.

I was pleasantly surprised at how calm it helped me be, how un-panicked.  And then I thought of my friend's Aunt Jessie, who was probably at that very same moment in her own house sitting with her knitting and her seed catalogs...and her concealed little weapon.

 I smiled to feel a connection to someone I don't even know who has old school ways and thinks there's nothing abnormal about a woman keeping herself protected, that it's just good sense.

My own handgun is now named in her honor.

May I never have to resort to "fetchin Aunt Jessie," but at least I know she's there if I need her.

Embracing Our Invasives

Bermuda and Pennywort and Plantain (oh my!)

Not to mention the clover (not an invasive but still making its way into our smoothies daily while it's fresh and tender)...wonderful :)

Yeah, if you'd told me a few years back that Bermuda would be making its way into my medicinals, I'd have laughed.  Trying to consult Google under the search terms "uses for Bermuda" or "wild edibles: Bermuda grass" and such resulted in nearly nada.  However, finding further information under its Latin name brought up alternate traditional names for it used in other countries and locales, such as the continent of Asia, and there was a lot of evidence that Bermuda grass...yep that cussed ol' bane of southern U.S. gardens, has long-standing uses in traditional medicine in many areas. 
I won't elaborate the list or the uses yet until I better organize the information I'm gleaning.  But suffice it to say I now consider it safe for my OWN use (meaning don't take my word for it as an endorsement for anyone else's use)...and we've now tried it for three days.  No negative side effects and along with the other goodies that go into our Daily Green-n-Berry smoothies we're feeling QUITE good.  One of the noticeable differences for Jack was recovering from muscle stiffness and soreness a lot quicker after some exertion digging and hauling things around as the weather now is so very nice.
I will hint and say that Bermuda grass is being researched with preliminary findings showing it can be useful in reducing too-high blood sugars and "bad fat" readings.  I think that research is based on aqueous extract, not just picking it and making a tea and such.  But the list of possible benefits is lengthy and I always perk up when I find out that a particular "weed" has  traditions elsewhere and a history of usefulness.
Which brings me to my firmer rationale about these things called WEEDS.  If you have a plant that is  hard to kill, loves to establish itself ruggedly in conditions where it perpetuates itself with little or no human intervention or pampering, and is suited to your own locale climate and conditions, what's not to love?  Well, some would say everything...some would say these plants just ARE, and compete with cultivated lawns and/or gardens (which they definately do).  After years past of having done battle with such things, having thought them "the enemy," I realize I've now  Gone Native.  I don't care much about those golf course type lawns, or lawns in general.  I don't mind a wild-ish garden, and if I want pristine weed-free spaces we can section off limited areas for that without an eradication plan.  I do want bio-diversity.  I no longer see insects as things to be killed off and rather believe that the riotous overgrown thriving undeveloped land I see around me (the areas that haven't been leveled and scraped of all vegetation by developers only to be blanketed with concrete and sod) are so chock full of SO many plant types, I'd have a hard time identifying all the ones that would fit in a single square foot of ground. 
And frankly, it's nicer.  The Disney-ish postcard flowerbeds just don't appeal to me as much as the profusion of natural plants that grow without anyone's permission or help, usually.  Not that I don't love flowers...I do.  But I like wild tangled areas even though I also like some ordered raised beds chock with veg and herbs.  I just like the way the natural world spills over with every sort of neighborly mix of plants.
And I'm coming to think that there is use in every kind of plant...some might even be useful to me, but each one's there adding its contributions.
Therefore, we're beginning to see weeds as the survivors...the heroes that overcame and still soldier on.  I am convinced many of them hold natural benefits we've often lost the understanding of, forgotten the uses for (<--dangling participles be darned, ha)
Anyway,we're in Weeds 101 self-education.  We're determined to identify the plants we see everyday or whose names we don't know, the ones we usually pass by or mow right over.  We want to know their uses, among which we'd like to know if they have any medicinal/nutritive benefits for me.
Reading up on the few we've identified so far besides the bermuda, we so far have plantain and pennywort/dollarweed in profusion.  Both are wonderful herbal contributors to human health if used wisely.
This is fun!  We truly had no idea we had food under our feet, and medicine.  Yeah, I know some medicinals, but not up close and personal.  I had always relied on the health food store for supplements.  We're proceeding slowly and cautiously, but with a lot of happiness.  The less reliant we become on a middle man and the closer to our own yard we get, the better we feel about life in general.  Jack and I are beginning to feel empowered, if that's not too strong a word for it.
And those smoothies are getting downright spunky :)
the magic eight ball

Friday, April 16, 2010

The State of the Refrigerator and other bulletpoints of the week

I'm in a list mood, so here's a list of what's been afoot this week...whew did it fly by! Just miscellany...

1. Cleared out all old library books so I won't amass mystery fines if one goes into hiding...hard to keep track after so many. Of course, I ended up taking a couple stacks more home, heh :)

2. Did do some writing and felt more productive in that area on some days. I'm still not writing 2,000 words a day so I might amend that goal to what seems to be a better average. I do more thinking and scribbling before anything ever officially gets written on the laptop. The laptop is my "writing instrument." By the term Writing I don't count anything blogged ...I'm doing freewriting excercises when I can't focus well on a given day. So far it seems the practice has been divided among three main themes, none related. I'm really enjoying it a lot.

3. I've had a couple of "sinking spells" other way to describe them. I lost a day of work this week (not good) because I was feeling odd as in having trouble breathing and feeling a heaviness in my chest that made me feel spacey and out of breath and like I had to lie down NOW. Kind of worried me, actually. I cut back to water and lemon, a bit of smoothie, and rest and felt better. Made the mistake of sipping some caffeine a couple days later and the feeling was right there again. No caffeine for me for a while till I see what this is. Might just be asthma from spring having sprung so pollen-a-rifically around here.

4. It's absolutely GORGEOUS outside. BEAUTIFUL balmy nights, days with sun a touch hot but plenty of breezes and shade. I sure wish we could keep our windows open at night here. PERFECT lovely nights :)

5. We are cutting cutting cutting...again. Jack's got an Excel program going to actually SEE every penny and where it's going. Well, it's a wake up call, even after we've been so careful in so many areas. It's a nice education, too. We're cutting back to NO eating out...with the possible exception of once a week under $10. Now I know how spoiled I am. Thankfully I actually like the food I make here better than fast food, with few exceptions.

6. Not feeling deprived. We're not deprived, this is our choice and we're empowered. Changing habits is not easy, but it helps us look at the "whys" of what we do just as much as the expense. It's actually fun to me if Jack and I go on dates and linger over glasses of tea at a restaurant now and then, talk and relax somewhere in a different setting, blah blah blah. It's fun because from day one, he's always sat on the same side of the booth with me, and if a table, we sit on adjacent sides instead of across from each other. It's really cozy and sort of "us." Anyway, I told him I'd like us to substitute some simple sandwich picnics at the beach if we're cutting out the eating out. We get great location and our own food and it's free and nearby. Also, if he'd do the dishes now and then it would be part of what I enjoy when we go out...not having the kitchen to tend to as much. It's just a little thing. He's always great about helping clean off the table, but a now and then pots-n-pans break would be a nice switch. He said that sounds fine to him, woo :)

7. Along similar lines, we're looking very very hard at the REAL cost of my job. I have an hour commute, don't make much pay, there is some risk involved in the job, and the gas expense eats us alive...and working the nights and then switching over to days here the other part of the week makes my body always feel jet lagged. I HATE sleeping the daylight hours away, frankly. Anyway, I'm reluctant to change jobs simply since they are scarce just now and I'm a creature of habit when it comes to having a reliable paycheck. But we're down to the one vehicle now and that figures in. Jack's looking at the numbers and we'll keep things the way they are right now, I think, but the last look we took was a wakeup's costing nearly what I make, all things considered, for me just to HAVE the job. If that's truly the case (we're doublechecking), that makes no sense and I need to stay home and push the mower around a bit, plant us some tomatoes and explore the wonderful world of beans and whatever else I can do hands-on HERE rather than spend money to GO TO work elsewhere. UGH. I'd MUCH rather be here. Unless I can find something closer that will pay our way out of debt quicker...with an obvious profit margin. This working-to-work is for the birds.

8. We had an interesting discussion about the concept of "hatred" the other day when driving in to work together. My family always had a polite aversion to even using the word hate("strongly dislike" was the preferred euphemism). Jack equates the term "hate" with rage and people being out of control, or embittered, or vicious emotion. I've been thinking on that recently in light of the fact that these days all I really hear much about is relativism, political correctness, and frankly tiptoeing around the idea of right and wrong. When did we embrace the World of Grays? I've lived in that place a lonnnngggggg time because I didn't much care for folks who're not open-minded or who won't back up and reason something out for themselves. I tend to be a moderate in almost all areas of my life.

But in thinking about how there are real enemies in this world, I began wondering where that soft-pedaling of Wrong stops and we admit "I am against (such-n-such)." I've had a hard time saying that, mainly because I was with a doctrine of loving our enemies. And yes, I know the whole progression down the practice of "loving the sinner but hating the sin." We had a lively conversation about this recently, Jack and I did, and I pointed out several places in scripture where it pretty much says "hate your enemy," but don't take my word for it, each particular one I'm thinking of reads a bit differently in their own different contexts. But I was just posing the question to Jack, and myself, of when it's ok to finally get majorly ticked at those who are just rotten and love making the world a hell for others to live in (if you haven't met anyone like that, they are out there). Yes, I know God's good and is available to all mankind, I'm not unfamiliar with the concept of grace since it's in the Bible from page one and never subsides. I just wonder if hatred is a position of refusal to condone injustice, or allow it, or turn our eyes away from its being perpetrated. I think we have to hate things that are wrong enough that we're willing to stand firm when others want to "everything's relative" a thing to death, and I think it puts us in the midst of struggle and opposition at times if we refuse to move from the position of standing for justice.

Well, I'll be chewing on that a while...just rambling.

9. I heard our president mock and laugh at the people meeting together in the tea parties, and something in me doinged. Whatever you want to call it and whatever anyone wants to think about it, it's fairly representative of a very mixed milieu of crosssection Americans who want to be heard outside of party power politics. And these are the people who were courted and given promises prior to the last election. Such disrespect from the person who should be our model public servant just dissed the public he's supposed to be serving. And so...I am done. I'm not going to engage in hearing anything else he says. He reviles those he represents, or else he doesn't represent the American public at large but only those he chooses to represent. So I don't have to listen to him. Boy, am I a stubborn old thing...I wonder at what age this began setting in for me, ha :) Our resolve is just to do the best within our limitations and not relinquish the things we still hold as freedoms (while we still do) and "take care o' business" here at our own home.

10. I CLEANED MY REFRIGERATOR! There are pictures to prove it. (Not that my computer is letting my POST any pictures yet, argh) Yes, the woman takes pictures of her clean fridge for her jollies. This may mean nothing to anyone else, but it had reached crisis proportions. I had procrastinated my procrastination. I guess I may have missed a chance to sell some new life forms to the CDC just for the heck of research or something, that's how much it grossed me out, but it's CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN now, sparkling. Clean refrigerator, the new Prozac, ha :)

11. Jack fixed the slow sink. No, I never had to resort to washing the dishes in a plastic bin in the shower.

11 1/2. Oh geezelouise, I can't believe I didn't mention we PAID OFF ANOTHER CREDIT CARD. WOOO!!! Giving God thanks, and my very persistent husband.

12. I'm jazzed to find out that BERMUDA grass, the bane of my garden-able space on our vacant lot next door, has traditional medicinal uses. It's even being tested, to good result, for its anti-diabetic properties. I can't seem to find specific amounts and preparations for some of its other uses, but I'm delighted to find it's highly valued in many eastern societies for a broad range of healing and helping qualities. More Googling here at the keyboard shall commence! (we have a bountiful supply of the bermuda, for sure)

13. We harvested a big bag of volunteer lettuces, and a second half-bag of fresh clover. The lettuces will be for fresh raw greens, salads, etc. and the clover goes right into our smoothies. We love it!

14. We'll be trying to identify some of the so-called weeds in our yard and lot nextdoor. There is an amazing diversity growing now in comparison to other years, and though it won't impress anyone as a lawn, it's giving me the inspiration to begin FINALLY learning the names and uses of these most hardy survivors. Edible herbs and so-called weeds are rich in minerals and nutrients. It's time for me to learn their uses and begin to utilize them.

15. Plantain-o-rama!! We have huge lush clumps of plantain herb growing wild, and I'm all excited about that, too. One of our first easy-to-identify medicinals. We'll use some leaves as additions to our smoothies, some to dry for teas, some to use for oil infusions and maybe we'll even get jazzed enough to make the oil into a lovely healing beeswax salve.

16. We're at the point where we're tool-deficient but also are all investment-purchased-out. We can't afford a tiller, powerful mower, tractor, and etc even though they could be really useful. We have rampant bermuda, and I do mean don't even think about getting rid of's like the Rasputin of invasives. SO, as we think down the progression of months and labor it would take to hack out some viable garden space (IF we put in a garden...we said we wouldn't...oh the siren song)we have hit upon what MAY be a solution to our minimal purchase reality. (Don't know the official term for the tool)we call it the "flame-thrower." Jack was detailing its virtues as a way to effectively flame unwanted grasses and weeds from pathways, etc, but he could not disguise the euphoric gleam in his eye at the possibilities of using such a thing. Read "TOY" and there you have it...something flammable that can vanquish the offensive weed hordes. (this could keep him happy a longgg time...) ;-)

17. Wherefore art thou Kombucha? I tried restarting some this winter but we kept our heater off in the house and I never could get it warm enough consistently to nurture the kombucha. It actually got mold on it, and if I ever wondered what mold on kombucha looks like, now it leaves no doubt...just think fuzzy. So we hope to get another batch going soon.

18. Homemade dogfood. Cleaning out the still-good food that's a day or two past its prime has resulted in Kaleb getting some pretty great dog fare. Maybe too good. Now whenever I call him, he licks his chops, ha :)

19. Last week I tried making homemade dinner rolls from a recipe (picture of recipe, actually)from Susy's site at Chiot's Run website. I froze them and reheated, and so far they are the ones Jack's most commented on liking, so the recipe is a keeper. It's really easy, though I had to guesstimate a couple minor things. I might try making flour tortillas this week if I get ambitious.

20. Jack and I are doing pretty well on the fruit and veg train...those daily spinach/blueberry etc smoothies do wonders for our health. Now we're trying to watch our portion size and not eat in between meals. We're enjoying some fruity herb teas a friend gave me recently for my far I'm loving the raspberry.

How was your week?

oh yeah and

21. Jack transplanted a bunch of papaya seedlings from seeds he sowed himself, and they are now happily on the shadier and more protected side of our house, which I like. We really want those little fellas to finally give us some fruit this year. We've never quite gotten the timing and everything right in past years and always lose ours in the freezes without reaping any fruit.

Phew, that's all I can write just now....

It'll be shabbat in a few hours, yay! No worries and no work and a great time to get out and commune with creation in this beautiful weather. I hope your weekend is restful and replete with good things :)

For now...

Shabbat shalom! :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Of Course Now The Lack of Photos Is Seriously Cramping My Style

...if I have a style :) I MISS posting photos, mainly because my camera is very intuitive and takes the pictures I wish I were a good enough photographer to capture.

But taking and downloading are two different things. Since my bleepity bleep computer problems have also affected the communication between my camera and whatever program on my computer USED to recognize it, I have wasted innumerable hours this evening/morning seeing if our newer laptop could be a worthy stand-in. Nope, nope, and nope, ARRGGGGHHH. Something on that one won't recognize something on the camera despite my downloading this and that, doing little stomps around the room, taking a break to clean the clogged-up kitchen sink (don't get me started about Y shaped pipe connector thingies that clog between the sink side and the disposal side and redefine the words "Gunk" and "Equilibrium" and some latent physics concept of water keeping to a particular level)

I also thawed some homemade rolls I had previously been saving for a special occasion. There is no longer a full pan. They reheated well and the question now remains as to where some of the rolls now the pan or on my hips, but that's another whole rabbit trail...

Anyway, I Want My Photos Back!!!

(insert not-very-pretty adult tantrum from dough-y blogger)

Walk it off Walk it off.

I seriously need to go to bed. I SHALL figure this one out. I'm too scared to attempt to personally and hands-on do responsible IT cleanup to my own computer for fear I will mistakenly realign a satellite or melt down only the programs on my computer I most love, thus its innards now are probably rotting. I found mention of a "multi card reader/writer" and maybe I can get a fifth grader to help me figure out how to bypass ZoomBrowser EX or Canon Whats-it and just slap those puppies right into a picture folder I can access.

I also need to summon some negotiation and technology-packaging mojo and put in a call to some phone conglomerates later today and see what can be consolidated as far as phone service and internet, since we're cutting even deeper and have broached the subject of (gasp) going Internet-less...which means only accessing it via trips to the library. Hmmm, hope we can find another workable option. Let's see what the friendly customer service rep in Bombay will help me concoct... ;-)

I need photos here to balance out the whinge and rant space.

But first, sleep.

After I make breakfast for my sweetie who worked all night.

(Grim look at sink, and lurking thoughts of cutting dish time by toting plastic bins to the shower...hmmm)

(To Jack, in case you read this...No, honey, I really didn't wash your breakfast dishes in the shower. Yet, ha)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Things Afoot

Here's a pic from the archives, since the camera is now found but my computer virus is not allowing the downloading of anti-virus cleanup programs and I'm fresh out of expendable computer geek funds to dig into the innards of hard drives and Things In Safe Mode (the phrase makes me hyperventilate...I'm not computer-friendly except for an ongoing love/hate relationship with my keyboard).

These are the cranberry hibiscus, also known as False Roselle, which we planted last year.  They're one of the survivors reappearing after the freezes of this past winter.  The plants died back to sticks but now are coming back at ground level simliar to the picture shown above.  The leaves are not only beautiful, like a japanese maple in appearance, but are delicious edibles tasting of lemon...tart and bright.  I'm so glad they're back!

We faithfully stick to our cruelty of neglect regimen
benign survival technique of allowing plants that want to thrive here to do so, and those that are fussy to...not.   After some great siting, watering, and compost amending the Plants Formerly Known As Bucketville now have been transplanted from the 5 gallon bucket conglomeration to other locales around our property.  Some live, some don't make it.

Tonight, the air was heavy with spice.  Truly.  There is a sweet and thick and earthy fragrance to the slightly cool nights now due to the higher daytime temps and the bursting forth of all the spring growth...everywhere. 
Here were some highlights from the past few days and some of the plants that are now back in the running:
1.  Volunteer calabaza seedlings now populating the holes where Jack's been throwing away/composting the leftover rinds throughout the winter.  He'll likely let some of them go to town, and I'll put in my two cents worth about heading the vines toward the vacant lot rather than the house...too hard to mow around if allowed to go where it wants.
2.  Moringa!  The tree trunks went from seed to 10 feet plus last year, tremendous growers.  The freeze killed the trunks but new leaves are appearing again from the bottom.  We'll have to get some loppers after those bare trunks and cut them to the ground.  We've decided moringa will be harvested by us best if allowed to be cut back hard after each batch of new branches matures with leaves...ECHO global farm has a lot of success with theirs and gets I think at least 4 or 5 harvests a year by alternating cutting and letting them regrow.
3.  We have LOADS (I count at least 8) of stable manure on the empty lot (it's our lot, if anyone's wondering...we just don't know what else to call it).  Last year's experiment growing cowpeas (purple hulls) and okra smack on top of stable manure raked out onto the existing not-so-fertile ground AND despite the flush of bermuda grass still reaped rewards for the lazy researchers we are...the cowpeas did much better than the bush green beans and survived all kinds of heat, drought, and monsoon...and bermuda.  As a result, we now have an interesting new crop of pasture plants on that site, ones we've not seen on that location before.  
4.  One of the new plants appearing on last year's cowpea site is CLOVER.  Why am I so excited about clover?  Because it's at the head of my wild edibles list!  It's chock full of nutrition, namely veggie protein, and I included it in some of our smoothies last week with no noticeable ill flavor effects.  It can be included in salads, too.  We  just don't see a lot of clover around here and were told at the feed store it doesn't grow well in this area due to nematodes.  So before the 'todes get 'em, we will enjoy them to eat :)
5.  The malangas are back.  We've never had a harvest of them yet.  But they come back every year.  We'll plant them out of the buckets this year.  The buckets must go.  Live, little malangas, live...
6.  Did I mention the night air is so fragrant right now??
7.  I love blue and white and cream as colors in my bedroom.  Those are the colors of our comforter.  One day it'll wear out and I'd like to (don't die laughing) make a quilt with those colors before then.  Yes, the girl who knows one thing...sewing a hem by hand... and who nearly failed the sewing portion of Home Ec has gotten uppitty ;-)   Well, I figure after reading the Foxfire books that if I can sew a hem, I can sew two piece of fabric together.  If it comes out straight I'll act like I intended it to be, and if not, it'll be called a crazy quilt, ha :)  In the meantime, when I sit to watch a vid with Jack, I am tearing old clothes into strips and trimming all the loose threads off.  I've purged through a bunch of his old work shirts and some torn bed linens and some of my old jeans that way and it feels nice just looking at the stack of long rectangular strips I have stacked from it.  A sewing machine would make short work of some of that straight line sewing.  I might see if anyone on craigslist might want to trade me for my guitar I never use.
8.  I'm still writing on the side.  Some of it started being about my (scant) college days.  I've laughed and laughed as things I seldom remember come back to mind.  Man was I young and gullible :)
9.  My dog's toenails seriously need clipping unless I want to have striped legs soon.
10.  Two blueberry plants show possible signs of life.
11.  A friend of mine is getting married in July.
12.  I love chocolate and have discovered that a piece of chocolate cake, when dropped, usually lands frosting side down.  I also like chocolate kisses, especially the kind I get when my husband has just eaten chocolate cake ;-)

12 1/2.  (I came back to add this.  Can't believe I forgot it)  We were out for a quiet drive tonight and with tomorrow being trash day, we noticed an item at the curb and couldn't believe our eyes.  It was over 6 feet tall and made of steel...a HUGE, rolling, portable cage for birds, all the parts there, everything heavy duty.  It looks like someone just wanted it gone, but wow, it was too good to pass up.  Glad there were two of us because it took two of us to get it into the back of the truck.  It's in the garage for now.  We'll clean it up and disinfect it really well, but that thing is just shy of being big enough for a chicken coop.  We have enough projects at hand outdoors for now, but it'll keep...those things are priced in the hundreds of dollars and both of us had the same idea when we saw it....doves and pigeons (actually pigeons that look more like doves, the King pigeons that are eaten for squab).  Or maybe two bantie chickens?  We'll fantasize a while but it's a great thing to have on hand.  Even if we don't use it, it'll clean up for resale and help us with debt.  We'll see...pretty cool find, eh?
13.   Um, that's all.  I'm still thinking of chocolate, and my husband.  Mmm hmmm.  Chocolate, husband.  Husband, chocolate.  Must be time to say goodnight to my keyboard.  :)   (Hey, Jack...woohoooo....)
Later :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I Will Only Apologize For One Thing

..the seeming monotony of this blog's turn from talking about how to become self-sufficient to a seeming fixation with current politics.

Are we still about how to utilize wild plants, grow multiple use crops, learn the old ways in this new world? Yes.

So why am I droning and ranting on about the state of our government...not the original intent of this blog surely.

Well, our self sufficiency was to put the responsibility for our own present and future squarely in OUR hands, to reduce and eliminate the reliance on the government and modern conveniences to whatever degree we felt we were able for our own household. To TAKE RESPONSIBILITY and exercise our freedoms. To SIMPLIFY. To REDUCE and live lightly, free of many expenses and free to make our own decisions for OUR LIVES, OURselves. To not leave those choices to others. To accept a lifestyle of OUR making that won't have the values determined by others, but the ones determined by ourselves.

And to glorify God in how we live, the way we see fit.

To be abundant and be tied to very few belongings beyond what we need and a few pleasant things.


I learned something before these changes to our country began snowballing in recent years. I learned it from others in other countries who knew it from experience. It is summed up in this poem by Wislawa Szymborska, and excerpt of which appears on my sidebar, from the book entitled Against Forgetting: 20th Century Poetry of Witness

We are the children of an epoch,
the epoch is political.

Everything of yours, ours, theirs,
daytime affairs, night-time affairs,
are political affairs.

Like it or not,
your genes have a political past,
your skin has a political hue,
and your eyes a political aspect.

What you speak about has resonance,
What you hush has a voice
more or less political.

Even walking through field or forest
you take political steps
on a political basis.

Apolitical verses are also political,
and the moon above is shining, a thing no longer moonly.
To be or not to be, that is the question.
What kind of question? answer, my dear.

A political question. You don't even have to be a human being
to profit from political significance.
It's suffices for you to be crude oil,
animal feed or recycled materials.

Or a conference table, about whose shape
they debated for months
as though it were a matter of life or death:
should it be round or square?

Meanwhile people perished,
animals died,
homes burned
and fields went to seed
as they did in less political
bygone epochs.

-translation by Walter Whipple

In the four plus years I've been blogging here, I've been honored to get to know so many of the good folks in what I loosely term the Homesteading community of bloggers. We have overlaps even amidst our diversity. We value pursuits that have meaning to us and that are worth sacrifices and re-educating ourselves, making changes, trying new things (or old things new to us). We've seen innumerable issues arise in our communities, states, nations related to our rights to choose our livelihoods, to practice them, things related to privacy, food rights, battles over seeds and planting and small farms vs. big agriculture, struggles over quality and marketplace and nutrition and health. A simple glass of milk is fraught with political significance on many levels these days as are our rights to know what our food is, where it comes from, decide how we grow it, resist efforts to keep consumers distanced from their food sources.

It's clearer than ever that no matter how remote we'd like to remain from political issues, WE ARE political in that we live, we work, we eat...and if we are to remain free in the US we must not relinquish those freedoms without resistance.

I believe in peaceful resistance. The Constitution insures that we can speak our minds as an essential freedom in this country.

I am concerned that the very people who are now speaking in disagreement against the strongarm tactics of many of our politicians are now being labeled "anti-government" and "anti-diversity" and any number of terms designed to malign a normal citizen's right to DISAGREE and PROTEST.

But we MUST. There is a timeline of opportunity in which the very document that guarantees our right to speak freely and protest freely is now in jeaopardy. If you think this is an exaggeration, do a quickie search and you'll see I'm actually speaking rather softly about it.

It's crucial that we not lose our window of opportunity and that we take it. Our nation is in danger. If this makes you roll your eyes, hearing these words, you can X out my blog now and rack my rant up to another hothead needing to vent. But I'm not and I couldn't care less about being a loudmouth or participating in something political. I'm saying this because it's now an unavoidable subject on every level.


We are in danger.

I am not panicked, but please let's see the truth. The truth to address what's really happening, not to panic. To repair and prepare.

We are in danger from our international enemies like few times in our nation's history.

We are in danger of losing the exercise of our constitutional freedoms like few times in our nation's history.

If we don't DO something and SAY something now, when will we?

I don't accept the assumption that we must meekly bow our necks and go with the flow...this nation was not founded on going with the flow. If the flow today was in ACTUALITY what the majority determined it wanted, maybe I'd be more willing to go with it. But there is a minority that has bullied the majority and whomever is to blame, the thing has happened.

I saw this at another site and it expresses some of the outrage I am feeling at this point, even though I can't say I was one of the ones who embraced the glee club's "CHANGE" slogan nor thought Mr. O would be the answer we needed for necessary solutions. I did not vote for him.

But I agree with the sentiments of this youtube video.

It's time our population grew up and realized this isn't high school any more. The popularity contest of high school usually centers around class clowns and splashy cheerleaders but is short on wise leaders and valuing those who go the distance. It's more about fanfare and football games than family and the sweat of daily life, and defending home and country. The media's coverage of Washington, and the embarrassing spectacle of government manipulators and talking heads that inundate the news are grotesque in their sophomoric antics, seeming to be more for shock effect or media splash than for actual integrity and levelheaded leadership. This is now a culture in which the opinion of popular comedians actually impacts politics? Have we become nothing more than a caricature?

In fact, it seems to be more and more that any semblance of order and constitutional viability are openly mocked unless given lip service when the purpose serves.

GET OUT. You who are ruining my country, GO.
You have bankrupted me and my family and I did not act irresponsibly the way you did. I am enraged.

I am enraged at your capacity to laugh as I shoulder the consequences of your ignorance and party pandering, your attitude of entitlement even while you talk about redistributing wealth you never earned, your secretive back room deals while you soothe us with platitudes or baffle us with BS or hone your doublespeak but can't answer a simple question with a simple yes or no. W are enraged at your backing down when intimidated by your peers, by being more concerned with your own political survival than representing your hometown people. You have sold out my country to its enemies, you have handed our manufacturing to the lowest bidder despite the fact they are the most egregious perpetrators of genocide and human rights violations in near history and accomplish their huge export quotas through modern slave and forced labor, even to the point of thumbing their noses at any international accountability.

You have so scorned Israel that you will play footsie with the Irans of the world who make no bones about despising us and wanting to annihilate both us and Israel, and make halfbaked overtures to despots and terrorists while not even giving the prime minister of Israel media coverage or the time of day when he came here to be ushered in your back door like nothing more than a saucy little wench. THAT is befitting our great nation and the peace talks upon which hinge the fates of nations????? As fares Jerusalem, so fare the fates of many. May Israel never give a single inch of her own ground to any other people or nation and may Jerusalem see the reign of Messiah.

I will now refrain from singing the hatikvah since I don't yet know the words...;-)

Back to the USA. Our country is in trouble now, and it effects us, all of us.

These things affect everything my husband and I do, everything we are attempting to accomplish in our homestead dreams. And our future. We don't have 50 years ahead of us, we have much fewer even if we have long lives, which I hope we will. We have invested in this country all our lives like those we know have. Freedom's not free, it's not a toy. It's earned and it's a responsibility.

Now it's becoming radical to disagree with the current leadership. It's "anti-government."


This homestead has not changed in our goals and hopes and dreams. We love our nation.

We hate what this current administration is doing to destroy it, and that has EVERYTHING to do with our being able to live our lives on our homestead peaceably, growing things, being part of our community, minding our own business...FREELY.

This is not the time to turn the other cheek or decide it's graceless to criticize our leaders. Our constitution is here for a purpose...for US to BE our own government and to change it if it goes astray. We are OBLIGATED to DO JUSTICE, or guess what? The bullies take over.

And they will if we let them.

We have to have a backbone, a conscience, an opinion, values, a conviction, a decision about where we stand and what we want for ourselves and our children. If WE don't, someone else will, and it won't be what we ourselves would have chosen.

Do NOT HAND OVER YOUR POWER AS A CITIZEN, folks. Take up your own power and be heard. If we lose that freedom, we don't get it back in our lifetime, maybe never.

Oh, and for the record, if things get so lame that the extreme liberals begin throwing around the RACE card, don't settle for the stupidity of that accusation (unless you're a bigot, and if so, I want no part of your agenda). It's the biggest insult to whatever minority group you wish to identify with the current Far Lefties that they presume to represent you. They bully and backroom deal BLATANTLY, making jokes about whipping the populace around like so many good ol' boys (and girls) is this not the basest of insults? It insults the intelligence and sensibilities of ANY group supposedly represented.

I am not going to join the ranks of those skulking around worried that I'll be called a bigot for opposing the actions of our sitting president who is a black man simply because I myself am not considered a black woman. I don't buy into the idea of race anyway, but that's a whole other subject.

OK, this could go on for a good long time. I'd rather be re-reading my seed catalogues (and will...)

I just thought an explanation was in order as to the direction of the blog.

We're still on the same journey and doing the same things to get there. I just hope "there" is still the United States of America and there's not a hammer and sickle instead of the stars and stripes.

Beware of any message from a politician or the media shouting that we can't criticize the status quo without being labeled a traitor or antigovernment. That is a really really bad sign. The healthiest of leaders will welcome the process of debate and open criticism and will rise to the lead via the majority, not by silencing it.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Real Food: Breaking it Down to the Components

This seems so simplistic, but it takes a while to decode the modern diet and wrestle past the long laundry-list ingredient labels heavy on the preservatives, fillers, high fructose corn syrup and processed sugars, isolated soy protein, fake or altered fats, colorings, and synthetic flavorings. "Enriched" is a mild misnomer for these things.

I can't believe I bought into the advertising for so many years of my life. Maybe it's evidence of how much we've simplified, even though it doesn't really feel like we have sometimes because we still have a lot of ways in which we need to keep improving...but now when I see the aisles at the supermarket devoted to targeting children and dieters, I find the claims SO insulting to our intelligence.

Are we really THAT stupid?

Case in point...I'm not picking on one product in particular, but at random. I saw an advertisement recently for a popular label Instant Breakfast Drink. Here's how the nutrition stacks up if it's mixed into 1 cup of fat free milk (the thought of which turns my stomach presently since we have come to love pure real milk in the rare event we buy milk these days). Anyway, here's the supposed "nutrition" that's supposed to be an entire breakfast for a "healthy person"...

1 Packet Breakfast Drink (36grams) plus 1 cup of Fat Free Milk = 350 calories. That's if you drink one 8 OUNCE cup. (Double that for a standard size drinking glass, which would render the calorie count 700)
But ok, let's go with the 8 ounces. Here's my beef with this as a meal of any sort.

First, it's a liquid. Where's the chewing, the fiber, the REAL FOOD? From whence doth liquid chocolate breakfast drink hail? Is this really what we think of as FOOD?

Secondly, let's get a peek at those ingredients. The two main ingredients are...drumroll...powdered milk and SUGAR. TWENTY GRAMS of sugar in the drink mix alone. That's 4 heaping teaspoons per small teacup, not to mention the natural lactose in the milk, which is a sugar. Then there's a list of vitamins that mysteriously have been added in, and some percentages of their values based on a 2000 calorie daily intake. Adding the drink powder column values with the milk column values leads one to think that they're getting nearly their entire daily nutritional requirements of most of the important vitamins and iron and such if the label's accurate.

Plus, with all this you get an expensive portion if you break it down to money per ounce and you get the flashy packaging, which obscures the meager contents. And it's touted as being just the thing for the person with no time who wants to BE HEALTHY.


One thing I've learned is how much we have been programmed and really dumbed down, yes even us adults. Or should I say ESPECIALLY us adults, since we're the ones with the bucks.

I've not done the cost breakdown of one of my smoothies, but it would be worth trying it sometime soon just to compare it to the nutrition supposedly in one of these instant breakfast drinks.

Here are the ingredients that went into today's green and berry smoothie:

1 blenderfull of fresh organic raw spinach leaves.
2 cups 100% juice cranberry juice with whatever other juices are in the blend.
2 Tablespoons raw chia seed
3 Tablespoons raw flax seed
Surprise ingredient of the day...large handful fresh-picked and washed clover...yep, field clover leaves and stems, high in protein

Blend till everything is blends down to 1/2 of a blender full. Add to that:

Frozen blueberries, nearly to the top of the blender.
Stevia to taste.
Water, a bit, to keep things easily blend-able.
Blend all and then pour up. Yields 2 quarts.


Here's the thing. I'm stinking full after drinking my smoothie. I sip it a bit at a time usually and both Jack and myself have a quart apiece...a quart! And it's like the most wonderful and delicious cold drink/dessert you can imagine, better than anything bought at a juice bar or smoothie takeout. Our bodies actually crave the ingredients in a way we never have craved 8 ounces of powdered milk sweetened with table sugar and enriched with a list of vitamins.

But that's not all...we eat cheap, and we eat WELL cheaply. We do not eat as cheaply as I used to in my totally broke days of Ramen Noodle perdition, but I can get really creative with ingredients. Man cannot live on 99cent doublecheeseburges at McDonald's alone, not without getting some major deficiency and imbalance before too long. We buy chuck steaks and I slice those up thinly, and we are into root veggies and the pumpkins and squashes that make up admirable replacements for a lot of empty carb starches we were used to before. And adding in some of the "whites" in combination with the other diversity of roots and tubers and squashes still keeps the balance and variety nutritious...sometimes rice or white potatoes or a homemade roll or seedy nutty cookie. Salads don't have to be lettuce plus a radish...they can be all the good veggies grated, chopped, tossed with this and that, or as simple as sliced things in season. Salsa is my favorite "salad"...enough of this bounty and the white foods fit nicely in their place, not as the bulk of the meal.

We've rediscovered fruit, and nuts, and seeds, and honey. These are the things that make foods sing! Spices transport the flavors or just serve to highlight them at their best.

I propose REAL fast food. Buy it once a week, as locally and fresh and diverse and frugally as possible. Fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, honey, legumes. A bit of good meat. Use every bit of it. Water water water for drinks...tea, maybe coffee. Get a bar of real chocolate.

What's wrong with farm fresh eggs and whole grain toast or pan seared veggies, fruit chopped small (all kinds)drizzled with honey if desired and maybe a few favorite nuts? This is a breakfast. Seriously, does it take longer than getting that instant breakfast drink going..what, maybe two, three minutes more? And yeah, I mean with a skillet and everything...time the egg, it's the ultimate fast food in its own portable packaging.

Have to have a liquid meal or want a dessert with all those laundry lists of vitamins and minerals? A smoothie full of greens and berries. It takes me 3 minutes at the most to make, one minute to wash up.

A plain glass of REAL milk, no additives, delicious. Want chocolate milk? make the real thing with real chocolate...8 ounces of that IS a treat. Fast food snack? Popcorn made in a skillet right on the stove, sprinkled with sea salt? Takes me less than 4 minutes, tastes incredible. Fresh peach, pear, out of hand...oh YUM. Bit of oats, some nuts and seeds and touch of molasses or honey...bake it and it's granola, moisten it and heat and it's hot cereal. No 8 ounces of powdered milk compares.

Or let the veggies "get naked" of my favorite ways to fix em and forget em...chop and put in a roasting pan with maybe some herbs or maybe not, drizzle with some splashes of olive oil if you like and sprinkle with sea salt. Place in hot oven and let it do its thing. Voila! Same with braising, searing veg in a skillet, my favorite way with asparagus and zucchini. Sear it till fork tender and its brightest most intense color, tiny dot of olive oil and some sea salt and tossing it about...done! Perfection in less than a minute. What's faster than that?

Honestly, these things take LESS TIME than driving through a drivethrough and all the way home and cost less especially considering the gasoline.

I look at all the things touted as "healthy" and wonder at the idiocy. Has anyone out there really truly tasted a pear that's in season and perfectly ripe, so juicy it dribbles down your chin when you eat it? There is no artificial Little Debbie that compares. Even making your own chocolate sheet cake with flour and sugar and chocolate is better than all the artificial colorings and preservatives boxed up in that "convenient" boxed cake mix...and honestly, it takes maybe 5 extra minutes tops to assemble the ingredients from scratch for most basic recipes.

I'm not the sort who feels all warm and womanly the more time I spend chained to a sink full of dishes and stirring up dainties on the stovetop. I do feel good, though, actually knowing what's about to go on our plates and knowing the reason I don't have to read a label is because what I see is what I get. The APPLE is an APPLE, the ONION is an ONION.

A skillet is a magic thing. So is a baking dish. So is a crockpot. So is a blender. Any one of the four of these basic tools can hold an entire dinner. A dinner can be made in ten minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour...and it will be fuller than an 8 ounce teacup and be more real than a packet of powdered milk and flavorings mixed with nonfat milk.

I believe obesity occurs, and I speak from experience, from believing there's a short cut shorter than the short time it takes to make real food. From believing that FOODLIKE THINGS are a replacement for FOOD.

Slow food doesn't have to be impossibly slow. It CAN take as long as we let it, but there are still ways to put REAL meals on the table meaningfully and efficiently to the degree where we actually sit down together, have forks and knives and plates, look at our family members, and have something nutritious and with real flavor to chew.

It takes doing it to get into the rhythm. I wish I'd had someone teach me. It helps me being able to buy a few things in quantity to have on hand and then making shorter trips throughout the month. I multitask when I cook and cook beyond the quantity of that particular meal so that some of the foods can be reincarnated as other dishes later in the week. Honestly, now I can say it's not difficult and you get spoiled to the real tastes that are so different than chemicals in processed foods.

I wish I had done this more when I was rearing my daughter. We were the chicken nugget generation household. Nary a green got crunched.

I watched Jamie Oliver's recent school lunch episode on Hulu, and I'm so glad this issue is being raised. For some of us, we are having to regain lost ground in our own households. Jack and I still need to get more serious about losing the weight, even though we have made great progress in the area of nutrition. I feel less and less in touch with what's in the supermarkets since about the only two sections I visit now are the produce and meat sections. But boy are there a lot of aisles in between.

It's my guess we can't have it both ways. There are limited $$ and either they can buy produce and meat, or all the processed stuff with nutritional additives and boxes with plastic superheroes. I'm waiting for the day little kids throw tantrums in public over why there are only two variety of potatoes to choose from, or about who gets the eggplant rather than the newest neon frootloop. ;-)

Monday, April 5, 2010

The B Word

Happy Birthday to me
I'm not 43
I'm now 44
And my biological clock is going nuts wondering if I'll have any more babies and thinking it may not happen and maybe I'm ok with that and maybe I'm not but it would be nice to have the choice.

And many more... ;-)

Thank you Jack for your love and being my best friend, my champion, mi corazon.
All thanks to the Almighty for giving me miracles and a life so full of wonder and everyday gratefulness, for giving me my friends, my husband, my daughter, these years, the growth and the healing and the memories and the hope for days ahead.

Thanks to my friends for the connection and the sharing...I learn from you daily and am grateful!

44, let's see what happens

Grandpa Had the "Gift"

I was recently sent a 200 page account transcribed from my mother's paternal grandfather's written story of his life, penned in 1945 when he was 58 years old. It is so interesting!

It's packed with family fact and, I suspect, some lore, and the voice of the writing is true to its time period. It's not politically correct by our present standards. It covers the period of time from about 1860 to 1945 which is loosely when my mom and most of her first cousins were being born. It tells of droughts, financial crashes not just in the Great Depression but also in the late 1800s, and of the many things it took to keep a big family housed and fed through those years.

There were many surprises. One relative was a railroad engineer and perished in a head on collision with another steam locomotive when he rounded a steep curve in the track and didn't have enough time to come to a stop...they only had time enough to jump, and he waited till the others had (thankfully it was not a passenger train). It had been a misunderstanding on the part of the oncoming engineer as far as timetables. Eek. One of our matriarchs, in the widowhood of her later years, traveled now and then to spend periods of time with her grown children who were spread out over several states. One of them had renovated the downstairs of their house for her to have permanently so she didn't have to climb stairs, and had upgraded everything to modern appliances. That included a gas stove, but the family tragedy was when the hem of the mother's dress caught fire on it and she perished. Her daughter was so distressed over the accident that she and her husband sold the house and moved away from that town to a different state.

I never knew so many of my relatives lived in Missouri and Kansas, and that further back, their relatives lived in Indiana and Illinois. One of the later children ended up in Los Angeles in the 40s and gave a firsthand account of two earthquakes within two months of each other. Many of the men of the family worked with their hands and loved to build things. A lot worked on the railroad and later in machinery shops in the bigger cities where they moved if work was scarce during the war years. The women all did whatever they could, too, and most of them had jobs as well as children to raise. It was all a family affair, and children worked beginning in their early or mid seemed they wanted to and it all went to helping the family or starting their own a few years later.

At one point, my great grandfather lived up north and also had a farm near one of his daughters/son-in-law in Tennessee. He raised pigeons and Barred Rock chickens and shipped the squab weekly to Chicago via train. At one point when he was improving his property a bit, he needed a new well and was told by the locals about a man who could find water by "witchin.'" Sure enough, the man located a good water source near the house and one further out in the pastures using a dousing stick cut from the limb of a peach tree. The account goes into some conjecture about the skepticism my great grandfather had about it all, since a lot of folks lump the unexplained into the category of "witch" or the occult and that's something our family stays away from. But the douser simply used the rod to indicate the water sources, and upon digging in those locations, two reliable wells were dug.

The man showed my g-grandfather how the dousing was done and had him put his hand over the stick when it turned and try to prevent it from turning. The stick apparently moved against his hand with force and was not being manipulated by the douser. This is fascinating to me...I've heard of dousing before but of course never expected to read of it in a family firsthand journal. Different onlookers tried it themselves, but it didn't work. The man said only certain people have the "gift." Well, my grandpa, (g-grandfather's second son) was on location helping do some work and tried it himself by cutting a willow twig, and of all the children, he was the only one who had "the gift." My grandpa was a douser! I KNOW this never was a story passed down to us probably seemed too old-wive's-tale-ish or something and my people are not known to be openly superstitious (unless you ask them about certain things and I swear they are plenty superstitious). But G-Grandpa demystified it and said it really happened and there was no hocus-pocus.

Just wanted to jot that here...I love looking through this "family attic" of memories I never knew existed till now.

Mmmm, roast beef and some roasted white and sweet potatoes with garlic and sea salt are perfuming the house. Time for some eats. Hope your week is going well so far!

Friday, April 2, 2010

My Yearly Revised Chicken Wish List

Y'know this list happens even though there ain't a coop to be seen.


I'm in love with my Australian Shepherd and take out all my chicken-loving angst on him. He seems none the worse the wear for it :)

The April 2010 Chicken Wish List (and others that call to me from the Hatchery catalogue pages):

1. Salmon Faverolles
2. Blue Laced Red Wyandottes
3. Partridge Rocks
4. Barred (Plymouth) Rocks
5. Black Australorp
6. Welsummers
7. Easter Eggers
8. Silver Laced Wyandottes
9. Buff Orpington
10. Columbian Wyandottes
11. Buckeye


1. Embden


1. King Pigeon (for squab)

Of course, this list will be revised at a whim. Black Jersey Giants (chickens) still steal the show as far as my admiration when I see them at the local fairgrounds...gorgeous!

First Second Weapon

We're continuing to streamline what I like to think of as our Exit Strategy through this final push to freedom to relocate. We have more relocation options now than we did before, for various reasons, some being the changed circumstances of aging relatives and now grown children no longer at home. Debt retiring continues. I have a stack of student loan papers for an official burning, now that they're paid in full.

My camera's back in service, but one of those rotten fake "windows virus warnings" ate something in my computer to the degree that it's not allowing a lot of my programs to function or be recognized, including downloading my photos...argggghhhhh...and I don't have the know-how and $$ to figure out how to fix it yet.

BUT some of our other goals are underway.

We are cleaning up the house and property so that at the end of the year we can see where we stand and whether or not we want to put the house on the market. A lot of factors will be considered, but till then, we have a lot to do and being the slow and plodding people we seemingly are compared to our dasharound 20s and 30s, it may take that long to chip away at these things without a lot of stress. We have an ailing pushmower, a hoe, a shovel and a wheelbarrow. Jack did wonders in the physical strength department carving out test plots for some of our gardening experiments last year, but the war of the bermuda and the fact we're more or less in a neighborhood (albeit spread out) means maintaining the immediate yard in the manner to which prospective buyers have become accustomed :)

A lot of deep cleaning is commencing. Catching up with general maintenance is included. Disposing of ALL those 200+ 5 gallon buckets is happening slowly, and we'll keep some potted things in the black bins, and others will be cleaned out and brought indoors and used for storage.

We're going to see if we can sell, barter, and donate a HUGE quantity of our stored belongings that have been tagging along with us from move to move, the hope being to see if we can reduce it all down to our already few basic furniture pieces and only enough boxed things to fit (stacked tight) in a covered pickup truck bed or perhaps small pull-behind UHaul. The main goal with that is to never have to pay for storage no matter where we end up.

I'm looking in to what it takes to put some things on EBay or if it would just be easier to Craigslist most of it. Reducing our books is a real change for us...we both have bookaholic tendencies, and always will. But with the ease of borrowing from the library, we're having to get practical about space and mobility.

One unique thing is that we've allowed relocation out of Florida to enter the conversation for the first time. We have to pay special attention to staying warm in the winter because Jack's lungs won't take a lot of cold exposure, but as long as we have a way to stay warm, it may be less of an issue in a 4 season climate somewhere. At least it's on the table for more discussion. This makes me REALLY happy, as I have a lot of problems with the mold in this muggy climate. Either way, as long as we're together, it's all good :)

I like to feel a sense of forward motion and learn new skills. We now have a first second weapon for self defense. The first best weapon is always caution and good plain common sense as far as safety and prevention...removing risk if possible. My husband has the skills necessary for safe handling of a firearm himself, having been a rifleman in the Marines in the 70s. It's rather new to me, though, never having been in the category of Necessity before. I feel it is now, though. I now have a pistol of my own and am slowly taking the time to get comfortable handling it and learning how to care for it. I spent the first week getting the feel of it, learning how to load and unload it safely, getting used to keeping my trigger finger straight instead of touching the trigger during handling. It sounds like a little thing and probably is, but it's what I'm doing to make it feel "mine." I customized it with an inexpensive grip that fits my hand nicely.

Next up will be learning to clean it, that's for this week. Then to have some regular range time and take a gun safety class. Eventually, to feel confident enough with my handling of it to take a CCP class and keep up my range time so that I'll remain safe and this will be an asset for my future.

It feels like learning to fly a plane, to me. Now feels like the right time to be learning this step by step.

I also have begun my new "career" of writing. I have no idea what yet, but I checked out some different writing books from the library a while back and have made my way through them. A consistent piece of advice offered throughout is to "show up to work" write every day. I'm going to try for this at least 5 days a week, shooting for 2000 words a day, and we'll see where it goes. I have a lot of half formed ideas for characters and plots, as in writing novels or short stories, but nothing has materialized as a whole and I've decided that sitting back and waiting for it to become clear isn't going to help much. So I'm writing with the determination that somewhere in the midst of 40,000 words a month, something coherent may materialize. The writing prompts and suggestions from some of these writing books are helpful, too. At any rate, though sometimes I have arguments with my keyboard (it usually wins)when I am not sure what to sit down and begin typing, that is my only frustration...the actual writing is invigorating!

I also am going to resurrect some of my art that I've not picked up in years and years...I have no idea if I can craft anything aesthetic like I could Back When, but I'd still like to do some small things. I'm toying with the idea of pet portraits and candids, working both with photographs and different media...pen and ink, pastels, oils, etc. I'll attempt some commissions with the understanding that if the buyer doesn't like the finished result, they're under no obligation to purchase. I used to do that sort of thing now and then in the past, but got really busy when my daughter was young and never picked it back up. I'd love to have a small side income as my "butter and egg" money.

I had pics to include with this post, but can't find a way to download them due to virus probs. I'll see if there's a way from the library, but it won't be today.

We're still in the Week of Unleavened Bread...since we don't eat a lot of bread just now, it's not much of a change for us.

We have some papaya plants in pots, and I noticed that the big freeze didn't kill the malangas from coming back from their corms....there are little baby ones sprouting back now. I'm all tickled the false roselle/cranberry hibiscus, which had completely died back to the ground, is showing bunched groups of leaves at the bases. Cutting back the dead wood should be just in time for their renewed growth...I'm happy...I love those plants and hope to have them in any growing zone we move to eventually. The leaves are deliciously lemony and look similar to a Japanese maple.

We continue to economize by no longer eating out except once a week on a normal week. It took a while to adjust our shopping to buying mostly produce, but it eliminated the processed foods, which has been a big success. I'm estimating we eat about 50% raw and the rest are good balanced meals heavy on the fruit and veggies and good lean meats. I about souped myself out for now during the winter more soup till I'm back in the mood. The warmer weather calls for lots of iced tea, mmmm.

We always have at least one spinach and berry/stevia lemonade smoothie (sounds weird, tastes great) daily, often adding in whatever mixed fruit I have left over from our other frequent "dessert"...fruit chopped small, topped with a few plump walnuts and drizzled with honey.

Jack has experienced a noticeable improvement in his endurance and in how he feels since we added chia seeds to the flax seeds I always grind and put into the smoothies. His job requires him to walk 6 plus miles per shift on inclines and descending slopes as well as stairs, and anything that helps him feel good naturally, it's a keeper. The hyaluronic acid (basic joint and bone supplement from the store) we take daily also continues to help us not have pain in our knees, which seem to be our weak points in the past. The changes in our eating have helped a lot, too. I believe we consider the changes we began making last November more of a daily necessity now. Getting those dark greens (for us, in the form of smoothies) and adding in the squashes, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes instead of high quantities of white starches really has made a difference. With the cost prohibitive nature of our acquiring real milk, we have nearly cut dairy out completely and I've noticed a big improvement with my sinuses since. I don't equate this with dairy per se, but rather with Big Ag dairy that won't ever have the same nutritional makeup as grass fed. So we drink water and tea :)

More stuff to type about later...just a quick update.

Hope to get that photo prob solved soon!

Have a wonderful weekend, and for those of you with the glorious weather like the kind we're having, enjoy that sunshine :)

Shabbat shalom