This blog contains 1000 posts. Posting to Blogger with such a large archive has become unwieldy. Also, your blogista, who is sewing a kesa, is not writing much at present. She has ceased adding new posts. Still-active links are here.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A flashback

Daughter has just been accepted to grad school, so ...


Twenty-two years, ago, Daughter shows off Beloved's Calabrese broccoli ...


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Drink your foliage

A repost

Breakfast of Champions

"What's in it?" "Umm, maybe I won't say. Want some?"
"Maybe not fact I think I'll pass."

What's in it is whatever I feel like putting in that's on hand at the moment. There are limits; I might not, for example, want to mix strawberries and garlic. But when you are consciously eating from the home place year-round, some combinations will have more appeal to you than to those accustomed to take-out.

After I have had, say, pizza, or a peanut butter sandwich (fallen off my wagon, so to speak), it takes me a few days to really get interested in bean/pea/bok choi/kale/Egyptian onion smoothies again -- but that doesn't mean the smoothies aren't good, just that I'm not acclimatized to them.

It helps to remember to have one reasonable calorie-packed meal a day (assuming we are among those who have that choice). I go for duck eggs with diced radishes and chopped garlic greens, onion greens, kale, fava-bean leaves, parsley, chard, and spinach at present, because that's what's out there. On alternate days, potatoes instead of the eggs.

At the moment, though, the potatoes are not from-home; they're inorganic reds I found at 33 cents a pound. And I might give myself a party with whole-wheat noodles -- and there's olive oil in lots of these meals -- and do you see an olive grove or a wheat field anywhere around here? Didn't think so.
So much for from-home purity.

But wait! You say you saw wheat five miles up the road? Mmm-hmm, with herbicides up the yin-yang and en route, after harvest, to China. Mine comes from eighty miles up the valley, grown with a little more care, but I know I'm a creature of privilege and grateful for the diesel-gulping truck that brings it.

Every attempt to simplify meets with its own exceptions, caveats and paradoxes, and I will refuse to call mine or anyone else's sincere efforts a failure. You see this in comments on green blogs all the time; someone blogs that for Earth Day they turned off the power and sat around a candle, and the commenter lays into the poor thing for using the paraffin instead of the electricity, a net gain in carbon emissions. Oh, for -- ! look, she's working that out; a candle for Earth Day this year may lead to reading and thinking and skills acquisition and -- and the candle-burner might be next year's Sharon Astyk, ready to teach and lead. Give her a break.

What did I do? I was crabby about the whole rigmarole, skipped all the events, and celebrated the day with a bag of pepper-seared Doritos....

Woops -- biggest storm in years has popped the electricity and I had to run around lighting candles. The laptop's already unplugged, in case there was going to be a surge, and I think there was.

So, where were we? Oh, okay. Unless we are moving to the Marquesas or the Andes and leaving behind the laptop, the whole-wheat noodles, the red potatoes and the Doritos, it's all rehearsal. And I have doubts about pretty much anyone's ability to leave it all behind and be pure, anywhere.

What I think I'm saying is, rehearsal is okay. We don't need to rain on one another's parade over what's green or what's not because, if you're reading this, you're civilized to the extent that pretty much you are not green, and neither am I. Blue, ya think? Rehearsal is good because it adds a tiny bit of green pigment; someday maybe we'll all be blue-green algae, but not in my lifetime, I betcha.
A yearling doe was hanging out in the coppice; I was annoyed with her tameness enough to toss a pebble at her. It rolled down her flanks, which shivered a bit; she took two little hops and went back to daintily browsing on our willows. I opened my mouth wide. "Whah! Whah!" She looked over at me, waggled her ears, and leaned down and took another bite.
This year you're cute, my dear, but give us time to get into enough trouble and you will be somebody's venison, current game laws notwithstanding.

That won't be greenness, that will be triage. Some will eat and some will be eaten. Life is hard sometimes, and sometimes it comes to an end; I think some of that hardness and endiness is coming en masse, and when I read the first chapter of the Joy Luck Club, I feel like I'm reading the future.

I was talking the other day to a friend and he asked about the garden and the fences and some other details and said, "how would you defend all that?"

"We can't. We're equipped for that kind of thing and good at it, too, but in real life five naked people with a box of matches and a little patience could take it away from us in a couple of days."

"Good; you have it figured out. So many don't. I'm your friend, but I might be one of those five people and I will take what is yours and eat it, just like anybody else."

I was shocked because I thought he would go on to talk about community as the way to avoid such scenarios, but no, he went straight to dog eat dog, and I was the critter being eaten. He saw my expression, and he raised his eyebrow a notch -- like: so? And I could only nod. He added:

"In the absence of the rule of law, we get the same triage we have always had, only accelerated and more obvious. That's about it. That's the meaning of just how much you and I did for the Tutsis when the machetes were swinging."

We were both quiet for a little bit after that, as the traffic buzzed past on Thirteenth Avenue.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The long golden tunnel

I haven't been writing, and won't say much now -- I've been doing home-based hospice for my parents in Florida as they enter the long golden tunnel of goodbye. I lost my mom February 19 -- holding her hand as she left us in her sleep -- and am now working for my failing dad. It's been a very loving and healing time, which we certainly needed.

Here is a song for everyone that I have always admired.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Another older post

Someday we will return to our regular programming.

We suspect she is right

Stony Run in the nineties

Bringing us all up to date: Risa and Beloved began searching for "country in the suburbs" in 1992, but their budget was prohibitive. All the real estate agents and prospective sellers had set the bar too high (imagine what it would be like to make this search today!) for a lower-middle-class family on one-and-a-half incomes.

Nevertheless, they couldn't resist tooling along local county roads, wistfully pointing to one dream after another, murmuring: what about that one? what about that one? ha-ha.

But the day came, in '93 when Risa slammed on the brakes and backed up.

"What, what?"

"That one. It's in our price range!"

"How can you tell?"

"See, there are all of five blue tarps on the roof."

"Yeah, it's pretty ugly."

True. It was so ugly and had been so poorly maintained that the real estate agent tried to talk them out of seeing it, and, after they had seen it, to talk them out of buying it.

But there were four bedrooms. That many would be needed for years yet. And an acre. It was easily the one truly decrepit place for five miles in either direction, but it met the single crucial criterion: price. Along with just enough room to sort of homestead, twenty minutes from town, access to a bus route ...

So, despite the nightmare penniless remodeling that loomed, they signed. And paid up in thirteen years.

Beloved harvesting summer squash
Risa gathering beets

Many adventures -- including an almighty "century" flood -- disappointments and disasters, triumphs and joys -- and gardens, fruit trees, ducks, chickens, geese, and even sheep later, the nest is empty. Not that there aren't regular visitors. Four generations of them have added to the memories at Stony Run. Granddaughter, who likes farm chores, is shown here working on her flower bed as her aunt and great-grandfather look on. She regards the place as hers, and we suspect she is right.

Sometimes in my dreams
I still see
my Kentucky grandmother
thin, strong and hungry
holding her egg money
out to me
buy land, Mary,
buy land,
buy land while it lasts
they stopped making it.
-- Tetrault and Thomas, 
Country Women: A Handbook for the New Farmer

Saturday, March 03, 2012

The wall

the wall her father built

The wall her father built to muscle back
the brown flood waters of the creek still stands.
It leans away from the run and hugs the contour

of serpentine embankment, redeeming years of silt
by interlacing a thousand granite slabs
against the tide of spring and spill of storm.

He could not bear the thought of land he'd
paid for, picking up to run away downstream
ending in useless mingling with other men's dirt

deep at the foot of the continental shelf
ten miles beyond the Chattahoochee's mouth.
So he built. Each day, though tired from climbing

poles in Georgia sun for the Georgia Rail Road,
he slowly removed his cotton shirt and sank
to his knees in the creek, feeling for stones

with his bare toes, prying them out of thir beds
with a five-foot iron bar. He heaved them up,
wet and substantial, on the opposite bank,

and judged them, then carried them, staggering
under the load, to their exact spot in the rising wall,
setting them down like Hammurabi's laws, never

to be revoked. The whole he stocked and faced
with wet cement his daughter carried to him,
breathless, in a pair of buckets 

from a home-carved yoke. Wall done,
he capped it with a pointing trowel, and with
his finger wrote the child's name and the year

nineteen fifty-five, which you will find today
if you scrape back moss. The house has had
six owners since, and of these none has given thought

to who prevented their foundation washing out
with freely offered labor long ago: or perhaps
they have. There's something in a wall's

being there that speaks of someone's having lived
and looked upon the land, giving shape to time
and place, taking stone in hand.


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