Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Thought I'd share a vision of one of my favorite places on earth. It's only about 2 hours and 31 road-side deer away from where we now live (ahem- indulging in a full sunset experience the other day meant a drive home in the dusky dark, prime deer time!)

I used to live right there through the wonder of government housing in my wild and seasonal-job-filled youth. Thanks be for National Parks, public lands and protection from development, at least in some places. I love the Lake, and am very thankful to have free access to it whenever I can make the time.

Awareness Rising?

The chickens are a tough act to follow, but I've been wanting to share these links. Has anyone seen this stuff "out there" on TV, etc? Lacking a TV, we're sometimes out of the public discourse loop.

Watch the Ads here (Environmental Defense, Fight Global Warming)
And here (Video will start- from Blue Man Group).

It's maybe a BIT gloom and doom to get back to the Global Warming topic, but I think these are positive signs. When the local podunk free newspaper (which includes conservative columnists saying women's fashions make us look like "Floozy Swoops" and features bad photos of middle school musicals) runs the front page headline "Global warming signs right here," I suspect the public thought about this is begining to change. The article is actually a very good focus on on some MN naturalists and professors who insist that "We're not activists" but are encouraging people to keep phenology journals and see the changes for themselves.

So, where will we go from here? Will the mainstream just accept the change and move on? Or is it finally time for real change and action among the "majority"?

Monday, March 20, 2006


The chickens would like to have a word with you:

Are you people STILL ruminating over all that gloom and doom stuff? Tsk. Haven’t you had enough corn lately? How about left-over green stuff? Mmmmm, green stuff.

In fact, I think it would help get your minds off things if you’d bring me some treats of any kind. NOW.

Don’t make me call my rooster after you! He’s big and tough and…

Yo. You hasslin' my chicks?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

It's about Words

Don’t you hate it when you try to warn someone about something bad coming their way, making dire predictions to try to spur them into action, only to have them ignore you? Then, sooner than you expected, those bad predictions come true, but it’s too awful to say “Haha- told you so”…??

That’s how I felt when I read this story about the MN climate this week, and this one about the Arctic. I heard a republican say last week that Bush is only one man, so why should HE try to do anything to stop the warming? I’m afraid that may be true… we’re likely on this path of no return, no matter WHAT we do now. Sigh….

But I did find a tiny ray of hope in another news article. (I think you can get to it without registering only the first time you try, so use your first glimpse well!) Since it’s Sunday and WF and I are busy worshiping in our “church of the big blue sky,” this will be my spiritual musings for the day.

The article made me think again about the words people choose to use and their significance:

“Use of the term "creation care" is important, said Calvin DeWitt, a professor at the University of Wisconsin and the founder of the Au Sable Institute, a Christian institute dedicated to better understanding of the natural world. He said some ministers shy away from being identified as environmentalists.

"Some of them will hug a tree at some point, but they'll hug it because the Creator hugs it, not because some environmentalist hugs it."

Heaven forbid, you wouldn’t want to be associated with those crazy “environmentalists!” But if this is what it takes to get some attention for this poor beleaguered earth from the religious right, so be it. Even though I think the words “creation care” seem oddly condescending (like day care for the planet… how sweet!), I’m glad to hear the conservatives finally using this strange power of buzz words for some good.

I’ve been running into more examples of this power lately. I read George Lakoff’s “Don’t Think of an Elephant” a while back- very eye-opening. He discusses how the Right has figured out how to conjure up “frames” in our minds with just a word or two… some sly writing/PR prowess that is rather hard to counteract. “Tax Relief,” “Partial Birth Abortion” and all that. There is a lot of meaning and emotion packed into those words, and if interest groups can get the media, etc to use them, it helps to throw the debate.

So if “environment” has become a bad word, or one that is often misused to describe some lefty agenda (as if the “environment” is a quaint hobby that some of us enjoy, “an add-on for birdwatchers”) I applaud their search for words they can use while starting to pay attention to reality.

Even if they are not interested in joining with us in our weird liberal “environment” politics, I think that we might ALL be very interested in things like breathing clean air, drinking safe water and eating food. If they want to work together caring for that they see as “creation” and what I see as a “crucial life support system that we all desperately need,” I’ll be right there beside them.

Alleluia, Mother Earth! Blessed Be!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Peaceful Delay?

This is the longest I’ve gone without posting since starting this blog and realizing that people actually read it. For some reason, while in the peak of other life busy-ness, I was more inspired to post. Right now I’m in the post-frenzy lull. Here’s a great quote that appeared in the program of the big event WF and I helped coordinate last weekend, chosen by committee member Donna:

The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his work for peace. It destroys her own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.
-Thomas Merton

Donna continues: “There is a desperate need for us to put all our strength into changing the world for the good. But the frenzy of doing wears us out. The grief of seeing tragedy wears us out.

Every year I have left (this event) renewed, because the art and celebration of peace give me the joy and hope to carry on. We need to do the hard work of peace, and we need to do the dancing of peace… We need to see the horror, and we need to see the beauty.”

Good words, Donna… and applicable to many other parts of the “struggle” as well. I even see this blog as a very small effort to reach out, share what I know and do, learn from others (ie reading their blogs), and try to make the world a better place. It can also be another thing that adds to the “frenzy of doing.”

Some of my early blog “models” (Liz, etc) are either taking a break or wondering about this practice- is it worth the time spent when there’s such limited time to get everything done? What is this blogging for?

I think for now, this is still a good practice for me to maintain. Besides the fact that it prompts me to write coherent sentences again, I think it helps me to look outward, to look at my life with a different eye. I’ve kept paper journals for years, but they can become places to wallow, to gaze too intently upon my navel. While that can serve a purpose, there’s not been much documentation of the outer life- the garden’s progress, our learning curve with the chickens, or the slow process of learning to be more self-sufficient.

I have no idea who all is really reading this, but I know someone’s out there, reading and sometimes commenting (hint, hint). I’ve heard that some of my fretting has made others think- about lead, etc. I’ve learned good things from other bloggers, stories I’ll tell WF as if we know the people involved. Weird, maybe, but still a connection. We don’t know enough people who are doing what we’re trying to do. If some of us can connect via computer, I think the time is well spent.

Plus, if I didn’t blog, what would I do with all of my random pictures?! Here is one to complete the cat pic trio; they are now all equally represented. Lutsen enjoys some good peace and quiet:

More thoughts to come!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Cycle of Seasons

Ah, the circle of life and harvest and replanting...

While I was spending too much time on the computer the other day (ahem), WF brought me this plate: All products of our garden last year! The carrots have been in slumbering in sawdust, and the garlic has been hanging out in the basement. Look at the size of that thing: that’s ONE clove! I love that variety- easy to peel. WF’s more of the garlic-grower, but I believe it’s Elephant something, a variety he’s been replanting from year to year for the past few years. Both the carrots and the garlic are getting a bit past their prime now in March, but still good enough to use. It is a nice feeling to still be eating from our gardens when we haven’t even SEEN them in a couple months…deep under the snow as they are.

We’re also slowly finishing our various seed orders, starting the cycle anew. WF’s been consulting the “Seed to Seed” book by Suzanne Ashworth more lately, trying to figure out which seeds we’ve saved in past years (somewhat haphazardly, in my case) will get us through this year. How many years do they last? What’s the cross-pollination story? We had the world’s most productive kale plant last year- it actually over-wintered from two years ago, and started setting seeds in early July. We were still gathering pods through September. We saved them diligently, but now read that there might have been too much cross-pollination (those freewheeling plants!) going on in that garden… kale and mustard greens and arugula and all sorts of things. I wouldn’t mind it if gave us some sort of super-brassica adapted to our garden, but I’m afraid that’s not how the greens genes (hee- Remember Mr. Green Jeans?) work. Guess we’ll plant and wait and see!!

And at the risk of setting a cat picture precedent…

Schroeder has carefully inspected the mid-winter produce and pronounced it… not as exciting as chicken. We’ll be cooking chicken (or maybe salmon) again soon, right?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Good News!

Yes! We are feeling very relieved, and eating eggs galore! (They were stacking up in the fridge while we waited to hear back from the lab). It’s taken me a while to get to this post, mostly because of the crazy, over-committed life we lead these days. Today is a blissfully unscheduled Saturday, with sun! (which, for us off-grid types, means: quick! do laundry, run the vacuum cleaner, pump water and can we think of anything to cook with the free electric??) Life is never dull.

We sent the eggs to a food products lab and specifically requested that they test the yolks, since that’s where the lead would be (as per this reference). I also had my blood tested. Both came back with good news! The food lab reported a “non-detect” down to their threshold of .025 ppm for lead. After doing some calculations, I figured out that even IF they did contain lead up to that level, someone’s veins could be running with pure egg yolk and still only be at half the EPA’s “safe” level of 10 micrograms per deciliter for kids and pregnant women (there is debate about if that level is protective enough, but…). Since we obviously do not freebase yolks around here, and the fact that animals and then people only absorb a portion of the lead they consume, we’re going to consider these safe. My blood tests also came back with very little or no lead showing up. Really, the time that the chickens were possibly exposed to the lead paint was quite small, and we don’t even know for certain that they ate any of it. Does make me wonder about flocks from the past living in old barns with old paint, though… urgh.

So did we worry for nothing? I don’t think so. It got us to replace the door last weekend, and I feel much more educated about this potential hazard. I breathed SUCH a sigh of relief when that old door was pulled out and sealed in plastic sheeting. The friend who built most of the coop knew how to cut down a new door to fit the historic-door-sized hole in the coop, and the new metal door works great. I’m sad that we couldn’t stick with our idea of recycling building materials, but it feels so good to walk by the coop and not have to be eagle-eyed about any new flaking chips, etc. The other old paint around here (ahem) has all tested as lead-free.

We are thankfully eating our own local eggs again! And it’s a good thing, too, because the chickens are deciding that this nice longer day-length agrees with them. We’re up to about 6-8 eggs a day from the 10 hens. That’s up from about 4 in the darkest winter (we don’t give them any artificial extra light).

Bill would also like to report that he’s feeling better these days, but is a bit perplexed by all this fuss about eggs...

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Leap Day, sort of...

(Entry written yesterday, eaten by Blogger, re-created and finally posted now)

I’ve heard of the plight of people born on Leap Day (Feb 29) but had never really thought much about it until I myself orchestrated an anniversary to happen on that very day. It IS rather odd… the day is simply not HERE!

So how did this happen? Allow me to get a bit more personal…

WF and I have actually not been together very long. We were engaged 2 years ago (today? Yesterday? It’s hard to know). After we had started talking about the “M” word, I happened upon a historical reference to the big Leap Year of 1904. Apparently 1900 was not a leap year, so the young men had forgotten that in a Leap Year, young ladies had special” privileges” that they didn’t normally have. They could (gasp) ask a MAN for his hand in marriage (although a proven has had never been found). Can you IMAGINE??

Both WF and I are interested in history, and I’ve even done some living history based in 1912, where I dress the part and time travel for special events at museums, etc… weird, but actually quite fun. I did some looking around online and found some intriguing things

I’ve never been the most decisive person, but I was very sure about WF. I wanted to show him (and myself) how sure I was that I wanted to marry him. So I decided to go for it! Feb 29, 2004 found us snowshoeing on my favorite beach. I handed him a little booklet I’d made featuring the postcards. He said YES and we shared a snotty winter kiss. He technically also asked me, so we could be even. I wrote up a little blurb for the local paper (they are always looking for cutesy little stories to run on the announcement page). They titled it “Equality in Everything” (probably thinking: crazy women’s libber!) Our families thought it was fun.

So, is this our second anniversary of that event, or are we only half way to the first ?