Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Yesterday kept unfolding with surprises. To begin, I took my friend B to pick up fresh milk from a new farmer. I swear, this farmer/kid looks about 13, his whole farm is new, and he has a wife with a three week old infant. Visiting his farm once a week, paying thirty dollars for three gallons of fresh milk, and helping in some small way to support their farming life feels wonderful. Milk is getting more yellow as spring grass comes in. Onion milk can't be far behind. And all is right with the world on that farm. So mote it be.

When we got home my daughter presented B a lovingly needle-felted sculpture of Blue, an ancient Great Pyrenees surpassed in her fluffiness only by her sweetness. I think this was one of my daughter's greatest works of art to date. It looks like Blue. It captures something of Blue's essence. And its made all with Blue's fur. I wish I'd taken a picture. I think it made B happy-sad-cry on the inside for her lovely aging dog, for art, and just for love.

Then we left to forage a picnic at the store and hit the park. We've been talking about Letterboxing to B. Its a thing we used to do in Texas, a thing we very much enjoy. Who doesn't want to scour beautiful lands for tiny artistic free treasure? Somehow, we've been too preoccupied to actually go. Yesterday the kids accidentally found a brand new letter box with a hand carved stamp. And that box led to another box. And that box led to two other boxes. It was spontaneous fantasy letterboxing.

But it gets even better. Because we found a box randomly, we missed the first two in the series. So now we get to go back with our hand carved stamps. No wait. FIRST we carve new stamps because we're all older and way more sophisticated than we used to be. Then we go back, find two new unseen boxes, and stamp the ones we've already seen. We may even be first on their ledgers.  What a great way to introduce our friend to our old hobby.  Of COURSE B just happened to have a compass with her. She says, "Well, you never know." I notice its those sorts of "you never know" folks whose path always seems littered with marvelous incidents.

Other things happened involving a rotten catfish carcass and a stick, a flower that was divine smelling on top and oddly but naturally stinky on the bottom, sunshine, love, magnolia trees, ghosts, and good times. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

"The study considered the many approaches that homeschoolers take to education—and found hardly any difference, less than .5% of variance, in achievement based on the following variables: 

•Degree of structure (ranging from very unstructured approaches such as delight directed learning or eclectic teaching approaches to very structured, preplanned, and prescribed approaches)
•Amount of time spent per day in parent directed learning activities"
Last night I dreamed I lost my toddling children in a grocery store. I lost them while I was waiting in line in a broken system getting angrier and more stubborn every moment. We waited, I fumed, eventually the kids vanished. I was left with my anger, fear, sadness, the broken system, and a basket of treats for vanished children.

Its important to understand the right moment to cut your losses and walk away from Broken and Not Worth It, to remember what matters.

Friday, February 24, 2012

An Open Letter to our local Homeschool Group

"Education and knowledge by themselves do not bring inner peace to individuals, families or the society in which they live. But education combined with warmheartedness, a sense of concern for the well-being of others, has much more positive results. If you have a great deal of knowledge, but you're governed by negative emotions, then you tend to use your knowledge in negative ways. Therefore, while you are learning, don't forget the importance of warmheartedness."
~The Dalai Lama

The D.L. get's it right, (of course) doesn't he? I think warmheartedness is exactly the quality that gives homeschoolers that sane suchness which can seem at once elusive and yet obvious in these kids we are raising. I believe warmheartedness is what sets them apart from many of their schooled peers. We spent five hours in the park yesterday. I can't think when I've had a nicer time. The day almost glittered with the common mundane and typical companionship and dearness I've come to associate with our group. It helped that the weather was perfect. And we can't control that. But I paused several times to notice what was happening at the park in an overall way--rather than just focusing on myself and my children, as I usually do. I saw warmheartedness.

I saw a core group of mothers sitting together. One cool thing about the Mother Camp that tends to happen at thea is that Mothers are easy to find in our varying parks, for anyone new to that park, for folks new to our group, and for wayward children. Its also just freaking BEAUTIFUL to see so many children nursed, held, and loved in one concentrated spot. Not to mention, I relish time with the Mothers. Its such a nice break in the week from our busy more isolated life. I love how unique, independent, smart, and cool thea moms tend to be. I feel lucky to sit with you all on occasion.

Four teens were first to the park yesterday. (I know because two of them were mine.) The first thing they did was go scour the tennis court fences for a discarded ball. They found one and that ball was in play, off and on, for the next five hours. They began with a game of Four Square which evolved as more kids showed up, into something creative looking I'll call "More Square." I don't know the rules of this game they invented. But judging from the smiles on their faces and the way bigger kids and littler kids integrated into and out of the game as it continued, I'm thinking it was a good game.

I saw groups of kids wandering all through the park yesterday. Some far into the woods, some quite close. I thought how wonderful it is that the kids get a safe opportunity to practice being big, being farther from the Mother Circle, and staking out a moment of independence in a safe place. Mostly the groups were fluid and shifting and tended to be vaguely age clumped. My kids look forward to these moments with their peer groups. But I saw older kids and younger kids interacting a lot. Age blending is one of the sane things about homeschool that teaches warmheartedness. I think kids need time with their core buddies and time milling around bigger groups.

An especially yummy moment was when one of the W. boys picked up a guitar and began to play and then, as a circle of calm wide eyed children gathered around him, to sing some of the songs he's written. WOW! That was beautiful on several different levels at once.

I saw wandering children. I saw nearly every child alone at moments and in differing groups in other moments. I saw all the normal things one expects to see on a playground. Except fighting. I saw no fighting and no evidence of discord. Which is unusual in such a big group. Surely someone made a mistake or tested a boundary or hurt someone else's feelings. (Perhaps it was unknowingly ME.) We expect people to be human and to make mistakes (and to learn from them.) But I never saw anyone look unhappy yesterday. Except for one toddler who cried. She'd been there a couple of hours. I'm guessing she was getting tired. I know I was getting tired.

I'm rambling on too long. But yesterday was just so fine and lovely I had to pause to let you all know I'm very grateful for this community of folks who manage to hang together, even through multiple generations (waving at you, A. H.), through growing pains, and through all our differences, to make such a totally awesome beautiful and excellent group. My life and our homeschool are way richer for knowing you all. I think our group helps foster a sense of warmheartedness as well as offering a place to practice it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Two things I've learned about henna. If someone compliments your work just say "thank you." No further commentary, for instance a catalog of what's wrong, is necessary. And when you are drawing on someone refrain from exclaiming "Oh No" or even a gently whispered "oops" and certainly never shout "Crap On A Cracker" no matter how appropriate nor how easily the phrase jumps to your lips. Mistakes will be made. Manage them.

I've not found the will or words to write, yet, about washing my chicken's butt. I noticed she wasn't keeping herself quite up to snuff, not quite in line with the hygiene of her chicken sisters. Poo was accumulating in a distressing way, yet for a long time, I denied it. Some days I thought maybe I was seeing different chickens on bad days, in unclean moments. Some days I didn't see it at all. Many days I must have been in denial. Because, who wants to confront a stinky chicken butt? Denial was a mistake, it didn't work, as it can be counted on not too. The experience of washing her was not as bad as I'd feared, even as it became obvious the depth of the problem was worse than I'd imagined. She appears to be pasting up again. I don't know what that means, but it isn't good.

I finally got my goats in a place, physically, where I could trim their feet. I have never trimmed anythings feet before. And I don't think these goats had ever been trimmed either. They were terrified and fought the process as best they could. (Unlike the chicken, who was unexpectedly calm--perhaps relieved--through her ordeal.) The goats fought hard and their feet were atrociously bad.  Not infected, yet, but horribly overgrown and beginning to deform. Of the three of us, we each only bled once. Mistakes were made, yet we emerged wiser and better off.

My dear boy made himself an omelet for breakfast. Rather, he made two, the first one failed. He had forgotten to add butter to the pan before the eggs. So they stuck. When I arrived on the scene he had scraped out the pan and was starting over. Which was fine with me, but he was sort of sick about it. I could hear in his voice, his disappointment with himself. He glumly reported his mistake. I shrugged, preparing to eat the failed eggs.

"Buddy," I told him, "Your homeschooling assignment is to go forth and make as many mistakes as you can. I'm serious. I want you to try to make a bunch of mistakes." This alarmed him, the very idea! He wondered if I was giving him such an onerous task because he is a perfectionist? Yes. Because he has inherited the gift and burden of perfectionism. Mistakes will be made. Embrace them. Be kind to yourself about it. Plan for it, learn to manage it. And above all. Most importantly. For goodness sake, understand that fearing mistakes, and certainly taking a punishing attitude about mistakes--especially with yourself, hinders and limits your life.

Life is unpredictable, uncontrollable, and uncomfortable. There is no perfect way to get through chaos. Perfection isn't even a helpful goal. Unless you happen to be a brain surgeon or a computer programmer. Often perfection is a tool of persecution. Embrace chaos, learn to accept it gently. Do a good job, of course, but in the boundaries of kindness. Because its fairly certain the hard exact line we draw within ourselves will be expressed as rage, later, at the predictably absurd wrongness of others. So much is wrong and mistaken in life. And the most perfect response is a gentle smiling soft kind of kindness about it all.

Or, when that fails, shouting out CRAP ON A CRACKER and moving on as best you can.

Monday, February 20, 2012

"It cannot be overemphasized that no body of theory exists to accurately define the way children learn, or which learning is of most worth." ~John Gatto 

There is no science underpinning the methods or results of institutional pedagogy--no actual proof. We have been brought up (within the system) to assume science proved the system's methods and results first. But there are no studies to which we can point. Because they don't exist. Valuable science is based on a system of experimentation proved against controls. You can not study the efficacy of learning in a classroom without also studying the efficacy of innate learning. Which has never formally happened. To that end, unschoolers are offering the science of pedagogy an opportunity of immeasurable value and depth--the study of innate learning.

Pedagogy is a school of fish living in a fishbowl, teaching that their bowl is the best bowl, the most efficient bowl, the most valuable bowl. Pedagogy is dedicated to refining methods for teaching within the bowl. But this school of fish has never been to a lake, river, or ocean. The school never left its bowl. Can everyone see this clearly?

University level teaching, I think, feels valuable. You can feel yourself getting smarter when you go to college as an adult and study. I am not suggesting there is anything wrong with studying in a university or college in the traditional way. However, as children we (if we are honest, at least nearly all of us) felt the stultification of school. I suggest there is an appropriate age for institutional pedagogy and science should figure out what it is. I suggest that age is not 1, 2, 5, 6, or even 10. Certainly by 15 for most folks. Definitely by 18 almost everyone should be neurologically and emotionally mature enough to study in a formal setting for six hours everyday. But there is no proven value to forcing it on little children. No. No proof, not anywhere. None. Not because your mother made you do it. Not because the local Principal wishes there was. Not because society enjoys free babysitting.

Which is shocking, difficult to grasp, and an emotional a slap in the face. Not to mention how sad it is, all that wasted time. And lets not even think about what harm the institutionalization of childhood causes. Wait, maybe that deserves some study...ya think?

Rob Reich over at Stanford says we don't have enough conclusive evidence about the efficacy of homeschool. He couldn't be more right. However, he hasn't yet figured out we don't have any conclusive evidence about the efficacy of institutional school either. If confronted, I am guessing he might say that proving the efficacy of institutional pedagogy for elementary school is too big. It can't be done. So he might simply dismiss it as impossible. Well, academics might have such luxury to choose what they will be paid to study, conscious parents do not. Furthermore, one can not insist on proof for homeschooling but not institutional schooling. That doesn't make sense.

One might suggest that children can not successfully enter college or university without 13 years of prior institutionalization. Of course unschoolers, in fact, are. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I bought a five pound bag of sugar today, which I'm noting here to remind me. I'm curious to see how long it lasts. Five pounds, four people, this should give me a decent idea of how much sugar we consume. Just out of curiosity.

I'm going to guess, maybe...five pounds a month? It doesn't seem like I buy sugar all that often. I don't buy processed foods. I never buy jelly. We do eat honey but we don't cook with it. Very occasionally we have molasses on biscuits. Treats out of the house will be excluded. But this will still be a decent rough estimate. Oh wait, plus chocolate chips. We do eat a titch of chips...hum.

"USDA advises people who eat a 2,000-calorie healthful diet to try to limit themselves to about 10 teaspoons of added sugars per day. In fact, the average American does not eat a healthful diet, but consumes 20 teaspoons of added sugars per day." Most of which is consumed in soft drinks. We don't buy soda. Its too expensive. The kids drink milk or water. We don't even buy juice. And frankly, I can't imagine eating 10 tsps. of sugar a day....unless its a baking day. But in general, no.

Its good to think this through. There are about 113 teaspoons of sugar in a pound. Which puts us at about 4 teaspoons per person per day, if we are indeed consuming a five pound bag every month or so. And honestly, I doubt we are even eating 4 teaspoons a day.  ...except for chocolate chips.  

Maybe I'm in denial, buying bags of sugar more often than I realize? Time and the blog will tell. Shall I count bags of chocolate chips as well?  uh oh...

Friday, February 17, 2012

"Lies, Damn Lies, and Medical Science" by David Freedman
Worth a read for anyone interested in education, nutrition, medicine, farming, or science. For anyone standing in the yard next door, looking at a man falling into a diabetic coma and offering a solid whole wheat peanut butter and raw local honey sandwich to a group of First Responders there only to help and looking dubious. For anyone who guessed way before the media: margarine, um, not so much. For any one feeling a bit dubious about societies knee bruising, reflexively genuflecting, obsession with Authority and hierarchy. For anyone who would like to see Monsanto burn in the fiery hell it so richly deserves.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My son asked me if I'd like to read Good Omens out loud with him. Yes I do, in fact. And oh my goodness, this book is wickedly funny.  Its about Armageddon: “You don't have to test everything to destruction just to see if you made it right.”

Driving him to town the other day, a good thing happened. I saw the worried hen inside myself, pecking and flapping her wings over her chick. We drove in silence as we do. Because my son, like my husband, is the strong silent type. Always has been. Always, judging from his Grandfather, will be. The genetics in play have superceded the nature/nurture conundrum. These men are profoundly quiet people, doesn't matter who raises them. Though, I'll wager, this is the first time in history one of them has been raised up southern. It matters folks. It matters to me: driving through life in silence causes me to worry.

But the worry in a mother has never helped a child. And my son is deeply troubled if I ask him to expound on his silence, if I inquire what might be wrong. Who wouldn't be? Its as if I'm suggesting something is wrong when nothing is. And finally, FINALLY, I got it.

As we drove I asked him: Hey, what 'cha thinking about?" A far healthier choice than: What's wrong kiddo? What indeed. He began by referencing an article I'd sent him last year about the Fibonacci sequence, related that to the pattern of branch growth on pine trees, and tied that all into a dream he'd had...I think about geese.

Quiet doesn't mean sad. It means thoughtful. Glad we got that straight. It only took me 13 years to figure it out, or considering my marriage, perhaps 18. I'm slow, Honey, but I'll get there. I do try. And I love you mighty good.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I found myself sitting next to Ernest in an old folks home this week. I was specifically and intentionally chatting him up, nearly flirting. Because my kids were there for the monthly Teen Volunteer Community Homeschool Service Project and busy playing Bingo with the residents. I figured all I could give of myself in the moment was attention. I moved across the lobby to sit next to Ernest. For awhile we were alone except one completely vacant looking woman in a corner who didn't move a muscle, as far as I could tell, for two solid hours.

Ernest is maybe in his 70s? But its hard to guess because he's black. Sorry if its somehow inappropriate to say, but I can never guess the age of anyone black who is over 25. All elderly black people look about 50 to me, which is to say, unfairly ageless. So I'm sitting with Ernest, listening through his immensely soft polite demeanor, accent, and the effects of what I assume was a stroke. I learned he is from the same southern state as me. He was a crane operator by trade, swore its "perfectly safe." He inquired about my husband's work.

He was curious about homeschool, about my children, and probably about why I was sitting there. I explained: homeschool is wonderful. We have a lot of fun. Its not hard at all. The kids are smarter than I am. And we have a lot of time together. Which I value because time is all we really have in life, anyway. I turned to face Ernest. He burst into tears. He sat there sobbing and apologizing and agreeing with me, emphatically, for several minutes. It took all my strength not to cry as well. I changed the subject, asked if he is a father. He has two kids, both living in other cities.

His mother's name was Savannah. He burst into tears when he mentioned her name. I can't imagine the truth of her life, circa 1910, in the deep south. Nor the tenderness and concern she must have shown him and felt for him. Raising a black boy in the deep south back them. Dear Holy God, how scary was that? He misses her profoundly.

There were a lot of historical, cultural, generational, and gendered forces at play in my conversation with Ernest. I feel sure he cried so easily because he's had a stroke. I've heard strokes will often free your emotions that way. Ernest was true to his name, heartbreakingly so. But he was completely lucid. If he couldn't hold his tears, each one was absolutely sane and sound. I hate to think of him left there, anyone left in such a place. Yet I know, such places are necessary.
Volunteens playing Bingo in the locked ward.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Her brother said, "Your ears are on backwards." She thought he was teasing her and denied it. He was persistent. She was getting kind of pissed off. "My ears are NOT on BACKWARDS!" He, an even tempered soul to the core, shrugged. Later I passed her in the hall, "Your ears are on backwards." She stopped dead still, "Wait a minute, what do you mean?" "Your ears," I said, pointing to the top her her head. "They are on backwards." She broke into a huge grin. Oh. Those ears. She'd forgotten about them.

In the grocery store yesterday as I was weighing herbs at a small scale, I noticed an old man pass my daughter and heard what he said. I could feel his intention, which had no creepiness at all. I smiled. She arrived at my elbow and stood close. I asked if she understood what he meant. She did not. I smiled again and walked up to the old man.

"She didn't understand you," I explained to him. He laughed. We both laughed. How does it feel to be an anachronism? He had sort of snapped his teeth at her, a totally incomprehensible gesture out of context, and said, "Ehhhh, what's up Doc?" I instinctively knew he had, in that skewed way of the tribe of free association, been referencing her ears. But she is completely unfamiliar with that reference which, after all, was written in 1943.

Later as we walked down the center of the grand staircase of the public library which is wide, white, and dramatically lit so that one feels oneself to be making a bit of an entrance to the lobby, we passed a man coming up. He glanced at her. I felt her resolve, straight ahead stare, correct posture. Its brave to walk around town in cat ears. It can make you a weird-o in the eyes of some. What good practice in bravery, individualism, making a statement to the world. A fine lesson, it will come in handy later when she's an adult with real and necessarily difficult or controversially artistic things to say.

Friday, February 10, 2012

We took our bodies to a quiet sunny park and spent several hours in solitude, hopefully to bake away a few germs. We've been down with a virus lately. Though I'm beginning to suspect allergies have arrived. We picniced, basked, strolled, read, lolled, and even dibbled our toes in a cold river. It was good. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Yesterday I met a mother who describes herself as new to homeschooling. She's been at it with her 13 year old for two years. And this year she brought home her 11 year old as well. They absolutely school at home, from about 8:30 to 1:30 with a standard curriculum, or until her boys finish their work for the day. Apparently, they often take all day to finish. Even though her oldest son is described as gifted and could easily finish much faster. This woman described homeschooling as a personal burden.

She is completely divorced from or unaware of the difference between learning and schooling. She believes, whole heartedly, in schooling. She believes the successive sequential act of schooling has profound intellectual benefit for children. "Profound intellectual benefit" were not her actual words. But is the highest possible interpretation of what she meant and intends for her children.

She asked me how long my children were in school. Never. She asked what curriculum we use. None. We blinked at each other respectfully. I wanted to elaborate on the subtleties of unschooling but there was no time. All we could do was note each other on opposite sides of a deep chasm. This woman is working so hard to give her children the institutional tools she feels are necessary. She is doing, like me, as she sees fit.

We met waiting outside a computer programming class teaching children how to make their own video games. My son has had about 16 contact hours, through two courses. He is programming his own games which are steadily increasing in complexity. This sort of programming requires Algebra 2 level math. My son has never studied math, yet he loves the class and is working at the same level as his peers.

See the chasm? How can this be? Yet, there it is, the difference between learning and schooling. None of which is a burden on me in the least. I work only to hold my children lightly and to be a good example. (Now that, being a good example, is hard for me.) What children learn has always been up to children. What we teach has not much to do with what they learn, most often they learn lessons from our teaching we never intend.

"Guided by the belief that good is the opposite of bad, mankind has for centuries pursued its fixation with fault and failing. Doctors have studied disease in order to learn about health. Psychologists have investigated sadness in order to learn about joy. Therapists have looked into the causes of divorce in order to learn about happy marriage. And in schools and work places around the world, each one of us has been encouraged to identify, analyze, and correct our weaknesses in order to become strong.

This advice is well intended but misguided. Faults and failings deserve study, but they reveal little about strengths. Strengths have their own patterns." ~Marcus Buckingham

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Commercial pet food is not good for your pets. It causes all the same degenerative disease that commercial people food causes in people. Yes, they can eat it. But it shortens their life. If they don't eat it, you will notice a difference in their fur, their smell, and their energy levels. And not paying the commercial food industry is its own satisfaction.

150 years ago pet food did not exist. Pets ate what they could catch or what their people ate. Dogs did not get diabetes. Cats did not get kidney disease. Pets lived long healthy happy lives, barring injury.

There are many differing opinions about how, exactly, to feed your pets without commercial food. I am not an expert. But I have deduced that common sense provides adequate instruction. Dogs and cats are carnivores. Feed them meat. Cats need more meat. Dogs can get by on other foods as well.

Milk does not cause diarrhea in cats or dogs. Let me repeat that. Milk DOES NOT cause diarrhea in cats or dogs. You can feed cats unlimited bowls of milk, cream, butter, or yogurt. They will be happy. You can feed dogs all that over a couple of slices of bread or leftover waffles with two raw eggs cracked over the top and they will be happy. Through the years I've fed cats and dogs that way hundreds of times with joy all around. And that was before I had access to raw milk, which is even better. But meat is best for carnivores. I have a standard system for feeding our cats and dogs more than milk. Here's the recipe.

Into one stock pot put lots of meat. Some weeks ground beef will be on sale. Some weeks its chicken legs. Variety is good. Put meat in your stock pot and simmer with water to cover until tender. When the meat is well cooked add enough rice to give the food pleasing consistency when done. Add organ meats. Add a can of pumpkin. Or add a sweet potato. Add anything you want to add that makes sense. Plus a couple of packages of gelatin. Cook until done. Make sure there is plenty of fat. No fat skimming. If your meat wasn't fatty enough, add some.

A 12 quart stock pot of this stew will feed my two large dogs, a cup and half each once a day, for about a week. It also feeds my cats. For the cats I mix this stew with a can of fish--salmon, mackerel, or sardines, in a one to one ratio. They love it. The kitten is growing well on it. This two or three cup mixture will feed my two cats several days.

This sounds like trouble but its just a routine. Its not more expensive than buying commercial food. And its hardly more trouble. I make and store the food all in one stock pot. We cook for ourselves everyday anyway. So, its easy. Unlike commercial food, this stuff is never disgusting. And the animals are happier.

Some folks just feed their animals raw meat. I have no doubt that is best of all. I supplement with occasional raw chicken legs and table scraps for the dogs. (Except we rarely have table scraps.) All the animals get brewers yeast in their food when I remember to add it. I don't buy vitamins. And if I'm late making more pet food, I just give everyone milk.
I read an interesting article about French parenting the other day. Basically, I agree with all of it. Except, please do feel free to co-sleep. Attachment Parenting with a French Twist. Yes.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

If you are like me, every time your kids get a little bit bigger you will think to yourself, "You are big now. Why can't you: get with the program, get it, get over it, handle it, wait for it, deal with it, and hurry it up?"

Later you will inevitably unexpectedly find a cache of forgotten pictures and be staggered by how little they were, how perfect they were, and how much you wish you could have just chilled out a whole lot more. Because they were with their program, they got it, were all over it, handled it, waited for it, dealt with it, and oh so sadly, it all hurried along in a blur of love you can scarcely comprehend.

And still you know you're: expecting too much, being too critical, needing to chill, and watching it fly.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Its not called "non violent communication" if you always allow someone else to speak the difficult truths. That's called hiding. Its a form of dishonesty which allows you to use other people to do your work for you--emphasis here less on not taking care of yourself and much more on using other people. We should try not to use people.  And *irony, if your goal is to appear loving at all costs* you really aren't loving your people if you are busy manipulating or avoiding them. No matter how much you smile, speak in soft I statements, and wish to avoid conflict. This is, albeit well intended, really lame behavior and weak character. Please consider if you are throwing your friend/partner/family under the bus while making yourself appear blameless.  Not to mention, if you don't actually speak your truth, we can't actually ever know you. And what you offer the world instead is a smiling prepackaged hologram of who you wish you were. Nice try. But no.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

This makes my heart mushy. I read it first as a message from the universe, a secret blind wish-fulfilling message from everyone who has done me so wrong. And there have been plenty--notably in the last few years and in ways that have left me quite bruised, touchy, and dour. But it only took me a few minutes to turn it around. Oh, dear universe of people I love, I am sorry for every time I extended judgment rather than love. Love is the hardest lesson. Love is the hardest lesson. Love is the hardest lesson. It can't be repeated too often. Plus, photographically speaking, that image works. Props to the artist, who ever they are.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Joann Grohman's response:  Monsanto has always relied on conventional plant breeding paid for by others. Then they insert their tweaks and patent it.

Promoters of high tech ag solutions have all got in common that they don't now and never have personally worked the land. You can't just flog the ground and tell it to produce more. Innumerable examples demonstrate that personal care of the land by owners can double or quadruple production. It requires the attentive care of the land and crops by the farmer.

To make big ag high tech solutions "feed the world" requires social engineering. "They" tell you what to plant and how to do it. The crop ends up belonging to a few powerful people and they decide which millions are to be fed.

It is depressing that Gates can't see where the Monsanto model leads. Or perhaps he does, and plans on being the decision maker on who gets fed. He can scarcely be unaware that right now there is enough food to "feed the millions" and they are not getting it.

My response:   Thank you Joann. That's exactly why I'm so upset. Bill Gates can hardly be unaware of the corruption. I think you're spot on that he simply intends to be one of the decision makers getting fed--the fattest pig. (Not to malign pigs.)

"We have more people than there needs to be, and more than can live sustainably." I agree there are more folks than the earth needs. However we can all live sustainably. Monsanto and industrial ag keep swearing we can't, selling that lie as hard as they can. Don't buy it.

We can live sustainably. Perhaps not on McMonsantoBurgers. But we can all live well, better even, sustainably.

A couple of months ago I took a three hour drive through NC up to the Va mountains. I was picking up goats, traveling smaller highways. For three solid hours everywhere I looked, as far as my eye could see, I saw empty farm land. I don't mean fallow land. Or land out of season. I mean land no one farms anymore. The world has plenty of land and resources. I'd wager most of the US is unused arable land.

Monsanto and Bill Gates simply prefer we buy our food from them. And they aren't above trying to tell us we HAVE to buy our food from them. Which, at some point, quits being capitalist and starts being fascist. And that's why I'm so scared and angry.

We won't hear Jimmy Carter, an actual farmer, talking about the need for GMOs. Obviously.
I am teaching my children to save seed. In this case, Kentucky Wonder Beans. After this harvest my daughter said, "Take THAT Monsanto!" All right in the middle of our suburban front yard.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

 It was 70 unseasonably warm degrees yesterday. Which was awesome! Perfect for reading in a manger.