Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I just wanted to revisit this portrait I took a few  years ago. I feel far away from cows. I miss them. Why?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Thursday, July 25, 2013

There is a little spot on my leg. Its been there a few weeks and it itches. Probably, its the tiniest dot of poison ivy, healing slowly. Probably, its healing slowly because it keeps getting scratched. My mind took these facts a day ago and decided my whole leg was about to be covered with cancer. Shrieking hideous overwhelming death fear gut punched me. As it does from time to time. I've handled this fear (all fear) in a few different ways. Traditionally, just running with it until I could hardly function and then crawling into bed for what amounts to a nice juicy marinade in fear.

I've also practiced breathing through fear. I highly recommend cultivating some form of progressive relaxation practice through meditation. This is an indispensable tool for life. Add radical honesty, sharing how you feel with someone, weeping openly, and accepting comfort. (Hello Dear Husband, I'm waving at you with bottomless gratitude.) Meditation, sharing, weeping, and accepting comfort are all necessary. Each part is easier and harder than it seems--at least, for me. These methods are probably what allowed me to calm down enough to move to the next level of fear management.

A friend of mine pointed out something huge to me a few years ago. She pointed out that claiming to be Spiritual is an empty signifier. We're all good liberal folk of a certain generation, and we've all said this thing, right? "Oh, I don't believe in God. But I am a spiritual person." What does that mean? It could mean anything. Which means it doesn't mean much at all. I've been chewing on that idea for a long while. If you believe in some kind of spirit and you can't say you believe in God, what does that mean?

I crawled into my bed of fear, put my head on a pillow of fear, and pulled the fear covers to my chin. I have a routine dermatology appointment in two weeks, to check on exactly these kinds of spots. Too soon to bother rescheduling. Yet, I knew I was looking at two long weeks, likely morphing into zombie-fear-wife/mother. Fuck that. I thought of something Augusten Boroughs wrote: "Don't pay death twice." If you or someone you know actually is facing death, don't become Fear Zombie for a long time before anything bad even happens. Which is basically paying death twice, giving your whole life to fear and death.

Laying in bed, I said a prayer and I handed the situation over to God. I have no control over most things in life, anyway. So I'm letting go of fear. I'll practice trust, gratitude, and responsible choices instead. I said my prayer, gave it all to God, and had a restful deep peaceful sleep. I woke to a happy productive day yesterday. I loved my children, baby quail, grocery day (which is always good--I even got to see the fat brown eyed toddler), my husband, and my life. It was a while before I even remembered how frightened I'd been the day before.

Which, right?! I have a great life. Even if I were to get horribly sick, I wouldn't want to waste any days as a Fear Zombie. And isn't Fear Zombie Life basically worshiping at the alter of fear? I've heard midwives, Buddhists, Christians, and even a shaman underscore the importance of knowing who you are praying to. Don't pray randomly. Don't pray to emptiness. Don't unwittingly pray to your own ego. And for damn sure, don't pray to fear.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

This is a little raw milk feeder I rigged up for the quail chicks. A peanut butter lid, rocks, milk. It seems to work well. Today they learned they like raw milk. Of course they do.

So, you may be wondering why we have a bunch a quail chicks in the bathtub at our house. A few months ago it came to my attention that my neighbors have been unhappy with my free-ranging hens for a long time. I should say, a few neighbors have been unhappy. As the hens ranged for six years and I never heard one single complaint until a new person moved onto our street, I have a good idea who called the law. Who calls the law about chickens? We can infer that person was not pleased. Asking around, I heard from one other neighbor who was unhappy because my hens were mussing his sidewalk mulch.

I'm in a new phase of my life. I'm trying to look very closely at what is, rather than what I wish to see, dropping the veil, acceptance, working with reality--what have you. Which is why, when I understood neighbors were unhappy, I folded immediately. The neighbor who called the law, felt my hens, if they passed through her yard, made her dogs too barkie. The other neighbor suffered a mussed sidewalk in silence. As completely absurd as these complaints sound to me, despite all the work my hens have done on our street eliminating ticks, small snakes, and black widows, I listened closely. People were unhappy. Yes, also short sighted and shallow, but that has nothing to do with me. They were unhappy and I was to blame. My hens were gone from my property in less than 8 hours, after I was made aware of unhappiness. I responded completely and swiftly.

I grew up listening to Bob White Quail call around our house. Bob White are indigenous to this area. They are native ground birds that eat ticks and spiders and probably small snakes. I love their size. I love their song. I love hearing them at dusk and dawn. See where this is going? My daughter has accused me of Passive Aggressive Quailing. But there is nothing passive aggressive about it. I am on a mission to repopulate my neighborhood with Bob White Quail. I can't have free-ranging chickens. But God put free-ranging Bob White here before Europeans. Now I'm going to put them back. Apparently, putting them back works. You can raise them, set them free, and hear successive generations calling for years. Bob White.

Our goat pen is being fully expanded and retrofit with a proper goat barn. Goats will have a tin roof, deep shelter, a dry place to be milked, and safe food storage. Their fence will be lined with chicken wire and next spring I will hatch proper chickens for the goat yard. We will have eggs again. But with any luck, we will have the very dear and sweet Bob White, as well.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

More than half the chicks have hatched. I would know the exact number because I did count the empty shells as I removed them. But then another chick hatched, then another half way. Revising numbers is asking a bit too much of my mind this morning. Maybe 28? Was that 25? Let's just say, more than a covey.

Monday, July 22, 2013

One chick has hatched!
Its stumbling around in there like a drunk sailor. Its almost as if we've set Godzilla free and she's smashing into all the other eggs, knocking them around. Hey in there! No smashing around! Gentle stumbling, please.
OHMYGOD!!!!! (I shout as if I have earth-shattering shocking unbelievable news.) I am hearing chirping coming from the incubator. I HEAR CHIRPING. Which makes me so excited I'm nearly in tears. Even though, yes, we did expect this. Eggs were carefully put into an incubator for this one purpose. Still, I didn't really believe quail would grow in there and become strong enough to make a noise able to penetrate an unbroken shell and a styrofoam incubator. Life is a miraculous joyous fantastical gobstopper of unlikely yet wonderful. Imagine if the little yellow plastic Easter-peeps forgotten behind your couch from the last egg hunt at your house suddenly animated. I JUST HEARD ANOTHER CHIRP. O.M.G!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

 My favorite piece of jewelry, a bracelet my daughter made years ago.
 Also from my girl, a tiny sculpture made of the wool I washed earlier this week. Wool a friend gave me from her sheep that she rescued from a farm down road, from a farmer who has grown to old to care for sheep any longer.

When you begin sourcing your life as locally as possible, you begin to notice a lovely reflected layering and depth. Everyone has their bit to contribute. It all matters. Connectivity is implicit, comforting, tangibly real, reliably genuine. When you know where it all came from, that creeping mystery most Americans spend our lives trying to ignore is simply wiped away. All the crap we collect, our stuff, our relationships, our will, creates what we see around us, what we eat, how we love, and what gets passed around. Everything has its own history, which will dictate its quality and which influences the quality of your personal and our collective future. 

When I close this computer in a few minutes, I'll drive over to a local farm for weekly groceries. I'll be greeted by the farmer, his two dogs, and if I'm lucky, his adorable fat brown-eyed toddler.  I'll pickup our milk, some cheese, any meat they happen to be processing this week, and some fresh shitakes. I've seen where the mushrooms grow, in a fairy village of production in the forest behind his house. We will chat, trade goods for money, and I'll drive back home. The whole thing will take 20 minutes. There is no parking lot. There will be no other customers. I'm not going to a store. A profound sort of serenity will replace the normal low grade stress and stink of buying boxed food from China. I will bring home zero packaging, no waste, and no mystery. 

While picking up our food, I'll compare the farmer's fig tree to mine, wondering which will ripen faster. I'll mentally note his cow's udder, the quality of her pasture, and her condition this season. The only way to improve the sensuality, the deliciousness, the simplicity, and the sustainability of my weekly grocery shopping, would be to ride a horse there and back. Imagine such a life! If I could do that, I would wear my fuzzy kitty bracelet as I rode. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I have two new fleeces to skirt and scour. A black one! This brings my total up to Three Bags Full. I'm going to get right on my sheepiness, just as soon as I wash and sterilize 14 milk jars. And turn the quail eggs. That's the only sensible progression: sterilize milk jars first, then fill kitchen with sheep shit. In case you've been wondering, I've confirmed it for you. French Garlic Broth, forgotten a few days on the counter, smells even stronger than raw sheep fleece, forgotten a few days on the floor.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Its been the weirdest weather I've ever seen. Last summer the weather was strangely cool in our southern state. It stayed in the low 90s most of June. I talked about it with friends and among the ones who grew up here, we were all unanimous. The weather was strangely not hot. It should have been in the high 90s to low hundreds. This summer we're well into July and it hasn't gotten out of the high 80s yet. It has rained almost daily. The weather is so strange no one is discussing it. Our lack of discussion reminds me a bit of tourist tsunami footage where the beach is silent and peaceful with no detectable foreboding as the water recedes. I'm afraid my figs won't ripen if it doesn't warm up. Tomatoes are pouting. Other veggies are drowning.

I got to help a friend this morning. She and I rolled a large round bale of hay uphill, through 10 inches of mud, through a nearly bale-sized door, and into the barn. It was grand good fun. At one point I was almost sure it was an impossible task. As we pushed, our feet slid backwards. I'm amazed neither of us fell. But somehow, we rolled that heavy bale in. The animals were grateful. We were filthy and victorious. And I can't think when I've had a nicer time. I crave hands on, and would rather help slop your pigs than go for dinner out. When did I become this person?

No one really knows what's going on with the weather nor how to predict future seasons. Will fall scorch? Are we headed into a rain forest climate or dramatic cooling? No way to say. But come what will, its good to know people who know how to get things done. And I find I get along better in a barn.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bondathon 2013 
James Bond movies back to back till 20 teens surrender

What I bought: 8 loaves of sunflower bread, four packages of sliced meats, four packages of sliced cheese, an industrial sized tin of tuna, various chips, four bags of cookies, some lettuce.

What they ate: 3 and a half loaves of bread, 2 packages of meat, 2 packages of cheese, half a jar of peanut butter, half a jar of my friend's mother's freezer jam, a few tuna salad sandwiches, some lettuce, a lot of the chips, and all of the cookies.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A kid lifted this image from here and made it new. I love it. I'm flattered. She improved the image which is awesome, and also what kids are supposed to do---improve on the previous generation's work. What's kind of spooky for me though, is how much the sentiment reflects exactly where I am right now.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The ballroom dance class was hugely and unexpectedly wonderful. The kids, all of them, were sincere, kind to each other, and focused. They were pleased to discover the structure of the arcane can be fun. They were, I think, a bit surprised to find themselves caring for their dance partners as dance partners. They didn't just learn six very old dances, they danced while laughing and talking with each other, while taking care that no one was unnecessarily embarrassed or lost in the dance. They learned steps can be restarted, that dance is essentially communication, fluid, and not about rigidity of form. And they did that through their own very genuine fears and insecurities. While remembering the unfamiliar steps, ways of holding their bodies, and formality. It was just super cool and tender and fun.

A waltz: Take it to the Limit

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Fourth, a girl, and her Dad.
 F-stop, a boy, and his Mom. Everyone celebrates in their own way. Happy Independence Day!!

ps. I finally learned how to set the f-stop on my digital. That only took 6 years! Thanks for helping, kid.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

I strongly suggested both kids take this class. There was much dread and foot shuffling and concern. 
My son updated facebook today: Ballroom dancing = Even more fun the second time.