Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wellness Wednesday

New Year's is my favorite holiday. I love pulling out a new, clean calendar and thinking about the possibilities. It's a time of no stress. There's no pressure from family to be a certain place at a certain time, no pressure from the spiritual communities to conform to certain beliefs, no stress over what to buy or cook or how to decorate. Nada. It's a time to reflect. To reflect on where you've been, where you ended up, and where you want to be. It's a time to begin again or to continue as you are. 

While there's no shortage of health and fitness advice this time of year, here are few links in case you need a starting point:

Well + Good has a list of the top 10 health and wellness books of 2014.

MindBody Green lists 20 resolutions everyone should make.

The New York Times offers an interesting article on the super short workout trend.

For techies, Mother Nature Network shares 18 apps to help keep your resolutions.

Inc. talks about the 25 things you must let go of before the year ends.

Don't have time to check out these articles? Then don't stress about it. Just remember to breathe, eat real food, drink water, move, get plenty of rest, and enjoy life.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Going Beyond

Orange Waterfall
With the exception of air, water is our most precious resource. We will die if we go without water for more than about 3 days. And the surprising fact is that most of the water on the planet is not potable. Many of us who understand this scarcity find ways to cut down on water waste. We take shorter showers, turn off the water while brushing our teeth, refrain from washing our cars needlessly, and so on. As good as these actions are, there are many hidden, indirect ways that we contribute to the water waste. For example, manufactured goods use tremendous amounts of water. That soda you're drinking? That new shirt you bought? Lots of water went into making those products. Agricultural products also use large quantities of water. That steak you're enjoying? The avocado in your guacamole? The almond milk on your cereal? Again, there are many food items that use more water than others. And go beyond. Make the connection between anything that was manufactured, shipped a long distance, or requires large quantities of water to raise or grow. Then seek out alternatives. Stop shopping except for necessities and then try to buy used whenever possible. Eat meatless meals that include drought tolerant fruits and vegetables. While taking shorter showers is an important way to save water, changing your purchasing and eating habits is even better.

If you want more details, this article has data about water usage and includes tips on cutting down on indirect water usage. And you can go to Water Footprint to use the water footprint calculator and download the Water Footprint Assessment Manual. While you're there, check out other links and resources.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Quote for the Day

“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.”
~William Blake

Friday, December 26, 2014

Farm Friday and A Day in the Life

The beginning of a new day
We took the week "off" for the holiday. However, off just means we didn't do deliveries. For the most part, we had our usual farm routine. We also had our son and his family visit, took care of our granddaughter for several days, and had our daughter home for Christmas. 

This week is a good time to do a "Day in the Life" post to give a little peak into my daily routine as a homesteading farmer during this time of year. Here's a sample day:

Part of my morning routine is to take care of the pets, tidy up a bit, do my morning inspirational reading, write in my journal, make my "to do" list, brew a big pot of tea for our iced tea, cook rice for the week or start beans or another dish in the slow cooker as necessary, then have breakfast.

Next I usually sit down to tackle emails and Facebook messages (respond to orders, answer questions, etc), record orders, and update our social media as needed. My office work also includes updating our financial spreadsheets (personal and business), balancing checkbooks, and paying bills. Later in the day, I'll usually make a double batch of granola to fill orders. I use brown sugar in my recipe and, if I'm getting low, I also make more.

We're still making deliveries of a few items (mainly pork, garlic, sweet potatoes, and granola), so on a delivery day I go over the orders, pack them, total them, and then head out the door, making sure to bring my cash box and have the hardware for using credit and debit cards on my smart phone. I also try to fit in errands before, between, and after my drop points, both to save time and fuel.

Although vegetable season is technically over, we still have some produce to harvest for our own use. This helps feed us now and during the lean season when we have plants growing in the garden but aren't ready to harvest. The last couple of weeks I processed some cauliflower and broccoli, making a cauliflower curry to eat during the week and broccoli soup to freeze for later.

In anticipation of spring planting, we did a seed inventory and now I'm working on a spreadsheet to help make the best decisions when ordering the seed. I've been poring over the seed catalogs to determine which carry the particular varieties we need, noting which have organic seed available, comparing the prices and shipping fees, all to help me place orders that make the most sense. We need to get our orders in soon as some varieties sell out quickly.

In addition to helping run our farm business, every day I tackle some type of major household task, be it doing the laundry, cleaning the floors, scrubbing the bathrooms, or taking care of something outside the house, such as sweeping the garage or cleaning the farmhouse after we've had guests. I also cook dinner almost every day and we use the leftovers for our lunches.

On most nights, after we've had dinner and I've cleaned the kitchen, I'm ready to curl up with a good book. I'll read for an hour or so before getting some much needed rest.

Have a great week!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

May there be peace on earth
Christmas World Ball

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wellness Wednesday

Target And Arrow 1
Working on New Year's resolutions or goals? Here are some tips to help you make and keep them. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Monday Morning Amusement

My kids missed out on the "Elf-on-the-Shelf" craze. Thank goodness - it's creepy. Read one mother's take on it here. And head over to this link for a different take on the little guy.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Quote for the Day

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming 'Wow! What a Ride!'" 

~Hunter S. Thompson

Friday, December 19, 2014

Farm Friday

Now that we no longer have as many deliveries and aren't scheduled to be at the market, we're taking life a little slower and venturing out a bit.  Last Saturday we took a field trip to the Bedford/Sedalia area. First stop was a great little restaurant, Town Kitchen Provisions, that serves homemade sandwiches, salads, and soups and uses locally and regionally sourced ingredients whenever possible. They also stock wines and beers from the region. While we were disappointed in the limited vegetarian options, we were delighted with the falafal sandwiches we ordered. The next stop was The Well, a small health food store that has a large selection of bulk herbs, along with some other bulk items, plus they carry local meats and some produce. The main reason for our trip was to help some farm friends celebrate the grand opening of their new store. In addition to offering their own beef and select items, Mountain Run Farm opened their space to local artisans to display wares for holiday shoppers. We connected with some familiar faces and met some new ones. We also picked up some vintage copies of Mother Earth News and will be sharing the wealth once we've read them.

On Sunday we had our weekly farm meeting, then did our seed inventory in anticipation of ordering seeds for the 2015 growing year. We kept seeds from this year but eliminated older seed since, as market farmers, we cannot take the chance of the seed not being viable. However, no fear, nothing goes to waste in our home. We separated out seeds that could be cooked and used for our dog, such as black beans, green peas, and purple hull peas. Now that she's on a whole food diet, I'm always looking for creative ways to feed her. Seeds that can't be used will be broadcast in an unused field on the farm. You never know what might take root or feed wildlife.

We had a nice holiday surprise as our son and his family visited Thursday night. An added bonus is that we have our granddaughter for several days. She and I ran errands together and then went to my interfaith women's group annual holiday luncheon. We'll be spending some more quality time together before she goes back to her house to celebrate Christmas.

Have a good week!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wellness Wednesday

-: Beep* Beep* :-
Wonder why you or someone close to you has high blood pressure? A recent study has linked the chemical bisphenol A (commonly referred to as BPA) to high blood pressure. Most drink bottles are made from this plastic and most cans are lined with it. (The EPA banned its use in baby bottles a couple of years ago). No surprise that the American Chemical Council deems it "safe." 

Reaching for products that say "BPA Free" may not be the answer either as they typically contain other bisphenol plastics that also leach endocrine disrupting chemicals. Unfortunately, plastic and plastic-lined cans are almost unavoidable when buying many prepared foods. However, when given a choice, drink from glass.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Liebster Award Nominee

Aimee over at EcoGrrl was kind enough to nominate me for the Liebster award. I suppose I haven't really won it as that entails nominating 11 other blogs to pay forward the award. Since I've been really bad about reading blogs lately, I don't have 11 to nominate - although I continue to be inspired by a number of blogs. Aimee is an especially big inspiration as she is so upbeat about the state of things and shares lots of good info. 

Here are the 11 questions Aimee asked nominees to answer: 

What is your favorite childhood memory of the holidays? This might sound strange coming from me, but I so looked forward to the Sear's Catalog "Wish Book" arriving in the mail. It had so many things a little girl could want - lots of pink, glittery stuff.

Who makes you laugh more than anyone else (personally or a celeb, either is fine!)?
Eddie Izzard is one of my favorite comedians. I never fail to laugh at his old monologues. especially the one in French that involves a monkey driving a bus.

What food do you hate that most folks like? Coffee. Wish I liked it - it would make my life easier sometimes - but I just cannot stand the taste.

If you had a new animal in your household tomorrow, what would it be and what’s its name? I'd pick my girl Dixie all over again. Best. Kitten. Ever.

What celebrity annoys you the most? Since I don't have cable/satellite and I don't read magazines, I'm not sure who the celebrities are anymore. However, having seen some comments on Facebook, I'd say any homophobic, misogynistic, self-absorbed celebrity; they know who they are. Actually, my husband pointed out that the Duck Dynasty family (and their followers) has set me off a few times and fits this definition - but I'm not sure if they're even around anymore.

What is one thing you really want to learn to do? Ever since I can remember, I've wanted to speak French. Despite having studied it in high school and taken private lessons as an adult, I'm a long way from where I want to be. And I'll never get there since I stopped the lessons quite a while ago.

What’s your favorite article of clothing? My black yoga pants. Since I work at home - and actually practice yoga when I'm not being lazy - these are my go-to pants. 

What is your favorite song to get up and dance to (even if you’re not a dancer)? It depends on what's been playing in shuffle mode on my ipod. Lately, I've been inspired to dance (in private, of course) to vintage Barry White - You're the First, the Last, My Everything. Don't judge. I came into adulthood during the disco era, then fell in love with Barry White all over again during Ally McBeal's reign.

What are you most proud of in your life? Besides my kids? Not sure if I can say I'm "proud" of it, but my decision - if it actually was a decision - to embrace Quakerism is one of the most important choices I've made. 

If you could pursue any other career besides what you do now, where money is no object, what would it be? For years I've said I'd like to be a professional organizer with a twist. I'd like to move beyond the containerizing mentality that makes people think it's okay to accumulate more stuff as long as they have appropriately labeled plastic containers to stash it all in. I'd counsel on keeping what is used and loved, ditching the rest, and then move on to making decisions that are good for health and the environment.

What makes you awesome? (No being humble allowed!) My ability to be open to new ideas.

Thanks for the questions, Aimee!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday Morning Amazement

The clear ice on this lake in Slovakia is incredible:

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Quote for the Day

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” 
~Rachel Carson

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Farm Update

Ledger Page
Time for New Year planning (Source)
Whenever I sit down to do a farm update, I seem to have forgotten what happened the previous week - or weeks as it often is.  I tend to consult my journal and calendar to help jog my memory. Here are a few bullet points to cover farm happenings (and thoughts) over the last couple of weeks:
  • The holiday bazaar I participated in was very disappointing. If it had been me, my feelings would have been hurt. But, for the most part, none of the vendors were making sales. The day was not entirely a waste as I networked with other farms, met some new people, and learned a few things. Always good to find that silver lining!
  • We had several visitors to the farm these last few weeks:  the garden manager and one of the student assistants from Liberty University's garden and the director and a staff member from the Dan River Basin Association. We love to share what we're doing and connect with people from organizations that share our ethic.
  • We made some deliveries this week and will next week, as well. In keeping with our decision to reduce our energy footprint, we always combine errands with our deliveries. This week we needed more chicken feed and you can't run to the local feed store for the soy-free, GMO-free feed that we use. So on the way back from one of our deliveries, we picked up some feed at our friends' farm. Saves our time, saves energy. Win-win.
  • I've simplified our gift giving so that we're down to a handful of gifts. One way to reduce your gift-giving burden is to tell people to not give you anything; that tends to get you of the gift-buying treadmill, although some people think it's strange. I don't understand the mentality of expecting gifts; they are almost always unwanted and unneeded. I also tended to get stressed out by getting gift that I didn't want. While I'm grateful for the time, care, and expense put into the gift, I feel disingenuous when expressing my thanks for something I know I won't use. However, I'm thinking I can do some great shopping (for things we need) at the thrift stores come mid-January as people shed those unwanted gifts they can't return or donate perfectly-good items that are duplicates of things they received as presents.
  • Speaking of presents, I found a great way to give during the holiday season. If you're able, give the gift of life by donating blood. Due to my trips to Haiti, I haven't been able to donate blood for many years (due to the malaria threat). But since I haven't visited since 2013, I was able to donate blood last week. Blood is a gift of your time, your self, and of life, and it is helping the sick and giving to a stranger - the ways we should be giving. Please consider donating blood if you're able, not just during the holidays but any time of the year.
  • I'm jumping the gun on getting some organizing done. I don't understand the need to wait until January. Instead of all the busy-ness we create around the holidays, I prefer to simplify and reflect. Some of what I've done:  deleted rubbish from my computer and organized what remained, set up my calendar for 2015, partially cleaned out my closet, starting thinking about routinizing my menu planning, began a new journal/list keeping system, and worked on our financials for our New Year review. Which leads me to the last bullet.
  • Going over our personal finances revealed that, with the exception of taxes and insurance, we actually live on very little. Do we deprive ourselves? No. We eat home-cooked organic meals, take walks in the country, play with our pets, read a wide variety of books, attend cultural and educational events, watch documentaries, entertain friends, and enjoy life in general. What we don't do is give into what mass media tells us we *need.* When we find we're lacking in an area, we try to be creative. Right now, my laptop screen is dead (and our son told me it would be almost as much to repair as to buy new). While I do intend to purchase a new computer, I'm not rushing into it. Instead, I've plugged in a flat screen monitor that works fine for now. That's one thing we've learned on this journey - if you tell yourself that you're postponing a purchase rather than outright prohibiting it, you not only don't feel deprived, you usually make better decisions. Often we've found that the thing we thought we must absolutely have turned out to be not needed at all. By postponing we save money and resources.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wellness Wednesday

Wellness Wednesday almost always focuses on individual health. Today I want to share one way to increase the health of a community. With the holiday season upon us, most of us overindulge both physically and fiscally. Instead of buying gifts and treats for people who neither need nor want anything, consider to pass on the gift of health by donating to a local food bank and spreading the word for others to do the same.

This article from Foodlets has a list of items that most food banks want. I've edited the list to help fit with my own ethic of healthy eating, animal welfare, and environmental concerns:

  1. Canned vegetables
  2. Canned fruit without added sugar 
  3. Dried fruit
  4. Boxes of rice
  5. Boxes of pasta
  6. Peanut butter
  7. Quick oatmeal
  8. Quick grits
  9. Canned beans
  10. Canned pasta sauce
  11. Commonly used spices and dried herbs
  12. Sliced bread
  13. Bags of applies (organic)
  14. Bags of potatoes (organic)
  15. Diapers, toiletries, and feminine hygiene products

While my list is far from perfect, I tried to edit items I thought were the worst offenders as far as foods that involve inhumane treatment of animals, contain an over-abundance of chemicals, or have bad-for-the-planet packaging. While I don't like disposable diapers, I also know that many low-income parents have neither the facilities nor the time to wash and dry cloth diapers and, if they have to send their child to daycare, they usually require disposable diapers. 

If you're interested in donating to a local food bank, you might want to just give them a call to see if they have specific needs.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Poem: September 1, 1939

Skyscraper & Bad Weather
From September 1, 1939 
by W. H. Auden

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police
We must love one another or die

Monday, December 8, 2014

Monday Morning Amazement

How cool is this? 

Shows what can be done with commitment and passion.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Quote for the Day

Library Books
"Nothing is more important 
than an unread library."
~John Waters

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Cats and Kindness

I just read about a kitty cafe called KitTea that just opened in San Francisco. While it's not a place you can bring your own cat (and seriously, that would probably be a bad idea). It's a place where rescued cats can be petted, loved on, and maybe even adopted while visitors can relax while sipping tea or coffee and getting to know their potential new best friend. Oakland was first with this idea, with Cat Town Cafe.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wellness Wednesday

Old Water Tap
A few years ago a friend who is connected to the conventional medical world came to me, shocked that pharmaceuticals were discovered in our water supply, and asked, "Did you know about this?" My response was that anyone who read alternative health publications knew about it. The sad thing is that those whose thinking falls outside the conservative medical paradigm are ignored or, worse, ridiculed. One example is Dr. Barry Marshall who claimed that H. pylori bacteria caused stomach ulcers. The medical establishment laughed at him but now antibiotics are the accepted course of treatment for ulcers. However, despite a history of alternative medicine being proven right over and over again (this history major loves to point out the importance of knowing history), we forget and continue to support mainstream thinking while dismissing alternative viewpoints as quackery. While some alternative healthcare practices are quackery, using common sense and having an open mind will help separate the true from the false.

In 2012, the Harvard School of Public Health released a study linking fluoridated water (along with other chemicals) to cognitive and behavioral disorders. According to the study,"[f]luoride readily crosses the placenta. Fluoride exposure to the developing brain, which is much more susceptible to injury caused by toxicants than is the mature brain, may possibly lead to permanent damage." Despite this study from a well-respected institution, it has yet to become mainstream thinking. Cities across the US continue to add fluoride to the water and those who fight it are considered fringe freaks. And we continue to "wonder" why on earth there has been such an increase in autism spectrum disorders.

Many of the chemicals that we use in our everyday lives are rarely tested and we know nothing about the effects of the toxic soup created by releasing multitudes of chemicals into our environment. The bottom line is we should avoid as many chemicals as possible and use the most basic, natural ingredients in our homes, yards, food, clothing, and personal care products. History will prove this to be the best route to optimum health and a clean environment.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Good News for Sustainable Agriculture - And the World

Although big business, industrial agriculture, and many politicians try to lead us to believe that sustainable agriculture is a quaint idea whose time has passed, this excerpt from a 2007 article by Bill McKibben proves otherwise:
Is it foolish to propose that a modern global economy of 6 (soon to be 9) billion people should rely on more localized economies? To put it more bluntly, since for most people "the economy" is just a fancy way of saying "What's for dinner?" and "Am I having any?," doesn't our survival depend on economies that function on a massive scale—such as highly industrialized agriculture? Turns out the answer is no—and the reasons why offer a template for rethinking the rest of the economy as well.
We assume, because it makes a certain kind of intuitive sense, that industrialized farming is the most productive farming. A vast Midwestern field filled with high-tech equipment ought to produce more food than someone with a hoe in a small garden. Yet the opposite is true. If you are after getting the greatest yield from the land, then smaller farms in fact produce more food.
If you are one guy on a tractor responsible for thousands of acres, you grow your corn and that's all you can do—make pass after pass with the gargantuan machine across a sea of crop. But if you're working 10 acres, then you have time to really know the land, and to make it work harder. You can intercrop all kinds of plants—their roots will go to different depths, or they'll thrive in each other's shade, or they'll make use of different nutrients in the soil. You can also walk your fields, over and over, noticing. According to the government's most recent agricultural census, smaller farms produce far more food per acre, whether you measure in tons, calories, or dollars. In the process, they use land, water, and oil much more efficiently; if they have animals, the manure is a gift, not a threat to public health. To feed the world, we may actually need lots more small farms. [emphasis added] 
But if this is true, then why do we have large farms? Why the relentless consolidation? There are many reasons, including the way farm subsidies have been structured, the easier access to bank loans (and politicians) for the big guys, and the convenience for food-processing companies of dealing with a few big suppliers. But the basic reason is this: We substituted oil for people. Tractors and synthetic fertilizer instead of farmers and animals. Could we take away the fossil fuel, put people back on the land in larger numbers, and have enough to eat?
The best data to answer that question comes from an English agronomist named Jules Pretty, who has studied nearly 300 sustainable agriculture projects in 57 countries around the world. They might not pass the U.S. standards for organic certification, but they're all what he calls "low-input." Pretty found that over the past decade, almost 12 million farmers had begun using sustainable practices on about 90 million acres. Even more remarkably, sustainable agriculture increased food production by 79 percent per acre. These were not tiny isolated demonstration farms—Pretty studied 14 projects where 146,000 farmers across a broad swath of the developing world were raising potatoes, sweet potatoes, and cassava, and he found that practices such as cover-cropping and fighting pests with natural adversaries had increased production 150 percent—17 tons per household. With 4.5 million small Asian grain farmers, average yields rose 73 percent. When Indonesian rice farmers got rid of pesticides, their yields stayed the same but their costs fell sharply.
"I acknowledge," says Pretty, "that all this may sound too good to be true for those who would disbelieve these advances. Many still believe that food production and nature must be separated, that 'agroecological' approaches offer only marginal opportunities to increase food production, and that industrialized approaches represent the best, and perhaps only, way forward. However, prevailing views have changed substantially in just the last decade."

Monday, December 1, 2014

Monday Morning Amusement

Today's post is edited:  I tried to share a video of people brawling over merchandise on Black Friday. But for some reason the link didn't work. It's funny but sad. Funny that grown people will stoop to such means to get stuff; sad that grown people will stoop to such means to get stuff. (The video and more can be found here.)

Our never-ending quest for material goods has led us to a culture of greed and violence. One way to combat this disease of affluenza is to participate in a media fast. Stop watching television and reading magazines/newspapers. The advertisements that fund the media (and promote the products of companies that OWN the media) are designed to foster a feeling of lack. Eliminate the feeling and you're cured of the disease.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Quote for the Day

A misty morning on the farm
"A culture is no better than its woods."
~W. H. Auden

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Farm Update

My sweet girl Dixie Belle

Tolerating a goat in her house

Trying to intimidate the dog out of her bed (she was always successful)
This week we had the very low point of saying goodbye to our sweet girl Dixie. Even though she was an old (16+ years) cat, I wasn't ready to say goodbye to her. She came into our family when she was about 4 months old and, as a house cat, was ever-present in our lives. Dixie and I immediately bonded - in fact she chose me - when I found her at a local Humane Society shelter. I went into the enclosure where they kept cats and, while the other cats cowered, she ran right up to me. Over the years she tolerated the games our children played with her, survived the move from Florida to Virginia, and even made several car trips between the two states. She was a real trooper and good company.

We had some good times this week, as well. We went to see a violin/piano duet called Duo Amiable on Saturday night, after we had sold at the Holiday Bazaar. Sunday afternoon saw us attending a children's theater production of Fiddler on the Roof. Unfortunately, from all the stress of losing our cat Mr. Fabulous and saying goodbye to Dixie, I came down with a virus that sidelined me for Thanksgiving. Due to a combination of herbal remedies, natural treatments, and lots of rest, I've had a pretty rapid recovery.

We also took off the week so didn't have deliveries to make, so we had some leisure time. Leisure time for us usually means catching up on neglected chores but it's always a good feeling to get those tasks out of the way.

Fabs wreaking havoc on the furniture

Fabs in one of his unique sleeping positions
But we ended this week on a very high note (and one reason why I didn't post Farm Friday): Mr. Fabulous was found! Bill's sister and her husband are staying in the farm house for the weekend. Around 4:30 yesterday afternoon, she called me and said Fabs had shown up there! We raced to the house and found him cowering under the back porch. He acted feral, as if he had never seen us before in his life. Once he came out, he started heading for the woods, with me carefully trailing behind and calling his name. When we got near the woods, I knew that if I continued pursuing him we could lose him. So I crouched down, called his name, and waited. He hesitated for a few moments then came to my waiting arms. I scooped him up and held him tight until we were able to get him to the safety of our house.

The poor boy must have wandered farther than normal and just couldn't find his way home. He was skinny and starving. Last night he cuddled with me on the couch - something he normally wouldn't do -  and climbed into bed with us in the wee hours of the morning. I'm not going to let him out for a while - if ever - and I think he now appreciates the good home he has. An unexpectedly good ending.

Have a great week!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Dixie Belle
September 1998 - November 25, 2014
 Beloved companion and family member

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I Am the Lorax

It's that time of year when we spend one day being thankful for what we have and the very next day we're up at the crack of dawn to fight with strangers over things that we and our loved ones neither need nor want, all in the "spirit" of the holiday. 

Some people call this coming Friday "Black Friday." I prefer to call it "Buy Nothing Day." Before you rush out to buy the latest greatest thneed, think it over. Is it necessary for you or your loved one to get that item? Is it worth the damage to the planet via the consumed finite resources and associated pollution? Is it worth making retail employees miss a long holiday weekend with family? Make Buy Nothing Day into an entire season. Give the gifts of love, service, or time. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Morning Amusement

This Chris Rock monologue is funny and sad at the same time. 

This post isn't exactly the way I wanted it. The part of the video that I wanted to feature begins at 4:30 and ends around 5:15, but I couldn't figure out how to embed just that portion of the video and the online tutorials didn't work for me. So below is the entire video and the portion I wanted to share is here:

Chris Rock's take on the American Christmas experience is spot on.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Quote for the Day

"Dream....Dream of other ways of living, dream new joys, dream a world where you have less but live more."
~Charles Bowden

Friday, November 21, 2014

Farm Friday

This week has been a week of highs and lows. 

Monday night around 7:00 we let our Maine coon cat Mr. Fabulous ("Fabs") outside for his usual nocturnal prowling. When he didn't show up for breakfast the next morning I was slightly concerned. Now that he has been gone all week, I'm extremely concerned. But I'm still hoping he shows up. We had one of our cats disappear for about 6 weeks. We don't know what he did during that time or what happened to him, but he never again left the area between our house and barn.

Wednesday night I learned that I will soon need to say goodbye to my sweet house cat Dixie. Dixie is 16 years old and has been with me since she was 4 months old. She recently developed an abscessed tooth and ended up having an extraction. The infection would not go away and she has been on 4 or 5 different antibiotics. The vet told me it's probably a tumor in her sinuses and, although there are other interventions, if it were her cat she wouldn't do any of them. But she didn't need to tell me that because I know that would be pure torture to the cat, with a very high risk and no guarantees. Dixie is pretty old for a cat and I don't want her to suffer, but it will still be hard to tell her goodbye. She and I bonded from the moment I met her and Bill has always called her my familiar.

We knew we would be getting frost on Monday night so harvested much of our cold-sensitive greens. The broccoli was still young so had small heads and very small harvest overall. We sold out of it so didn't even get to save any for ourselves.

Wednesday Bill and I borrowed our neighbor's trailer so that he could take one of the pigs to market. Getting the truck backed into a tight spot where the trailer was stored and then getting the trailer hitch to line up perfectly with the truck was a challenge but we managed to do it without too much trouble. We raised this particular pig for a nonprofit organization we work with and they will give away some of the meat to low income individuals in their community, as well as use it in their community dinners and fundraisers.

A couple of weeks ago we received an invitation to a reception/celebration at the Governor's mansion. We weren't sure what the event was about or why we were invited until the Governor's office announced the formation of the Council on Bridging the Nutritional Divide with Virginia's First Lady as Chair. The purpose of the council is to eliminate childhood hunger in the commonwealth. So last night we visited the mansion, along with a small crowd of people, mainly cabinet members, delegates, and staff members. We were honored to be included for the celebration. It was good to talk to Mrs. McAuliffe and hear more about her plans. As the mother of five, she's very passionate about ensuring that no child goes hungry in Virginia. We were also able to meet and chat with Gov. McAuliffe for a few minutes. Although it was a long trip - we weren't able to spend the night - we were glad to be able to be a part of the celebration.
VA First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe with Bill and me
I have a craft show tomorrow and will be selling my trademark women's aprons, as well as hot/cold therapy pillows and a few other items. After this show, I have one more in December, then I think I'll take a vacation.

Have a great week!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Positive Things

Our current Kiva loan recipients
Since I often complain about things that are wrong, I wanted to highlight something that is right. Kiva is an amazing organization that give micro loans to individuals around the world in order to start or expand small business enterprises. Years ago I made a small investment in this organization and over the years, that small investment has been reloaned nine times. Today I had to smile when I got notice that part of the current loan had been repaid - 44 cents. For Americans, 44 cents is a trivial amount. We probably can find more than that in the nooks and crannies of our cars and sofas. However, for the group that borrowed the money, a small food market in the Dominican Republic, that is a tremendous amount. And the fact that we've had no defaults on any loans is impressive. Although I get nothing in return, I consider it my best investment.