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Wicked Rural Homestead

One little family’s endeavor to live in the trees, surrounded by the birds and the bees

The Lone Girl in The Locker Room

Yesterday, I reposted a writing I did a couple years ago briefly touching on my opinion about becoming a woman in modern times.  I have written on the topic more than once over the years but only in short bursts and specific situations- never in general.   I feel the need to go deeper, though I believe no words can capture the totality of that vast ocean.  Since that would be an impossible undertaking; all I can hope is offer more insight about of my own observations from inside the proverbial “locker room” we have been hearing so much about recently.

I stated previously that I was always drawn to the more male aspect of life.  My parents raised my sister and me to be competent humans.  We were taught to cook and sew as well as weld and change a tire on our own.  Under the watchful eye of our mother, our father often pushed us to learn advanced skills not only for our age but often ‘contrary’ to our gender.

As a child I choose to run with the boys, prefering their recess activities to playing My Little Pony or ‘house.’  I would much rather run, jump and climb trees than have fake tea parties.  (Real tea parties are a different story.)  As a result of my competency in these activities I was often the only girl in the game or group.  This prepared me very well for my future in kitchens and restaurants when I would spend decades toiling side by side in rooms filled with men, day in and day out.

A prerequisite for both situations was that I literally be able to carry my own weight.  Thanks to a childhood of gymnastics, sports and mandatory chores I was physically a match for my cohorts.  I never needed someone to lift or perform any of the basic tasks or skills necessary for my employment or participation.

It means that after a time men stopped acting like there was a “girl in the room.”  I have been privy to many conversations, situations and insights that the male of the species don’t often share when “a lady is present.”  It is in this expression I find the beginning of the road to understanding the complex dynamic that exist between the two genders in society today.

This dichotomy so often results in the overt victimization of women but there are ample casualties and suffering to go around.  If we are to come to a place of meaningful conversation it must go further than it has up to this point.  The root of the experience must be exposed in order to come up with meaningful solutions to these tragic systemic issues.

Continue reading “The Lone Girl in The Locker Room”

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Reflections of Summer

This morning marked a rare day off, sans kids.  I had a moment to reflect on a summer filled with work; most of my time spent away from our little homestead.  Sitting with the birds in the sun, many thoughts passed through me.  I let them come and go as they pleased.  I was struck by the complex simplicity of our life on this little chunk of earth and the beings we have chosen to care for.

This spring brought many new additions to our lives and the continued challenge of incorporating old residents with newcomers.

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We added Guiana Fowl and additional hens to the flock, which is now composed of four generations of chickens (of various makes and models), three guiana, three remaining ducks and one rooster.  Bringing the bird population back to 24, a fine place to be going into winter.

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Symptoms of an Insane World

 

I don’t know where to start, but the beginning seems a good place to try.

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t believe humanity to be insane.

From the time I was first aware of the world outside my own thoughts and opinions; it seemed I was surrounded by contradiction and needless turmoil.

I watched as the world acknowledged people like; The Dali Lama, Martin Luther King, Jesus, Gandhi and the Profit Muhammad; then not act in accordance with their simple teachings of absolute kindness.

Instead, those who exulted them in the first place rendered their words hollow with their actions of violence and persecution.

I was told that differences of skin color didn’t matter, which made sense.  No other animal on earth assigns judgements to the color of their coat.  Then, I observed systemic persecution that could have no other root.

I learned that all “things” has their “place.”  That people were given dominion over “the animals.” This felt wrong on a deep visceral level.  When I learned that officially that our scientific classification has always started with the Kingdom: Animalia, I was validated.  No one else seemed to notice and the world moved on.

The ads on TV told me to “ask your dr about…” When it was my understanding that it is the healer that is supposed to do the asking.  Everyone acted like this was ok.

Continue reading “Symptoms of an Insane World”

No Dogs Allowed!

At its worst; losing a family member can be seem like a bottomless pit of sorrow, at it best it is a empty hollow place- either way it is an unavoidable ‘adjustment.’  Our own recent transition has been… as smooth as a thing that painful can be.  We had the benefit of knowing that it was the right time.  We had limited her suffering AND got to (more or less) plan her passing.

Still.

Most days, I utilized my 3 hour commute to work and back to cry and mourn.  This was an improvement from the last couple months.  In weeks leading up to the decision my commute was still as tearful.  Worry, guilt and fear at what I would come home to, filled the car.

Now that it is done and I have had time to reflect, I am just so grateful for the time we had.  My tears are shed in relief and raw gratitude.  Her life is now a legend there is no more need to worry about her pain or possible future pain.

I am more aware of the other two ladies who are going through a transition of their own.  Each in their own way.  After all, they never left each-others side.  Pele wants nothing more than to be close and cuddled.  Isis (who had taken to hiding under the table for the past few months) has reemerged.  A bit of her preciousness has stayed under the table, I think for good.  Like most youths’ first experience of a close death it has matured her.  We had been a true pack and the survivors are also adapting to the new reality.

All of us in our own way.

Ten days after that day my husband sent me this picture while I was talking with coworkers in my office.

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I had drastically underestimated how much this meant to me.  To have her close again.  Now, like my father before we were able to begin letting her go.

Continue reading “No Dogs Allowed!”

All Good Dogs Must Come To An End.

For over two months normal greetings between my husband and I have been replaced with one question.

“How is she?”

At first, the answers were hopeful but as time went on we both had to accept that we had gotten to THAT place.  The one no dog lover wants to be, were the only answer to that question is a knowing shrug and a forlorn look.  At the same time, it was easy to see that there was only one course of treatment if we were to do right by our matriarch.

Honey, Bear, Honey Bee, Barington, didn’t matter what we called her she was simply the best.  I am so glad we took the time to appreciate her while she was still here.

Yesterday, we were honored to preside over her passing.  All of us there.  The boys outside with the other dogs and my husband and me by her side.  All of us able to tell her that she is the “best dog that ever lived;” one last time.   Through hugs and kisses, as she smacked her lips contentedly in response.

She left no doubt that it was time.

Thanks to an amazing neighbor who is also a vet, we were able to afford her the luxury of ending her life at home on the couch, rather than a vet office.  I don’t think we could have waited one more day without it costing her a measure of the great dignity she demonstrated for 15 (16?) years.

Her life started in California; an abused and neglected pit-mix.  When Ry went to the pound they told him “you don’t want that one, she is aggressive.  Especially towards men.”  She had been returned to the shelter twice already by people who couldn’t handle her willful nature.  With his ever-present “we will see about THAT” attitude he entered her kennel and they became fast friends.   She was so attached to him that sometimes when he left she would Parkour over a 10′ security fence and go after him.

She entered my life a fully grown, mature alpha and soon after had a horrific accident that would shape our relationship into the deep bond of trust I was blessed to have shared with her.

I have written about the misplaced sentiment that our pets are like our children.  I see them as elders and Honey optimized that assertion.  She presided over every aspect of our lives.  Every important moment she was there, right by our side through it all.

Continue reading “All Good Dogs Must Come To An End.”

Declaration of a Different Kind.

My godfather Mike was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) when I was young.  I don’t know how old exactly, or how long he suffered before succumbing to the illness when I was nine.

He had given my parents strict orders that I was not to know he was sick.  I think he recognized my anxiety issues and wanted to enjoy me being my usual precocious self, in his final years.

I had no idea that he was dying till he passed on the 4th of July, 1992.  Gaining his independence from a body that could no longer contain such a bright soul.

The disease slowly robbed his muscles of their strength and during the last year of his life, he had be assisted full time to meet his daily needs.

All I knew was that he was sitting down more and we were spending a lot more weekends visiting him at his house in Los Gatos instead of the adventures and trips that normally occupied our Saturdays and Sundays.

For months his house was filled to the brim with friends, helping out with what they could or just being present for Mike.

I still remember clearly the last time I saw him.  I didn’t know it would be the last day I would ever spend with him.

He had known it was.

It was becoming very difficult for him to speak.  Soon it was going to be obvious that something was VERY wrong and he didn’t want me to see him like that.  We spent to whole day watching videos of Cirque De Sole, something that I just adored.

He sat with me.

Eating fresh sliced tomatoes from his garden topped with garlic salt.  I still remember my first bite of that simple pleasure,  it was a revelation.  The smell of the garlic wafting from the plate had me thinking I was going to hate this odd snack.

Mike just smiled and handed me one of the smaller deep red slices of fruit. “First try it, Em.  Then decide.”  The flavor exploded as I bit down, salty and sweet simultaneously smelling of savory garlic and fresh tomato.

I was hooked.

Continue reading “Declaration of a Different Kind.”

On Giving and Getting

More then a decade ago, this picture was taken.  I was a line cook on the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf in a high-end Mexican restaurant.   I would come in first thing in the morning, prep for the day, work the line at lunch and stay through the dinner rush.

Anyday I was not in school, I was there.

Holidays were no exception and as a result, I decided one Easter Sunday to surprise my coworkers with an Easter egg hunt.

I shopped and stuffed colorful eggs, came in early and went nuts.  I did a pretty good job. The closing bartender even found one that had been over looked by everyone else at the end of her shift.  I made everyones’ day a little happier.

I told myself I did this not expecting any thanks or reciprocity.

I lied.

Continue reading “On Giving and Getting”

“Time Waits For No Man”

It would appear that blogs however; will wait, just as they were for this woman.  Especially when you neglect them completely.  Thank god it is not one of the things in my life that requires daily feeding!

This has been the longest I have gone without posting since this blog’s scattered conception years ago.  My reasons are hardly noteworthy.  Life needed living and something had to fall by the wayside.  That ‘something’ was maintaining this record of deeds and thoughts.  There has been no juicy personal upheaval to report, or major life changes.  There has been a lot of writing, but none of it cohesive enough to share.

I have approached this update like I make soup.  A rough chop of everything in one pot on high heat.  There is no graceful way to start- so here goes.

The election gave me writers block.  Not because I was surprised.  I am well aware of our society’s ability to confuse reality Tv with reality.  I have always thought about the world in my own way, judging it by my personal criteria.  I hold dirt and plants in the highest regard.  It is not a shock that our society could have gotten so lost when we have passed the recent decades exulting people for how they look and what they say, rather than the objective results of their deeds and how they treat the beings around them.

It felt disingenuous to post things about the homestead when there was this ominous threat to all the things that we hold dear.  I did lots of writing on the topic but none of it is worth sharing.

As usual it was the homestead that gave me the perspective I needed to move forward.

This winter; I often mused about the critters, so blithely unaffected by the state of the nation.  I found a great comfort in their priorities: food, sleep, play.  The daily chores and responsibilities have been unaffected by all the madness.  Winter was harsh for environmental reasons.  Record snow fall was hard on the animals.  We lost more than a few birds. It hit the ducks hardest, who I find ill suited for overwintering.  Aside from that, most of the inhabitants here are healthy and well.

We added bees back into the mix and it has been really nice to have their music about the yard.

I made the rash decision to get more chickens and subsequently guinee fowl.  I was provided with nothing more for motivation than a yellow order sheet that had “Cuckoo Marans” on the top next to a cute little box where you just write in how many you want.  A little further down there were Araucanas and below them a straight run (not sexed) of guinea fowl.

There was a gray spot in my memory and when I got back in the car I called my (ever so patient) husband and told him that I had finally found Marans! (They lay a dark brown egg and I have wanted them for some time now.)  I told him “don’t worry I only got six…of those.”

Continue reading ““Time Waits For No Man””

TBT- Self Indulgent Ramblings And Abstract Metaphors

I wrote this on the plane ride of the first visit back home, almost seven years ago.  I found it recently and was please that my younger self had left such a good reminder of what to focus on as I pass farther along this path that lead me to the opposite side of the world and a place I never intended to call home.

Thanks younger me, I will try to make us both proud.

Continue reading “TBT- Self Indulgent Ramblings And Abstract Metaphors”

“Hey Guys, We Have Wings!!!”

I mentioned earlier, that having the chickens and ducks outside the front door has been pretty awesome.   Most of the time everyone gets along well and this is the first winter in years I have not been running two different coops.

They get along well but competition for food is fierce.  The ducks are like wide mouthed vacuums and the precise beaks of the chickens just can’t keep up.  Recently, the chickens have realized that they might have small mouths but their bodies are not too heavy for flight.

The ducks try to fly but fail.  As they are of Rouen ancestry and far too heavily to manage much more than a tippy-toe-run with wings going full force.   That situation has given us this next bit of footage.

Morning feeding.

Continue reading ““Hey Guys, We Have Wings!!!””

The Choice I Never Had to Make

I wrote this post some time ago now, and I did more than hesitate to post it.  In fact, I almost didn’t at all.

This is because my reproductive health is no one’s business!

After a time, I was compelled to speak out on behalf of an organization that had given me the greatest gift in the world, options.

For those people who have never been to Planned Parenthood allow me to share my experiences, I hope they can be received with open ears.  I think I am qualified to write on this topic because I have been a patient with them my whole adult life.

No, this does not mean that I have had STDs or abortions; it MEANS that (because of the services I has access to) I avoided both of these sophomoric pitfalls.  Nor does it mean that I have been a healthcare freeloader.  I have always been employed and thus; declared my income, then paid for my services (on the sliding scale the PP provides) or gone through my insurance.

When I made the decision to be sexually active I felt it of the utmost importance that I take responsibility for that choice, alone.   In fact, I reasoned that if I was incapable of taking on that obligation I was in no way ready for such a life altering decision.

Planned Parenthood gave me that resource.

But this story of womans health and reproductive services didn’t start with a teenage girl in the 90’s.  The road has been long and it reaches back to ancient times.

If we go back before christianity to the pagan era, men and womans’ part in reproduction were equally respected.  The feminine form was exulted for its powerful life-giving abilities.  Women had choices, those choices were private and respected.  There were wise people, midwives, shamans and priestesses who provided women’s services to the population.   From basic feminine needs and medical care, pregnancy, contraception and yes, even abortion.

The advent of christianity rendered wise woman, witches and the old ways, devil’s work.  A women was either a virgin, a mother or a whore.  The concept of the of the sacred feminine was taken from us and we were left with the archetype of the virgin mother with no healthcare to help us in this unachievable goal.   Our resources and knowledge were declared heresy and the punishment for non-conformity was often violence or death.

Centuries passed and still women didn’t regain our basic human rights.  A woman, and all the abilities contained within her body and mind were the possession of others.  First; her family- where (when she she came of breeding age) was sold like chattel.  She was then the property of her husband and after that- her male children.

I hope we are at a place in this discourse where we can acknowledge that women have been second class citizens for most of the modern age.   We are not bought and sold anymore but we have yet to achieve true equality.   There are other groups in America that also suffer from the inequalities of a predominately white patriarchical system.  These are the populations who utilize the services Planned Parenthood provides.

Planned Parenthood is not just a womans resource they serve all of those members of our community that would otherwise go without medical treatment of any kind.  It is true that I saw many immigrant workers and their families in those endless waiting room hours.  Many times; I had shared the room with older, painfully red eyed men but I never realized why they were there.  Amongst all the bilingual posters and notices on the walls, there was one that was only posted in Spanish.  It was a small 8.5 x11 print out with big implications.  It said:

Continue reading “The Choice I Never Had to Make”

One a Week Photo Challenge 2017- Ceiling

Last year, I had a perfect record of late or nonexistent entries into the 2016 Photo Challenge hosted by some awesome blog buddies of mine.  Aran Artisan, Sandra and Cathy.

They were nice enough to invite me to play again this year in the One a Week Photo Challenge.  This week’s (probably actually last week’s, given my record) prompt is ceiling.

This coincided with another snow storm at the homestead and a paradoxical observation.

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What Now?

As the sun rises on this strange new world I wonder, what can I do?

I want not to feel this ache.

This void inside that I do not command,

that it seems I can’t even touch or influence in the slightest way.

I feel thin, spread over so much that it s like not being there at all.

My heart and mind are at odds with reality.

I don’t know how to fix it.

We often don’t question who made the path we walk, until we reach its end.

By then; who and why, may seem like more important questions.

I will continue to make my own road and walk in my own way.

I will be kind to everything, everyday.

I will love all forms of life, the earth and the dirt we all rely on.

I will breath through my anger.

Fear is the valley that catches hate.

It can stain landscape.

Blaming the blameless and multiplying suffering for all.

Breath is the wind that clears it out.

Practicing love, gives us wings to see that all those chasms and deep caves; are actually very small when you can fly above them.

If you have wings, they don’t matter at all.

A journey that could take days on foot; through country that bites and scars, might only last a pleasant hour from the air.

It does not due to be kind, only when faced with kindness.

It only matters when we would be justified in lashing out- and don’t.

We cannot relate to one another outside of the experiences that make up each individual life.

If someone has never experienced flight, you can’t tell them how much happier it would make them.

Words are empty without feeling behind them.

 Some people must be shown what it looks like to step off the rim of the valley of hatred and soar above it.

We all must make the choice to try it for ourselves.

Above all remember:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
– MLK

A Jolly Poke In The Ribs

Last month, marked three years since my dad passed.  In my meditations of him I came across a memory.  Our family’s version of a holiday story; about a time when he poked me, I hit him and we both learned an important lesson about the world we lived in.

I recalled writing about it years before and with a little searching, found it.

“When I was 11 or so my dad and I were doing some Christmas shopping.  We were walking and talking while put my hair up in a ponytail.  As a joke, he poked me in the ribs and made me jump (one of my least favorite things.)  I in turn, spun on him and slugged him HARD in the upper arm.

A childhood of mountain-girl-games and running with the boys meant that I could hit quite hard.  Even though I pulled the punch at the last second, his arm hurt the whole way home and he let me know it the entire way.

I told him I was “sorry” but that it was a “reflex” to hit those that poke me (by that time none of my peers would have perpetrated any similar act for fear of reprisal.)  He replied that “a reflex is a reaction that you do not control and even though it had become a habit in my life I DID have control over it.”

I made the choice; albeit a quick one, to hit him.  His actions did not MAKE me do it.  I choose to.

Continue reading “A Jolly Poke In The Ribs”

I Met a Young Man

I met a young man this morning, staring out of my stepson’s eyes.

When had they started looking so wise?!

What happened I can not say, only that I know for sure it was different yesterday.

Or…

Had that been last week?

Maybe the one before?

Hard to tell which way is up or down anymore.

A glance had been all it took for me to see; all the time that has passed since “I” became “we.”

He looked me a question; so I smiled instead, opened my arms and kissed his head.

We stood there in the morning light of a day that would bring another night.

Another chance for him to grow.

That much closer to the time we will have to let him go.

It is an honor to watch him change.

It won’t be till he sees his kin grow up in front of him- that he will understand the feelings behind my sad grin.

I met a man in my kitchen today, who showed me how to be a better me each day.

 

Town and Country

There area a great many beautiful places in the world and I feel very blessed to have lived in two of them.  I will always be partial to my home landscape, rough mountains covered in ancient ents that dive into the sea.  Winter brings a still calm to the fields and forests of Maine that is hard to ignore.

The light gets a blank canvas to show off its simple beauty.  Like the sunset on a corn field, through velvet sumac.

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For me, the snow helps to render the creations of man much more palatable.  The combination of structure, snow and moon make it hard not to feel the magic of the ‘White Christmas’ experience.

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I will always prefer country to town but it is good to see a glimpse of that raw elegance in the land of man as the moon peaks out from the sunset.

“Satisfactory,”as my dad would say.

Happy holidays from the frozen north.  Be well and stay warm!

 

Photo Challenge 2016- Still

The normal cycle of snow, melt, snow, repeat– skipped us this year and we have entered the frozen season with no dress rehearsal.  Barring some serious weirdness, the snow that has fallen over the last week will remain till spring.

Goodbye ground!

I have come to appreciated the frozen winter, so different from the wet ones I knew growing up.  During a snow storm everything stops.  The critters hunker down and everyone waits for the world to be covered and then cleared.

Continue reading “Photo Challenge 2016- Still”

Photo Challenge 2016- Creation

I have always had the unquenchable desire to create stuff.  Pretty much anything will do for materials, I can sculpt, draw, paint, weave, sew, and when all else fails I will completely make things up but there is nothing that I have ever done that even approaches what I see outside on any given morning.

From the sunrise; to ice crystals dancing across a puddle, there is not much in nature that doesn’t get my undivided attention.

Last week as I drove into work, I saw a shinning spot off to the left in the woods.  I got closer and saw that it was the overflow from the snowmakers, shooting out into the woods and freezing on the foliage near by.

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Each plant, a creation of the elements and time.

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The Scattering: Dennis Gobets Goes to Italy

Anghiari, Italy to be exact.

This was recently posted by a friend of my father’s.

Found a place I thought he’d like. Lots going on. Fireflies in June so bright you don’t need a flashlight. So many frogs you can’t hear yourself think. Wild boar families running around with babies. Deer. Porcupines. And loads of men, none of them with that haunted, frightened look we see so often elsewhere. Seeming to always be having the time of their lives… galloping across the fields on horses, driving tractors, hunting, working in the fields. And I’ll visit daily to talk things over.- NF

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Today, three years after his death his travels are not over yet.

Satisfactory!

Be well.

TBT- Time is never on sale. Get It While You Can!

One year ago, (now 3) I drove across town with the boys in blissful ignorance of what the day would bring.

We were on a mission to find post-Thanksgiving donuts to round out our holiday gluttony.

As we passed the lake; I saw that it was on the cusp of solidity, a magical phase that only lasts a few days.

“You guys want to stop and try to break the lake ice?”

“Yahhh!!!!” DSCF4567A few minutes later we parked, donuts in hand and began a simple activity that could consume our entire day if we let it. DSCF4550There are no rules, expect to make sure everyone is out of the way of your attempts.  We used stones. DSCF4541And sticks. DSCF4572I supervised and walked the shore looking at all the little frozen moments in time.  Absently thinking my dad would get a kick out of them and I should take pictures for him.

He loved bearing witness to nature’s fleeting singularities.

Experiences that you have to seek out or seize when the opportunity arises.  The transitory stages of life and nature that stop for no one.

Continue reading “TBT- Time is never on sale. Get It While You Can!”

TBT- The Unrepentant Woman

To anyone who has followed my posts (especially my nail polish rant last winter ) it should be pretty apparent that I am not a huge fan of society in general and popular culture in particular.

It is one of the reasons I love living in rural Maine.  Why we have chickens instead of cable (we call this “red neck tv.”)

For me, one of the most difficult things about growing up a female in Western culture is the constant dicodimous nature of claiming your femininity without giving up your womanhood.

I have dispised the term “girl power” since its spicy inception in my pre-teen years.  I can’t think of a more potent example of the contrary attitude toward girls in our nation and the world.

I am not a girl.

I have not been a girl since I was 12, when my body matured and I was biologically thrust into womanhood.

The topic of my own femininity has always been openly discussed, questioned, judged or blatantly denied.

I was, am (and will continue to be) what most people call a “tom boy.”  In elementary school I ran with the boys, playing their games and beating them.  By 3rd grade I was a top pick in any recess game.  By 6th grade I could beat everyone in the school at arm wrestling (except one boy, who was already 6 foot.)

These abilities carried repercussions.  I was often accused of being a “dyke” or that I “wanted to be a boy” along with many other unflattering presumptions.

I have spent my life working in kitchens where my skills were constantly questioned and tested by my coworkers.  I have been sexually assaulted or harassed more times than I can count but my reactions were far from ladylike and made it clear that I would take no shit of any kind.  In a room full of knifes and fire it is not a hard thing to do (nor was any of it HR appropriate or politically correct.)

Other women who work in kitchens will know exactly what I mean.

One time a co-worker put my share of the tips on his lap and with a grin invited me to “get them.”  I grabbed the nearest knife and told him to “hold still,” while I used it as a spatula.  I got my tips and we became good friends.  He never did it again and actively warned others about the dangers of trying it for themselves.

The hazing usually lasted until we had a busy service.  Then they tended to shut up and stay out of my way because I am damn good at what I do.

I think the problem for females begins early.  Boys and girls learn how to be flirtatious,  something too few women realize is not the best trait if you want to have health happy relationships with men- not based on physicality.

Continue reading “TBT- The Unrepentant Woman”

Photo Challenge 2016- Mystery

There is nothing hidden about the changing of the seasons in New England.  The constant transition happens all around.  Everything out in the open, there to see if you take the time to look.

The fields that line my commute are daily reminders that the land’s harvest is temporary by nature.  Backroads are packed with all sorts of medicinal offerings but timing is everything.

Many herbs are most potent when gathered right before they flower. When all the plant’s  energy is gathering for the display of its life.

This year, I became aware of the tremendous amount of St. John’s Wart along my morning migration.  Collection of Ghost Plant, Plantain,  Rose,  Wintergreen, Chaga, Yarrow and Mullen where already part of my yearly tincture efforts.   There is a short window to locate and harvest these gifts before they pass their prime for extraction or drying.

Most of these interactions result in tinctures that resemble the color of the plant, at time of harvest.

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The above Yarrow tincture was dark green by week’s end.

There are two spectacular exceptions: Ghost Plant and St. John’s Wart.

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St. John’s Wart is a beautiful yellow flowered plant, it loves gravelly open areas with abundant sun.   Often used to help with depression, it has many other applications.   The flowers are photosensitive and must be picked before they open or the following magic will not be as strong.

When the plant is mashed and added to alcohol or oil an impressive reaction takes place.  At first, it is a pink/orange but this hue darkens.

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Within hours it has obtained this incredible shade of blood red.

Continue reading “Photo Challenge 2016- Mystery”

Photo Challenge 2016- Autumn

Autumn in New England is a grand thing.

The cold nights drive the bugs back to the depths of the hienus hell bogs from whence they came.

That in itself, would be reason to celebrate but as an added bonus (or just nature’s apology for the summer’s unreasonable humidity,) the mountains and valleys transform into living stained glass.

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Thousands of words have been composed, typed and published in an effort to describe the beauty of a fall forest.

It is etherial.  A living church window.

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I feel this inescapable need to capture some bit of the breathtaking display and make a little piece of it mine.

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Even the lakes are not immune to the compulsion.

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Though it is quite possible, they just happened to be there.

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Everyday on my drive I think; “I should take a picture of (insert name for special tree here) soon.  Tomorrow maybe…”

“Not now.”

“It’s not ready yet.”  Then, the wind takes half of it away and I think, “I should have done it yesterday.”

Even when you pick the perfect day for that particular tree, there is no way to capture the magnificence of a backwoods autumn in anything less than itself.

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However, I lack the good sense to stop trying.

Continue reading “Photo Challenge 2016- Autumn”

2016 Garden Recap (Better Late Than Never. Right?)

Sometime in June I blinked, and BLAMO!  It’s October.

Most of my writing efforts this summer have focused on becoming unexpected duck farmers and The Scattering.

The homestead vegetation has been unaffected by my lack of record keeping.

Our fence worked wonders for the vegetable production this year!  It is amazing (not really) what keeping the chickens and sheep away from the garden did for yield.

We managed to plant the garden almost entirely from our last year’s seed stock.   Our selection was limited to things that would produce a product we would actually eat over the winter.

It is not all for consumption,  I like the perennial bulbs for show.  No work and flowers every year.

There were some Irises already here when we bought the house but have trippled in size.  They are the first to bloom.  A welcome beginning to the growing season.

 

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Border Lilies and Day Lilies showed off nicely this year.

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The Easter Lilies have the most intoxicating fragrance. I wish they bloomed all summer long!

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For food production we settled on a few staples:

Beans- Scarlet Runners, Black beans and Soy

Popcorn- Dakota Black

Pumpkins

Butternut squash

Tomatoes

Medicinal Herbs- Yarrow, St Johns Wart, Plantain, Comfrey, Calendula (there will be a separate post on tincture making when I get my head out from up my…)

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St Johns Wart, Ghost Plant (from the forest,) Plantain, Yarrow.

The Scarlet Runner beans have the added bonus of being beautiful. I love the color and humming birds they add to the yard.

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Continue reading “2016 Garden Recap (Better Late Than Never. Right?)”

Photo Challenge 2016- Rich

Drained and tired,

I started the car and pointed it south.

Clocked out and homeward bound.

The day’s events rolled around my head,

a tango of worry and stress.

My music played with no-one listening to it.

I had no room for the lovely sounds, only the voices of tasks not yet done.

Rounding the corner, the moon silenced all but the radio.

Continue reading “Photo Challenge 2016- Rich”

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