Saturday, September 16, 2017

Daily Writing Challenge: Day 2: The Treehouse

I've challenged myself to sit down and write EVERY won't all end up here as I'm old school and using a journal for the daily writing, but I do think that I need to make myself publicly accountable even though no one is likely to read this. (This is a second draft of my second day's writing)

I’ve been daydreaming about treehouses lately—though treehouse might be inaccurate as I don’t want to hurt a free with anchors, impose myself on the tree’s space, or get in its way. Perhaps I could call it an elevated shack or a sky lodge or some other silly thing—I just want to be as tall as a tree and while away the time.
This morning as I walked the dog in the forest I envisioned a stilted house (or should that be a house on stilts?) all wood and windows with a tin roof and a tiny balcony, the better for being in the trees. My little house on legs would blend right in, the trees would accept us as one of their own. There would be a swing under it, on rough hemp rope and hopefully it will develop a squeak because all the best swings have squeaks in my memory. 
Inside I will have soft rugs and a stuffed chair and my childhood wrought iron bed layered with quilts and pillows perfect for nesting. There would of course be a teapot and books. Many, many books. There would be an old-fashioned mailbox by the front door to put your phone in and a welcome mat on which to leave your shoes. 
I would hang the walls with paintings of owls and birds and starry nights. There would be shelves for the books and the collections of things the forest gives me like feathers and special rocks, all my hagstones would hang in the windows with stars made of stained glass and wispy curtain made of dreams. There would be no chores or lists of things to do there…it would be a place to read, or write, or draw, or think. A quiet place away…just away. Away from chores, and phones, and screens, and lists.
It’s the lists that keep me down, that bind me to the burden. I cannot say that the list is always on actual paper because it is more of a continuous awareness that everywhere my eyes rest there is work to be done. One thing is no sooner done  (or fixed) than something else insists it needs attention. This farm cries for attention, the house needs TLC, the dogs, the goats, the chickens, the garden; something is always demanded of me and somewhere along the way I forgot that I need attention, and TLC, and time, and space, too.
If I neglect the goats or the garden the consequences are dire—that’s how I think of it—something or someone will die. But I need to remember that the consequences of neglecting myself are dire too. I forget to eat. I forget how to sleep. I forget to dream. I forget to live.

So my little daydream shack in the sky is a form of self-care—maybe someday I’ll build it, but for now I go there in my mind.

Monday, May 22, 2017

On Selling Eggs and Eating Seasonally (with a bonus recipe).

I carefully chose these pictures of eggs and began formulating a post...after months and months my writing skills are rusty...once the pictures appeared here, my head was empty. The whole post I'd formulated in my head just evaporated. I guess that is what happens when you don't practice what you preach (write, write, write...every. damn. day.)

Carol's egg...

I have a vague sense of wanting to articulate something about the ways in which the seasons dictate our they should I think. I also just did a mini-vent on Facebook regarding the whole "I suck at selling shit even when it is good shit" and "I'm really fucking tired of trying to convince people to buy local and support a real person instead of a multi-gazillion dollar egg factory."

So, this was either going to be a lovely, philosophical post about eating seasonally and living seasonally OR it was going to be diatribe against all.the.people who just don't get it. Let's just go with diatribe and get on with it.

I work really hard on this farm and you never even make your feed money back on eggs. Never.

My little brother, back when he was nine or so, crunched the numbers on egg farming. Even at nine (and his plan included like no overhead because he was planning on living in a tent!??!) he figured out that you could not make any money selling eggs.

That is totally the, a $5.00 dozen of eggs doesn't even buy feed and that assumes that you actually SELL some of the eggs. What mostly happens is that I can't convince folks to pay $5.00 (because factory eggs are super cheap) and they don't fucking care that we are ethical and humane and feed them good feed, and fresh veggies from the garden. No one gives a shit about organic or sustainable. No one cares that they will die of old age here where they are loved and talked to, where they have access to fresh air and sunshine.

This isn't actually about making money or breaking even for me. It is about supporting local agriculture, about supporting your neighbors, about saying no to factory farming and cruelty,  about seeing this one woman who works hard and supporting her. Supporting me. And even though I threw myself in at the end, it really isn't about me.

I believe that this would be a much better world to live in if we supported our neighbors and their efforts, if we looked to the smallest businesses instead the largest to feed us, if we learned to eat seasonally (yea, I worked that part in too).

I've just handled 19+ dozen eggs and we are just entering the abundance of Summer. In the winter we got excited when we got 1 or 2 eggs in a day. Last time I advertised eggs for sale no one wanted/needed was all crickets. I get it. Sort of...

Now, we get about 6 or 8 a day...I don't even count anymore. I take for granted that it is more than enough, more than we need. Even though I take the abundance for granted you have to do something with all those eggs...and since I clearly suck at selling these eggs...the best eggs in the world, then I have to get creative.

Going into the freezer for Future Frittatas (that is totally a thing now)

Today, I had more than a lot...19.5 dozen to be exact.

So what does one do with that many eggs? (when you suck at selling stuff)

4 dozen went to family members
4 dozen were offered up for sale
4 dozen were frozen (to be made into quiches and frittatas in the middle of the Winter)
2 dozen were boiled to be fed back to the chickens (and before you get all squeamish let me remind you that some humans eat their own, yea....not weird)
10 singles were boiled for humans and dogs to eat
and there are still 4.5 dozen in the fridge from last week...

Diatribe over....and it was a pretty mild one actually. Thanks for noticing. 

BONUS: If you have excess eggs to freeze.
Break 10-12 eggs in a bowl.
Lightly stir to incorporate the yolks and white (do not beat or whip)
Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt.

Thaw in the fridge (this will look like your worst fridge nightmare...marvel in the total weirdness of thawing gross!)

Basic Frittata
10-12 eggs
1 cup of cheese (grated or chèvre or whatever)
vegetables of choice (you can also add bacon or ham)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix it together and put it in a skillet
cook on the stovetop for 10 minutes 
cook in the oven for 20 minutes
Preheat to 375 degrees
Layer everything in a pie plate, pour eggs over the top
Bakes 45 minutes, until all is set.
***this is my preference because 45 minutes is enough time to put goats to bed. So you pop dinner in the oven then hustle like mad to get back before it burns!!!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Purpose and Projects...20 days without News or Facebook (and 11 days without a Netflix binge).

I cannot believe how much I am getting done...below is a project that I mentioned in my last post. My greenhouse was built two years ago as a birthday present and has stood unfinished since then. Although I've been using it, it was truly unfinished. I spent a day and a half putting up this wall on the north side (the other walls are windows). Thanks to my news fast my mind was empty of distressing things and I was about to let it wander at will. 

As I worked alone, I thought back to when I first learned how to work with wood. It was after my Dad died and Mom and I (out of necessity) had to start learning how to do things for ourselves. Fifteen years ago (or so) she and I tackled replacing some of the siding that was rotting. We learned as we went...we figured it out as we went along. We made lots of mistakes. We figured out how to cut angles...we figured out how to fix PVC spigots when we broke them while we worked...and we worked side by side; which is how it has been ever since.

Salvaged siding (and new scraps before paint).

As I let my mind drift past the significance of my using this siding...the siding from my childhood home, the siding that taught us how to work with thoughts settled on the siding itself. With a gulping sob, I realized that much of this siding was likely the same siding my Dad put up in 1978. My dad was a gardener extraordinaire, so it was all the more poignant that I was using this salvaged siding to build a wall in MY greenhouse. My heart was just a tiny bit broken that afternoon...there are so many things I would like to ask my Dad about many. things.

Part of my childhood home.
 The greenhouse is still not finished, but I have a plan drawn out. It is solitary work and I will get back to it soon. I stopped work on it to work side by side with my husband on an inside project. For ages and ages I wanted to build a Murphy bed. While my dream studio would be one large room with a vaulted ceiling and lots of natural light, I know I'm never going to get that. Instead I'm culling out lots of small spaces to create and daydream and work. I have the greenhouse, the barn, a sewing room, and now I will be able to paint and draw and glue and mess in the guest room and the Murphy bed will allow me more space.

Murphy Bed
We have guests so very rarely and I've had to work around this bed for years. It has been a struggle. This is the room where I cure all my soap and where I make the price tags for bags and animals and such. It has pissed me off over and over that stupid bed, so now I can make it go away!! We finished the bed together and then I took over the building of the shelves on my own (though I will admit to having MANY issues getting started and I asked for help a lot).

Murphy Bed and customized storage.
I struggled and fought with the shelves today, but finally I have finished. In a fit of frustration (when I literally cut something a inch too short AND at a weird angle???) I almost crashed on the couch and turned on Netflix. Almost.

The last 20 days have been very interesting and I'm learning a lot about myself. It seems like when I am bored, anxious, angry, frustrated, etc. I will, instead of just riding out the feelings, seek to erase them with surfing or watching TV. After 20 days, I realize that I just have to feel the feelings and get past it. After 20 days, I realize that I do better when I have an agenda when I get up in the morning.

Aimless doesn't work for me and it makes me anxious...ugly circle, huh?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Day 9 of the News Fast

In the last week, I've been completely disconnected from everything. I've stayed off the computer, kept the radio on music, and basically only exchanged pleasantries with strangers when I was out and about. 

 For the first four days of this last week the weather was warm and gorgeous and I spent the days outside. I had a Purpose and a goal. I was committed to finishing a big project, so there was no time for surfing because I was working (and had left my phone in the house). 

When the weather turned cold for a few days, I stayed inside and found that I had broken the habit of checking in to Facebook (WOO HOO), but was instead curling up on the couch  binge-watching TV shows on Netflix....nothing wrong with that if you just do it now and again, but I put in three days of it AND I wasn't doing anything while I watched. 

In the four days of outdoor work I had realized two things about me and my computer....I was sitting down at the computer or pulling out my phone every time I paused for physical rest or between tasks, every time my head went bored or blank. I was also spending inordinate amounts of time on the computer when I got up of a morning and didn't have a plan. I was filling every void with news and Facebook. I had stopped allowing myself to be quiet, still, and mindful. 

Yesterday, we celebrated the Solstice...just JC and I. We had breakfast out, went to the movies, shopped for books, did our evening chores, and had one of our favorite dinners while watching a movie. All the voids were filled, no urges to curl up and waste the day in front of Netflix streaming endless drivel, no need to see what everyone else was doing on Facebook. We had a plan and a Purpose (spend the day together).

This News Fast has had some unexpected results already....some revelations I wasn't expecting, so I'm going to push it another step and next week I'm going to give up Netflix TV shows. 

17 in the queue
There are 21 books on my bedside table (I think I've read 2 of them already and I'm reading 2 simultaneously). Next week's focus: no news and less screen time. 

NOTE: I am writing these posts here as rough drafts, please read them as such.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Day 2: Better Sleep?

I just got home an half hour or so and I had thought that I wouldn't sit down to write tonight as it is late for me, but after my shower I've got enough energy to recap today, Day 2 of the News Fast. 

First of all, I slept really well last night for the first time in weeks and weeks. Usually I wake up to go to the bathroom and then lie awake for hours fretting and thinking until, just before time to get up, I doze off again. Last night, I got up; I laid down; I fell right back to sleep...that never happens. Of course, it might not have been the reduced screen time and the lack of worrisome news, but just the fact that I was tired because I worked hard yesterday.

Today, I did not even have to fight any urges to check Facebook. None. I was surprised by that...I was also ass deep in dead, brown, dusty plants that needed to be removed from the garden beds. I set out to get the garden cleaned up and I did it...all tidy. So tonight I suspect I'll sleep well again and tomorrow we still won't know if I'm sleeping well because I'm so very tired or if lack of fret-worthy fodder is allowing me to turn off my head at night. 

Whole Garden: Pano (Isn't my greenhouse cute?)
Tomorrow I'm going to be making mulch, spreading mulch, and hauling mulch. I have plans and things are getting done, so for now I'm going to credit the reduced screen time for getting all of this done and I'll keep you posted on the rest....

The Longest Row

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Day 1: No News is Good News

Whew! I strongly suspected that I had an unhealthy attachment to Facebook in particular and surfing in general and today proved it. I'm going to tell you the truth, but I'm a little embarrassed. 

Apparently, I must check Facebook dozens and dozens of times each day. I say this because that is how many urges I had to pick up my phone or open my computer today. Literally beginning just minutes after my alarm went off I had to remind myself that I wasn't looking at Facebook or the news for the next month....WHILE I WAS STILL IN BED, y'all. That is embarrassing. 

Another sad and embarrassing thing...apparently, Facebook friends keep me company when I eat all my meals and snacks. Yep, every time I made a meal or a snack I headed for my computer...every.single.time. 

Also surprising was the number of times I considered checking Facebook on my phone while on the potty....I'm just straight up ashamed of that one. Really?

I also had to go to the dentist today and they were running late and I had to practically sit on my hands to keep from reaching for my phone...that was just boredom.

Despite the repeated urges to sit down at the computer or get my phone, I didn't break. I swear. I read a magazine while I ate breakfast and lunch. I watched Netflix while I ate dinner. During the day, while working outside I found that leaving my phone inside was the best policy because yep, I had the urge to just "rest for a minute" and I'd reach for my phone. 

I also found myself thinking in Facebook pictures and posts. I "took" pictures and "wrote" captions in my head as I know, the kinds of things you post on Facebook. 

I was proud of myself for not breaking, but ended up feeling kind of pathetic (on the potty, really??). 

Harry Hou and his girls making more compost.

When I found myself sort of feeling anxious and out of sorts this evening and the urge to open the computer was strong, I dragged out my Wreck this Journal or my "Wrecking Journal" as I call it. I sketched the husk of a cotton bole and started on some ornamental pear leaves.
Wrecking the Wreck this Journal (by Keri Smith)

I suspect this will actually get harder the longer I go. I tried to be mindful and listen today when I felt the urges to "check in"...It seems like every time I paused in a task, I reached for something to fill the pause. That is my observation for today. Tomorrow, I'm going to work on WHY I'm doing that...

The News Fast: Breaking my Addiction to Facebook.

For the past month or so, I’ve been down…deep, deep down. It’s really nothing new for me to feel melancholy as the days get shorter in the fall, but this year has been different. In addition to my “normal” seasonal blues, I’ve been deeply affected by the recent election and the Pandora’s box of ugliness it released. I’m finding that I fret too much. I worry. I regret. I feel helpless and hopeless. I forget to eat. I cry too much and I scream too much.

I find I cannot stop myself from reading the news and my reactions run between intense sadness and an unhealthy rage and everything in between. With every new item I read I pick up a few more pounds of burden…please understand that for me emotional burden is just as heavy as physical burden (such are the perils of chronic depression and anxiety). I literally feel like I am being crushed to the ground by the weight of the world. 

In addition to the weighty burden of bad news, I find myself more and more at my computer, researching, reading, posting, reacting. I’ve begun to feel like the I might be a little addicted to the newsfeed…compulsively checking my Facebook page a zillion times a day…scrolliing, scrolling, scrolling…too much bad news, too many things I can’t ignore. It's a little paralyzing. And while I don’t want to ignore what is going on, I feel like I need to isolate myself for awhile to heal, to think, to process. 

I need some time to find balance again…I need some emotions other than sad and angry. I need my time back too.  

So, I’ve decided to begin a News Fast….just for a month…from today December 13th until January 17th. I’ve made some rules for myself, but really the goal is to free myself for a bit from all the negativity so I can come back stronger, better, smarter, kinder in the new year. 

As I’ve been thinking of this News Fast for the past few days I can feel the time opening up for me…I see time for yoga, and walks, and books, and paints, and fabrics, and recipes, and experiments that I will have time for when I close my computer. 

Don’t get me wrong…I’ll still have to use the internet…we don’t have TV service, so I get my weather online…and you are out of your head if you think I’m giving up Netflix!, but I just want to shut off the bad news for a bit. I’m thinking I can limit myself to Pinterest, ADDS (weather) and Netflix for the month, necessary research (ie. addresses or business hours), and of course, shopping. 

I’ve been making a list for myself for this month and I’m generally excited for the first time in a long time:
  • go outside, walk
  • be creative, 
  • work hard, 
  • finish projects, 
  • make things, 
  • collect leaves, 
  • watch birds,
  • hand gin the cotton
  • make a rag doll
  • make oak gall ink
  • write on the blog
  • take photos
  • try dying fabric with food
  • get the garden ready for spring

My goal is to write about the experience here and we will see how that goes because I don’t want to “over-schedule” myself…