Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Cost of Responsible Living

I have read a number of times lately that the cost of changing to energy careful technologies is exorbitant. Apparently this has become a conservative sacred cow. From what I have been able to tell from my research, mostly into the European experience, where countries like Germany, the Netherlands and England are far ahead of us in the transition to renewable energy sources, this is pure myth and a deliberate misrepresentation. Just for a single example, capturing and reburning the carbon and sulfur emissions from coal is an inexpensive change and increases efficiency in the long run. We just don’t want to do it. I am not qualified to argue this at a national or planet level, but I can definitely see the effects of changing to green technology at our home, the savings of living in an energy responsible manner have far outweighed the transition costs.

Maria has been the driving force behind our pursuit of responsible living. She has done the research and much of the work. There has been a pronounced positive effect on our finances. Simple changes, like driving less, planning our trips, controlling our shopping, combining errands, not going unless we absolutely have to, and using the more fuel efficient of our vehicles, have added up to a big savings. The biggest single savings has been in electric use. We are still not off the grid, but we have cut electric use drastically. Our most recent electric bill was $26. We have gone from an annual expenditure for electricity of $2700 to about $690 this past year. That $2000 difference alone paid for a lot of what we have invested in the transition.

It is not a matter of being cheap, it is a matter of thinking about what we are doing and the impact. For example, we resist buying anything new if there is an alternative. Yes, this is cheaper, but there is an energy impact for every new item manufactured that we avoid by buying used. There are also issues of toxicity. There are hazardous chemicals present in all textiles. Used garments have at least some of these washed out.

Granted, what we are doing, the opportunities available to us living in rural Kentucky, are not available to everyone. But then, there are more resources available in a more cosmopolitan area than we have here in some ways, better libraries, closer shopping, a community that is interested in networking and cooperation toward sustainable goals. Every building can be improved. We can start to think about our expenditures in resources, not just currency. It is the planning that is saving us the money.


We citizens of these United States have developed an extremely effective way of destroying ourselves. We have decided to stay in our golden past. We have refused to be brought into the modern world. Then, we accuse anyone that points out our problems of lack of patriotism. This guarantees that nothing will ever improve. We will simply slide loudly and with a large splash into oblivion.

We used to think that the Oriental history of walling out change that kept China and Japan from modernizing for centuries was ridiculous. If you look at the present state of our country, you will see that this is exactly what we have done. We don’t learn from the past, we glorify it. We try, very unrealistically to live in it.

We developed a political system that was extremely responsive to the needs of a rapidly industrializing nation. Our government supported industry, commerce and the stockholders that managed our leap into world prominence. Now we are held hostage by these same forces that built us, and we cannot let go.

We failed to automate our industry; to protect the workers‘ jobs, of course. We hamstrung our agriculture by permitting a monopoly to pick the direction it would go, without thought to any consequence but profit. Oil built us. American oil won World War II, and even though the handwriting has been on the wall for fifty years, we refuse to let go of it. The oil companies are diversifying, buying into renewable energy, but we, as a people, are not. Climate change is going to redesign the world’s economy for us. Our leaders stick their heads in the sand. Prudence would dictate that if there were even a chance that this would be barreling down the slope toward us that we should take concrete measures to save ourselves. But we are not prudent people. Fourteen percent of our workforce is unemployed as of this writing. About the same percentage are underemployed. We did this to ourselves. We allowed businesses to move these people’s jobs overseas and bring the products back to this country without any tariff whatsoever. That is freedom.

We are not a democracy. This country was designed as a vehicle for corporate profits. It is business that pays for the campaigns that put people in political office. Therefore, we get leaders and legislators who put the interests of sponsors first. Look at the decisions they have made over the past years. Republican or Democrat, neither party will vote against the interests of big business. The Constitution is simply a panacea. This country is run by an unwritten constitution that exists to insure corporate profits and the welfare of the economic elite. The rest of us are manipulated. We are given bread and games. The term for this form of government is plutocracy.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Blending Philosophy With Reality

It was 73 degrees, I saw both robins and mocking birds, the first buds are on the trees and shrubs and we had another thunder storm. The chickens gave us four eggs again today. The sow Isabella slimed my leg while I was cleaning out her water pan. We had to move hay again. The oxen sensed that it was a work day and met me at the gate all ready to work. Joe thinks George checks the depth of hay in the rings and knows when we are going to work them. William moved into position to take the yoke without being told and later got on the chain when he was told without prompting. Spring is battering on the door. We are talking about gardens and starting to plan.

The real issue is not what we are going to plant, or where. The question is how we make sustainable living a lifestyle. We have to factor in shelter, transportation, food storage, and clothing and provide food. We need sources of information and enough money to give us some maneuverability and acquire capital items needed to transform the farmstead. This is a tall order. Some things are obvious. The house is inefficient: Too much wasted space, poor insulation and a site that is someday going to get wiped out by a flood. We want to build a more survivable house up-hill where it will get more solar energy and pick up more wind. We have steadily reduced our use of the car and truck to about a single trip to town a week, bunching errands or simply staying home. Maria has almost single handedly reduced our electrical consumption to a quarter to an eighth (depending on the season) of our previous level. We have our sins, however. We are addicted to our computers and Netflix. Still these can eventually be supported by electricity we can produce ourselves.

Our plan is to move steadily toward a largely self sufficient sustainable lifestyle: Growing what we can, using draft animals where we can, making whatever we can do ourselves, bartering, trading or selling those skills we have to provide the capital needed to keep the place going. We believe that this course will fit with the changes we see in the environment and economic situation. We are not survivalists in the Y2K form, but it would seem to be provident to design a life that will not collapse if gas at the pump does hit $15 a gallon. We spend a lot of time here talking about the philosophy of living responsibly. At this time of year, the reality of carving this lifestyle out a hollow in southern Kentucky rears its ugly head and we are faced with making it work.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Since we specialize in preserving traditional skills like building log cabins with nothing but axes, working draft animals, spinning, and a host of others, people are often surprised that we advocate and use modern technology. It can not be an either/or situation.

Let me explain this, I believe the world environmental and energy situation is becoming so critical that we have to put all our intellect and effort into creating a stable, sustainable culture on this planet. We cannot afford the luxury of dwelling on the past. Sustainable farming has the potential of squeezing out more food value per square inch than any corporate farm, but to do this, we need to blend every bit of skill and technology that we have. We have to be careful, some of the modern is dangerous, certainly the herbicides and insecticides of modern agriculture have been linked to the alarming increase in cancer in our population. But traditional methods led to soil erosion, deforestation, air pollution, disease, malnutrition, and inordinate occupational hazards.

Creating a sustainable farmstead requires designing a livable pattern of agriculture, energy, personal health, and nutrition. It may be comfortable to occupy spacious quarters, but heating the airspace in winter may require more work than can be sustained. Do we concentrate on feeding ourselves? Or raise a surplus that can be bartered for items we cannot produce on the farm? Or start evaluating and eliminating what we think we must have/do/make? We have to seek a balance. There are skills that we will need such as blacksmithing, coopering, tanning, harness making, and medicine that we can learn, but may take too much time and thus not be effective.

When I am at an historic event, it may the best answer to have a wooden wheeled Virginia wagon, but for every day use, a steel wheeled cart may serve my farm better. If we are going to survive, we have to be practical, not romantic. We have to pick the most survivable tool.

In writing about survival on the Overmountain frontier, I have said a number of times that it was not the tools that came from the East on the packhorse that enabled the frontiersmen to survive, it was the tools that came in their heads. If a plow breaks during spring plowing, life cannot go on hold until a new one is bought or the broken plow repaired. The farmer needs to be able to repair it himself or make a substitute. This is where the frontiersman had it all over us. He came out knowing he had to be self sufficient. We were raised in a culture of mutual support (even if that support has to be paid for).

I am not a nuclear physicist nor a plant biologist. But, there are things I can do to contribute to the solution to the energy depletion and environmental crises that are facing us. And, I will do them. I am experimenting with methods to find those that work and can be replicated by others. I am training myself to live a sustainable life. Even if I am imperfect, I can and do teach others what I have found out. This largely takes the form of working livestock, but that seems to be what I am best at.

At this stage, I think the biggest contribution that all of us involved in the sustainable lifestyle can do is be a loud example. When we can live well without compromising our principals, it encourages other to try. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I get discouraged when I see the excessive consumption surrounding me. As people speed by in their SUVs, I know that they are using one third more gas than they would if they were driving conservatively. I pick up a vegetable and realize it is something we grow here, but this one came from the Philippines. Our local electrical co-op brags about burning coal they get from mountain top removal and collaterally all the good that does for Kentucky. The list is endless, and I cannot fight them all. I can be an example.

The Frontiersmen crossed the Appalachians in small groups, families and often alone. What they were doing was illegal (the Proclamation of 1763). They fought Indians and often outlaws. They were dragged into the Revolution by events, not ideology. We are very much in the same situation. Those of us fighting to make a difference face politicians owned by the corporations that created this mess. Certainly they are not going to support anything that might adversely influence corporate profits. We live among a populace that has been raised to expect the comforts and ease of cheap oil. They don’t want to see it change. Demagogues manipulate them to think that we can return to the status of the victors of World War II and the economy of the 1950s. We meet resistance at every turn, we are isolated and alone. That is what it means to be a frontiersman. But, the frontiersman of 1775 was the truly modern man of his time. If there is a future, historians will look back and see those of us fighting for responsible living as the modern "Man" of our age.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A sad journey

Early, early morning, we are off for an 8 1/2 hour drive to North Carolina to see Gerry's beloved sister.  They have been best friends their whole lives, and she is dying.  We are spending the rest of the week with her to help during one of her chemotherepy treatments

She is intelligent, funny, brave, savvy, a bit bossy, loving, independent, staunch, and outrageous.  I admire her tremendously, and wish with all my heart her life was not ending thusly.  My heart goes out to my dearest friend, my husband, as he struggles to make himself believe the truth that his sister is passing. This is made more difficult by seeing that her daughters, who have been estranged from her, don't seem to know how to grieve now, which is causing more hurtful acts and feelings between them.

This is not the first of his family to be taken by cancer.  His mother, brother, and first wife were so taken.

I ask you, as you look at your family today, if there is any estrangement there, that is salvagable, work to salvage it.  You don't know what will happen to you, or to any of them.  Don't let pride stand in the way of reconciliation.  Don't let the thought, "It's good enough," get in the way of making something better.  Why wait for someone else to make the first move?  Why waste time thinking you can fix it later?  Even if you do fix it later, look at the time you can spend in joy and friendship now.

Once again, be good, be kind, be green, be frugal.  Be light.

Janis, we love you so much, we'll see you tomorrow night.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Foreign Aid

Here are some things I found out about foreign aid:

Most of our foreign aid dollars are spent on armament. There are strings attached. In most cases, they have to be used to buy weapons from the United States. Obviously, this helps our industry. Next, we give aid to countries that we have a business interest in. The big three in our present foreign aid program are Israel, Egypt and Pakistan. All three receive more in military aid than in any other form of assistance. All three are markets for American products, especially agricultural products, not just foods, but GMO seeds, and fertilizer. Doing a little research, I found that the largest dollar amount of business with each of these three countries is done by Monsanto. I think you could make the argument that our foreign aid dollars are spent to protect Monsanto’s interests.

Israel received 2.4 Billion dollars in aid in 2009. Seventy-five per cent of this had to be spent on military hardware purchased from the United States.

Egypt was the recipient of $1.7 billion, $1.3 billion went to weapons alone.

Pakistan received $798 million of which $20 million went for infrastructure, the rest was spent on security related requirements.

Brazil has lodged a formal complaint and Canada has asked for discussion of our agricultural aid practices which essentially force our Monsanto engineered, genetically modified corn on the world market. In Mexico, for example, this has destroyed the local corn varieties and put Mexican farmers out of work. (Then they show up on our doorsteps as illegal aliens because they have no other way of feeding their families.)

You notice that Congressional candidates speechify about cutting foreign aid, while incumbents do not. The big arms manufacturers and Monsanto make political contributions to incumbents in far larger amounts. No relationship between the two is there.

I am not sure this is responsible.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This looks like fun!

How many of you have some waste paper waiting to be burned, or tossed? Far too many trees are felled only to make our paper envelopes, catalogs, magazines, newspapers, etc. What a good thing to do with some of it!

How to Make Homemade Paper

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Is all food wastage the same?

Penniless Parenting is an amazing blog, and has posed a most thought-provoking question.  What are your thoughts?


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Perennial Foods

Gerry and I watched another great documentary last night (Thanks, Netflix!) called Dirt, The Movie.  Wonderful handling of a topic most of us never think about.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and hope you will see it. It entertained, educated, enraged, and most of all, encouraged! by turns.

Now the connection to the blog title offering today.  One thing that really stood out and impressed me was the demonstration of the difference in root systems between the annuals and the perennials. It was mindboggling.  And they demonstrated how much more important perennial root systems are when we have shallow dirt levels to work with.  Here in the hills of KY, we have bedrock very close to the surface, which means that perennials would be best.  But I am an ignorant and conventional woman, whose only food growing experience is with standard annuals, and the standard rototillered seedbed.  I am switching my mindset to include mostly perennials, and find myself at a loss, for the most part, on how to feed my house without contributing to the destruction of what little flat land I have.

Here is what I have come up with so far...

Tree foods.  I need to do more with the native nuts and fruits that already grow here.  I need to rebuild the orchard, plant new trees, and learn to make pine needle tea, and learn to harvest pine nuts, too.

I have gobs of brambles (they absolutely flourish here), but they are in my pastures.  I need to put brambles in a place that is not competition for grass, and that I can easily reach and manage.

Foraging "weeds".  I have long known that many of the weeds I was discarding were more nutritious than the vegetables I was protecting.  But I knew what the vegetables were, and what to do with them.  Ignorance has not been my friend.  I do know how to recognize and cook dandelion and plantain.  I recognize cattail, but know not what to do with it.

I will plant perennials as food whenever I can.  First on the list of on purpose plantings will be daylilies, jerusalem artichokes, and asparagus.

I will choose hardy plants over those I know need babied.  There is no real reason for a fine seedbed for squash, for instance.  Other than custom and convenience to the rototilling.  I can plant squash by using a mattock to chop a hole in the ground, planting the seed, and mulching the hill.  And it won't use any gasoline, either!

I will make a special bed for the rootcrops I deem indispensible that really need a good seedbed, rather than make the entire garden pulverized.  This will include carrots, turnips, potatoes, etc.

Dried Beans.  Hmm, tougher.  They are the mainstay of our diet, and need a good seedbed, and I need more of them than I can fit into a garden bed.  This requires serious consideration.

Meat and Dairy...  Also tough.  Hunting is obviously in the works (Gerry is an excellent hunter, and never takes a shot if there is a possibility of only wounding the animal)  We will be switching to making our own dairy products from goats, our hens are laying eggs, and we have a sow, but no boar yet.  Most of the horses will be leaving for a new home in 2 months.  Our only cattle are, and will only be, the 4 oxen.

Animal Feed.  We recognize that trucking in grain for all of them is economically and ecologically unsound.  We will be switching from a mainstay of hay and grain to browse (of which we have lots) and squash.  We truly have plenty of browse, it just needs managed better.  That is one reason we are heading for goats rather than more cattle.  We will still have 2 horses, which need good pasture and some grain. We will need moveable runs for the poultry as we have many, many predators here.  I love watching the Broadwing Hawks, I just don't want to feed them!  Same with the foxes.  I will put the moveable runs in the horse pasture to try to renovate it.  It has been horribly overgrazed, overrun with weeds, and desperately needs attention.

Still don't have an answer for Yin and Yang.  So will keep buying dogfood for now.

We are commited to doing our own killing, another reason we are heading for goats.  I can handle a goat, a full grown steer is something else.  No more slaughter houses for us.

Needing help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I have heard I can use Stinging Nettle to make cheese.  Also thistle flowers.  Can anyone tell me how?  I need other ideas on perennial foods and foraging.  Very willing to make a difference and change, but need specifics.

Are any of you good at foraging?  Would you be open to me visiting and learning?

Thursday, February 3, 2011


No one is interested in the issues of climate change and environmental destruction any more. Hard to blame them. We are talking about something that has taken centuries to catch up with us and after all, it may be at least a couple more generations before it actually touches us individually. It takes imagination and intelligence to face a problem now that is not going to come home to roost for another fifty years. It is going to kill my great grandchildren, not me.

Our problem is getting the point across to the public. There is no thought, we are wrapped up in our sitcoms and football games. I know the argument that environmental action/controls will hurt existing industry, jobs, and the economy. I actually think the big political issue is that the corporations that run this country see it as an obstacle to their astronomical profits. We do not look around. I go deep into the woods at times on these historical adventures of ours. In the most inaccessible of places, there will be a plastic Wal-Mart bag. Drive any interstate highway, look at the brown in the leaves of the trees alongside you. Our powerline right-of-ways show die-back from the defoliants that are supposedly inert and completely safe in minutes or hours after they are sprayed. I could go on with this forever, and I have not even mentioned the biggie, violent climate change that cannot be denied.

How do we make an oblivious public (and their leaders, elected officials, politicians, etc.) wake up? What do we do to create a sense of urgency? How do we make it real?

I know this is just a rant. Better minds than mine are working on this problem. But, I live in the state that just elected Rand Paul to the Senate. We have a Neandertal electorate that just put a person in office that seems to be totally incapable of even the most basic logic. I know we humans are contributing to the disaster, but logic says that even if it is totally out of our control, we have to start taking steps to face the crisis. There are enough examples around to show that things are changing.

When do we become mature, thinking people?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What do you think about the address?

If you have a good internet connection, you can watch the video HERE.

If you want to only read the address, you can read it HERE

I hope all United Statesans will either read or watch it.

I did not have a good internet connection yesterday, some days are better than others here.  However, I really, really wanted to watch it rather than read it, so I pretty much spent all day getting it loaded and watched.

I found myself wishing he had shown some of that dynamic energy the last couple of State Of The Unions.  I was glad to hear some of what he wanted to do to move us forward from being mired in our past, but I felt like I was not really being leveled with as to the actual present state of the union.  For instance, he said the worst of the recession is over.  I can't see it.  I don't see how it can be over, when I have not seen our companies bringing our jobs back from overseas, or those same companies not paying proper taxes.  But he said it is over, so it is over, I guess.

I do not count Walmart hiring more part-time cashiers to ring up outsourced trash as bringing jobs back jobs.

He also, curiously enough, stated that we have clean air, clean water, and safe food.  He said we have them because of strong protective laws put into place by previous administrations.  My president, we do not have clean air, clean water, and safe food, because the wimpy laws put into place by previous administrations have been allowed to be completely trampled by corporations, by those previous administrations, AND by yours.

One thing I thought was wonderful was that even though our part in the wars is winding down (statements backed up by on-screen graphs) he was unwavering in restating our appreciation for the soldiers and families.  He flat out said they will have the benefits they have earned.  What a nice change from the ending of all our other wars, when the soldiers are no longer needed, they are no longer heeded. 

And the sour-puss faces of the high ranking military officers were just priceless when the Commander in Chief stated that people would no longer be prevented from serving the country they love, because of WHO they love.

This is not meant to be a blow by blow accounting.  Just an overall impression with some things that really stood out to me.  The president was as ever, intelligent, and used gentle humour to make many of his points, like how the high-speed train would be able to move people at times faster than flying, without the pat-downs.  Or like how we need to stop subsidizing the oil industry, it was doing just fine by itself.

All of the address was strongly yet calmly delivered, and most of it was backed up with photos, statistics, or graphs to illustrate what he was saying.  All through it he made repeated calls for us to pull together out of our factions to tackle the problems that face us.  I can only hope that we all will.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Off to listen to the State of the Union Address.

Taking a really long time to load....

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Is Cruelty still funny?

Empathy  Identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives
Gerry and I interact with thousands of school children annually, and I think almost as many adults.  Gerry travels from place to place with his oxen at great expense to us, because that is his passion, to mix children with large animals.  I don't own the oxen, but I care for them when we are traveling together.  I also own horses, and in truth, the shar-peis are more mine than his.  We own chickens now, and a pig since last September.  We are delighted with the different personalities and affection our animals exhibit.  Honestly, I think they own us more that we own them.
But I digress, as usual.  What I started to say was we have noticed a truly disturbing trend in our dealings with the dear little school children (3rd grade through college).  They are getting mean.
Will he charge me if I hurt him?  Can I use the whip?  What happens if you use the whip on him?  Pull on his nose ring.  Will he kick me if I hit him?  How hard do you have to hit him so that it hurts? Variations of these questions now often take up the entire question and answer period.  Trust me, it is not a sometime thing, and it is on the increase.
Then there are the times that we deal with actual physical violence toward them, not just the interest in pulling the oxen's nose rings, I have seen them actually do it.  They duck past the ropes that are meant to keep public out of the resting areas, and swarm the resting animals. pull on nose ropes, poke fingers in eyes. hit my horses with sticks.  They have even hit the animals when they are working, dashing out of the crowd to strike a blow and disappear again.
And the adults, I hate to admit, are almost as bad, No, worse, when you take into account they really should know better.
Anyway, we note the increased interest in cruelty, and the decreased interest in considerating the feelings of others.  Every Spring is worse than the last Autumn.  Every Autumn is worse than the last Spring.
Why?  We are not even talking about people who get into a rage and strike out at an animal, child, or wife, or...
No, these people seem to have a fixation on harming just for the sake of causing harm, or do they even realize that nerve endings work the same in any being?  I don't know which is the scarier scenario.
Now, I know that wanting to harm, or not caring about harm, may seem a little far from my subject title today, but I think it is all connected.  Back in "the old days" boys would tie cans to a dog's tail, so it would be afraid and run.  All thought it was funny.  Or they would tie a bone with meat on it to incite other dogs to give chase, attack and kill the unfortunate pooch forced to provide the entertainment (all of you know that dogs amost have to give chase when something runs, right?) The humans found this shriekingly funny, something to take minds off of worries, stresses, boredoms, drudgeries.  Meanwhile, the dog is terrified, or torn to pieces after being terrified.
Consider the following story:
                                    Works For Me.....
A firefighter was working on the engine outside the Station, when he noticed
a little girl nearby in a little red wagon with little ladders hung off the sides and
a garden hose tightly coiled in the middle.

The girl was wearing a firefighter’s helmet.

The wagon was being pulled by her dog and her cat.

The firefighter walked over to take a closer look.

'That sure is a nice fire truck,' the firefighter said with admiration.

'Thanks,' the girl replied.
The firefighter looked a little closer.  The girl had
tied the wagon to her dog's collar and to the cat's testicles.

'Little partner,' the firefighter said, 'I don't want to tell you how to run your

rig, but if you were to tie that rope around the cat's collar, I think you could go

The little girl replied thoughtfully, 'You're probably right, but

then I wouldn't have a siren.'

2 friends (separately) sent me the above forward today. It is meant to be funny, and I am sure my friends meant well, but it did not seem funny to me.  It struck me as an excuse to express cruelty rather than something truly humourous.  And we are all culpable, not just the ones who make up the joke, but also the ones who forward it, and me to, for posting it as an example.

Empathy   Identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives

I'd just like us to stop and think for a moment.  If you found it funny, ask yourself why?  If you did not, will you be more aware of other influences in your world.  If you found it neither funny, nor unfunny, or just don't give a shit at all, well, Have A Nice Day!

You tell me, Is cruelty to another still funny?  Can there be any connection here in the type of story we decide to send as an email, or the type of story we choose to watch on TV, the type of joke we tell to the men or women at the office......and cruelty in people?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Don't pay people to remain poor...

Pay them to break the poverty cycle!!!


Let's write our congressional representatives about it, Representatives and Senators both.  I'm gonna.

Electric bill and ideas

I got the electric bill today and had a shock.  It had more than doubled!  And the usage had more than doubled, so it was not just the cost going up.  I was expecting a rise because of the Christmas visits, but not double.  In our defense I must point out that it was still less than half of the same month last year.  So I have gotten more diligent again with lights being turned off, using batch baking in the oven (baking bread right after baking crackers because the oven is still hot, just getting more alert in general.  Jake (we have Jake back for a few weeks, I had not mentioned that) and Gerry are being less diligent, but they are trying!

I forgot to mention that after Christmas we went to Hobby Lobby and bought clearance white christmas lights.  The LED ones.  I hung a strand in the back room for a night passage light to get us safely to the bathroom.  And I hung a strand above our cooking area which is dark.  It is bright enough to  cook by, but Gerry still turns on the other lights too.  Sigh.  But I don't, so that is a saving.  The LEDs use 6 watts and the CFLs use 28 watts each.  So big savings there.  When Jake saw them, he shook his head and said, "I like that."

As I said, Jake is back, buckling down hard studying for his GED test.  It is scheduled for February 3.  He'll pass, and he knows it, but our goal is for him to get an excellent score, because that will be the key to future opportunity.  I have found here that many people think the GED is a pass/fail thing, but it is not!

We have some chickens now (Thanks Lane!) and are getting eggs, lovely smooth brown eggs.  And the yolks are ORANGE, so gorgeous.  Lane also sold us a chicken tractor, but I am collecting ideas for a different one to build come Spring.

I think I am tired of the weather, and am going to make myself go for a hike today.  It will do me good.  I have been outside of course, but only briefly, to check on the chickens, hang laundry, etc.  But I need to be outside in the fresh frigidity for a while. Come to think of it, I have not even been off the FARM, at all (!) since New Year's Eve, when we went to Tom and Dreama's lovely party (Thanks for having us over, you are so dear)  I will take a basket in case I find something not encased in ice that is forageable.

Gerry got a new scanner for his laptop which will help immeasurably with research, once we figure it out that is.  Both of us are technologically challenged.  It is a tiny thing, looks almost like a pen, that we are supposed to be able to just run down a page of a book to scan it.  Anyone know what I am talking about?  Gerry was swearing at his computer last night, it was a tad unpleasant, LOL.
I have also decided I want to replace my broken coffeemaker with a percolator, which we can put on the woodstove, and not have to constantly buy filters for.  I'll have to order one, because I can't find them locally, and also new, because I have been completely unable to find a used one for the 2 years I have been looking.  Don't trust the ones on Ebay to not have holes or missing parts.  So we will limp along with the coffee maker for now.

Well, I am off to do something useful and productive.  What will you do today?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hey, give something a shot, here.

Pick a project and tell us what happened!

Also, now is the time my thoughts turn to gardening and the longing only will intensify over the next 2-3 months.  I LOVE reading anything gardening, and when it promises to be FRUGAL gardening as well, cool!

Also, I found a TERRIFIC site a few days ago, and promptly got lost.  I recently came up for air and want to share with you.  Lots and lots of knowledge being spread around, helpful links posted, and they stay off of politics and religion and often seem to agree to disagree on whether DIY is best, or Support a good Product is best.

Hope your January is going well, be good to yourselves.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why we should care about Christian Environmentalism

Sharon Astyk wrote a fantastic offering several days ago, on the importance of Christian Environmentalism

Everyone should read it, whether Christian or not, Socially aware or not, Steward of Creation...or not.

We all have vision of a future, and we can all benefit by dialoging about our visions.  One trouble with us as a species is that when we only listen to those with whom we already agree (or think we should agree, even if secretly we don't)  then we start to develop a language of our own, that others don't understand.  And we don't know that others don't understand! Because everyone we hang out with, whether we hang at church, or political rallies, or on certain forums on the internet; well, they all speak and understand the same language we do.

Do yourself a favour, do your children a favour.  Give it a read with an open heart.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Direction, still Responsible Living

Gerry and I are nice people, really we are.  The proof of this I can offer is: (follow me here)

1. We live in the midst of Tea Party Land, and people know what we think.  I for one am unshy of saying my views.

2. Many, Many of the Tea Party people who would think of themselves as friends of ours, still think we like them, when we don't..  They think we will turn off our brains & espouse their hate-filled views. (we won't)

3.  Many, many of these people STILL like US.  They think we are a bit intense, and more than a little goofy, but they like us.

Only truly nice and likeable people can carry this off.

I despair, honestly I do.

Here is the clear, unvarnished truth of how Gerry and I see the Tea Party.  Once And For All.... The Tea Party is an insane tail that is wagging the dog (rest of my country)  I hate it, and what it stands for.  I hate the fact that this is what the rest of the civilized world thinks of when it thinks of the United States.  YOU DO NOT REPRESENT ME!!!!  YOU DO NOT REPRESENT ANY PART OF SANITY.  YOU ARE HATEFUL, INSANE, SELFISH, IRRATIONAL ASSHOLES.  You don't love the constitution.  I have yet to meet ONE of you who has even read the damn thing.  You say you want freedom?  HAH!  You only want the freedom to do whatever the hell you damn well please, and to hell with anyone else's rights.  The freedom to stay ignorant, say and do what you want and the freedom from responsibility for the consequences.  I hate everything you stand for.  STOP CALLING YOURSELF REAL AMERICANS, you have not earned that right.

You don't get to speak for me because you can't even think.

I think I am pissed.

And ashamed of my country's conservatives (one of which I was until recently).

And Pissed.

Let the Tea Party cut out the hate/fearmongering. Let the next thing out of your mouth be a legitimate PLAN to get your "arms around mental health" I want a REAL PLAN for health care. I want a REAL PLAN for the economy. I want a REAL PLAN for shutting down tax money hemorhaging by corporations. I want a REAL PLAN for stopping the destruction of the only planet we have to exist upon. I want a REAL PLAN in place to guarantee civil right to all citizens, ALL of us, not just the ones who look like you.
Until you Tea Party bullies come up with the REAL PLAN, I want you to shut up and let the people who are trying to make changes, do so

Did I mention Pissed?

About the title.  I have been thinking deeply about whether I was on the right tack with my blog.  I want to make a difference in the world, but will I?  How can I best do so?  What will reach people?  Will I reach people?  What is our innermost passion to share?  How best is it shared?

Should it be encouraging people to get out of debt?  Recognition that we are destroying the only life sustainging planet we know about? Fighting to let people know animals really do have the God Given (if there is a god, can't prove it by the actions of humans) right to not be tortured? 

That one is a biggie for Gerry and I, by the way.

Should we be beating our heads against a wall to get people to think of the future rather than the next 5 minutes?  Can I hope to get people to think of the next 5 minutes rather than some futuristic nonhappening science fiction Rapture?

Do we throw ourselves into a full scale fight to make people understand the dangers of companies like Monsanto, or to share my outrage that under Bush my government acquired patent co ownership of the botanical suicide gene.  How many posts will it take to explain what that even means for our whole PLANET?! 

I recently legally bought a gun.  Should we drop everything to start the drive for people to understand that the "Right to Bear Arms" means we MUST be responsible for the arms we own and bear? 

Should we abandon that passion to stand up for orphans, who desperately need homes whilst pro-lifers blithely continue to procreate rather than go through the expense and bother of adoptiing the very children they have condemned to the purgatory of State and Foster Care?  Because I'll tell you.  So far as I am concerned, no one better tell me they are "pro-lifers" if they don't want to get tackled for birthing more children than they have adopted.  I'm ready to spit nails on that one.  They want to tell me that adoption of older abused children is a valid option?  They better be adopting as many as they are birthing, or they are  "...full of sound and fury, signifying NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!"

Have I mentioned I am pissed?  Don't want that to be missed.

Deep breath.

The result of all this soul searching was, that we can't give up ANY of our passions, and so Connecting the Dots will continue to be a call, NOT to arms, but to THOUGHT.  We can only count on 1 world, live responsibly.  We can only count on 1 life, live responsibly.  NONE of us have rights unless we ALL have rights.  The right to food; water; air; freedom from torture, slaughter, and slavery.  These are rights of ALL earthdwellers, and can only be secured by thought and determination.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Rabbit, Rabbit!

Good Morning all!  Sorry to be so long in posting.  Really did mean to post this yesterday, but wouldn't you know, our internet was out until I was too tired to be on the computer...  Still, I should have found a way to post last week, sometime.

About the Title, when I was young I "learned" that it was good luck to say "Rabbit, Rabbit" the first thing in the morning on the first day of the month.  If you forgot and said something else before you said Rabbit Rabbit, then the next day you could still claim your luck by saying "Tibbar, Tibbar" first thing out of your mouth on the second day of the month (Tibbar is Rabbit backwards).  If you forgot the second day, then you were just, well, out of luck.  You had to wait for the next month.

Over time, I came up with all kinds of interesting strictures over this superstition for myself.  The first thing I came up with was if I could not remember if I said Rabbit Rabbit first thing, then I should not say Tibbar, Tibbar, because that would actually bring me bad luck.  The second thing was that if I could remember to say Rabbit, Rabbit first thing on the first day of the YEAR (Jan 1) then I would have super-duper luck that year. Of course, since I was trying to stay awake until past midnight, I had to figure out if I had to say Rabbit, Rabbit before I said "Happy New Year", or if I could say Rabbit, Rabbit after I went to sleep and then woke.  By the way, that was the rule I settled for, because the other way was socially embarrassing!  So morning  meant after-I-wake, not after-midnight.

Lest you are thinking that I spent WAY too much time thinking about a nonsense superstition, and then also making up even more strictures about it, I would offer the fact that I have spent the vast (outer-space type of vast) majority of my months having neither good nor bad luck, just ordinary luck, because I could not be bothered to remember to do one or the other.  Also, my mind never turns off, and some of the things it works on ARE nonsense.  But it won't shut off, and I can't be solving the world's problems ALL the time! LOL.

You are now on tenter hooks, I know, wondering if I remembered to say "Rabbit, Rabbit" in time yesterday.  I DID!!  I'll let you know about the super-duper luck thing next year.

Turning to a more serious subject, I bought something new from China on our once a month shopping trip.  I am not sorry I bought it as it will help us attain our goals of energy self sufficiency.  But I AM sorry that I could only find it from China.  It was a few boxes of on clearance LED Christmas lights, bright white colour.  I have them strung up in areas we need light.  LED lightbulbs still have not reached a reasonable price, but until they do, the Christmas light strings will do nicely.  I am looking at a string of them now draped over my cooking area, which is dark.  1 string is enough to cook with!  I have a string still bundled up but plugged in, and it is bright enough to read by if I want to. Sometimes, you just gotta love clearance, no?

By the way, they were made in China, but who do you think the company is?  Good old american company, GE.  Way to outsource, GE!   May your stockholders choke on your dividends.

And speaking further of China, and weird United Statesan decisions concerning China, How about this?  We are planning to export our coal to China!  I am slightly incensed, and completely flummoxed by this.  Is ANYONE thinking?  In what way can this POSSIBLY be good?!?!  And Australia wants to do it as well?!?!

Please understand me.  I am not anti-China.  I am not anti-Japan.  I have tremendous respect for those 2 powerhouses.  But it is the type of respect I feel watching a monster tornado sweeping toward me.  It is not a good feeling.   PLEASE, PLEASE WAKE UP UNITED STATES.  Stop watching FoxNews on your giant flat screen sleep inducing TV.  And you, Australia! Wakey, Wakey!  With your drought problems, you have MORE to lose than we do.

I see now, that I really have not been the only one believing a silly mantra can affect a future.  Others have been mantra-ing too.

My silly mantra was "Rabbit, Rabbit" 

The other silly mantra has been "Profit, "Profit!"

Profit is not all, my friends, really!