Monday, December 29, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The holidays are upon us in full force. Snow is falling today. Our presents are wrapped but there is no tree to put them under. We don't wish to kill a tree.We don't wish to perpetuate this buying stuff madness, but it is almost inevitable. Next year perhaps a moratorium on buying stuff. Buying stuff, our economic power as a consumer, is perhaps the single largest act of consciousness we can participate in regularly. Mindfullness is key.

We called off the trip to the folks because of the weather. Maybe go skiing instead? Ice skating.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Lessons From Ladakh

This is a wonderful video that highlights, for me, the beautiful and spiritually fulfilling life of Tibetans.







This is basically how I want to live. Especially if I get to wear those hats...

My Gospel

Love Your Self

Love Everything as Your Self

Love the World, because the World is You

Love the Universe, because the Universe is You

The Universe Loves You

The World Loves You

Everything Loves You


Love binds the Universe Together, Love is the Universe

Love is the Truth

Suffering is Ignorance of the Truth

Suffering cannot be transformed by Suffering

Love Transforms Everything Always

Life flows out from Love


Everything Changes

Life Begins and Ends, Suffering Begins and Ends

Each Life is a Manifestation of Love, Each Death is a Manifestation of Life

The Universe flows out in Life and flows back in Death


The Manifestations of The Universe are Holographic

Time and Space are Relative

Truth is Mystical

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

TV Reincarnation

In February 2009 television will change. The lower frequency airwaves that were utilized by broadcast television will be taken over by various corporations bidding for the right to own something that should be free for all, like air, and to use this valuable resource in order to make a profit. I sent off for a coupon to buy a converter box so that I could also watch the new digital tv, but I put it off until I realized that I had went past it's validity date. So now I realize that I have to cough up some more dough for a converter box or a new TV or a cable service or what have you. By god, what an enormous hassle and idiocy.

I have decided that instead I will do without television, and I will only watch movies at home.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

China calls off EU summit over Dalai Lama visit

As we get ready for the great turkey massacre of '08, it should be remembered that across the globe, many things are still happening. Thousands of children are still dying in Africa everyday because they do not have clean water or food, and tribal people are stilling being pushed out of their home and land and into the mass insanity our civilized cultures call "progress". I feel that one of the most significant stories being played out right now is the plight of the Tibetan people. China, the worlds greatest economic player perhaps, is trying to assimilate this beautiful and ancient culture, and is now beginning what looks like a larger scale effort to bully the rest of the world into playing by their rules. The Tibetan culture and land must be preserved and protected; they may have the key to a more peaceful world. Read on for more information. Free Tibet!


China calls off EU summit over Dalai Lama visit
Wed Nov 26, 2008 10:27am EST
By Darren Ennis and David Brunnstrom

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - China, angry at plans for Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to visit Europe, has called off a summit with the European Union next Monday which may have forged a joint response to the global economic crisis.

The 27-nation bloc expressed regret at Beijing's decision but pledged to continue to promote a strategic partnership "at a time when the global economic and financial situation calls for very close cooperation between Europe and China."

France confirmed President Nicolas Sarkozy would meet the Dalai Lama at a December 6 ceremony in Poland to mark the 25th anniversary of the award of the Nobel Prize to former Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, despite Beijing's displeasure.

"Nicolas Sarkozy ... is free to decide his agenda," government spokesman Luc Chatel told reporters.

China's foreign ministry had no immediate comment. But earlier this month it warned Sarkozy, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, that the EU risked losing "hard-won" gains in ties with Beijing if he met the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in the mountainous region, occupied by Chinese troops from 1950. China calls him a "splittist" for advocating self-determination for his homeland.

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, the head of euro zone finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker, and EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia had been due to meet Chinese counterparts on the sidelines of the Lyon summit to discuss the global crisis.

The European Council on Foreign Relations,a think-tank, said the meeting should have been used to forge a partnership on the crisis.

Its Asia director Francois Godement called the Chinese move "unprecedented" and "aggressive" and said it exposed the EU's failure to coordinate policy toward Tibet and the Dalai Lama.

"SORRY SPECTACLE"

"The sorry spectacle of European disunity over the financial and economic crisis has confirmed to China's leaders that Europe is not a unitary actor and can be publicly provoked at no significant political cost," he said.

"It is urgent for Europeans to realize the steep political price for their failure to agree on common principles and practice for their China policy."

It was not immediately clear what commercial fallout, if any, there would be from the row.

More here

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hey there you

If you like me bloggin', please click on the "follow this blog" link to yer right, mister. Your welcome.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A World Without Water

I just watched an amazing movie called FLOW:For the Love of Water. It highlights effectively the key issues that face us in terms of Water usage issues. Check it out here:

FLOW

I also found this movie that I am watching now. It is similar to FLOW, and quite good.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Baby, your home

Baby, You’re Home

Liz Rubincam for The New York Times



ROOM FOR ONE MORE? Alecia White Scharback between contractions, surrounded at home by her mother, Judith Deierling White; her sister, Amanda White; and her husband, Joshua Scharback, before giving birth to Noah with the aid of a midwife.

By JULIE SCELFO
Published: November 12, 2008
SQUATTING in an inflatable pool in the open kitchen of her apartment in Astoria, Queens, a very pregnant Alecia White Scharback, nude except for a bathing suit top, groaned in pain. It was 7:30 a.m. on Nov. 1, and Mrs. Scharback, 29, an actress, had been in labor for more than 36 hours. The contractions had been only mildly painful at first, but had grown increasingly fierce as a second night gave way to morning.

At the height of one contraction, Mrs. Scharback closed her eyes, bent forward and rocked her hips back and forth. “It hurts, it hurts, it hurts,” she moaned. Using a stainless steel refrigerator to steady herself, she vomited. Joshua Scharback, her husband, rushed to her side and gently stroked her head.

Mrs. Scharback was giving birth at home because she did not want any medical interventions in the process unless she needed them, she said. But after another four hours, she was beginning to doubt whether she could make it and was pleading with her midwife, Miriam Schwarzschild, for relief. “Oh, Miriam,” she whimpered, “I can’t.” Ms. Schwarzschild reassured her client: “You can. And whenever you’re ready, you can start to push.”

Home births have been around as long as humans, but since the 1950s, the overwhelming majority of American women have chosen to give birth in hospitals, which the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists identifies as one of the safest places for the unpredictable and sometimes dangerous process of childbirth. (The group has officially opposed home births since 1975, and this year the American Medical Association adopted a similar position.)

Recently, though, midwives and childbirth educators say, a growing number of women have been opting instead for the more intimate and familiar surroundings of home — even in New York City, where homes are typically cramped warrens of a few hundred square feet and neighbors often live close enough to hear every sneeze and footstep.

More...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Myco-diesel




Rainforest fungus makes diesel

Colorized environmental scanning electron microscope photo of Gliocladium roseum, an endophtic fungus that produces myco-diesel hydrocarbons. (Photo courtesy of Gary Strobel.)
Click here to enlarge image

(PhysOrg.com) -- A unique fungus that makes diesel compounds has been discovered living in trees in the rainforest, according to a paper published in the November issue of Microbiology. The fungus is potentially a totally new source of green energy and scientists are now working to develop its fuel producing potential.
"This is the only organism that has ever been shown to produce such an important combination of fuel substances," said Professor Gary Strobel from Montana State University. "The fungus can even make these diesel compounds from cellulose, which would make it a better source of biofuel than anything we use at the moment."

The fungus, which has been named Gliocladium roseum, produces a number of different molecules made of hydrogen and carbon that are found in diesel. Because of this, the fuel it produces is called "myco-diesel".

"Gliocladium roseum lives inside the Ulmo tree in the Patagonian rainforest. We were trying to discover totally novel fungi in this tree by exposing its tissues to the volatile antibiotics of the fungus Muscodor albus. Quite unexpectedly, G. roseum grew in the presence of these gases when almost all other fungi were killed. It was also making volatile antibiotics. Then when we examined the gas composition of G. roseum, we were totally surprised to learn that it was making a plethora of hydrocarbons and hydrocarbon derivatives. The results were totally unexpected and very exciting and almost every hair on my arms stood on end!"

Link to article

Monday, November 03, 2008

Who Would Jesus Vote For?

Friends,

Who would Jesus vote for tomorrow (if he was a US citizen, of course)? Would he vote for McCain or Obama? After much consideration, I would have to say that the biblical Jesus would almost certainly not vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin for president and vice president, respectively. He would vote for Barack Obama.

First of all, Jesus Christ was a dark-skinned radical Jew, who was a poor under-educated tradesman. He was so radical that he actually believed that the divine resided within himself, and that he was God and God was he, as opposed to the more traditional Jewish view of a God that was separate from humanity and the world. This radical view basically got him killed by the Romans, who were the occupying military force of Jerusalem at the time. An unrepentant dark-skinned radical preaching that holiness resided within each individual is not the type of person that John McCain and Sarah Palin really seem to include in their myopic fundamentalist vision of America. While they seem to enjoy referencing the common man by occupation, i.e. Joe the Plumber, I'm not sure that they understand the trials and sufferings that the real common man is going through these days in "Real America", i.e. next door. Jesus the Carpenter was not one to be bought by big money and swayed by vitriolic slogans. In fact, he died defending his right as a divine human being to speak his mind and to say the truth that he felt deep inside of his immortal soul.

Jesus Christ was reported to have said that it was "easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle then a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." In a nutshell, Barack Obama wants to tax the rich to feed the poor and support the middle class. Right now, we are taxing the poor and middle class to make the super rich richer. In fact, George W Bush and the US Congress just handed over $700 billion of our taxpayer dollars to the rich so that they can continue creating more wealth for themselves, while allowing us real common folk to suffer job loss, loss of our homes, tight food budgets, huge medical costs, and high gas prices.. Does this make any sense? Not to Jesus it wouldn't. Jesus Christ, dirty with desert dust and sore in the sandals, hung out with thieves and prostitutes, and fed the poor even when low on funds. Jesus did not consider it man's sacred call to pull himself up by his bootstraps and hoard as much wealth as he can. This is the antithesis of his message, which was the theo-socialist concept that God will provide what is needed to those in need, and that the meek shall inherit the earth. Some human beings, through no fault of their own, will always find it challenging to provide for themselves and their families, and others will be able to, through no inherent superior abilities, provide for them. Because of this truth we can practice grace, charity, and compassion in a Godly fashion.

Forget for a moment the name-calling that the McCain campaign is engaging in, with "Socialist", "Muslim", "Anti-American", "Terrorist" as some of the the labels casually thrown about, and focus on what Obama really stands for. He stands for Peace, Hope, and Values.

These are some of the key values in Barack Obama's public statements on faith and politics

• God is constantly present in our lives, and this presence is a source of hope.

"Hope in the face of difficulty, hope in the face of uncertainty, the audacity of hope: In the end, that is
God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation, a belief in things not seen, a belief that there are better
days ahead." – Democratic National Convention Keynote Address.

• As Joshua built on the work of Moses, leaders of today – the 'Joshua Generation' – must
build of the foundation of previous generations to move our nation forward.

"The final thing that I think the Moses generation teaches us is to remind ourselves that we do what we do
because God is with us. You know, when Moses was first called to lead people out to the Promised
Land…the Lord said I will be with you. Throw down that rod. Pick it back up. I'll show you what to do.
The same thing happened with the Joshua generation.
Joshua said, you know, I'm scared. I'm not sure that I am up to the challenge. The Lord said to him,
every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon, I have given you. Be strong and have courage, for I
am with you wherever you go. Be strong and have courage. It's a prayer for a journey. A prayer that kept
a woman in her seat when the bus driver told her to get up, a prayer that led nine children through the
doors of that Little Rock school, a prayer that carried our brothers and sisters over a bridge right here in
Selma, Alabama. Be strong and have courage." -Address to Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church, Selma,
Alabama, on the Anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

• Faith should not be used as a wedge to divide.

"We think of faith as a source of comfort and understanding but find our expressions of faith sowing
division; we believe ourselves to be a tolerant people even as racial, religious, and cultural tensions roil
the landscape. And instead of resolving these tensions or mediating these conflicts, our politics fans
them, exploits them, and drives us further apart." – The Audacity of Hope.

"Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America – there's the
United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian
America – there's the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red

States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for
them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking
around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in
the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one
people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of
America." – Democratic National Convention Keynote Address.

• The separation of church and state is critical and has caused our democracy and religious
practices to thrive.

"[Conservative leaders] need to understand the critical role that the separation of church and state has
played in preserving not only our democracy, but the robustness of our religious practice. Folks tend to
forget that during our founding, it wasn't the atheists or the civil libertarians who were the most effective
champions of the First Amendment. It was the persecuted minorities, it was Baptists like John Leland…It
was the forbearers of the evangelicals who were the most adamant about not mingling government with
religion, because they did not want state-sponsored religion hindering their ability to practice their
faith…" – Call to Renewal Keynote Address

• Faith is a source of action for justice.

"Imagine Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address without reference to "the judgments of the Lord." Or
King's I Have a Dream speech without references to "all of God's children." Their summoning of a higher
truth helped inspire what had seemed impossible, and move the nation to embrace a common destiny." –
Call to Renewal Keynote Address

"We should never forget that God granted us the power to reason so that we would do His work here on
Earth - so that we would use science to cure disease, and heal the sick, and save lives." – World AIDS
Day Speech: Race Against Time

"Pastors, friends of mine like Rick Warren and T.D. Jakes, are wielding their enormous influences to
confront AIDS, Third World debt relief, and the genocide in Darfur. Religious thinkers and activists like
our good friend Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo are lifting up the Biblical injunction to help the poor as a
means of mobilizing Christians against budget cuts to social programs and growing inequality…Across
the country, individual churches like my own and your own are sponsoring day care programs, building
senior centers, helping ex-offenders reclaim their lives, and rebuilding our gulf coast in the aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina." – Call to Renewal Keynote Address

• Government alone cannot solve all of our problems – we have an individual responsibility to
be our brother's keeper and our sister's keeper.

"And although government will play a crucial role in bringing about the changes we need, more money
and programs alone will not get us where we need to go. Each of us, in our own lives, will have to accept
responsibility - for instilling an ethic of achievement in our children, for adapting to a more competitive
economy, for strengthening our communities, and sharing some measure of sacrifice. So let us begin. Let
us begin this hard work together. Let us transform this nation." - Presidential Announcement
Speech

John McCain would like America to participate in an endless war against terrorism forever, regardless of how much life and money it costs. Jesus would not agree that this would be the right thing, the moral thing to do. In fact, it is downright sinful. Jesus said that "You have heard it said, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but I say if a man plucks your eye from your head, you should pluck out your other eye and give it to him as well." This is a guy who is not screwing around with nonviolence. Jesus is a radical peacenik who would have happily marched alongside Gandhi down to the sea to gather salt. John McCain and the Neoconservatives are pushing this endless war to create an endless source of wealth and power for themselves and their allies. Shall we bring up the book of Revelations and the Beast or should we just let that one lie, and realize that the Bush/McCain agenda is not for God or Love or Peace?

I believe that as a good and honest Christian, it is your duty to vote for a man of peace, hope, and justice that will lead America into a better place; a place where we can care for our disadvantaged citizens as well as pursue our own happiness. I feel that it is a huge mistake to vote Republican just because you are a Christian. Barack Obama is a Christian who worked very hard over the years to become the man he is today, and he has learned an essential truth. Faith is about love, and love is about caring for your fellow human as you would care for yourself. In my obviously strong opinion, voting for McCain is voting for hatred: hatred for those who cannot provide for themselves, hatred for those who have different spiritual beliefs or sexual orientations, and most of all hatred for peace on this earth and good will toward man. Please, vote with your heart and mind, not your faith and dogma.

Peace

Sunday, November 02, 2008

We spent last night camping out at Afton State Park. IT was a beautiful night and the moon was bright. Some maples glow yellow. That is all.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Thoughts after Maitake intake

The beautiful September weather lifts my spirits. Golden flecked maple tree swaying in the breeze. Light flutter of quaking aspen. Mushrooms pushing through the forest duff.

The garden begins the slow crawl back under the sheets. The leaves, pine needles, hay, grass, weed carcasses, seeds, fecal matter, and whatnot.

Weasels, worms, crows, and roots. Black soil and clay. A general malaise behind the senses. What is next, what is next. What do I do next?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Brilliance is deadly

My friend Sunshine killed herself more then two years ago, by walking down into her basement with a rope, tying it around her neck, and hanging from this damned noose until she choked to death. The echoes of her death reverberate in my thin skull. She was, and I use the past tense hesitantly and unwillingly, a genius in her own way, a person with a vision of life unlike that of 99.9% of the populace, yet she would never have thought that of herself. She was and is unique in many ways. When she took her own life I couldn't understand how she could have made this choice, considering that she was the toughest person I knew. I still can't understand.

David Foster Wallace hung himself on Friday. He was a literary genius, and, as is the case with some special authors, I felt like I knew him better then I knew my friends or myself. I was shocked that he had taken leave of this plane of existence. It didn't seem possible that someone of such brilliance could off himself. Perhaps brilliance can blind you to the idiocy of such an action.

This culture tells us that we have to be something. I disagree. I believe that there is no one to be, and nothing to do. The harder we try to be someone, the less we are ourselves, because our selves exist naturally. Practice makes perfect. Time never stops and the hardest thing we can do is simply be. Take the time to really notice the way the leaves shine in the sun. Make an omelette slowly.

I turned thirty a couple weeks ago. There was nothing I could do about it. There is nothing I can be because I am already everything that I am.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

seeking the seeker

When Pirsig expounds on Quality being the front of train, I think I understand what he is trying to say. But by the very act of trying to explain what Quality is, he fails miserably. Because Quality has no meaning, it is not objective or subjective, it is simply nothing. Everything is nothing, nothing is everything.

Why do we continue to try to explain what doesn't need to be explained? Why do we try to show what doesn't need to be shown? More to the point, where is the train going?

When Lao Tzu tries to explain the Tao, he succeeds to a certain extent. He doesn't pretend that words can replace the actual. He uses words to paint the space around the Tao. What can we do but paint the space around our lives? We have no control over life, the tao, the infinite, our bodies. We have actually have no control whatsoever. There is no such thing as control. Shunryu summed up Buddhism thusly; Everything Changes.

And of course, if everything changes, nothing remains the same. If nothing remains the same, nothing is what is was, or will be. What does it matter, though, in what context do these words give meaning to our lives, and if they do not, what is the value of utilizing them?

My thrust is this: Words create meaning, without words meaning exists independently. Independent meaning does not rely on justification or explantation. Meaning just is, as we are, infinitely complex, always changing.

Why assimilate into specific practice? I would say because by doing so you create form around nothing, and with this form you can peak into the nothing and understand what it is. A friend commented that she thought samsara and nirvana are the same. In Zen, maybe this is so, because Zen is the unity of all things. In Christianity, Heaven and Hell must be separated for the theology to create meaning in the minds of the saved. Without this separation, the Christian reward of heaven has no meaning. So without this construct of heaven and hell firmly in place, there is no meaning behind Jesus Christ sacrificing himself for the world's sin. Without sin, the whole thing falls apart as well. So without these words, and the serious implications they imply for you and I, none of this would exist. So Language creates all of our systems, and binds us to them.

Sometimes it feels good to get outside of language. Become a natural mystic. Feel the present moment through my bones and in the breeze. There is nothing that is not natural in this world, nothing that comes from nothing. When you see the world in a dewdrop, you have achieved something. When you see yourself in another person, you have achieved something. When you forget yourself in samadhi, you have started down a path. When there is nothing left to lose you may have understood something worthwhile. When love ceases to be a heart and becomes the glue, then life has meaning. But before meaning, understanding. The natural mystic opens the body and spirit to the everything. The understanding is primal, pre-language, pre-evolution, pre-birth. The patterns coalesce to illuminate but can only be glimpsed if the natural mystic resides inside. The natural mystic is the seed of humanity.

If Time & Space cease to be the factors that determine life's choices, what happens?

But then again, that's all a bunch of hokey pokey. Today is a beautiful day, and I can't wait to enjoy a walk down to the river.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Which way does the sun go?

We harvest the sunrays and forget about the past

We move on and on and on into the next moment

We let our bodies rest, eat, defecate

One day we see that sand is Miraculous

One day we see that there is

Nothing

That is not Amazing

The cats rest by our feet and face

The sunrays kiss our cheeks and burn our arms

One day we become sick and become afraid that there is

Nothing

That will not end it death

Our bodies ache, break, die

We let our minds soar, dive, and sleep

The dishes sit in the sink and stay dirty

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Summer flies by like a fly in the sky.

The harvest is coming in and the air is becoming cool.

My family hosted a birthday dinner for my sister and I last night and I received a nice stone hammer.

Stone is always on my mind these days, I fear I may be becoming a simpleton.

Stone is second to nothing as a beautiful building material, but it doesn't have possess the flexibility of wood, but is as simple and direct.

Wood as lumber requires extreme attention paid to square, plumb, and flush.

An easier on the heart material provides more flexibility for the populace.

Eat Local Challenge

http://justfood.coop/

Take the Eat Local Challenge!
August 12th, 2008 by Joey

It is estimated that our food travels an average of 1,300 miles from field to fork. Eating food produced locally is often better for you, the environment, small family farmers and the local economy. But where do you start if you’d like to adopt a more regional diet? You can begin by taking the Eat Local Challenge from August 15-September 15.

How do I do it?

For the third year in a row, Just Food Co-op is challenging community members to eat 80 percent of their diet –that’s four out of five ingredients–from food produced in the five-state region for four weeks. Those taking the 80% challenge are Leading Locavores. Folks not quite ready to do 80% can still take the Challenge by becoming Local Learners. Local Learners pledge to eat five local meals per week. Anyone taking the challenge at either level can sign up at Just Food Co-op. The first 150 people to sign up will receive a free “Eat Local America” button.
Who else is participating?
This year, nearly 70 natural food co-ops across the nation are hosting their own Eat Local Challenges based on Just Food’s model. You can find more information on the Eat Local America Challenge at www.eatlocalamerica.coop. Just Food Co-op labels its locally produced foods to make them easier to find, and the Farmers Market and CSA farms are other great places to find local fare. Many local restaurants are also seeking local sources for their ingredients so they can support local farmers. Ask at your favorite restaurant to find out if they have local ingredients.
I need suggestions and inspiration!
In order to help inspire those who accept the Challenge, Just Food will have menu ideas available at the store and host a variety of events throughout the four weeks. You’ll find a complete schedule of events below. The Eat Local Challenge will kick off with a free showing of the documentary “Tableland” on Friday, August 15 at 7 p.m. in the Just Food Event Space, 516 Water Street S. in downtown Northfield. Please preregister by stopping in at the store or calling 507-650-0106. Those attending the film showing will enjoy a sampling of local treats available at Just Food.


FREE EVENTS DURING THE CHALLENGE:
Film Showing: Tableland
Don’t miss this beautiful documentary that celebrates the relationships that flourish around local food. Local snacks provided to those who preregister. Film runs approximately 75 minutes.
When: Friday, August 15, 7-8 p.m.
Cost: No charge. Please preregister at Just Food Co-op
Location: In the Just Food Event Space, 516 Water St. S.
Class: (Preregistration required- ask a cashier for details)
How to Eat Locally and In Season All Year Long
Olivia Frey will discuss how she prepares fruits, herbs, and vegetables by drying, freezing, and canning so they will last all year.
When: Wednesday, August 20, 7-8:30 p.m.
Cost: No charge. Please preregister at Just Food Co-op
Location: In the Just Food Event Space, 516 Water St. S.
Presentation: (Preregistration required- ask a cashier for details)
Local Longer: What can Northfield do to extend the growing season?
Join Angel Dobrow, Mary Ellen Frame, and Kathy Zeman as they provide information on the status of the Community Kitchen, the future of hoop houses (a structure that works as a greenhouse), and a model community root cellar. Facilitated by Erin Barnett.
When: Tuesday, August 26, 7-8:30 p.m.
Cost: No charge. Please preregister at Just Food Co-op
Location: In the Just Food Event Space, 516 Water St. S.
Book Discussion: The End of Food
Read the book “The End of Food,” then join Azna for a lively discussion.
When: Thursday, September 11, 7-8 p.m.
Cost: No charge. Please preregister at Just Food Co-op
Location: In the Just Food Event Space, 516 Water St. S.
Harvest Festival: September 13!
Celebrate fall and your success in taking the Eat Local Challenge in the Just Food parking lot on Saturday, September 13 from 11-2 for our Harvest Festival. You’ll enjoy live music, meet local producers and taste their delicious products, make your own crop art, pet a goat and more!
Posted in Co-op News, Eat Local

Thursday, July 17, 2008

the day is almost over

the night sits carefully by my side, watching, waiting
my tireless belly grumbles
we have new salad greens soaking in the sink, bitter mustard greens and lettuce
a drop of sweat on my brow

we wait until the car starts, and the journey toward the end begins

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Car crash

Well, I was in a fender bender yesterday and it freaked me out a bit. I smashed up the front of our car right good, and it is relatively undrivable now. The other car had a slight dent in it's bumper. Tells you how tough Ford escorts are. So we get to search for a new car. I'm just trying to relax and let things flow.

Anybody have a good used station wagon they want to sell?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Solstice

We had a wonderful solstice weekend. Thank you for enjoying it with us, it meant a lot to us.

The conversation was good, the weather was unbelievable, the water was clear, but the drive and mosquitoes sucked. I loved having everyone around and the food worked itself out and the beer was just enough. Thank you to all those who played music and sang and played games and enjoyed the plants and animals.

We were replenished and relaxed and intoxicated. The weekend went as well as it could have. A few folks missed out, but perhaps next year they can come.

We are planning on having a harvest festival on my 30th birthday party. Please come again and we will sample the fruits of the garden and enjoy the end of summer.

Monday, June 16, 2008

action, love

Life continues. Action leads to results. Love is the glue that binds life to action. We move on, the sun shines, work demands attention, bones become weary.

Some songs need to be sung. Some days need to be slept through. Sometimes food needs to be savored.

Today I want to savor life. I need to resolve not to rush by or ignore it. Fear creates blinders and defense behaviors that degrade love. Love deserves more then what fear offers.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer started a movement

Which is more than I can say about Al Franken. Jack lost the DFL nomination yesterday, but I think he won the hearts of many people who are looking for a voice of compassion, reason, and hope, a voice that is missing in our current political milieu. I volunteered for Jack's campaign because I thought he could help create a better America. A better America has got to be the goal of our political system, not this run-of-the-mill baloney that is the current modus operandi of the entrenched majority of those operating in the our government's hallways. We need visionaries to carry us forward through times that are inevitably going to be tough, through periods of our history that will call for inspired, rational, and compassionate leadership. Meanwhile, we are surrounded by those who think tomorrow will be exactly the same as today, a tragic fallacy that will perhaps doom us to become a society that will not stop our consumption of all the resources of the planet until the last drop of clean water has kissed the lips of the aristocracy. So we continue on through this fog of general ignorance and try to make a difference, because otherwise we know the world will continue to worsen: people will continue to starve, wars will rage across devastated landscapes, species will become extinct, and our economic security blanket will turn to rags and all our current riches will be illuminated as garbage.

Jack has started and sustained a progressive movement that will become a network of strength throughout Minnesota in our troubled time. There is nothing stronger and more stable then a grassroots movement, and we must continue to talk about the issues and join together when we can to create a better country. We must weave our lives together to become a fabric of peace in this world, in order to sustain life itself, and not give in to the violent mindset that is overtaking our society. I'm always amused by the term "Peace Activist" because I feel like the media is describing some sort of strange creature covered in peace buttons and frothing at the mouth, but in all reality I feel that we all want peace to some degree, deep down inside us. As the Buddhist monk and "Peace Activist" Thich Nhat Hanh says, "Peace is every step" and we all certainly took a few steps toward peace in the last few months, and we can continue taking our small steps of peace every moment, and every day.

I am not a Chicken Little, I am just a little chicken. I could have done more. I could have talked to more people about why I support Jack. Mostly I just wondered about why people were supporting Franken. I now see that the problem is that most people vote their identity, most people vote for who they think supports their values. So someone like Franken, who is a rich and famous TV star, connects with the deep-seated desires of the populace who would also like to become rich and famous, and they look on wealth and fame as an indicator of worth, in that if you have wealth and fame you are a better person then other lesser people. Am I being cynical or just cutting to the heart of the beast? I stood next to people at the convention who cackled like morons at every little joke that Al made, and I felt like they must live on another planet, spend time in different dimensions then I. I wasn't about to elect a man that made me feel comfortable and relaxed in a phony sort of way, I wanted a candidate that understood the issues deeply and was going to make the world better. I supported Jack because he understood the issues better, he most closely aligned with my values, and I identified with him as a person, especially as a spiritual man who has grown up in Minnesota and understands the environment we live in and the people who live here. I did not agree with Al's stance on the issues, did not align myself with his values, nor did I identify with him as a New York celebrity who just recently moved to Minnesota to bitch about neo-cons on Air America.

So now the Republican, Neo-Cons, Religious Right, and so forth are going to go apeshit on Al's ass. I mean, this is the kind of election that will make you throw out your TV and move to the wilderness, because it isn't going to be pretty. The Republicans have as much bad material on a Democratic candidate as they have ever wanted, even if it is mostly fluff and stupid jokes. The more you see the fluff and stupid jokes in the media, the more you will wonder why you, Minnesota DFLers, endorsed Al for Senate.

In all reality, I saw Jack as my last hope as a reformer of a system that is corrupt, unfair, and unbalanced, and without him in the race I do not see positive change happening in the future. I am fed-up with people who do not use their minds to understand the world and how it works, and just go with their feelings and inclinations. Comfort and security only get you so far, and then you have to open your eyes and understand that everything you ever thought is nonsense, and after you awake from ignorance you have to fight for peace and justice. We need to create a Green Economy now, in order to sustain our lifestyles and the planet, and to give us the platform on which we can work toward peace in the world. But the platform on which we stand must be constructed now, because the land on which we walk and work is slowly sinking into a giant sinkhole, a sinkhole that has been created by us. When we can't afford to even fill our gas tank, or buy enough food to feed our families, or turn on the lights at night, by God we will have a hard time working for peace in the world, with empty bellies and darkness all around us.

Peace and Justice, Building a Green Economy, Universal Single-Payer Healthcare...these issues are definitely not side issues, Mr Franken, as you may or may not understand. These are the fundamental building blocks of our very lives, of life on this planet. I issue to you, Al Franken, on behalf of myself and any other progressive DFLers who feel disenfranchised with the way that the DFL endorsement went down ; the way that you used your insider contacts as a fundraiser and political talk-show host to gain a competitive edge over a more Wellstone-like opponent (you know, an underdog?), or the way that you appeared on the Letterman show and used that spot as a national showcase of your campaign ad; a challenge that must be met. You are the DFL candidate for Senate, and in essence you are representing all of the people who worked so hard on Jack's campaign because of their sincere hope that a Senator could actually work hard for peace and justice, a green economy, and universal healthcare, amongst other essential issues. I challenge you to really take on Wellstone's mantle and be a candidate like Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, who is passionate about the essential issues that will affect us all dramatically in the near future, and have been affecting people all over the world for a very long time. If you can do this, if you can get over your own fame and fortune, then maybe you can actually be a Senator from and for Minnesota.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Digging In

Check out our new blog, I'll be posting there mostly this summer.

digging-in.blogspot.com

Thursday, May 22, 2008

why or because

I've been thinking a lot about simple concepts lately, like "home" and "friendship". It seems that the simpler the concept the vaguer the framework can be, yet the simpler the concept the more important it is in the context of life itself. The simple concept of home can encompass so many types of structures and areas that it simply boggles the mind. The term "ecology" comes from the greek word "oikos" which means "home" and "ology" the study of. So the idea is that the earth is our basic home, and on it we create different areas and structures that we call home, but in all reality the earth is the basic home of life. I see contentment and peace in those who have come to understand this basic premise. The earth is where our specific brand of life has evolved. "Evolution" is such a simple concept, such an elegant theory. It stand alone as perhaps the most important theory to grasp in order to really understand what life is all about. Maybe this is why fundamentalist have no grasp on reality. Nevertheless, evolution explains how we have come to this miraculous place in the history of the planet, but it doesn't explain why exactly. But the question of why is amorphous. There are no why's in the world, there is just because. Things happen and things don't happen. The why question is the greatest fallacy mankind has conjured from the depths of nothing. The why question is the question that creates religion and war. So I'd like to forget about the why and focus on the because. Things pass along into the river, but the river doesn't tell you why, plants sprout and die, but there is no reasoning behind it all. Life is itself and answer to nonlife.

Speaking of life, I have to go to work now. We're starting a job in Stillwater today. Hope the weather holds and the job is pleasant.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

the time is nigh

Yes the time grows nigh to plant our seedlings. The May weather is fickle and strange, but we persevere. Hopefully after next week there will not be a late killing frost up north. This is all we can hope for.

Spring is melting into summer and work is going well. I need more showers then normal. I've worn out a pair of gloves.

I need to go refresh my kombucha mother now. Peace

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Birthday

It's the SO's birthday on Friday, and we and a friend are going to go to the Friends School sale and get some precious little plants. Then we are going to go to a baby goat and duckling party in Wisconsin, and then up north to prepare the garden for the summer. We have big and exciting plans. Hopefully i will be able to keep you posted.

Local Roots just finished up my friend JB and JSP's place a few days a go. We did a boulder wall and mulch patch, and we will be installing shrubs soon. I like how it turned out. It was the first project we did for my friends so I was really nervous because I wanted everything to go perfectly, and I hope they like the results. It's definitely a transformed yard.

Will update with photos later when my camera has some batteries.

My car smells like Egyptian walking onions

and I don't care! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Our friend JB is in the hospital again for another round of Interleukin-2 treatment. His last experience there wasn't particularly pleasant, and I ask all of those people who read this to send good vibes, to pray, to meditate, to do whatever you can do to send healing energy his way as he lays in the hospital receiving medications.

We love you JB and Jason and hope to see you soon.


"Outside, the freezing desert night.
This other night inside grows warm, kindling.
Let the landscape be covered with thorny crust.
We have a soft garden in here.
The continents blasted,
cities and little towns, everything
become a scorched, blackened ball.

The news we hear is full of grief for that future,
but the real news inside here
is there's no news at all.

*

Friend, our closeness is this:
anywhere you put your feet, feel me
in the firmness under you.

How is it with this love,
I see your world and not you?

*

Listen to presences inside poems,
Let them take you where they will.

Follow those private hints,
and never leave the premises."

-Rumi

Plastic water bottles can cause cancer

April 22, 2008
WELL
A Hard Plastic Is Raising Hard Questions

By TARA PARKER-POPE
Are toxic plastics lurking in your kitchen?

It’s a question many families are asking after reports last week that a chemical used to make baby bottles, water bottles and food containers is facing increasing scrutiny by health officials in Canada and the United States.

The substance is bisphenol-a, or BPA, widely used in the making of the hard, clear and nearly unbreakable plastic called polycarbonate. Studies and tests show that trace amounts of BPA are leaching from polycarbonate containers into foods and liquids.

While most of the focus is on products for children, including clear plastic bottles and canned infant formula, the chemical is also used in food-storage containers, some clear plastic pitchers used for filtered water, refillable water bottles and the lining of soft-drink and food cans.

While there is debate about how much of a health worry BPA really is, retailers including Wal-Mart have said they are withdrawing baby products made with it. Nalgene, the maker of a popular sports bottle, and the baby-products maker Playtex have announced they will stop using it.

Here are answers to some common questions about BPA.

What is the evidence that BPA is harmful?

It all comes from animal studies. Rat pups exposed to BPA, through injection or food, showed changes in mammary and prostate tissue, suggesting a potential cancer risk. In some tests of female mice, exposure appeared to accelerate puberty.

A draft report from the National Toxicology Program, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, notes that there is no direct evidence that human exposure to BPA harms reproduction or infant development. “I don’t think there’s anything in this brief that should lead to alarm,” said Dr. Michael D. Shelby, director of the Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction, who oversaw the report. “It means we’ve got a limited amount of evidence from some studies that were done in laboratory animals.”

The main concern is the possible risk to infants and pregnant women, although Canada has begun a study to monitor BPA exposure among about 5,000 people to assess any danger to adults.

More here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/22/health/22well.html?em&ex=1209096000&en=8a1d4bc01b9099f4&ei=5087%0A

Monday, April 21, 2008

First Food

We have tasted our first arugula of the season, stuff that I tried to grow a couple months ago, but then I gave up and it came up amidst other seedlings that we planted. It was a surprising amount from just being set under grow lights, and next year I am growing tons more. I just can't get over the thought of harvesting fresh arugula while snow is still coming down.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Very cool PBS show from Vermont

Permaculture show from Vermont:









Make sure to check out the other parts of each episode on youtube...

Leatherman Pruner/multitool

This has got to be the cream of the crop when it comes to pruners/multitools:

http://www.leatherman.com/products/tools/genus/default.asp

I have to admit I want one, but I love my Felco pruner and my Leatherman Wave forever. It just might be nice to combine them....

Monday, April 14, 2008

erratic entities

The sun has started to shine in earnest and all of us mammals are excited about basking in it, enjoying the warmth of that massive nuclear ball that provides us with the radiation we need to sustain our lives.

We have seedlings started and designs in the works for our gardens, and the more work we do, the more work there is. We have to design a a windbreak that protects a 100'x50' garden that lies behind the shop, with south and west exposure. The northwesterly winds are a hindrance to the garden in the spring. So far we are thinking about a polyculture of red cedar, highbush cranberry, korean pine nut, jack pine, and a dogwood. We are also looking to plant some red osier dogwood over on the north side of the pond, along with maybe some serviceberries.

First project for Local Roots is almost underway, I'm exited about getting out there in the sun. Meanwhile I'm stuck at home trying to paint the trim in the hallway for a little cash.

My russian comfrey plants are growing crazily. I can't wait to get them into the ground, as I hear they do not like to be potted, although at this point they seem as happy as any plant I've seen in a pot.

We have a variety of hops rhizomes that are ready to go into the ground, to join the others around the perimeter of the back garden. This year we are going to add compost to the soil when we plant them, because last year we didn't and the hops grew weakly, which surprised us as we have a couple hops vines in the backyard that grow like crazy in poor soil.

We have most of our seeds, except for the Fedco seeds, so I can't wait to get those. Once we get our diggingin.org site up and ready we will be posting inventories of seeds, plantings, designs, and all kinds of fun stuff. Meanwhile, I'll be posting random observations and info on here.

I might be helping a friend build some coldframes later on today.

What are you up to this spring?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

up at 5

I'm up early this morning, and I wish I could go back to bed.

We had a lazy Saturday yesterday. Went to Present Moment to pick up some healing herbs, then checked out Urban Earth Coop to see what they were all about. I can envision them growing bigger and giving classes, as they are in a great spot in south Minneapolis.

THen we stopped by my friend Heidi's house to check out some windows that she had dumpster dived. They were sweet and now a couple are in our car, and I hope to make some cold frames today for the upcoming growing season. While we were there, were we given beers, and the afternoon stretched outward.

As we settled in the comfortable clubhouse, we sipped beers and watched birds twitter and squirrels act indifferent. Overall it was a lovely afternoon, and then Heidi's neighbor came over to invite us to eat BBQed venison, which we did, along with some baked potatoes, organic butter and sourcream, baba ganoush and eggplant thai dip, and I tried to cut up three tasty mangoes, all provided by H and R. It was great food and we had a good time. It was a lot of beers and sun so we came home and went to bed somewhat early.

Today I hope to clean up the place a little and make the cold frames, and get our seed orders in finally. We have some seedlings poking their cotyledons up out of the potting soil, and I can't wait to see everything growing.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

pint of gold







We tapped about 10 trees on Sunday and most of those were SIlver maples, not a native species but it turns out they have about 3% sugar content in their sap.

There is something about the generosity of the maples as we tap them. They give up their sap without a whisper. They heal themselves with their substantial plant powers, fast and slow.

And then we boil and boil, and finally the sap lies sticky and viscous, a potent syrup of brown. A beautiful process in all.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Caucusing for Jack

Today was our Senate District DFL convention and it was, as expected, a longish ordeal, but we did our best to represent Jack to the delegates. I was very tired, and so was the SO as she stayed up even later then I, and we connected with a few people. In the end, Jack got 6 delegates, there were 4 uncommitted and Al got 11. Jack gave a rousing speech that almost moved me to tears, and Al gave his stump speech that was uninspired at best. So the SO is the delegate to the State convention, and nobody voted for me. I'm not that hideous!

Friday, March 28, 2008

micro maple






Yo, I'm tapping a Box Elder tree (Acer negundo, a species of maple) in my front yard. All maples are tappable for sap, it's just the sugar maple that has the most sugar in its sap.

This is a part of my ongoing micro-urban permaculture experiment. It certainly is exciting.

Well, the days are above freezing and the nights are almost freezing, so I figure it is the perfect time to tap. I didn't have the right bit (7/16) but I had a 3/8 bit so I wiggled it around a bit in the hole to get the extra 16th of an inch. I drilled 2" into the tree, and it is about 10" in diameter. Then I squirted the hole out with tap water and bashed the tap in. I fashioned a pail out of an old gallon jug hung it on the tap. The sap was running wildly already, and I got pretty excited about doing this on a larger scale.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Seedling container tags



Here is my idea on cheap and longlasting seedling container tags.

Since I have a hundred plastic containers about I could probably make a trillion of these little signs. Go figure.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Al Franken uses fame to cash in on Senate spot

This just in: Instead of debating Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer in Minnesota, Al Franken flies to New York to go on the Letterman show to get free publicity and a national showing of his ad. How about this Letterman, give Jack a spot on your show to be fair. How about this Al, debate Jack now to be fair, instead of cashing in on your entertainment contacts to gain a lead on a more qualified candidate. This is a sickening turn of events and needs to be discussed and debated.

Friday, March 14, 2008

life

what is life?

life is the evermoving present moment constantly shifting, spreading, rooting, thrusting upward.

toward the light, the explosion, the nuclear reaction-light penetrates atoms

light is not life, life is not death-death is not life, death is not dark

I realized this the other day, thinking about my friends and family who have experienced life and death

these are not issues to put aside, to think about later, because in all honesty, there is no later

life is the movement, death is the stillness,but as a gardener, I know that it is all relative

as a buddhist I know it is all relative to your bardo, where you are in your transition

I can think I am closer to the beginning of my life then the end, but it is not necessarily so

and then the pure sacredness of the present moment becomes clear...no, I don't really want illumination

I want life to continue forever

but what I think I want doesn't matter

I am nothing but life expressing itself

when I die I will not express life, I will express death, and to the living death isn't desirable

and love is what makes the world go round

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Jack speaks

GLBT Issues

I support equal rights for GLBT people.

I advocate repeal of sodomy laws and I support efforts to pass federal, state and local legislation to prevent hate crimes and employment discrimination. I will work tirelessly so that GLBT people are not denied custodial, adoptive or foster parenting options, workplace or housing opportunities, domestic partner benefits and equal marriage rights due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

I oppose any efforts to use legal or constitutional means to discriminate against GLBT persons.

As a religious person, I am deeply troubled by the use of religion to justify discrimination, hatred or exclusion of GLBT people, including denial of dignity and civil rights. I have marched proudly with PFLAG families and will use my personal and public voice to encourage a culture of respect and a politics of equality and fairness

Sunday, March 02, 2008

my forbidden fruits

I don't think that this is right:

My Forbidden Fruits (and Vegetables)
by Jack Hedin

IF you’ve stood in line at a farmers’ market recently, you know that the local food movement is thriving, to the point that small farmers are having a tough time keeping up with the demand.

But consumers who would like to be able to buy local fruits and vegetables not just at farmers’ markets, but also in the produce aisle of their supermarket, will be dismayed to learn that the federal government works deliberately and forcefully to prevent the local food movement from expanding. And the barriers that the United States Department of Agriculture has put in place will be extended when the farm bill that House and Senate negotiators are working on now goes into effect.

As a small organic vegetable producer in southern Minnesota, I know this because my efforts to expand production to meet regional demand have been severely hampered by the Agriculture Department’s commodity farm program. As I’ve looked into the politics behind those restrictions, I’ve come to understand that this is precisely the outcome that the program’s backers in California and Florida have in mind: they want to snuff out the local competition before it even gets started.

Last year, knowing that my own 100 acres wouldn’t be enough to meet demand, I rented 25 acres on two nearby corn farms. I plowed under the alfalfa hay that was established there, and planted watermelons, tomatoes and vegetables for natural-food stores and a community-supported agriculture program.

All went well until early July. That’s when the two landowners discovered that there was a problem with the local office of the Farm Service Administration, the Agriculture Department branch that runs the commodity farm program, and it was going to be expensive to fix.

The commodity farm program effectively forbids farmers who usually grow corn or the other four federally subsidized commodity crops (soybeans, rice, wheat and cotton) from trying fruit and vegetables. Because my watermelons and tomatoes had been planted on “corn base” acres, the Farm Service said, my landlords were out of compliance with the commodity program.

I’ve discovered that typically, a farmer who grows the forbidden fruits and vegetables on corn acreage not only has to give up his subsidy for the year on that acreage, he is also penalized the market value of the illicit crop, and runs the risk that those acres will be permanently ineligible for any subsidies in the future. (The penalties apply only to fruits and vegetables — if the farmer decides to grow another commodity crop, or even nothing at all, there’s no problem.)

In my case, that meant I paid my landlords $8,771 — for one season alone! And this was in a year when the high price of grain meant that only one of the government’s three crop-support programs was in effect; the total bill might be much worse in the future.

In addition, the bureaucratic entanglements that these two farmers faced at the Farm Service office were substantial. The federal farm program is making it next to impossible for farmers to rent land to me to grow fresh organic vegetables.

Why? Because national fruit and vegetable growers based in California, Florida and Texas fear competition from regional producers like myself. Through their control of Congressional delegations from those states, they have been able to virtually monopolize the country’s fresh produce markets.

That’s unfortunate, because small producers will have to expand on a significant scale across the nation if local foods are to continue to enter the mainstream as the public demands. My problems are just the tip of the iceberg.

more here


This is interesting to me because I was just listening to Michael Pollan talking about sustainable ag on MPR the other day and somebody called in with the usual question, namely, where are we going to get all these organic fruits and vegetables? Pollan talked about his hope that more young people would get into farming, and how farming is considered a rather noble profession these days at least for a certain demographic. SO this article is troubling because there are many young farmers out there who may be interested in switching from a commodity crop (perhaps turning their folk's corn and soybean farm into a potato and leek farm) to a more diversified and vegetable oriented rotation on their land. But with legislation like this, what is the incentive for them to do so, at least financially? Basically they would be abandoning the mainstream commodity market which provides them with a certain kind of safety net and incentives, and striking off on their own to try make a go at farming vegetables, a far more complicated process then farming corn.

maple trees: the next corn

Yesterday the SO and I drove up to Mora to attend a maple syruping workshop. We were tired from the previous week of activities, and so when we got to Mora our brains stopped working and we got lost. I couldn't seem to remember which school the workshop was at, and no townspeople knew anything about their own town, it seemed. Finally though, we got directions to the middle school and zipped off to try to find it. At this point it was 10:30 and I though the workshop had started out at 10 so I was a bit consternated, because we had driven so far only to miss a fair chunk of the program.

When we got there the parking lot was pretty full and it turned out that a Rural Living Expo thing was going on, and it actually was pretty cool, with workshops on Native Plants and organic gardening and stuff like that. I thought the entry fee was going to be $15 for each of us but it was $8 for our household in total. Plus the maple syruping workshop started at 11 so we were perfectly on time. We perused and gathered various pamphlets and info and then went to the workshop.

The speaker was funny and very into maple trees. He was an older guy and we both really liked his whole presentation. At the end he made some maple candy which was delicious. We're planning on tapping 20 odd trees or so up at the folks land as well as any trees we can find in Minneapolis that are accessible. It doesn't make any sense not to, as it is an easy process that only requires a minimum of effort on our part, and the maple tree pumps out sap for free. We are going to try to make maple and birch beer as well. I might put the order for supplies in today, as the syruping season may start in a couple of weeks.

Then we traveled up to Sandstone and picked up some terrible food at the supermarket and scarfed that down. We went to Geoff's place and talked a bit with him and the kids about the workshop, and then we went over to the sledding hill and enjoyed speeding down the hill and screwing up our backbones.

After that we were lucky enough to enjoy a sauna with the folks at their friends (now our friends as well) Tom & Steph's place. That was very nice and hot. Afterwards they fed us some good food and we hung out in their funky and relaxing home drinking beers. Before we left we purchased some delicious eggs from them.

What a pleasant day, even though I was totally exhausted by the week.

addendum: Okay, maybe I wasn't totally exhausted, but I was tired enough, not only from the week, but from the whole goddamn winter.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

native flora and fauna

Last Saturday I went to a conference on native flora and fauna called Through the Eyes of Nature:The Birds' View of Landscaping

It was pretty interesting. I could sum it up in a few sentences. Basically it's all about providing the basics of food and shelter in as many ways as possible to attract the most species of fauna as possible.

1. Native plants don't need as much maintenance as exotics. They are genetically programmed to thrive on tough conditions.
2. Native fauna enjoy living and eating in pockets of native plantings.
3. Birds in particular like a variety of native plants, from the tall oaks, to the medium birch, to the low juneberry, to the small bearberry. Most birds like trees under 15 feet tall or so.
4. You can attract twice as much species of bird if you add a water feature to your landscaping, twice more then that if your water feature flows or drips in some ways.
5. Dead trees and brush (snags) provide sanctuary and food to birds.

A lot of this repeats many of the lessons I've learned form Forest Gardening and Permaculture principles.

Landscape architecture is extremely important for overyielding polycultures. Perennial polyculture patches of native species of various heights and structure fill various niches that are necessary to provide food and shelter for the most amount of fauna species as possible.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

my grandpa's dad

Was apparently a goldminer in the 1890's.

Carl E. Peterson

My grandpa


My grandpa died last year. Not exactly unexpectedly, but then again death is never really expected. I didn't know him that well, but out of all the members of my family, I am probably most like him.

I wish I would have gotten to know him better, but just when my own sense of identity began to become clear and I started a long journey to make peace with myself, he began a slow decline into ill health. My grandma began to develop Alzheimer's, and one day she mistook my grandpa for an intruder and brained him with a frying pan. He required hospitalization and many stitches and he couldn't talk for a long while. He looked absolutely terrible with a shaved head and giant stitches, filled with frustration at the inability to talk. I gave him my first and last adult hug at that hospital in St. Cloud. Meanwhile my grandmother didn't even know what was going on. I felt utterly unable to even attempt to establish a connection with her.

He got better and I did see him once more at Christmas, where he seemed to take some joy in interacting with Maya, my sister's young daughter. He talked about his new invention with me and my partner, a vertical windmill. He even sketched out a plan.

But then his health failed and he died.

Here are some of his inventions:

Opposing Piston Engine

Animal Watering Apparatus

A machine for injecting fluid chemicals into the ground attachable to the lift arms of a farm tractor

Rotatable Heat Transfer Fan

An automatic plowing apparatus having a self- propelled vehicle carrying facing plows guided by a cable extended across a field

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

seed time

It is seed time, and all through the house, not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse.

God, it is so exciting to peruse the seed catalogs in late winter. The brainstem is lit up like a christmas tree.

I have bought and used seed from these quality seed companies:

Seeds of Change
Johnny's Selected Seeds
Seed Savers
High Mowing Seeds

And I have heard good things about these companies:

Fedco Seeds
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

So far I wouldn't hesitate to say that Seed Savers seed is reliable, and Johnny's Selected seeds are quality as well, perhaps because they are in more northern clime then Seeds of Change. Just not a lot of luck with High Mowing for some reason.

The other ways we propagate plants is by attending the Friends School Plant Sale which is always fun and a great deal if you get there early, but the plants are sometimes lackluster.

The best plants you can by in Minnesota are here:

Outback Nursery
Glacial Ridge Growers
Landscape Alternatives

The best gardening store in the Twin Cities:

Mother Earth Gardens

I also check out Linders every now and then for the big nursery experience and to buy the odd plant:

Linders

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Michael Pollan: The omnivore's next dilemma

http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/214

wahoo it's spring (almost)

Woh. All of a sudden spring is leaping up at our toes with the insistence of inevitably. My mind races with ideas and plans. The cold dark death days of winter seem bearable.

Time for poring over seed catalogs. Permaculture designs for home and zones.
Memorizing natives. Latin, Spanish names.
Making a growlight stand. Start seedlings.
Tap trees for maple syrup. Maple syrup party?
MLS listings for land. Financial considerations, budget, loans, taxes...
Still have to plan and cook meals. Sustainable local diet. Food is life, takes up time.
Skiing when snow arrives...just found out skating is fun.
Local Roots fliers, ads, ideas.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Friday, February 01, 2008

life goes on

The dark winter months are hard. I want to be alone, then with everybody I know. I get way deep down depressed, then lighthearted for no real reason. Everything is bleak and cold, then ever so slightly bearable. I really need to be as busy as possible in this kind of weather.

My health seems okay. I feel like my breathing is easier and my sense of impending doom has lifted slightly. For a moment there I thought I was at the end of my rope. Little pleasures help a lot. Relaxing the body helps, and realizing that I am not my moods is good.

I went to see a chiropractor and she was very helpful. She lifted my spirits and helped soothe my body. I'm going back to the clinic next week to get a physical, just to see if everything is alright in the old body. I haven't really utilized the myriad of health resources out there, and I feel like it's a good time to get into more of a health schedule.

So yeah. I'd like to hang out and connect and talk about stuff and play games if you're up for it.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Just to update

I'm relatively alright. I'll post again when I feel a bit more tip-top.

I went to a clinic on Monday, and I'm going to a chiropractor on Wednesday to try to deal with some of my physical problems.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

yuck

Hey everyone. I'm not feeling so hot today, physically and emotionally. It's hard for me to breathe, and I'm exhausted and nauseated. I'm also really emotionally spent and I've been crying off and on all day.

Please pray or meditate for me just a little. Maybe some good vibes my way.

Friday, January 11, 2008

capturing shakti, part 3

Part 3

When you switch your heart focus away from consumption, it is immediately apparent that the dominant culture is set up and perpetuated to advocate a life that is driven by selfish consumption and as such it is opposed to a life that is motivated by love.

As it says in the Permaculture Designers Manual, meaning in life is derived from taking action toward a common ideal. Loving one another is the essential precept of multitudes of religions and philosophies. Enlightenment, salvation, being born again, reincarnation, living, dying: the path of life is one characterized by constant change. Homeostasis is not infinite, therefore it is a misnomer. If there is one essential life principal that is blatantly evident in the natural world, it is that energy is always changing from one form to another, or that existence is “not always so”, in the words of the late great Shunryu Suzuki.

I think that enlightenment or salvation could be realized by many of us if these simple principles were better understood, mainly that life is; 1. Not always so, and that to create peace; 2. Love is all we need, and to find meaning 3. You must take action toward a common ideal.

But once you start to systemize your code of ethics, or moral opinion, you start to create dogma, and your compassionate intentions toward humanity turn sour and become yet another aspect and tool of the destroyer. In this context, even as I write this I understand that my main intention is to share my experience of life and my thesis of the mass societal repression of Shakti, but some might interpret my intent negatively. To those people I would simply say, if you find my words not to your liking, then you may choose to not read them, and you may choose to debate them, and you may choose to forget them or to try to understand them. Whatever you choose, remember that your mind may have one opinion, and your heart another. Your mind wishes to defend the ego, and your heart wishes to free the spirit. Whatever you choose, remember that your small mind may be fearful of dissolving into big mind, or rigpa, the primordial luminescence of reality. Of course it is afraid, because to change from one form of energy to another is to die in some way, shape, or form. And isn’t death the most scary thing of all?

Maybe not. Maybe it is a real irony that in this Shiva the destroyer-oriented world, death is the most feared and hated change of all. In a Shakti oriented world life itself is sacred, and life itself is most revered. In the abstract, this Shivacentric world proclaims its reverence for life, but in practice, war has been declared on all forms of life, and Shakti in her many guises are under constant attack.

We have created Hell on this planet. If Hell has been experienced by one life, it exists for us all. We can be separated by language and custom, or the boundaries of nations, but at our core we are all simply an expression of life.

Shiva creates hell as Shakti tends her gardens.

At this point you may wonder if I am an extreme feminist, and if I hate men. But my intention is to look at all of the myriad patterns in which energy flows, and it is easier to illustrate energetic patterns utilizing archetypical concepts then it is using pseudoscientific psychological profiles. The patterns that myths have drawn in the sand are as old as humanity, and wisdom grows with time. I believe that it is impossible to circumnavigate time in order to reach Samadhi or enlightenment faster, as much as technology would like us to believe that this is possible.
We are taught that we should act in such-and-such a way when we are born into this world. It seems counterintuitive to question this constant education, because it purports to follow the will of God via the Holy Bible. But my thesis is that this is an arbitrary education in regards to who you are as an individual life. You are a life that can teach and be taught as soon as you exist, and you can think, feel, and understand on your own. Propaganda leads you away from your true self. What is taught as something you should emulate has nothing to do with your life essence. There are a certain number of stereotypes you should fit into, and if you don’t, you’re one of those persons who doesn’t fit in to any one stereotype, the last ditch catchall stereotype. This Shivacentric society does not allow societal behaviors at random, only the stereotypical behaviors are allowed, and encouraged to perpetuate in order to cast those-who-do-not-fit-in out as far as they will go, or as far as they will stay.

Thesis: A human being would not fit into any stereotypes if allowed to freely express themselves at birth and throughout life. Gender would be flexible, love would be expressed in many ways.

We are trapped in this dark box of society designed and manufactured by the destroyers. We are trapped in a dark box of ourselves, immediately put on the production line of stereotypes. We can look in someone else’s eyes and see ourselves, but then we may be called crazy. We can look at the highways choked with cars and exhaust and call it crazy, but then be reassured that it is completely sane by the destroyers.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

capturing shakti, part 2

Part 2

Where is the feminine in today’s society? Where is Shakti?

At some point in the not-too-distant past women were the healers of their communities and together with shamanic men comprised a safety net of spirit and earth based healing and wisdom, as it were. Perhaps the shaman or priest began to wonder if there were a way he could somehow call the wise woman’s earth-based knowledge into question, thus securing for himself the communities connection to the spiritual and earth based wisdom and power. Perhaps he wondered about this, but the community would have none of it. None of it, that is, until the monotheistic religions were conceived of and created by men who saw the light.

Monotheistic religions say; Hey everyone, there is but one God and only we, the disciples, know the way to Him. We are the converted, the saved, and you are the sinners, the damned. God is a man, and man has dominion over the earth and all that lies thereon.

You can see how this belief would benefit men.

Monotheistic religions captured the imagination of men across the land. With the power of God on their side, they built societies completely focused around their sex. Ever since then, nothing has dramatically altered in this Godly grab for power. Political systems are set up primarily to give a few men ultimate power over all the earth, a terrestrial mirror of the monotheistic cosmic order. And in this mirror, we see the complete fallacy of the monotheistic idea, the “One God” theory failing time after time, sometimes in horrific ways, yet we pretend that this is the mere failings of mortal man.

And so ultimately the shaman/priest gained control over all the powers of the spirit and earth, his societal role gradually morphing into the pastors, businessmen, lawyers, and leaders of our modern times. In some indigenous societies, the shaman/priest exists still, but the wise woman labors in the background; women who have passed down the wisdom of generations time after time, sometimes amidst adversarial conditions in order to save the community from itself, to save men from their power hungry ways. In order to keep control over all the earth, men have had to keep her on a tight leash, and rape her repeatedly until she appears to be giving up the ghost. Men have always understood the games of power they have to play in order to stay at the top, because with just one tiny slip, their game could be over, unless, of course, they declare war. If, for instance, one wise woman were to become as powerful as the pope, the people of the world would have to feel again, and the floodgates of remembrance would be opened, letting the waters of peace out, which would wash away the military/industrial/banking complex that exists only to gain power over the Mother of us all.

What women are taught today in a monotheistic society is that they have been created by a male God to be the humble servants of men. They are to do all the chores of the house and they are to raise the children. Their entire earthly role as a human is defined by their relationship to the men in their lives, and the men that control their lives. It is the prerogative of men to control the earth, and thus women and children. Within this framework of female existence it is obviously in man’s best interest to begin the propaganda and brainwashing of young boys and girls as early as possible. To be programmed from the beginning is the ideal, but if an individual’s programming doesn’t take hold, then the tactics of shame, fear, pain, and terror are utilized.

It is my belief that almost every aspect of our modern day society is designed by and for men, and unimaginative men at that. Our society is imbued with the essence of Shiva the destroyer, and without Shakti only death can be the ultimate result of man’s design.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

capturing shakti, part 1

Capturing Shakti

Part 1

In a previous post I had mentioned that I wanted to capture shakti and a friend wrote a comment that suggested that I express shakti rather then try to capture it. A simple suggestion, but it sent my mind whirling off into a strong tangent, one that incorporated thoughts about my previous post on being a mystic and musings I had on finishing the book A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. This post will be my attempt at sharing this thread of thinking with you, and it may need to be posted in parts, as I do have to cook dinner at some point here, as well as perform other household tasks.

The propaganda (and by propaganda I simply mean the spreading of ideas or information for the purpose of hurting or helping an institution, a cause, or person) that has been drilled into our brains since day one on this planet is that men and women are diametric opposites, that each of the sexes has a very definite sex role that should be played out in a very definitive way, and wavering from this rule will result in catastrophe of the very highest magnitude. To begin to understand this reality you need only to think of the deluge of blue or pink crap that is handed out on the occasion of birth, but you may as well reflect on all the other obviously sexist and strongly encouraged items that are parceled out to the unlucky newborn as they grow older in this world, such as toy trucks if you are a boy, and toy kitchens if you are a girl. Dolls if you are a girl, and cars if you are a boy, and on and on ad nauseum. Of course there are exceptions, but by simple casual observance it is obviously the general case that newborn humans are programmed to think that they have definitive rules of sex behavior as soon as they exit the womb. My thesis is that this early dogmatic education is the primary cause of the majority of the suffering that is perpetuated on this planet.

I think that this dualistic thinking mode, or meme (DTM) can be found throughout most large civilizations and so-called advanced cultures. The patterns that DTM produce in a society can vary wildly, as evidenced when you ponder the Ying and Yang principles of the East, or the God and the Devil principles of the West. But suffice it to say that in many cultures a spiritual binary system has evolved to explain how everything works. There is an on and there is an off, and somehow with this knowledge we can explain all things, or we can take the extension of this knowledge and create more complex spiritual systems of explanation, like the I-Ching or the Kabbalah. Math arises out of the sea of abstraction and gives meaning to the essential meaninglessness of the world on the wings of science. Art and Religion stay entrenched in their more esoteric interpretations of DTM. All attempts at understanding life rely on the mystical nature of being alive. The more mystical your attempt at understanding, the less you inhabit DTM, and ultimately the DTM can resolve into oneness with all, or nonethingness. When the object begins to wonder if it really is separated from the subject, then the mystical experience begins and our dualistic perceptions of reality seem to be an illusion.

In the book A Handmaiden’s Tale, the Commander and Handmaiden have an exchange in which the Commander comments that women can’t do math. The Handmaiden takes him to task for this, and he replies that if a woman counted 1 plus 1 plus 1 plus 1, she wouldn’t arrive at the sum of 4, she would just count 1 plus 1 plus 1 plus 1. I believe this is essentially a commentary on women’s innate earth knowledge, in the sense that theory and abstraction and thus science and math exist only in the mind and not necessarily in the earth, and women, who share the energy of nurturing the seed with the Mother Earth, can see that four separate “ones" does not necessarily produce the sum of four. The burden of caring for new life begins with the mother. Once born, fathers and the community can share in the raising of the new life, but during pregnancy the mother is essentially the whole earth for the new life growing inside her. Men have the energy of pollen or sperm to fertilize the egg in the ovary, and I believe that we share in the energy of the Father Sun, and the Moon is what brings us, female and male, together to begin the cycle of life over and over. But now, you see, I begin to dabble in dualisms, and I must stress that I believe that the male organism can experience the energies of the earth and manifest them, and the female organism can experience the energies of the sun and manifest them as well. I certainly don’t believe that any one person has one elemental aspect based on their sexual gender, but I know that in terms of procreation, what I have written rings true to me. Shakti cannot be captured by force of will, she can only be expressed by letting her flow naturally, observing her through the cycles and patterns of the universe.

In Zen there is the idea of Little Mind and Big Mind. I wouldn’t hesitate to say that Little Mind is 1 plus 1 plus 1 plus 1 equals 4, and Big Mind is 1 plus 1 plus 1 plus 1 equals 1 plus 1 plus 1 plus 1. Even that is extremely erroneous in that in Big Mind there are no 1s or even the concept of Big Mind.

Earth-based wisdom is not abstract knowledge, and the abstraction paradigm produces the subject object imperative which results in the dualistic thinking meme.

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