Tuesday, December 16, 2008
google: motrin ad, mommy, babywearing, bloggers and you can find the ad. Essentially it was a bitchy girlfriend to girlfriend "babywearing is cool and I have to even though it HURTS" motrin ad. It was stupid yes, the tone was all OFF...but you know what?
I have worn all 4 of my kids and Sprout is not worn anymore. I can't. I suffered a serious back injury in his birth and wearing him puts me in jeoporady of permanent nerve damage. Fun huh? Motrin wouldn't be my friend in this anyway BIG OLD MASK FOR RUPTURED DISC ISSUES but guess what...I wore him anyway even though I knew there was something bizarrely wrong with the way I was feeling (numb from hip to knee all the time) because I felt I had a duty to. All my other kids were worn in a sling from day one. I felt he deserved the same bonding...and it instantly let me connect with moms who had similar views on parenting. The sling was part of my mommy uniform. It is true. It really was my visual cue to "attachment parent!"
Now, I can wear him safely for short periods of time on my back as long as I don't have to do any forward bends (which are against the LAW now anyway).
But you know what? The first time I ran into a friend and I had him in the stroller 4 people commented on it in a disapproving way!!!! Like I'd suddenly become this detached parent because he wasn't in the sling!
Crazy huh? I actually related to the ad. But I still think it was in poor taste and badly executed.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
But come a giftgiving holiday and I am at a loss. Picking gifts for everyone else is easy. They love books, need clothing, have set ideas about toys they'd love. He gets all their hand me downs in every category and really at 14 months he doesn't express a need for anything except attention and bubbas and food. I was packing things to bring to Wakefield and saw the kids each had books and outfit and something from Santa will be coming of course. Then I looked at poor Sprout. His books are really the ones I'll read to the whole family because I felt I had to wrap something for him. His clothes are individually wrapped socks and second hand overalls. There wasn't a toy to be found and what on earth would Santa bring????
I'm REALLY picky about toys too.
Well I did research on PLAN toys and I am just in love with this company and their environmental and social practices (their toys are made from rubberwood trees slated for tearing out and burning. They take them on and keep them growing long enough for them to qualify as ORGANIC - 3 years no spraying etc, and offer their workers all sorts of amazing social programs). So Sprout is getting a little bag of sensory blocks that PLAN designed for autistic children. Part of the amount I spent on them goes to Austism Research. I couldn't feel better about a toy. AND they are super cool too. I can't wait to play with them myself!
His Daddy-Oma is sending Chapter's giftcard money and I'll pick him another PLAN toy from their selection too. Nature Girl is hoping I'll get him (ahem) their slicing fruit and veggie set. He does like playing kitchen with us and is obsessed with knives. Theu're out of stock right now so that'll have to wait.
But really, check out PLAN toys...I'm usually suspicious of mass produced wooden toys but this company rocks...and they're inovative enought to come out with natural toys suitable for a 5th child!
Thursday, November 13, 2008
A child's rendering of what is important. A home made of collected sticks, a spiral path from a pile of seeds to a carefully placed collection of edible berries and fern arrows spiralling back out pointing the way home.
I wanted to say...this child is having a very hard time learning to read. When she came home from making this installation in the woods she got out my edible wild plants field guide. She correctly id'ed the tree the berries came from, and noted how much longer it would be before they were sweet enough for pleasurable human consumption.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
The best thing about wool pants is that you don't need a diaper cover as well. Great for nighttime!
You have two choices plain sweater or gently felted sweater. I tend to use gently felted sweaters because I find they work better as diaper covers and it is when a sweater goes from functional to too small for wearing and needs to be repurposed.
Gently felted women's size small lambswool sweater
Lay sweater flat with sleeve extended.
Slice off both sleeves vertically in the same place at the armpit .
Lay sleeves flat side by side. If the sleeves taper (most do) put the taper on the inside.
Now take a pair of pants that fit your baby - not snugly - and copy the rise - measure down from the waist to the crotch and cut the inside edges of your sweater arms/legs to that point then cut down another 3 cm so you have room to do a waist band.
Turn the sleeves inside out and sew around the U of the crotch with good sides together - first a running stitch then go back and reinforce it with a zigzag on the machine or blanketstitch by hand.
Fold back the top and make a casing either for elastic or a knitchain tie (fingerknit or icord) Feed that through and you're good to go.
The final product on sad sick baby...
What to do with the remaining sweater body? Well it can repurposed into MANY things but if you need more diapercovers here's a pattern I've held onto since 1998! By Phan:
Butt Sweaters are easy to make without a pattern. Felt a recycled soft 100% wool sweater by washing in hot water and drying two times. Once your sweater is felted, cut off the sleeve cuffs (just a few inches of them if they’re really long) and the neckline (from a crewneck) and save these. Cut 2 big triangles from the front and back of the sweater, with the waistband of the sweater being one side, and the point being up near the neck. Fold the corners so the point is in the middle and meets the waistband. The waistband of the sweater will be the soaker’s waistband. Sew from the waistband down about halfway on each side. This will connect the 3 points, and leave leg holes. Sew the cuffs in the leg holes as you would any standard sleeve. Trim the leg hole seams if needed. Cut the neckband in half and sew the ends of each half together so you have two circles. Sew these into the leg holes of the second soaker.
We finally got around to finishing the yurt for my mom to move into. It's a small one - 12 ft. but really she just wanted a bit of quiet away from the kids so it's perfect. We set it up in the goat's pasture. They love it too.
My 40th birthday present was a yurt building workshop. It was on my list of things I wanted to do before I turned 40 and it happened to fall on the weekend before my birthday. I'd been totally enamoured with yurts (or in Mongolian - ger) since I saw my first traditional Mongolian one in my early 20's. There was something about that little round blanketted space that felt right and settled deep in my bones.
The ones I've built have been designed to have minimum impact on the environment. I learned how to build them from the wonderful folks at Little Foot Yurts. (http://www.lfy.ca) They're made from coppiced hardwood from our property and locally made felt.
I approached a meat sheep farm about shearing for free in exchange for the fleeces. Shearing costs more than they can get for the fleece and traditionally all that wool got composted - dumped in a trench in a field and buried. Shearing is dirty, exhausting work. These aren't pretty pampered wool ewes, there's a whole lot of poop and straw to clear out of the wool before it can be processed. I worked with a mill in New Brunswick to turn it into felt for this one, but on the toyshop I felted it traditionally by hand, foot and by horse.
My mum brought back traditional Mongolian quilts years ago when she was doing development work with teachers in Mongolia so we used those to insulate the bottom walls. The snow here isn't deep so we didn't bother with a platform. We scraped back the ground inside the perimeter laid a tarp, and filled it in with sawdust then laid rugs on top after it was tamped down. Mum's bed is up on a platform though to protect it from humidity and it provides storage too. It's pretty luxurious - we made a cover with all these rabbit skins I've had sitting around.
Looking up through the wheel like this, warm and toasty with the little stove, ah quiet. Now I'm thinking maybe I'll move in instead of mum!
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
With resources stretched thin municipalities have had to cut back on waste management programs. WM, the largest waste management company in North America, has come up with a bold new bright green plan - they are ending garbage collection. Instead their formidable resources wil go to a pet project they have been funding for over a decade. THE FREECYCLE. Municipalities have embraced this plan as it cuts down on the funds needed for other social service programs.
The trucks are freshly scrubbed and will begin freecycle collection later this week. Stiff fines will be levied against those that abuse Freecycle Collection Containers - the new bright green bins were delivered this week - by dumping waste in them. Collection agents carry tagging devices to mark contents before they even arrive at the sorting warehouse.
Spokesperson Oscar the Grouch of Sesame Street fame said "We've been harping on the 'One man's trash is another's person's treasure' theme for a long time and in accordance with our new bright green principles we've decided to get out of the garbage business and "Waste Not Want Not" is our new official motto."
Industry workers are breathing a sigh of relief as their jobs turn from garbage sorting to product sorting and the stocking of freecycle shop shelves. Empty Costco's and Walmarts have been given a fresh coat of bright green paint and are opening for business this Saturday.
20 year veteran garbageman, Francine's Dad, said "I won't miss the disco rice! I've always been an enthusiastic garbage picker and our union negotiated "First Dibs" for all collection agents so I'm really happy!
What can you expect at your local Freecycle? More of the same goods that have always been offered on the Freecycle. Half used bottle of peach bodywash? It's on the shelf waiting for you to snap it up and put those dollars into your grocery budget instead.
More money for food, more parts for fabbing, fewer necessities to buy, fewer things in the landfill. It's a win win situation all around!
Sunday, November 2, 2008
With harvest our WWOOFER (willing worker on organic farms), Josee, left for a new experience at a wild boar farm in western Quebec.
I'm thinking this started because the house was feeling empty and I was feeling broody. With the winter stretching before me I thought "We need a project!" So we signed up to be a host family in the Farm Foster Family Program.
Did you ever hear about how British children came to Canada during WWII to be safe from the air raids? Or how after Chernobyl they sent children to spend summers in Canada where they had a chance to spend a few months a year eating less irradiated food and breathing cleaner air? Well this is the same kind of thing, except the culture shock may be greater, the children coming here are from Toronto.
The King's County Chapter of FFF is sponsoring 30 families of children from Old Toronto. Our family is from Leslieville. This is where they live:
Leslieville began in the 1850's as a community around a nursery. Most of the residents were market gardeners. We thought it'd be a good fit. And besides, I lived there for a few years when I was at OCAD (by then it was a rough dirty industrial neighbourhood that stunk of the tannery and the Hell's Angel's.) It's been transformed since then into a major site for public housing projects.
The girls arrived tonight. We've nicknamed them Maple and Aspen. Maple is 8 and Aspen is 4 and they're both cute as can be. Maple is being brave and solid so Aspen isn't as afraid; a solid maple and a trembling aspen. Their mother was an airline attendant and died from ReDS related complications, their father is in quarantine. Poor kids have been being shuttled from elderly relative to relative ever since then. They'll be with us until the spring equinox.
Nature Chick knelt down before them when they arrived and helped them undo their zippers even though they knew how. She had coaxed smiles out of them before their coats were off. She was so attentive and interested in everything they said that they were chatting like old friends by the time they had taken their backpacks upstairs. She is so good with children it almost breaks my heart apart to think she won't have any and that I won't get to be a real Oma.
We fed them a late supper (spaetzle and sauerkraut and big glasses of goat's milk) I realized afterwards I should have picked things they'd be more familiar with but my own kid's comfort foods was what sprung to mind and it was too late to change things when I saw the look of shock on their faces as they tasted the milk. They didn't say a word though, and ate every bite.
They're sharing the double bed in what was Darkmirror's room. We packed away all his creepy Cthulhu decorative accents before they arrived. I gave each girl a doll I'd made as I tucked them in. I had asked Nature Chick what story we should tell, and she had suggested an old favorite of hers - The Star Children
by Lesa Sevin of Natural World Arts (http://www.naturalworldarts.com/) I don't have permission to post it on my blog so go to http://www.therapeutichomeschooling.org/starchildren.htm to read it there.
I asked them if they did prayers before bed at home and Aspen nodded but neither could remember the words. So we did the one my children said as little ones.
"Oh God, guide me and protect me, make me a shining lamp, and a brilliant star, thou art the mighty, and the powerful.
I turned out the light and left them looking up through the skylight at the milky way. This would be the first time they've ever seen real stars too.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Assembly 12 means no big parties this year, but if there's an upside to ReDS it's that everyone has put a lot of thought into their masks this year!
I've volunteered to be a community candy sorter. You know the drill, take the pillowcase, sort out all the homemade treats, apples, popcorn, cupcakes, toffees, potato candy, etc from the packaged candy, throw out the packaged candy while the parents distract their child with apple bobbing, return the safe homemade stuff.
Then we adults go through the packaged stuff to discern the counterfeit from the real brands and risk our lives with a taste or two. Alas my favorite treat is not worth the risk - I used to love those rocket candies but they are too easy to tamper with, what with being powdery little pills!
Technically, my kids are all a little old for trick or treating, but they really love it still so we're dressing up and hitting the neighbours in our 5km reach.
It reminds me of my own childhood. We lived rurally too, and back then in the 70's we DROVE from farm to farm (usually in a costume OVER a snowsuit!) I still remember Flossie's house being my favorite. Flossie predictably had a tidy little pink house and her kitchen was warm and smelled of cinnamon. She made lovely fudge and I stepdanced as my trick for my treat.
Nature Chick is dressing as a spider and has her fiddle and tap shoes with her, Wild Thing is a pirate with his squeeze box, and Sprout is a tin can one man band. They've decorated theit solar lanterns to look a little spooky. Darkmirror is one of the tall ones from CommanderZim.
We're having colcannon for dinner, some traditions are worth keeping up don't you think?
Thursday, October 30, 2008
I know I owe you a story today, but instead I'm leaving you with an image.
This quilted wall-hanging featuring Little Red Riding Hood was made by a Ukrainian woman, Olga Basylewycz, in a displaced persons camp in southern Germany, 1946. This quilt, which can be interpreted as a vivid allegory of Nazism, became an innocent wall decoration at a Melbourne kindergarten, before donation through the Museum's migrant heritage program.
- National Museum of Australia
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
There is evidence this forced labour has been going on for years as one Nature Chick - now 19 - told us "I've been collecting eggs and mucking out stalls since I was 8 years old. It all started when they promoted me from putting away cutlery to "Compost Girl"
"It was horrible! There were children operating the apple peeler, feeding rabbits, and shovelling animal feces." a distressed child protection worker told us.
"Perhaps the most disturbing thing about this case is that the wee moppets involved in making "Tasty dehydrated apple treats" were paid in apple peelings that were destined for the slop pail." one investigator revealed "There appears to have been some brainwashing involved as the 4 year old angrily defended his apple peels saying "THESE ARE YUMMY, DON'T TAKE THEM AWAY!"
Monday, October 27, 2008
I am a huge fan of your work and I'd like to ask you for 10 minutes of your time (more if it inspires you!)
I am participating in an online multiplayer forcasting game called SUPERSTRUCT. You can read about it here - http://discovermagazine.com/2008/sep/05-forecasting-the-future-may-be-a-matter-of-fun-and-games.
In a nutshell the game asks us to play ourselves eleven years in the future and we need to respond to imminent threats facing earth - the breakdown in the food supply and distrivution chain, disease, the end of the oil age, migrant populations, and cyberthreats like hacking by creating groups and organizations to deal with these threats. What is at stake in the game is our ability to push back the collapse of human civilization.
My favorite superstruct is called 21st Century Wonder Tales
Who We Need: Storytellers the globe over.
How to join: Tell a tale. Make it a classic folk or fairy tale that will help children face the threats they deal with daily.
Mission: An educational resource pulling together classic stories for children that draw on archetypes through time and culture that illustrate the superthreats in a way children can understand and respond to.
What we can accomplish: With a combination of text, podcasts, videos, storyboards, web comics, etc we can create a collection of wondertales that children can access (or oral storytellers) that tell the tale of the superthreats and the kinds of heroes and heroines we need today! These stories are as old as language and haven't lost their message. We need to hear them, we need to absorb their wisdom.
How this superstruct works:We can collect stories, tell our own and collaborate with people offline to find the best folk tales out there that illustrate today's problems. We'll collaborate with any education based superstruct that would like to utilize a service like this.
One of our primary missions will be to volunteer to storytell in refugee camps. While there sharing our tales we can collect more. Our mission is to reflect the global wisdom in these tales.
I keep flashing on the "stories" that you tell so lyrically with a single word and a poignant image.
Would you be willing to give us 10 minutes of brainstorming on ways I could improve this structure?
While this is "just a game" I'm inspired to find a way to realize it.
Thank you so much for your art and vision,
mudmama at superstructgame.com
Now dear readers,
I'd like to ask you the same thing! Can you give me 10 minutes of brainstorming energy on what 21st Century Wonder Tales could do?
Lots of love,
We aren't off the grid. If we could afford to be we would, but we just don't have the kind of money needed to get totally set up. We have a wind generator on the back of the property, solar collectors on the roof. We heat with wood (expensive!), we wear a lot of sweaters and everyone bunks up with someone else. We built bedstees in the kid's rooms so they can conserve heat at night without having to share the same bed - an issue for Nature Chick as the only girl, and Darkmirror who needs his space). Our electricity here is stupid, it's still 90% coal derived. I feel guilty turning on the lights in the morning. We channel all our self produced electricity into the kitchen and the water pump. We live in a 250 year old house, building new and energy efficient runs about 350.00 a square foot, where would we get that kind of money?
I wish they'd get the tidal generators in place, but no one in power yet feels that the benefits outweigh the costs.
We've been buying our coffee sugar tea and chocolate fair trade for 12 years now (it would be embarrassing to stop now so we just ration it out) They are real luxuries and I'm not getting them cheaper off the enslavement of others.
I sometimes look longingly at cheaper chocolate, but I haven't bought it. Papa Pan and I have some friction about this, he is a coffee junkie. He knows it's a weakness, but he hasn't gone back on hias values despite ranting about the cost.
I don't have a lot of earning capacity so it makes a lot more sense for me to homestead and keep our outgoing food costs as low as possible. I have more buying power as a trader too.
My mum and Papa Pan may never be able to really retire though. We always hoped my toymaking could carry them into retirement but despite the environmental costs, the cost of living is so high people would still rather buy plastic crap toys made in sweatshops than buy a sustainably made doll or toy from me. They want to give their kid's things at birthdays. Like they got, so when it comes down to it buying gas and electric matters more than buying toys. They'll still buy toys, but my toys cost more than buying a hunk of plastic does, so they don't. I still feel natural toys are important so I still give my toymaking workshops and have a big basket of FREE toys at my stall (smooth beach stones, pinecones, conkers, driftwood dragons etc) but if business doesn't pick up it might be coffee on Sunday's only. The fair trade dealers are feeling the same pinch. It all cascades doesn't it? The same people who cheered Walmart coming to the Valley now bemoan it going belly up because in it's wake it left them without any other options. They haven't suddenly become our customers. I think they're too angry at the change in their buying power to see past the price tag. It's strange to have people get angry at me when I explain that a cloth waldorf doll takes me 12 hours to make and I really can't sell it for 25.00 like a mass produced plastic doll. I'm trying to have inexpensive toys in my inventory too but they're used to getting little plastic toys thrown at them free in Happy Meals so they can't conceptualize that the little apple wood animals they're holding were handcarved by me and 5.00 is really a steal!
The anger I see in people right now is the hardest thing about the times. They look like they might shatter. The best I can do is share the skills I have. We can't all be self sufficient but we can all learn more skills to help us do the things we need to do to get by, to fill our stomachs and our hearts. If we get together to share these things, yes yes in groups of 12 or less if you're in a ReDS zone! We create community. It's community that helps with the rest.
I remember years ago, stepping out my front door one evening (we still lived in Wolfville at the time) and being dazzled by the stars overhead. I knew then I never ever wanted to live anywhere where I couldn't see the stars. That same week I was at the Market and realized I could never live anywhere where I didn't know the names of the people I did business with. It was a great and empowering feeling knowing I could live in that kind of community.
My hope is that everyone can have the same kind of realization. I wouldn't trade those *relationships* for a chocolate bar. I have faith we'll all get there.
crispy tart, simmered sweet, sliced and baked with walnuts and honey, slow cooked into rich caramel coloured butter. A larder with enough apple goodness to last all year.
Butter. Homemade cultured butter, cold from the fridge, on ryebread.
Cabbage. Sweet earthy cabbage put up as sauerkraut, slow cooked with apples and a few cloves. grated raw with carrots and apples and walnuts.
Dinnertime in the dark - candles lit
Eggs for dinner cause we're so tired from putting up apples and the kitchen is too big a mess to cook anything else ..oh yes, those simple scrambled eggs were appreciated!
Freezer full of chicken, rabbit, clams and summer fruit horded away to savour on cold winter days.
Giving. Enough to share.
Honey - We'll be taking on a skip or two next year to help repopulate the honey bee population. Oh we're so altruistic!
Icebox - full of dairy right now.
Jam. From free food - wild blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. Scrumped peaches and pears.
Kelp, dried and cut in 6 inch lengths, salty sea vegetables free for the taking
Links, homemade sausages - our first attempts are pretty funny looking!
Mushrooms, dried and waiting to remind us of dark earth in simmered winter meals
Nettles, dried and ready to nourish in broths and soups.
Oats, Staple breakfast on cold days, cooked overnight on the woodstove, with eggs and slippery elm bark so it'll carry us through a cold lunch and straight through to supper.
Pork!!!! It is butchering time and it's time for pork cooked with juniper berries, sage and apples!
Questioning our consumption and being healthier for it.
Rappie Pie from here and recipes from Germany - we always go back to our childhoods for comfort foods.
Spruce Bud Syrup, bottled last spring, and opened now to fend off coughs and colds
Tomatoes. Dried canned and bottled enough to get us through til spring.
Underground - potatoes still need digging up.
Veal. Humanely raised, carefully culled. Overwintering is expensive! Venison if we're lucky at our feeder.
Wise Woman Ways and Nourishing Traditions - old ideas for new threats
X-perimenting with overwintering root vegetables outside in raised beds and under an insulating layer of straw and tarps
Yogurt keeps and feeds children, adults and animals.
Zesty apple cider vinegar instead of lemon in all my recipes.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
From high above an apple orchard looks like the epitome of order. In late autumn, after the picking is done, under the trees, they are a wonderful chaotic mess of free food.
Scrumping is the act of stealing ground apples from an orchard. Ethical scrumpers wait til the picking is done and take what has been left behind to rot.
Scrumping used to be the domain of children. It still helps to take some along when you scrump; landowners don't usually mind a bit of scrumping, but if you get someone ornery, they're less likely to yell at children.
Especially really cute children.
Ground apples come in many forms from rotten to perfect, don't bring home the rotten ones.
But don't be too picky either, scabs never hurt anyone and itty bitty apples taste as good as big round apples.
Wear your backpack on your front. You can fill one in 5 minutes on a good day!
That's what Arch Angel's maman said on the phone. He's in the hospital in Montreal. He's has a tremor in his hand for a couple of weeks and his girlfriend finally convinced him to go to the doctor. At the hospital they sat down to write an endless list of foods he ate regularly and it was traced back to a brand of breakfast cereal he likes. They're doing testing, but the damage might be irreversible. Papa Pan is beside himself he's so angry and scared.
Who would poison breakfast cereal? I don't understand how this sort of thing can happen on such a large scale?
Next week is Halloween and my "kids" - all of them from the adult to the 12 year old LOVE Halloween. They're too old for me to use the "sugar fairy" on. (When they were little they could leave their candy for the fairies and get a toy in exchange) I can't control what they eat anymore and I'm terrified, what if some of this cheapo candy I know they'll eat is tainted?
I remember the day I stopped buying meat "from away". There'd been e-coli on spinach and listeria recalls scattered over the news for a few years at that point. Dog food killed dogs. Baby formula from China was found to contain toxins. My mom called and left a message that Costco chocolate coins were tainted with melamine. It was exactly the kind of thing we would have gotten "as a special treat" for Wild Thing because he was totally into playing pirates at the time. Well I hadn't bought any of those coins Thank God.
But the next time we were in Costco Papa Pan bought some expensive deli meat, I think it was some kind of Italian ham. We were at home a few days later and he fed me a piece while I was cutting garlic to add to spaghetti sauce. As I chewed I was overcome with this fear that it was toxic. I didn't know what was in it let alone the country the food came from. It was if the weight of the entire processed food distribution system came crashing down around me and I was terrified of meat I didn't know well enough to say "This cow grew up here in Nova Scotia". Recently it's been "This cow pastured in Baxter's Harbour and Lance not only raised it, he was there for the butchering and sold it directly to me with a smile"
Well now it's the entire processed food industry we need to be aware of. It isn't just things like meat and dairy. It's dry goods like pasta, breakfast cereal, and flour. It isn't a matter of reading ingedient lists, its a matter of being suspicious of everything we don't understand completely.
I don't understand processed food well enough to give it to my family anymore. Not with any sense of safety. I'm even afraid of the box of salt.
Friday, October 24, 2008
I figured one of them would get into trouble with the law at some point, but I never thought it would be her!
Her crime? Planting burdock in the Halifax Public Garden. Figures, this is the same child who braved our neighbour's wrath blowing dandelion seeds all over his manicured lawn as a child, who a few years later did the entirely wonderful and subversive thing of planting sunflowers along the sidewalk in all our neighbours yards.
She and a group of friends call themselves "green taggers". Papa Pan calls it farmer graffiti. They go out and "tag" private and public spaces with plants - food plants. I blame it on her peer group - 4-H is a magnet for rebels.
How should I deal with this? Pat her down for seeds before she goes out? "ground" her in topsoil? Confiscate her trowel?
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Another Waldorf Wednesday at Wild Culture. This week's story addressed the GEAS report, because try as we might, the term "superthreat" has seeped into the children's vocabulary and their imaginations.
Once there was and once there was not a couple who had two children, a girl and a boy.
One day the mother said "Natasha, we must go to market today. Your brother Vlad is ill, so I need you to stay and look after him. Keep a close watch on him and stay in the house. People have seen Baba Yaga's five black geese flying over the village. When we come home we'll have sweet buns and tea."
Who is Baba Yaga, you might be wondering. She is a ravenous giantess who eats children whenever she can catch them. People say she is ten feet tall and lives above the forest in a hut perched on three chicken legs. The geese? The geese do her bidding, finding children for her supper!
Natasha did as she was told, until her friends came to play and then she forgot her mother's warning and took her brother outside so they could play tag and hide and seek. She laid a quilt on the grass under the chestnut tree, gently laid her napping brother on it, and carefully covered him with another blanket. Then she ran off to play.
When her friends went home Natasha returned to the spot she'd left her brother but he was gone!
"Oh no! The black geese have carried him off! I must find him before suppertime!" she thought in a panic.
She began to run toward the woods. She passed through the field, and along the river, where she stopped. On the bank was a little fish flopping about, gasping for breathe. She knew she needed to reach her brother quickly but she stopped and gently put the fish back into the water. She was about to continue on her way when the fish spoke to her!
"Listen! What I say is true
I know exactly what to do.
When danger comes to threaten you
Throw this shell over your shoulder."
The fish tossed her a small shell. Well Natasha wasn't sure how a shell could help her, but she put it in her pocket as she hurried on.
She was passing through a grove of trees when she looked up and saw in amongst the brown leaves a little red squirrel. He was caught in a trap. She wanted to keep going, to get to her brother, but she stopped. She climbed the tree, and opened the trap. The squirrel ran higher in the branches as Natasha climbed back down. Before she could start running again, the squirrel spoke!
"Listen! What I say is true
I know exactly what to do.
When danger comes to threaten you
Throw this acorn over your shoulder."
He dropped the nut down to her. Now Natasha wasnm't sure how an acorn could save her, but she put it in her pocket and ran on.
Out of the grove she came to an old settlers stone fence and she ran along it. A squeak stopped her. A tiny field mouse was trapped by a crumbling rock fall. She knew she had to hurry to her brother but she carefully moved the stones to free the mouse. She was turned again to run when the mouse spoke!
"Listen! What I say is true
I know exactly what to do.
When danger comes to threaten you
Throw this pebble over your shoulder."
He held up a tiny piece of granite to her. Natasha didn't know how a pebble could save her, but she shoved into her pocket and ran on.
where the fence ended the forest began and she began running through the trees. Son the spruce grew so thickly that no sunlight reached the ground and Natasha had to sidle sideways between the green branches.
Then, she tripped over a root. It was no tree root; it was a giant chicken foot. She saw the giant cauldron and broom that Baba Yaga travelled through the sky in and knew right away that Baba Yaga was home. Her eyes followed the chicken foot up the scaly leg to the hut high above her.
She climbed. She carefully peeked in the window.
There on a giant bed was Baba Yaga. She was snoring. There was her little brother, still napping in his blankets at the foot of the bed.
She climbed in and tiptoed over to her brother. Her brother woke up and laughed when she picked him up and the five black geese awoke and started angrily hissing and honking at Natasha!
Baba Yaga woke with a roar -"STOP THIEF! THAT'S MY SUPPER!"
Natasha did not stop, she fled out the door and with her brother on her back! She climbed down the chicken leg as fast as she could with Baba Yaga right behind her!
Baba Yaga was very tall and thin and could pass through the dense forest much faster than Natasha and she was almost on her when Natasha remembered the words of the fish.
"Listen! What I say is true
I know exactly what to do.
When danger comes to threaten you
Throw this shell over your shoulder."
So she did just that, and where the shell fell a great lake spread out. Baba Yaga had to stop. Natasha ran on and Baba Yaga bend down and began to drink up the lake!
Soon he was chasing Natasha again. She covered a huge amount of ground with each step, screaming "MY SUPPER!!! down Natasha's neck.
Natasha remembered the words of the squirrel
"Listen! What I say is true
I know exactly what to do.
When danger comes to threaten you
Throw this acorn over your shoulder."
So she did, and a forest of mighty oaks sprang up where it fell. It stopped Baba Yaga, she could not pass. Natasha ran on and Baba Yaga began to chew her way through the forest!
When the whining sound of the gnashing teeth ended Natasha knew Baba Yaga was chasing her again and she was getting so tired! Her brother was so heavy!
Now Natasha remembered the words of the mouse
"Listen! What I say is true
I know exactly what to do.
When danger comes to threaten you
Throw this pebble over your shoulder."
Where the pebble fell a stony mountain sprang up in it's place. It's peak was so high it was in the clouds. Baba Yaga stopped facing a tall cliffface even she could not easily cross and she turned back for home and an easier supper.
Natasha hurried home and was safe inside when her parents returned, playing with her brother. They had sweet buns and tea.
A happy ending doesn't mean a threat is eliminated, just thwarted. Children make excellent every day heroes.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I haven't watched television at all for about 13 years now. I have gotten my news online or via CBC radio when I've been in the car (and I only travel by car a few times a week). So most of the time I'm quite blissfully unaware of what horrors the media has decided to report on.
It also lets me forget, stick my head in the sand, about the fact that we in Canada are overshadowed by the enormosity that is the USA. Ever since 9/11 and the War on Terror I've felt small and helpless and mute, next to a gigantic hysterical war machine.
GEAS executive director Audrey Chen is being held by the US Dept. of Justice and I feel helpless. If I contact my representative to encourage that Canada speak out about this will it make a speck of difference? I don't think Canada can speak out against the US about ANYTHING right now without it sparking a military response. We can't even discuss the Great Lakes without warning shots being fired.
I hate this.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
So we were sitting around the dinner table (chicken soup) discussing pork. I love pork, I really do. I start drooling just thinking about real organic grass fed bacon. When I was pregnant with Darkmirror I lived for 3 months on bacon lettuce and tomato sandwiches. I was a macrobiotic vegan at the time. Darkmirror grew up into a ham loving fellow.
We simply can't afford pork though. Since they shut down factory farming (Love Canal has nothing on Luter's Iowa!) the demand for pork WAY outstretches the supply of it and it's just a luxury I can't see spending money on.
Papa Pan suggested we get our own pig to raise. Getaway would sell us a piglet, they have some hearty rare breed over there. I suggested we populate the scrub at the edge of our property with wild boar. My mom got all up in arms "Oh Mud! You COULDN'T eat a real pig you knew! Don't you remember Diego???
Meet Diego -
I still thought I could eat a Diego but Nature Chick was on her Oma's side and googled "wild boar" and found an absolutely adorable picture of a baby Wild Boar and yes I squealed at the cuteness (they have markings like fawns!!!) and I started to think I couldn't eat a wild boar either...until I read the article. It was from back in October 2008 and was detailing the problem with the Wild Boar population in Germany - it had risen by over 340 % (at this point I was feeling smug "Look they're vermin! I could eat vermin!") and they were coming into town in search of food ... THEY WERE DIGGING UP CEMETARIES TO EAT THE BODIES.
I think I'm off pork and the idea of a wild boar carrying off a child to eat doesn't really appeal to me. Papa Pan is still going to talk to Getaway about a DOMESTICATED piglet though. Darkmirror is still pushing for wild boar, he says they'll help with the zombie problem.
Thanks to Erin at http://intriguingtimes.blogspot.com/ for use of her picture of Diego!
Monday, October 20, 2008
I wrote an article on the EDU-CYCLE for the Grapevine, chatted up the EDU-CYCLE at the Farmer's Market, went on an adventure to find where Baba Yaga lives (stay tuned for a Baba Yaga story!), and scrumped the last of this season's mac's in the orchard next door, no putting them up we're eatting them in all their tart and juicy goodness!
If you'd like to join the EDU-CYCLE here's how:
Go to: http://.EDU-CYCLEemail@example.com and join.
If you live in King's County Nova Scotia you can join the local EDU-CYCLE: http://EDU-CYCLEKingsCountyNSfirstname.lastname@example.org . If you don't, well be a pioneer and start a group in your regional area! Starting one is easy, contact me if you need help!
Friday, October 17, 2008
I burst into tears and yelled at him to leave the room while I cleaned up the mess. He looked at me wide eyed, and fled from the house. I cleared up the broken shards and washed the floor with the vinegar.
I found him in puttering with his newest chicken tractor. I tried to apologize for my reaction but he beat me to the punch
"I'm sorry mum I didn't mean to waste the vinegar, it was really an accident!"
I apologized and we left it at that. We hunkered together twisting wire into mesh for awhile.
It wasn't even the vinegar. We live in apple country. I can always make vinegar.
A growler costs me 12.00 to buy though. Half a day's pay for a container. I'm afraid to tell Papa Pan about it. It seems like everything is a costly mistake these days. Some days I'm overwelmed with this bitter feeling that life shouldn't be this hard, and then I feel ashamed because it is exactly because of our excesses that things are. How many plastic bottles did I throw away before recycling was made easy with a blue box? How many plastic bottles did I throw into the recycling bin and feel virtuous about? I remember when I bought my first refillable growler and Papa Pan rolled his eyesat the 5.00 price tag. It seemed to be excessive at the time. I was trying to be environmentally friendly and health conscious and we were middle class and could afford to tack 5.00 on to the cost of a bottle of cider. The organic produce was in our reach, the eggs, even the pork as long as we weren't gluttons about it. I didn't think twice about a once a month trip to Costco (remember Costco?). It was all on the backs of others.
Most of the world lives and dies on less than a dollar a day and I'm crying because a bottle was broken. I just haven't had enough time to adjust.
Tomorrow'll be a better day.
I haven't had a lot of time for blogging.
I've never had a kid who had to visit the doctor as much! I know the reflux makes him susceptible but I need to find a way to strengthen his immune system. Garlic isn't working. The doctor described it as him having a million little papercuts in his esophagus - perfect for bacteria and viruses to enter his body.
Other kids get the sniffles he gets a horrible cough that makes him vomit, drains the colour from his face, and shadows his eyes. Poor Sprout. Turns out Sweetpea brought Strep into the house, Sprout got sick immeadiately too.
People look at us suspiciously when he starts coughing. I know what they're thinking because I'm always thinking it too. The truth is he is much more likely than the average person to get ReDS. There is no such thing as 'just a cough" anymore.
Thank God we live out here in the country. He'll have to stay home from Market Day tomorrow.
What would I do if he caught it???
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I looked after Sweetpea today. Her mom paid me twenty dollars and a bunch of kale, the last of her frost scared tomatoes, a bunch of savory, and some jalapenos.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
This is my remedy. It fits with the superstruct game too...imagine that!
Oh yeah ...and BLOG ACTION DAY '08 - POVERTY
October 15th 2019.
New session of my Waldorf inspired coop. I started it as I have, well, FOREVER, with the story STONE SOUP and making soup with the children.
Once, a long time ago the land was ravaged by drought. The poor people struggled to feed themselves as the land dried up and their crops failed. Everyone was hungry.
My story today is about a humble little stone. A stone that was magic. A stone just like this one.
One day a stranger came to town. He was a young man with a large rucksack on his back and well worn shoes on his feet. He travelled down the main street and the townsfolk, suspicious of strangers, pulled their children in the door and shut it fast!
'I'm sorry we have nothing for you here!" one frail looking woman said apologetically.
The young man whistled as he walked. He did not seem to notice the closed faces and closed doors. He was smiling serenely.
When he reached the town centre he took off his rucksack and pulled a large soup pot out. He went to the community well and filled his pot half full, careful not to waste a dtop of water. He made a small fire and set the pot on top.
An old man, on his way home stopped because he was curious. He watched as the young man pulled a small rock out of his pocket and dropped it into the pot. SPLASH!
"Heh! What are you doing lad?" he asked.
"Oh? Oh! I'm making myself a pot of stone soup, would you like a bowl?" the young man said getting out a soup ladle.
"Stone Soup!" The old man said surprised. "How can you get soup from a stone?"
"Oh its a MAGIC STONE." the young man said. "Here let me get you a bowl!"
He tasted the steaming broth and frowned. "Oh I'm sorry it isn't ready yet! It's missing something!"
"Well I have some good bones from a rabbit I caught back at my place, perhaps thats what it needs?" the old man said and went and got his bones.
His neighbour saw him rushing back and followed, curious.
"What's that beggar man doing?" she asked suspiciously.
"Oh he's no beggar, he offered ME some of his soup! It's Stone Soup!" he said and dumped the bones into the pot SPLASH!
The young man looked at the suspicious woman and with a warm smile offered her a bowl too. She blushed and smiled back and tentatively said "Yes please"
He tasted the soup again and said "Oh I'm sorry, it still isn't ready yet, it's missing something!"
"I have a potato back in my house! Let's see if thats what it needs!" and off she went."Imagine, soup from a stone!"
SPLASH! Into the pot went the potato.
Now there were three people gathered round the pot in the town square and others let their curiosity get the better of their fear and came forth. With each the young man offered to share his soup, and each was sure they had a little something that might make it taste right, a carrot, an onion, a clove of garlic, a stalk of celery, a long forgotten withered turnip, a handful of hoarded barley, a pinch of spice, a bit of dulse to salt it, a few wild greens.
Now almost the entire town was gathered and there was animated discussions going on and the children were playing together, and someone had brought their fiddle and others were dancing.
The young man called out to the crowd "I think its just about ready!"
Out of the corner of his eye he spied the woman who had spoken to him earlier. She was looking at the ground and her little boy was hiding his face in her skirts.
"You there!" he called "Would you like some soup?"
"I have nothing to offer you for it" she said sadly.
"You don't need to bring anything, it's nearly ready! Here come have a bowl"
She relaxed and joined the party.
"And what about you boy? Would you like some soup?
He came up and shyly said "I DO have something for the soup!"
"You do! What is it?"
The little boy opened his mouth and sang
"Blessings on the blossom
Blessings on the root,
Blessings on the leaf and stem
Blessings on the fruit"
The young man smiled, lifted the ladle to his lips and grinned even wider "Oh you were right, that is exactly what it needed! Thank you! The stone soup is ready!"
Everyne ate a bowl and the party continued all the way til bedtime.
The town mayor offered the young man a place to sleep, and the next morning he packed his pot into his rucksack and said his goodbyes to all his new friends and was on his way. He stopped at the house of the little boy on his way out of town.
"Here " he said, handing him a rock "all you need to make the magic work is an open heart and a prayer"
Monday, October 13, 2008
We had our thanksgiving dinner yesterday night and I'm up early because no matter what, Wild Thing does not sleep in, and he really likes company in the morning, even if I'm otherwise occupied. I wish we had coffee. *YAWN*
It was Me, Papa Pan, Sprout, Wild Thing, Darkmirror, Nature Chick, her friend Rock, his older brother Hound, their mom Maddie, and two nomads that Maddie could vouch for through THE EXCHANGE - Heaven and her 7 yr old son Sent, and my mom.
While I worked in the kitchen Nature Chick, Rock, Wild Thing and Sprout hung out outside playing in an impromptu jug band up on top of the old playhouse (it's made of recycled pallets and they attached a stage at some point this summer. Nature Girl insisted on everyone being in costume so they were all wearing funny hats and rubber boots too. Rock really likes a big fancy garden party hat that my mom used to wear. I've noticed he wears it a lot when he's here!
While listening to their "music" I did what I've always done on thanksgiving, poured my thanks for each person at the table into the food.
One carrot for each of them, one potato for each of them, on second thought an extra potato for each teen boy. Carefully peeled, carefully sliced. The peelings go into the big soup pot.
A 10 lb turkey will feed us all with lovely leftovers for soup and sandwiches. (We couldn't afford any pork, clearly we need to raise one a year if we want to eat local organic!) One precious jar of cranberry sauce (so expensive I choked - 7.00 I'm not kidding!). A bowl of walnuts and dried cranberries.
One pumpkin pie and the most special treat of all (especially from Nature Chick's perspective) REAL whipping cream.
As usual Papa Pan fretted over whether or not there was enough food and I promised there was more than enough. One of the things I'm most thankful for is that we live in an agricultural community. We argued over the gravy too. He wanted me to do it his mother's way which involves rendering all the fat and skimming it all off then making the gravy from the rest of the drippings. I felt that was too much work and planned on just using whatever drippings there were, adding the veggie cooking water as broth and a shot of vinegar. I made dinner so I won. So there.
I set two tables, the "kids" sat cross legged around our coffee table - which is a pine kitchen table with its legs cut short (lots of elbow room). While we ate at the "big table" which funnily enough used to be a short table. Papa Pan bolted tall legs on it. I served the boys to make sure there would be enough for everyone. Rock could eat us out of house and home if I let him. Sent was timid about saying he wanted anything, and Heaven said he was like that a lot around new people. So I introduced him to Dark Mirror who had already arranged to eat dinner in his room because there were too many new people in the house. The two of them hit it off quite well and little Sent ended up eating with him.
Sprout gobbled up everything put before him and eyed everyone else's plates. Must be a growth spurt. Nature Chick talked so much she had hardly eaten anything by the time we started clearing the dishes and hurriedly shovelled her mashed potatoes in as she carried the plate into the kitchen to be washed.
We had the pie and both Nature Chick and Sent were so desperate for the cream they offered to not have pie in exchange for more of the whipped cream. I took pity on them and let them have both.
I'm not sure what the kids were talking about. I do know Nature Chick was giggling madly and that might have been because she was the only girl at a table full of cute boys, but I don't know.
At our table the conversation meandered all over the place:
The problems with the school system, the differences between here and in Maine. In the US they've gone crazy over standardization apparently and there is now only one correct way to draw a letter K LOL! Control where you can I guess!
The difficulties Heaven and Sent had crossing the border and how there'd been a screaming match and threats of tasering the last time she crossed because she and Sent have different citizenships, hers is American, his is Canadian, and she's always been a single mother - no listed father to get permission to travel from. Even though it was by chance he was born in Canada, she can't get him US citizenship. The border authorities thought that was suspicious and were sure she was trying to kidnap him.
Maddie told me a bunch of stuff about genetics and Asperger's that went right over my head.
We even talked religion, our being Baha'i, Maddie's agnosticism, Heaven's Pagan/Buddhist/Quaker for community's sake. The Quaker pacifism has always resonated with me and I have adopted their "open door policy". We do not lock our home.
We talked about Heaven and Sent's lifestyle. She was relaxed about their nomadic lifestyle but admitted that she really wanted "to find a hole to fall in where they fit and could stay for awhile" Papa Pan immediately invited them to stay with us. I love that about him. Heaven is a biologist by training and a naturopathic healer by choice and she has her own health concerns that make settling anywhere difficult. She has chronic bronchitis and has to avoid getting ill with upper respiratory illnesses naturally. She spends part of the year working in central america, avoids heavily populated centres, and being indoors in winter.
We talked about my herniated disc (she has one too, and osteoporosis) and she gave me some exercises to do. She gave me a book "Healing Your Own Back" and a postal address to send it to her when I was done with it. When we walked out to get it I got a chance to see their "home" - a tiny car with bikes on the back (how they usually travel) and the backseat absolutely crammed with everything they own. You can tell a person's priorities when they live this way - a cell phone, an email address, a lot of warm blankets and books.
Maddie had to run, she had work to do and Hound did too. Rock begged to stay the night. I said sure. He's in Nature Chick's bed - she is in the upper bunk in Wild Thing's room.
Heaven did some work on Papa Pan's neck as he has an ear infection.
Then hugs goodbye, and they were off to Cape Breton.
Our door is always open.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
I ended my day bottling elecampane tincture (good for all chest complaints) today and it always makes me think of the Acadiens who brought this monsterously huge plant here.
In 30 short years the Acadiens in Nova Scotia pushed back the strongest tides in the world with a system of dykes and aboiteaus to claim the land from tidal salt marshes and they also created a cultural identity that persists today despite forced relocation. I've spent much of the past 12 years living below the high water mark (which continues to climb higher still and still the dykes are holding)
I've been fascinated by the Acadiens since we moved here twelve years ago. We live in an old (1755) Acadien farmhouse and I paid a lot of attention to their farming practices when we started homesteading here (we only had two acres in the beginning. Even now we only have seven).
The French and English thought of the Acadiens as lazy because they didn't cut down the forests in the uplands and start their farms there. The truth is that they tried quite hard to avoid setting cropland aside to feed animals. Instead, they cultivated natural meadows and took full advantage of the plants that grew on the marshes even after they'd cleared the meadows of salt (which took only 2 to 4 years) They fed their cattle (milk and beasts of burden) wild grasses - salt hay over the winter in a time when most settlements all along the eastern seaboard had to slaughter all their animals every fall because overwintering them was too hard.
By working with the land and recognizing the true value of their livestock they were a largely self sufficient community. They kept free range pigs for meat and sheep for wool and meat. They grew gardens and heaped that same straw on them over the winter so that they could continue to harvest cold weather crops well into the winter. They supplemented this with some hunting and fishing (not much from the archeological records). Their strength was in their sense of community (and that persists today).
I'm thinking of the idealistic vegan homesteaders I met today. I hope they can reconcile their need for food with where they've chosen to live. I really want to support the homesteaders and squatting terraformers we've seen moving into the towns that have been largely abandoned further north in Cape Breton. I hope they're willing to learn as much from the past as they are from looking to the future with an idealistic gleam in their eyes.
Signing out from the land of Evangeline...
A few weeks back I posted an OFFER on the EDUCYCLE: OFFER - Workshops on Autumn Wildcrafting - WOLFVILLE.
Today is the first session. NatureChick helped me facilitate it.
When the Market shut down at 2pm we gathered together in Willow Park. I ended up with a group of 12 people who all wanted to learn about wildcrafting.
I started off by telling a bit about my experience. I told the story of wildcrafting pennycress (aka stinkweed - its like pepper!) as a child and bringing my harvest home to my mom who freaked out and called the doctor, sure I'd need my stomach pumped. I told them about my anxiety in the city as a university student and how wildcrafting helped centre me and make me feel a part of the world around me. I told them about meeting and working with Susun Weed at workshops and about the Wise Woman Traditions and philosophy we shared. I introduced NatureChick and she told them about growing up with my guidance and TRUST in her ability to find plants that had nutritional value. She talked a bit about how much time she spent as a child exploring fields and stream beds on her own.
We went around the circle and everyone introduced themselves and told us a bit of their experience and why they were there. There was a young vegan couple with a homestead in a box who were squatting in the woods on the South Mountain, a few people - city kids - who'd come from away to attend Acadia in environmental science and were fast realizing that theory doesn't equal practical knowledge in a field - and they meant standing in a field. There were a few people specifically interested in medicinal herbs, and a few others who just wanted a free lunch - good for them.
I started off by addressing why they were there. The homesteaders were going to have to come out of the woods if they wanted to eat off the land - forests do not support vegetarians this far north, really the land doesn't do that good a job with vegans either unless you were ready and able to spend a lot of money on food through the winter. I praised the students for their interest in learning about the plants around them and told them they should start with the already familiar but overlooked city weeds. For the medicinal herbs hunters I mentioned the value of focussing on the nutritious preventative herbs and I mentioned the importance of responsible wildcrafting and the 70/30 rule - leave 70% of any wild stand you find, never take more than 30% and leave a marker if you have harvested from a stand of threatened plants so others know not to touch what is left. It was with the hungry ones we started with though.
I started my "lesson" by pulling out my dogearred paperback field guides. Nature Chick pulled out her cellphone and showed them how to access online field guides and how she used the GPS to mark stands of plants to go back to. Then she put it back in her pocket and said she hardly every used it, that this was easier than all that.
Sit down on the ground and examine the green before you, what do you see? Taste something, take a leaf and chew it well before swallowing. If it tastes GOOD it is most definitely edible. If it is bitter but still palatable it probably also has some medicinal value. If it feels like it is drying out your mouth it's good for first aid - stopping bleeding. If it makes you want to gag it is likely toxic, don't swallow it! From here you can start identifying plants using a field guide. Always start with the green, from there move to berries and roots. Take your time getting to know the common plants around you on a lawn, poking up between cracks in the sidewalk, then tackle the dykes and barren fields then stream beds and the beaches then finally tackle the woods. Nature Chick and Papa Pan know their way around mushrooms but I stick to really obvious identifiable ones and I simply warned my group that even experts poison themselves with mushrooms at times. That is not an issue with most wild plants though.
We have a party trick we always pull out when I give an introductory workshop this size. I mention a dozen common edible/medicinal plants and discuss a bit about their uses and without getting up NatureChick finds them in the circle around her.
We do try to pick our spot for the circle based on this, but it is sure to impress and empower. Acorns, bedstraw, chickweed, dandelion, wild carrot, plantain, dock, ground ivy, goat's beard, red clover, lamb's quarters, and yarrow. Everyone did a weed crawl together, helping each other find and identify some of these basic weeds.
From there we talked a bit about the different life cycles of plants and the importance of remembering where something grows from year to year with biennials and perennials.
Then we went on a walk and I pointed out the sumac, mullein, black walnut, spicebush and of course the weeping willow growing in the park.
I finished up under the oaks and told them how to process their acorns into flour and we shared a loaf of acorn quick bread.
I agreed to host another workshop in two weeks on how to put up wild plants, drying, tincturing, canning.
I should remember to post my WANT - I WANT a beekeeper to mentor me through getting started with our own bees.
Up early for the market today. Indian summer but it's still chilly here at dawn. I'm dressed in layers sitting here at the keyboard, nettle tea at my side. Its a big old keyboard that Darkmirror brought me and Papa Pan awhile back. Its rigged to our cellphone. Something they forgot in the quest for small and portable was that eyesight fails as we get older and fingers stiffen with age (and the cold!). Frankly I could never get used to typing on a cellphone the way the kids all do. The shorthand they use drives me nuts and I was never a text messenger to begin with. Mum will not give up her laptop even though its expensive to power.
It's getting closer to the holidays so I've paid to have a booth until the end of December. The kid's old toyboxes are filled with my wares, and I've got an old rubbermaid bin filled with stuff we can trade when we do our own shopping.
Market Day has been a constant in our lives for oh...almost 12 years now? Since the very first day we moved to Wolfville. Then it was housed in the Acadia Student Centre during the winter. It had already outgrown the space when we arrived and there was always talk of a permanent structure but no one could really figure out where to put it, or where to get the cash to build it. Three years ago they got the school when it closed. We'll stay outside until the end of October though. My booth is right next to the playstructure. Fitting for the toymaker.
Market Day is our big family social outting each week. Its a place for social networking the old fashioned way - face to face. When I'm not running my own booth I volunteer to sit at the EDUCYCLE table. Papa Pan has a gift at the market - his version of one of those flaky "intention boards". Before we arrive he meditates on something we need to find out about and picks a spot to stand. Then within five minutes he'll meet someone who can help or has a connection or something. So when we were deciding where to put the EDUCYCLE info table we let Papa Pan divine the spot for it.
Its always been an informal homeschool meet too. In the old days all the kids got together and swarmed the public library. Ironically today they swarm the school and a few classrooms are set aside for them to use. Fuel costs mean they don't get the opportunity to meet in the flesh nearly as often as we'd like. It's been an interesting transformation - the homeschoolers being in the minority just a few years ago and now everyone is. Sprout LOVES this more than the apple cider popsicles. Wild Thing is a bit too old for the mob of kids but he always takes advantage of being in town to hang out with Darkmirror and his roommates. They're teaching him how to build his own drone.
We need wheat, honey, nuts, sourdough starter, potatoes, soybeans, a bit of coffee. We should see if we can afford some pork for Thanksgiving on Sunday; it'd be such a treat for everyone. I'm bringing wildcrafted soup mix, acorn flour, beeswaxed paper, liquid laundry soap, and the toys.
After the market I'm teaching a class on wildcrafting with Nature Chick for the EDUCYCLE and Papa Pan is doing a "teaching maths is easy" workshop with some nervous parents. I think Darkmirror and a few of his crew are coming back for the holiday weekend too.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Yes they can still teach basic literacy skills by correspondence and online but science, art, social studies?
I could s c r e a m at the inanity!
The truth is public education is a tool of the state and the state is crapping in its pants right now.
They can't provide a holistic relevant education in centralized physical schools anymore. They have known this for well over a decade. But they insist on strong arm control over the data stream (no wikipedia access, no programs from home allowed to integrate with school board programs, etc) this isn't news but here they are LUMBERING ALONG WITH THIS OUTDATED CONCEPT OF THE INTERNET WHILE TRYING TO PROVIDE ALL EDUCATION THROUGH IT!
Wild Thing is taking Canadian History this year - a "required course" for high school graduation. For some reason he doesn't exactly find studying confederation to be that relevant to his life but that is not the reason I'm pulling out my hair today. Hackers rewrote the curriculum spanning from 1990-2010 to include hundreds of pages of information that is publicly available but not something the federal government or province wants taught. I mean nothing was news to me - stuff on Canada backing out of the Kyoto accord and the anti G8 protests in Montreal for crying out loud.
The Ministry of Education's response? To shut down the course for this semester.
WOULDN'T WANT KIDS TO QUESTION HOW WE GOT HERE!
Wild Thing grinned wide and shrugged at the news...more time for hacking is what that meant.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Dark Mirror is coming home, they’ve closed Acadia indefinitely.
We thought the small town university would be safe but ReDS outbreaks and fears have hit them too.
He’ll still be taking classes and teaching his class, but everything’ll be on the NETwork now. I think he’ll be happy!
I suppose we should have expected it, they closed the public schools three years ago due to ReDS in urban centres and bussing costs in rural areas like this. Its been a boon for our family, Papa Pan is a teacher and can work from home now. He’s still working for the school board. Nova Scotia already had the high school set up as a distance education option. They’re slowly getting the whole system on the NETwork but hacking is making that problematic. He’s contracting to be a marker and consulting on how to provide special education to those who need it in this new era. Age isn’t an issue with this kind of “teaching”, my mom is doing a bit of marking too!
We have a lot of discussions about how the school board and ministry is failing elementary school aged kids and special needs kids. Distance courses and online education do not meet their needs at all. I’ve gone back to running my Waldorf inspired co-op from home. It’s in the flesh for those close enough, and I volunteer to do consulting/mentoring and podcasts for other home-based learners and teachers.
Now where am I going to put everyone? I think our next co-op day will be spent coppicing wood for a yurt!
October 09, 2019
Scrumping – It’s Not Just for Apples Anymore!
It’s October in the Valley and some things don’t change. It is apple picking season.
The kids just got back from a scrumping expedition and we’re canning the spoils for the Food Bank. I was surprised by all the other things they brought back too, tomatoes, cantaloupes, broccoli and even some sad little strawberry plants (we’ll nurture them though on a windowsill).
I love this time of year, every day there’s more canning to do and once our larder was full and I could say “we’re warm and fed til next summer” we turned to helping others. The kettle and jars stay out while we process as much as we can for others. The house smells like...well, like true wealth.
Even the smell of cooking apple sauce can’t cover the stench of the half rotten broccoli though!
After doing a triage to cut out the rot and worms we put up everything we could. I was about to throw a very rotten cantaloupe into the compost when Sprout stopped me and said “Save the seeds mum!” WOW! It wasn’t that long ago that I was having to get at him to sort food waste into the chicken feed or compost bucket! Now he’s reminding me.
We scraped the seeds onto tissue and when it was dry we tore it into pieces – each with about 12 seeds. Nature Chick made envelopes for each and took the time to draw what was inside. How’s that for nostalgia! I remember when she was a little girl doing the exact same thing with the flowers from our garden. It’s still fun, even when it has become a true necessity. I’ve tried to instil a sense in the kids that we are *returning* to necessity, and that that is a good thing for us spiritually and on a global level. I’m glad my children grew up from the beginning knowing where their food came from.
We have a Friend meeting with the Spiritual Assembly in Halifax next week and they’ll help distribute the food. We’re going to pool the seeds with other local small farms and have them distributed as victory garden kits in the city. Nature Chick will be teaching youth how to get maximum yields in minimal space.
When we were done, hands a little raw, we settled down to play music and chat. Of course we discussed scrumping. Morality is a funny thing. I don’t have any problem with the kind we do, ground apples and what’s been left behind after harvesting because of rot, disease, or general wastage. The kids started talking about militant scrumpers – kids who raid crops before harvest to give away the food. I saw the gleam in Wild Thing’s eyes and it worries me.
They think I’m a mother hen but first of all these are our neighbours and these farmers have a face – they are not huge agrifood corporations even if some of them sell to the agifood industry. Most of them are on small farms under 200 acres.
Second, raids are frightening for farmers. It really isn’t just about protecting their livelihood. They already enlist migrant workers to guard crops and I wouldn’t want them to start arming them! Those bird guns the berry operations use don’t have to be all noise you know! There is little difference in the dark between a robin hood scrumper and a pirate.
Third, how would they feel if someone felt they could take our hens just because we had them?
The saved seeds are enough piracy for one day. Wild Thing always did like pirates.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
This is why I am against rewards based education.
Wild Thing is still talking about the Oil getting delivered yesterday. (I'm not sure why I am capitalizing Oil, perhaps because it costs more than a dollar a litre I assume it must be a really important proper noun.) He sounds like a Shel Silverstein poem.
"I'm very afraid of being in my room
There was a big scary sound
and I knew it had to be something,
or a nothing.
it growled like a dinosaur
and shook my walls.
It was a very scary nothing"
Darkmirror set up a chthulu on top of the computer - his eyes follow me. For a furry stuffie he is very frightening.
I got out the bin of halloween stuff this morning. I hope Nature Girl's funky halloween tights fit for one more year. After that I'm cutting off the feet and giving them to Wild thing to wear as dress up tights.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
12:20: Sprout is wide awake and crawling all over the bed neck arching and grunting and crying
1:00: Sprout is finally beside me and pinching my nostrils
1:30: pulling my hair and biting it.
2:00: nurse him again and BEG HIM TO SLEEP!!!
2:10: decide one of us have to go and go sit at computer and read Rolling Stone article on McCain
3:00 sneak back into bedroom try to sleep while Sprout climbs all over me
3:30 Papa pan gets Skullcap and gives 10 drops to Sprout
5:00: Sprout is finally fretfully sleeping, doze off.
7:10: Papa Pan wakes me up and in process accidentally wakes Sprout
7:15: Get Nature Girl out of bed
7:20: Nurse Sprout under quilt on couch IT IS DAMNED COLD IN HERE!!!
7:22 Wild Thing joins me complaining about cold
7:23: Nature Girl complains about cold while standing in underwear
7:24: Convince her TO GET DRESSED AND PUT ON A SWEATER TOO!
7:25: Ignore "cold! cold! cold!" whining from Papa Pan and Wild Thing
7:30: Change Sprout's poopy diaper
7:40: Wrap Sprout up in blanket and help Wild Thing get dressed
7:45: Throw cereal and cold milk at Nature Girl and apologize for shoddy breakfast while mainlining cup of coffee
7:46: Go through "Missing Socks" debacle with Papa Pan, order him to lay out clothes night before from now on
7:55: Make lunches, get sidetracked by Wild Thing's stinky potty and Darkmirror begging for "mental health break day"
8:10: Beg Nature Girl to buy hot lunch because there's only bread for one sandwich. Pack good snacks for her
8:12 TEETH EVERYONE!!!
8:13: find new toothpaste
8:15: Push kids out door with hugs and kisses and homework and notes and reminders NOT to go to friends place after school, COME HOME THROUGH WOODS
8:16: Lie on floor and close eyes for a minute.
8:17: Look at kitchen
8:18: Back away from kitchen
8:20: Sort and load washer full of sheets
8:23: Dump clean laundry to sort on bed
8:25: Make Wild Thing and Sprout breakfast - yogurt and cereal
8:28: Check email
8:30 Realize dog hasn't been out yet. Suit up boys and take Mica to orchard. Scrump ground apples
8:45: Get home and finish checking email while boys play with blocks and train set
9:00: Papa pan calls to remind me about oil being delivered. Wish we had a better wood stove.
9:05: Fold Laundry on bed, load dishwasher and run
9:15: Check sky, looks like rain, move sheets to dryer
9:20: Fill washer with LOAD of socks and underwear
9:25 Sit down with more coffee and old crusts from bread with jam, read Soulemama's blog, covet her apple peeler.
9:45 Mom calls, chat with her while tidying Darkmirror's room up
10:00: Hear Sprout in Studio and go stop mayhem NEARLY PEE MY PANTS WHEN OILMAN FILLS TANK What the Hell is that freaky scary noise in here???
10:05:Oh look the Oil man literally scared the shit out of Sprout - change diaper
10:15:Boil water for spaghetti with plans for baked spaghetti dinner
10:07: Check oil bill and immediately load up basket with kindling and bring in wood, set up stove to run right before bed with extra wood to add in morning DAMNED IF I'LL START THE FURNACE!!!
10:30: Remember water on stove, make spaghetti
10:33: Apple snacks for Wild Thing
10:35: Set him up to draw at table "Sorry bud I forgot!"
10:40: Try and get Sprout to nurse down for a nap - no go
11:00: Drag out bin of flannel sheets
11:15: Realize I have to put laundry away before I can make my bed, walk away from it.
11:20: Sit down to fix sewing machine WHY will the bobbin not wind???
11:45:GIVE UP and make lunch and eat lunch
12:15: Read with Wild Thing - the Pond Book (wrong season but he was intrigued)
12:30: Clear out dishwasher and refill
12:45: Read Castle Diary and Vikings Eyewitness books with Wild Thing
1:30: Write this out while nursing Sprout and TRYING to get him to take a nap.
1:45: change 3rd poopy diaper of the day. Cheer when SPROUT WALKS TO WILD THING!!! 4 whole wobbly steps!
1:55:Put away clothes on bed
2:10: Try to get Sprout to take a nap, wonder why the house is REALLY COLD - Wild Thing opened up all the living room windows
2:30: Give up on napping child, grit teeth and move laundry to dryer
2:45: FINALLY SPROUT IS NODDING OFF
3:00: Put Sprout down for nap, set Wild Thing up with clay and BEG him to be nice and quiet so mummy can lay down.
3:05: Put casserole in oven
3:10: Lie down with fitfully napping Sprout
3:25: Nature Girl is home from school, wakes me for snack
3:45: Nature Girl is clomping around in outdoor shoes, remind her to take them off
4:00: Darkmirror is home from school, wakes me up to say "hi"
4:45: Papa Pan calls to tell me he's getting school supplies at store do I need anything?
5:00: Get up and take casserole out - feed littles
5:30: Papa Pan gets home - Feed him and me
6:00: Take Nature Girl to drama class, hang out and surf net while class is going on
7:30 Go home, change Sprout, run bath for Wild Thing and Nature Girl, check in with Darkmirror about homework and put kids in tub
8:00 Nurse Sprout and read aloud to Papa Pan from Scattered Minds by Gabor Mate
8:15 Papa Pan takes Sprout to bed while I get the pirates out of the tub and into jammies
8:20: Prayers and bedtime for the littles
8:30: Take Darkmirror icecream, hang with him and chat
9:00: Bed read for 20 minutes ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
REPEAT...NOW THE FURNACE WON'T START
THANKFULLY THESE KIND OF DAYS ARE GETTING MORE AND MORE INFREQENT
Monday, October 6, 2008
My stomach churns for her. I remember very well how hard the same situation was for me.
But here's the selfish angry foul part in my emotional gut churning:
I know she is a good mom and she is doing the right thing. I know the support she is getting online is genuine and real and deserved. I know everyone else with a kid with Asperger's who has dealt with this kind of anger being directed at their other kids gets it. I know how this turns you inside out as a parent, how you know you can't sacrifice the younger children to the rages and still you want nothing more than to protect the aggressor, the child who you know can't control their rage. I know.
and it is the knowing that makes it so hard for me.
I remember standing in court in what should have been a pretty simple custody dispute over our move - we'd agreed to joint legal custody and my having physical custody 3 years earlier! I remember my ex and his lawyer making me out to be a bad mother because I had sent my child to stay with his father, to protect his younger siblings during a period like that. It didn't matter that the rages stopped completely when we finally had a proper diagnosis and he started taking medication. It didn't matter that the school faced the same rages as I did and with a regularity I never saw at home. I was portrayed as an incompetent parent. Some days I can look at that and forgive it by thinking he took an "all's fair in love and war" tact in that court room. Most days I look at it and think what a horrible betrayal it was of these siblings' bonds, and they were seperated against their will because of it.
On days like today I'm selfish. It was an attack on me. One I didn't deserve. I face enough self doubt and enough self blame for every thing that hurts my kids, every bruise the world doles out. I'm a good mother.
I asked our psychiatrist "Why is the rage an issue at school and in my home but not in his father's. Am I a lousy parent??? What should I be doing differently???"
He said "Nothing. It's because you push him out of his comfort zone, you challenge him. He needs that more than anything."