Saturday, October 27, 2018

Stealth Spider Invasion




“Come look at this.”  It was almost a whisper with which my friend invited me over to the porch swing.  A Visitor Session presentation was going on in the courtyard here at DR just a few steps away necessitating the whisper.  I walked over and had a seat next to my friend on the swing, and she said,”Look up there so the sun is just shaded by the overhang.”

“Oh my!”

So many tiny, spider threads floating by all across the sky.  With the sun backlighting them but just blocked out by the overhanging porch, the long threads dazzled white, silver, blue and rainbow.  They were visible twenty feet above the ground and seemingly one hundred feet above the ground.  I’m told it is the time of year for the little spiders to set sail on wind currents or just the heat convection currents of the sun.  They’ve been there all my life, but I just saw them today.  I wonder if this is what it would be like to be able to see x-rays for a few moments.  Just because I can’t or don’t see something does not mean it isn’t there.  The everpresent invisible.

Now I can’t quit seeing these floating webs.  I took a walk into town yesterday and was soon covered by webs once I turned off the gravel road onto the path thru the pasture.  The barbed wire fence ran cold, north and south along the pasture path.  The webs drifted from west to east and hundreds of them, thousands of them, had attached to the top wire of the fence and drifted across the walking path.  I never found the end of a single thread.  I never saw a spider (too small to see but there and real all the same?)  I could feel the webs on the back of my hands and across my face.  I saw them on my jeans.  Wiping them off became useless as hundreds more replaced them.  I just walked through them, feeling them, letting them be.  I wonder if I’ll be covered in spider webs by the time I reach the road?  Maybe I’ll see a child in town who will be so frightened they’ll run and tell their parents that a man covered in spider webs just came out of the bean field.  Not to worry.  I did exit the pasture with a few of the clingy webs still on me, but most seem to have let go as I moved on.

Later that same afternoon, I sat on the porch of Dancing Rabbit’s Milkweed Mercantile and there were more webs.  They’re everywhere.  The sun was lowering, the angle was right, my seat was again situated so the sun was just blocked out.  Before I could remark on the webs, the Rabbit next to me said,”Look at all those spider webs.”  I shared my earlier experiences with him.  It was a nice moment.

Sometimes the very bright things obscure what else is there.  Many things exist that I can’t or don’t notice.  Some things are only visible at certain times, under the right conditions, if I look at them just right.  Hang out with people that show you cool things.  Creation is vast, intelligent, elegant, tiny, and immense whether I pay attention or not.

I hope I can give a spider something to marvel at sometime.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Freekeh with Mung Beans !

I’m whipping up some freekeh with mung beans for dinner tonight.  How did I decide on this combo?  I’m making dinner entrees with the most interesting names in descending order.  Why wouldn’t I?


My grain options today included amaranth, spelt, farro, barley, quinoa, brown rice, bulgur and freekeh (pronounced free-kah).  It was a tough choice between amaranth and freekeh.  Amaranth sounds like a spider, and I don’t want to eat spiders.  Amaranth might be second in line depending on my mood.  An amaranth mood sounds brighter than say a bulgur or a spelt mood.  If I’m in a bulgur or spelt mood, I probably won’t even feel like cooking, but I will have to anyway because others are counting on me.  “Sorry about dinner tonight folks.  I was feeling bulgury.”  I wonder what bean will go with that?


Quinoa is likely to fall down my list only due to being familiar to me.  Quinoa was sexy and attractive when we first met, but now quinoa has become less exotic and alluring.  Quinoa used to go to the front of the line at all the cool nightclubs in the city, but now quinoa just stays home in its jammies, eats too much ice cream and watches Netflix.  Nothing wrong with that.  Things just change over time.


Brown rice will be eaten last if at all.


As for the beans….


I’m soaking my mung beans right now.  They are relatively small.  They are round.  Mungs are shades of green.  Mung beans were an easy first choice.


As for the other beans, while familiar to me, garbonzo beans may not suffer the same fate, falling down the list, as quinoa did because “garbonzo” is just that much more interesting a word than “quinoa.”  Say it to yourself right now - “Gar-Bon-Zo.”  Say it with an Italian accent.  Isn’t that fun?  Say it like a country singer.  It is just fun to say and garbonzos taste alright.


I wasn’t even going to mention taste.  Taste is secondary for my purposes here.  This is about the best, weirdest, most appealing sounding food to eat.  Forget about taste.  I’m only considering food names.


I am, however, running into an adjective problem.  I Googled “exotic beans,” and clicked over to a place called Elegant Beans.  They make things a little tricky by adding modifiers to their bean names making a simple black bean into a Black Calypso Bean.  Black Calypso Beans, by the way, look like a kidney stone from a Dalmatian.  Elegant Beans also sells Eye of the Goat Beans.  No fair.  Add “goat” to anything and I”m in.  I’m a sucker for goats.


Executive decision.  No modifiers allowed.  I will only use the basic name of the bean for my selection process.  Today it’s mung beans.  Next week might be garbonzo beans which we happen to have in our grocery store here at DR.  Other candidates will be the standard lima beans, black beans, pinto beans and navy beans.  Bean names don’t have as much pizzazz as grain names do they?


Thinking ahead, I haven’t chosen other foods yet, but I will need to add some fruits, vegetables, breads, and beverages.  And probably some cheese.  Chevre, a cheese which I’ve already had and is made here at DR, is the winner of the cheese namestakes.  How could it not be?


Fruits have good names.  Those will be tough to put in order.  Lots of ties for first I’m afraid.  Vegetables might be a little easier.  Bok choy is the vegetable winner unless something better surfaces.  Sourdough will be at the bottom of the bread list.  Kombucha has to be the winner of the beverage list.  I’ve never had it and don’t intend to try it but the name reigns supreme.


Kombucha is like the freekeh of beverages.  Bon appetit everyone !

Saturday, October 13, 2018

I Laughed Until I Cried

Image result for laugh until crying emoji

I sat down in my new kitchen co-op for lunch today and laughed until I cried. 

What’s it called when something is used as something else it wasn’t originally intended to be? Not recycling...UPCycling! That’s it upcycling. One home here at DR is called Upcycle actually. I’m sure it has pallets in it. Pallets seem to be the primary ingredient in many upcycles. 

Back to my new kitchen. It’s in SkyHouse now instead of The Common House. The floor is a bit uneven, but now that the dead mice are cleared out and the living mice seem to sense they are not welcome, I can imagine it becoming a cozy little place to cook and eat. It was initially noted by my friends and I that the kitchen table could use a good cleaning. Understatement. The kitchen table needed a good sanding. The option of a tablecloth was suggested and was consensed to. Lunch today was my second time sitting down at the table with the new tablecloth, and today was the first day I noticed that the new tablecloth was not originally intended to be a tablecloth. Are you smelling the upcycle? Here it comes. 

The new tablecloth was originally intended to be a… wait for it… a shower curtain. I laughed until I cried. 

Of course the tablecloth used to be a shower curtain. Why wouldn’t the tablecloth be a shower curtain? What else would the tablecloth be but a shower curtain? It was the little holes up the edge that tipped me off. I didn’t put two and two together right away, but when it hit me, I started laughing and laughing and laughing. Just when I thought the laughing was over, I’d look at the thing again and start laughing again. Then I snorted. The next level of laughing is snort laughing. I can sometimes reign in a snort laugh, but in this case, the snort laugh escalated to tears. The shower curtain brought me to teary laughing. (No it was not the plastic kind of shower curtain. It was the classy fabric outer shower curtain kind.) 

Permaculture talks about stacking functions. Getting more than one output from a thing. Goats give milk, fertilizer, cheese, and meat. Goats are also cute and eat poison ivy. Functions stacked! We have goats at DR. How about a roof as a garden? Got it. A roof as a garden is also insulation and soundproofing. A roof with a garden and lawn chairs is also a deck for watching sunsets. Bam! Again. There’s some other upcycles I should let you know about here at DR. I’ve seen an old, black tennis shoe nailed to a tree as a bird house. Another Rabbit uses a piece of bailing twine as his belt unless one of his goats gets loose,then the twine becomes a leash. Don’t ask what happens to his pants if he has to leash a goat. Speaking of belts, I’m using a strip of cloth that was used to tie up flowers at our Singing Rabbit event several weeks ago. The cloth is pink so I’m not sure what it started out to be, maybe a blouse or a sheet or something. Oh! It could have been a pillowcase. So it’s now been upcycled twice. That’s some serious upcycle street cred. Sorry I said “street cred.” I’m too old to be using words like that. I’ll never do it again. 

I imagine I’ll see more of these upcycles in use in our little village. I like them. I’m thinking of hosting an upcycling challenge using pallets and maybe bailing twine. The shower curtain tablecloth will also have to be included. That will be a triple stacked upcycle snot snorting teary laugh of an event I bet. I hope it raises my eco-street cred. Sorry.

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Dark Underbelly of Ecovillage Life


“Hello Muddah.  Hello Faddah.  Here I am at Camp Granada.”

I remember hearing this song on the radio growing up.  It was written by Allan Sherman and Lou Busch.  Radios had a dial with a red marker that slid right and left behind numbers indicating the station back then.  The red slider moved in reaction to the turning of a knob.  Turn the knob right and the red marker moves right on the dial.  Left for left.  Some stations came in strong while other stations required the perfect tickle of the knob to get rid of the fuzzy sound.  “You’re not holding your mouth right,” I remember someone saying when I couldn’t quite get the desired station to tune in.  I’m still not sure what that means.

In case you’ve never heard the song, it goes on to talk about the woes of life at a camp, Camp Granada, and the singer wants his parents to let him come home.  I don’t want to come home, but it is a rainy day today.  I didn’t sleep great due to a lot of thunder about 3am.  The loudest and closest thunder boom sounded like it was coming thru my bedroom ceiling.  Lest you get the impression that life at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is all delicious potlucks and harmonious song circles, I believe it is time to give you a more comprehensive look at my life here at DR.


The dark underbelly of ecovillage life for me -

I’m still getting mail I don’t really feel like opening.
The propane ran out, and I had to move to another kitchen on short notice.
Little, clingy, sticker things are all over my book bag.
A strap on my book bag broke.

There are 18 people with names that begin with the letters A-L-.
Coffee hours are from 8-9am, and I need coffee from about 6-11am!
I can’t kill this fly.  I can’t find the flyswatter.  I tried to use the mail I don’t want to open as a flyswatter.  It did not work.

Bacon is too salty for me now.  True story. 
The hills are very steep for biking.
The roads have no shoulders to ride a bicycle on.
I have gotten my ass kicked in one board game, a poker game, and a domino game.

There is a fly on my hand.  Again.
The floor of my new kitchen has as many bumps and hills as a skateboard park.
Most people have a different answer to most questions.
I’ve left the light on in the kitchen twice.  NOT eco-friendly.  I’m trying.  I really am.

I keep forgetting my headlamp so I can see to walk home at night.
A kid came up behind me in the dark and scared the bejeebies out of me the other night.
A giant black dog walked up next to me while I was peeing and scared out my remaining bejeebies last night.
I will surely forget my headlamp again soon.  Thank goodness I have no bejeebies left.

Curly dock does not taste as good as it looks.
I specifically bought gluten-free bread and pancake mix for my food co-op friend.  She is not gluten-free.
I’m having difficulty with names let alone whether or not other folks are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, lacto-ovo vegetarian, paleo, neo-paleo, omnivorous, carnivorous, alto, soprano, or currently on a juice fast.
I poop in a bucket.

All the cool places to walk have poison ivy.
It’s too cold for me to swim in the pond now.
There is a fly on my hand, and I don’t even care anymore.
A town of only 17,000 people felt kind of overwhelming to me on Wednesday.

I only have to pee about once per night, but I still have to pee about once per night.
Paypal or ELMS or cash or check or tab or barter or “Why does this have to be so hard?”
Only 50 adults, but I don’t get to see some folks as much as I would like.
I haven’t planted anything yet.

Now which water source tested positive for E. Coli?
Which mousetrap is the most humane?
How long can a new Resident keep a personal vehicle?
Wait what?  Is that a real word or an acronym?

Flies.
Flies-flies-flies-flies-flies-flies-flies-FLIES
Flying flies.
Flies that fly.


Don’t worry.  It’s not all bad, and I’m not complaining.  I just want to give it to you straight, no sugar-coating.  No beating around the bush or waffling.  So there you have it.  Some of it.

Here’s the end of the song:

Wait a minute, it stopped hailing/Guys are swimming, guys are sailing/playing baseball/Gee that’s bettah/Muddah Faddah kindly disregard this letter

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Let's Plant Some $h!#



Conscious living to regenerate Creation.  How’s that for a mission statement? Or is that a vision statement?  I never got all that figured out, but living consciously to regenerate, to make even better than before, not just do less harm and not just for me personally or for humans but for All Creation, is my vision statement.  There my friends is a big, fat hairy goal.  Or mission or whatever.


Day 10 of my 10 day Permaculture Design Course is winding down.  I’m in the Common House letting a double helping of delicious leftovers settle.  Lisa from Ohio is playing the piano - beautifully.  Greg from Colorado is on his phone on the other corner of the couch.  What is permaculture you ask?  I’m still asking that too, and I just finished a 10 day course on it.


The founder was Australian, Bill Mollison.  His student and co-founder was David Holmgren.  It’s been around for over 30 years but still not widely known and less widely practiced at least here in the USA.  Malawi in Africa has been on the permaculture bandwagon for awhile according to one of our teachers, Sharon, who lived in Malawi for awhile.  Sharon also employed permaculture principles on her farm in Ecuador.  Sharon’s warren here at Dancing Rabbit is yet another example of permaculture design and expression.  I know I still haven’t answered the question though.


Bill Mollison made up the term “permaculture” as a combination of the words permanent and agriculture.  Permanent agriculture is permaculture.  Permaculture advocates for perennials over annuals, but some annuals are desirable at certain times.  You see the answer to any permaculture question is, “It depends.”  Sort of sounds like WishyWashy Culture or Philosophy if you ask me.  The other answer to any permaculture question is “organic matter.”  Organic matter is what primes the soil so perennials can make food.  If pressed on exactly what type of organic matter, my friend Greg on the other end of the couch would definitively say, “Wood chips.  You need to put down wood chips.”


Permaculture as practiced at Dancing Rabbit includes humanure as organic matter.  Humanure is a combination of the words human and manure - Humanure.  Enough about that for now.  Over the next several months, I’ll expand on the 12 Principles of Permaculture and probably give you some examples of how they are employed here at Dancing Rabbit.  I’m still learning about it though and don’t want to overwhelm myself too much.  The class was from 8am to 9pm for 10 days straight.  Have you ever seen a fire hydrant opened up on a street for kids to play in?  I’ve just seen pictures myself but I’m imagining trying to drink out of that gushing fire hydrant is like trying to take in all the material presented in this class plus all the supplementary material that was referred to.  Instead of sticking my head right in there close, I’m standing back a little where the water is refreshing and fun instead of punishing.


And I want to share this too.  We watched a short TED Talk given by a man named Ron Finley who does urban gardening in South Central  Los Angeles.  Ron so inspired me with a certain phrase that I took one of my white undershirts and wrote his quote on it in permanent marker.   Ron’s quote is a good summary of permaculture for me. 


 Ron said, “Let’s plant some shit.”