Friday, December 5, 2014

Accessibilty for Pagan Activists, Part 1

Over the weekend of November 21st-23rd, the Pantheon Foundation held an online conference in which they asked me to discuss issues of disability and accessibility on the Care & Feeding of Pagan Activists panel. Presenting on the panel with me were John Beckett, Soli Zat Johnson, and Rion Roberts.

Though we'd done a practice run with the conference software, I found that the more people who were logged in, the slower my connection was. So the chat window was severely lagging, sometimes even stopping, and the video had a slowly increasing lag as well. What really threw me off, though, was the audio. I figured out that I could use my phone to call in since my laptop's mic wasn't working, but the lag in the software meant I couldn't unmute myself when it was time to speak. But restarting my computer finally fixed the problem...

Watching the video of the presentation later, I realized that all my public speaking training in college had flown out the window and I "um"ed a lot. I also did some unintentional name dropping. I think I got very thrown off by the technical difficulties and using my notes and outline just didn't happen. I was nervous. I learned what I need to work on, though, by watching it and I think I will be better prepared next time. Hopefully my computer will be too.

It became clear during the panel that we could easily do a 90 minute panel JUST about accessibility in Pagan/activist spaces. That makes me happy. It means that people really are interested in making ritual and political action spaces more accessible, which means people like me, as well as people with more restrictive limitations, will be more able to participate. It also showed me how much more society needs to be inclusive, not just accessible.

In Part 2 I will go over some basic ways that public groups can be inclusive and accessible...

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Crowdfunding For Love

We are having a wedding/honeymoon fundraiser in lieu of a gift registry for our commitment celebration that is happening in March 2015. 

If every one of our friends on all social media platforms were to donate $5, we'd get somewhere in the range of our goal. Can you donate just a little?

Much Gratitude & Love,

Rhiannon & Esa

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Rented Urban Homestead

As the season of rain yet again creeps up on us, I am reminded that our roof still leaks into our attic, into my son's attic bedroom, and into the garage where the rabbits live right now. I am also reminded that I never finished rainproofing the chicken coop. Apparently our landlady is on the same thought wave, as she now wants to fix the roof. All I can think in response to that is how much RIGHT NOW does not work with where we're at with other projects. But it would be pretty awesome to not have an even leakier roof this winter.

She has other projects in mind for the house that also complicate and conflict with where other projects of ours stand currently. But, we are very lucky to have an easygoing landlady when it comes to certain aspects of urban homesteading like the animals and vegetable gardens. When I think about ways to incorporate greywater systems, I am confident that I could even have that conversation with her, which I couldn't have done in other places I've lived.

As a renter, each new aspect of urban homesteading has to be weighed against possible homeowner objection, lack of permanence, etc. For example, I wanted a chicken coop that could be removed from the backyard without destroying the coop or the gate/fence. That didn't work out, but it's still a goal of mine since we aren't going to live here more than another year or two. The rabbits are another aspect that I'm still nervous about. How do we make a raccoon proof enclosure for their cages that is nice for them AND easy to move? How do I keep the chickens enclosed but also give them enough space without building a permanent fence? Do I put back in a raised bed when I might not be here through another growing season?

What improvements are worth making that you can't take with you? For me, I see my intended drip irrigation project for the side yard being less of a headache for us, as well as any future tenants, which will keep the plants alive and happy and the neighborhood more beautiful.

This is the blogpost where I want to hear from others, so spread it around and repost it till we get a conversation going...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Apples For Idunna

Every 3rd Sunday of September, Solar Cross holds an apple harvest and Idunna blot as an all day version of their usual 3rd Sunday morning devotional. This usually involves a community effort to harvest apples, press them for cider, and make apple butter. We also barbecue and have a potluck feast. 

I'm usually the "apple butter queen." This happens to be my anniversary of canning. I'd wanted to can for a long time and had the tools to do it already, but hadn't yet dove in till Thorn brought apples up to Stone City and I decided that would be my perfect start. That year I called it Thorn Apple Butter, after the bringer of the apples. Every year since, I've made the same apple butter but have called it Idunna Apple Butter for the goddess we honor as I'm making it. 

(If you are reading this and are unfamiliar with the goddess Idunna or what a Heathen blot is, I'd like to tell you what I tell my kids: "The internet is your friend if you use it right. Google it.")

This year was Terran's first time being there for the harvest and blot. He did a great job of helping harvest from up in the apple tree. So great, in fact, that a demand had to be made that he cease apple picking before we all drown in apple pulp and cider...

Here's this years recipe before I forget: 

A full pot of apple pulp, post pressing
7 cups sugar
Some water

Cook that down till it starts looking like apple sauce. Add spices:

3 tsp ground cinnamon
1-2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves

Keep cooking till it doesn't slide off the spoon. (How's that for scientific? I'm not sure how to explain it better.) 

If you were there and we're able to take home some apple butter, please offer up some feedback. I always like to hear how a batch turned out. If you were there and didn't get to take any home, come over sometime for coffee and toast (gluten free options always available at my house) and I'll get a jar out to share with you.

By the way, steam burns are awful. Always open your steam bath canner away from your body. I'll be nursing this burn for a while...

For more about Solar Cross Temple, go here:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Coq a Vin & The Broody Hen

On Thursday we culled our two Speckled Sussex roosters. Esa and two of our friends did the deed while I waited inside ready to scald and pluck. One friend was able to share some useful tips with Esa, who'd only helped me with the one rooster previous to this, while the other friend was learning the whole process fresh. We got a late start but things went well.
I improved my scalding and plucking techniques this time, scalding hotter and getting the hot water into all the feathers by dunking the bird repeatedly, then only quickly dipping into the ice bath before plucking. I did half of one bird, taught our two friends how to pluck and then finally ate my dinner and went to bed. I giggled in bed, listening to my friends talk while getting sleepier and sleepier over their plucking work.

So, now that her two boyfriends are gone, we've found our Speckled Sussex hen, Ora (short for The Oracle), sitting on a clutch of eggs. Well, Esa found her actually. Last night after putting the hens away for the night, he brought in a bucket of 25 eggs!! I got my flashlight and did some rough candling. 5 looked like newer eggs or just yolks, 13 looked like truly half-baked chicks, and the rest I wasn't sure about. We put the 5 newer ones in the fridge and fretted over what to do with the rest. I looked up ideas on Backyard Chickens, but it was 1am and I had limited options. We put the 20 eggs in my wool hat and went out to put them back under the mama hen. Since she had them hidden in the yard and we don't want the rats to take them, we moved her & the eggs into a separate box in the coop to basically force her to sit on them again and keep the other three hens from bugging her.
This morning when I went out to let the hens out and feed them, Ora had rearranged the eggs, half of them across the box from the others. She was fussing with them even as I opened the lid to give her food. I decided to prop the box open to let her out for a bit.
I am a little worried she won't sit on all the eggs now that things have been moved. So, since the stores are open now that it's day time, I am going to grab a few supplies and make a nesting hen simulator type of incubator. (Thank you Backyard Chickens).

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Vet Check Up Day

Today we took Kuro and Sparkle back to the vet to check on Sparkle's eye and to get Kuro's pain meds patch removed. Just before we got the cats in their boxes, Kuro got the cone off of herself. She used the time in the car to thoroughly bathe.

Inside the vet office, we took each cat out to be weighed (they've both lost weight, understandably). Afterwards, Sparkle was still on the table when she noticed the painting of a cat hanging on the wall. She hid behind her carrier, wide eyed, before slowly peeking up over the top. Then she slowly crept around the side of the carrier, watching that cat on the wall very closely. Well, as closely as she could, considering she probably can only see clearly out of one eye. Her right eye has been full of blood intermittently, and today she actually had it open fully so we could see how bad the rest of it still looked. The doctor gave us more pain meds for her as well as a round of antibiotic eye ointment.

Kuro, in the short time she'd had her cone off, managed to pull a couple stitches open, but not too bad. The clinic staff got the cone back on her. We got more pain meds for her as well. She has 9 days left till stitches are removed.

Our vet bill has now passed $1500 total.

Today I finally got the chance to talk to the Oakland PD sergeant who handles animal violence investigations, so progress is being made on that front now too. Right now I have paperwork to file an official report, as I guess the vet clinic didn't do that part.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Operation: Inside Cat Enticements

Now that things are slowing down and we have a better idea of all of this will play out for our kitties, it's time to focus on keeping them inside and happy. Sparkle and Twitch have been inside cats since they came to live with us last summer, but Inari and Kuro are used to having lots of outside time and are both rather cranky with the new arrangement.

Our long term plan is to build an outside cat enclosure, or catuary, that they can access through a window. But, until then, we needed something. So we found some really great windowsill cat perches. First we just bought one and put it up today. Inari and Kuro both tested it out and completely approved. So, then, we went back and got two more. They attach to the windowsill with a velcro strip that you stick onto the sill. They also have removable washable covers. (Bonus points!) They were also cheaper than the carpet covered window perches that require putting holes in the walls. Then we bought them more treats, catnip, and those cardboard scratchers. Twitch loves the scratchers!

I know it's going to be hard for Inari and Kuro to adjust, but I think they'll be happy with the catuary.