Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Gardening As If My Life Depended On It...

I was sitting here plotting out a new blog post when Shannon posted a link to this article on Facebook.

I bring this article to your attention, because this is a lot of what drives me to my chosen homesteading lifestyle. But what I really want to tell you about is my garden...

The small raised bed that I dragged here from the house in San Jose is now chock full of greenery. In the fall I planted lettuce, swiss chard and Brussels sprouts in it. The lettuce was good at first but then 5 of the 6 plants died over the winter. The remaining plant is sort of sad looking and I'm leaving it alone to go to seed. The swiss chard has been abundant, supplying us with leafy greens for our dinners throughout the winter. I've even given some of it to the chickens and the rabbit. The Brussels sprouts are just now showing buds, so I expect to have a harvest in a few weeks. I'm really looking forward to that as I am craving a bowl of nicely roasted Brussels sprouts. And, to answer speculation that came up on Facebook, it is actually natural for people to crave certain foods based on seasonal changes and Spring is time to crave leafy greens.

My ghetto coldframe version 2 is a large shallow wooden box with an angled top that I replaced with an old trailer window. I filled it with potting soil and planted several rows of seeds. I now have radish and pea sprouts showing up in there. I'm looking forward to one day soon when I find the entire box sprouting with baby plants that will soon help me feed my family. I also have plans to build a greenhouse out of salvaged windows from the neighbor's property. I'd like to grow more food through next winter and I've toyed with the idea of eventually getting into small-scale aquaponics.

All of those little seedlings (along with the sugar pumpkin seedlings growing in my bedroom window) will soon be transplanted to the garden bed that I acquired from one of my neighbors. I'm really excited to be growing food to feed my family and, with the nearest grocery store being a 45 minute drive away, it will be nice to have abundant produce available only a short walk from my kitchen.

While I'm at it, here's a pic of the first eggs laid by my youngest hen, Madeline, who is a Black Copper Maran. I included the green egg laid by the Easter Egger to show the color contrast. I now have over a dozen eggs in my fridge at just about any give time. In a couple months I plan to let Madeline go broody if she will, so maybe we'll get some chicks too!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunshine & Spring Cleaning

It has been raining for a couple weeks now. Our road flooded so badly that I could not make it home in my minivan and had to borrow Jamie's truck for the week. My driveway, front yard and chicken yard all turned to muddy messes that threatened to make me slip every time I went outside. Some days were so cold and wet that even the dog would not go outside. The sound of rain pelting the metal roof of the travel trailer was what I woke up to most mornings and any moment of silence felt eery. But today, there is sun.

Not only is it sunny, but Jamie is in the process of actually moving up here. I went to San Jose yesterday to help him pack and brought a load of his stuff home with me. I am hoping that he'll be finished by the end of next weekend. This has been a really difficult month for us because the time we usually spend together, he has spent packing and getting rid of stuff while I get ready up here for him to move in. The separation has become increasingly more agonizing with every weekend. I'm quite ready for him to be living here full time.

Today I unloaded Jamie's stuff from the van and put things away in the house. His stuff now fills every extra space I could find in the kitchen and his side of the closet is full. It really feels like he's almost here. Then I decided to start cleaning out my closet, reorganizing and getting rid of a few things. I discovered that all of the trailer walls have been condensating all winter and that means a lot of stuff is wet and moldy. Ew.

The kids and I tackled their bedroom and managed to find all of the dirty clothes that they never give me on laundry day. (I now have a lot more laundry to do...) We also filled a garbage can and 3 paper bags for Goodwill. We found the snow gloves Terran needed when it was snowing and his nice fleece slippers I'm always telling him to put on his cold feet. Maia found all sorts of things she'd been looking for. And a LOT of stuff in there was wet and moldy from the walls. Finally, Terran's side is totally clean and tidy and Maia is working on the last of hers while I type this out.

This week is supposed to remain sunny and clear, so I will use the opportunity to totally clean, organize, and tidy the house. Then I'll wash all of the windows and walls to make sure there's no more mold, sweep the floors and wipe out the fridge, freezer and oven. I really love having things organized and tidy. I'm easily overwhelmed by the mess, though, and easily distracted by my creative endeavors. I hardly can blame the children for being just like me.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mountain Medicine

Over Presidents Weekend, the residents of Stone City were at Pantheacon 2011 in San Jose. As the kids and I drove down the mountain that Thursday, the snow was just beginning to fall. I had a hard time not being mesmerized by the beautiful white flakes coming towards the windshield, but Maia was there to remind me to "watch the road, Mama."

By Friday there was a couple inches of snow and Morpheus and Shannon were delayed in getting to the con. So, as the only representative of Stone City there by 1:30, I dragged T-Rex off to a workshop led by Daniel Foor and Earth Medicine Alliance that turned out to be a Shamanic ritual for the spirit of Mount Hamilton. Stone City Pagan Sanctuary is located just east of Mount Hamilton and we feel a close tie to the energy of the mountain so we were all very interested in Daniel's workshop offering. I got T-Rex settled with a video game in a corner (this is how he prefers to deal with the Con) and settled in to see what Daniel and EMA were all about.

I didn't arrive prepared for a ritual, and often have issues with rituals that take place indoors, but this was part talk, part ritual and I felt that Daniel did a really good job of making it appropriate for the space. I was very interested in the items and herbs he was using and, to be honest, don't remember what they all were. He handed out 3 bay leaves to each attendee and asked us to meditate on our prayer for the mountain, directing the energy into the leaves with breath. The leaves were then added to a bundle he'd already begun preparing. The preparations were finished by attendees who felt drawn to it and this, my friends, is how I left the ritual with honey and herb covered fingers. (For those who later asked "How did you get that all over you?")

During the trance journey that was part of the workshop, my mind and heart were brought back to home, where my connection to the mountain lives. As I meditated on home, all of the pain and difficulty of the winter was very quickly replaced with what felt like a preview of the coming year. It was as if the mountain herself had made this movie trailer just for me to help me remember why I was here living this life. I saw happy faces of friends old and new coming to the stone circle for ritual, dancing in the firelight to the drums. I saw the flowers blooming and the animals passing by. I saw my children laughing and playing in the pond. I saw my home evolving. I saw the community which brought me here growing and becoming more like family for me. As this trance journey ended, I felt as if I had been recharged by the power of the Earth and the mountain.

The entirety of Pantheacon went on in this positive light for me. It was truly the best Pantheacon I have ever been to in all of the years I have spent attending. I felt this inner power shine as I talked to numerous people about Stone City. I connected with new and wonderful people all weekend. I hardly needed sleep, I was so high on this energy. I stayed up very very late being with my friends and got up early to experience more. I did henna in the Stone City suite while Morpheus served chai and turkish coffee and we connected with many new people there. Thankfully, the wonderful people of Earth Medicine Alliance came to talk to us several times and have made plans to visit our land. I am really excited, they seem like great people.

The peak of energy seems to have been the Morrigan devotional put on by Morpheus, Thorn, Sharon and other friends of mine. 500 people attended this ritual!! Others have written about that ritual here and here, so I won't say much more. When they asked everyone in the room to make an oath on the Morrigan's sword, I had no hesitation in knowing mine or making it. My path and place in this world is so strongly clear for me right now. Though my disability was acting up that night and I was walking at a shuffle pace when without my cane, I knew that many of my favorite people were in that room with me among the 500 people and I felt safe and whole and strong.

Monday morning I woke up early and did my own workshop, bringing together Pagan parents to discuss our space in the community, our role with our children (and grandchildren), and what we hoped would improve and grow. The room was energized despite the small group and the time seemed to end too soon. I've since created a group on Facebook for further connection and one attendee wrote this article that includes mention of me and Stone City.

Leaving Pantheacon, I felt as if my work had been done there and fully ready to return home. The memories have been dancing through my days ever since, leaving me smiling, laughing, thinking and looking forward to all that is to come.

I am truly blessed to have this life to live on this mountain.