Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Shifts of 2018 - Dark Times Journal

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world
 the master calls a butterfly. - Richard Bach

When it appeared, or I accepted, that we were going to be in this horrid shift in the paradigm for longer than was comfortable I just wanted to scream. No white knight was going to ride in and slay the dark lord and his minions. 

There are games like Monopoly and Chess I came to loathe early on because the end was always so painfully long and torturous. Being burned at the stake has its appeal because it is said you lose consciousness when the fire gets to your knees and friends of the victim help out by bringing more firewood to the pyre. But we are living in the political model of the inquisition. 

I could not turn away from the news because I figured I had the Watergate experience to do battle in this far worse situation. But I was going to have to figure out a way to survive it. The steps I took seemed so small at first. It began with watercolor note cards on left over watercolor paper I had at hand. They proved a huge success in the freedom of painting without plan. And the assembly of painting to card and signing and packaging became a Zen form of meditation. I paint less big paintings and photograph more which works since they sell better.

Mini watercolors of aspen

And I have become immersed in the growing of flowers. And, of course, photographing them. This year it was not merely poppies and hollyhocks but orchids in my studio and sunflowers in the outside beds. The wild birds approve of the sunflowers.

Autumn Red Sunflower

And my new "business" of Dog Gone Park thrived, in part because I was so into my charges. I knew this year Magique would be leaving me and she so enjoyed being CEO of Dog Gone Park.

Bark Camp Time Out
I also got heavily back into baking breads. Kneading dough is good for the soul and bread with no additives good for the body. And I returned to knitting. There is something so very relaxing to knit in front of a streaming BBC or PBS video instead of flipping through your news feed on the tablet. But my only defense for doing it with fingering yarn and number two needles is those mini watercolors for note cards. I didn't have to, at my age, teach myself a totally new way of doing it. But with the help of YouTube I am learning to knit continental. 

The survivalist in me was never far below the surface and the news this year seemed to just get worse and worse. So I at last bought the long considered small chest freezer and installed it in the hall. I got an aero/hydro garden device to grow lettuce and greens year round and avoid e.coli in plastic at the market. And avoid the market. I am already planning the garden. And hording heirloom seeds. Gardening is a survival skill and not just a hobby these days. I begin propagating seeds in February with celery and leeks. March is broccoli and Brussels Sprouts. The list on the calendar continues. Garlic is already planted in the new Dog Gone Alley flower bed.  And the seeds I don't use I can barter with.

In the list of other changes I took in an Australian Cattle Dog rescue so Magique could pass on some of her skills before she left. I am just beginning, after a couple of months, to adapt to his very different personality. He may be teaching me more than I am teaching him. But he is a faster learner.

Meet BoBear

Thick, Prince of Cats, still rules in my house. And I have proven to myself you can be a crazy cat lady with just one cat.

Thicke the Prince of Cats

Bottom line is I survived 2018. And on retrospect I am willing to admit the shifts I made in order to survive are enhancements to my life. I still have no faith that the USA as we know it will survive but in my isolated section of a state everyone believes (including Trump) is not part of the United States I can survive. The end of things can be a beginning.

Magique says a fond farewell

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Hurrah for Celery

Aero/hydro garden

First let me say I am not even sure I like celery. At least not the celery you buy in stores. But I had the same reaction to beets and carrots. Then I discovered carrots are not necessarily orange. They are yellow and red and whitish and purple. Beets can be the same. I particularly like orange beets and they don't stain my clothes like beet red beets. Chard also comes in colors beyond green and white.

I began my hoop house garden to raise lettuce in varieties the local market did not carry like red leaf. Summer is when I eat lettuce and winter I don't because it is all green, comes in plastic boxes, and sometimes with e.coli. This year I got the aero/hydro garden and have had two salads from it already. You will notice from the photo above it has red lettuce. Wishing I had bought the 9 cell version instead of 6 but spring is like only 78 days away. So time to begin planning for the garden.

Yesterday I sat down with my packages of seeds and a chart on how early they should be planted inside to be a viable planting for the hoop house by the first of May. I can plant celery and leeks the first of February in my humidity dome for propagation of seeds.

Outside currently

I am hoping I like celery I grow myself even if it isn't red. So many things I grow taste so different from what you can by from a grocery store. Take garlic. I grow a spicy Italian garlic which has streaks of red in its covering. There is a Thai basil and a Mexican oregano. And curly parsley as well as flat. My asparagus is purple.

I may have become the garden version of the crazy cat lady.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

And as the Sun Slowly Rises

I have blogged numerous times about the artificial quality of marking time. The end of one years is but the beginning of the next and where we set that day is capricious at best. But civilization seems to want to do it. And there are many proofs of that from Stonehenge to Mayan Calendars to hash marks on prison walls.

At one time in my time clock days I was a cost and scheduling engineer. And we had elaborate computer programs which laid out complex industrial building projects over the span of years to be printed out in charts and put on the conference room wall so everyone could debate if we were ahead or behind schedule.

Life and living takes what it takes.

In my retirement from the scheduled world of construction only last frost and first frost seems to matter. But I have purchased a new propagation system and find myself trying to walk back, with help of the garden journal, when I should start my broccoli and Brussels Sprouts to be put out in the garden the first of May.

Last frost was mid May last year but seeds had been planted and were coming up in the protection of the hoop house since the first of May. Coward that I was I did not put out plants until the end of that month. I would like to give them more time. So should I plant my seeds inside the first of March and give them to the protection of two layers of plastic and the fickle goddess of weather the first of May?

Did the priests of Stonehenge ever wonder if they needed to amend the stone calendar? Scientists are wondering if calendar slippage has reached the point we need to rethink if solstice is the beginning or the middle of things. And climate has changed even in the five years of my garden journal.

As you can tell I have begun my garden planning. Once I waited till March. Seed catalogs were not even in the mailbox till January. Gardening looks different these days. My aero/hydro device produced edible lettuce in 30 days. How long can I harvest leaves off of it to eat?

The days are supposedly getting longer now. We are even past the four days when time seems to stand still and no doubt the makers of Stonehenge wondered it they got it wrong. I have more tweaks for the hoop house this growing season.

But there are a lot of days of winter left. It is 81 days until spring equinox.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, How will your garden grow?

I really have been an accidental gardener. I moved around too much to really put down roots outside of containers. And if I chanced, for a short period of time to have a plot where I could work the earth I was haphazard in what I would grow. Or attempt to grow. Now and again I would be wildly successful at something like horseradish in North Carolina. That started a war with my neighbor. She was also not fond of my shredded computer paper mulch. Frankly, I found that funny because all the birds favored it as nesting materials for blocks around.

I learned to cook Zucchini because it was the only plant I was successful at in my rocky patch in Sandia Park, New Mexico. I even wrote a cookbook, and for years did a cooking column titled Goats Don't Eat Zucchini.  And they don't. But skunks eat corn. They even know when to do a midnight raid on your about ripe corn. In Questa I discovered why chicos. It is a labor intensive corn product made with corn a week from ripe or before the skunks raid your garden.

Because I hate iceberg lettuce I decided to garden at my high mountain home.  Iceberg lettuce was the product of Moreno Valley farms for years. And the only lettuce the local market carried. So I made raised beds for the purpose of growing Red Sails, and Romaine, and Black Seeded Simpson as well as spinach. BTW Mother only served spinach over cooked. I raised it only for salads and Quiche.

Now I have a hoop house to extend my gardening year by 30 days. And in addition to the successes like every form of lettuce but Iceberg I have expanded to broccoli and Swiss Chard. And I have learned that a bad year doesn't mean you nix a crop. I am doing Brussels Sprouts again this year. Last year was awful for them but the year before they were a bumper crop. But garlic was also not great last year. But it is almost always a winner. And the local store only carries the white stuff from China. I like the Italian and Spanish spicy types. Garlic gives me joy.

And I had two edible stalks of purple asparagus last year. Takes forever to get a bed of it established. But I love that it is purple. I do seem to plant for color like carnival carrots or beets, and rainbow chard. All discovered because I saw the pictures on the seed packages and fell in love.

I now keep a garden journal. And this year am actually engaging in pre-planning for summer. Come March I will propagate plants to be put out in the Hoop House in May. My accidental planting last year was sunflowers and yarrow. Need to come up with an accidental plant for this year.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Alternate Reality

So yesterday I listened or watched the news all day. Mostly listened as I stacked wood on the deck or organized my pantry. I escaped for ten minutes to go pick up organic eggs and sweet Italian sausage. But from the moment I got up I had this expectation of something significant happening in the news. I did not want to miss the actual event even though I knew I could rewatch on YouTube and many other streaming services. And the news gods did not disappoint.

Now we have you!

I have a better than average legal mind. Dad loved the law so my early understanding of it was from him. And I have worked as a contract administrator with a construction firm, and a municipal court clerk. So when the news gods called out their legal talking heads I was in heaven. Our president is an unindicted co-conspirator, and involved in collusion, and probably treason, and if not president would be indicted for various felonies.

He obtained his office through illegal acts!

So he is not legally president!

And nothing he has done in office is legal!

Give us back our national monuments!!!!

And our national dignity. Give us back our United States. I post the question on social media that at what point can we walk back every executive order he has signed with a Scripto marker?

And a birther comments (with multiple misspellings) that I need to stop whining and get with the program. Heil!

The people of Trump are still alive. They still cling to all the inane conspiracies. Will they riot in the streets if we indicted their God-of-the-movement and hauled him off to prison?

And so are we stuck with a traitor in high office because the Democrats newly elected do not want to upset anyone? I hope like the Prime series The Man in the High Castle, that I live in the neutral territory. But so does the birther who ordered me to behave.

Does the law matter if trumpsters do not believe in it?

And are we condemned by a GOP Senate to a traitor in office for another two years? Will we exist in two years?

Sorry, only questions. Nobody seems to be listening to answers.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

What Is Your Dream Agenda? DTJ

Shadows on Stone

A bit in wonder over the slow blue wave.  Maybe because there has been so much going on in my personal life. Maybe because the Orange man is still in the White House it has been hard to absorb what this could mean. Or that I no longer believe in the two party system. I am not picking another 1% representative to back for president. 

I find myself thinking more local and immediate than two years from now. And a news program talking about the power of agendas being put up for vote, and a conversation with a friend more involved with state politics started my mind working. For New Mexico January 2019 is the beginning of a 60 day legislative session. And a governor in the state house more predisposed to some of the things the previous Republican governor kept vetoing.  A good time to put forward some state issues we have been fighting for like the approval of not following daylight savings time. Or legalization of recreational marijuana. And it could be a beginning of legalizing the growing of hemp and processing facilities for using it to replace plastics. Sure, the federal government might have to weigh in on that in 2020 but state approvals apply pressure for having it as an agenda issue in the US congress and a ballot issue in 2020.

Trump has wiped away a lot of the Obama era advances on cultural issues and protections of our public lands. He has made us look like fools before the world. But now is our chance to show the United States is not United behind the Orange man.

So I have begun to make a list of agenda items I would like to see the New Mexico legislative session to address. Progress does not begin at the top. It begins with the individuals who vote locally. And even below the state legislatures. Get involved with your county and municipal government. Continue to write to your United States Senators and Congressmen but now add your state legislators and city and county council members.

Begin by making a list of dream measures you would like on the agenda for every governing body. Give it some thought. Think beyond lower taxes. Health care is one place to start but also consider things like dog parks with exercise stations for the owners. How about an art center in every town? One that can be used by seniors and artists and artists to be; even the schools.

Recycling centers county and state wide? I love the idea of legalizing hemp because New Mexico is great for growing it. And it can be used to cut down our dependence on plastics and wood.

And I want to research what can be done locally to advance water conservation and protect our forests.

Once you have a list do research as to where it needs to begin.  Who do you need to contact to get it considered for legislation. Who would be your backers or help you find a coalition to work for this goal. Do you need to hand off some of your agenda to others to better the chances.

The really good news is we don't have to think of the man in the white house to do any of this.  The blue wave in congress can watch the store. But because of our resistance we know people of like minds to help on this new level.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Curse of November

November storms

In the song the Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald there is a stanza about the gales of November. People on the shores of Lake Superior talk of the Witch of November. Something bad is always going to happen in November. Marc and I actually used the word divorce in November. Though it would be December before I move out and April 1st before it was final. When he died in early November a few years after our divorce I tried not to know the date.

But I was already predisposed to hate November. Mom first spoke to me about her breast surgery in November though she said she didn't want to ruin the holidays and would wait until January. Too late. She had already ruined November for me.  And while she didn't die from cancer until a few decades later she did it on Thanksgiving ruining December as well. My sister has already been warned about putting off surgery.

In the old TV show Northern Exposure about Alaska the mayor goes about in late October and early November and asks everyone if they expect to die during the coming winter. Graves have to be dug in anticipation. You might not be able to see the ground past the first part of November, and if you can see it chances are it may be too frozen to dig.

I wanted Magique to wait until spring. Hell, I wanted her to wait forever. Raised in part on a farm and having ranching friends I knew we seldom get what we ask for. But I was so determined to have my way I had not pre-dug a grave like I did for Mardi Gras.

Magique on her heated doormat on her deck

Let me count the dogs. Magique was a puppy when she first went to see our local vet. The vet who had cared for Mardi Gras when she was a puppy and my two adult German Shepherds, Mariah and Maddy, I moved into the valley with. The cats - Mouse, Party, Ghost, Willow, Scrappy, The Darkness. Mine. Phoebe, Murphy, Leo felines I took care off. The half hearted joke one November was, "We have to stop meeting like this."

In profile

But I am glad I knew them all. Only Maddy went way before her time. Mariah lived till she was 14, and Mardi Gras would have been 17 in two more weeks. Magique was 15 years and 9 months. All rather amazing for large breed dogs. But knowing them for so long makes it harder to say goodbye.

Wait for me on the other side of the rainbow bridge.