Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Planetary Neighbor

I overslept, an almost-never since farm days, but lingered for what-next! in a dream...

A Tiffany lamp hangs low above the table, augmented by the soft glow of beeswax candles, very like companionable evenings at the farm, though this table is round.

Friends are enjoying postprandial mugs of tea when a stranger settles into the empty chair.

"Do we know you? Have you eaten? Have a cup of tea."

"I'm a neighbor."

"Oh. Would you care for honey in your tea?"

"I thought you should know that men with AK-47's are prowling around the house, watching."

"Do they seem friendly?... No? Are you sure you're from around here?"

"I'm a planetary neighbor."

"Well, that explains it. What do they want?"

"Obedience, which may not be pleasant. They especially are on the alert for independent thought, which seems to be frowned upon."

At this point a little boy of three or four pads in wearing sleepy-time Dr. Denhams (footed onesie pyjamas.) Conversation continues around the table. The stranger notes the boy with interest, who telepaths the question:

Are you from Sirius?


The boy raises the crook of his arm where a stuffed bear is nestled and looks brightly at the man.

Ah, Ursa. So you can find your way home.

The boy smiles beatifically and toddles back into the shadows away from the table.

The stranger come-to-table asks if anyone saw the boy.

"What boy?" they ask, though one woman looks down into her tea.

"You heard him, didn't you?"

"Uh, he asked if you were from Sirius..."

Be not inhospitable to strangers, 
lest they be angels in disguise...

 So, Horatio, I once dreamed an organic farm, and then I  lived it:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Ghost Story & a UFO

"A UFO? No! You're kidding, in the Blue Ridge Mountains?"

"You bet: no street lights, no sidewalks to roll up. Country folk go to bed early and on nights of howling wind, things can get eerie. One late evening when my mom was visiting, she went out to watch the stars and just about croaked: A something or other, flat-ish and circular, was hovering over my neighbor's hilltop, three colors of lights pulsing around the rim!"

"How could you stand it by your lonesome? You don't mean a woman alone, doing a three-ring-circus organic farm?"

"Well, that's how it worked out, and I wouldn't trade anything for having known that life: heirloom fruit trees and honeybees, a pantry to dream on; black bear and Teddy Bear the elkhound, cattle and goats and baa-baa sheep, flowers and deep woods and sweet cool mornings in the back of the beyond... I lost my heart to the beauty of the mountains and an Earth-Whisperer dream."

"What else?"

"Well, if you like a good story, here's a sneak preview..."

Woman, armed and dangerous 

A ghost goes bump in the night

At the lip of the cornucopia

Creek baptism in a thunderstorm

Making old-timey molasses

Gardening tips, wild herbs, elixirs

Green-manure winter rye, or Roundup spray-it-dead?

Bridal crowns

Blue Danube Waltz

Matriarch mentor & true-blue friends

"Curl up with a cuppa and read-aloud kind of stories."

  Wayfaring Traveler,
Organic Farm Stories & Recipes

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Community & a Recipe

Before the Statue of Liberty distorted into a dominatrix birthing armored vehicles and drones, teachers were a respected profession.

Teachers taught history, civics, great literature, social skills and moral compass. They readied the next generation for adult participation in the American dream, the land of the free.

I intend no mockery of our current dilemmas; I have been mentored by a few great teachers. I honor the profession.

I entered this thought-meander in the WartMort parking lot. I had gone for jugs of distilled water, but stopped to talk to two men in camouflage uniforms, short billed caps by a big armored truck.

They were National Guardsmen standing in the high elevation sun to collect donated school supplies for local kids. School starts next week.

The facts on the ground are these: as the US Govt has launched vicious misadventures abroad and invested in hollow point bullets at home, bridges are crumbling; schools and teachers go underfunded.

Teachers, a generally salt-of-the-earth demographic, have been buying school supplies for their students out of their own meager salaries.

Enter the National Guardsmen. I came out with pencils, crayons, scissors, colored paper, school paste, and notebooks. The woman behind me handed over three school book backpacks; a man brought out calculators.

I have hope for us despite our repellent leadership when I see community taking quiet action for its own.

In the last week, there's been a huge fundraising effort to help the local food banks. Jobs are scarce; rent comes due, then eviction, and families find themselves living in tents and cars.

People close to the land and its signs are opining early winter: Aspens are growing pale as prelude to their autumn gold; berries are setting fruit and it seems early; mornings are cool with a nip to the air.

Much buried offal may hit the fan this fall. While generally hopeful long-term, I also watched short-term bad manners while in town. The bad manners of feeling exceptional.

It's been raining with spectacular afternoon thunder-boomers and lightning, a high desert alleluia. It's also a time of tourists fleeing sweltering heat for non-air-conditioned adventures in the mountains.

Tourists who've paid good money to be here, and the weather is not perfect for their holiday. Sufficient grounds for shoving and pushing and a little road rage.

Traffic was very slow near the Plaza. Traffic lights changed and changed again. People began leaning on horns and flooring their accelerators when an opening appeared. A nice moment to be still and not enter the fray.

Hollyhocks are in bloom and lovely flower beds thanks to the local garden ladies; the mountains festooned with  cumulus cloud, a beautiful morning. I sat back to see what was going on.

A Sheriff's big 4x4 and lights cleared the path for a funeral cortège. Am antediluvian enough to remember when men wore fedoras. A man would take off his hat and hold it over his heart, out of respect for the passing.

Now we have many families and generations without fathers; our young folks are often not guided and mentored by a trustworthy grown man, father or grandfather.

As soon as the Priest, and hearse and a few cars of the funeral procession had passed, vehicles held up at the four-way stop began lunging into the intersection to be first out of the gate and on with their vacations.

Recipe with organic ingredients:
Cream of Spinach Soup

4 medium potatoes with skins
3 cloves of garlic
1 bunch washed tender spinach
1 pat of butter
dash of white pepper
Himalayan salt to taste
1/4-1/2 tsp. ground cumin
splash of milk if it agrees with you

Chop the spuds; smash the garlic cloves with the flat of a chopping knife; discard papery garlic skins. Dump potatoes and garlic into one of those fold-like-a-flower stainless steamers with ~1 pint water in a pot with tight fitting lid, non-aluminum. Bring to boil; reduce to simmer; cook ~20-25 minutes till spuds are tender.

In a blender, put washed spinach with stems, butter and spices. Dump hot potatoes, garlic and cooking water on top. Add a small splash of milk or almond milk if desired. Blend till creamy-green; add a little more liquid if necessary.

Serve hot in mugs or bowls, topped with a dollop of sour cream or yoghurt, or finely minced parsley and chives. Serves 2-4 depending on mug/bowl size. Lovely with a grilled cheese sandwich, or tamari/ginger stir-fried veggies with tofu (or breast of chicken.)

My Blue Ridge Mountain organic farm book is out; it's evocative and useful, with recipes and kitchen remedies, including anti-viral. Hope you enjoy it:

Wayfaring Traveler,
Organic Farm Stories & Recipes
Thanks for cheering on a writer's work!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Bureaucratic Façades

I broke the trans-Atlantic Icelandic trip in Manhattan, peeling myself out of the crammed aluminum sardine tin. Horrid flight, but affordable. I'd been with friends in the Alps.

A curious stop-over: I was to visit a Catholic nun at her wee nunnery in the big city (shocking night cacophony from the streets and glaring light.) A Quaker friend in the Blue Ridge Mountains had brought her to meet me at my organic farm.

Both NYC nun and Blue Ridge Quaker (in the non-farming months of winter) were active at the UN. And in the amazing synchronicity of minds alight, the nun and I had remained in contact. She got me into a Security Council session.

I was intrigued with the simultaneous translators, but felt sick-at-heart at the labyrinth of slime trails through the building. The place seemed a den of back-stabbing and hidden agendas; the smooth mask of deceit.

I left before the nun was done with her day's peace work, God help her, and was standing across the street from the UN building, pondering the energies there.

Did not realize tears were streaming down my cheeks till a short brown man with kind eyes asked me what was wrong. It's startling to me even now, that I told him.

Turns out he was one of the multilingual translators from across the way.

"Would you speak to my wife? This would interest her very much. Will you have tea with us?"

His lovely, saftig wife met us close by and we went to a Middle Eastern restaurant for baklava and sweet mint tea. We talked about the difficulty of Realpolitik being disjunct from common humanity and decency.

"Where are you from?" I asked the man. His eyes glistened. He looked away; cleared his throat and turned to me.

"I have no home. We lost our ancestral home. I'm Palestinian."

Gaza Smoke Art

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lost Power; Gained Quiet!

I was about to e-rendezvous, and what a hoot this time in the world is. My book formatter lives in another state. Not a problem; we've been working on the cover of Wayfaring Traveler, Earth-Whisperers: with oooh-yes, gackkk-no, and let's-brighten-the-color-tone... by lightning emails.

And then the power went out, power meaning electricity. There's been plenty of electricity in the sky. It's monsoon season in the Southwest, which is nothing like the hot, humid torrential downpours of SE Asia.

Here it means cool bright mornings, and by afternoon, spectacular cumulus cloud massing up around the mountain peaks. Big thunder begins rumbling and lightning bolts zing earthward. With luck, rain showers follow.

Last week, a thunder clap directly overhead and immediate lightning, triggered Zeus-alert and lifted me about a half meter straight upward and sideways from the window!

Unusual to lose power in the morning, but we did, and I turned my attention to simpler-life chores. No smoothie possible in the blender; instead I munched down the almonds and apricot kernels I'd soaked overnight.

The whole surround felt wonderfully quiet. I live in the boonies, but geeks live on this lane with every e-gadget and 24/7 WiFi. The bliss of e-silence.

During my months in a tent, power meant candle lantern, and a freeplay hand-crank LED lantern. I mostly slept with nightfall and rose with the birds greeting morning. Not an easy time, but amazingly quiet when I camped in a river gorge with no cellphone reception.

People had human to human conversations instead, sitting around a campfire and telling stories. I met very interesting characters. (See: Wayfaring Traveler, Whale Rider of the Tide.)

So, while waiting to get back online, I thought about bar codes and scanners and ATM's, and does anyone remember how to do bill of sale tallies by hand?!

wikimedia: Chinese abacus 

Thursday, July 3, 2014


The above re-enactment from Colonial Williamsburg, where Patrick Henry, in the House of Burgesses, cried: 
"Give me Liberty, or give me Death!"

(Psst: Fourth of July in the garden, added below fife & drum of 3. July.)

A brief kindred-spirit wave across oceans and continents!  Brief wave, as I'm deep into writing organic farm stories for the upcoming book... 

Tomorrow comes 4th of July in a strange year: a cognitive dissonance celebration of Independence from 18th century throne-tyranny, with rah-rah teleprompter remarks from the current throne on the Potomac. Potemkin Village, Inc. 

While worldwide, 

...and the rockets red glare,
the bombs bursting in air...

Am haunted by the fife & drum Fourth of July rendition in the film, "The Great Escape", set in a Nazi prisoner of war camp. There American and RAF officers plot inconvenience to their captors, while burrowing, they hope, to freedom.

I read The Ugly American growing up, not an easy read. Now ugliness turns America into a Brown Shirt concentration of Nutsi powah.

Meanwhile,  among saner environs, a friend sent me a quiet gift today. He mentioned that on a camping trip, he and his wife tried to invite a young woman to their campfire supper. Her car was packed to the gills; she looked distraught.

She declined. Turning her back, she could not get a fire started; struggled to open a tin of stew manually, without an electric can opener! Finally gained entry and ate cold stew. 

We seem to have misplaced some skill sets!
I thanked him for their awareness of an apparently displaced person, frightened and alone. His reply, brought a gush of tears to my eyes: 

'Every January, the first thing I write in my daily diary is "Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers. For by this, some have entertained angels without knowing it." Heb 13:2'

Happy Independence Day to us all, however we find it. 

Fourth of July: Puttering in the garden before the sun rose over the mountains, with freedom to do so, got me to thinking about the general fear-meme since iconic towers imploded into their footprint.

Rigidity is one response to fear; bring on the control-freak clowns. On a small, irritating scale, neighborhoods in condo-land and suburbia impose sameness of grass and shrubbery, and punish vegetable and flower growers. Yes, we've lost our minds!

It's wilder where I live, with attendant surprises. Last night a bear tried to climb the bird feeder piñon by balancing one hind paw in my hanging basket begonia!

I had forgotten to bring in the feeder last night, an oops on my part. This was a new inventive attempt by the bear, as I've made easy access awkward by lugging over large unsteady rock below the feeder, and hanging the feeder as high as this tall person can reach.

In the boonies, it's stressed that pet and bird food, human food are not left out overnight or bears become a nuisance or dangerous. Wildlife folks spend part of every summer relocating errant bears.

While murmuring apology to the lavish begonia and removing squashed bits, I had to laugh, at a little wild freedom on the Fourth of July. Bears were here first. May they be here when we're gone.

Blue Ridge Mountains, 
Book III: 
Wayfaring Traveler,
end of summer!! 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Simpler Life
Man with a sunhat pulled low was heading to the the town library, riding a burro! Couldn't tell if he was coming in to town on errands or embarked on a journey into wild quietude. He was leading a pack burro.

It wasn't possible to stop even in small town traffic, and then I could barely stop my imagination. Would love to have talked to him.

I got to thinking about simplicity, voluntary or otherwise. Homelessness is already simplifying life for a large demographic in our make-believe economy, and events from our blindside may be moving haunches offstage.

Let's not get into tedious "doom-porn." Or TV fantasy-land, gorping on take-out pizza, fried something-like-chicken, super-size coke, etc. Or Type A frantic-life in the fast lane. 

All caricatures, and one by one, we come out of ensnarement.

We sense that governments are not entirely truthful, and the till clangs near empty. What simple things can we do in advance of sudden ohmigawd's?

Little bit here, little bit there, until and if we start down the fireman's chute. I was thinking about when I left Maine, heading out homeless, and all I left behind.

It was sleet and bitter wind time. A yard sale was not going to happen. One of the ten thousand things I gave away to friends was a really nice Bosch mixer: dough hook et al. It's in a good home now with great cook.

Moi, I've used a wire whisk and a wooden spoon in the four years since. I fantasize every now and then about a hand-crank class-act mixer, with a cautious eye to the energy grid, but I'm doing fine.

Planting a garden, a tomato in a pot, herbs on the windowsill can be empowering and feed your family with food to spare.

Am sipping a cool glass of homemade kombucha (a once a week task) with a splash of local organic apple juice, and ginger. It's cheap and more delicious than anything on a supermarket shelf. See "Kitchen Probiotics" at:

I think, I hope, we'll shift from waiting to be entertained, to choosing life, life as adventure. Burro-back, bicycle or sitting on a bench watching people, sea gulls or pigeons. Feeling our own haunches, and the arc of the seasons.

It's just an extraordinary time to be alive. 

Blue Ridge Mountains, 
Book III: 
Wayfaring Traveler,
end of summer!! 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Green Pastures

Clouds black and roiling as I went to bed, with gusts of rain and the added frisson of a tornado watch and thunder booming down the valley.

This focused the mind. I checked location of beeswax candles and matches, filled water jugs as the temperature suddenly dropped and down comforter went back on the bed. 
At 3:30am, all quiet, I slipped outside to check on things, and as  Granddaddy used to say, "saw a thang"... Moon setting deep orange to the west, lightning pulsing over the peaks and stars blazing out.

How many times have I blundered into wonders just by poking nose out the door!

Yesterday, setting out to do errands on a day with time-flex, a yard sale sign caught my eye. The route grew convoluted, many turns toward the mountains, and the road rose to meet me alright, dust and gravel.

Creatively lost, I did find the sale, of lovely things way over-priced, still imagining a bull market in everything, and counting on arrival of the "greater fool." 

Which in the larger scheme of cycles and surprises, may be us.

The Rockies run north-south, I would aim wherever and find my way back. Spectacular cumulus clouds were massing up behind the peaks, for once, sans chemtrails, just startling deep blue.

I followed lanes through agricultural land and first cutting hay looks ready and very fine. Rural and away from the traveled roads, a land of old barns and adobe homes and acequias for irrigation flowing down from the mountain springs.

Last year many parts of the US had no cutting of hay, just crushing drought, farmland repossessed and scrawny livestock sold.

Pasture grass makes hay and feeds farm life. Unlike yard sale do-dads, green fields mean wealth. 

Whale Rider of the Tide
Call to Adventure
Next up, Book III:
Farm Stories & Recipes

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Wildlife & Gardens, Life Altogether

Am sad, about the recklessness of greed-mongers and their enablers, on the wind-blown promontory of Cassandra-efforts. Helloooo out there in CNN-land.

Let's visit the wild world and gardens for a bit...

The baby rabbit has been good about just nibbling wild herbs. It's hanging out under the woodpile. I was standing near its entrance a couple days ago as it skittered across the mesa and stopped a foot from my foot. Twitched its nose; went still. 

I hummed a little; let my eyes go sleepy; thanked it for eating the wildings, and foregoing sweet peas and tender lettuce.

Meanwhile, I have not been idle, edging garden beds and big pots with wabbit- and deer-repelling nasturtiums, whose flowers are yum and startling in salads.

The deer posed another order of magnitude. During the winter, my neighbor thought it would be fun to attract mule deer in close to the house, in order to astonish and delight his big city nephews.

He set out alfalfa and corn. The deer came. My neighbor enjoyed it so much, he continued feeding them. The deer came to regard the neighborhood as easy pickings. I harrumphed, and went on about my business.

Until the early morning I met deer in my raised bed, and roared. They leaped out of sight, leaving hoof prints through newly seeded rows.

I went to town for stakes (through the heart!) and fishing line, in order to erect a make-believe fence. An old Mainer had made the suggestion for the white-tailed deer infestation in my old home on the island. 

Humans had exterminated all deer predators, thus protecting toy poodles and kittens, and creating a deer population explosion. Deer filled the forests with Lyme disease ticks and periodically over-browsed and sickened.

Here in the Rockies, predators still exist, though few wolves. But I had to deal with the "trained" deer of the neighborhood.

The fence is simply three tiers of fishing line stretched between the stakes or poles. The deer don't see it; bump against it, and leap back.

A new deer-training: it has been activated, once. I found a post bent inward and fishing line flapping in the breeze but no deer incursion. Would all solutions be so gratifyingly simple.

Here is the news which set my heart grieving. I have been warning about Fukushima as a planetary disaster since the morning after the earthquake and tsunami. Complicit news-mouths assure the world that several "China Syndromes" are yesterday's news:

Which set me to remembering the insanity of above-ground nukular testing, whoopee, new toys---and test sirens in schools---little children told to huddle under their desks, safe from the fungal-form cloud.