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Glad When It’s Gone

As my family and I were stuck in Denver traffic the other day (nothing new) and I gazed out upon the wasteland of chain stores and restaurants, shopping malls, asphalt-encased surfaces and buttloads of vehicles, I couldn’t help but observe an emerging inkling of relief about this whole impending multi-crisis doom thing. So if the shit really does hit the fan and global warming combined with peak oil, lack of a sustainable food system, and our government’s adamant refusal to seek alternatives for the future basically end most of civilization, at least all of  this ugliness will disappear as well. Hell, I may not be here to see it, but my soul will rest easy. God, I’ll be glad to see it all gone.

This is a new feeling for me. Mostly, I just walk around with a tinge of sadness about the planet going on without us and the possibility that my family and those I love will possibly be some of the ones who don’t make it because I can’t for the life of me figure out how to knit socks and my canning skills aren’t up to snuff.

What kind of society have we become where our whole existence is based upon buying things and living nearer to the places where we go to buy more things? Where we actually like everything the same – same restaurants in every town, same big box stores, same crap food on the shelf of every grocery store? The economy is in the pooper, but hey, I just gotta have that 102nd pair of shoes. Sorry, little sweat shop workers, but at least that 8 cents you made for the day is better than nothing. Hell, we may not have a planet to live on, but at least I’ll have enough clothes to make it through to armageddon.

Yet I have trouble reconciling this whole dichotomy of the evil shopper/consumer and the nice neighbor next door. So allow me to include myself with the rest of the wicked consumers. I’m no eco-saint. Sure, I try, but my efforts are mostly along the lines of “10 Great Things You Can Do to Save the Planet!” Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!. Use baking soda to clean your sink! Limit showers to 5 minutes! Hang your laundry on the clothesline! You get the idea. I’ve made a bit more effort than most of my neighbors with our “urban farm” and in keeping some food and water in storage, but in the end, we all buy our underwear at Target, folks.

After all I’ve learned, even if we green our lifestyles, trim back consumption and raise enough food to feed ourselves, the dark days are coming anyway. We’re just biding time and making some attempts at a smidge of a possibility of having a future, but unless there’s a cooperative government and a back-up infrastructure in place, things are likely to get pretty ugly.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m so depressed, I think I’ll go shopping…

I wish…I wish that we could have greener, more self-reliant, self-sustaining communities with local food systems in place and greener energy. I wish we could be more cooperative and willing to share resources and skills. I wish we had a community center where we could gather to sew and preserve food. I read about communities that do. There are even small groups here in Denver but they’re such a tiny segment that their outlook seems unlikely to infect the entire population. I guess everyone else must be too busy hanging out at Walmart.


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Couch Potato Revels in First Frost

Wow. Can you tell that weeks pass between me being active on this blog? Last post – wicked heat. This post – first frost. Hmmm. I confess, my husband and I have been spending too much time watching past seasons of Weeds after the kids are in bed.We don’t have cable t.v. and most of our tube time is kids’ movies. I wish I could say we didn’t waste any of our time in front of a t.v. screen, but most nights you’ll catch us watching at least part of a family DVD – maybe even pushing the envelope of kid-appropriate material with a little Star Wars or Lord of the Rings. We’re just so frickin’ tired after a long day of school, work, playing…the usual. Perhaps one day our car will proudly display a “Kill Your Television” bumper sticker – if our future reality still involves cars.

 My three year old, Bodhi, is finally staying down when I get him to sleep at night. Miracle of miracles! All of my precious writing time, reading time, time to be otherwise productive – this magical “time” for which I’ve been waiting nearly seven years is spent in my pajamas, eating some form of sugar and watching a show about dealing pot. Lovely. Guess it turns out I’m just too tired for productivity. Good news – we’ve run out of seasons of Weeds to watch and haven’t found a good substitute yet. I may be forced to stop wasting my life.

First frost hit this morning. I’m relieved. Still have much to do put the gardens to bed and finish up the new herb bed. To till or not to till? I’m opting for till. Then, of course, plant garlic in a week or two. But the production and harvesting parts are over. My winter greens never even came up – save one. A few beets are still out there to pick. I’ve already pulled up two beds of tomatoes. I’ve just been so fed up with the productivity of our garden this year. I’m ready to be done! Planning for a better year next year. Not all was a total loss, but this was definitely not a good year. Raspberries and beans were probably our most productive crops. Soil tested fine, so I’m not sure what’s up. I need to get some stable manure and a few bales of straw to mulch the garden over winter. 

Now I just have to convince my three-year-old, very reluctant garden assistant to go outside with me. Candy, anyone?

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Nearly a year goes by…

I just checked the date of my last post and am appalled that nearly a year has passed since I’ve written anything here. Well, actually, it’s not been a year since I have written, but a year since I have successfully finished a piece and edited it sufficiently enough to post it without worrying that anyone reading it would think that I was a complete moron without a single functioning brain cell in my head (this last bit it actually close to the truth since I’ve had my children and been breast feeding for 6  1/2 years straight). At any rate, I’m hoping to be back. 

My youngest boy had given up his nap over the summer, but now that I’m getting up at sunrise to get his older brother off to school, he’s started to get up earlier than usual and is lapsing back into napping. This results in him staying up until 10:oo p.m. or later and definitely eats into my newly found “me time” at the end of the evening. We’ll wait and see…I’m hoping somehow, somewhere, there will be some time to write.

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Wild Earth Cottage ~ Organic Urban Farm

I believe I’ve decided on a name for my little homestead in the city. It’s wordy, as am I, but balanced. Almost everything is planted, with the exception of some bush beans and ornamentals. Next year, I’ve promised the boys their own little garden patch to do with as they please. My little farmer boys sure are cute.

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Family Bed Hell

My youngest son, Bodhi, is right now on his own in his brother’s room having his first  “quiet time.” I put him in there after he flailed awake when I laid him down in my bed for his afternoon nap. He is supplied with a snuggly (his penguin, Darth Vader), books, and sleepytime music. At least the crying has stopped for the moment. I’m desperate. 

See, I have been nursing the guy to sleep for all of his nearly two and a half years and we do family bed, so there’s no crib involved. I guess you could say that we practice attachment parenting, though lately, he’s a little far too “attached” for my liking. For the past month or so, he falls asleep for naps easily enough, but either he wakes on his own 10 minutes after I lay him down in bed, or he does this flailing awake thing the moment he touches the mattress. So, on top of a non-existent nap, he has also been taking up to two hours to nurse down at night. On the nights that we don’t have the long bedtime ordeal, he’s awake 20 minutes after I lay him down and I have to repeat the whole nursing process over again. It’s driving me frickin’ nuts.

I know the kid is tired. I know he needs a long nap. When he has gotten a nice long nap (say 1 1/2 – 2 hours) in the past (fond memories), he wakes happily on his own and wanders out of the bedroom to see what I’m up to. If he has a brief nap, he wakes crying and will cry for quite a while until I go in to get him. If I catch him quickly enough, I can usually nurse him back to sleep on the couch so that I can read or watch a DVD – anything to at least escape mentally while my boy is sprawled asleep and nursing on my lap. 

A few times, I have refused to nurse after a lengthy time (a half an hour or longer) and have just held him and rocked him and after a long intermittent crying jag, he has fallen asleep after another hour or so. Once, he has fallen asleep in my bed with me rubbing his back after another hour and a half nursing ordeal. 

I don’t want to give up the nursing and I actually don’t mind that he’s up 2 -3 times a night for a quick nip, but he’s gotta take a nap. That is my only time to myself to actually think non-mommy thoughts. I’ve read the “No Cry Sleep Solution,” and the “No Cry Nap Solution” by Elzabeth Pantley and they sound promising, but I haven’t stuck with any one method. I’ve consulted Dr. Sears. But basically, they all say in the end something along the lines of “Remember, your little ones are only little for a very short time. Enjoy holding your baby while you can.” Ok. Ok. I get that. But, christ, I need a break! When my idea of a good time has become 2 minutes in a bathroom alone so that I can pee, we’ve sunk a bit too low. 

My first boy was a terrible sleeper too and between the two boys, I’ve been up many times every single night for nearly 6 years. I’ve come to accept the night time wakings. It’s the nursing marathons that need to end and the long naps that need to begin. Speaking of which, he’s been quiet for a while, so I’d better stop ranting and check on him…

But far be it for me to dissuade you from being an attached parent or bringing your kids into the family bed.  As long as you don’t mind someone clamped on to your nipple for three or four years and not sleeping, it’s really a great experience. Really.

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child not sleeping

mommy not writing

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Bye-Bye Vegan Diet? Or, Little Cluck Cluck Meets the Axe

Could I be a killer? That is the real question. I know, I know, I sound like a bit of a whiner. Anything living ends up killing something even if the killing is accidental:  chopping up worms when I dig the garden soil, crushing ants as I cross the driveway, the endless smearings of flying critters spattering my windshield as I drive. What’s the big deal, right? The thing is, I feel bad about even these deaths – the deaths can’t control. I can only imagine how it would feel to intentionally slaughter something bigger than a bug – something with a distinct personality, soulful eyes, and a significant amount of blood.

I doubt that many hunters sob over the prostrate bodies of the animals they kill, but I can guarantee you I would. No victory dances for me, thank you very much.  On a PBS show, I once saw Ted Nugent prance wildly in celebration around a dead wild boar that he had shot with an arrow in one of his hunting videos. I found that disrespectful, disgusting even. To gloat over another living creature’s suffering and demise, shameful – especially since this animal was going to feed his family. This is the problem I have with hunting for “sport.” Hunting to survive is one thing and the animals should be respected in life and death, but “sport” implies the right to gloat, to preen and prance about as if it death for death’s sake is a victory.

One of the things that I’m a bit concerned about with the coming of peak oil…well, ok, more like panicked aboutis the possibility that I may have to eat animals or animal products again out of sheer necessity. While I’ve worked through my ethical concerns about eating the eggs of fowl that I would obtain from ethical sources and raise humanely on my own property, I cannot reconcile myself to dispatching one of my hens when she reaches retirement age. Thanks for the years of service, Henny, now into the pot you go! Knowing that our economic status would probably prohibit me from continuing to feed a “nonproductive” member of our household (kids not included), brings up all kinds of uncomfortable issues for me.

I understand the reason behind responsible animal husbandry – grass-fed, naturally raised beef, for example. I know the history of animal domestication and the reason why raising animals is an essential part of farming – especially organic farming. Grazing and foraging animals like chickens, goats, cows produce tons of natural organic fertilizer and, in small numbers, benefit the pastures they graze upon. The poop helps the grasses grow and can also be spread on garden beds to enrich the soil. The animals supply the farmer with one or more “crops”: milk, meat, eggs, wool. The animals live a good life and then bang (or whack), they feed the farmer’s family. The problem for me comes when you’ve spent months or years caring for the critters every day and suddenly it’s not an issue to send them to slaughter. I know farmers who talk as if they love and care for their animals yet still enjoy them on the dinner plate. I’ve read books and heard interviews with farmers – farmers whose general philosophies and practices I would mostly approve of otherwise – who have no trouble viewing their livestock as commodities – a crop (I think it was Barbara Kingsolver who put it that way). They gave them a good life and have no problem giving them a “good” death to feed their families or make a living. They aren’t sentimental about their animals even though they take the time to scratch a sow’s back or mingle with and pat the cows every day. Granted, these animals will die from natural causes or disease eventually even if they weren’t destined for dinner. I have a problem being the agent of that death.  What gives me the right to decide that a year or two is long enough for a cow to live when they might live to be 15? 

I’m also familiar with the idea that domesticated animals wouldn’t exist without us – true enough. However, I don’t buy into the thought, raised by some, that these animals have “thrown in their lot” with us and agree to feed people in return for the privilege of existing. I don’t believe animals would willingly sacrifice themselves so that their species can continue to exist. This is not to say that animals don’t have a sense of the future – just not the future in those terms. Faced with danger an animal will not choose to be killed and eaten if given the opportunity for escape. 

I do not disagree that in subsitance agriculture, animal products provide essential fat, protein and calories. However, Americans, most of us, are not living hand to mouth. It is the CHOICE not to contribute to animal suffering that keeps me returning to to veganism. If i did not have this CHOICE, if my family was dirt poor and a few chickens could make the difference between starvation and survival, yes, I could still choose to let my family perish, but that would seem pretty silly. Being vegan is a luxury allowed by our current somewhat “elite” (as compared to much of the world) lifestyle. Now, many people in the world eat very few animal products because they are costly and dear and this is how it should be. Instead, our society has cheapened animal products so much that we raise millions of animals in such nightmarish conditions that death is probably a welcome blessing for them. 

As long as I can, I will remain vegan (with the exception of a the few humanely acquired eggs I’ve mentioned in the past). Now, honey is another issue…and I’ll talk about that some other time.

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