Back Forty, bloggy stuff, coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, Food activism, Local food, Reading, Slow Food, voluntary simplicity

Sunday morning coffee pot post

I can’t upload to Flickr right now and I’ve been worried for a while about the change in ownership of the platform. I have so many photos on it – over 10K – and over the years I have linked here to my photos stored there. I would be wrecked if the platform changed its code or went bankrupt and dumped my photos. Anyway, I’ll just move along and deal with it later, since it is much too beautiful outside to fart around on the computer. I am writing this on the front porch on my laptop, but I will lose power soon.

One thing that I am trying to be more conscious about these days is my use of plastic. Once you start paying attention, it is stunning how much plastic is in almost everything we use. I don’t have time to avoid it completely. That would require me to commit to buying almost all my food directly from the farmer, and only certain ones at that. I’d almost certainly have to stop buying dairy and meat products. There are some packaged foods that don’t use plastic, but you kind of have to figure it out by buying them and keeping it in your head. Sandy and I decided to start eating vegetarian at home a couple of weeks ago once I cook what’s left in our freezer. However, I don’t think his resolve will last long. He’ll go out and buy something to eat if he doesn’t feel the urge to eat what I’ve cooked.

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Repository for Lost Souls

I really loved the look of Leslie Marsh’s studio when I went there for a book workshop earlier this summer, and my friend the fabulous Zha K was getting rid of most of her possessions to sell her house and get the hell out of North Carolina, so she gave me a lot of baskets and cigar and wine boxes and candy tins. I’ve slowly been transitioning my studio storage over to these boxes and baskets and, most importantly LABELING THEM, and I’ll give the plastic bins to Goodwill or Salvation Army or wherever. This is mostly an aesthetic feel-good action, but I’ll take my feel-good where I can get it these days.

My depression has lifted, THANK GOD, and I hope that I won’t see it again for a while. Or forever, but I’m pretty realistic about the fact that it’s probably something that I have to deal with for life. That’s not to say that there has been an absence of stress or sadness in my life, but depression is not about that. I can cope with stress and sadness when I am not depressed. People who have depression will understand this.

I’m going to work on my tapestry diary this afternoon on the porch. I finally came up with a simple design for June and July that reflected my main focus, although looking at it now makes me realize that I need to reduce the size. Otherwise it will overpower the rest of it. We removed the swing from the porch to make it less crowded. A front porch swing is lovely in concept, but we seldom used it and it divided the space. Now there will be more room for company on the rare occasion that we have more than one visitor.

The groundhogs are back now that the tree removal is over. I’m still getting plenty of tomatoes, especially the ones inside the wire cages. Figs are ripening on the tree, but the few that have ripened so far have been nabbed by the birds. Reflective tape and all. I’ve been buying bicolor corn from Rudd Farms every weekend, enough to eat some and freeze some. Tomatoes, onions, peppers, and some eggplants have gone in the dehydrator. The squash overtaking the back forty turned out to be tromboncino. I’ve got to start putting markers in the garden. These photos are from a week ago so the tromboncino is in the tomatoes now. I should pick the flowers and try cooking them. I’ve never done it.

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Soon we will hear if our solar panel installation will be approved by the Historic District Commission. I will be surprised if it is not, but usually there is some caveat that is expensive to add. For example, we have wanted to replace our front door for a long time and our certificate of appropriateness for that has expired because we haven’t been able to find a door that fits and satisfies both of us and the city staff that we can afford. So we still have this wretched hollow 50s ranch-style door.

If and when we get that approval, it will be hooked into the meter so that it should provide all our electricity and we will only have to pay a meter fee to Duke Energy. The cost is not much more that our current electric bill (we pay an average amount monthly on a budget plan). In a few years, if the price goes down for whole house batteries, I’d love to go off-grid totally.

I finished reading Salvage the Bones this weekend. A very difficult book, but I persevered through the uncomfortable content and was swept up in the story. At one point I did not think I would be able to finish it. I’m glad that I did because it is brilliantly written. I found her afterword about her experiences growing up and her experience going through Katrina to be helpful in my understanding of the culture and why she chose Medea of Greek mythology to be a touchstone throughout the book. It also reminded me a little bit of my childhood growing up in rural N.C. even though my black friends were not so poor, my best friend’s father was an alcoholic that raised his family in a falling down house with junk cars and stray dogs all over the yard. The black family I tried to hang out with (the parents on both sides were not pleased) had a Skeeter, and I was reminded of the disconnect between our cultures.

This was an accidental photo but I like it anyway.

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Okay, time to cook and freeze corn and weave tapestry on the porch.

consumerism, Deep Roots Market, Food activism, Local food, Slow Food

New studio space and Deep Roots news

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Slow Turn Studio

The studio is all moved in to the house on Wharton St., except for odds and ends that will probably always float back and forth between there and home. I spent a good part of this past weekend there, and I think that Susanne and I will both be happy with the situation. I feel comfortable.

We both are joining a few other fiber artists from Greensboro in an exhibition called “The Fabric of Our Lives” at the Congregational United Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC. The show will be up from mid-January through Mid-March. I won’t have anything new to show, but I’m dusting off a few framed tapestries and fabric works and mounting the “Flag of Me” for the exhibition. More details later.

I’ve spent some energy in the last few months with an owner group from Deep Roots cooperative to convince the board of directors that there were some serious problems they were not addressing, as well as that they were taking the cooperative in a direction that was miscommunicated to the owners. We had some satisfaction in the last couple of months. The general manager resigned and five of the board members (from 2015 and before) announced that they would leave at the end of the year. They could not compromise with the newly elected members and our group was going to the meetings, emailing, speaking up, and holding them accountable.

The financial situation is still a bit murky and a whole lot dire, but at least the digging of the hole has stopped and we hope that with the 2016 elected members and their new appointees we will see a change for the better. Certainly there is a sense of relief in the store itself. There should be fewer closed meetings (a.k.a. “executive sessions”) and much more transparency and outreach to the owners of the cooperative. Democratic governance is a cooperative value that cannot be dismissed, and the remaining board members understand that.

I hope to see the store change its food policy back to one consistent with our original sustainable, ethical values, but whatever happens, I feel confident that the owners will have a say in it this time. I can live with that. Hopefully the most egregious of the food-like and factory-farmed products, like Hormel canned ham and Armour Vienna sausages, will be removed from the store. It’s highly embarrassing for a “health” food store and killing our brand that we built for 40 years. Patience is not one of my virtues but I’m going to try to have faith in the process. I know Joel and Betsy will be good guides for us.

Now counting the days until I am off for the winter break. We don’t plan to do much for Christmas, but we have decorated the front porch for the first time. I’ll have a lot of days to relax and do art and read. I really don’t want to do much of anything. Our family got together at Lake Waccamaw for Thanksgiving.

Reading right now: “Down All the Days” by Christy Brown, of “My Left Foot” fame. Wow.

Food activism, Local food, Slow Food

ELC Days Thirty and Thirty-One

Today I received my 15 minutes of celebri-tay at the News and Record, our regional newspaper. Katie Reetz and Jerry Wolford did a terrific job on the article and photographs, which appeared on the front of the “Savor” section. Jerry even braved the mosquitoes in the shady morning back forty to take a great photo of a very camera-shy blogger.

I summed up things somewhat at the Eat Local Challenge blog early this morning. I may do a better summary tomorrow here, but right now I’m just too beat to think straight!

As for my food diary, I won’t be sorry that it is ending. During the week it became kind of tiresome, especially when I was just eating leftovers and salad. But I won’t end eating locally. If you’ve been reading my blog, you already know that it has become a way of life for me. I’ll just open it back up to foods that I don’t want to eliminate, such as wild salmon, olives, tomatoes, and luscious stinky cheeses. I’ll still cite sources in my recipes.

So for the final record, day 30 included egg salad on pita crisps, strawberries, salad, and a Red Oak draft. Today I had leftovers from the weekend, and baked marinated chicken from Back Woods Family Farm. The eggs were from them too. I was sorry that Back Woods Family Farm didn’t make the list of my favorite farms in the newspaper, because I buy more food from them than any other farm, and they are definitely on my online list. I think that it was because there wasn’t an address on their web site, and that seems to be what they were looking for.

I want to say thank you to my mentor and friend, Charlie Headington. He has been a source of incredible support, knowledge, and friendship. If I can inspire even one person the way that he has inspired me, my life will have been well worth the trip. Thanks, Charlie.

Food activism, Local food, Slow Food

Eat Local Challenge is Coming Soon!

Through several of the blogs on my new “Local Motive” blog roll, I learned of the Eat Local Challenge. Last August, a group from the San Francisco Bay area called themselves the Locavores and issued this challenge to whoever chose to take it up: For one month, set a goal to eat within a 100 mile radius of your home. This year, the challenge month is May, and I have decided to take up the challenge and share my progress on this blog. You’re welcome to join the Eat Local Challenge too!

Realizing that not everybody lives in a Slow Food heaven such as the Bay area, you are encouraged to set your own goals and guidelines. I entered mine into their database without much thought, and it was published, so if you sign up, you might want to consider your options first. Read through what other people are planning to do. There is a wide range of plans, from folks planning to eat 100% locally, to one who plans to eat only from her state and the states bordering her state, to those who plan to eat one entire meal a week locally.

Here is an excellent set of guidelines for eating well from their website that makes sense for all months of the year.

Guidelines for Eating Well

If not LOCALLY PRODUCED, then Organic. This is one of the most readily available alternatives in the market and making this choice protects the environment and your body from harsh chemicals and hormones.

If not ORGANIC, then Family farm. When faced with Kraft or Cabot cheeses, Cabot, a dairy co-op in Vermont, is the better choice. Supporting family farms helps to keep food processing decisions out of the hands of corporate conglomeration.

If not FAMILY FARM, then Local business. Basics like coffee and bread make buying local difficult. Try a local coffee shop or bakery to keep your food dollar close to home.

If not a LOCAL BUSINESS, then Terroir, which means ‘taste of the Earth’. Purchase foods famous for the region they are grown in and support the agriculture that produces your favorite non-local foods such as Brie cheese from Brie, France or parmesan cheese from Parma, Italy.

Hit the farmers’ market before the supermarket. Plan your meal around local ingredients you find at the market.

Branch out. Maybe your usual food repertoire could use some fresh ideas. The farmers’ market provides a perfect chance to try a new ingredient when it’s in season, and lets you talk to its grower to find out the best way to prepare your new food. Flirt with your food producer!

Feed the freezer. Can’t cook every night? Worried about your fresh produce going bad? It’s easy. Make lasagna with local tomatoes or a soup packed with fresh veggies and freeze it! You can also make personal size meals for a brown bag lunch.

I’ve been blogging in my head (once called “thinking”) about this ever since I found out about the Eat Local Challenge last year, especially during the last three days as I’ve been gearing up my plans for May. I am the only one so far that has signed up from North Carolina, so I challenge my fellow Tarheels to join me and let’s share our sources!

I plan to re-write my goals and exemptions this weekend and post them. It should be a stormy day tomorrow – a perfect day to stay inside and write unless the power goes out! Then I guess I’d have to revert to a curious relic called an “pen” that uses “ink.”