Memories. Halloween, Sometime in the 1960’s.

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My son wanted to cover one of his eyes and make an eye low on his cheek. We went to a theatrical make-up store and bought make-up to work on his idea. (This was his favorite holiday). We did the best we could, but the eye idea was hard for amateur make-up artists and we didn’t do so well. But it was fun trying.

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The next year, my husband’s job sent him to San Francisco for several weeks and I flew out from Texas to visit him. Several engineers shared motel rooms for the company project and when I arrived, one guy generously doubled up with others so my husband and I had a room. Each day, I would explore San Francisco and at night, the engineers would socialize in one of the motel rooms.

I would be greeted with, “Well, what did you do today?” I would relate my adventures exploring San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge Park and  many other wonderful places.

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One adventure stands out. I found a  shop image

that had a bowl full of plastic, realistic eyeballs. I envisioned making the next Halloween memorable for my son.  I purchased 5 plastic eyeballs and put them in my pocket.

When the time came for me to relate my adventures to the engineers standing around the room with drinks just socializing-they all paused conversations to see what I had to tell.

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With great enthusiasm for my find, I reached in my pocket for the 5 plastic eyeballs and put them on the coffee table.

I did not expect the eyeballs would  look so very,  very weird.

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The room was very silent for a minute as everyone stared as the eyeballs rolling around the table.

Then my husband, shaking his head, said, “Mary, sometimes I wonder about you.”

After laughter subsided, I was able to explain my happiness in finding this wonderful gift for my son’ many wild future Halloweens theatrical faces.

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Posted in Holiday, Masks, Memories, Observations, Storytelling, Texas Tales | Tagged , , , , , | 32 Comments

Election News – Who Is Out of Touch

The election will soon be over. The republicans will continue to debase Obama and Hillary until they die or republicans die.

Such wasted tax payer money will continue and no problems of the country will be addressed.

Is this what they were sent to Washington to do?

Maybe republicans should review what happened to Former House Majority Leader,Eric Cantor. He forgot who paid his salary and sent him to solve problems. He sure got a surprise when voters forced him out of office amid charges that he had lost touch with his Virginia constituents.

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Un-Mask And Defeat Terror

 

Citizens of modern society face a dilemma since Criminals and Law Enforcement hide behind masks. Both Criminals and Law Enforcement want to hide their true identity. Masks allow these people to perform a task without being identified by others. Also each group may want to protect the identity of relatives and associates. However cowering behind masks to allow them to commit atrocities and escape scrutiny is still a scourge on modern society.

    “Hooded Hamas executioners who were themselves once just innocent children grew up to be monsters, able to freely murder dissidents in broad daylight, knowing their masks would both conceal their identities while simultaneously striking fear in those who would challenge them. “

Here is a great discussion on this subject.”
Why ISIS and Hamas Wear Masks.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-shmuley-boteach/why-isis-and-hamas-wear-m_b_5947128.html

Hiding an identity and becoming free to become the character that is being impersonated allows one to display behaviors that may be controlled if the person was known. The person wearing the mask tries to lose his own identity and has become subservient to making others fearful and terrorized.

Not all do of course, but this is a big reason why they’re seen as cowards (much like the KKK before them). Did Jihadi John think he was going to return to Europe at some point and have to duck recognition by law enforcement?

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Criminals and Terrorists mask brutality toward women, gays, freedom, music and anything they wish to stamp out. 

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One solution is to unmask them whenever possible. If an ISIS fighter is killed or captured, unmask, photograph and post photos on the internet so we know who he or she was. I imagine they fear this because even though they seem heartless…they do have families to protect. Maybe this would allow us to track these people and their associates.

SWAT and other law enforcement in Western countries wears masks for the same reason. … to hide their identities.

The War on Terror: Who’s Behind the Mask?
https://www.sott.net/article/307726-The-War-on-Terror-Whos-Behind-the-Mask

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If you are confused just take a look at the Standing Rock Water Protectors internet posts.

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Are these law enforcement people less scary then ISIS?

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Tlingit Children Memories Are Made Of This

Missonaries in Alaska during the 1940s-1950s taught Tlingit (SE Alaska Indian) kids this song.

Jesus loves the Indian boy
Bow and arrow for a toy
Big Filipino, wee Chinese
Jesus died for all of these.
Yes Jesus loves them,
Yes Jesus loves them,
Yes Jesus loves them.
The bible tells us so.

When I sang this for my brother he asked, “No Whitemen, huh?”

Here is another
Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the tribes
Aleut and the Tsimsian,
Tlingit and the Hyda clan
Jesus love the children
of the Tribes

Posted in The Purple Gate Herb Farm | Comments Off on Tlingit Children Memories Are Made Of This

Learning Through Gardening

(this is a Texas Tale about how I became a Food Forest Gardener. The beginning was decades earlier)

I married a man who had a gardening mother.

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His memories of her Victory Gardens and flower gardens were special to him and he encouraged me to learn about gardening. My husband, Bud, began gardening in our small backyard and I began trying to learn how to grow plants while raising 3 kids, going to school, holding down a job and taking care of our home. Sorry to say, I wasn’t a very successful gardener, but I did learn a few things along the way.

My husband was also an amateur archeologist. He signed the entire family up for archeology field schools every vacation in the summer.

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We learned about how people survived in the often harsh climates of Texas. One day, while we were sitting in a shade, the field biologist and I were talking. We were in the Chihuahua desert of West Texas and surrounded by low growing creosote bushes.

He said, “Mary, ever notice how each of those creosote bushes are in spaces just like they were planted equal distances from each other in every direction?”

I had not noticed, but he was right.

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He continued, “Every notice that there are almost the same group of plants at the base of each creosote bush facing the same direction?”

I again had to admit I was not that observant.  Now I looked closely and saw that at the base of each creosote bush had the same group of plants near them.

“Why is that so?” my biologist friend asked me then.  I had no idea. He explained. This conversation opened my eyes to a new way of looking at the world.gardens.

“The creosote bushes are spaced exactly as they need to be to be able to get enough nourishment from the soil, sunlight and water from the dew and rain.

The group of plants at the base are located in the one direction that allows them to be shaded from the harsh western afternoon sun. The plants under the creosote bush are determined by the type of roots they have.

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Some are fibrous, wide and shallow to take advantage of surface water from dew or rain and these are short lived, some roots go deeper and some even deeper. Tap rooted plants that push deep down in the soil are there too. These roots allow the plants to grow close together because they don’t compete for resources. Now as they grow, mature and die,  they create these little micro-climates that hold moisture for all the plants in the group so they can grow in this harsh climate of the Chihuahua desert”

This conversation was the beginning of my understanding of the spacing and planting of plants in our gardens. When Bud and I retired we began The Purple Gate Herb Farm in Caldwell, Texas. (pgherbfarm.com) My interest and attention  on how plants thrive has become a focused learning curve that keeps me learning all the time.

 

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In many ways nature is wise. I never forgot this lesson. It was decades before I could put the ideas into practice as we began planting theme herb gardens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Food Forest, Gardening in Texas, Texas Tales | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Learning Through Gardening

Food for Thought or Thought for Food?

Self-sufficient living can be aided by learning how to provide for many of your families needs when things go wrong. A break down in the delivery of food in Venezuela is frightening. People are suffering even if they could afford these costs.

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The events in Venezuela should give us incentive to begin our search for basic survival knowledge. Many people are  trying to reinvent the wheel by looking back to reconstruct methods our grandparents had for coping with shortages and disasters.

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We do not need to try to replicate these methods. But we can learn principals of growing food from them. We have the advantage of stored knowledge in rural communities and in books.

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The movements to encourage Permaculture, organic gardening, food forest development and raising of animals, fish or poultry can be found all over the internet and interest is  growing.

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To take care of our immediate requirements for food we need to develop a myriad of knowledge and skills to prepare for catastrophes or failures in the food infrastructure delivery systems.

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Several people have mentioned the need to reach out to local groups and individuals who can diversify and barter food you cannot raise yourself. Developing a community of collaboration and cooperation can go a long way to help you survive these disruptions.

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Bastrop Meetup and Bastrop Sustainable Community Group were established to help us develop as much self-sufficiency as possible. Organizations of like minded people can make your family life more secure.

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Participating in learning, sharing and growing in organizations of like minded people and sites like this one can increase your security by developing a social and support community and aiding in your experiments in self-sufficient living.

Posted in Farmers Market, Gardening in Texas, How-to, Local Business, Observations, Support Local Business, Sustainable living | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Food for Thought or Thought for Food?

Reflection

Memories are sweet and painful at the same time.

My husband died and I thought he left me. I felt so lost, 54 years of marriage with one person made every thought about US, him and I.

Now suddenly I felt the emptiness as I tried to think of ME.  I did not, still do not think of things as only ME. In time I realized he is with me all the time. I still think of US as I review our life together. I will never be just ME.

Montage

Posted in Grief, loss, Love, Observations, Texas Tales, The constant is change | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Reuse-Reduce-Recycle

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I lived in a rural area of Texas that had no garbage pick-up. We had to drive our trash to a dump.    

One day I saw a metal water trough while unloading our trash. I examined it and saw that the bottom was rusted out. I asked my husband to load it and take it home. He said, “Mary, that is trash!” I had to insist…several times.

When we got home, the phone rang. image

A neighbor said, “You won’t believe this, my wife was just at the dump and saw a trough. She asked me to go get it. When I got there, it was GONE.”

I said gleefully, “Yeah it is now at my house, I beat you to it.” As I hung up the phone, I turned to my husband and said, “See, someone else saw value there!.”

Here is the recycled “trash” filled with culinary herbs near our kitchen. image

Another neighbor asked if I wanted another trough she no longer needed.

Of course I did and the Artemisia loves this one.

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Do you have a Reuse-Reduce-Recycle story to share? This is the place!

Posted in Central Texas, Gardening in Texas, Recycle-Reuse, Sustainable living, The Purple Gate Herb Farm | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Reuse-Reduce-Recycle

Preserving My Garden Bounty

I am interested in how to save food from my garden. The last time I had excess I was so busy I could not process it so I took fruits and vegetable to the senior center cooks and my neighbors. I saved some of our summer harvest in the freezer.
           

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In Southeast Alaska, my mother saved berries by canning them mixed with seal oil, she smoked and dried salmon or canned it, and she froze herring eggs. When she ran out of time, she purchased dried seaweed from friends. We ate these into the long winters.
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My life here in Texas does not support the food processing we used in Alaska. Skills I observe my Mother practice went unused here.

We now have a solar system and we are trying to reduce our use of electricity. We have cut our electricity bill in half but are on the look out to do better. Freezing food is not our solution to preserve our harvest as it requires electricity for the preservation. Now I am exploring ways to dry and can the food.

Freezing needs constant electricity and dry or canned food does not.

DRYING FOOD

Long time storage by drying leaves and vegetables is an easy process.. We put a small amount of olive oil and seasoning in a bowl and stir the vegetable leaves or vegetable slices to coat the seasoning all over. Placed on racks in the dryer or in an oven set on the lowest setting and in 1-2 days they are dried crisp,

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I have dried herbs for years and used them all year. and dry it for long time storage as these do not require continuous electricity to store the food. Dried herbs at the supermarket are presented in tiny jars with ever larger prices. I can dry more than I can every use in a year or two in a few weeks. I choose not to crush the leaves when I store them and that makes the dried herbs fresher when I crush and use them.

CANNING FOODS

  1. It is amazing how water-bath canning foods has not changed in decades.  My Mom did water-bath canning. Pressure canning is popular since it is so economical. I have been afraid to use a pressure cooker as earlier ones did blow up all over the kitchen. I had heard many horror stories about that growing up. In spite of that, women really liked saving time, water and electricity and continued to use pressure cookers.
  2. Water-Bath Canning using a pressure cooker has been used for decades so I am going to try learning this method.
  3. My recent research states that modern pressure cookers are loaded with safety features. I plan to purchase a stainless steel pressure cooker.

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When I observe the safety features in modern pressure cookers for myself with only water in it. I will begin planning processing low-acid foods and preserve fruits jams and jellies pickles, salsas and assorted sauces. Wish me luck, Any advice is welcome.   

Posted in Bastrop County Texas, Central Texas, Observations, Sustainable living | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Unexpected Bastrop Sustainable Meetup

Will Holcomb, Bastrop Sustainable Meetup Organizer  and George Swanson got the chance to set up this Meetup at Buda Aquaponics, one night for the next day. Plenty of forewarning… uh huh!

George had a Meetup with Bastrop Sustainable at the Smithville Library a while back and he wanted us to see his magnesium oxide building materials he had installed at Buda Aquaponics.

Will suggested we invite anyone else that might be able to come. We posted the address late last night on our Bastrop Sustainable Meetup website. We hoped some of our members would see the invitation and respond.

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Well, Mom and I decided to go and we found directions to the Buda Aquaponics farm on the internet. The next morning, we went by the back roads thinking that a lot of people would be headed for Austin, this fine 4th of July holiday, and it was definitely back roads most of the way. We had smooth sailing all the way there as the traffic on this route was light.

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We were the first to arrive at the site and no one was around. We waited until the others began to arrive discussing how we were at this location  to see if we could set up a more formal Meetup sometime in the future for our members

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Buda Aquaponics started out as Floating Fields Farm last year. Farmer John was our guide and the farm’s manager.

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There was a lot to see.
He said that there will be lots of in ground greenhouses as well as the aquaponics area. He took us to the aquaponics ebb and flow, floating raft set up. There were several fish tanks of about 500 gallons each hooked up in a building with good insulation.

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The fish waste solids are filtered out and the water is pumped into the floating raft tanks, which are set up in a hoop greenhouse that currently has shade cloth over the hoops.

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Airstones aerate the raft tanks to offer air to the lettuces and other leafy veggies growing there. The veggies and herbs looked very healthy.

 So much more to learn
I asked about the airstones, because I did not see any in the fish tanks. I asked if the water that was returning to the tanks was aerating the tanks, because it came back under pressure and aimed to create a current in the top of the tank. He said the current was to give the fish something to swim against. I forgot to clarify my question, which was how was he aerating the fish tanks, because it occurred to me to ask if the swirling water kept sediment suspended in the tank. He said that the sediment is at the bottom, and the current is at the top so it is not a problem. Dang, I still do not know how he aerates the fish tanks. Something to ask him in the future.

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Future Plans
He thinks his niche in the organic scene will be to heavily amend the soil with minerals and plant nutrients, because he wants the food that he grows to be as full of nutrients as he can manage. He says that most commercially grown food is grown in depleted soil, therefore the produce from that soil is very low in nutrients as well. He intends to build the soil health in his covered beds so that his produce will be much more nutritious than in other commercial endeavors.

He is very conscious of the environment and has shown interest in helping others in the area, when he gets the chance. He wants to help build good farming communities to help support the local fresh food initiatives. The more of us that work together, the more we will change the current trends in commercial food production, and the better our families health will be.

To that end he has contracted George Swanson Associates to help build some of the structures using magnesium oxide building materials. “In recent years [their] firm has had the great privilege to have participated in the design and construction of over 80 natural, breathing, low toxic and fully non-toxic buildings in 11 states.” (George Swanson Associates, http://geoswan.com/)

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I am so glad we went in spite of the short warning. It was very interesting, and Mom and I are looking forward to setting up a formal Meet up to Buda Aquaponics.

Posted in Aquaponics, Central Texas, Observations, Something new...to me | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment