Tuesday, April 29, 2008

going green and the desire to live simply

Which came first for you - the desire to live more simply or the 'greening' of your spirituality? This was a question posed to me by elderwonman. A very good question I might add, because it made me think. I feel I’ve always leaned towards a natural, down to earth lifestyle with concern for the environment.

Although this may not seem relevant to some, it was/is to me…

I was in my thirties when I started taking a serious look at what I believed. After much examination and consideration, I stepped away from religion altogether, having realized I did not need organized religion to walk a spiritual path. For me God was more real and accessible through the natural world that surrounded me than through church doors and doctrines. (I mean no disrespect or offense. I understand and respect the fact that religion and a church community are meaningful to many.) Perhaps this was the beginning of my spiritual greening.

Then when in my forties I took a serious look at who I was…

By the late 90’s my children were no longer at home needing my attention, It was at this time during my forties that the distinct desire to simplify and to get to know myself as more than just a mom, wife and employee become prevalent. Mind you, I wouldn’t trade the roles of mother and wife for anything, but I realized I had little identity aside from these things and I wanted to literally find myself. I also missed being at home, tending to domestic things. I wanted to return to a simpler life where my time and energy weren’t exhausted doing things I had no real interest in. I finally left my job to be at home where I took up daily meditation and journaling. My desires and what gave true meaning to my existence and mattered most to me became much clearer. They were the things that (I think) matter most to (I hope) nearly everyone; peace, contentment, loving relationships, freedom and the time and energy to devote to the people I loved and the things I cared about and enjoyed.

I like to think that the older I’ve grown, the wiser I’ve become. My propensity for all things natural has certainly grown. There’s no doubt the further enlightened I became, the more I felt connected globally and the larger my sense of response-ability became. This naturally led toward a simpler and greener lifestyle. My evolution has certainly led to an expanded awareness of society’s workings and a realization of how brainwashed we are led to become through the media’s convincing us of a false need to have and consume. Awareness has reinforced the desire to be more environmentally responsible and to simplify further. In the end I cannot say with conviction which actually came first, my spiritual greening or the desire to live more simply…the two most certainly have walked hand in hand. I believe however, that the path to authenticity led to simplicity and simplicity has turned me a much deeper shade of green.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

it's all about pink

Anybody and everybody who knows me well knows I love pink...have since I was a wee child. One of my few toys was a pink bunny I called pinky. Not very original but hey, I was a little kid. It just seemed right. Anyhoo, over the years my one big "thing" was wanting a pink kitchen. For some reason, no matter where we lived I just never got around to making my kitchen pink. So, when we were planning our move back into this old house, I decided right then and there the kitchen was going to be pink. And so it was.

The quality of these photos is poor I know and they were taken prior to finishing the trim paint, but you get the gist...it's pink!
(Please ignore the litter box in the corner, lol! I absolutely have no other place for it.)

I bought a box full of assorted fabric at a thrift store a few months ago and fell in love with this one piece...wonderfully pink in nature. :) It was flowery but muted, like a watercolor painting. There was only a yard so it wasn't going to make curtains or even a table cloth. What oh what could I make? Today I figured it out!

Mamma needed a new apron!

one more small commitment

Some years back paper towels were never an item on our list of necessities. Somehow over the course of time they became one. I hate to think of the money spent and trees destroyed on behalf of my purchasing of them alone. Granted, over the past few years I have lessened the number of rolls purchased and made sure the ones I bought were made from at least some percentage of post consumer waste.

Recently I've been thinking back to the time when we actually managed without some of these costly (environmentally and monetarily speaking) products. As a result I've decided to return to my paper towel free days. We'll be using more cloth napkins at meal times and I'll be keeping a stack of clean cloth rags handy for spills and clean ups. Today I'll be taking some old cotton towels I have, cutting them down to size and hemming the edges. They'll be just the right size for everyday napkins and quick clean ups. Just one more small yet significant way I can tread a little more lightly. Being green usually helps save a little green, too. :)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

What Would Mother Do? An addendum to ‘our simple life’

my mother in 1944

After writing yesterdays post I got to thinking about the inspiration behind my lifestyle.

During the late seventies and first half of the eighties, my husband and I really struggled to make ends meet. We were supporting his three children from a previous marriage. That left little for the two of us and our two children. Pay days was unpredictable in amount. My husband was an auto body repairman who was paid flat rate. That meant that when work was good, you made money. When work was slow, you didn’t. We always said it was a “feast or famine” job and that was not far from the truth.

Fortunately I grew up with parents who had grown up and lived through the Great Depression. I was raised in a frugal environment and learned a lot from my parents, my mother in particular. No matter where we were we had a wood burning stove that heated the house. I recall my mother baking the most beautiful pies in a wood stove in the kitchen, also.

My parents saved in any way they could. They raised a large garden every year. Even when my mom’s health declined and she became disabled and Dad had retired, Dad still planted and tended a garden, even canning the food himself. It was just what one did.

Dad (sometime in the 1940's)

Mom was a wonderful cook and loved to bake as well. Her pies and cookies became well know throughout the local area. She was often busy baking, taking in orders from the town folk for her delicious pies and cookies. Mom was somewhat of an entrepreneur that way. As children my sister and I would tag along into town as she peddled homemade aprons to the workers at local restaurants. Later, she would sell her crocheted items on consignment at a downtown gift shop.

Growing up I watched my mother make meals from what others might consider nothing. We never, ever went hungry. I learned that as long as one has staple items in the home a meal can always be mustered up. It may have been a pot of beans, a pancake dinner or potato soup, but our bellies always got filled. If fresh fruit was abundant, one might even find a blackberry cobbler as the main course on the supper table. I didn’t say our diet was always balanced, but we never went hungry.

The funny thing is, as a child I never realized we were “poor”. My mom refashioned hand me down clothes to fit us. Butter, cottage cheese and sour cream were all made at home with milk from our cow. On the front porch my twin sister and I took turns cranking the handle on the butter churning jar. It didn’t occur to us this was work.

When a hog was butchered, mom used every little piece and part. I learned this when I came home from school one day and as I entered the kitchen, saw a boiled pig’s head sitting on the kitchen table staring at me! Once I realized this is how she made souse, by trimming all the excess meat, I could never eat pickled meat of any kind. I can tell you however, that my mom made the best pork sausage I’ve tasted to date. Growing up I thought sausage just tasted like that regardless, so the first time we had store bought, to say I was disappointed was an understatement. Over the years I’ve tried to replicate hers by adding seasoning to plain ground pork sausage, but to this day, it’s never quite the same…but sage is essential.

My mother passed away in the spring of 1980, just six weeks after my daughter was born.

She had been ill a number of years and despite the emotional pain of her absence, I was not sorry to see her suffering end. Through the years of raising my family and making ends meet through difficult times, I could always think back to what my mother might have done. I guess you could say she stayed with me, guiding me in the art of getting by.

So, even after disposable diapers were introduced, my babies wore cloth. That was never a conundrum; you only had to buy them once and when no longer needed, you passed them on to another mommy or used them around the house as cleaning rags. Even back then in the 70’s and early 80’s it just didn’t make sense to spend money on something you threw away…even when many a time I had to hand wash the diapers.

My parents instilled a lot of good values in me and taught me how to get by. I can count on one hand the number of store bought toys I had as a child, but I never felt deprived. Books were free at the library and as children used to do, we played outside games when weather permitted and otherwise, used our imaginations. I learned to sew by making my doll baby clothes from patterns my mother made. I learned to cook by watching my mother in the kitchen and asking lots of questions…she didn’t like anyone helping her at the stove. I inherited that tendency I must admit. Everyone knows I’m boss in the kitchen and to stay out of my way. : ) My mother inspired me to learn crochet work. She was an avid crocheter but didn’t have the inkling or patience to teach me, thus I taught myself.

Mother kept a clean, orderly home despite the number of children and grandchildren coming and going. She instilled that value to some degree in me. I remember her saying, “There are many reasons a person may be poor, but there is no excuse for being dirty, even if that means you have to haul water from the creek.”

As a teenager I thought the grass was greener on the other side, as they say. My big dream was to move away from the rural life and live in an apartment in the city when I was grown. I thought my parent’s ways were old fashioned and country life was boring.

Isn’t it funny how life can bring you back to your roots and what’s real and good and true?

my parents & siblings in approximately 1959 (?)
My twin sister & I are the youngest. That would be one of us with finger up nose.

Friday, April 25, 2008

our simple life

I am one happy gal today! After four days missing, calls to neighbors and the dog warden, walks through the woods and feeling sad, Shadow returned home this morning! He didn't act hungry, just tired. With no idea where he was, we are simply rejoicing in the fact that he is back.

The beans are soaking for tomorrow's pot of chili, the recycling bin has been emptied and sorted, my housework caught up and now Coop is out mowing the lawn for the first time this spring.

Rhonda Jean at Down to Earth has asked her readers to blog about how they live. Since I have time, here we go. I know I've blogged about our life more than once, that is pretty much what this blog is about, but if this post is repetitive on certain subjects, please forgive. :)

My husband and I made a choice a few years ago to give up what I call the hamster race . We were living to work rather than working to live, running in circles like hamsters on a wheel, getting nowhere really. We would occasionally reflect back on simpler times when we had less materially, but were happier.

Funny, but neither one of us was getting any younger either and I really did not want to leave my children to have to deal with settling our estate and financial situation when we left this earthly plane. We had a business, a home and too many debts. Finally, we chose to get back to basics. After looking at our options and figuring out how we wanted to spend our lives, or perhaps better said, how we didn't want to spend our lives, we closed the business, liquidating everything we could to pay off as much as we could. After a very long attempt at selling that failed, we let the bank have the house. This was probably the hardest thing we’ve ever done. Until you’ve done so, letting go of your old way of life, your stuff and your home can be very difficult even when it’s your choice to do so.

Our preferred way of life did not happen immediately even then. We moved around for a few years, but finally settled where we are now, where it feels like home, living a much simpler, much happier and much more self sustaining lifestyle. We still work hard, but the difference is, we are not working for a paycheck now, we are working to live the life of our choosing.

Coop’s retirement income is $941 per month. This is the amount we live on with the only exception being the occasional etsy or ebay sale. According to U.S. Federal guidelines, our income is more than $2000 below the poverty level. I guess by American standards we’re poor folk now, but I know that "poor" is more a state of mind than income. I have a saying I keep posted on my refrigerator that reads, “The happiest people don’t own the best of everything but make the best of everything.” That would describe us quite well.

According to our standards we live well, eat well (in fact much better than when we had more to spend) and sleep well. So, how exactly do we live? The answer is this; simply, frugally, creatively and sustainably. Our objective is to be as self sustaining and debt free as we can be, according to our ability and means, and to live naturally and organically, doing as little harm to the environment as possible.

This comprises raising our own organic plants and produce each summer. Eggs and milk are purchased from nearby Amish folk. We are planning to raise our own chickens in the near future. We do our primary shopping once per month, making our rounds to find reduced priced goods and purchasing in bulk when we can get a significant savings. Coop is always eager to bargain for a better price and you’d be surprised how often he gets it. Recently we came home with over twenty pounds of organic beef for just $2.25 a pound. (yes, we still eat meat...I know, I know) We purchase staple items (flour, sugar, oats, etc.) from our locally owned bulk food store which very fortunately is within a few miles of our home.

I love my life at home. A day in the kitchen may be work to some, but I spend the time with a happy heart. I stew bones for soup broth rather than purchasing it, and save dried bread and crackers to make my own bread crumbs. Purchasing convenience foods is not an option for two reasons; they are more expensive and are often full of all kinds of unnecessary and less than beneficial ingredients. Since I do my own preserving there is rarely a need to purchase canned vegetables, relishes, pasta sauces, etc. There is always food on hand so meals are planned around what we have on hand and there’s no need for more frequent trips to the store.

Very seldom do we venture away from home unless it is necessary, except for the occasional trip to see our kids. When we do go out, we plan ahead and combine errands to avoid unnecessary trips. We freecycle, recycle, reuse and barter when we can. Most of our clothing and household items come second hand from local thrift stores. We maintain what we have so we don't have to replace items any more than is necessary. We still own the same old vehicles we did over a decade ago. We still use the same lawn and garden tools we have for more years than I can recall.

Virtually nothing is spent on entertainment. We have a TV which is generallyfam turned on in the evenings for Coop’s benefit. I read, browse the internet, crochet or partake in some other type of creative endeavor. In the summer months we often find ourselves outside star gazing. We tend to be homebodies, so we don’t do a lot of socializing outside of family. However, evening card games with the neighbors are commonplace in the summer. Summer also brings family and friends together around a fire now and then, sharing food, friendship and roasted marshmallows. : )

Our days here in the country are made of numerous small acts that define who we are. The steps we take to live as we do are what matter most because those steps are what allow us to live as we do. I have learned through the years that living close to and in accord with the natural world is essential for my sense of well being. I need to feel the earth and the countryside is where I thrive…away from the noise, glare and congestion of city living.

I guess all in all our simple life is about living the best life we can according to our vision, not the ideals of others. It’s about being less dependent on the outside world and more responsible for ourselves. It’s about taking back our lives, living in the now instead of striving towards some unsustainable, unrealistic or fictional future.

In the end, I guess one could say that to “live well, laugh often and love much” is our motto. This is what brings us contentment and satisfaction at the end of each day.

Thanksgiving 07

Thursday, April 24, 2008

it's official, we have a winner!

First off, let me say once again Thank You Everyone for your participation and all the nice comments left in response to my blogaversary giveaway.

This morning all names were placed in my favorite pink bowl and my husband Coop was given the green light to draw a name. The winner... World's Greatest Mommy. Sarah is mom to five and if anyone can use a little stress reduction in their life, well, 'nuff said. If you're a mom you understand. :)


Now, this was just so darn much fun that I can hardly wait to do another giveaway! So, stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Free Shopping Tote from Earthbound Farm Organics

Earthbound Farms is giving away free shopping totes.

Yep, it's true. To get yours take the quiz here
, get 9 out of 10 questions right, and they'll send you a free reusable (and recyclable) Earthbound Farm shopping tote that you can use to reduce environmental waste whenever you shop. (If you get stuck, just follow the links to pages with the answers you're looking for.)

Offer good for US and Canadian residents only, while supplies last. Quiz must be completed before Midnight PDT, April 30, 2008. One bag per mailing address. Bags will be shipped to recipients in June, 2008.

earth day 2008

Earth Day Everyday
picture by pcmkrfn at photobucket


Can you hear?

Look around...

Can you see?


can you taste her fragrance?

She is speaking...

will you listen...

...listen and remember?

At long last I have come to know you again, my friend.
I knew you when I was small. I remember...
I cupped your cool earth in my hands, digging holes and making mud pies.
I knew the subtleness of your breath on my skin as I lay
under the stars, holding fireflies in the dark.

When did we drift
apart, you and I?
As I was growing up I think.
Wasn't it then that
I pulled away, forgetting you, thinking life was all about me?
Was it then that I stopped
noticing you and began taking from you with not a thought of appreciation or giving back.

Thank you for bringing me back,
slowing me down,
teaching me,
forgiving me.
Now I will teach my children's children to love and
honor you, to never forget you.
Perhaps they will do a better job
perhaps they will live in closer harmony with you
throughout their lives.
Perhaps they will take less and give more and
strengthen your resources
for a generation to come.

©S. Cooper (earth heart)


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Growing Challenge…goodbye winter!

I’ve kind of lost track of whether I’m up to date or not on my growing challenge reports, but regardless, here’s the latest…

Finally, the ground has become dry enough, the weather cooperative enough for us to get a little more serious in working towards our garden goals. This past week Coop tilled the compost under in preparation for planting.

He also surprised me by expanding the depth of the iris patch alongside our garage wall and resetting the stepping stone path that leads off the patio.

What would I do without the man?! I’m so fortunate to be with a partner who loves this kind of work. And I get such a big kick out of his child like pride when he completes a well done job. (Don’t tell him I said that!)

My babies are coming along. A few seeds here and there did not sprout, but enough other plantings brought up more than one per square so I’ll separate and transplant the tender young things before long. I planted a few leftover Hungarian pepper seeds from last year’s seed stock, but to no avail. Not a one came up. The story is the similar for the tomatillos. They were planted from seed purchased last year and I think one, possibly two have sprouted. :(

Here’s a shot of my growing place. Nothing fancy, but it works. Grow my babies, grow! There’s just a few more weeks til hardening off and planting time! Grow strong and tall and make mamma proud!

In related news, a package of 10 baby trees came from the Arbor Day Foundation in Friday’s mail delivery, plus a bonus lilac. Yay! I firmly believe one can never have too many trees or lilacs. There’s just not a lot any more splendid than the scent of lilacs and a big bouquet adorning the kitchen table or the coffee table, or better yet, both! Who can resist burying their nose in them when passing by? I for one can’t! Let’s not forget the peonies either. Another wonder-full gift the season brings. The other day I noticed their new growth coming up from the earth.

And finally, look who paid us a visit and finally allowed me a quick photo opportunity. Believe me, you just don’t know how many times the Eastern Bluebirds have evaded the camera.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

it's the weekend...

As I write it's actually sat. morning here in Ohio and my eyes are droopy, but I wanted to mention a few things before turning in for the night.

One, I'm very excited about the blogaversary give-away and if you haven't yet, be sure to post a comment here for a chance to win some relaxing goodies. And if you do, be sure to leave me some way to contact you (like an email address or a blog link) in case you are the winner on April 24th.

Two, I'll be taking the weekend off more or less to spend time with my children and grandchildren. That means my Growing Challenge post will be coming up later, rather than sooner...most likely the first of the week.

and three, I hope you got outside to have a look at the moon tonight. It's had a beautiful aura and at times a pink glow. The full moon will be on Sunday April 20th at 6 Am EST. You might want to take a few minutes this weekend to step outside and bask in the moonlight. It does a body good. :)

Friday, April 18, 2008

the greening of keepsake acres

Enter here for a chance to win my 1 year blog anniversary give away!

looking northeast from the rear of our yard

One year and eight months ago we returned to this place, a place we had previously called home. We had lived here before from 1984 until July of 1993. Due to circumstances that were out of our control we had to move away in 93 and did so with sad hearts. We loved it here and would have stayed forever. Then due to a variety of (for us, serendipitous) circumstances we had the opportunity and freedom to return in the summer of 2006. For me particularly it was a gift my heart had longed for. Several years prior we had sought a return to simplicity and had opted out of the daily grind, gave up our business, mortgage and our way of life to return to a back to basics lifestyle. We moved around for a few years in between leaving our conventional lifestyle behind and finally landing here. When the opportunity to return to this place presented itself, it was a simple decision.

My dark lilac returns to life. I planted this when living here the first time.

We had a lot of work cut out for us. The previous tenant/half owner had made some improvements to the property but had left the house far worse than imagined in many ways. Never afraid of hard work, we set about returning this old farm house to a more livable condition. I always say it was a labor of love, though I'm not so sure Coop always agreed with me on that. But, as we scraped , scrubbed, repaired and labored more, it was as if I could feel this old house smiling as she came to life. I truly believe in the energy of places and there was so much residual energy anyhow from our previous years here, I couldn't help but feel as if the house was welcoming us home again.

As I ramble on, the point I am trying to make is this...I somehow wanted to impart the significance of this home and land, to somehow relay what it meant to me to be here. I decided to give the land an unofficial name, one that was not printed on the owners deed, but one that came from my heart. Thus, Keepsake Acres came into being.

looking northwest from the rear

beyond the back yard lay a cluster of daffodils

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

spring cleaning-green recipe cards

First, just a reminder that you can enter here for a chance to win my 1 year blog anniversary give away! Get on over and say hey!

Thanks to everyone who has entered so far!!


If you’re like me now that spring has sprung, you’re anxious to either get rolling or get finished with the spring cleaning. In light of the cleaning season and Earth Day, I thought I would share these green cleaning recipe cards (pdf) from the David Suzuki Foundation. I love them and have printed off copies for myself. I plan on giving my neighbor a set, too, giving her no excuse to use toxic commercial cleaners that are so unhealthy for her and the environment. :)

Think reduce, reuse and recycle when clearing out the house, garage, etc. Consider offering your "stuff on Freecycle or Craigs List or donating it to local thrift stores, etc. Remember, there is no such place as "away" when we throw things out.

Happy cleaning to you and the planet!

will you help me plant a billion trees?

One dollar, one tree, one planet.

For every dollar donated, a tree will be planted in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. The Atlantic Forest is considered one of the world's most endangered tropical forests -- only 7% of its original area remains.

Tropical forests like this one play a particularly special role in the fight to end global climate change. And this reforestation effort to Plant a Billion Trees in The Atlantic Forest will remove 10 million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year -- that's like taking 2 million cars off the road.

Won't you please help me and the Nature Conservancy fight global warming and deforestation? Thank you, from myself and the planet.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

your present- a Blog-aversary give-away!

Notice- this contest is officially over and the winner was announced this morning here. Many thanks to all who visited and posted a comment.

Anyone who has an interest in my tea and would like to purchase an ounce or more, please contact me; we coopers at gmail dot com for more information.


April 24 will be my one year “from my homestead” blogging anniversary.

So, to do a little something nice I am celebrating by having a little give-away. And since my blog is primarily about living simply and peacefully on April 24th I will randomly select one of you to receive the following:

2 oz. (that bag is full!) of “Soothe Me anti-anxie-tea” loose organic tea made with chamomile, lemon balm and hibiscus flowers. This is my own blend and a favorite in our family.

A set of 4 crocheted (by me) cotton coasters. These babies are so bright and fresh in color, I thought they’d be nice for summer time use.

Meditation CD: “Your Present:A Half Hour of Peace” by Susie Mantell. This CD has gotten great reviews and who doesn’t need to de-stress from time to time?

You’ll have everything you need for a little at home R&R! I can see you chillin’ out now. :)

The rules:

Just comment to this blog post and say hello. Don’t be shy now. Please be sure to leave a contact link or email when you post so I can reach you if you’re the winner. This is really important, else I'll have no way to contact you if you win. And if that happens and I can't find you, I'll have to draw another name. And I would hate for you to be the winner and then not really be the winner, ya know? If leaving your email in the post, write it out. example: chillenout at yahoo dot com. I'm told this this will prevent spammers picking it up.

And if you’re a fellow blogger, I sure hope you'll be kind enough to mention this give-away and include a link to this post on your blog. I would really appreciate that! The more the merrier I always say! That’s all there is to it!

A catalog of giveaways can be found at bloggy giveaways.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Arther's desire

need I say more?

growing challenge & talk of chickens 4-14-08

The Brandywine tomatoes are about 3” high now. The Jalepenos are up as well. Still not much action with the Kind of the North sweet peppers, although the Romanian hots are starting to peek out.

Rather than till the entire garden space, this year we are seriously considering doing a low till planting. Given the high cost of gasoline we are thinking our wisest choice may be to till just where we plant and simply keep the areas between rows mulched. Plus I’ve read (somewhere) that the less you disturb the natural ecosystem of your garden area (prior to planting) the better, that tilling too much or to deep does more harm than good unless you allow adequate time between tilling and planting to allow natural restoration of the ecosystem.

Amidst garden planning and discussing we are also looking at chicken breeds and coop options. We definitely are considering a few laying hens and preferably heritage breeds that are brown egg layers. I am leaning towards a few buff orpington as well as barred Plymouth rock. Fortunately we have a hatchery not far from us and they have a variety of heritage breeds. Hubby Coop (not chicken coop, lol!) wants to build a chicken tractor which would be ideal. We’ve been kind of hooked on the idea for awhile. So, the real possibility of a whole new adventure awaits us…a chicken adventure.

Barred Rock & Buff Orpington

barred rock and buff orpington picture by cnewman00 at photobucket

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sunday, April 6, 2008

bartering boy

What do you get for a box of concrete nails and a variety of kerosene heater wicks, neither of any use to us?

Well, if you're my husband who comes home from auctions with things like that, you barter.

Such was the case yesterday when my dear boy took those items mentioned over to the Amish store a few miles from here. For his initial $9 auction investment he came home with a present for me (something I had been wanting) and a $10 greenback. Not a bad deal. He got his money back and I got an oil lamp...and it's a nice big, heavy one, worth more than the initial investment alone! Guess I better quit bitchin' when the boy comes home with "stuff", eh?

ducks in a row

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day so I decided to get outside a bit, camera in hand. Our three muscovy ducks, Bruce, Thelma and Uno were hanging out in the front yard. As you can see, Thelma and Bruce are napping.

Uno, the dark one, is last years baby brought to you by Bruce and Thelma. He is now bigger than daddy Bruce and less easily intimidated. He has no fear and will walk right up to you, neck protruding, hissing, sure of the fact that his efforts will keep you away from his family. Very bossy, that is until I bend down to his level and hiss back, arms flapping like a lunatic to let him know who the real boss is.here is Bruce, the daddy
and Lady Thelma, the mama muscovy

and this is Uno

I call them our Elvis ducks because when on alert or wary, they raise their head feathers up giving them an Elvis like "do". In fact, I should have named this guy Elvis because he really does think he's the king.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

dealing as best we can

Life is getting a little more back to normal after the past few weeks. My daughter is doing better but it’s obvious she is not cured of the c. diff bacteria that have invaded her body. No wonder, as she has been sick with it for six years and even though a diagnosis has finally (I won’t even get started on that!) been made, there is no sure fire cure. She has the super strain. There is only the hope that it will be cured and even then, a recurrence is likely.

What to do? After a round of two antibiotics, one which made her even more ill, she has chosen to take the natural route. So, Mom and daughter have been discussing possible options and we’ve been reading and researching intensely over the past week or so to find out what the best options are. She and I have decided on a regimen (which we’ll not disclose just yet) which we hope will be successful, if not in eradicating the c. diff, at least in allowing her to live with it to the best of her ability. If successful, we’ll have a lot to rejoice over and to share with others.

To say her life has not been shortened by this would probably be a lie. She has suffered for six years and lived only through repeated hospitalizations to bring her back from near death due to dehydration and malnutrition. She was a healthy 185 pounds when she got sick. She strives to maintain 100 pounds now. She has survived with the use of a blessed herb to quell the nausea and pain and increase the appetite. With acupuncture therapy over the past 6-8 months she had made improvement and regained some energy and was doing better than she had been for the past few years. That was until she contracted Listeriosis from drinking raw milk. Now, before anyone jumps to conclusions about the danger of drinking unpasteurized milk, please note that everyone else in our family drinks it without trouble. The only reason she was affected is because her immune system was already so compromised. However, without her having contracted the Listeria bacteria, the diagnosis for c. diff would not have been made. Her doctor even admitted that. So I guess you could say there was a silver lining to her most recent relapse.

My girl child has faced death more times than one should have to and as a result has little if any fear of it. In fact this I know, she has welcomed it at times. It is a difficult thing to watch your child suffer and deteriorate. It is stressful and emotional for everyone involved to think about losing one so near and dear to the heart. I have tried to release my fear of losing my child and am doing better, clinging to the hope that she will improve and even make a return to full health. One must cling to hope when there is so little else to hold on to and modern medicine fails to provide answers or cures.

growing challenge 4-5-08 ...and then there were plants!

Tomato, tomatillo and pepper seeds were planted 3-31-08. Yesterday a half dozen or more Brandywine tomatoes had popped up. Today I noticed a couple purple russian, duggin white (substitutes for the white tomesol ordered) and a couple tomatillos had joined the party. Yay!

The timing of the planting gives me just 8 to 8 1/2 weeks until planting time, so these little ones need to grow well and strong. I have them upstairs in a small greenhouse, with just one plant light hanging above. I have been alternating them daily so that all can have their fair share of the light. I also have a small space heater on low inside the green house so they keep warm. Our Ohio weather is still quite cool, so this was necessary since I don't heat the upstairs. Once the days grow warmer and the sun is present more often, they will get light from both the south and west windows as well.

When I see the first seedlings sprout in the spring I feel a sense of wonder and hope. This new life will bring us an abundance of sustenance and so, on a daily basis I talk to my plant friends. I tell them how wonderful and marvelous they are and most of all I thank them for the gifts they will bring to us.

pole cat

"I'll just freshen up a bit while I wait for my (unsuspecting) lunch."

"Good things come to those who wait"

"Damn, she spotted me! There goes lunch...well, at least for now."