Monday, December 29, 2008

More adventures in self-sufficiency

Who knew that vanilla extract was made with vodka? I mean, I guess I always knew that it had alcohol in it, it says so right on the bottle, but vodka? Really? Well, I'm something of a vanilla snob. I swear I can tell the difference between imitation vanilla and the real thing so I buy the expensive stuff and then agonize because I use it rather liberally.
So I embarked on an experiment today. I had a half bottle of Grey Goose (yes, the good stuff but damn it seems like I never use the stuff). Putting some aside for little projects because vodka is so useful in so many ways I took the rest out to the kitchen and carefully stuffed several vanilla bean pods inside the bottle. That's it. They say it's supposed to cure at least a month. We'll see......

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Green Lor

We used to live by a grocery store that had a floral department. The woman working in this floral department routinely managed to neglect the potted plants into a state of inevitable death-an herbicidal maniac perhaps? The plants she killed would be set out and offered for sale one last time at a greatly reduced price (usually about 50 cents) before making that trip to THE CRUSHER.
I cruised that aisle regularly looking for poor abused plants to rescue and came home with some very sad, spare specimens. Now, it should be said that I really don't know anything about plants but I seem to sense what they need and they usually thrive under my care. One little plant was surrounded by dead growth and there was one little nondescript sprout that looked like it was hanging on to life. I rushed it home and repotted it, clipped off the detritus, gave it some water and put it in a semi-sunny site knowing that any extreme sun or fertilizer would surely send it over the edge. It has grown into a fern that regularly threatens to take over the whole house. This plant loves me and even my husband who routinely makes fun of my obsession with plants knows that the fern will not be touched by human hands other than mine.
Another plant I picked up looked like it might have been a Christmas cactus. I don't usually take home cacti but my mother and grandmother both had these plants and a feeling of nostalgia made me look a little closer at this forlorn little scrap. Nothing was immediately recognizable as living but I felt like it might still be sustaining some remnant of life in the roots. Again, drastic measures seemed to harsh so a simple pot and some water and patience was all I could do for it. Now people are awestruck by the fact that I have a Christmas cactus that routinely blooms at Christmas.
I could tell you about the Palms, the Lucky Bamboo, the Shamrock, the Philodendron that will not die and others but you get the drift. My house is filled to capacity with plants that I love and sort of exemplify my passion to rescue and love those plants, animals and people who love it most.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My best friend

I read today that committed couples cannot be best friends. Who knew? Apparently the reasoning for this is that best friends are your sounding boards when you need to bitch about the evil partner at home so if your partner IS the best friend.....see the problem here? I can understand that as I guess I have had friends that I could take my troubles to but when I weigh the criteria for best friend I have to award the title to my man. A best friend should support you when you're down and drag you back to earth when you're flitting around dreamily. A best friend should be honest even when you kind of wish they weren't. Best friends love each other and trust each other. They may have different views on some subjects but they usually come to some agreement on how they're going to handle that; in our case I'm right and he is most assuredly wrong. Best friends laugh at themselves and each other and have little jokes that no one else understands. They get angry and fight but it's usually short lived when they remember how much they mean to each other.
So yeah, my best friend is my life partner and if that's detrimental to the whole relationship (I no longer recognize heterosexual marriage so we have a relationship and he's my partner, not my husband) then I guess the last 23 years have been a sham.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cold day on the farm

In case the title didn't properly convey my thoughts for today, let me just say that it's bloody cold today. We're talking -4 when I got up to feed the chickens. For those of you in warmer regions I'll walk you through it: first you bundle up since you were smart enough to look at the thermometer before blithely walking outside in your pajamas. When you open the door the wind slaps you upside the head and takes your breath away which is a good thing because when you do finally start to breathe again the cold just freezes your nose shut anyway. Walking very quickly or as quickly as possible with the wind shoving you backwards you slip and slide on the icy surface of the snow. The chickens hear you crunch crunching on the frozen ground and start talking amongst themselves wondering what savory treats you're bringing them. You have to smile at their chatter but the snot running from your nose has now frozen your face into some kind of cartoon character grimace. Finally you reach the the little shelter and the door opens into warmth and the curious head cocked stares of your flock. The feathered fowl have no idea that you got up at the butt-crack of dawn to warm their rice and they don't care that you carefully measured the temperature and added cool milk so it wouldn't be too warm. They dig in as if this repast is their due, as if every chicken is served warm food on cold mornings and they purr with pleasure. Picking up a chicken and holding her for a moment might be a way to remind them of who reigns over this bountiful world or it might just be to warm your hands enough to pick up the eggs that are frozen in the little nests against the wall. You stash the icey nuggets in your pockets and steel yourself for the long walk back to house....

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The economy

When we first started fostering and then adopting we were basically living paycheck to paycheck but starting to get ahead. We had no bills to speak of other than rent and later mortgage, no car payments, no credit cards, and we were starting to save some money for a rainy day. It seemed reasonable to assume that we would always be able to provide for the kids, or at least provide for their necesseties if not every little thing they might desire.
So we moved to the farm. The mortgage for the farm is a big chunk of our paycheck but we manage because we really have no entertainment expenses to speak of and I cook everything from scratch anyway so we're frugal for the most part. But then we had some medical expenses. Suddenly we had credit card payments and the cost of groceries started going up and the future began to look a little scary. People tell us to get rid of the horses but we have draft horses who were rescued from slaughter. Without training or papers they'll go right back to slaughter and what kind of example do I set for my children when I tell them that a commitment to an animal is forever but hey, if the going gets tough dump 'em.
Now it's Christmas. My man grew up in a relatively affluent lifestyle in that his father could afford to lavish his family with gifts at Christmas as his job was in a department store. I grew up with a pair of pajamas at Christmas. I suggested that we start looking around for some used toys for the kids for Christmas and he was a little upset at that idea. Visions of the kids in therapy telling the doctor about how hard life was with adoptive parents who wouldn't even buy them new gifts but slummed around for used toys was quite depressing. But that's what we're doing and he's come around nicely now even looking for things himself. I've got to slow him down or he'll have spent as much on used toys as he would have on new stuff.

That all important first post

Once upon a time there was a wild pagan child born into a staid Christian family. This girl loved her family and so for a time she tried to conform but eventually she rebelled and ran from those she loved to find her own path. Her journey was filled with bad choices and hardship but every step on this road had a lesson for her and she embraced the knowledge and grew wise. One day she realized she was ready to share her journey and she found the perfect man to walk beside her. Together they raised some children on a small farm where they tried to live their lives in a way that honored the Earth and they all lived happily ever after.
Sounds pretty doesn't it? The real scoop is that I left home at 16 to marry just so I could get out of the house. A year later I had a baby and felt like I was being buried. When the beatings and verbal abuse started it was almost a relief because suddenly I could feel something again. Once again the answer for me was to run. I ran. My daughter and I had some real adventures and my daughter grew up to be a wonderful human in spite of my .....flighty parenting. I really did have an epiphany of sorts and decided that I was whole and complete. Not one second later Greg showed up in my life and we were married soon after to a Greek chorus of "it'll never last...." We had some adventures and two more children in spite of the doctors who said it was impossible. Then we sort of backed into fostering when we were asked to help out with a family member who had lost their very sick child to Social Services. Eventually we were cleared as foster parents but it was apparent that the child was never going to be able to leave his safe hospital room so we took other sick children into our home. It was a very rewarding and selfish act as I loved being the one responsible for "fixing" these broken babies and occasionally a broken family. But we quickly found that there is no line of people waiting to adopt these babies when they're abandoned by their biological relatives. Of course we'd grown to love them but were we really the right place for these children? We didn't have a lot of money or things to give them but there was no place for them to go if not us so we adopted five of our babies and quit fostering before we adopted the whole world.
So, we moved to a small farm where our kids could run and play. We rescued some animals and grew a massive garden to feed everyone. I live my life in a Pagan way but teach my children about all religions so one day when they are whole and complete they can choose wisely.
And so my story comes to an end. Greg and I are still together 23 years after we first heard we wouldn't make it. We adore each other as much today as we did then and enjoy every day together.