Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

For old quotes, look here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ham It Up

Last Saturday our neighbors gave us a ham. A random ham. Weird, no?

Not really. He works at the local food bank, and when they have food that is close to or just past the expiration date, they send it home with employees.

We've received pizzas larger than manhole covers, pork chops that weighed more than Sprout, and once a rib-eye that fed several of us for a month. Okay, maybe not a month...but it was huge and more than enough for three meals (I et it when Someone was away, and it lasted through dinner, breakfast, and lunch, with scraps for the outdoor cats). I am happy to receive it - with a freezer, expiration dates hold less meaning for me, and I believe expiration dates are not the definitive factor for determining food freshness anyway.

This time, a boneless ham.

I turned into into dinner on Sunday - baked ham, mashed potatoes with home grown dill, and steamed, home grown green beans.

There was a lot left over, so ham and eggs were on the breakfast menu, ham sandwiches for lunch, and...umm...am I starting to smell like pork? I think I just felt myself break out in glaze...

What do y'all do with leftover ham? And how do you feel about expiration dates?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Want, Need

When I was in the fifth grade, I had a teacher who thought our class could use learning the difference between "wants" and "needs".

Needs, he said, were what we couldn't live without.

Wants, he said, were what we could live without but would like to have.

In life, he said, needs come before wants.

He defined needs as food, clothing, and shelter. These are things without which we cannot get along. I would argue today that food and water are necessary to life. Shelter, while mighty fine, can be got along without in many places if needs must. Even clothing is extraneous - just ask a nudist!

I often think the human world could use learning the difference between what it wants and what it needs.

The denizens of Casa de Crazy have been watching documentaries on Netflix, of late. With satellite gone and the DVD player on permanent fritz, Netflix is our entertainment buddy. Thanks to T, who lets us use his account!

We seem to have a few basic topics that interest us right now: food (growing, harvesting, processing, nutrition), water (bottling, cleanliness, scarcity), marijuana (the disparity between public will, state law, and federal law, growing, medicinal uses, prohibition in general), and corporate culture (companies that are aware of and work to minimize their social and environmental impact, companies that seek to show a clean, compassionate public face while in truth they have little concern for anything but the lining of their pockets, and companies that don't even try to hide their ugliness).

Oddly, many of the subjects overlap.

Common to many of the shows we've seen is privation. If you live in North America, chances are you have, or can fairly easily find, food and potable water. Chances are also good that you have or can find shelter and clothing. In the US, a couple of dumpster dives can garner perfectly good food for a month. A few more in the right place can garner meat for a year. I am seriously considering my local markets and their dumpsters. In the US we throw away 3,000 pounds of food a second. Throw away. We don't even compost it or feed it to pigs; it all goes into landfills.

In other places, though, people feel lucky to eat a few times a week. Potable water is a pipe dream, let alone clean, clear, easily accessible water from a convenient tap. Often, governments and corporations make it difficult or impossible for the poorest, most desperate of people to meet their own needs, instead fostering dependence on aid from others; usually the very governments and corporations that seek to (and often do) control natural resources and the generation of wealth.

Now don't get me wrong, I actually aspire to wealth...but not at the expense of others or the environment.

So many people in this world can't even meet their own needs. We do without a lot of wants (while I may joke that I need the Internet to live, life goes on without it) but we have plenty of clean, fresh water on demand, and while we may get tired of leftovers and cheap foods, we don't go hungry at Casa de Crazy. No one has yet mandated that we choose between drinking toxic ground water or paying with our lives for dubious tap water, or decreed that we can't grow our own food, or passed laws that said we cannot collect rain water for our gardens (sorry Arizona, Oregon, and...umm...I can't recall who else had rainwater collection bans).

I want many things - to be able to buy nappies for Sprout, to go to a movie sometimes, to pay the phone bill, to be free (if only for a little while) of my first-world worries about paying car insurance or the Internet bill without having to borrow (borrow, borrow, borrow, but never able to pay back) from Mum to do it. Folks, I pure loathe being an Albatross.

Need though? I think we've got that covered in spades.

How about you?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I don't look in the mirror often. I must cop to an aversion to mirrors. I've gone years without knowing if, indeed, I even had a reflection.

It's not as difficult as you might think to go without looking at yourself - I don't use cosmetics and what I do with my hair can hardly be considered "styling". I don't need to see what I'm doing.

From time to time I take a look, just to see what's going on above my ever-lower boobs.

Funny thing...I can't see my eye color. Really. I can look and look, but I can't ever tell what color they are. I have to ask someone else.

Come to think of it, when I bother looking I don't see me. I see my grandfather. I see his eyes staring out into the nowhere, looking at what isn't there, thinking his lonely thoughts, dwelling. I see my grandmother, my Mother's mother, tired smile and high cheeks like the one picture I've seen of her. I see my mother, the set of her mouth, the way the lines form around my eyes when I smile, the stubborn set of her chin. I see a little of my father, mostly in the shape of my body, my shoulders and wrists. I see generations of family, a line back to the beginning, my ancestry looking back at me through eyes that see do much more than what's there.

It's only when I look at my children that I see myself. I see myself in them, characteristics that they can only have gotten from me. I see, in them, bits and pieces of the people I carry with me.

Sometimes people look at Bird or Sprout and tell me they look just like me. Lots of folks voice the opinion that my kids are beautiful. I am biased - of course they are beautiful - they are my mother, my grandmothers, my grandfathers, and on days when I am not too tired or worn in spirit, I'll even own they're a little bit me.

The only mirror I need reflects so much more than my visage...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Yes, It Matters.

A witch is a witch is a witch. Male, female, witch.

I mention this because lately I have run into the word "warlock" with irritating frequency, and in every case it has been misused.

Here follows a brief vocabulary lesson:

Warlock is a verb, not a noun. One may be warlocked. One may warlock another. One is NOT a warlock.

To be warlocked is to be banned from a coven, a community of witches, as an oath breaker. During what we call The Burning Times (aren't we festive??), it was dangerous to be known at a witch, so people took craft names and swore themselves to secrecy, to protect the coven and its collective knowledge. If a person were to make public those secrets, or to act in a way contrary to the coven's law, or endanger the coven and its members, or use their knowledge to the detriment of the community, they could and likely would be warlocked - banished from the coven and the craft, stripped of title and privilege, denied access to resources, and occasionally even ritualistically "bound", cut off from any source of mystical power or deity. Occasionally this meant being marked in some visible way to warn other covens, and banishment from the village as well. It was serious business, not undertaken lightly. Once warlocked, always warlocked, and that could mean a bleak existence, indeed.

If a person today refers to them self as a warlock, I presume they are either ignorant or not to be trusted. As the former is more likely than the latter - I have only heard of one war locking in recent history in MY community - I often undertake to educate the person in question, but it's a losing battle...it seems some folks would rather cling to their Hollywood ideas of witchery than embrace accuracy.

So why do I care? If society accepts the definition of "warlock" as "male witch", why not let it go? For the same reason I would not let it go if society decided that "frog" means "nightingale". It doesn't. No amount of misuse will change it.

A witch is a witch is a witch. Spread the word, would you?