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Hubby’s New Hobby

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A while back my hubby and my oldest were hit by an intoxicated woman as they were bringing donations to a local soup kitchen. The donations never made it, the vehicle was totaled, and if not for Michael’s quick reaction, the injuries sustained could have been fatal. As bad as the crash was, the lady got out of her old van, walked barefoot in the mud to ask my husband and son for help to push her disabled clunker and get it started so she could get on home. Like she was oblivious to the damage she had done to my beautiful Denali. People are weird.

It has taken some getting used to. Where before he would work away from home and come back every 10 days and stay for 4 during the work season, now he is home 24/7. Very different.

Here’s the hubs the day we rescued a pair of owls that had gotten trapped in a barn. That was a great day. The owls seemed to appreciate it.

So he needed a hobby. It was my suggestion, as I untangled him from my hair. He chose one. Storage auctions. . .

At first I tried to dissuade him saying it was bad karma to profit from others misfortune. I think this is what prevents most people from participating in these things. Then we started calling the places and asking questions. I wanted to know if there was a way to return personal items to people, like birth certificates, photos, etc. I was told that almost everyone returns that sort of stuff to the people who have abandoned their units. Forgive my digression, but I feel the need to clarify that indeed these units are abandoned. There are usually several options for people to make good on the storage fees. One man said he would let people into the unit to grab a certain piece to sell for the money owed. Not all will do this. Another stated they would allow a work trade for past due fees. The thing is according to the lot owners we’ve spoken to, people have incredible egos, and they can’t look someone in the face and say “I’m unable to pay what I owe”, and none of these folks seem to care enough to make a financial plan. Despite the tons of books and discs we’ve foundin these units on this subject that would suggest otherwise. I wonder if Suze Orman saw it comin’?

One of the first units he brought home was full of collections. There seemed to be plenty of stuff to sell to pay not just the storage fees, but this guy had enough to live off the profits for months. And yet, as I was burning the trash (yes, people are crazy and they pay to store garbage!) and waiting for the wood stove to be less full, I glanced at a paper he’d written about how broke he was and how he couldn’t understand it. Meanwhile, my hubby was out on the deck cleaning cat hair off of over 100 Sci-Fi paperbacks, that did not look like they’d been cracked once. Americans, what the hell is wrong with you? He also had a lighter collection, micro-minis (yeah, a grown guy), and other collections. Honey, I would’a sold me some goods before I paid a dime to store any of it. Priorities.

So, I seem to have changed my mind in regard to the whole storage unit auctions gig. I no longer think of it as inducing bad karma. I’m not wishing harm on anyone, nor am I bent on destruction of anything. I think of it more as some sort of archaeological dig without shovels and brushes. Where you donate a certain portion of your findings to thrift stores rather than museums. You really learn a lot about people and things they desire. For instance, I had gone 52 years without ever encountering even one tiny Squinkie, go figure. And I had never had the Orbeez experience prior to the hubby’s new hobby. If you are unfamiliar with either of the aforementioned items please do Google, then even after you know what they are, tilt your head to the side and wonder in puzzlement still. People pay to store those.

Inevitably I find myself wondering what made the person abandon their stuff and the answers seem to be many, but most either have passed away and their children think it’s not worth paying what’s due, or they’ve been incarcerated, or they have so much that they honestly don’t care. That seemed to be the case for one particular unit where we found multiple Christmas trees stuffed into bins randomly with the ornaments (what was left of them) still on. It’s hard to have sympathy for someone who is so wasteful. We returned 3 overflowing boxes of photos and some life-sized plexi-glass cut-outs of herself to the tree crusher. That was the unit that changed me.

I had already decided I was going to wear gloves when handling OPS (other people’s stuff), yet as we sorted through this particular unit, it was a time when gloves just didn’t seem to be enough.  I was looking through some small items when I came across a tiny gold-colored treasure chest.  It said “TREASURE” right on the camel back lid. I shook it and it rattled like it was full of tiny stones. My eyes lit up and I opened it, quickly pouring the contents into my gloved hand. I had to look twice, then resist the involuntary impulse to scream and toss 40 year-old baby teeth across the room. My fingers clinched around them in rebellion against my mind, thank goodness. Preventing me from having to go look for those little nightmares with the sweeper later.  At this exact same time Michael was going through a metal file cabinet and as I looked across the room ready to communicate my horror, I saw the look on his face. Then, I saw what was in his gloved (thank you Jesus) hand.

Now, even though it was evident that the lady who had rented this unit had been married, and also had a boyfriend (archaeological evidence), it seemed that her “appetite” was not satiated by either.  As my husband tried to hold her battery operated “personal friend” he’d found in the file cabinet, farther than arms length, I saw his brown face go ghostly white. I wonder how she alphabetized that? I wish I could have heard what he said next as he squinched up one side of his face in a wounded animal sort of way, but I was laughing so hard I almost dropped the teeth.

This lady also abandoned some very valuable items for someone who thought every single one of her baby teeth were worth saving. All in all hubby’s hobby has turned out to be quite lucrative. Aside from the horrors, we have come across some incredible treasures. As well as crazy historical stuff that just makes my mouth water. One Lane Bryant cedar chest had a leatherette pouch buried in the bottom, and stuffed with papers. This is where we found JFK and Elvis magazines from the time of their deaths and what I would call a “playwrights dream”. Stacks and stacks of articles and court papers regarding an accident this guy had been in back in the ’50’s. It must have been an absolute life-changing horror at the time and why anyone would have saved the newspaper clippings and other pieces of evidence for posterity is beyond me. The court documents are on paper that is barely readable, browned with age, and dry as leaves. As I said, a mouth-watering chunk of history.

This same unit included perhaps 40 or more photo albums and they were full of very bad shots. Someone should have taken this persons camera, that was a lot of time and money wasted. No, I mean really bad, and lots of them too. They were all returned. It also had over 75 antique and vintage oil lamps, as well as 1,000’s of sports cards and other sports paraphernalia. I looked at it as a burden until I did some Googling to research their value. I would never have imagined what people pay for tiny paper cards with athletes faces on them. Nor would I have guessed how totally worthless books are becoming. Books are works of art in my opinion and we are losing that magnificent art form to a cold technology. I was very exited to find a copy of “Gaudeamus Igitur Juvenes Dum Sumus” with its gorgeous green cover embellished with 8 beautifully aged brass cabochons placed in the corners front and back, like tiny little feet to hold it up table-like when being read. I carefully touched the detailed cover and opened it to examine the pages.  A priceless treasure in my mind. In actuality not so much. It makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever that a Joe Namath rookie card is more valuable to modern America than an antique book.

Not all are winners, but it’s up to you to make money or not. The hubby learned it’s better to not bid on what is imagined, and by that I mean if it’s not in view, don’t imagine it’s in the box. He watched one man open empty box after empty box that appeared to be  gaming systems of all sorts.  Nintendos, Wiis, and the like.   Not one contained anything but packaging material.  Poor guy was what they call a newbie, and that was a hard lesson to be sure. Hubster himself has learned from his own mistakes as well.  One unit had over 100 giant loads of laundry. Some items had actually been washed, just not according to my standards. I don’t know what these people were thinking. There were also 3 jumbo containers of partially used liquid laundry detergent in the same space. Maybe they had no machine of their own and didn’t have quarters? So, do some hand-washing and sell those things for quarters.  They could have bought a used washing machine with the profits these clothes have  made so far.

I could never give away, let alone sell any thing I haven’t cleaned thoroughly first. So the laundry unit was lots of work.  All the clothes went to my 17 year-old daughter who has made some very good pocket change from her own little second-hand clothing sales.  My oldest is in charge of all nerd paraphernalia as that’s his expertise, and the baby of the family takes care of the LP record albums and such.  His father was ready to put $1 stickers on all of the vintage albums until my kid did a minute or two of research to see that one album in the first handful was going for $185 online. Dad’s no longer in charge of pricing.  Anything.

I do have to admit for the first day or two after he wins an auction it’s a little crazy.  Considering it’s like a mini move every time he hauls a load home, it tends to look a little “Grey Gardeny” at times. . . only with plumbing and live flora.  I’ve learned to control my impulse to run through the yard in my underwear with a brooch-fastened t-shirt wrapped ’round my head. I mean we live in the country so who would know, but honestly I just don’t really care for it when the kids call me “little Eva”.

What was once regarded as profiting off of others misfortune is now considered by us to be a service of sorts. We donate an incredible amount of the items to families who actually use the stuff rather than wait for it to biodegrade. Some crazy cosmic wonders have taken place also, but I’ll save that for another day. I have some collections to clean, list, photograph and post.

 

One of the owls freed from the barn.

Things Are Not Always What They Seem

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Quixote Opt Illusion

One of the last jobs I held before becoming self-employed was as a Counselor in a Domestic Violence Shelter. I held that job through two pregnancies and only took it because I believed the Shelter to be a safe place and the agreement was that I would be allowed to bring my children to work with me. It was a good gig. However, as it turned out the shelter, a medium large Victorian in the center of town was not exactly as safe as it looked.
We had some real wackos, and I’m not just talking about the clients. Some of the staff had no business around women and children so vulnerable and broken. One of the abused had some psychological issues that came to a head during her moon time. Standing at the top of the stairs in a bra and a towel she had somehow gained control over the entire household. Administrators were there and the house was full of drama as I came in to work that day. They had called the police and the uniforms arrived shortly after I did. A couple had already unsnapped their holsters. I knew her abuser (ex-husband) was in law enforcement, so as soon as I heard what was up I turned around and threw the uniforms out of the house, yelling “get the f*** out, her abuser is a cop”. They backed up, good cops will do that when it’s needed. And yes, when necessary I turn into a sailor.
With everyone crowded in the hallway at the bottom of the stairwell I pushed my way through to the foot of the stairs. Staff was encouraging me to stay with them. Our client was twice my size. As I ascended the staircase I talked to her in gentle tones as if it were any other day. Then, I noticed the knife. Almost all the way up to her and the weapon was eye-level as I was only a few steps below the landing where she stood. Without trepidation I continued, “Good morning honey, are we having a time today?” I said to her in my most positive tone. She stared blankly with her brow raised. “Is it your turn in the bathroom? Let’s get you ready for a tub”. I slowly touched her shoulder and then the hand with the knife in it. “We don’t need that in the tub now, do we?” Her children were among the observers. All I kept thinking was I didn’t want them to see their mother get shot. I kept trying to block out the vision of her tumbling down the narrow stairwell and then sprawled lifeless at the bottom. I told the looky-loos to move as I tossed the knife down a couple of stairs. Someone must have rushed to retrieve it as it wasn’t there when the client and I descended. Soon after she was given her meds, some clothes and driven by staff to the hospital.
Guns. . . not as needed as you might think.
Another client came in complaining her CIA hubby had his CIA crony Dr. buddy implant in her ear a device that would allow him to track her. This was the middle of the ’90’s and we didn’t have GPS in every phone, car, and hand-held device. So, the rest of the staff including the Administration signed her off as another wack-a-doo. Only when I asked a few questions of them did the light bulb go on. Well, in some it did, others love the dark comforting blanket of ignorance. “Did her hubby work CIA?” Oh yes he did. “Did any of our staff have pets with RFID chips” Hmmmm, yeaza…”How hard would it be to drug your wife and RFIDed her?” She was treated with slightly more respect after that. And taken off 5150 status. Even so, she still left early. She was trying to get help to get x-rays and have it removed. That was more than the shelter was willing to provide. Ironically, a cops sister-in-law, an actual 5150 was chauffeured regularly for check ups and pregnancy tests for her Psuedocyesis aka false pregnancy. At the time that she was recommended to us she had been “pregnant” for 4 years with her frickin’ fake fetus.
Another thing I’d like to mention is as a young woman I lived next door to a man who was ex-CIA. He told me things about conspiracies, and psy-ops that made me want to drink myself into oblivion. I had trusted my government. I loved my America. What was this crazy man telling me?
His son Joey had a crush on me and was a gorgeous, blond, buffed, Italian kid a couple years younger than me. Did I mention he was gorgeous? He just seemed so wounded, I couldn’t handle all that. Later I found out how he had gotten that way. It seems, that to shut up Neighborly who only wanted to do good and be an upright CIA agent and wouldn’t simmer down about it, they set fire to his gorgeous luxury home. Joe the youngest was 2 at the time. He suffered 3rd degree burns to 38% of his body and almost died. His 3 other siblings were tiny at the time too, but escaped without injury.
When I met them, they were all living together as adults with their parents as a choice. They held jobs and gave false info to employers to protect their identities. They were living in what appeared on the exterior to be substandard conditions as a “mask”. Yard unkempt, house not painted, trees not pruned. The inside was immaculate and nicely furnished with minimal decor. The father never left the house or backyard in the light of day. They lived in constant fear of what could have been. It had been 18 years since the fire, which was proven to be arson, and each family member was still in their own kind of shock from it.
With all of that being said I would like to conclude by relating my feelings that weapons are all shapes and sizes, some can’t even be seen. I believe they are all bad when misused. That doesn’t mean they aren’t sometimes necessary on this planet. America obviously has gone a bit overboard. What use are automatic weapons to civilians? Can we afford to tone it down a bit? Can we afford not to? Can we do it on our own, without being forced to give up our right to bear arms? Another conclusive point I’d like to make is, our police seem to unsnap that holster far too soon in some cases and that needs to be addressed just as seriously as these civilian shooters. And finally, if you believe the government is only willing to kill foreign babies to get their way. . . I’ve got a few words for you. . .Joey, and his brother and sisters.

Like a Bumblebee, Baby

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a few things from the garden

Wow! Where did the time go?  Long time no blog, or much of anything else but harvest, can, water, and look for new recipes for all of these veggies.

I’ve also been out and about trying to get support and endorsements for California’s Prop. 37.  Hanging out at farmer’s markets, pounding the pavement up and down some of the busier streets in our small town.  I’m amazed at the difference between the lack of awareness about this subject we have here in North County, as opposed to those in South County who actually applauded our protest signs as we marched in the 4th of July parade.  In south county children are even aware of what GMOs are and they came out in the street pointing to our signs and said so.  On the other hand, here in north county, very few folks even know what I am talking about.  Same county . . . strange . . . .like Twilight Zone weirdness to me.

I have had some horrible reception here in north county, but it hasn’t stopped me.  Life is hard sometimes, that’s why they call it life.   Attendance at the meetings seems to be dropping due mainly to season and folks traveling during this time of year.   And then there is the conservative, small town factor.   I did meet a man at one of the farmer’s markets who actually had manufactured biotech seeds.  He told me he believed it was the only way the planet is going to make it.  When I asked about the horrific mutations and birth defects they have been known to cause as well as the cancer, diabetes, nerve disorders, and more, he looked away and then back at me and said the industry had simply grown too fast too soon, without proper regulation.  Given the biotech industry has been doing this to our food for over 2 decades I asked him if that wasn’t time enough to get some of these regulations in place, and would labeling GMOs be a bad thing if they are so wonderful?  At that point in the conversation he was being led away by his wife.  I thanked him for giving me his point of view and told him he was the first human being I’d ever met in person who was actually pro-GMO.  He never answered as to why we should not label.

I don’t know that we will beat Monsanto, they have already spent 25 million to tell the state how the cost of putting a few more letters on a label will cause food prices to skyrocket.  So sick of their BS. However, the campaign is about more than just winning.  It is a reason to educate.  It is a means by which conversation on the subject can be started.  I will continue to work at this until the election and past that day.  Hopefully one day we will join the 50 other countries who demand that GMOs are labeled.

Meanwhile, I need to eat some of this organic squash that is taking over my world.  The other day I thought I would try something and it turned out delicious.  So simple, so fast, so yummy!!  Don’t you wish life was more like that?

Super Simple Summer Squash

Slice any type of summer squash in thin slices, about 1/8″ thick.  Place in a large bowl.  Pour a vinaigrette over the top of all and toss to coat.  Add Parmesan cheese to the bowl and toss to cover pieces as best you can.  Lay slices on baking sheet and add more cheese to the empty spots.  Bake for approx. 15-20 minutes on 350 degrees or until browned.  Eat while hot, but still good cold!

Hope you enjoy this dish and if you are a Californian, please remember to vote YES on #37 in November.

The Higgs Boson aka “God Particle” Located

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Just one of the many things I find amazing.   How will this knowledge be utilized?  Why do we need to know where the “God Particle” is located?  How much did we spend to find out?   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higgs_boson <–  this will need to be updated. 

Click the pic to read article from Wired Science

and one more for good measure:   http://www.squidoo.com/higgs-boson-for-dummies  Another that will need updating but a great page nonetheless.

I’m Still Growing

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This was written about a week ago and I fully intended to post beautiful pics of how my garden has been progressing but I seem to need a new blackberry, camera, or laptop or perhaps all three!  And it’s not like I have time to shop even online.  So here’s a gorgeous pic of veggies until I can get mine to upload.  Haven’t had rain since this blog, really miss it already.

 

Today was weird and cold and rainy and it hailed too.  Harumph!  I did make it out to my garden for a moment when the clouds parted, but it began to rain again before I gathered my brunch veggies.  So, inside day spent making brochures for my buddy Farmer Dale.  They turned out pretty good, I’ll need to make a few changes, and make some flyers too.  They are for the Farmer’s Market.  He does woodcrafts as well as sells his organic fruits and vegetables.  It’s because of Farmer Dale and Jay aka Majah Blak of Heavenly Harvest Hydroponics that I even gave organic gardening a try this year.  Still learning, and still so much to learn, but one thing I know is I am hooked.  I will garden now every single day I can for the rest of my life.  I have always had flower beds and a few veggies here and there.  An asparagus patch, a couple of artichokes, some berries, but nothing like the task I’m taking on this year. And all 100% poison free!!!

I have now filled 37 out of 40 boxes in various sizes from 3.5′ sq  to 6′ sq.  The larger ones are very deep about 3′ or so.    There are also some shallow ones about 10″ – 1′ in depth.  I am proud to say all the wood was reclaimed.  Most from a local business called Nor-Cal, they are shipped machine parts in large wooden crates.  We intercepted them before they were hauled off to the “land-full”.   We used leftover siding, and other lumber as well.  My point being that none of the wood was purchased and I have actually 50 boxes.  I may fill all 50, but for now my goal is the first 40.  The soil is a rich mix of something a local mill sells called soil conditioner and lots and lots of cow dookie.  My other 10 boxes are mostly manure so I will be better off not putting anything in them until next year.  I am hoping some of my 40 boxes are not to hot.  It’s still too soon to really tell.

I began with some very easy crops and I recommend every beginner do the same.  Radish, collards, garlic,garlic chive, lettuces, onion, kale, mung beans, soy, pumpkins, corn, squash.  I planted many types of beans but the ones that seemed to do the best are the soy and mung.  I don’t know that any of the navy, black, pinto, kidney, or black-eyed peas will come up. Some of the harder things to grow from seed were the tomatoes, watermelon, some herbs, and cucumbers.  There were even some “sacrificial” seedlings that got up to a certain height and then decided not to live past the transplant.  I understand we have a short growing season and that requires plants to be a certain size before going out to be hardened off.  One of the challenges in our area is extreme weather. Yesterday was over 90 degrees F. and tomorrow the high is predicted at 57.  There will be a frost warning so every tender plant will be covered with straw or plastic water bottles donated from Farmer Dale.  Just cut off the top at the neck for a temporary mini “greenhouse” or cut off the bottom and save the cap top for a mini greenhouse to go through the winter.  Unscrew cap on nicer winter days and keep caps somewhere you won’t lose them. You’ll want to replace them at night and leave them on during snowy days.

I want to share some of the organic tricks of the trade that I have learned from my farmer buddies.  The first amazing thing I was taught was from Farmer Dale who told me to pour all of my pickle juice, pepper juice and any types of brines into a 5 gallon bucket with a lid.  Adding vinegar to this bucket is fine also.  I named this concoction herbacider.  You could actually drink it.  I don’t know who would want to, but the point is it won’t kill anything but weeds.  And it does!!!  Crazy!!  There is no need for poisons.  You have to reapply frequently and make sure not to get any on the plants you want to keep.  Herbacider does not distinguish, it just wipes out everything.  Spray and notice the difference in minutes the weeds start to wilt.  Come back the next day and you’ll notice a definite browning on the edges and more wilting.  Spray as often as you like but I find once every other week is good.  We are burdened with star thistle in our area and people try all kind of poison to no avail. I found this to be an excellent way to get rid of them.  Frequent reapplication is recommended.  I expect as soon as this news gets out the price of vinegar will sky rocket, or Monsanto will buy up all rights to it and make it toxic. 

Another great gardening lesson learned was from my buddy Jay, he was recommending to someone on Facebook that they spray their lettuces with a molasses and water mixture to prevent bugs from eating them up.  I was having the same problem so I did as advised.  Not only did the bugs go away and leave the plants alone, the plants grew about an inch a day for about 4 days.  I wanted to spray again based on the results, but Jay let me know every 2 weeks is fine.  He also helped me understand that the bugs are just doing their job.  They are working to eradicate sick plants from the garden.  So if a plant is getting eaten it is most likely because it is lacking in some nutrient.  The molasses provides the plant sugars needed to promote health.  Spraying it directly on the leaves is the best way, but do this early in the morning rather than in the heat of the day.  Water droplets acts like little magnifiers, and where they stay the sun heats up the leaf and burns it leaving little spots.  Just like taking a magnifier and burning a hole in paper by focusing the rays of the sun to a point.  If you notice the plant is sticky cut back on the amount of molasses in your mix.

Let’s see, weeds, feeds, some bugs, let’s talk more about that.  If you have ants Farmer Dale says to pour cornmeal on the top of  the anthill until it resembles a snow capped mountain.  The ants will eat themselves to death on the meal as it expands and suffocates them from the inside. It also sucks them dry because they can’t get enough water into a bloated, squeezed shut abdomen, and what they can ingest further swells the cornmeal. 

The good bugs are to be recognized and respected.  If you find a few praying mantis eggs in your yard leave them be. I have counted over 20 in my yard and veggie garden.  I feel very blessed as I know each egg will bear 100’s of baby mantis in a month or two.  I love the praying mantis.  It is one of the most beneficial bugs we can have in our garden.  Another is the ladybug, I found a hoard of them and harvested all I could catch (about a dozen) and transferred them to my garden, which already has quite a few.  Never too many ladybugs I always say.  We always called them roly-polys, and as children we would roll them like marbles .  Thank goodness for the pillbug another helper for the gardener.  Leave them be and you won’t regret it.  Of course any pollinator is worth it’s weight in gold in our day and time, learn to recognize them.  It’s not just honey bees that spread the pollination love.  Scary creepy things do too, like bats, and some wasps.  And beautiful butterflies, and hummingbirds are worth welcoming into your garden.  They provide another much needed avenue of transportation for precious pollen.

Plants can be used to deter pests as well.  Onion, garlic, chives, cabbage, brocoli, kale, seem to not only be bug free but are preventing bugs from eating the plants they are in bed with.  This is not 100% but is seems to help quite a bit. When used with the molasses mixture bugs are greatly diminished. A batch of stubborn aphids in the collards is getting a misting of  50-50 Isopropyl alcohol and water.  If that doesn’t do it I’ll add a couple of tablespoons of dishsoap to the next batch of spray and see what the aphids have to say about that! 

Squirrels are a different story.  And dogs who chase them and dig for them in your precious plants, well let’s just say God made canines cute for their own self preservation. . . .spoiled Rottenweiler.

Kombucha-licious!

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There is some argument as to the origin of this healthy beverage, some say it comes from Asian cultures ( you’ll get the pun later), while others say the Japanese and Chinese acquired it from the Russians.  However it came to be I’m grateful.  It is another of the food items usually purchased for far more money than it actually costs to make at home.  It tends to over ferment on the store shelves also, causing it to become very vinegary and unpleasant.  This is not the way to drink Kombucha.  An ideal serving of Kombucha should have only a slightly apple cider vinegar taste, with a hint of effervescense.   There is really no need to wait until it’s so fermented you can use it for rocket fuel.  You won’t want to drink it, it will turn into a large batch of starter, and all your hard work and groceries will have just gone to waste.  Make it to suit your individual taste.  If you like it stronger, by all means let it ferment for a longer time.  I prefer it more palatable.

So, what exactly is Kombucha?  It’s a fermented drink made traditionally from black tea, sugar, and a SCOBY.  You simply make up a gallon of sweet tea using any sweetener, with the exception of artificial sweeteners and honey.  There are some people that say you can use pasteurized honey, however honey is a natural anti-bacterial agent and it will kill the SCOBY so you’re better off not using it.  You can use white, brown, raw, cane, maple crystal, or any of a number of others.  We use whatever we have most of in the pantry at the time.

Umm, and what exactly is a SCOBY?  That’s a little more complicated.  It’s often mistakenly called a mushroom, and in fact in Japan “kombucha” is actually seaweed tea, and the tea we call kombucha is called “kocha kinoko” or “red-tea mushroom”.  It is not however a mushroom.  It is a Sybiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast, hence the acronym.

it looks a little somethin’ like this

The photo above shows a SCOBY ready for shipping.  I used a recycled plate shipper of styrofoam.  The SCOBY pictured above is about the size of a small decorator plate so it is perfect.  If you are interested in mailing these to friends and family I would recommend finding a Granny with a nice plate collection and asking nicely for any mailers that she can spare.  Sanitize them thoroughly with hot, soapy water in case the zip-loc rips, and SCOBY becomes exposed to surface of the styrofoam.  (So far it has never happened, but better safe than sorry right?) This culture was just under 1″ thick.  Quite a beautiful baby, if I do say so myself. Below is a much younger culture. If you look very closely you can see that it is almost see-thru.  This particular baby was less than an 1/8th of an inch thick.   Don’t be afraid you’ll hurt this thing.  It is tougher than it looks.  As a matter of fact I understand there are some types of SCOBYs that are being used to replace leather.  Science is still working on the water absorbance issue.  But still, leather . . . pretty tough stuff.  So no need to put on the kid gloves.  (Which one day could be made of SCOBY, hello).

new baby

If you can’t obtain a full grown SCOBY with starter from a friend, contact me and I can send you some for a fee.  umadana777@gmail.com.  Overnight shipping is mandatory.  If you have saint-like patience you can do as I’ve recently learned is possible, and buy a bottle of raw kombucha as starter and wait for the SCOBY to form on top of your tea. This takes a great deal of time and effort, but the rewards of growing your own mother must be nice.

Now, what do you do with this stuff?

To begin with you will need the following:

1 gallon sweet tea in glass container (sweet tea = filtered water* + 8 bags or 6 tsp. loose leaf tea + 3/4 to 1 C. sugar.) Please do not boil the water before you make the tea.  Heat it to just before boiling and steep tea 5 min for black or longer if using green or white.  Strain into glass gallon jar with sugar.  Stir to melt sugar. Let come to room temp.  (70-72 degrees)

1 pint of starter (fermented kombucha from previous batch or store bought bottle of raw kombucha)

1 SCOBY (not needed if you have raw kombucha combined with the patience of a saint)

Remove a pint or so of tea to make room for starter.  Add starter to room-temperature tea, gently place  SCOBY evenly onto top of tea/starter blend.  it’s okay if it sinks, but better if it floats. If for no other reason than you don’t have to fish for it when it’s time to make a new batch. Cover opening with unbleached coffee filter (ideal) or cotton cloth.  I like to attach with raffia or cotton string, you may use rubber bands or whatever you have.   Kombucha needs oxygen to ferment so please use something suitable to cover it.

Now just wait. . . hmm, hmm, hmm . . .hmm, hmm, hmm.  About 5-7 days in the summer, hmm, hmm,hmm, and up to 10 days in the winter.  It’s best kept at around 70 degrees while in the process of fermenting.  After fermentation is accomplished, remove SCOBY and 1 pint of starter for new batch.

You may add fruit juice to it at this point.  Make sure to use a non-GMO, no HFCS fruit juice if you do.  To add juice you can adjust the ratio to suit your individual taste.   I would recommend no more than 60% juice to 40% kombucha tea.  Of course if you want a stronger tea flavor use less juice.

Once tea is mixed with juice I bottle and cork.  I use recycled Patron bottles, wine bottles, or other corkables.  I also have some nice glass gallon jugs with finger rings (like cider comes in) that I fill up as well.  When you have it blended in the flavor and ratio you desire, place in refrigerator and drink each day.  You can drink kombucha without fruit juice if you’d like.  I prefer with.  I do the 60/40 blend and have been doing that for a long time now.

Make sure you are drinking 4 oz of pure kombucha each day.  So if you are doing a 60/40 that is 6 oz of juice to 4 oz of kombucha, for 10 total oz of beverage.  You may drink half in the morning and half in the evening or all at once any time of the day.  By the very next day your body will be eliminating toxins it’s been holdin’ onto since the 70’s. It’s really immediate and can be somewhat intense if you are really poisoned.  It works by producing something wonderful called glucuronic acid.  Our liver can make this naturally, if it’s not sick or sluggish.  The kombucha helps promote as well as add to the amount of glucuronic acid in the liver, thereby detoxifying and cleansing a very important organ responsible for eliminating poisons from our system.

Do not do kombucha if you take any hormone replacement drugs or are on remicade for Crohn’s or arthritis.  This could result in something called lactic acidosis.  You don’t want none ‘a that.

Have fun experimenting with different teas, juices, and sweeteners.  I hope you enjoy this drink and that it brings you optimum health.

*do not used distilled or purified.

I Got the Feva’

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Whew, did I need me some springtime.  I haven’t been indoors long enough lately to be able to blog.  Had to hike and explore and clean and start my garden.  Oh, let me start there. . . my happy place.  Several raised beds varying in size from 3.5 sq. ft. to 6 sq. ft., enclosed in what can only be called a maximum security penitentiary for plants.  I teased the hubster that they weren’t going anywhere.  He scowled, (take a joke mister) and told me it was for the free range cattle and deer.  I looked around.  I didn’t see any.

I asked him to leave the pig-wire off of at least one box.  It makes for rather difficult access to my sproutlings. He did what I asked.

I hate it when he’s right.

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One of the herd, that made herself right to home. I call her “Luck-bone”.                                                         As in: “get on home, Luck-bone, hyah”. . .  ’cause I’m all cowgirl like that.

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This is at the top of 10′ poles.

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Deer fur about 9 ft up, ‘nuf said

So, now after “Big Red” the free range heifer got caught up in the maze of boxes, (she was like a land bound whale with fur) and the deer made a meal or two of my spinach and kale, I’m beginning to understand the barbed wire. I drove Big Red out using my broom handle as a staff, but I never caught the deer. All they left behind was the evidence, nibbled plants, heart-shaped hoof prints, and a few little “gifts”. Honest to goodness, wild food flourishing by the creek, unfenced and open for the taking.  Yet, critters are drawn like magnets to the plants we throw our love and energy into.  It’s really a miracle when you think about it.  An irritating miracle.  Despite the fact animals are drawn to love energy, and I am fascinated by this, now, as the kids are saying, it is on. It’s gonna look like a FEMA camp around that garden, and  I’ll be like Papillon’s Dega without the piglets. (I’m practicing my Hoffman).

The rancher came and drove his cattle off of my land after so many times of them walking right through the fence.  It was not built to keep cattle in or out, and is in need of repair, (Big Red and the girls are not helping!) so that is a project on the list.  The fence posts are all still good and we have new wire, it’s just a matter of having the time to string it.  Oh, not me, no I’m never gonna’ be that country.  I’m a little country, but it hardly shows. Maybe when I get my boots.

Being drawn to the country makes me a little bit so, but if it’s extremely dangerous like barbed wire, I go all East Bay instantly.  I can get hurt out here people, I ain’t lyin’.  I smashed my pointer finger moving boulders the other day so hard, I honestly thought I would faint dead away from the shock.  I literally staggered into the house trance-like and into the kitchen for a bowl of ice water, as blind as Stevie Wonder the whole time. The freezing water numbed it, but otherwise didn’t help much. The pain traveled up my arm into my chest and back and ribs, it was so intense!  There are so many nerve endings in the tip of the finger, I was made instantly aware of every single one of them.

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                                 Bad finger blues ~ see the lightning bolt? It’s still there.

Then it dawned on me, I’m a healer, I could heal me.  Hey, what an idea.  So I did my bid’ness, and the pain subsided after about 5-10 minutes. The finger was still wicked purple, and so swollen I couldn’t bend it, but the blinding pain was gone. I should heal me more often. So now here it is about a week later, and there is virtually no sign of injury other than a teeny, tiny red lightning bolt at the end of the finger.  I’m not certain but I think this could mean that now I’ll be able to shock people at will (even without the aid of fuzzy socks and carpeting). Right out my bad finger.  ZZZzzaaappp!!  Watch out! Don’t try me now ~ I got a superpower y’all.  Hope I don’t hurt myself with it.

Another thing I’m doing that I have wanted to since I moved to the country more than 2 decades ago, is photo journal the wild food and medicine plants as they grow in their natural habitats.  Many books, blogs or other information on the subject seems to show the plant in it’s fully mature stage and most people don’t know what to look for otherwise.  My idea is to show how the wild flower or herb looks in several stages of it’s life so folks don’t accidentally remove a beneficial herb believing it to be a noxious weed.

I have so much to share, but first I need to get back outside, I’m wasting daylight.

Proliferate This!

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One year ago today our planet suffered a horrible disaster.  The likes of which had not been seen since Chernobyl.  The Fukishima Daichi incident was not the primary concern at the time.  Rather the largest ever recorded, 9.0 earthquake that crippled the nuclear reactor there and caused the tsunami that took the lives of nearly twenty-thousand people was considered the main problem. It was immediate, there was no time to evacuate. For the 20,000 their problems were over.  For the ones who remain the problems had just begun.

A young Japanese mother has a reoccurring nightmare.  She is standing in a long line of people. They are all carrying bundles of various sizes, and submitting them to haz-mat suit wearing officers to be screened for radiation.  She sees most of the bundles are contaminated with radiation, and thrown into a raging bonfire. The smoke rising up turns to demons that cloud out the sun.  As she approaches the faceless officer, she is shocked when the wand shows her bundle to be contaminated.  As the officer reaches for the bundle to toss it in the fire, it moves in the mothers arms.  It’s then she realizes the bundle is her own child.  Awakened by the horror of it she gets up to check on her small infant. As she watches her baby sleep she remembers the world one year ago, before the child was born.  She dreams a little about how it would have been to raise the child on the family farm she grew up on.  The home that generations of her family resided on until March 11, 2011. The noise from a snoring neighbor brings her back to the 2 room aluminum reality that is her new home.  Here her child will need to be very quiet so as not to disturb the neighbor in the box attached to theirs.

The radiation levels are high in the food, and water and air that surround them. The government tells her it’s all good.  Eat the food, drink the water, don’t worry about anything. Don’t move so far away. Some whack job even has the gall to say they will only become contaminated if they don’t smile.  This young mother cannot remember the last time she smiled.  Surely it was over a year ago.

destroyed city ~ clean up one year after

It is overwhelming to try to understand the measurement of radiation as it applies to “safe doses”.  REMs, RADs, who cares.  There is only one thing to understand.  There is no such thing as a safe dose of radiation.  If anyone says so they are big, fat, stinkin’ liars.  And I hope they rot in the nuclear waste they promote and produce.  If it were safe, even in low doses, why is it an x-ray tech gets out of the room to take your x-ray?  And wadd’up with the lead apron?  Because, it’s not safe in any dose.  It’s cumulative and it never goes away.  It’s also beyond understanding as to why, in a time like this when we can pull energy from the sun, wind and water, would we need nukes.  Plain and simple, we don’t.   Greedy bureaucrats have invested in military weapons and this is why we still have 104 nuclear power plants in the US alone.  Never mind that a war where nuclear bombs are let off would be a world not even a bureaucrat would want to live in, even in a luxurious underground bunker.  You’re gonna want some fresh air, and birds, stuff like that.  Where you gonna jet ski, go for a hot-air balloon ride?  Under the Denver Airport?

       A child separated from her pet because she is too contaminated and must be isolated.

Half life my ass, the waste produced by a nuclear power plant takes 230,000 years to biodegrade.  Don’t listen to any malarkey otherwise.  And the barrels that  it’s stored in are becoming dented from lack of concern, and rusting from neglect.  The plants themselves are old and leaky.  We are destroying our planet for access to luxury.  Gas, lights, television, how much do we use compared to how much we actually need. What can be done? Where to begin? Will we see it change in our lifetime?What can you do?

Everything!  Change your lifestyle starting today.  Use less. Don’t waste. Write letters to everyone from power companies to political leaders. Get verbal, tell a friend, tell a neighbor. Make a flyer.  Make a poster.  Make a banner. Attend rallies to protest the use of nuclear energy and ammunitions. Go off grid with an alternative power source. Conserve. Recycle. Pray.

I don’t know if we will live to see this change, but I hope so. The alternative is bleak.  Already the damage has been done from 3 Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukishima, as well as other disasters going on for decades.  Whether it was a naturally occurring incident or one that was HAARPed into being, the incident occurred.  That’s that.  It’s been a year and children who were forced to eat contaminated foods served by their schools are among many showing signs of thyroid and liver damage.  The Japanese government has been in denial until their usually passive people have revolted. Over 16,000 attended a rally today in a baseball stadium in Koriyama about 37 miles from the disaster site.  The purpose was to remember of course, but to also  let TEPCO know they want to be compensated for their homes and farms they will never be able to return to, for the crops and cattle lost from forced abandonment, and for the death and illness caused by the corporations nasty greed. 

As always I look for the rainbow through the rain, (even the chemtrail induced kind) so I choose to believe this will promote a change for the better. I hope it brings to light the fact that we can do without building new nukes, or bringing the old ones back up to standard for reuse. My hope is that people wake up to the fact that it’s not worth it in the long run. I see a world waking up to a new paradigm where nukes are no longer needed. This spring is going to be very exciting. I believe we are going to witness some very major changes brought about by the people here on Earth.

Namaste, my babies.  Remember 3/11

My Menarche According to Limbaugh

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WARNING: the following post is in no way meant to make those of the male gender uncomfortable, however I’m afraid it will. If you are a man who is easily filled with discomfort at the talk of things ultra femme, I would advise you to turn away, and go read something else like “Guns and Ammo” or “Field and Stream”.  You do have other options of course, like “GQ” or “Esquire”, but I think after Googling the word menarche you may need some extreme macho. And I think there’s a cardboard testosterone sample in one of the first two publications mentioned. You can rub it on your pulse points.

My fifth grade teacher, Mr. Carlon Perkins wasn’t a particularly sweet man. But, he was funny and had the same 1st name as my girl cousin so I liked him well enough.  I guess I hadn’t ever gotten sick at school before, because I never actually remember having to go to “the office” until that day.  I put my head down on my desk and tried to do my work like that. Mr. Perkins told me to sit up. I did but then I couldn’t do much more than stare off into space, and try not to regurgitate my snacktime goodie.  ‘Nilla wafers are only meant to go one way.

Mr. Perkins in his usual brusk manner sent me to the nurse with no one to accompany me.  Halfway across the playground I thought it would be a good idea to just lay down on the black top and rest awhile. I woke up in the arms of a superhero.  Andy the Janitor carried me in his giant arms to the principals office and they put me on the cot reserved for just these types of situations. After I came back to school he drew me a beautiful picture and watched me on the playground like a hawk.  A very concerned hawk. Andy the Janitor was a lovely man.

It must have been shortly after I was laid on the cot that they noticed the menstrual stain. I was carried once again, in a blanket this time to the principal’s car and he took me home to my empty house. I went straight away to the bathroom and when I saw my panties I started to cry.  I had no idea what was happening but I knew a relative had a dog that had bled like that right before it died.

As I sat in the bathroom looking at my underwear, I asked God why he even brought me into this world if he was going to take me out so soon. I was concerned about my little brothers and my parents, and grandparents.  I was clueless. My mother came home from work early while I was still in the bathroom crying, and trying to get right with God before it was too late. She did a completely inadequate job of explaining the birds and the bees while she put me to bed with extra pillows and a heating pad.  The heating pad and I were to become very good friends once a month for the next couple of decades.

When I returned to school we had an assembly (I was sure all the kids knew it had something to do with me) for the 5th and 6th grades. We watched a movie starring a couple of old guys, animated sperm traveling through a cartoon uterus, and hard to understand ducks by Disney. (If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’)  On our way out the double doors after the puzzling film, we were given a brown paper bag with a booklet. Inside the bag was a box that looked way too small to hold the gigantic (only one size back then) Kotex brand sanitary napkin and garter belt that it attached into.  You didn’t actually need the garter belt if you tied the ends over your shoulder.  That garter belt may have been inspiration for the first thong.  It felt like you were riding a Shetland.  A Kotex that size could have doubled for any number of 1st aid items. It could’ve been tied into a sling if you hurt your arm, or used as an ace bandage for a sprained ankle. Just keep wrapping until you run out of Kotex.  You’ll need patience and a strong arm. In those days we didn’t have the adhesive strip on the underside.  A handy idea, but one which earned a relative of mine the nickname “Aunt Baldy”.  No, we had no adhesive strips back before electricity.  You know what we had?  A blue string.  Of course it was as long as the Kotex so it could be pulled out and used as a delicate lasso, or braided into bolo tie. If such a thing were ever necessary. Never really did figure out the blue string.

It only took a few months after my menarche for the folks to realize that I wasn’t going to have an easy time of it.  The debilitating cramps, vertigo, vomiting bile, came every other month.  It wasn’t as if I was given respite otherwise either.  The severe cramps and nausea were inescapable.  Even in the months I wasn’t bedridden.  An OB-GYN recommended Ortho-Novum something or other to “regulate” my periods.  If I had only known at 10 what I know now.  I would have stopped doing meat and dairy and any other hormone induced foods.  That would have been a good start.  I would never put my child on the pill knowing what I do about them, but in the ’70’s it seemed like the best option.

Whether or not I think they are a good idea for myself makes not a speck of difference one way or another in regards to other women and their ideas about what is right for them.  I wish Rush Limbaugh would understand this, and that his beliefs are his and his alone. We as women don’t want to be called names if we are prescribed medication.  I don’t remember being ridiculed but it was something of a spectacle to my friends when they watched me take my “pill”. They all wanted to look at the dial-a-pill package while I popped the tiny yellow tablet through the foil seal.

I think Limbaugh is the worst kind of human being, (using that term loosely) in that he spouts his hate with no regard for the children he hurts. I think of the young girls out there who are innocent and have not one ounce of desire to change that but who are prescribed “the pill” as I was to help them with their period. Rush Limbaugh, are you saying these innocent girls are sluts, and prostitutes?  Did I hear you say it was alright if you “could watch” the uploaded feeds?  How dare you, you ignorant, 12 sandwich eatin, no lover havin’, pill-poppin’, psychopathic, shame to your family name.  I could throw down more dozens on you, but why waste my time. It is hard though not to fantasize that your lips have been permanently sealed, and without a place for all the hot-air to go you blow up like Veruka the blueberry girl and float out to space to rejoin your mothership.

I really try not to hate, but with people like Limbaugh in the world it’s becoming increasingly more difficult!  It’s time for the King of Nut Bags to relinquish his scepter and crown.  How has he lasted this long?

Can you tell I’m a little angry here?

Cherokee Bill

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If you google the name Cherokee Bill you’ll come up with a bio of a very bad man named Crawford Goldsby who is not at all related to me or anyone I know.  The man I’m related too was not bad, he wasn’t perfect but he wasn’t evil. He was my Big Mama’s father which makes him my great, great-grandfather.  Another search done personally yielded a picture of a very dark black man in one of my children’s history books.  It was clear the man in the book was not him. My ancestor William Reel looked more like Juan Valdez without the burro.

When he was around 12-yrs. old he shot a Sheriff on the courthouse steps. Right in front of God and everybody. The victim had stolen Bill’s mother’s cattle and branded over her brand.  The court found in her favor and the cattle baron didn’t like that.  Despite being told to stay home that day, Bill decided to head down to the courthouse anyway. He arrived to hear his mother being called out of her name by this wealthy man in front of everyone. She only had a few cattle by comparison yet he felt it necessary not only to steal from her but to call her names in public when her cattle were returned to her. Bill took offense, and shot him with his rifle. One shot, and the man paid the ultimate price for his greed.

It was open and shut, Bill was incarcerated for murder.  The kid was fed dry beans and water in jail.  His mother went to visit and they would not allow her to bring him food.  He was being starved to death.  She couldn’t take seeing her son die like that so she sent message to a relative to bring some of his “gang” to help get him out of jail.

Jesse James, Bill’s cousin by marriage, and his men showed up in the small town where he was being kept, and the boy was turned over to them without  incident.  Of course, they had to then take Bill with them.  The town was never going to forget what he had done.

For many years after, he rode in the Militia.  I know that sounds bad, however from his writings it seems like they were doing a pretty good thing.  Bill wrote of returning stolen cattle to the war widows who had been pillaged. That was his job. He says he grew tired of war and death and was relieved when it finally ended.

He had a very soft heart and couldn’t stand to see people in need.  He rescued an orphan boy who was huddled near a wood stove in a saloon. He bought him a bath and clothes and sent him off to a good school.  He even kept track of him for a while until he was sure he was doing good on his own. A doctor was playing poker in another saloon, and Bill saw he had two little girl orphans that he was mistreating terribly. The doctor was fat, had plenty of money and good clothes, but the girls were hungry, and dirty and ragged. They were also scared and still in shock from witnessing their parents massacre.

Bill set his mind to save those little girls and placed himself at the table opposite the doctor.  He won every dime the doc had on him, some of his apparel, the “good” doctor’s medicine kit, his watch, and of course the girls.  He again bought them baths and clothes.  Then, he sent them back to their relatives in the east.  He goes on to tell about how he met an old “Uncle” in a hollow and gifted him the bag full of pharmaceuticals and tools.  It would seem this was divine intervention as “Uncle” was the healer for his community.

I in no way am insinuating my relative should own the name solely, I say it’s a free country.  However, at least give the good guys equal billing with the bad guys. I want to hear more about the good guys!!  Who cares about this other character?