Thursday, November 26, 2009

Be Thankful and Give Back

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Baby and I were at the market this week and saw that the Coats for Kids boxes were out again. I had a bag of coats in the back of my car waiting for the return of the boxes. Baby, a three year old boy, was so excited to give back. It really warmed my heart to watch him struggle to carry the heavy bag with a huge smile on his face, knowing his old coats were going to kids in need. So think about helping others in need this holiday season. In this economy there are many more families in need than in years past. While our family struggles we can't afford to give financially, so gently used coats and toys will most certainly be given to these programs. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Let's reach out beyond ourselves and think about those around us that are struggling. Donate some extra food, invite someone in your home to share your feast. So go and be the change you want to see in this world.

"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds." Samuel Adams

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Green Toys

Here's yet another product I am excited to find. Green Toys are made in the USA out of recycled milk jugs, and then packaged minimally. For packaging they use recycled corrogated boxes and no plastics, cellophane or twist-ties! That last part is my favorite - no more frantic untying of twist ties on Christmas morning. Baby is going to love being able to unwrap his new recycling truck all on his own. Shhh... don't tell!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Sustainable Sandy Ives

Only last night did we discover that our beloved college professor Sandy Ives passed away in August. I am remiss to realize that SP and I have been living in our own media free bubble for the past three months. Had we known about his memorial yesterday we most certainly would have been there. Why post about him here?
The man is a lesson in sustainability.
Sandy was an emeritus Professor of Anthropology as well as the Founding Director of the Maine Folklife Center at the University of Maine in Orono. Sandy was dedicated to preserving the rich oral history of this magnificent state of Maine and the folk songs to accompany it. He was a man interested in "how people shape and bring the past into the present; how people shape the world they find around and within them into apposite forms they can share with others. " He had extensive knowledge of the historical lumber industry in Maine and the world it created in our states history. Sandy is also featured on the blogs Sustainable Music and Cultural Sustainability.
Sandy researched and wrote books on "long-dead" men and the stories and songs told about them. Woodsmen and River Drivers was his first graduate project which evolved into the amazing video documentary called From Stump to Ship, which I remember watching with rapt attention in class. This aspect of Sandy's own folk life was a huge draw for SP as a forester. I fondly recall the fun banter of the lecture, his thick white beard, and when he might launch into song and dance mid story. Vahlsing Pollutes It is one of those songs, a song he created to the tune of "Waltzing Matilda" about the historical sugar beet industry in Maine. Sandy's book Drive Dull Care Away was a memoir that details the rich history told through songs in Maine and Maritime Canada. Other books by Sandy can be found here and I highly recommend them for any fan of Sandy, Maine, or history.
As a professor, we have many fond memories. SP and I agree, Sandy's lectures were ones we would NEVER fall asleep in. They were too interesting, and Sandy too captivating! He was the storyteller emeritus. We remember Sandy for his squinty eyed look of a sea captain with the thick white beard. He made everyone happy and had a voice with a timber and cadence that warmed the soul, and I was amazed by how wonderfully it changed when he sang.
His lectures were the most interesting and memorable of all my 4 years at UMO. In fact we both recall a lecture that left the biggest impact of all. In a 100 plus person lecture hall, Sandy walked in, set his stuff down at the lectern, picked up a chair and set it on top of the desk. Sandy did not make a peep, but stood there for a good 5 minutes that felt like an hour. Finally, Sandy spoke, saying, "And now you all understand the concept of dramatic tension" the very thing that good story telling is all about. I recall challenging him at one point over a statement I found to be misogynistic. I wish I could remember the exact conversation, but SP recalls I came home rather frustrated and being less than happy with him. I guess I got over myself and the idealistic bubble I was living in because he remains one of my favorite professors ever. Sandy gave the weirdest tests - 100 true or false questions, but even if you got it wrong you could defend it on the back of the page and if you reasoned well you would get credit for a good defense argument. What Sandy taught us more than anything was the importance of cultural history and the appreciation of the stories in our heritage. SP was fortunate enough to be one of the first to interview him for the folklore archives in the 1990's. Unfortunately, the tapes were lost in one of the moves. Sandy loved classical guitar and played, but by the time we knew him he didn't play it anymore or even listen to it because he was too deaf. He was a huge fan of Andrew Segovia, so Sandy's deafness bothered him greatly. Music was a huge part of Sandy's life, and a life that he realized quickly out paced him. Sandy, recalled to SP, that he was hip but realized that he was out of touch and time had passed him by when he took his son to his first rock concert - Moby Grape. Sandy definitely did something right, because his son went on to become a musician. You can hear a collection of Sandy's music here.
SP and I sat at dinner tonight talking about Sandy to our kids. Sandy was a favorite and memorable teacher for each of us, and neither of us required Sandy's course as a part of our major. We are remiss that we did not keep in good touch with him. SP made a point of stopping by his office any time he came past campus. Sandy always remembered who he was, and SP loved seeing that unopened bottle of Red Star Ale sitting behind his desk, one that SP brewed in the 90's. The two of them often talked about returning to those interviews to delve deeper into Sandy's research and writing - the work that filled his heart and spare time. SP even introduced his parents to Sandy, and SP's father Junior really enjoyed meeting the man who had documented the historical years of things held true to his family of hunters and foresters.
Sandy was seldom out of our heart and mind. I was filled with tears last night to learn of his passing. Sandy was one of those people who you wish was immortal, like Santa Claus. It is in the passing of Sandy Ives that we ask you to think back to those teachers that made something more of your life and to find those stories or memoirs that need to be shared and documented. It is in our history that the richness of life is found. I toast to Sandy, and hope he is up there sharing some stories with HiHo and Junior. We will be with you all too soon, but until then we will do our best to preserve the history we are all part of creating. So do your best to keep the past alive and preserve its stories that are steeped in rich tradition. Thank you Sandy for touching our lives and leaving your indelible mark. We are sharing you and your stories and songs with our children. You live on in our hearts and the lives of our children. Thank you Sandy Ives.

Friday, November 6, 2009

My walk in the snow.

It was snowing yesterday.
I decided to walk Baby to preschool even though my reptilian brain wanted to keep warm and drive.
It was such a lovely walk.
I was so incredibly happy.
I recalled those college days when SP and I would don our winter coats and run outside to dance in the first snow.
I was filled with happiness.
Everything was so beautiful.
Here's some pictures I took.
This is a Wahoo bush.
Isn't it beautiful?

Well I hate to tell you this but...

The Wahoo is mean, nasty, ugly and poisonous.
My dear friend Erin's dog loves to pick berries and eat them.
We had a Wahoo bush growing in our berry thicket,
where the raspberries and blackberries are.
Poor Cleo ate these beautiful Wahoo berries and got very sick.
Hence, we cut the Wahoo out of our yard.
When I saw this Wahoo on my walk and thought it was beautiful.
I also thought of Erin and Cleo.
I am happy Cleo lived!
Speaking of living...

I thought this was pretty. I like the contrast.

I know I told you I was really happy on this walk.
Sorry my post is not continuing on that happy thread.
This is another plant that deserves to die
that's why I like to see it in it's "dying" phase.
This is Japanese Knot-Weed.
Introduced into the U.S. to help with erosion,
it is invasive and unstoppable.
Please do something to end it's life if you see it!
OK... back to the happy thoughts.

The horses made me laugh.

They were really playful.
The one in the foreground is Bravo.
Bravo did NOT want me anywhere near the other one.
Baby calls the other one Brownie or Mudpie. Depends on his mood.
Anyway, Bravo REALLY wanted me to scratch him.
He kept sticking his head between the slats to get close to me.
Any idea why???

Poor guy!

He needs a hair brushing!!!
Now here's something I NEVER do...
I am adding a picture of me.
Not only am I in crazy clashing colors and patterns
(unheard of)
but I wonder...



Pun intended!

A view from the porch

I just love watching the boys play!

40 Apples a day

I realized last night that I am processing at least 40 apples a day. I think this should continue through next week since I still have 2 large bins to get through.

The picture on the left is yesterdays apple butter. I like it even though it was oven baked for about 6 hours. I finally got around to canning it at 11:00 last night! The recipe, "Marion's Apple Butter" is from Preserving the Harvest by Carol Costenbader.

I am also making dehydrated apple rings for the kids snacks. I can fit about 8 apples at a time in my dehydrator. It takes about all day to dehydrate them completely. The picture below is the batch Daughter helped me get going yesterday afternoon. I had to turn them off when I went to bed, so they are finishing up right now!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dehydrated Apple Slices

This was a super simple school snack.

All you need is sliced cored apples
and a dehydrator.

Mine held 8 apples worth.
That's what's in the jar.

And a day at home.

This does take a while and,
since I don't like
to leave home with anything left on,

I would recommend doing this while you are cleaning the house.

Its a super simple, healthy and YUMMY school snack.

Baby tried to run away with the jar!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Something out of Nothing

These are our compost bins. The picture is a bit fuzzy because the sun sets behind them. Sorry. The empty bay is what we used this summer for our large barrels of tomatoes. We also spread some of it on the lawn to reseed the top of the septic field.

That one bay on the left is next years soil. We produced it this year. It is roughly 1.2 a cubic yard of soil.

This will be next years soil. All that fresh stuff is what we took out of the garden when we put it to bed. The best part is SP was working with the compost and sent Puckstopper in to grab my iPhone. Later he came in all proud telling me has has a blog post for me.

He left me a note that said, "Love you Garden Girl".

I love the dirt. I love getting dirty!


My peas reseeded. Can they come inside?

I was amazed to discover that my peas reseeded this past month.

Do you think I could transplant them into a pot and grow them on the windowsill in my bedroom?
Inquiring minds want to know!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Second Annual Halloween Candy Sort

I started this idea last year as a way of not only protecting Puckstopper from candy that was bad for his braces, but to also make the candy eating more sustainable and less of a frenzy. This year was an interesting haul, with my favorite candies suspiciously missing from the tally!

Baby kept busy counting his Smarties and announcing all the colors.

Here's the loot my kids brought in:
47 small Tootsie rolls
5 thing Tootsie rolls
8 large Tootsie rolls
5 cherry Tootsie rolls
3 Orange tootsie rolls
4 lime tootsie rolls
5 lemon tootsie rolls
8 Charleston Chews
13 Whoppers
10 Hersheys bars
8 Hershey's miniatures
5 Three Musketeer bars
1 tiny Musketeer
7 Necco Wafers
7 Kit Kats
9 Airheads
6 suckers
16 Lollipops
2 Grapeheads
1 Chewy Lemonheads
5 Appleheads
1 Skittles
2 Mini Milky Ways
1 Milk Duds
2 packs of Starburst
1 single Starburst
7 Cherry Heads
6 Plain M&Ms
6 Peanut M&Ms
7 Mini M&Ms
1 Twizzler
3 Twix
1 Smartie
1 Bit O'Honey
5 Junior Mints
1 Butterfinger
1 Raisenette
2 Sour Patch kids
3 Scooby Doo gummy fruits
1 Halloween Chocolate
1 Warhead
1 Goosebumps gummy thing
1 Dots
23 Almond Kisses
1 Reeces Fast Break
2 Reeces Pieces
8 Reeces Peanut Butter cups
1 Reeces Peanut butter mini
2 Snickers
8 mini Snickers

And this is how we sorted it.

The plastic bags went in the freezer.
The black bowl on top anyone can choose from.
The orange bowl in the middle, Puckstopper CAN NOT choose from because of his braces.
And the bowl on the bottom is only for Daughter to choose from.
If Baby request a lollipop, I get to choose one of the Dum Dums for him!


Sexy Carrot

I am raising my kids right!

With Halloween still very fresh in our minds, we hit the garden on Sunday.

The kids joined us there.
Puckstopper helped harvest all those beautiful carrots,
meticulously using my pruners to cut off the greens.
He offered them to Baby and Daughter as a snack.

They played on the fence.

They ate.

They couldn't get enough of those fresh carrots.
And neither one of the made a peep about dirt.

They dug it and they love it.

They hauled it.

And they rode in it.

We really are doing something to raise them right.
Blessed Be!

Final Harvests

We put the garden to bed on Sunday.

Well it is mostly put to bed.
It hasn't been tilled and we left our Kale and Chards down there.

Yes that's Daughter and Baby playing in the dirt.
I think they were making cake.

OK, the Leeks are down there too.

But the rest of it was harvested.
Here are some pictures.
The last of the beets.

The Carrots

Here's the beautiful carrots after they have been sorted.

The next step is to put them in buckets and flower pots full of sand and to store them in the basement for the winter.

Skeletal Sprouts