Night Walking

Dark end of street.  Halloween decorations still out.  Tombstones.  A voice then I see him.  A man greeting me from his yard in the dark.  Hello.

Far corner, big mean dog that barks from behind the fence during the day is in his front yard unchained, sniffing a fire hydrant.  His owner yells his name repeatedly which he ignores completely.  I try to not make a sound and stay on the dark part of the street.  Hydrant smells stronger than I do. ­­­­­ He doesn’t see me.

Across the street, the same woman that was outside talking on her phone two afternoons ago, is still outside talking on her phone.  Still looks upset.

Dim streets.  Movement everywhere.  Shadowy figures move in barely lit yards, sitting on porches.  Smoke, staring, music, sweet-herb smoke, tones of conversations, no words.  Rap music.  A garage door open, light inside.  Only a car and it barely fits.  Where is all their stuff?  Three people with clothes and pillows getting in a big Lincoln, which seems eager to pull away.  Getaway maybe runaway.

Backyard bar, three big TVs all on.  Hot tub.  Three cars.  No people.

Old man fiddling with a tarp on the back of a car, in the dark.  No light on his house, or in his hand.  I am quiet.  He doesn’t know another human is walking by three feet away.  I feel like a ghost.  I wonder how many people I don’t see.

Car comes from behind.  I move over.  It moves over, behind me.  Stops.  I cross the street and pretend it’s not there.  It doesn’t follow.  Turn a corner.  Wind blows, rain falls hard, then stops.

A child says hello from a dark porch.  Says hello again.  I say hello.  She­­ asks how I am today.  I say tired.  I ask her back.  She doesn’t answer.­­   Never saw her.

A house dark outside but light shining through glass door.  Dog – wolf.  Stands alone inside watching.  Me.  I watch him.  I walk.  He doesn’t move.  It has to be ­­part wolf.  It looks out of place.  It’s in the wrong place.

Turn the corner.  Children laughing, running, falling in the grass.  My house. My kids.  My light.  Home.

A New Adventure

In our efforts to be as natural as possible, we created a fake pond!  Yes, this is ironic, but we decided to try aquaponics for growing food. We have never done this before, but my clever husband built a system, including a siphon system that creates constant filling and draining of our planting beds.  The tank as, as of today, 16 goldfish.  At  29 cents each, that’s a bargain for a trial and error experience.  We also harvested junk the previous resident of our house had left for the tank and growing bed.  You have to admit, the canoe is a nice touch.

Initial set up. Water clears after a day or two running through the rock beds.

First transplants – day one. Planning to sprout some vegetable seeds soon to fill this up.

The siphon allows the water to fill to just below the top of the rocks, then drains to restart the process.

As the water circulates it adds oxygen to the water and provides nutrients for the plants.

The following series of pictures was taken over the course of only 7 days.  This vining spinach type plant has amazed us at how quickly it grows in this medium.  All the plants showed new growth and leaves over the same time period, but this vine grew nearly 16 inches in height, not counting how far it may stretch if we unwound it from the wire frame!

Days one and two.

Day 7!

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A few fish die, but add important organisms that act as a catalyst for the chemical changes that need to take place. Death is part of the life cycle. The plants and rocks are also a part of the cycle that keep things in balance. Hope to post some pictures of vegetables soon!

Squeeze

Lately I sense a squeeze… forces closing in that seek to push out life and replace it with the synthetic.  We are so smart we think we have found ways to do better than the Master Creator in every way.  Birth, growing food, making food, healing bodies, educating minds.. and even dying.  We take out the real, put in the fake..  and fake is not life.  But life will win, I think.

My Bucket O’ Rain

Last week I started a sanity preservation project.  A tent in the back yard.  After many weeks of no rain, the tent created a cosmic disturbance which brought rain to a drought stricken land.  Torrents of wind, rain, and lightning I’m sure never came so quickly even to the shaman rain dancers of old.  After the first flood, I waterproofed with mildly carcinogenic aerosol spray guaranteed to create a barrier.  The next storm mocked my attempt to protect my sanctuary of tranquility.  It pulled up my stakes and felled in the roof, and the rain came, a gallon more than the storm before.  Once again, the tent stands erect and dry.  More storms on the way.  I won’t give up.

But there is something special about a bucket of rain.  Different than a pail of tap water from a city plant.  Reminded me of a song.  If I can’t have tranquility outside, this music helps while I’m stuck inside the box of bricks we call a house.

Behold the Cup of Indestructible Happiness

You know you live in a great neighborhood when:   A neighbor, who lives at the end of the block, picks up the coffee mug that flies off the hood of your car in the morning as you round the corner, and gently places it on the curb.  And when:  Hours later, as you make the same turn, in the same bright blue (what do they call these almost SUV things?) vehicle, you see the cup sitting upright on the curb and think it might be embarrassing to stop in the middle of the road to retrieve it –  you see your wonderful neighbor, whom you have never met, running out of her house, waving her arms, pointing at you, and at the mug simultaneously, obliging you to stop and roll down your window.  She lifts the coffee mug (now full of fresh rain) and asks.. “Is this yours?”  She agreed that it’s hard to be anonymous in a car the color of mine.  I guess she had been looking for me all day, eager that I should receive back this obviously extremely very special valuable mug.

I was thankful to quickly focus on the miracle of the mug, rather than the stunt which landed it on the street.  She marveled there wasn’t a mark on it anwhere!  Not a chip or a crack can be found!

How many days can you say this has happened to you?  I bet I am the only one.  I feel so special to be singled in the universe for this hilarious event at my own expense.  The hearty laugh I experienced as I drove off helped ease the frustration of my vehicle being hit, scratched, and dented by an automatic gate fifteen minutes later.  Yes.  It’s been a good day of indestructible happiness.

Broken Things

Every time I turn around, something else breaks.  Even when there is money to buy a new one, I often don’t have time to even shop for a replacement.  Then again, duct tape repairs lengthen the life of so many broken things!

Broken Switch?

Broken latch?

Broken Wood?

Leaking Pipe?

Sticking Door?

Falling Window?

I guess moving to the city did not change our redneck (I prefer “thrifty”) ways.  What did people do before there was duct tape? But as great as it is, it can’t fix everything.

It can’t fix physical hearts, or spiritual ones.  Thanks to the Father who gave His Son to give us new hearts and doctors to mend  the body!

It has been my blessing and privilege to witness both of these miracles this past week!

Just Ask Me!

I’m in the middle of moving.  I have important things to do.  Like sleeping for instance, so I can go full steam all day tomorrow.

Today I got nothing done toward the moving goal because on Mondays I am a taxi mom.  Pick up older daughter from college, take younger daughter to ballet, then younger son to the mall next to the dance studio so he can play at the “play place”.

I finally get to simply sit, joining all the other adults on the seating benches that surround and face the play area.  We all have our noses buried in our phones.  I pull up a book I’ve been reading on my Blackberry about building bridges in the community around us, connecting people, while doing my best to not connect to anyone.

Next to me is an older man, without a phone.  He is actually watching a child play, and momentarily a presumed wife approaches and asks if he is doing okay.  She said she was keeping an eye on them from afar.  He said he was fine.

Yes, I was eavesdropping, but that is beside the point.

I attempt to connect at least with my child, and look when he says, “Watch mommy!!” and smile when he shows his new stunts jumping and falling down the slide instead of doing it the normal way.  Yes.  He is most definitely my progeny.

In a few minutes, after several interruptions in my coveted reading time, I sense a chill in the air.  No… I hear one.  “Did you see any OTHER children jumping on the benches??!”  I turn my head and the tall, gaunt, grey-haired lady was back.  “I do NOT think you are supposed to allow your child to jump on the seats!”  She walks from behind us to the entrance, and past me, to stand in front of her husband.  She calls the child who is briskly re-socked and shoed.  I did not pay attention to anything else (trying my best to read this book!) until about the third time she said, “Excuse me…. Maam!”  I realize, she is talking to me.  I look up.

“Yes?”  I query.

“Can I ask you something?”

“Sure!”

“We are having a bit of a disagreement here.  Is it okay or not for the children to jump up and down on the benches?”

Thinking… I don’t remember hearing this sweet man utter anything in his defense. Yes, I could tell he was a kind soul just by watching him watch his grandson.  Remembering… Last week, different mall, different play place.  I had rebuked my own young son for jumping up and down on the seating benches even though, no one was anywhere near him.  No, it just wasn’t proper.

“Well, I suppose it’s fine.  I mean, they are obviously made very soft and durable, so as long as they are not close enough to hurt anyone, I suppose it’s fine.”

Grandpa steals a steel glance.

“Well, I just didn’t know if it was proper or not.  I mean, we certainly don’t allow that at home!!”

“Oh no, neither do we!  Not on my sofa.  That’s not made so well.”

“Okay.. well then.  I just wasn’t sure what people do these days.”

“Well, these days it’s really hard to tell.  You just never know, do you?”

Lying as an act of compassion?  Is that wrong?  I can live with the lie.  I don’t think I could have lived with giving that woman a reason to lecture that poor man all the way home, and then recount the offense to the boy’s mother, the neighbor, and the lady at church.

Maybe not the wisdom of Solomon, but I am always happy to share my opinion.  I must look like someone who knows.  Just ask me!

Occupy Earth

Downtown Austin, October 22, 2011.

Overheard:

“I wanted to go, but I finally got a job.  Haven’t had one in almost two years.” (rolling his own cigarette.. yes it was only tobacco).

“I DO have a job!  I am a CPA and I work here in downtown Austin.  I not only know that people are exploited, but I see HOW it’s done!”  (organizer from microphone).

“We are family here…  come on in close and sit down.  We are a non-partisan, non-religious, non-violent movement.”

“She no longer speaks for us so when you contact us your emails will not be forwarded to her.  She did not represent the interests of our group but we hope that she can back to the group which empowered her.”

We went to Austin to celebrate a birthday with some local entertainment.  As we looked for parking, we drove by the protesters.  We knew we had to go check it out.  After weeks of watching people make fun of and criticize them on facebook, I figured I should hear things from their point of view.  News stories that take the most offensive characters they can find, and give them a voice, does not represent a movement.  The Tea Party protestors had some “glorious” representatives as well.  So I wanted to see for myself.

I don’t know what the Occupy movement looks like in other cities or countries, but in Austin, it’s diverse; hippies with dreds, old men in tacky shorts, moms with kids, blacks and whites, veterans, professionals, and homeless people.

My own apathy has recently been challenged when I began to study the food industry and the corporations that control it, from their seeds to your table.  Yes, they own the seeds and will sue you if you decided to plant the seeds that grew from the one they sold you.

I used to think politicians were the problem, but I realized it was men with money who controlled the politicians that were the bigger problem.  And even bigger than that is the American consumer who props them up with their spending dollars because we want the most bang for our buck, even if it’s going to kill us. (Guilty!)

Greed is the bottom line for the corporate world, not the well being of any human being.  This is injustice, no matter how you slice it, no matter who is holding the sign.  Not that holding signs will change much or keep  you from being exploited by someone else with a different brand of greed.  But to be awake and realize there is a problem?  Not a bad thing.  Occupiers know there is a problem, and most of them seem to know more about it than the average American.

No need to fear a protest movement of any kind at the moment because Americans are, for the most part, still comfortable enough not to care.  As one line in a song by Mumford and Sons says… “If I had an enemy bigger than my apathy I could have won.”  My apathy has been cured, but my cynicism is alive and well.

We lost interest in trying to listen because of the endless discussion about how to have a meeting, and all the various speakers who needed to input on different aspects of organization, and who was in charge of what, at what time, and blah blah blah…  It was an Entmoot in the making and we didn’t have time.  We are typical humans, and humans are hasty.  I was hoping to hear a concise declaration of the cause, but it became evident that maybe there isn’t one.

Nonetheless, in spite of the feeling that this was an attempt to revive the 60s without much success,  and the lack of credibility in general, they are not completely wrong.  In fact much of what they want, God wants, if you read His prophets.  Jesus hated greed that exploited people too.  He made a whip and cleaned house.  I believe King Jesus is also interested in justice and advocating for those who are helpless and overpowered.  Aren’t we all helpless and overpowered without Him?  Do we have His worldview or does our social/political bias define Him?

As we were leaving, a group of 1%ers (the Occupy movement says they are the 99% who are at the mercy of the 1% who control everything) who had lasted about 15 minutes with their prep school jackets and counter-protest signs, also left the scene.  We didn’t get to hear their perspective but they did love having their picture taken as they piled in the back of a Dodge pickup and yelled, “Like us on facebook!”

On another street we met a severely disabled man who had been robbed by someone pretending to put money into his pouch.  Is the real villain Wall Street, the Oval Office, or the man (or woman) in the mirror?

Interesting Reading!

My personal favorite... except for "Resource Based Economy"

Family Bonding

Have yoga mat will travel.

On the sidewalk!

Sign said..."Haven't had soda in two weeks. Air drop requested."

Just Checking

Sleeping Arrangements

I demand new protest songs.. can I have a sign for that?

The 1%!!

Bloomberg article this week. Interesting comparison!!