Sunday, November 29, 2009

yearning without devotion

lately, ambivalence has struck a chord in the sinewy parts of my muscles. it is that in between place--the not too deep in the dark but not quite above water place.

michigan winter always casts a fervent deep blue over my days. sometimes the blue appears gray and other times it is trying for azure and little specks of sunlight on the horizon shift over the silhouettes of barren trees and dried stalks of sunflowers.

i'm not apathetic. i'm just yearning without devotion. without devotion to act on the yearning that has singled itself out on the deep red threads of my heart. and i do act in small ways, but i do not jump into my dreams with fierce confidence.

when it comes to that which i am not ambivalent about, i become animated with delight and willing to sweat and sweat and work and work on the little projects around my small homestead. cause it is the keeping of bees and the raising and tending to of chickens and the planting of trees and the preservation of food and the cooking of things we have grown or that have been grown close to where we make our home, these things make my throat tense up with a tightness close to joy.

i do not necessarily think it is bad or wrong to not act right away on making the big changes in my life--the changes that would lead to eradicating the ambivalence.

the small steps i have taken lately to move closer to working with the land and the creatures who live around my family are outlined below in some pictures with words. also, i will be attending the young farmer's conference this week in new york and i am not ambivalent about that at all. i am super happy about it.

did i tell you that i am in love with honeybees. they are miraculous and beautiful beings that rush forth sweetness from their bodies and create such useful and intricate comb.

the above picture is me going into the hive for a late fall harvest. i did it on my own and things went very well. the girls are so mild and mostly just not interested in humans unless of course i stay in their space a little too long.

more bees

comb and honey in a bucket. i cut the comb into the bucket and used a paint scraper knife on the end of a long pole and crushed and crushed the comb and honey. i crushed it till it was a liquid mess that i could drag the knife through more easily. then i strained it through painters' sieve cloth and let the weight of it press out the liquid honey in two batches for 24 hours each.

then i jarred it.

and i also made labels. someday, i'll show them to you.

And, I love my chickens very much. They are so funny. Kk says she cannot help but smile when she watches them run around the yard and i agree. They are like our little, Pomeranian dog friend, Lilo, she always makes me smile and so do my chickens. Except the chickens' tongues have never entered my ear with wet, slobbery, stanky kisses and they never will.

and someday sooner than later i want to get some goats. The picture above is me milking a goat at the ann arbor reskilling festival. i would probably get Nigerian Dwarf goats (not pictured above--Nubian above). But k says no for now.

oh, and I also like to cook stew over fire.

and walk through the old cemetery in this town i love...

i'm not ambivalent about those things.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

wee critters killed

Often while riding my bike I run across the dead remains of animals--once living things smeared to the road in horrific positions. I call them unnatural conditions because their death encounters with automobiles seem so very far from what their deaths would have been had humans not infringed on their habitats with roads and fast, zooming vehicles.

On Wednesday while riding, I saw the jaw of an opossum cracked in wet shards to the pavement. Her face was pasted to the ground in a long stretch of flesh, fur, blood, bones. That small twinge of sadness that bubbles up under my diaphragm came visiting, and I rode on thinking about how I disdain cars. And, thinking about how death is supposed to be a natural and everyday occurrence; the thing that all living beings will one day greet and sit down for tea with and how our human drive for power and shimmering energy beyond our control has set us on a path of destruction that creates gruesome deaths.

The smeared bodies of animals all over roads should help us to pause and think about our own coming demise. How do you want to die? Not that we can determine how it will happen, but I would rather move on from this world untouched by the violent scythe of modern technology and human ignorance (the misuse of uranium, the death trigger of a handgun, the crashing impact of a high speed multi ton vehicle into the fine, thin line of my exposed spinal column while riding my bicycle).

And maybe all of this road carnage is natural. But really I see it more as being bound to happen cause there are so many more of us in our sprawling suburban homes and steel, framed motorized coffin bubbles driving through the once more densely treed landscapes and winding river expanses that held the homes of squirrels, foxes, turtles, frogs, mice, opossums, woodpeckers, blue herons, swans, green herons, bluebirds, red wing blackbirds, minks, moles, muskrats, otters, beavers, raccoons, fox and garter snakes, and so on.

The look on the face of a wee critter who has been struck by a car is often one of terror and distortion. I see these lifeless shells up close and personal every damn day that I ride my bicycle. And maybe I am, through my own human definitions, applying those words terrified to the emotional landscape of my fellow dead being? But, maybe, I am not.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

again, maybe try

slurred words bouncing down the chilly November sidewalk. drunk or high, who knows this time. someone out there in the autumn air is loopy and full of something that makes the person not quite of this world. and here I sit thinking about the pain in my gum and whether or not we should shoot sperm into k after her period this month.

yep, same old question.

my mind feels soggy -- limp, stale, wet bread waiting to make its way to the chickens’ run.

speaking of the chickens, I miss being with them throughout the day. i make it home sweaty and almost breathless as dark is settling in and the chickens are locked up in their nice little run and it is too dark to let them graze the yard.

we have two escape artists and one has already spent the night in those sinister urban woods behind our house. so, I am missing them and pook, our dear little whippet. the bees have gone to bed for the winter. or at least they have slowed their furious wings to a fanning ball to keep themselves warm up inside their hive.

but I miss them too.

bones are busting through my back gum. this is shard number three; I’ve been to the oral surgeon twice. once to be told that the bone had already erupted; next to have a small bone plucked from my gum. now, bone number three is shimmying its way to freedom and I am in dull, achy pain.

and so that old question about whether or not to try to get pregnant again is back. on November 25th it will have been one year since k put some jiz inside me and I got pregnant, miraculously, instantly (the first time that bleachy, catalpa liquid ever touched the deep red of my female parts and probably the last time).

so, k has had a one year break. and maybe, just maybe, we will give it another whirl. and maybe, just maybe, we won’t.

in the meantime I intend, via copious amounts of wine or painkillers, to join the land of the loopy, slurring street strangers and cover the pain of this erupting bone.

Monday, November 9, 2009

good bye sabbatical

I've been back to work for one week.
It was hard diving in. I cried. Well, I wept hard.

I was scared that all my compassion had dried up and that stumbling back into the madness of direct connection to a justice system so full of injustice and ache and madness (not insightful madness, but the angry, heart wrenching madness of a system rusty at the root and too heavy with the bones of too many souls to turn in any degree of right direction) would be too difficult to stomach.

When the days were long and the flowers were blooming and life was pulsating in the perfect patterns of aliveness all around me this summer and early fall, I felt contentment. I also felt that deep satisfying exhaustion due to all of the hard physical labor I did around the yard (our little urban farm on the edge of some woods; the kind of wooded area in cities where dead, human bodies turn up--eerie woods I would not walk alone in at night).

Anyhow, I was so fortunate to have these many months off and explore the pieces of myself that have often been pushed asunder because so much of my time is spent working away from my homestead. When I list what I accomplished over the last 3.5 months it is quite amazing:
Scraped and painted front porch and railings
Got chickens
got bees
learned about beekeeping from my beekeeper mentor and some books
harvested over 2 gallons of honey two weeks ago by myself--well kk was my helper--but I did it without my mentor
rendered beeswax
made lip balm
built from scratch with no plans mobile chicken run for chickens
put together pre made coop and permanent chicken run
took a permaculture course and got a certificate
dug a four by four by four root cellar in the back yard
filled it with a shit load of michigan squash, onions, and soon some sweet potatoes
planted and tended gardens at home/gardens at community garden
made a lot of pies
went raspberry picking
went blueberry picking
made blueberry freezer jam
dehydrated a hell of a lot of roma tomatoes
taught myself to cook lamb shank
cooked a lot of good food from local farms and my own backyard
read some books
tended to kk's dying grandma
ushered in her death in our living room
eulogized grandma s at memorial service
spent a vacation up north with my sister,eo, her husband, the 3 wee ones, my ma and dad, k's dad, and grandma c and got along swimmingly
threw a great dinner party for my baby sister's,ea, pre-wedding celebration
stood up in aforementioned sister's wedding with kk and other sister
road my bicycle a lot
planted three american black currants, two precocious hazelnuts, one american hybrid chestnut, two beach plums, four regent serviceberries.
pulled out bushes in front yard including stumps, by hand, in order to plant the serviceberries
ran a chicken wire fence behind where the tall bushes once lived
went to reskilling festival and milked a goat
drew a little
loved a lot
enjoyed my friends
enjoyed sleeping
drank good beer
got my hands dirty
hit 5,000 miles on my portland
loved some more
realized how much i love animal husbandry and how one day i want to keep goats too and homestead as full time as possible

so, I am back to work and I still have an ever-flowing chest of available compassion which I am thankful for. And I have the understanding hearts of people around me, at work, who are insisting that I not jump full force into the nitty gritty and that I be good to myself.

Good bye dear sabbatical; you were so good to me and my heart is better for having known you.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

their small fingers dipped into the dripping honeycomb

the confused longing pounced on my heart like a stealth cat on the prowl for a helpless rodent. it came fast and furious--the ache. not quite empty; not quite loss--just a sadness fused with a smile for the memory of the moment that brought the longing.

their small hands--hands that are learning everyday more and more to draw and write and maneuver hockey sticks with grace and finesse--dipped excitedly into the oozing honeycomb. they scooped up wax and dripping, sticky amber liquid and chomped down on it with fierce laughter at the newness of the experience. and i smiled.

cause only at our house--this home k and i are creating everyday--could these young boys have this experience. the experience of tasting honeycomb in their aunts' kitchen. honey that was harvested only days before by me, a novice beekeeper, and my beloved, my kk.

and the longing hit, because the excitement of sharing this gift from the beautiful bees that live behind my garage and forage the neighborhood's gardens and sparsely wooded areas with our nephews brought up all kinds of dreamed desire for building our lives together with the honest yearning of our own children.

and then the longing retreated to a silent place in the long cavities behind my blood filled organs. and i remembered my thankfulness for all this life that has surrounded me these last many months. the lives of these bees and the chickens and walnuts, zinnias, turnips, beets, black raspberries,autumn-orange-brown oak leaves, and all that shines deep red orange in the morning sun and even deeper purple orange in the setting sun makes my heart full and lessens the ache to a dull thud that only surfaces in tiny moments.

tiny moments when small fingers fall into the sticky life of a honeycomb and small mouths turn up in amused smiles of wonderment and astonishment. smiles that adults do not know how to conjure up to our faces. smiles that we may be missing out on for ourselves...