Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Probably not a word you'd expect to see on my blog. I would have taken pictures, but they ate the productl.

During our run to T-town, I knew I wouldn't be cooking when we got home, so I picked up some individual boboli crusts and sauce packets from the bread store. We came in and I set to shredding mozzarella. The kids were thrilled with a "project" done so swiftly. While we make pizza fairly often, we usually have to wait for the dough to rise, etc. This time, I only had cheese and sauce to offer so the kids decided they wanted more topping.

"What would you like?" I asked, open to anything at that point.

N-man decided he wanted shredded carrots, because he'd seen that on a show. So we shredded a carrot and he AND our picky, picky daughter put that on their pizza. Then she piped up and suggested I chiffonade some spinach for their toppings. I admit that I was agog at this point, pretty surprised and fully prepared to gloat to anyone who would listen. Yet when I put goat cheese on mine, and they followed suit I about fell off my chair.

YAY! Finally! Wheeeee! Are their palates catching up?

Yes, you cynic, I know what you're thinking. Yes, you over there, I hear you!

They DID eat it, vegetables and all! Although G-girl did go on and on and on about how she was briefly worried while hers baked that she wouldn't like it after all. She is a strictly raw-vegetable kind of girl, unless it's a green bean and she is wielding a chopstick. "You can't even TASTE the vegetables! This is SO GOOD!"

So let's pretend things are perfectly normal, shall we?

Today it was an off-to-Tacoma kind of day, despite the guilt that went along with it. I spent the morning moping, cleaning and applying for jobs. Heartened at what's out there, despite it's ill-suitabilty for my lifestyle. I wish I could find a "applying for federal jobs for dummies" thang. I want to sequence into environmental lovins. If I have to work, ok. But I'd really rather not run a home daycare. Really. I will if I have to (gratefully!)!

So anyway I took our digital cable box into the comcast store today. I have had this planned for, not kidding, a year, for homeschooling / family lifestyle reasons. Now that I have an added impetus, I finally made it in. I forgot the stupid power supply, so P-daddy will have to take that in tomorrow, but I did finally do it. The boys visited Barber Jon, who they love so velly velly much, and while D-meister was disappointed that he didn't come out with "thorny hair," N-man is well satisfied with his close trim.

So crazy Mommy decided to try just.one.more.stop. Moms of littles, do you hear me? That voice that says "you can do it," despite knowing that the buzzer has gone off, the expiration date has passed, for good behaviour in your kids. We went to Trader Joes. The kids actually did quite well, despite the clear necessity for toileting in unison mid-trip. They found the stuffed dog and claimed their reward, life was good. It was only at the checkout line that things got interesting.

"No, please stop touching that. No... hey, come on now. Dude! PLEASE go stand at the front. Right there, yes, ok THANKS, man!"

From the big sister, a very stringent, "No! D-meister, N---" that was cut off by the blaring of the fire alarm. Yes, yes, the fire alarm that blasts throughout the store, scaring small children and the elderly. The system that flashes lots of pretty lights. The system that calls the fire trucks instantly. The fire alarm that can't be silenced by merely setting the same switch to off. That one. They had it muted by the time we left, but not "off."

And you know what?

I had D-meister apologize (I wasn't mean, and he was plenty aware) and the managers, neither of whom apparently had the code to shut it down, were so so nice to him. I LOVE Trader Joes and whoever decides their hiring practices.

More good news today on the economy front; a good friend has been rescued from her own impending unemployment. In her case, truly bigger and better. It can happen!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The company lost the contract

I don't want to talk about it, but I immediately got four people asking about the blog when I closed it down like a crab darting into his shell. It's just easier to do it this way. I don't know much of anything at this point.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

So how does one "update" life this crazy?

Maybe not catastrophic (for us) anyway but crazy. A friend of mine just bulleted through, so I suppose I should too. In no particular order of chronology or importance:

I went blonde. Blonde. Like, really blonde and slightly reddish on the ends, as is the fashion, don't you know. Blonde, as in the first time since I was three years old that I was lighter than a muddled burgundy. I despise that it makes my skin light up-- I look so much younger, they say, and even with my behind still fat and my hair chopped short (to accommodate the perfectly expected damage from such a gigantic chemical step), I get a lot more attention. Go figure. It makes me look good. It does suit my coloring. The color worked very well and looks nice. I hate it. Ugh! I can't determine whether I despise the cut, or whether I am just so resistant to change that the stranger in the mirror makes me uncomfortable. I will leave it for now.

Twilight. Nearly everyone around me has caught the bug. I rented the movie and read her online tome, (what there is), Midnight Sun. I have to admit that it is engaging, but not one to suffer from spoilers, I read ahead and I can't buy into the whole dead-guy-still-makes-active-sperm thing. I do like her take on the Vampire as an animalian subspecies, not a soulless, dead-but-not entity. I have one friend in particular who should lay some bricks when she gets to book 3. I can't wait.

Our garden is growing. P-daddy and I have been working together nicely to shore up the homestead. He built fine, square foot gardening boxes in the front yard. We mixed fill soil from our own compost, store-bought vermiculite, sphagnum moss, and Tagro a friend of ours scooped and delivered to us for free. All told, our garden beds cost us around $72.00. I know we would have done this years ago had we known! We tied them off in grids together, and have recently put in all our starts and our things we are willing to start from seed. Typically, once there is the slightest outside activity, I abandon the computer, so this is what partially explains our absence. The other is that my camera is all funky, so even on days when I would normally have great, wordless blog entries to share, ah, shucks.

Just today, the kids started their own children's gardens. When he built our primary garden beds, P-daddy used our leftover Trex board from building the treehouse and gave each of the kids a 2 X 2 box of their own to fill as they see fit. G-girl and D-meister chose to put them in the front yard with ours, but N-man placed his in the back, close his original garden and adjacent to Presley's grave. He says this is how he will grow flowers for Presleydog. They will still have access to the side gardens, but we have to get P-daddy's yard waste* out of there.

The neighbors moved for real this time. It has really saddened me on a number of levels; we will miss the little girl terribly, we enjoyed having neighbors so close to us in age and family composition; and we would like it if they had left on a completely voluntary basis. Most of all, though, it causes me some discomfiture to benefit so greatly from their departure. They moved offshore, so they left an amazing amount of things behind, including big ticket items like a chest freezer, a 10 X 10 garden shed and a yakima roof box. They gave their swing set to a friend of ours, and they gave us all their lawn furniture, which is great for us because the winter decimated ours. The kids in particular are thrilled with the influx or yard and sports toys. P-daddy has spent the past three weekends helping them sort their last things and then rebuilding the shed over here*. It's been abject chaos, and I am working so hard to be mor egrateful than I feel guilty. My guilt makes little sense, even to me, because when we moved across country, we did the same thing. We gave away or sold things I miss to this day (like our freezer!), so it's nice for some of it to come back to our family.

Interrupting all of this was a month-long illness on my part; I finally caught the flu / pneumonia / bronchitis beast that took out half of Puget Sound. Thankfully, all our family was better when it took me down. I have never needed an inhaler in my life, and needing one, plus antibiotics, plus weeks of absolute stillness to heal this, was truly startling. The illness prevented me from doing a lot of my planned work for the garden (never got my grow lights hung or my cold frame built) and it made dealing with the suddeen windfall from next door very inconvenient, despite how welcome it was. I simply haven't been fit for anything, much less extra putting-away.

I am having issues with challenging kids, my own and my friends'. My children have been celebrating spring by being mouthy and willful, scrapping with their siblings, disputing my authority and ideas on a daily, if not hourly basis. That's hard enough to deal with from just the three of them, but the thought of adding friends has become so very untenable. With a few exceptions, most of the children I know right now are half-deaf and completely bonkers. Combine that with the extreme physicality I have noticed lately in all of them, and people are getting hurt. Being bullied by my schoolmates and abused my some family, I am very sensitive to getting "beaten up." I am not very tolerant of verbal sparring either, but I really have a very hard time drawing the line between acceptable rough-housing and its resulting misunderstandings and out-and-out bullying. I think because of my awareness of my own sensitivities, I err on the side of letting it go too far. I am fully sick of stick-fighting, whoop-screaming, rock-throwing**"fun". They're all getting hurt, actual bleeding, bruising, why-won't-you-stop-I-said-enough! hurt. I don't know how to handle it; I am not willing to do some of what I've read I should do (remove the offenders from your life-- how does one do that when ones' own child is a full participant?), and furthermore a lot of that advice doesn't apply to our lifestyle as homeschoolers. While it's not natural to get cooped up all day with 35 others of your same age and real estate, its also not natural to just be able to shove people to the curb when you feel like its just too hard, either. Community means being stuck with the same folks sometimes. The goal here is to work forward towards some form of maturity and you know, having FUN when we get together or need to babysit. I'm working on it. The other Moms are good, smart people and do see what I see, so it's all good. I am hoping it's just a rough Spring on the heels of a brutal winter.

**D-meister broke the window out of my van during one of these festivities of "fun." He had a compatriot in the rock-throwing glee, but lucky for everyone it was actually my kid who broke my window. Lucky him I actually DO think spanking is a bad idea. Witholding dessert? That is something I am perfectly comfortable dishing out, especially for 200.00. (get it? Hardy har.)

The economy, in a very direct way. My husband works for a state contractor doing pretty integrated work with the department of corrections. I can't elaborate more on that here, but I can say that both the contract (every 7 years) and the state budget were up in the air this year. Anyone who lives here knows that Washington state has a 9 billion dollar shortfall in it's budget for the forthcoming year. That's a LOT of cuts, a lot. Even if his company does win the contract (fairly likely) which was decided in secret last week, the state budget will have to be appropriate to fund the work. It's been a potentially disastrous, completely perfect storm of happenstance-- the real estate crash, the stock market decline, the state budget crisis, the unemployment rate, the contract renewal date-- that has all these factors working together to a climax to come this month. It's been wearing on us for six months now but I haven't wanted to write any of it out here. All our life savings is in this house, which of course has lost all of its equity from the last four years. If he loses his job, that's it. We start over, middle-aged with three kids and three degrees between us. No home of our own, no job.

So I do what I can, I focus on gratitude and on ways to mitigate the changes for the children, if the worst should come to pass. We have very basic goals-- keep the family together, try to stay in Washington (even better, in this house!) if we can. We will see. Again, that Dalai Llama quote: "If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My son celebrated Earth Day

by throwing a rock through the passenger side window. Yay!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Susan Boyle Saves the World

Go here to listen to this crazy wonderful YouTube video: Susan Boyle

Aside from the rather cynical satisfaction I received from watching someone gobsmack Simon Cowell and make Piers Morgan express genuine emotion, this middle-aged, lonesome cat lady brought the PIPES. A jaded, mocking audience rose to its feet within seconds of her even beginning the song. Clearly unafraid and confident, living solely in the moment of fulfilling her dream of singing to a gigantic audience, she delivered an intense and professional delivery and then promptly walked off stage. She came, she delivered, and she left.

They called her back for her accolades, but the reminder it brought me (and judging from the instantly viral youtube of her performance, millions of others) was of sheer joy. The whole underdog thing, the pleasure the arts bring us all, the whole "something is still going right in the world" just brought me to tears. This is for everyone who has hidden their light under a bushel, anyone who has been misunderstood. I hope you'll watch it and get a lift as well.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

I think she's trying to match the silly expression she drew on the egg.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

More on the farm bill

First, to preface this post and to respond to the individual whose comments were so egregious I had to delete them:

Personally, NO, I do not think most of the US food supply is safe. NO, I do not think the government has done a responsible job of managing what involvement it has had with food saftey and regulation. NO, I do not think big agribusiness is absolutely invested in the consumer's well-being. In that, I absolutely agree with the foul-mouthed lout who has bothered to virtually vandalise my blog--we need a big change in the way our food supply is managed, and only the federal government has the resources and the geographical scope to pull it off. It is because I think that way, however, that I want small, local farmers protected. It's why I want my garden protected. What I don't understand is why anyone who shares that perspective is just raring for the government to pass a bill with as many loopholes for abuse as the recent lead-based toy bill. I am not asking them not to pass it. To quote myself, I wrote " As it is written, this bill would be catastrophic to the American people. Provisions must be included to protect the organic farmer and the family gardener." and "Please restrict it to conventional farming, or vote it down." My interest here is not withholding something that could help us all; I have been calling for sustainable agriculture for years, and this could be a giant leap forward in that regard.

If you want to comment here, then by all means comment. I welcome a discussion on this because I am certainly amenable to learning everything I can about this. I will not, however, host cussing, accusations or more death threats. Anyone else who suggests I feed my child peanut butter will likely be getting a real time visit from the PoPo. It's very out in the open on this blog that my child has an anaphylactic food allergy to peanuts. For those of you who need me to write in small words, that means she could die from ingesting peanut of any kind, tainted or otherwise. Living like this for the past seven years, living with constant vigilance about food and where it is sourced, is WHY I am passionate about protecting organics and small farmers. How I get my food, where I get my food is an absolute, literal passion for us.

I want to protect my daughter. I want you to be able to protect your daughter. Unlike the ...person... who posted here today, I am not willing to let Big Brother be the sole director of how that food gets to my plate. That's all. The bill, as written, does more than streamline the governance of food safety. It allows for a single agency to approve what kind of fertilizer, what kind of seed, what kind of record-keeping each farmer uses. At first blush, that sounds fandamntastic-- if you've got a sustainable-minded individual going in. If you have an agency that is sensitive to the cost-load for the organic farmer. I didn't write what I did here in a knee jerk reaction. I have talked to organic farmers here in Washington, and corresponded with CSA farmers from my hometown in South Carolina. The ones I spoke with are very concerned. They have encouraged us to get this into a national discussion, which is what we did. Organic farmers, particularly those who have pursued tilth certification, really shouldn't have anything to worry about, that's true, because their standards typically exceed anything in corporate farming. But the bill doesn't include any such provisos. That's the concern.

Today I received an email forwarded by a local farmers market with a less apprehensive stance towards the law. They're just as much "my team" as the farmers I mention above, and I will post it in its entirety here:

From the Farmers Market Coalition Executive Director (For more information about the Farmers Market Coalition, visit their website: http://www.farmersmarketcoalition.org/ )

Sent: Thursday, March 12, 2009 2:20 PM
Subject: H.R. 875, Food Safety, & Farmers Markets: A Letter from FMC

Dear Fellow Farmers Market Advocate,

In the last few days, there has been much discussion and speculation
surrounding H.R. 875, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, which was
proposed by Representative Rosa DeLauro and 39 other co-sponsors and
currently under review by two house committees. The bill¹s intention is to
centralize most of the current food safety responsibilities of FDA and USDA
into one new agency within the Department of Health and Human Services.
While the bill does not spell out any specific regulations with respect to
food safety, it establishes a new framework of oversight to prevent the
breakout of food-borne illnesses (like the recent cases involving bagged
spinach, peanuts, tainted meat, imported tomatoes, etc.).

Calls to Congresswoman DeLauro¹s office from me and several colleagues have
been met by assurances that she is an advocate for small family farms, and
that the bill¹s intent is to minimize (or eliminate) the impact on such
entities while addressing the challenges posed by a global food supply by
more closely regulating imported food. Based on what we know at this point,
farmers markets are not considered ³food establishments² under Section 3
(13), and would not be subject to inspection as such.

Food production facilities (including farms), may be subject to additional
recordkeeping via a written food safety plan which follow ³good practice
standards² under Section 206(2). There is no language in the bill that would
implement a national animal ID system, or mandate farm inspection. In fact,
the legislation specifies that technical assistance would be provide to
farmers and food establishments that fit the definition of a small business.

There are also no assurances that, given the current economic climate and
the inherent cost of establishing a new administration, this bill will even
survive in its current form or at all. To what degree there may be any
change to current standards (like GAPs), which are now voluntary for most
growers, would be up to the new agency, which is directed to consult with
USDA and state departments of agriculture before enacting any new farm
production and handling standards. FMC believes that any standards designed
to prevent contamination at the farm and market level, whether voluntary or
mandatory, must take into account the cost, time, and ability to implement.
As many realize, a one-size-fits-all policy would ultimately do a disservice
not only to small, biodiverse farms, but to the consumers who value
affordable access to safe, fresh, nutritious food directly from the farmer.

FMC recognizes the importance of food safety not only from a consumer health
perspective, but also to uphold the integrity of farmers markets and
viability of small farms everywhere. Families and individuals across the
country put their faith in the quality, safety, and freshness of farmers
markets every day, and that investment of faith cannot be taken for
granted. Proactive measures to prevent contamination at the farm and market
level are good business. FMC's web site has links to several resources
developed by various states with regard to food safety at farmers markets,
many of which include good recommendations for food storage, handling, and

FMC is working to ensure that strategies to prevent contamination are
science-based, sensitive to scale of production, and friendly to farmers
markets and the farmers they depend on. Recently, the Coalition represented
farmers markets at a national Good Agricultural Practices summit to support
voluntary (rather than mandatory) implementation of the Guide to Minimize
Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, which is
presently undergoing review for updates. We will continue to stay involved
in issues surrounding food safety, and keep you informed of developments
that could impact farmers markets and their producers.


Stacy Miller
Executive Director
Farmers Market Coalition

There's too much at stake here for any of us to adopt a blanket thumbs up or thumbs down approach to something this big. Again, I welcome the discussion, should that come to me, but I won't allow anything that calls for harm to me or my family, or insults or degrades me or the other commenters. I am a citizen of this country, and like it or not, this is part of the process. We're fortunate we have a voice, and I for one intend to use mine.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Fire Station Tour

Our homeschool group had the privilege of attending a fire station tour yesterday. Bonus: another mother set this up for us! She said she'd heard this was the best station to access for this kind of educational tour and she wasn't wrong.

The kids really got to see everything they had going on, and I admit to being very impressed with the station. We had two firefighters and a liaison leading our group through every nook and cranny of the station. The children went in every office, met the fire chief, saw the day room where the firefighters relax, explored the kitchen with its bank of refrigerators, and even went into the cells where they sleep.

The tour moved outside at this point and the kids saw the huge garage, where they were allowed to explore a fire engine and a first response ambulance. The kids were amazed at both the ski-dos and the boat, and their presence launched a discussion of living in a harbor city, and how the municipality takes care of the docks and the boats. Not one of them missed that there was a gaping, clear area in the garage and the liaison let them know that they were correct, that engine was out on a call.

One of the firefighters gave a demonstration of all the gear they wear into emergency situations and then held a Q&A for the kids. It was an in depth tour, and the parents learned things new to them, as well.

The next time N-man saw the firefighter who lives next door, he rattled on about it all, and the neighbor just smiled. I have to admit, I like firefighters!
Diffendoofers: If I have not sent you your pictures, please let me know!

While I want to share our homeschooling projects, it is a compulsion for me to write it "down" because I want to demonstrate the kids' experience, not my perceptions. I was writing this blog and thinking, "You know, I sound like a kid writing a report. What a great idea!" G-girl wrote it up, and when I told her she'd written a "report," she was a little surprised. I love how learning sneaks up on our kids. G-girl knows a lot of the buzzwords from her friends in school, but it all seems like an intimidating mystery until she realizes just what they're talking about.

and I SO miss my photo editing software.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Someone's feeling better!

Or, the day where we visit the Fire Station with a homeschool group, then come home and open a coconut!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Congress voting on bills to outlaw organic farming

And raw milk, and fresh eggs and heritage seeds and farmers markets and roadside stands.... and oh, yeah, your backyard garden.



http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/thomas (look for HR 875)

This isn't a tinfoil hat moment, folks. This is Monsanto again, trying to control you and your food supply. This I implore you : contact your representatives and senators. Tell them to Just Say No to Monsanto and it's attempts to stamp out the competition. It sounds ridiculous, because it is. This is a Big Brother-meets-Borg moment and your very civil liberties are at stake here. When planting a backyard garden can be considered an act of defiance, not of patriotism, then we have a problem.

Even Michelle Obama has begun an organic garden on the South lawn, which I think is a fantastic, encouraging thing for us all. In a time of economic despair and war, we NEED to be doing that, people! Even as she plants her starts, though, just a few miles away, 40 legislative sponsors are attempting to demand she use this kind of seed and that kind of fertilizer.

The intentions of the bill, the at least the people in congress who are trying to draft it, are most certainly honorable. But like the recent ripple effect from the lead-in-children's-products act, because the language is not specific enough, this law could put a lot of good people on the out and outs. In this instance, I am not worried about being an alarmist. I'd rather raise a ruckus now and have the legislators pay attention to what they are doing so they can revise it appropriately than pass this "schill," to use a word a deleted commenter decided to use for my blog post.

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/thomas (look for HR 875)

Pay special attention to
  • Section 3 which is the definitions portion of the bill-read in it's entirety.
  • section 103, 206 and 207- read in it's entirety.
Red flags (from Aaron)
  • Legally binds state agriculture depts to enforcing federal guidelines effectively taking away the states power to do anything other than being food police for the federal dept.
  • Effectively criminalizes organic farming but doesn't actually use the word organic.
  • Effects anyone growing food even if they are not selling it but consuming it.
  • Effects anyone producing meat of any kind including wild game.
  • Legislation is so broad based that every aspect of growing or producing food can be made illegal. There are no specifics which is bizarre considering how long the legislation is.
  • Section 103 is almost entirely about the administrative aspect of the legislation. It will allow the appointing of officials from the factory farming corporations and lobbyists and classify them as experts and allow them to determine and interpret the legislation. Who do you think they are going to side with?
  • Section 206 defines what will be considered a food production facility and what will be enforced up all food production facilities. The wording is so broad based that a backyard gardener could be fined and more.
  • Section 207 requires that the state's agriculture dept act as the food police and enforce the federal requirements. This takes away the states power and is in violation of the 10th amendment.
Things you can do
  1. Contact your members at 202-224-3121 and ask them to oppose HR 875 and S 425. While you are at it ask them if they personally have read the legislation and what their position is? If they have not read the legislation ask them to read it and politely let them know that just because other representitives are not reading the legislation and voting on it does not mean they can do the same.
  2. Get in touch with local farmers and food producers by attending a local farmers market and asking them how business is.
  3. Attend a local WAPF meeting, this is a good start to learning about what is going on in farming and local & state initiatives . The website is Local Chapters
  4. Check out the Farmers Legal Defense Fund at Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund
  5. Find out who sits on your states agriculture and farming committee and contact them with your concerns.
  6. Continue to contact your elected officials and let them know your position on legislation and why.
  7. Get active at the local and state levels, this is the quickest way to initiate change.

Dear Norm Dicks,
I am writing regarding HR 875.

As it is written, this bill would be catastrophic to the American people. Provisions must be included to protect the organic farmer and the family gardener. We cannot "outlaw" organic farming and the bill does not include adequate protections for those of us who DO protect the people and the environment with whom we coexist.

PLEASE say no to Monsanto and do not legislate away our rights. We have to be able to protect natural, organic gardening and adding on one-size-fits-all regulations will cause widespread harm. Please consider Monsanto's absolute interest in squelching its competition. Please consider the amazing rise of food allergies, chronic illness and autism, much of which can be accredited to frankenfoods.

Many of we the people have been following Obama's suggestion to provide for ourselves and to create local, interconnected networks. This would seriously hamper our efforts, and the future of the open-pollinated (natural, existing outside the tweaking of a laboratory) seed supply. It's dangerous and unconstitutional. Please restrict it to conventional farming, or vote it down.

And Chuck, no thanks on the peanut butter. We're allergic here.