Saturday, November 14, 2015

France, Lebanon, Bombs and Sadness...

It's a beautiful Saturday in rural Missouri - a brisk wind, crisp cool air, leaves of all colors swirling around. The Dancing Rabbit Board of Directors, lovely human beings all, are here for the weekend. The Mercantile (i.e. me, with assistance from Kurt and dish washing by Katherine and Mae) is providing the meals.

And in Paris, bombs are going off and people are dying. Last Thursday there were bombings in Beirut, where 43 people died and 239 were wounded. Today everyone's Facebook feed features a "bleu, blanc et rouge" flag or a shot of the Eiffel Tower. And while I think this is an honorable tribute to the people of France I wonder where is the empathy for the people of Lebanon? Sadness all around. Pain, suffering, and no answers or solutions.

Times like these I find myself incredibly grateful for writer Ann Lamott. I don't believe in Jesus, or God, but I do believe in the faith of Ann Lamott. Here is what she posted on her Facebook page today:

I wish there was a website we could turn to called, "What it means, What is True, and What to do." Lots of very tense religious people are going to insist that their Scripture answers all these questions.

That's nice.

Lots of them will try to hustle us into joining them in Vengeance World. As that had just been so helpful before, right?

So where do we even begin today? What do we do when it feels like we are all doomed, and the future will only be worse, and we can't remember anything that ever helped us come through? From high school philosophy, I remember that Francis Bacon wrote, "'What is Truth?' asked jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer." It seemed the ultimate truth, at sixteen years old.

But I think we can do better than that. We have shards of truth, and we can gather them up, bits of broken mosaic tile that shine.

We know that this is a very dangerous place, that we are an extremely vulnerable species, that Cain is still killing Abel.

We know that "Why" is not a useful question; and "Figure it out" is not a good slogan.

We know that the poor, the innocent, babies and the very old, always bear the brunt.

So where do we find grace and light? If you mean right now, the answer is Nowhere. It's like after a child dies. Grace always does bat last, and the light always overcomes the darkness--always, historically. But not necessarily later the same day, or tomorrow, after lunch. Wendell Berry told me 25 years ago, in Advent, the darkest shortest days of winter, "It gets darker and darker and darker, and then Jesus is born." But it is only November 13! It gets even darker.

What is the answer? Gandhi is almost always the answer. Jesus's love for the poor and refugees is the answer. Adding a bit of light and warmth to these cold dark days doesn't hurt. Candles are beautiful and bring a soupçon of solace to our souls. People living on the streets could really use your old blankets and jackets.

Grace will always show up in the helpers, as Mr. Rogers' mother used to tell him in times of tragedy. But today, right now, if you have a nice bumper sticker that explains or makes sense of what happens in Paris, it's probably best if you keep that to yourself. It is definitely best that you not share it with me. It will cause me to get a tic in my eye and will guarantee that the next time I see you, I will run for my cute little life. Everyone in his or her right mind will. So how do we even know truth, in the midst of b.s. and lies?

What is true for me is that the shootings at Sandy Hook were the actual end of the world, evil or at least the most extreme mental illness made visible. There were no answers that day, the next day, the day after that. Well, you could go to certain web sites and Twitter posts, and I will not name names, and be told how stupid you were not to see that there was only one appreciate truth. Reload! But again, that was not helpful. What was helpful was that we stuck together in our horror, grief, anxiety and cluelessness. We grieved, we feared, we despaired, and raged, prayed; we reached out for any help at all; and these were appropriate responses. I am going to recommend that we do that today, and tomorrow. Wounds and trauma revealed were healed; eventually. Some of us couldn't eat at all, someone of us binged, some of us couldn't turn off the TV, some of us couldn't turn it on. Those were all appropriate. We felt like shit, and let some time pass, talked and stuck together. And day by day, we came through.
Talking and sticking together was the answer. It honest to God was. We were gentler, more patient and kind with each other. If people are patient and kind, that's a lot. It means something of the spirit is at work. For me, that is grace made visible. It doesn't come immediately, and it doesn't come naturally. What comes naturally is, Shoot the mo-fos. So when we could, after Sandy Hook, we paused, breathed, sighed, gasped at the rising numbers. Nothing changed legally, not one word, but we came through. Hearts were healed, imperfectly. People walked, lived fully, and even danced again, after bad psychic fractures that did not heal quite right, and that still hurt some days.

We will again, but it takes time. I so hate this! Hate this, hate this, hate this, and do not agree to this, but have no alternative, because it is Truth: it will take time. Today, we try to keep the patient comfortable--ourselves, our beloved, the poor. 

We're at the beginning of human and personal evolution. Whole parts of the world don't even think women are people. 

So after an appropriate time of being stunned, in despair, we show up. Maybe we ask God for help. We do the next right thing. We buy or cook a bunch of food for the local homeless. We return phone calls, library books, smiles. We make eye contact with others, and we go to the market and flirt with old or scary unusual people who seem lonely. This is a blessed sacrament. Tom Weston taught me decades ago that in the face of human tragedy, we go around the neighborhood and pick up litter, even though there will be more tomorrow. It is another blessed sacraments. We take the action and the insight will follow: that we are basically powerless, but we are not helpless. 

I have no answers but know one last thing that is true: More will be revealed. And that what is true is that all is change. Things are much wilder, weirder, richer, and more profound than I am comfortable with. The paradox is that in the reality of this, we discover that in the smallest moments of amazement, at our own crabby stamina, at kindness, to lonely people who worry us, and attention, at weeping willow turning from green to gold to red, and amazement, we will be saved.

 Then, there was this comment (on A.L.'s FB post) from an American living in France. It made me feel a lot better. At least for awhile.

Melanie Sims Maxham
Melanie Sims Maxham What We Are Doing in Our Part of France

Today, even though we did not really have the heart for it, we went to the Christmas market in our small village in southern France. It was fairly subdued, and the village gendarmes were not only visible, but e
manating watchfulness.

But then, a small terrier tried to menace the tiny, placid donkeys in the Christmas exhibit, and got the surprise of his wire-haired life when a little goat jumped over the hay-bale barricade and gave hilarious chase. Small boys hooted and the owner of said donkeys and goat had to catch the goat. He scooped the goat up under an arm and placed him back in the hay-bale pen, while the terrier found a pile of something atrocious to roll in.

We bought a tiny handmade cloth star for the Christmas tree we will have later. Will used all of his spending money at once, buying three unpainted santons to be decorated at a later date. He chose a dog, a boy carrying bread, and a woman with her hand on her hip, "because she looks like a mother". I had to smile.
Then we came home. And although we don't feel very festive, we made a Thanksgiving dinner and we ate it. My mother and step-father are visiting us, and they leave tomorrow. So we are thankful, and we celebrated, and it was good.

Because if we don't go to the market, buy a little lopsided star, laugh when the terrier gets his comeuppance, and eat our meal with gratitude, then the terrorists have truly won.
As Kurt Vonnegut would say, "so it goes." Let's hope that tomorrow is a more gentle kind of day.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Joy of Chutney

Some people like fall because of the changing leaves. Some enjoy fall because it signals the coming of cold weather and the ski season. But me? I like fall, and the threat of frost, because it encourages my gardener friends to harvest all of their green tomatoes. Bowls and buckets of green tomatoes, more than they could ever use themselves. And, being the gracious and generous people that they are, they bring them to me, with pleading look in their eyes. (Thanks, Alyssa!)

I make Green Tomato Chutney with these little green jewels. I simmer them with some onions, raisins, a little brown sugar, some apple cider vinegar, cinnamon and other spices for a few hours. The aroma that fills the Mercantile is absolutely mouth-watering.

What to do with chutney? Originally from India, chutney is generally defined as a condiment consisting of some combination of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and/or spices. One afternoon we tried a bunch of different chutneys in grilled cheese sandwiches. When the chutney combines with melted cheese, crunchy buttery bread and some sort of meat...well, a little slice of heaven. See recipes and ideas below.

Baked Brie with Jam and Nuts
An amazing appetizer for holidays, and easy enough for casual occasions. Use a sweet jam or a spicy chutney – both work beautifully! A note on puff pastry: it sounds intimidating but is simple simple simple. Try this and impress yourself!

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 (8-ounce) round Brie cheese
1/3 c. jam or chutney
2 Tb. chopped walnuts or almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease with cooking spray.
  3. Lay the puff pastry onto the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Center the Brie wheel onto the pastry – leave the rind on.
  5. Spread the jam/chutney evenly over the top of the Brie.
  6. Sprinkle the walnuts atop the jam.
  7. Fold the puff pastry over the top of the Brie, sealing all openings.
  8. Bake in preheated oven until the pastry is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Chutney Burger Sauce
This is so good it’s gonna change your life! Use it on burgers, sandwiches, as a dip for fries, more.

¼ c. plain yogurt
¼ c. mayonnaise
2 Tb. prepared mango (or other) chutney
1 tsp. curry powder, divided

Mix together; chill until needed.
Note: You may also use all mayonnaise, and leave out the curry for a more straight-forward
chutney-esque flavor. Experiment and enjoy!

Chutney and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
These sandwiches will change your life. Seriously.
  1. Start with great bread - sourdough, whole wheat studded with nutty bits, rye, challah…
  2. Choose up to three ingredients, including one cheese (see below for ideas)
  3. Slather the outside of two pieces of bread with butter.
  4. Place one butter-side down in a frying pan on medium heat.
  5. Place half the cheese on the bread, add the other ingredients, and then place the remaining cheese on top of the pile. This extra cheese helps the bread and the ingredients all stick together.
  6. Top with the other piece of bread, this time butter-side up.
  7. You may want to put a lid on the pan to help the cheese melt in tandem with the browning of the bread.
  8. Carefully flip the sandwich over when the first side starts to crisp up and turn toasty brown.
  9. Replace the lid while the second side cooks. Don’t let it burn!
  10. Serve with fresh fruit and pickles. The contrast of flavors will make you very, very happy.

Some of our favorites (or, the ones we’ve thought of so far).
    • Ham, Sharp Cheddar, Cranberry Chutney
    • Prosciutto, Mozzarella cheese, Tart plum jam
    • Roasted chicken, Goat cheese, Apple Chutney
    • Brie, Chutney, Nuts
    • Hot Pepper Jelly, Roast Beef, Bleu Cheese
    • Herbed goat cheese and apricot jam

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Cappuccino Brownies. They're Really All You Need!

Hi friends,

Oh, I have such good intentions. All day long, as I wander from my house to the Mercantile to the garden to the clothesline and back to the Mercantile, I write this blog in my head. And in my head it is positively brilliant! However, when I finally get time to set it down and post it, I'm just not that dependable. The posts stay in my head, where they eventually dissolve into dust and dreams...

In the meantime, May is almost over. It's been a surprising, delightful and busy month. We've had the great fortune to host some spectacularly lovely guests. The strawberries are bursting out of the garden - bright red and delicious. We've managed to keep the robin's eggs out of the hands of the children; three fat, awkward and beautifully clumsy babies fledged last week. Jody (the innkeeper) and Sandy (the massage therapist and Jody's assistant) are keeping the place spotless and running beautifully. Nik makes bread every Wednesday - the place smells like heaven.

Today, however, is Thursday, and there is very little time for prattling on about life on the prairie. Instead I'm sharing the recipe of today's Mercantile treat: Cappucino Brownies. Holy smokes, you're going to want to name your children after these brownies. 


Photograph by Romulo Yanes
Cappuccino Brownies
Makes about 24 brownies

From Gourmet Magazine, 1991

Three layers of deliciousness; they’re frosted with cream cheese and coated with an espresso-spiked glaze.

This recipe looks like a lot of ingredients and a lot of work - it is neither. And the results are TOTALLY worth it.

Butter and flour a 13 x 9-inch baking pan
Preheat over to 350°

For the brownie layer
8 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts, chopped

For the cream cheese frosting
8 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, SIFTED
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the glaze
6 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water

Make the brownie layer:
  1. In a metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water melt the chocolate with the butter and the espresso mixture, stirring until the mixture is smooth. 
  2. Remove the bowl from the heat, let the mixture cool to lukewarm, and stir in the sugar and the vanilla. 
  3. Stir in the eggs, 1 at a time, stirring well after each addition.
  4. Stir in the flour and the salt, stirring until the mixture is just combined, and stir in the walnuts. 
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake the brownie layer in the middle of a preheated 350ºF. oven for 22 to 25 minutes, or until a tester comes out with crumbs adhering to it.
  6. Let the brownie layer cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Make the cream cheese frosting:
  1. In a bowl with an electric mixer cream together the cream cheese and the butter until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  2. Add the SIFTED confectioners’ sugar, the vanilla, and the cinnamon, and beat the frosting until it is combined well.
  3. Spread the frosting evenly over the brownie layer and chill the brownies for 1 hour, or until the frosting is firm.

Make the glaze:
  1. In a metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water melt the chocolate with the butter, the cream, and the espresso mixture, stirring until the glaze is smooth, remove the bowl from the heat, and let the glaze cool to room temperature.
  2. Spread the glaze carefully over the frosted brownies and chill the brownies, covered, for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  3. Cut the brownies while they are cold with a sharp knife and serve them cold or at room temperature. The brownies keep, covered and chilled, for 3 days.
NOTES: I usually keep some Sharffen Berger chocolate on hand, but had run out (and where the hell are you gonna find that in Rutledge, Mo.?); I used semi-sweet chocolate chips instead. I also used salted butter (instead of unsalted). And since Zimmerman's was fresh out of Espresso powder I used Mt. Hagen freeze-dried coffee in its place.  The results were divine.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Mighty Morel Hunter Recovers from Her Crabbypants Attitude

Hi friends,

Oh, it has been such a long time since I've written. I've been going through a rough patch lately. Thinking about how to describe it makes me feel a bit whiny and ridiculous, but I've been thinking that I'd like to share more reality about ecovillage life (and not just the happy, kumbya moments) so here we are.

This June will mark the 16th anniversary of our arrival at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. What an absolutely amazing journey it has been. And what an emotional roller coaster! Living here, intentionally, with (at first) eight people and now almost 60, is quite possibly the most difficult thing I've ever done. Conversely, it is also one of the most rewarding and gratifying. Learning to (or at least attempting to) communicate in a clear, non-judgmental manner is hard work. I fail miserably, often. Another challenging aspect is the huge sense of loss that I feel. So many people have come and gone in the last 16 years. So many relationships forged over tears and laughter and songs and gardens and canning green beans. So many memories made, and so few left here with whom to share them.

The challenge of how to preserve the history of Dancing Rabbit, what to keep, what to let go, and how to share that history without boring everyone to tears is something I think about a lot. There are so many touching, or funny, or frustrating stories about every single person who has lived here that I don't know where to start. Every person who has spent time here has contributed something to the evolution of the village, and has helped it become what it is today.

We continue to host hundreds of visitors each year, primarily from April through October. It can be exhausting. After five years of running the Milkweed Mercantile and answering the exact same questions every morning at breakfast to a new set of inquisitive, earnest guests has worn me out. I feel like I've lost my zest, my energy, my sense of "me." I feel like I've become one-dimensional, viewed only as 'Eco Woman.' What happened to all of my other passions, interests, quirks? They have all been subsumed by Dancing Rabbit and the Milkweed Mercantile.

Fortunately, just as I was beginning to truly hit the skids emotionally, the Universe glanced over and said "Hey there - you need some help!" I received an email from a woman named Jody who asked about our Innkeeper position. Her experience was exactly what we've been looking for for the last five years. I could not believe that she agreed to come and spend the entire season as our Innkeeper. She has been here for five weeks now, and I'm starting to feel the craziness ease. I may not have to start a new blog entitled "Mrs. Crabbypants Explains It All To You" after all.

A few weeks after Jody emailed, I received an email from Sandy. She is a massage therapist, a yoga teacher, has worked at a B&B and at a retreat center. She wanted to come work with us, too.

And now, I hardly know what to do with myself. Jody and Sandy have things handled. I'm going through my yards-long to-do list and actually getting things done and checked off. It is really, really great. I am starting to smile again, and am no where near as crabby as I used to be. I haven't made anyone cry in days.

  After an hour of searching in all the wrong places we finally we found this (above) - signs that there had been morels here, but that we were too late.

Yesterday Kurt and I took a few hours to take a walk in the sun and search for morel mushrooms. While we only found six, that is so much better than the last time I went. That time I only found one, which I then LOST on the walk home. Six is a veritable feast! I am very happy with six.

 And then, the mighty morel hunter triumphed - score!

While we were out on our walk I got to play around with my new camera. Look at this moss! In real life it is very, very tiny. So cool! (I was documenting the huge lack of morels in that particular area...)

On our way by the old pond we noticed this gang of tadpoles. I don't know if you can tell just how huge they are. They look kind of like zombie apocalypse tadpoles, but I'm guessing they are bullfrog tadpoles. Seriously, they are HUGE!

 The branch shown above with the Godzilla-like tadpoles is shown in the photo below right smack in the middle for size reference. See what I mean? Aren't you just a teeny bit worried about poodles and small  children living at Dancing Rabbit? If they get near that pond, there's no telling what will happen!

Our food cooperative hosted the visitor group (11 adults, 5 kids) in addition to our seven members for dinner last night and lunch today. OMG. It was like a horde of locusts swooped through and ate everything. This morning when Sandy, Ross and I were making lunch, we just went through the fridge and kept adding things to the peanut-sauce-and-veg-over-rice schmoo. Potatoes? Great. Carrots? Perfect - put 'em all in. Half a cabbage! We need it. Old green beans that might have a bit of mold here and there? Heck, cut out the bad parts - we're desperate here! Fortunately this visitor group is made of astonishing human beings who are incredibly good natured. They are a pleasure, and they are helping me remember why I'm here.

I hope to write more often, to add a more day-in-the-life stuff. There's so much to tell - life is NEVER dull here!


Sunday, January 11, 2015

I'm Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaak!

Hi friends,

It's been almost a year since I last posted. It is amazing to me just how quickly time rushes by - each evening I think to myself "what the heck did I do today?"

I've taken such a long break unintentionally - I write this blog in my head all the time, but just don't take the most important step of actually typing. Thankfully, no one can read my thoughts, at least not yet.

I've been rather overwhelmed at trying to have a sustainable life. Which is a kind of crazy position to be in. Running a "sustainable" business, living in a "sustainable" community - whew! It is all exhausting! So I've been re-examining my boundaries, my perfectionism, my desire for guests to have just the "right" experience. I still don't have all of the answers I'm seeking, but at least am actively LOOKING!

Speaking of looking, we're on the hunt for an innkeeper this summer. It's a paid internship - while we'd love someone with experience what we're really wanting is someone the the desire to be here and do the job well. Look for a link on the Mercantile website soon. If you know anyone who you think might be a good fit, please have them contact me. We require a 3-month (minimum) commitment.

We've been so all-consumed with the Mercantile that our home has slowly turned into the Mercantile store room and the place where we sleep. We are endeavoring to change this, to make our house back into a home. Kurt is finishing the construction bits one by one - he just made a gorgeous window sill for our bedroom windows out of oak from the tree we had to cut down last summer. Now he's working on finishing all of the sheetrock that has been sitting here, mudded and waiting for paint all of these years. I've finished almost all of the thermal shades, which has come in handy during this bitterly cold winter.

Each Friday a group of us meet informally in the Mercantile in front of the fire for Tea and Conversation. Last Friday's topic was economic development at DR. It was a fascinating discussion; two fun things to come out of it are a Mercantile/Critters Goat & Chicken Bootcamp, and the beginnings of a food preservation collective. I am excited to see where these ideas will go!

Here is my favorite Facebook share of the week:

and a song I find beautifully haunting (a cover of a Bjork song, from the Jane Campion TV Series Top of the Lake, which also stars Elizabeth Moss and Holly Hunter):

That's all for now. More soon, I hope!


Currently 36°. Snow predicted for today. Tonight's low: 12°

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Gratitude - a never ending list, or, further reasons that life at Dancing Rabbit does not suck

The other day I was feeling a bit discouraged. I knew my problem wasn't "real" but was instead a reflection of what I was thinking. Quite frankly, I was having a case of Bad Attitude, so I went online and did a search for "living abundantly." What I found was a blog post suggesting that I go onto my Facebook page and post the following:

Hi friends - I’m in the mood for gratitude. You tell me something that you’re grateful for today and I’ll match it with one of mine.

What happened was astounding. (You can read what my marvelous friends wrote at the bottom of this post). It inspired me out of my slump and got me thinking about my never-ending list of gratitude. Here is just the start!

The beginning of a long list of that for which I am grateful (in no particular order):

1. Being raised as a reader. I had my own library card by the time I was 7, and we went to the library regularly. By the time I got to high school and my dad had meetings every Wednesday evening we’d have “bring a book to dinner” night. Reading remains my  entertainment, my escape, my university, my solace. More about my book obsession here.

2. Glasses. Sometimes, usually when watching a period movie, I try to imagine what it would be like to not be able to see well. As much as I hate the smudges and general annoyance, I’m grateful.
3. Being comfortable outdoors. I had the opportunity to go to “sleep over” camp beginning when I was a Brownie. I loved it. The campfire songs, the clean air, the sheer fun. But the best of all was comfort gained sleeping outside instead of hiding in a tent. Oh, the stars!
4. Seasons. In the winter, when it snows and the flakes landing land on my sleeves look just like the ones I'd cut out of carefully folded paper as a child in snow-less San Francisco, I realize that I love winter. Just when I am quite certain that I can’t stand another moment of the freezing cold, spring appears – the robins arrive, and green is everywhere. The last few years I’ve been making jelly from violets. Before I know it, the tomatoes are starting to ripen and we spend our days sweating. When summer seems like it has been going on forever, and even the pond is no longer cool and refreshing (it is more like old bathwater) the air crisps up, the leaves change color, and the milkweeds explode into fluffliness.
5. BLTs. With excellent bacon, Hellman’s mayo, crispy iceberg lettuce, and dark-purple acidic tomatoes. Heaven on earth.

6. Dogs. Big. Small. Young. Old.
7. Kurt. A kinder, more easy-going, generous, most-excellent companion would be impossible to find. Here’s just one example: one day, when I was whining about cramps and not wanting to do anything he said “Hey. Sit down and read a magazine. Menstruation is a full-time job.”
8. Therapy. I’d be dead, or at least more of a mess, without it. Thank you Judy for all of your help and insights!
9. Harmony. I love songs with harmony, the way the music intertwines…
10. The base part in Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way.
11. Growing up in the SF Bay Area in the 70’s. The concerts we got to see were amazing. The politics were inspiring. The schools were brand new and had great teachers. It felt like the center of the universe.
12.  Great movies and the lines that come from them. “Fasten your seat belt; it’s going to be a bumpy night” from All About Eve tops the list.

13. Fabulous names. Monu Tuiasosopo. Atticus, Jem and Scout Finch. Chili Davis. Neda Ulaby. Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson. Huckleberry Finn.
14. Memorable words. Flurry, pickle relish, salubrious, archipelago, brouhaha, reconnoiter, discombobulate, plethora...
15. Dave Brubek's Take Five
16. Peter Gabriel. Jackson Browne. Bonnie Raitt. Graham Nash. Joni Mitchell. They stole my heart in the 70's. I've never wanted it back.
17. My nieces. Three of the most amazing young women on the planet. And no, I am not biased!
18.  Modern Pharma. Say what you will; when I have a migraine headache and can be rid of it in one hour instead of three torturous, nausea- and agony-filled days because of a little pill...well, that's something that goes on my gratitude list.
19.  Nick and Nora Charles, the characters in the Thin Man movies.

20. The Sierra Nevada Mountains. They will always be home, where I feel the most comfortable, and where I know the names of all the trees, birds and flowers.
21. Being born where, when and who I was/am. I am only beginning to understand the enormous privilege that I was born with. I am healthy, white, a native Californian born to parents who owned a house, had good jobs and health insurance, who sent me to college and supported most of what I wanted to do. It is humbling when looking at the rest of the world.

22. Learning to play basketball, and playing on my junior college team. I was never very good, and certainly not aggressive enough. But I loved learning to push my body to its limits, sweating like a dog, learning skills like using peripheral vision, and getting a glimpse into hoops strategy.

23.  The books of Beverly Cleary illustrated by Louis Darling. I suspect that this is where I first fell in love with dogs.
24. People who walk their talk, live what they believe, and make the world a better place.
25. Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage and everyone who has ever visited or lived here. It is sometimes difficult to see the forest for the trees, but it is very clear to me that this is an amazing place. Everyone who comes through makes a ripple, which touches each and every one of us. And those who live here have made such an impression on me and how I live...can't imagine my life without my time at DR!

Below is the list posted by friends when I asked them what they were grateful for:
  • You.
  • Grateful is good
    So I am really grateful right now that the ground isn't a seeping mud pit. While I am not overly fond of cold weather, I don't like mud much either.
  • Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage!!!
  • I am more than grateful for our friends at the Milkweed Mercantile who let my sister and I come down and spend an entire evening eating, visiting, and catching up like we cannot do ANYWHERE else. Truly last thurs night was one of our best yet!! Thank you!!
  • Baby tomatoes!
  • laughter
  • Asbestos Gelos (NOTE from Alline: I didn't know what this was, and so looked it up. SO COOL. Check it out here with Laugh Lady.)
  • The support you gave me when I was so sick at DR. I still hear your words sometimes. Thank you, Alline. I am also grateful to have felt well for over 13 years!
  • People who push the boundry of what's acceptable and inspire us to challenge our own beliefs and opinions.
  • The Sun, which has been hiding for a few days, is out warming the world & my heart! I AM super happy & grateful!!!!
  • Greatful I was able to register my kinder and get my books and audiobooks to successfully download.
  • Melting snow banks and tiny patches of grass still alive and almost green underneath.
  • Grateful for happy healthy grandchildren.
  • I'm grateful for beautiful weather today.
  • Today i am grateful for sudafed and benydral lol. I give them full credit for my ability to breathe today.
  • Swimming in the sunshine
  • getting the tires fixed
  • Fuck yeah I want another mango! Also, thanks fruit for being fruit (let us note that this author is spending the winter months not in freezing Missouri but instead in tropical Ecuador and Costa Rica. Hence his giddy ode to tropical fruit.)
  • my amazing brother
  • Grateful for the growing circle of friends I have discovered since moving to this little rural community I call home!
  • My kids and wife!
  • Friendship
  • Taking the time to finish She Got Up off the Couch today. Loved it, Alline.
  • Working with my sister and my husband. Could not ask for two people I could trust and be happy to see everyday.
  •  my new job!
  • A new compost bin that Alexander and Grant built! (Also, all the boards they planed to finish our ceiling!!)
  • great friends, great adventures, exciting future!
  • my bikram yoga practice, family, friends, blue mountains, pink sunsets, my new chiro office, and a really cool dog
  • My health! and my friends, both 2 and 4 legged.
  • The Milkweed Mercantile and reading Alline's 48 grateful responses!!!
  • I'm grateful when both feet hit the ground and I stay upright. So many of my patients tell me how they didn't know they had a stroke until they stood up, and actually only one half stood, and they fell.
  • Grateful you are part of my family. love, Aunt Melba
  • i am grateful for that place that offers so many the space to create, in you - that would be the way you phrase things. it's right on ...
  • Cold but blue, sunny skies in Chicago.
  • I am so grateful for friends who appreciate gratefulness, really! Bringing this quality out in the forefront, exercising this practice is special. You're doing it! I'm grateful!
How is your day going? And what are you grateful for?


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

You Are Welcome Here (at the Milkweed Mercantile and Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage). Period.

It is 2014. I hate that people (kids!) are still being ostracized for any number of things, but especially for their sexual/gender orientation. For who they are.

Sheesh. Come on!

Just for the record, you are welcome here. Queer, straight or anywhere on the very fluid spectrums we call gender and sexuality. You are loved. You are respected.

One of our beloved former work exchangers just posted this song on Facebook, and I thought it was worth sharing.

Click here to hear Same Love by Angel Haze (Macklemore's song with different lyrics).


Hi Mom, I’m really scared right now, but I have to
At age thirteen, my mom knew I wasn’t straight
She didn’t understand, but she had so much to say
She sat me on the couch, looked me straight in my face
And said you’ll burn in hell or probably die of AIDS
It’s funny now, but at thirteen it was pain
To be almost sure of who you are and have it ripped away
And I’m sorry if it’s too real for some of you to fathom

But hate for who you love is not exactly what you’d imagine
And I guess it was disastrous
Because everything that happened afterwards was just madness
Locked away for two years to keep me on the inside
Because she’d rather see a part of me die than me thrive
And it’s tougher when it’s something you can’t deny
And ignorance teaches us it’s something you decide
You’re driven by your choices, an optical illusion
Here’s to understanding it’s not always confusion

And I can’t change even if I tried, even if I wanted to
And I can’t change even if I tried, even if I wanted to
My love, my love, my love
She keeps me warm, she keeps me warm
She keeps me warm, she keeps me warm

I’ve walked the halls of my school
And I’ve seen kids hide behind walls and footballs and things like pride
I’ve seen innocent children suffer beneath bruises
Suffer beneath every single hand that chooses
Ignorance, fuck your religion
Fuck constitutions, fuck superstitions
There are no lakes of fire; they’re here on earth
And the only thing to do is put love first
And so I stand for the boy who died by his hand
To the sound of his father screaming “woman loves man”
This is Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve

And I stand for the girl with the cuts up her sleeve
And the heart in her hand and a chip on her shoulder
And I stand for it all until ignorance is over
This is for you, for knowing who you are
For never letting your magic outside of your heart
Be you, be brave and understand that things do change
I accept you for you when I don’t understand
And I love you for you cause this is who I am
I accepted you for you when I didn’t understand
Now love me for me cause this is who I am

Here’s a message to the people who just don’t get it
Love is love, there is no difference
Not a medication to fix it
There is no prescription
No rehab to visit, it is not an addiction
It’s love and it’s selfless
It’s yours and everybody else’s
So don’t badger and abuse the solemnly defenseless
See us as yourself, there’s no equality in difference
Until we all get it, we’ll be drowning in the same blood
Despite orientation, we all feel the same love
We’ll be drowning in the same blood
Despite orientation, we all feel the same love

We are boxed in and labeled
Or who we dream we'll become
Like drum beats forever changing their rhythm
I am living today as someone I had not yet become yesterday
And tonight I'll only borrow pieces of who I am today
To carry with me to tomorrow
No, I'm not gay
No, I'm not straight
And I sure as hell am not bisexual
Damn it I am whoever I am when I am it
Loving whoever you are when the stars shine
And whoever you'll be when the sun rises
So here's to being able
Here's to love
Here's to loving just because
Here’s to acceptance
Here’s to never fearing the fear of rejection
Here’s to love and never neglecting who you feel you are
Here’s to bullies because beatings cannot last forever
Heres’ to the moment you realize things do get better
Here’s to the parents who will get it when its too late
Here’s to second chances
Here’s to new fate
Here’s to every single moment you’ve ever had to hide you
Here’s to the single star shining bright inside you, asking you to guide you
Here’s to who you’ll be when you figure it all out
Here’s to momentary doubt
Here’s to feeling, because we all feel it the same
Here’s to the moment that things will change
Because we all feel love, we all feel it the same
Here’s to love, here’s to change