H245: Hundreds and Hundreds of Cops

The news apparently isn't covering the police breaking into homes and arresting people in Minnesota. As Digby says:
If you're not following the story of these raids in Minneapolis, you should be. Of course, you can be forgiven since the news media feel it's necessary to give Bobby Jindal hours of airtime and don't have any to spare once they are through analyzing the impact of the hurricane on John McCain's heroic POW experience in North Vietnam, but still ...

Here's a list of links gathered by John Emerson at Seeing the Forest. This really is unamerican. but then, it's nothing new for the authorities to be unamerican, is it? In fact, considering our history and ongoing willingness to put up with this stuff, one has to conclude that it's actually quite American after all:

Glen Greenwald and Firedoglake have been following this closely.
DNC - RNC - Troops Out Now (an activist group).
Legal Team.
Legal team's twitter update.
Minnesota Indymedia.
Minnesota Blue (a liberal Democratic site).
Minneapolis Star Tribune Convention page.
Google Blogsearch: "Republican + convention + arrests".

[ . . .]

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming. How would a heroic POW handle a hurricane? Why, heroically, of course. He will chase that hurricane into the gates of hell.

The police presence swarming Denver was frightening in the clips that I saw. The brand new black uniforms, very swat, dark and hiding the face was reminiscent of the imperial forces of Star Wars. The first incidents had observers reporting no name tags or badges evident on a whole phalanx of cops outside the Pepsi Center. I watched as a huge cop clubbed a woman without provocation, sending her flying to the pavement. I saw an ABC reporter shoved and his face grabbed simply for filming a building where corporate sponsors were meeting. I don't have these links right now.

The mercenary police, Blackwater are headed for New Orleans again. This is terrifying. Let's not pretend that this shadow army isn't already out of control. Blackwater personnel are murdering people, harassing and torturing and are accountable to nobody. Mondo Fucko just renewed their contract for another year despite them being investigated for corruption.

On this Sunday night, my intent is not to cover the history of the GOP harassment, the habeas corpus again suspended, the hate that is Blackwater or the Hurricane Gustav horrors that may yet come. I just want to holler loudly - wake up
America. Pay attention.

This might ring a bell for some:

Then They Came for Me
First they came for the Muslims, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Muslim.

Then they came to detain immigrants indefinitely solely upon the certification of the Attorney General, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't an immigrant.

Then they came to eavesdrop on suspects consulting with their attorneys, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a suspect.

Then they came to prosecute non-citizens before secret military commissions, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a non-citizen.

Then they came to enter homes and offices for unannounced "sneak and peek" searches, and I didn't speak up because I had nothing to hide.

Then they came to reinstate Cointelpro and resume the infiltration and surveillance of domestic religious and political groups, and I didn't speak up because I had stopped participating in any groups.

Then they came for anyone who objected to government policy because it aided the terrorists and gave ammunition to America's enemies, and I didn't speak up because...... I didn't speak up.

Then they came for me....... and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Stephen Rohde, a constitutional lawyer and President of the ACLU of Southern California, is indebted to the inspiration of Rev. Martin Niemoller (1937).

At what point do we accept it is a police state or steps away from becoming one?

Happy Face soldiers by Banksy

See his New Orleans work.

H244: Hot Chili

Well, it is never ending – this learning how to live thing. I found out this week that historically hot peppers served a very important function prior to refrigeration. The capsaicin (what makes the pepper hot) kills microbes in food. So, it makes sense for me to cultivate my taste for fresh peppers. Funny, I find I am frequently adding pepper flakes to most vegetable and egg dishes. Who knew?

I liked the following article because it also reminds me of the chemical battles that seem to be going on in the gardens in my world. Fungus, mildew, acidity versus anaerobic, metals and nitrogen - oh my. I wish my Bachelor of Science track would have had a few more science courses to help me with the soils. (I am lying. Physics nearly did me in).
WASHINGTON (AP) - Chiliheads who savor the kick of hot peppers are sampling one of the earliest examples of chemical warfare. In this case, it's a battle between the peppers and a type of microbial fungus that destroys their seeds, researchers report in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They studied wild peppers growing in Bolivia.

The peppers use sugar and fats to attract birds that eat the chilies and disperse the seeds. The fungi also like fats and sugars, but they destroy the seeds.

"For these wild chilies the biggest danger to the seed comes before dispersal, when a large number are killed by this fungus," said Joshua Tewksbury, a University of Washington assistant professor of biology.

The fungus is spread by aphid-like insects, and in areas where they are more common, peppers had high levels of capsaicin, the chemicals that give peppers their heat, the researchers found. Capsaicin dramatically slows growth of the fungus.

"Capsaicin doesn't stop the dispersal of seeds because birds don't sense the pain and so they continue to eat peppers, but the fungus that kills pepper seeds is quite sensitive to this chemical," said Tewksbury.

On the other hand, peppers growing in areas where there are few insects, and thus little of the fungus, didn't bother to produce much capsaicin, some being as mild as bell peppers, the researchers found.

Tewksbury also suggested in a statement that capsaicin may also benefit people who eat hot peppers - one of the earliest domesticated crops in the Americas.

"Before there was refrigeration, it was probably adaptive to eat chilies, particularly in the tropics," Tewksbury said. "Back then, if you lived in a warm and humid climate, eating could be downright dangerous because virtually everything was packed with microbes, many of them harmful. People probably added chilies to their stews because spicy stews were less likely to kill them."

Good to know. . . I had a gut ache this week that felt as though it might be some cranky microbe trying to take me down. My body fought back and I was only uncomfortable for an evening and a morning. I had some yogurt cheese that made me suspicious.

For the record, as of today I have lived two months without a refrigerator. I am finding it just isn't as big a deal as I would have ever guessed. Had I not already eliminated all kinds of things like frozen food, meat, deli food, juices, etc. ; it might have been more difficult. It had been 3 years since I had a freezer and the other foods were rarely purchases the last three years because of budget, vegetarian eating and avoiding chemical-laden processed foods. The biggest adjustment is simply not over-stocking with more food than will remain fresh.

Flickr image of hot peppers

Don't these look like Christmas lights?

H243: Holy Cow!

Here is a story from Petaluma, CA, Sonoma County, that surprised me:

Dairy farm puts men to work, offers drug, alcohol rehabilitation.

By: SAMANTHA YOUNG - Associated Press
Birthing calves is one of the many chores the men do as part of an intensive 12-step therapy program that weaves the daily tasks of farm life into recovery.

Although the homeless account for just a fraction of the country's addicts, they are the least able to afford treatment and the ones often in need of the most medical help.

So unlike many treatment centers, the 315-acre dairy farm run by the San Francisco-based St. Anthony's Foundation has provided its services for free since 1954. In fact, only residents who have no income qualify for the program.

None of the men have medical insurance, most don't have a home and nearly all of their families have severed ties with them. [snip]

The dairy farm makes about $162,000 a year by selling more than 1,800 gallons of organic milk a day to help fund its treatment program, which costs about $600,000 a year, said Francis Aviani, a spokeswoman with St. Anthony Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides 11 clothing, housing, employment and rehabilitation programs for the San Francisco area's homeless. The rest of the farm's budget comes from donations and private grants.

The 315-acre dairy farm also plans to sell organic butter.

It boasts an organic vegetable garden and powers some of its buildings with a methane digester, which turns cow manure into electricity.
Dairies and dairy products are not getting much good press in this day and age. These things sounded like good things. If you know something different about this place, I’d really like to know. I am so very cynical these days of rampant corporate malfeasance.

I am passionate about yogurt, and that keeps me wedded to dairy. For this reason I hope that this article was a true reflection of a positive opportunity in farming.

H242: Hopeline

Thinking about my younger sister’s attempt to kill herself last week and in memory of my daughter Angela who succeeded 19 years ago . . .

And to any and all who have lost loved ones to suicide, you are on my mind this week.

H241: Homegrown

The Dervaes family in Pasadena has been and is a primary motivating force for many of us in this sustainability movement. Their Path to Freedom website continues to grow and evolve.

Their urban homestead, their lives are captured on a soon to be released film. I wrote the director and asked to be notified when and how the film is distributed. He wrote back that he would let me know.

Here is the trailer.

You Tube Link

H240: Happy Birthday

I had the most delicious meal at my neighbor’s birthday party. She provided a sumptuous little spread of homemade healthy goodies; a hearty lentil soup with vegetables, 2 breads, butter, her own version of tabuli (using corn), lettuce leaves, an eggplant dish, steamed summer squash with potatoes, avocado hummus, yogurt with cucumber / mint, ground flax, ground walnuts and another ground nut, olive oil, feta cheese and a delicious French pastry birthday cake. Even the birthday greeting on the cake was in French.

Recently I interviewed this neighbor for my newsletter. I have changed her name to protect her identity.
International fame on the dance floor was a reality in M’s life. She was a champion ballroom dancer from Czechoslovakia, called the heart of Europe. Fifteen years ago the country divided into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Years before this M was born in the middle of the Czech Republic and Slovenia—the heart of the heart so to speak.

She has danced since she was a child. She married twice, both times to champion ballroom dancers therefore dance partners too. The 1st was a fellow Czech, the 2nd Canadian.

Hard work has been a consistent part of her life regardless of country. One 8-year stretch M danced with her French Canadian husband as cruise line entertainers. She has started from scratch in several different countries and built businesses (Canadian Bed and Breakfast) and schools with and without a partner’s assistance. I found that she even got her training as a registered nurse in Europe. This is a multi-faceted jewel of a woman.

She came to this trailer park 7 yrs ago, again starting over after her divorce. She has worked throughout that time to improve her home, making it a sound little grotto inside and out.

M teaches the tango, practices yoga and writes for the Tango newsletter. You may see this Tango newsletter in the laundry room.

The new bulletin board outside the laundry room was christened by M with articles from the Czech Republic for us to see money and art as subjects worldwide.

Her son, a Canadian citizen, has a family so M is now a grandmother. A grandmother who speaks Czech, French, German and English; has held citizenship in Czechoslovakia, Canada and now recently the US.

But, beyond her international acclaim, she is famous in our Park as the tourists come to see her incredibly intricate jewel of a home.

Her home is as these photographs show, a veritable grotto, a shrine that is an homage to her life. She has created her life story in stones and pictures and precious momentos glued to every available surface inside and outside.

Oh, and an added bonus for me at this Happy Birthday party was meeting M’s friends. I so enjoyed the conversation. Both M and I gave these guests a tour of the park and my home too. They were very interested in sustainable living.

This was a unique and happy food experience this week. It brought the world to my doorstep.

H239: Hog

Rainwater Hog™ that is. This is a spectacular design for small spaces like mine. In fact it is the perfect design in the horizontal application for a mobile home like mine. The only disadvantage is the $450 price tag. But, oh the 47 gallon storage container kicks the conventional rain barrel design’s butt!

Love the way you can store in a vertical position . . .

Or, as I would love to do under my mobile home - the horizontal postion.

Sold through Design Within Reach I have to chuckle at how my mind was just thinking that this design was not within my reach. Never let it be said I can’t appreciate good design, even if I can’t afford it.

h/t Apartment Therapy

H238: Hobby & Craft Purge

I haven't finished this post - UNDER CONSTRUCTION.

I have been painting outside all day- big push to get the place all spanking fresh and colorful for the big yard sale Saturday and the town's Art Walk on Sunday.

G237: Graphic Math & Science

I don't begin to understand this video, but it is deliciously complex in our world of simplistic nonsense. My intellect, my spirit yearns to be fed and stimulated.

(This video can be found on the site here.)
My thanks to Quixote at Shakesville.

G236: Graphic Peace

In 1969, a 14-year-old Beatle fanatic named Jerry Levitan, armed with a reel-to-reel tape deck, snuck into John Lennon's hotel room in Toronto and convinced John to do an interview about peace.
Do read what Colin Bevan has to say about nonviolence.

I am moved by the graphics. They take me back to that time. I am transported while I am yet again revived by John Lennon’s philosophy.

The young man is delightful. He is far superior as a journalist, asking real questions than our robotic nimrods in corporate media.

G235: Grey Gardens

A study in Eccentricity and I would say, entitlement. This picture was something I saw in the 70’s and only recently stumbled upon it again. It is so strange, it is hard to look away. Big Edie and Little Edie, costume of the day, Jackie Kennedy’s family and so much more . . .

h/t to Moments of Grace
Note: I wasn't sure what category I should tag this. Given this week's drama, Grey Gardens was a relief for me - so comic relief it is.

G234: Global Gangsters

Although this news item was at the first of the year, I don’t think the story is much changed. Before I begin I’ll announce my utter contempt for this group of despicable human waste.
Ask Not What the Climate Can Do for You, But What It Can Do for Your Portfolio
Investors meet at U.N. to discuss how to stay wealthy amid climate change
Nearly 500 corporate leaders and institutional investors representing $20 trillion in capital met at the United Nations Thursday to discuss the risks and opportunities presented by climate change. The gathering called itself the largest ever meeting of investment types specifically convened to discuss climate change. Attendees mused about how they could continue to make money in a climate-changed future, set a price for carbon that wouldn't hurt them financially, pressure the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to endorse disclosing climate-related risks, and prompt the United States to adopt legislation slashing its greenhouse-gas emissions by up to 90 percent from 1990 levels by 2050. "This action plan reflects the many investment opportunities that exist today to dent global warming pollution, build profits, and benefit the global economy," said Mindy Lubber of investment group Ceres. "Leveraging the vast energy-efficiency opportunities at home and abroad holds especially great promise for investors." Attendees pledged to invest $10 billion over the next two years on green tech and to pressure companies to divulge their climate risks.

A tiny minority in the world is running all of the major corporations which in turn fund the think tanks, control World Bank, IMF, World Trade Organization, own the media and buy universities. Oh yes, and pitch products and propaganda at all of us 24/7 through a staggering Wulizer roar of mindless celebrity-soaked distractions..

Rapicious Greed Or Herbivorous Green?

Fighting the first with everything in our arsenal and living / supporting the second with heart and soul.

This is where we should all be focused – not the silly faux elections. They are not real. Both candidates have marching orders from the ‘owners’ of us all. Besides, the election fraud of the last two elections has not been dealt with in any way. The votes can’t be trusted in that environment.

I am feeling overwhelmed in my emotions right now. And I read at earthfamilyalpha today how “we are not thinking beings that feel, we are feeling beings that think,” Oz concludes,

Will the fear of death trump the love of life in this national plebicite of feelings?

Will gathering more oil win over harvesting our renewable energies?

Will "war and division" win over "peace and harmony?

Thinking Beings who Feel will likely tip the scale.

My emotions are out of whack today. I am angry, I am distracted. I got news that my sister tried to kill herself this week. My mother and my son spoke yesterday morning. I talked to my mother last night. My sister and I haven’t spoken to each other in five years, but I still feel some deep pain. She has suffered depression and panic attacks for many years and has done this before. After burying my daughter I had to rush across the country to be her support. I can’t do that again. I have no answers, no insight and I am numb.

It does strengthen my resolve that I must constantly look outside myself for the connections to other people and living things. Slipping into self destruction is just . . . just . . .

Well, I don’t have the words today. Hug those near you. My son and I cried a bit and hugged and talked about many things yesterday. And, my mother and I had a conversation that covered all the bases and gingerly stepped between the volatile ones. I’m not sure what lies ahead.

Portland Red Trees photograph by Rana

G233: Guerilla Gardening

Seed bombs

Seed Bomb Step #1:
Decide what type of seeds you will be planting. Make sure that you choose native flowers or trees that will survive with little intervention (i.e. hardy). Be careful to not introduce an invasive plant species into the mix that will spread and choke out natural vegetation in the area. Flower seeds that work well in a seed bomb are sunflowers, bachelor's buttons, poppies, and cosmos.

Seed Bomb Step #2:
Gather your ingredients. You will need 1 part seeds, 3 parts compost, 5 parts dry red clay, and 2 parts water. If you have rivers or streams nearby with red clay, gather from there and let dry. If not, you can buy dry red clay in a pottery supply store. Make sure to use red as it contains minerals necessary to the growth of the flowers. Other types of clay are sterile.

Seed Bomb Step #3:
Mix the seeds well with the compost.

Seed Bomb Step #4:
Mix in the clay with the seed/compost mixture until completely blended together. At this step, you could add a few teaspoons of cayenne pepper to the mix if you think you will have problems with ants or other creatures hauling off the seeds when the seed balls start to break down. If you are adding cayenne to the mix, use gloves to do the mixing.

Seed Bomb Step #5:
Add water, a bit at a time, mixing with your hands continuously. You want to get the mixture to almost bread dough consistency but not wet and sticky.

Seed Bomb Step #6:
Form the seed bombs. Pinch off a marble size piece of the mixture and roll between your hands until rounded and outer shell is smooth and has no cracks. This will protect the seed bomb from predators until germination. Continue to make seed bombs until all mixture is used up.

Seed Bomb Step #7:

Lay seed bombs in sun to dry. Continue drying for 24 hours until clay is hard and set.

I think I might make some to sell at our upcoming yard sale. The following day is my neighborhood area Art Walk. I think I could keep a sign up by my home that next day for interested art walkers. Right outside my door is the scorched earth of the railroad tracks. Many of us long for vegetation, but politicians have had crews remove any vegetation. I believe it is a sustained effort to make this area appear blighted so that there is more likelihood of declaring eminent domain. That is one theory anyway. The politicians named are just childish and petty enough to adopt such an approach.

I also like the idea of the provocative name, Seed Bomb, in this time of war mongering and machismo talk related to Georgia, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.

Seed bombs first spotted at Dwell

Seed bomb image courtesy of Diana Settar's Flickr

G232: Garden Fare & Stuffed Grape Leaves

After griping about the poor yields of my garden bed and the community garden, I am forced to admit that I have been feeding myself pretty damn well from what I can harvest. It is just as well nobody else seems interested in the garden or I’d have competition. This week I have the long Chinese noodle beans, acorn squash, carrots, zucchini, Roma tomatoes, fennel, lettuce, radishes and possibly some okra.

Not only that, I am the recipient of stuffed grape leaves from my son. Lucky for me, he has been craving them for two weeks running. I taught him the recipe most like his Lebanese grandmother’s. It is made with ground lamb. I asked him if we could try to cook it in the solar oven. He said he didn’t want to risk it with this batch. I will have to suggest it again sometime.

This is more like the version I would like to try some day when I have my own grape leaves growing where I have shaped rebar arches to hold them. I’m feeling I need to experiment with the recipe below to make stuffed grape leaves more local, vegetarian and homegrown. I might eliminate a bunch of steps and simply let the ingredients cook within the grape leaves. There is something too fussy about this recipe from here.

For the stuffing:

Soak over night or for a few hours:
3 cups long grain brown rice (Basmati or Jasmine are the best)

1 large diced onion
1 Tbs olive oil
1-2 large carrots, grated
2 large bundles of baby dill, finely chopped
1 large bundle of spearmint leaves, finely chopped
1-2 tsp salt
1-2 tsp allspice, ground
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup or more pine nuts, toasted
a handful or raisins (optional)
6 cups of boiling water

One large lemon (I’d double)
3 Tbs olive oil (or to taste)
1⁄2 cup water

In a large pot, sauté the onions in the olive oil until slightly golden. Add the carrots and stir constantly. Strain the rice and add more oil to the pot if needed. Sauté the drained rice along with the onions and carrots, for about 5 minutes, while constantly stirring to avoid scorching. Add the raisins and boiling water and cook on high heat until water reaches boil. Reduce to low heat, and let simmer until water is only at the bottom. Turn off the heat, and leave covered for 15-20 minutes, until rice has absorbed all the water.

Toast the pine nuts in a pan, and add the pine nuts and chopped herbs to the rice and mix well. Transfer to a big bowl and wait until it is cool enough to work with your hands and stuff the leaves.

To prepare the leaves:

Pick as many leaves as you can – 150-200 leaves should be a good start, and if you need more you can pick more later. Pick only the largest of the youngest (which are also the softest) leaves, and keep the stems on (the stems will not be removed until just before stuffing the leaves). One jar of leaves would be enough if you are not picking your own leaves. [. . .]

Boil a pot full of water with one tablespoon salt. Blanch the leaves until they change their colour from bright green to olive (at this point they will look as if they were pickled).

With a small pairing knife, remove the stem of each leaf before stuffing. Place a teaspoon of rice in the middle of the leaf, and fold the sides of the leaf starting from the top and the sides (next to the stem), and then roll to the bottom. Be sure not to over stuff, in order to achieve an elegant, elongated shape of each stuffed leaf.

Place the leaves in a pot, arrange them in circles and layers, and make sure they are sitting tight and close to each other. Add 1⁄2 cup water, lemon juice of one large lemon and three tablespoons of olive oil. Place a ceramic plate large enough to cover the leaves but small enough to fit into the pot (as to keep the leaves and place so that they don’t open during the cooking). Simmer in low heat for 30-45 minutes, until all the water is evaporated. If there is an excess of water after 45 minutes, gently pour it out.

Wait until the leaves cooled a bit, transfer into trays and serving plate and enjoy!

I confess I was drawn to this recipe simply because the blogger describes grape leaves so beautifully. I think it goes without saying, grapes are one of the finest natural snack foods on earth. I do believe they are a wonderfully sensual food. I would love to grow grapes to have the vines to use in craft projects. If I were I wine drinker I would be especially enamored of this plant life and all of its myriad uses. Here is what this Canadian blogger wrote about stuffed grape leaves.
While grapevine leaves do not have a very distinctive scent, they have the most fantastic tangy flavour, and are used for the legendary stuffed grapevine leaves. Everything about making this classic specialty dish is sensual and relaxing. Picking the leaves and arranging them in orderly piles; blanching them in salt water; rolling the fragrant rice, spiked with mint, dill, allspice and pine nuts; their fragrant and quiet simmer in lemon juice and olive oil; and finally, eating the cool and elegant rolled leaves one by one, admiring their exquisitely delicate flavour.

Grape arbor photograph

G231: Gleaning

The idea of finding food for free, has been on my mind for some time. I know that there are fruit trees all over the place with fruit rotting on the branches. I have also always wanted to have mesquite trees growing close by – ever since I tasted the flour from the pods fifteen years ago in Arizona. I look out and imagine a map I could make of the square mile or so in my immediate vicinity between the highway and the ocean. I can just see it filled with notations about avocados, limes, nuts, berries . . . I plant these seeds in my own subconscious. And sometimes a ‘volunteer’ seed just starts sprouting again.

Last week after writing about food foraging and the Ice Plant recipe I decided to take this a step further. I googled and found a group,
Senior Gleaners, are all volunteers of 55 years of age and over. They volunteer their time and labor in gleaning surplus food from gardens, fields, groves and regional supermarkets to supplement the hungry and poor.

I had a great conversation with Donna, the volunteer in charge. We spoke in terms of what could happen in my area. Disappointingly, there is nothing organized along my stretch of the coast. I would have to drive pretty far inland to the fields and she also suspected I’d not be able to handle the physical. I guess the fields are up a hill.

She also organizes grocery store runs. Now I have some experience with the grocery store donations because I worked at a local Vons for a few months a few years ago. It was a stomach-turning miserable experience to see the mountains of waste and the utter disrespect shown food. There was no communication between the bakery department head and the donation pick up volunteers. Carts and carts of food was stuffed into compost boxes (or big trash bags if nobody was paying attention) every single day. We baked way in excess of demand so that bakery cases looked overflowing. *shudder* And I witnessed only one department.

The idea of spending volunteer time, fuel to pick up white bread, chemical laden cakes and donuts for people in need of meals just doesn’t appeal to me. For me it is like so many do-good enterprises that seem more about white, middle class people needing a bunch of busy activities to assure themselves they are generous. So, I left it there for now. The volunteer was dismissive anyway. She was distracted with her month long vacation starting the next day. But, a seed was planted.

I spoke briefly Sunday about preparing a map to the woman running for City Council as I was showing her the Ice Plant fruits. She is a member of Sierra Club and is a sustainability advocate. I let her know that I had my application in for the Environmental Committee and she agreed this would be something great for that group to tackle. Another seed was planted.

Today I was writing another post and searching for a citation buried somewhere within Green as a Thistle blog and found that Vanessa is writing again. In this particular post she used a term I was unfamiliar with, feral fruit. Apparently, she learned of this from Chile. Now I read Chile most every day, so I must have slept through that recent paragraph. I like the sound of feral food. Call it gleaning, foraging, feral food, fallen fruit, mapping food. Today I decided it was time to share some of these great resources and links.

With Vanessa’s post I got several more links besides Chile's. Funny how one can think he or she is alone in a thought. Nothing is individual – all is shared. Chile and Vanessa and others will approach this same theme with their own insight and expertise. I don't think any of us in this nascent world of sustainable living thinks we have it all figured out or are prepared to eliminate information.

We're all in this together — by ourselves. —Lily Tomlin
Here is the thinking behind the group calling itself Fallen Fruit.
"Public Fruit" is the concept behind the Fallen Fruit, an activist art project which started as a mapping of all the public fruit in our neighborhood. We ask all of you to contribute your maps so they expand to cover the United States and then the world. We encourage everyone to harvest, plant and sample public fruit, which is what we call all fruit on or overhanging public spaces such as sidewalks, streets or parking lots.

We believe fruit is a resource that should be commonly shared, like shells from the beach or mushrooms from the forest. Fallen Fruit has moved from mapping to planning fruit parks in under-utilized areas. Our goal is to get people thinking about the life and vitality of our neighborhoods and to consider how we can change the dynamic of our cities and common values.
-Fallen Fruit is David Burns, Matias Viegener, and Austin Young

Here is their list of resources, from which I include the YouTube video for some instant gratification, besides planting some seeds.

Respect image from Wasted Food

G230: Garden Tool Purge

I’m not sure what I imagined I had when I named this category back in January. I do know I got rid of a garden hose full of holes and tossed a broom that broke since then. But this is the sorry state of my garden tools. Not shown in the photo is one spade and one hand trowel. The hand trowel was given to me by a neighbor last year. I use it in the worm bin. The spade is something I brought on my move from Phoenix. But, when I moved I gave all my garden tools but this spade to a building inspector. Ha! Sounds like a bribe. As it turned out, this guy was a neighbor, a fellow progressive amongst the neighborhood association conservatives and a generally wonderful guy (and his wife was a wonderfully talented artist, educator). He’d help me by doing some repairs to make my home ready for selling. In return he got the electric weed whacker, pruning sheers, hand tools, rakes and hoses. I don’t regret it.

Where I live now I find I can borrow from neighbors or the park for the miniscule bit of tool related tasks. The sorry line-up in the photo is part of future art projects. At the far right you can barely see the broken, rusty pitch fork. Keeping it for no reason besides my being rust loving. The two beat up brooms will be transformed into over-sized artist brushes. The 2 larger rakes are actually antiques and will be used as supports in a future landscape/garden project. I have no idea how they were designed to be used, because they suck as leaf rakes. The small rake is so pathetic, but for raking up the light weight pine needles all over my place it works a treat. That last phrase is one I read from one of our favorite Aussie blogs. It cracked me up, so I’m happy I found a use for it (like the rake).

This continuation of the over-sized pencil theme is something my park manager suggested. Once the really big posts go to the new fence (scheduled for next weekend) I want to continue with the concept. She suggested the smaller tool handles as pencils or brushes. So, for now I am gathering them. So much for my purge . . .

F229: Flowers and Fudge in the Campaign

I had a fantastic community experience this morning. I hosted a meet and greet at my trailer park from 10 am - noon. It was to meet a new candidate for the city council race in my town. I met this woman some weeks ago when she contacted me. She'd seen one of my newsletters and wanted to use some images in a town council newsletter. (Note: This community I live in is one of 5 who incorporated in 1986 to form one community.) This candidate is a president of one of those.

She wasn't the only guest, as I'd asked an two other incumbent council members to come to speak to the residents of my park. One of the councilwomen is up for re-election and the other is in for another year. What is vital is that the three candidates are all different in their approaches and their special issues, yet united in their opposition to the developer-driven, underhanded politics dominating our city council right now. These three women could transform our community. They all believe in open space, sustainability and transparent government. Our beach community is becoming overbuilt, it is overpriced and falling apart at the infrastructure core. Like millions of communities all across the country.

What has sold me completely is what happened at the end. We'd taken a tour of the park, made introductions all around, the candidates spoke, we questioned, we spoke of specifics regarding mobile home parks and then I got gifts from the new candidate. Home made fudge from one of her volunteer staff and flowers from this same volunteer's garden. The tag on the flowers has her 'tag line' - "We can do it better." On the back side it says,
Optimism 2008
Through our united knowledge, truth and continually expanding friendship; the force of democratic process will prevail. In November we will achieve local government that we can trust.

Language of Flowers
  • Alstromeria & Yellow Roses - Friendship
  • White Rose - Unity
  • White Carnation - Democracy
  • White Chrysanthemum - Optimism, Truth
  • Ivy - Trust, Tenacity
  • Laurel - Achievement
  • Sage - Wisdom

I am duly impressed. This is one fine candidate.

F228: Feeling Guilty

I had a talking to with my soul one morning this week. I was awash in shame. It was from a sharply defined memory of something simple I’d done to my grandmother years ago. I chose to write about it. It spilled over into regrets over things I’d said and done to my daughter, mother, sister, son. It was like an intense atonement session. The Grandma incident forced me to realize how little I understood about aging at the time, though I thought of myself as perceptive. It also showed me that even when my intentions were good, I could really blow it. I wrote and wrote and attached images.

And, then I was done. That is, until I just now heard this poignant song by Nina Simon on an archive addition of This American Life (my addiction). Though it was written for her in ’64, I’d known this song from the Animals version when I was a teenager. Some believe it was related to Nina Simon's Civil Rights music of those times, but I believe this is a more personal story. For me it is the perfect soundtrack to my process of recollecting past mistakes.

And, Yusuf Islam’s version. Or Cat Stevens to those of us old enough to remember . . .

F227: F.A.R.M.

"I think we need to take back our language. I want to call my organic carrots ‘carrots’ and let [other farmers] call theirs a chemical carrot. And they can list all of the ingredients that they used instead of me having to be certified. The burden is on us to prove something. Let them prove that they used only 30 chemicals instead of 50 to produce an apple."

MaryJane Butters said the above and I cheer. She is a farmer with real credentials according to today’s article at Epicurious: Chew the Right Thing where her F.A.R.M. Project (First-class American Rural Made) products are recommended. Specifically, Ali writes:

Call it Ethicurean guilt if you will, but I need to talk this one through.

MaryJane Butters, the woman behind this food, is the original farm girl. Okay, maybe she’s not the original farm girl, but she sure looks the part. She’s an organic farmer who grew up canning garden-fresh food and wearing hand-sewn clothes. After stints as a single mother, carpenter, and wilderness ranger, MaryJane purchased a five-acre homestead in Idaho, sight unseen. Since then, she’s been farming this land — and then 100 more adjacent acres, after she married a neighbor farmer — in high style.
The New Yorker speaks to her marketing,
I think of myself as a food scientist and a farmer,” she says. Butters is a farmer the way Martha Stewart is a housewife. Tells about her magazine, MaryJanesFarm, which she started five years ago. “I branded myself,” she says. “It creates a forum for me to talk about farming.

This is key as I see it to the Epicurious perspective. This smart woman is using all of this branding and packaged products as a bridge to a life more sustainable. We are as a culture caught in a grip of consumerism that dictates everything. This farmer sees that she needs to reach people in ways they are able to hear and understand.

We’ve really devalued food in our minds and what ends up on our plate. We’ve devalued it and laced it with chemicals and the cheap food hasn’t worked out long-term. I think that I sell not just good wholesome food, but I also sell hope. People crave that.

Speaking of hope, she also runs a farm school called PayDirt.

Pay Dirt Farm School is our non-profit educational program offering farm apprenticeships. The program provides practical experience for individuals who value common sense and introduces them to the operations of an organic farm. The school's mission is to cultivate organic farmers and eaters. The school was founded with the belief that the elimination of deadly pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers, along with the maintenance of healthy living soil and the rebuilding of local communities, all play a major role in the development of individuals whose thoughts, dreams and actions create positive change.

And something dear to my heart, The Farmgirl Sisterhood is a membership only group that provides a real formum for women in this farming venture. So much of the symbology and structure of this reminds me of my years and years in Camp Fire Girls, Inc. This Farmgirl Sistergood is a wonderful opportunity for young girls and women too. The logo is a hexagon, one of my favorite shapes (which almost haunts me in my dreams). The shape is reminiscent of the chicken wire and speaks to the zen of the honeybee hive. Love. It.

Okay, I am done swooning and not even tempted to start consuming the F.A.R.M. brand. Packaged goods and cute attack tschotchke don't speak to me. I just have a real appreciation for the drive and the vision of this brilliant woman.

F226: Fascist, Facile Fucking with Faces

I don't even know this person, but Melissa McEwan's latest in the series titled, Impossibly Beautiful, features this face today. She makes a significant point that the series is titled this because it seems that no matter how beautiful a woman is, it isn't good enough and will be doctored. Unlike some past examples of ads photoshopping faces to make them younger, whiter and thinner (to hide the unacceptable age, race and body of the real woman), this woman is by all convention measures: young enough, thin enough and white enough.

Here are the photo comparisons that Melissa provided to compare the magazine cover to the far right candid shot and another previous magazine cover. Oh I see that her name is Carrie Underwood.
Now I would love to direct you to my theory 'below the fold' - but I am foldless here at make-a-(green)plan.

Maybe you could close your eyes for a brief moment.

Or not . . .

My theory is that the end goal is to develop the standard for all to seek (and by that I mean acquire via any consumer method you prefer) - the perfect American FACE.

In her slight variations . . .

With this being my closest match to the Carrie Underwood model.

and some versions possible consulted for personality types.

F225: Feminist Design Hero

Thirty years ago I made the observation that whoever designed the homes I’d lived in or the restaurants where I’d been employed had never worked in these settings. It was clear to me that the proportions, the flow – to name only two – were just wrong.

When I made my decision to enroll at Cornell University’s Human Environment Relations College, I knew I wanted to major in Design. I knew I wanted to change my world to one that I could fit into, I could work within and I could design to my own criteria. I discovered Delores Hayden while I was at Cornell.

I am so thrilled that Beany linked to Delores Hayden in her post yesterday. She made the statement, "In the U.S. however, entire living areas are designed so as to make it hell for pedestrians". I felt in a rush the thrill of discovery I’d felt more than a quarter of a century ago when I stumbled upon Hayden’s perspective.

Aside, those many years ago I searched the stacks for women in design, women in architecture. I was a neophyte at research and all too often I would get caught up in browsing, losing my focus, forgetting my train of thought and careless in recording my search methodology. As part of my work-study funding I worked at Cornell’s Olin library one summer and fall. I learned a lot to do the job, but never got over my frustration with getting in and getting out with research materials in any deliberate, productive way. I think my mind vacillates between the vast and the minute, the philosophical and the personal, big – little, etc. Aaargh. Research at the library for me, FAIL. Conversely, I am so grateful for what the internet allows me to experience. The internet allows me to research far more effectively.

To return to Delores Hayden and to illustrate what I just wrote, I want to provide a quick glance at the several publications from Hayden those many years ago.

Now for some unabashed promotion of Delores Hayden’s books. I start with:

Seven American Utopias:The Architecture of Communitarian Socialism, 1790-1975.

"Seven American Utopias combines cultural history, design analysis, and political theory. It is, thus, a conceptually ambitious book and a good one....a sophisticated study of the politics of design."
--Thomas Bender, The Journal of American History
The Grand Domestic Revolution:

A History of Feminist Designs for American Homes, Neighborhoods, and Cities

"This is a book to startle and inspire feminists today...An architect herself, Hayden has brought history to life by insisting that social problems are also spatial problems, and must be addressed as such."
--Nancy Cott, The New York Review of Books

"Women's work is not done. The design of our place to live (some still call it 'the built environment') still follows men's visions. For most women, the old household drudgeries have merely been replaced by new suburban drudgeries.

"We now have women architects--all of 3 percent of a total of 37,000 members of the American Institute of Architects. But few if any of them are addressing the issues of residential and community design that are still keeping women 'in their place' and that, a century-and-a-half ago, led to what Dolores Hayden calls 'material feminism."
--Wolf Von Eckardt, Washington Post June 1982

These were the two publications I knew about during my studies. Later, Hayden wrote these following books about America’s suburbs, America’s urban environment.

Redesigning the American Dream: Gender, Housing, and Family Life

Americans still build millions of dream houses in neighborhoods that sustain Victorian stereotypes of the home as "woman's place" and the city as "man's world." Urban historian and architect Dolores Hayden tallies the personal and social costs of an American "architecture of gender" for the two-earner family, the single-parent family, and single people. Many societies have struggled with the architectural and urban consequences of women's paid employment: Hayden traces three models of home in historical perspective—the haven strategy in the United States, the industrial strategy in the former USSR, and the neighborhood strategy in European social democracies—to document alternative ways to reconstruct neighborhoods.

Revised and expanded in 2002 and still utterly relevant today as the New Urbanist architects have taken up Hayden's critique of suburban space, this award-winning book is essential reading for architects, planners, public officials, and activists interested in women's social and economic equality.

"...the most cynical anti-planner and the scrappiest tenant organizer will be pleasantly surprised to see that Hayden includes positions of class, race, and the economic underpinnings of women's position."
--City Limits

The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History

"Essential reading for preservationists and anyone interested in urban America."
--Antoinette J. Lee

"Hayden invents a totally original method of 'storytelling with the shapes of time.' The result is an almost poetic invocation of the resilience of the human condition, grounded in both theoretical understanding and practical experiences of place-making and preservation."
--Michael Dear

"The Power of Place is a graceful manifesto that enlists Dolores Hayden's formidable skills as a writer and architectural historian to argue for new ways to understand and represent the social history of urban space."
--Carl Abbott

Building Suburbia: Green Fields and Urban Growth, 1820-2000

A history of the seven contested cultural landscapes where most Americans now live.

Delores Hayden is a professor of architecture, urbanism and American Studies at Yale University. She is credited with being the first to use the expression ‘built environment’ in America. She’d studied in England in the 1970’s where this expression was in use.

Merely explaining the relationship of American studies, the social sciences to the built environment brought back a flood of the passion within me. I loved my field of study and had forgotten how much until reading the interview that follows.

"Building Suburbia," Architecture Boston, April/May 2008, Jeff Stein interview with Dolores Hayden

There is a real key within this book to the loss of our farmland and the disproportionate wealth, the dominance of a growth economy and the loss of the focus, the money, the building and governing for the public good. I have not yet read the book, but I am excited to after reading this interview.

I am so happy to have been given this reminder of Delores Hayden again.

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F224: Forage for Food

Now this is something on my list for sustainability skills. It appeals to me as much as the idea of being a Freegan. A couple weeks ago I wrote about the nopales of the prickly pear, the cactus leaves I currently purchase at the farmer’s market. I believe I could find these with ease in the wild without much problem.

I’ve written about dandelion weeds, but intend to expand my weed foraging repertoire in the next year.

The plan to plant Borage and Flax at the street parking is stuck in phase 1 as I haven’t cleared the pine needles yet. If I plan and plant it isn’t really the same as foraging, right? I guess my goal is to let this kind of planting become volunteer planting for the future.

By this time next year I’d like to be able to map for myself the free food available within my immediate neighborhood and the larger neighborhood (4-5 square miles) where I can walk and bike daily. I wrote in early March about how difficult it is for me to join, to be a part of community. But, I keep trying. Right now I know that I have neighbors who have offered up their 1) avocado tree, 2) banana tree, 3) pepper bush and 4) lemon tree. I hope to find orange trees, nut trees and berry bushes growing in public spaces.

The other terrain is the coast. Here I am at the Pacific coast and I just know there is food before me. Recently I asked my son, who was on his way to the beach, to keep his eye out for Rockweed. It is the most common seaweed. I found a recipe for Rockweed crisps and wanted to try it with him. Well, he had no luck. We will both keep looking. What I have found for today’s foraging is Ice Plant. It grows at the coastline, along the Southern California highways and right in front of us along the street parking. This incredibly strong plant is an invasive species and our community is combating. Just how that is being done, I don’t know.

Meanwhile, I have found a recipe that my son and I are going to try tonight. Yes, I am aware that not only is it not local – with the bacon and buttermilk, it isn’t vegetarian either. Oh well. . . I will update the post after preparing and eating.

Dressed Ice Plant
¼ lb bacon; diced, fried and drained
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp flour
¼ cup buttermilk
½ cup water
dash of pepper
1 qt Ice Plant leaves

Combine all ingredients except Ice Plant and cook, stirring constantly, until dressing thickens. Pour over Ice Plant and toss. Serve while warm. Serves 4.

Meanwhile here are some fun facts to know and tell. For the sake of consistency I have settled on Ice Plant as to capitalization and the two separate words. I didn’t do much editing as I found it all quite fascinating.

It is believed that Ice Plant came from Africa in the 1800s when sand (carrying Ice Plant seeds) was used as ballast for ships traveling to San Francisco and Monterey. When the ships arrived they would dump their ballast in the harbors and Ice Plant seed washed up and down the California coast. Caltrans also planted lots of it to keep roadsides from eroding, and from there it naturalized. One can see vast monocultures of Ice Plant along the ocean highways of California.

That was from a discussion on sand dunes and what is required to keep them healthy found here.

Ice Plant described by an Australian source:

Leaves and stems - raw or cooked. They can be used as a spinach substitute. The leaves have an acid flavour, they are thick and very succulent with a slightly salty tang. They can also be pickled like cucumbers or used as a garnish].

Adaptive responses to the Global warming challenge
Climate Change's predicted warming, reduction of overland flows and reduced soil moisture will impose severe habitat limitations on our indigenous plants and animals.

However certain plants within families such as the Ice Plants, Native Grasses (Poaceae) and the Cactuses (Cactaceae) will be competitively advantaged and potentially increase their natural ranges.

Remarkably, Ice Plants have evolved a separate mechanism to be known as 'Night- time breathers' or technically Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM) that will increase the plants adaptive capacity to Climate Change. By storing Carbon, in the form of organic acids produced during night time respiration they do not need to absorb Carbon Dioxide, by opening their stomatal pores. Hence CAM plants stop moisture losses through their pores during the heat of the day. This endows them with added xerophytic abilities that enhance their succulency mechanism to accumulate moisture and halophytic characteristics to survive in highly saline areas.

The tasty 'Greens’ were highly valued by early Explorers
As mentioned in the introduction, Ice Plants form an important historic connection with our Tasmanian convict ancestry. This arose as a consequence of Captain Cook's 1768 voyage to observe the transit of Venus. He satisfied his scurvy-stricken crew's desperate need to savour fresh greens by harvesting the pot herb NZ Spinach, T. tetragonoides, from the NZ's shoreline. Following discovery along the Australia coast by Cook and other explorers, of large swards of both T. tetragonoides and Botany Bay Greens, T. implexicoma, they soon came to rely on these greens as dietary necessities, to enhance their Spartan rations. It is interesting to note, if the early explorers and colonists had shown a little appreciation for the Aboriginal way of life, they would soon have selected today's popular bush tucker treats but instead limited their choice to only those indigenous plants that reflected the image of English vegetables. Besides the Ice Plants these included Sea Celery Apium prostratum and Botany Bay Greens Atriplex cinerea.

So impressed was Sir Joseph Banks with these Ice Plants, he sent their seeds to Kew Gardens from where it rapidly gained favour in high society cuisine as a summer spinach. In 1779 Banks' fondness for this plant's ability to provide reliable quantities of nutritious greens, was portrayed exuberantly in the House of Common's inquiry delving into the relative suitability of Australia compared to West Africa as a convict-based colony. He obviously left a strong impression and the rest is now history.

As alluded to earlier, the Ice Plant family primarily consists of hardy and environmentally resilient plants. Their tolerance is a consequence of their efficient methods of seed dispersal, ease of propagation from cuttings or off sets, their succulence, pest and disease resistance, fire resistance, xerophytic and halophytic abilities all supported by their CAM metabolism. In light of the global warming impacts, it is predicted that their recent popularity as landscape, erosion control, bush tucker and revegetation species will increase.

Disappointingly these competitive advantages also result in the prevalence of many more exotic members menacing indigenous vegetation communities as invasive weeds.
The next source tells about how this plant thrives on neglect and can be killed with kindness. Now that speaks to me. The fact that it is a fire resistant element and a perfect candidate for a roof garden is what made me initially interested in researching Ice Plant.

An African source follows with more on the Ice Plant, including medicinal qualities:

Carpobrotus edulis
An easy-to-grow succulent groundcover, ideal for low-maintenance and water-wise gardens. It is also a useful first-aid plant with edible fruits for the herb or kitchen garden. A robust, flat-growing, trailing perennial, rooting at nodes and forming dense mats. The succulent horizontal stems curve upwards at the growing point. The leaves are succulent, crowded along the stem, 60–130 x 10–12 mm, sharply 3-angled and triangular in cross-section, yellowish to grass-green, and reddish when older.

Flowers are solitary, 100–150 mm in diameter, yellow, fading to pale pink, produced mainly during late winter–spring (August–October). They open in the morning in bright sunlight, and close at night. Look into the centre of the flower and you'll see many stamens surrounding a beautiful starfish-like stigma. This species is easily distinguished from the others as it is the only one with yellow flowers.
Fruit is fleshy, indehiscent and edible, 35 mm in diameter, shaped like a spinning top, on a winged stalk, becoming yellow and fragrant when ripe. The outer wall of the fruit becomes yellowish, wrinkled and leathery with age. The seeds are embedded in the sticky, sweet, jelly-like mucilage. The fruits can be eaten fresh and they have a strong, astringent, salty, sour taste. They are not as tasty as those of C. acinaciformis and C. deliciosus which are sweeter.

Conservation status
Carpobrotus edulis is not regarded as threatened in its native habitat, but it is invading natural areas in other parts of the world and threatening the survival of other species. In California, where it has been used since the early 1900s to stabilize the soil along railway tracks and roadsides and as a garden ornamental, it has naturalized and is invading coastal vegetation from north of Eureka to Rosarita Bay. It is known as the highway Ice Plant in the USA. It has naturalized along the west coast of Australia from Perth to Albany where it was also used for soil stabilization and is known as pigface. It has naturalized in parts of the Mediterranean and on the south coast of England.

Uses & cultural aspects
The leaf juice is astringent and mildly antiseptic. It is mixed with water and swallowed to treat diarrhoea, dysentery and stomach cramps, and is used as a gargle to relieve laryngitis, sore throat and mouth infections. Chewing a leaf tip and swallowing the juice is enough to ease a sore throat. Leaf juice or a crushed leaf is a famous soothing cure for blue-bottle stings—being a coastal plant it is luckily often on hand in times of such emergencies. The leaf juice is used as a soothing lotion for burns, bruises, scrapes, cuts, grazes and sunburn, ringworm, eczema, dermatitis, sunburn, herpes, nappy rash, thrush, cold sores, cracked lips, chafing, skin conditions and allergies. An old and apparently very powerful remedy for constipation is to eat fruits and then drink brackish water. Syrup made from the fruit is said to have laxative properties. A mixture of leaf juice, honey and olive oil in water is an old remedy for TB. The leaf juice also relieves the itch from mosquito, tick and spider bites both for people and their animal companions. The Khoikhoi took an infusion of the fruits during pregnancy to ensure a strong, healthy baby and an easy birth and smeared leaf sap over the head of a new-born child to make it nimble and strong. In the Eastern Cape it is also used to treat diabetes, and diptheria.

Fruits are eaten by people and have been since ancient times. Archaeologists have found plants covering ancient middens along the coast and sometimes marking Khoikhoi burial sites (UCT Summer School lecture). The sour fig is frequently cultivated as a sand binder, groundcover, dune and embankment stabilizer, and fire-resistant barrier and also a superb water-wise plant.

Update: Astringent doesn't begin to describe the taste of these leaves. I could not stop laughing at my kid's face when he tried to eat this. We both laughed until we cried (and I farted).

First of all, we think we'd cut the leaves into smaller pieces and blanche them first - before adding the 'dressing.' Did I mention that the recipe is from 1881? Anyway, we would also begin with a roux made from the bacon grease. Isn't this a béchamel sauce?

I am still puzzled about the eggs. Should they be hard boiled? Should they act as an emulsion, like a hollandaise or mayonnaise? Or should the whole business be baked? I don't get it. I don't know what to aim for here? This is totally outside of my eating experience. I'm intrigued enough to want to try again. The kid (who is really a man to the rest of the world)too.

Did I mention that the fruit, the figs, were delicious? These we could have in our salads all the time. There was sweetness with sourness on top of a salty taste. And we both thought a bit like a grape taste.