Victims of Random Success, Failure

Sweet potato success two years ago was two wheelbarrows full.  This year, not a one survived, though slips filled two healthy rows at one time in early June.  Two years ago, no pears to speak of, in fact only one  and a half crops in 4 years.  This year, a bumper crop from a single tree that will fill my afternoons for the next week in processing.  Peppers one year, tomatoes another, melons everywhere like weeds three years ago, to this year, where are all the damn melons?!  I don’t see how the farmers do it.  Or, did our farming ancestors count on such extreme variations, whereas today there is an unrealistic reliance on consistency?   Hence all the hybrids and GMOs?

I wish I knew.  I suppose this has long been the struggle of man and nature that dimwits and intellectuals alike try to grapple with.  I read and observe and attempt eternal patience, but in truth it is terribly aggravating all this not-knowing.

It’s baffling and annoying and funny.  I try to keep records, but half the time I have no clue why something succeeds or fails, so I don’t know what to record–the temperature and rainfall and seed source and planting dates, ok, but that does not seem to get me very far at all, even when I manage to do it.  One year an invasion of squash bugs, another year white flies, another year some unidentified wilt, this year, five different persistent grasses growing like bamboo mats engulfing everything in their path.  This has been the most depressing summer for the garden I’ve yet experienced, but I get the sense now I’m repeating that mantra in some form every year.

I get hunches sometimes, for better or worse, and this year I thank the pear success to our beehives.  I know timing of the last frost and first good rains fit in there somewhere too, but don’t ask me how.  Also failed this year were the figs, one, like sweet potatoes and okra, also failed, were all ones we once called a fail-proof crop for the south.

Back to the drawing board, green thumb.   Success in one area, as temporary as it might be, leads to thoughts how to better benefit from such success in future, only in future to find that was quite futile.

If I can get myself past the programming to stop focusing on either success or failure, I might get closer to seeing the bigger picture.  Or so they say.

Pear hooch is bubbling happily in the crock.  That might be my zooming out solution.  One good solution surely leads to another.  🙂

 

rootcellar1_copyWe might need a root cellar.  Or then again . . .?

 

Meat Day!

I have my cheese days and Handy Hubby has his days at the smoker. Usually it’s a Sunday, because we try to always take a day off for lounging in the hammocks and over-consuming adult beverages. Cooking, writing and researching deep politics we don’t typically consider work. It’s more that we just agree to ignore the heavy labor for a day.

It’s raining again today (thank heavens!) so we’ve got our real redneck on, swinging under the carport, dogs at our feet, noting we have too many roosters–we have to yell to hear each other over the crowing and the drops echoing off the tin roof.

On today’s meat madness list: Hubby’s own pastrami, a couple of ducks, lots more duck necks for future soups, and some sausages. Yes, we are just two here.  We cook in bulk, just like we shop. By the way, we are awash in ducks. I’m scouring every cookbook and online site for new recipes and hoping somewhere, somehow to find someone to trade with for something.

Today we are experimenting with our ‘hard-core homemade’ menu by crafting a Reuben to reckon with. The recipe comes from Julia Child, but we kick it up more than a couple of notches.

Everything about it is homemade—the rye bread, the pastrami, the Muenster cheese (I’ve been babying that baby for two and a half months now), the mustard, the mayo, the ketchup and the saurkraut. (As I side-note, I had no idea ketchup used to be a very healthy condiment, because it was fermented, and nothing like the corn syrup concoction with seemingly unlimited shelf-life sold today.) Before finding this recipe in the gorgeous cookbook Baking with Julia, I didn’t know a ruben had ketchup. The Eastern European rye bread recipe also comes from this book. Normally I make a sourdough rye, my own painstakingly-crafted recipe, that is delicious.  But this one is made with yeast and looks so awesome in the photo (see below, mine is rising as I type, but I’m sure it won’t look quite that pretty), I just had to try it.

On the dark research front we have another score, and quite a synchronistic one.

Yesterday I was confronted with a compelling contradiction. I spoke with my mom on the phone and normally the conversation would not swerve into politics at all, but these days it’s front of mind for a lot more of the population than usual. She is concerned, as so many are, especially about ISIS. Her source of information is the mainstream news, known in ‘alternative’ circles as the lamestream news. I tried briefly to convince her that she is watching State-run propaganda and we might as well be living in the USSR, that’s how bad it’s gotten. She had not heard of false flags, of course, how would she?

Conversely, a friend on social media concluded this is a positively wonderful time for anarchists/voluntarists/agorists/libertarians and free-thinkers in general, because Americans are really waking up en masse. People are engaged in the elections and Trump is spilling the beans that the whole game is rigged and folks are listening, was just a small portion of her lengthy don’t-be-so negative-and-see-the-silver-lining lecture.

To her, I would like to say the same thing I’ve been saying at the university where I’m thrilled to be teaching my last class ever: Engaged is not educated!

I tossed in my sleep considering this great rift in understanding and reactions, and to my very pleasant surprise when I woke a brilliant piece of insight had been posted on Youtube by Truthstream Media, which I promptly sent to Mom and re-posted across social media.

This couple does excellent work, and if folks are really waking up, it’s thanks to them and those like them, boldly and courageously speaking truth to power, and putting their youthful exuberance into righteous anger, expressing a proper amount of snark and frustration, usually, but always deliberate, creative action, and especially oh-so-many undeniable facts for the lamestream watchers to reckon with.

Manufactured Civil Unrest and Regime Change: Is America Next?

 

 

bread

Breads from Julia Child’s book: Baking with Julia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agorism, continued

I used to consider myself a Liberal, back in the days before liberal politics officially embraced the Military Industrial Complex and the eternal war machine.

Then I called myself a Libertarian, until I realized the movement had been completely co-opted by the Right and been bought by the likes of the Koch brothers.   The so-called “New Right” proved itself to be exactly the same as the old Right, not exactly the Neo-Con version of the last several decades, but harking back that of my grandfather’s generation.  No thank you!

Then I called myself an Anarchist, because it was obvious to me no good was coming from politics at all.  I stand by this still, as misunderstood as it is.  Anarchy does not mean “no rules” it means “no rulers.”

It seems very much in line to me with Agorism, but I’m still learning and am not at all afraid to change my stance once again if I discover I’ve been misled or deceived or the movement has been co-opted.  The concept of the countereconomy is particularly appealing to me, because I absolutely abhor the effects of my labor going toward such criminal endeavors as war and lining the pockets of elected criminals, banksters, and their very many minions.

“Agorists regard this counter-economy as a form of nonviolent direct action, a method of simultaneously challenging and evading state power, in the process building a free society based on the principles of unrestricted voluntary exchange. Counter-economics underscores the fact that given the volume of rules, regulations, and licenses already choking economic relations, almost everyone has already participated in the counter-economy in one way or another, perhaps quite unwittingly. By simply paying no heed to arbitrary rules that attempt to prohibit completely voluntary, mutually beneficial trade, agorists are engaged in an attempt to change society without resorting to political action, which agorism regards as capitulating to the existing power structure. Agorists believe that by becoming politically engaged, running candidates and attempting to reform governmental structures and lawmaking, libertarians fall into the trap of politics — the delusion that if we only elect the right person or pass the right law, we can attain freedom. For agorists, the processes and institutions of politics are inherently and unchangeably corrupt and coercive.”

http://www.libertarianism.org/columns/black-market-activism-samuel-edward-konkin-iii-agorism

I first learned the learned the word and the philosophy from my most-trusted news source James Corbett.  His most recent article on the topic reassures me further that not only am I aligned with the message, but that it’s happening, for real.   With his typical sardonic wit, he writes, Dear Government, Deliver Us From Freedom!

In this good news piece he highlights the booming peer-to-peer economy, community exchanges and the other fantastic efforts of like-minded folks doing all they can to get the corrupt government out of their lives and livelihoods.  He lists many examples and resources, so I hope you’ll check out the entire article.

In the end he surmises sarcastically, “Do you realize what this means? It means that the plebs are actually starting to spontaneously organize in new and innovative ways to help each other. This is a disaster! What if they stop believing that all charity on earth must be provided by the government? What if they start creating self-sufficient communities? Or collaborating without corporate middlemen? Or transacting around the world without the knowledge or oversight of our tax collectors?”

Oh I do, James, I really do realize what this means!  And thank you for your years of work and ‘leadership,’ in the way that leadership is meant to be.  You have inspired me and millions, and our numbers are multiplying by the minute.

“Freedom. Terrible, terrible freedom. What if there’s no putting a lid on it?”

Amen, Brother!

nif_pray

 

 

 

Cheese Day!

I’m not really sure why I love making cheese so much. My sister noticed one reason it’s not like me at all–‘it’s a lot like chemistry,’ she said.  I know! I don’t like numbers, or recipes, or chemistry. At least, not that kind of chemistry. Or, maybe I do, but school sucked the pleasure right out of it for me.

Cheesemaking has a pretty high learning curve, which does suit me. I took three good courses not too far away in Waco, Texas and I’ve been at it a couple of years now.

What I’ve learned as most important in cheesemaking is a good life lesson for me, so maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to it. Most cheesemakers, if asked the most important aspect of cheesemaking, might say, sanitation, or quality of milk, or aging capacity. I don’t deny all these are crucial, but for me personally, it’s patience.

I’ve had success from poor sanitation! If you’re curious about that dirty story, you can read it here: http://www.grit.com/food/kitchen-techniques/a-tale-of-two-cheeses-part-2.aspx I’d love to repeat that process, but don’t know how exactly, because I don’t know all that went wrong to produce it.

I’ve had some limited success with poor milk quality, though I don’t care to repeat it, because the failures far outweighed the success. Now I drive five hours round-trip to the nearest Jersey Grade A Raw Milk available in our region:  Trimbel Farms.  I do wish it were closer, but quality is not something I’m willing to forgo.

Aging capacity is always a challenge, unless you are lucky enough to have your own mountain cave, which is impossible in Texas, as far as I know. Affinage is the correct terminology, and if I wanted to do it correctly, I’d move to Switzerland. Not really an option.

Patience is the real challenge for me. Process is everything. This is not something that comes naturally to me. I’m a natural step-skipper, I don’t follow directions well, never have. My motto, what can I get away with not doing? So I always test the system. While this works for many things, it does not work for cheese. Typically, there are only four or five ingredients.  You only really need four–milk, rennet, culture and salt–which account for a good chunk of all the cheeses there are.

Not only that, but to know if I’ve failed I must wait two or three months or longer, in most cases. So much for instant gratification. Of course, there is always 30-minute mozzarella, which for the beginner with no cheese press and no way to properly “affine” is an ideal way to go. And, it’s delicious, better than anything you’ll buy in your average grocery in this neck of the woods. I still make it regularly and it never disappoints. Three ingredients: milk, rennet, citric acid. Well, and water and salt, if those even count.

I’ve had limited success with my all-time favorite, Camembert, one for the more advanced cheesemaker. I’m still not sure why I can’t succeed consistently at it, though I use the same techniques each time. For those interested in trying, I direct you to my cheesemaking and beekeeping friend, the lovely Rashel of The Promise Land Farm, who has mastered this fine art.

Maybe I love cheesemaking because it requires undivided attention for a couple hours, and peripheral attention for days, or even weeks and months. I’ve tried to multi-task while in the process, like today. I had grading to do, I forgot the flame was still under the pot, and over-heated the milk by 15 degrees.  Big mistake! One that cost me about three hours. Luckily, it was early enough in the process I didn’t ruin it altogether. A mistake to remind me:  Patience dear one, focus, prioritize, slow down.

Listening, learning, forgiving myself. And never, ever giving up.  Maybe it’s my commitment that drives me to succeed at it.  But, why this commitment for this particular process?

Maybe I just love a delicious challenge.

 

cheese

 

East Texas farm sources for raw milk, etc.

 

 

Traditional Foods for Great Health

I’ve loved cooking for as long as I remember.  As a young girl that meant macaroni and cheese or Hamburger Helper from a box.  Being from the mid-west casseroles were of course an early specialty.  But we did not eat healthy.  We were like most suburb-dwellers since the rise of supermarkets and fast food.  Canned vegetables, TV dinners, bologna sandwiches, I’m sure you get the picture.

My palate and preferences have evolved significantly over the years, a good deal of it thanks to Handy Hubby, who is a fabulous cook.  What we like to cook differs, but usually compliments one another, and our time cooking together is fun and bonding, usually.  That is, as long as he doesn’t watch me chop anything.

Our preferences took a big leap when we started growing much of our own food.  This has been a huge and continuing learning curve, but it excites me to learn new things and I find growing and harvesting our own food immensely satisfying.

For newcomers now it’s becoming much easier with homesteading-type courses popping up all over, even online.  City and country folk are really getting organized around important traditional food and lifestyle concerns, like raw milk, GMOs, pesticides, water quality and on and on.  I find it thrilling it’s getting so popular!  In the beginning friends and family thought we were nutcases moving out here and experimenting with this lifestyle and no one knew what “homesteading” meant in the way that’s now becoming quite a movement.  Much more on all of this in future posts!

For now I just wanted to share for those just starting out on the journey to better health one course I just heard about through The Weston A Price Foundation, an amazing resource for the traditional foods resurgence.  My favorite cookbook is written by their President, Sally Fallon, called Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats.  It’s got it all: fermenting, cultured dairy, game and organ meats, sauces, condiments and very interesting culinary history.

The course sounds like it would be a great place to start for anyone just getting interested, and it’s free!

https://foodwifery.com/processed-to-real-foods/

 

 

 

 

 

Peace Corps Remembrance (part 1)

Those days remain for me, over 20 years later, as poignant as Proust’s madeleines.

I often get too mushy or teary just trying to relate the lessons learned and the bitter sweetness that nostalgia just is.  On the negative side of the spectrum, trauma bonding and Stockholm syndrome come to mind. On the positive, a culture that inhabited me, with all the muddy in-betweens that this sort of parallel dysfunction conjures.

When we choose to throw ourselves into chaos, as controlled as that chaos might promise or originally appear to be, we make a statement and commitment we can never really disown afterward.  I f-ing volunteered.  I signed my name.   I was informed in advance of the reality of the program., at least to the degree it was divulged.  Whatever pain was suffered in consequence, I knew very well it was going to be “tough”.  That was the damn advertisement after all.  In hindsight, was it a mistake?  Did I overstate my enthusiasm, did I overestimate my commitment?

My father always said challenge, even to the point of pain, builds character. Maybe this is true, but it makes me question then why those who subject themselves to the most pain aren’t necessarily so strong in character. In fact, there would seem, as often as not, to be an inverse relationship.  How does the Golden Rule play out when what the other wants, what he expects and has been trained for, is manipulation.  My dad talked a lot about character, integrity, family values. He’s been married three times, so apparently he has a good base of experience from which to draw.

Chaos is sometimes mistaken for passion.
Intensity is often mistaken for intimacy.

We are only human. There’s a reason the slogan at the time I pined for the Peace Corps was : “The Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love”.  I longed for it for three years before I made it happen.

Love?  Tough?  Got it!  Know it!  Sign me up.

I got one of the easiest assignments possible. I’ve written about that too many times to repeat it here now. Before I was sent just a few hours from Prague, I craved to be sent to rural West Africa, that was my dream. I was to be learning Wolof half the month in a village as I taught French at a university in Dakar. It almost happened. Then, I was threatened to be sent to Armenia, OMG! A clerical error, I hope?

I really hated it at times. Did then, still do, the bureaucracy, what’s not to hate?  The jumping through hoops, the perpetual state of subservience and distancing and stonewalling, well it was just a precursor of all that was to come.  Many events stand out, but what stood out most then and still is to be labeled a complainer from the outset.  I was a huge idealist then;  I wanted to give my skills and capacities to the service of my country and its ideals, as they’d been presented to me, and then and indeed now, the hierarchy meant nothing to me personally.  Unless, as it stands, I can hardly maneuver myself from underneath its obvious and choking oppression.

The message is like a master to a slave: When I ask your opinion, what you are allowed to tell me is only what I want to hear. Or, consequences.

I completed the seemingly endless evaluations seriously and honestly. While others checked “fine” and “no comment” I filled them out for real. It still brings me to tears to remember this truth. This might be nationalistic brainwashing, I accept that, but my devotion was real. It wasn’t for America per se, because already at that time it was all plastic, I didn’t stand for McWorld, or I certainly never meant to, that’s for sure.

I really thought I could make a difference, that others, even those above me who said they wanted my opinions, really did want them, and the message I was getting on the outside was that I could make a difference if I tried, if I “applied” myself.

But on the inside, it was an entirely different game.  Subservience is the currency.  And that’s when I was introduced to the world of politics.

I know now one refers to this as naiveté. The rule is go along with the program, and if it’s too difficult, find another way to cope with your reality, like pain killers or anti-depressants or meditation or a new guru, or whatever. And if you can’t handle that, well, get out. Get out of the game. Good heavens, it’s not Afghanistan, you’re a teacher, not a soldier.

It wasn’t that hard, in hindsight. But, it was a lesson for life. It was a precarious political situation in some ways, and witnessing this was invaluable to me. There was a lot of propaganda, and little trust, and no one, systems, or people, I can honestly say, ‘needed us’ in any real and material way.  We did not help. In hindsight now I know, we only expedited their transition from Soviet dominance to Globalist dominance.  Some honest and more astute friends confided to me at the time:  “We are only trading one big brother for another.”  Intelligent, shrewd and industrious folk, those Slavs.

The level of distrust was at such a level that at the time it seemed absurd to me, at 26. How very foreign it felt to show my passport at every border, to have people question me when I snap a photo. I was so judgmental, but how I feel for them now!  Now that mistrust and hostility plague all of America.  What is happening to me now seeing our political tyranny and police state is so close to what I felt there, it’s like living Kafka.  In the West we think of 1984 and Orwell and Huxley, but there it was already old news.  Those dudes exalted the nightmare Kafka’s world was already living.

On one occasion I was innocently taking a photo of a garden in front of a large family home which I found particularly lovely nearby a friend’s house not far from the center of Prague when an irate woman stormed out and yelled, “What are you photographing here? Are you ill?

This spring at my home on a dirt road there was an unusualrecreational vehicle driving past during the two-month paranoia of “Jade Helm” and the parallel feeling was overwhelming.  Something was off.  These drivers were foreigners. This vehicle was not local or recreational.  What was up with this?  Was it me?  Enter the world of psy-ops. More on that, much more, in future posts.  The goal of the psy-op being always to trade ‘your’ freedom for ‘our’ security.

In those days, in just Soviet-occupied Eastern Europe once I stated myself to be American, instead of German or Russian, I got a better welcome from strangers. “Racism” was practiced openly, that is, if you were discovered to be Western and therfore “rich” you had a gravely augmented price ratio to almost everything. To cheat you, even if you were with other Czechs, was commonplace and expected. There was actually an accepted and stated price difference for foreigners. That was incentive to learn the language enough to fool them. It didn’t take that much really, because few were able to learn the Slavic languages all that well. Even with an accent, if you were lucky, you might be mistaken for Slovenian, or from the Baltics, because after all, what rich Westerners would try to learn your language.

Whatever, I digress. I love nostalgia and I’m wonderfully good at it.  The truth: I was terribly lonely.  In many ways it was an extension of adolescence, and the hallmark of all dysfunctional relationships—as long as you serve us, we will support you. Serve us means don’t ask questions, no personal boundaries allowed, don’t make waves, even when invited, walk the egg shells, and support “us” (we the institution or the personal ego) even when we’re wrong.

I haven’t seen any evidence that’s changed, politically or personally, though my tolerance of institutional coercion, and by default I hope, personal coercion, has consistently diminished to the point at present of, no f’ing tolerance.

 

 

 

 

 

Why I’m Leaving Formal Education

I began teaching in 1993, as a TA at Arizona State University, the year before I went to the Peace Corps, where I was also a teacher. I’ve worked as a tutor, teacher, trainer and guide, most recently as an adjunct instructor for the accredited online university American Public University System (APUS). There I teach beginning French and Spanish, starting in 2007.

The university at that time was still quite new and online universities in general have had a difficult time overcoming their poor reputation. Still, as an avid learner myself, but one who didn’t really enjoy the classroom experience, it was a natural fit for me. Change in the cyber-world is the greatest given, and education is no exception to this rule. I felt I’d adjusted over the years fairly well.  I was apparently quite mistaken.

Jumping through new hoops with the ever-changing demands of the ever-changing administration is not for the veteran teacher, and I believe they are coming to rely heavily on that fact. In the last year the turnover is something I haven’t experienced since age 16, working at Shoney’s Big Boy.

This university caters primarily to our military professionals and that was a mixed blessing for me. On the one hand, the students are more diligent and respectful than those I experienced teaching high school or a typical community college or university. On the other hand, I did not feel comfortable being employed by a tentacle of the military industrial complex. In hindsight perhaps I should’ve taken that misgiving more seriously.

Most recently I’ve been ordered to not correct student grammar. This was after last year being ordered to not only correct student grammar in the target language (French or Spanish) but also in English, as many students were deficient and the cultural forums are written in English. We’ve also been ordered to actively monitor students’ performance and “engagement” and make weekly contact with inactive students. This is masked in concerns of “retention” though to me it looks more like accustoming the student to regular surveillance. I was also informed I was being monitored with equivalent consistency.

When I try to voice my concerns about normalizing such practices I’m met with comments like “get on board or get out” and “we’re all in this Brave New World together.”  I wish I were exaggerating.  I doubt these colleagues have any idea the gravity of the reference they make so off-the-cuff.

Apparently, to correct grammar for beginning foreign language students, is being “critical” and “negative”.  It was actually likened to spanking.  Again, I wish I were exaggerating.

What I most wish to share with these colleagues fearing for their jobs to the point of following whatever new command is coming down the pipeline without question: Do your research. You are supposed to be academics. Do you know who these orders are coming from? Have you heard of the Tavistock Institute? Do you knowingly follow the designs of the Council of Foreign Relations? Do you know why? Do you know their end game? Are you willfully or blindly engineering your own demise?  Do you care?

Have you felt the shaming and manipulative techniques they are using to make sure you fall in line with the program, or to weed you out if you don’t?

Because, I have.

Spies in Academic Clothing

The Fall of the Faculty

Technocracy Rising

The Underground History of American Education

 

tv-hypnotizes

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-dumbing-down-of-america-by-design/5395928