AnooYou

I am an organizer by nature, by nurture, and by necessity.  Whether it is my internal community of Selves, my community living situation, my neighborhood, or a wider network of affiliates, I see connections and create change.

Currently my organizing impulses and energies are flowing into re-prioritizing my life, post bike tour, post reawakening of my Self.  I’ve never had any trouble keeping myself busy, rather my problem has always been choosing between the marvelous array of causes and communities of which one can be a part.  Hence, organizing.

As the NEW LAUREN I will channel my energies and focus on…

Books – joining book groups, volunteering at the library again and/or Boneshaker Books

Community – finding new housemates, beginning a research project on urban intention communities/cohousing, potentially finding a spiritual community?

Food – themed dinner parties, attending the Sustainable Farming Association conferences, maintaining and building on the edible/medicinal garden at the house

Feminist Culture – biweekly lady salon group, creating a wall collage of inspiring women

Queer Culture – all of the things! (this is literally what I wrote in my journal); dance nights, book group, burlesque shows, spoken word, etc; I have been eagerly lapping up all the queer lady blogs/websites as of late, especially Effing Dykes and Autostraddle, and it’s making me hella excited to get back to the gay haven that is the Twin Cities

Physical Embodiment and Wellbeing – join the YWCA again, go dancing more frequently, yoga, solitude walks

With these things, so am I, and so I shall become.

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Canning, take two.

Canning, take two.

In addition to the siren call of the season, the time constraints of my upcoming bike tour has gently persuaded me to more thoroughly plan out my food preservation for the year. The result: nearly twenty jars of various produce, now fashioned into delectable pickles, sauces and jams.

The first canning session focused on early summer treats – bean and cucumber pickles and a spontaneous batch of raspberry rhubarb ginger jam.

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Yesterday’s preservation was all about tomatoes. Around 25 lbs of in season, perfectly ripe ruby orbs to boil into submission as salsa and sauce.

First the blanching, to remove the skins and squeeze out the seeds.

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Then blending, to hasten the sauce creation. My relief at having my housemate’s Ninja blender to aid this process was boundless.

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Then, after additions of onions, garlic, jalepenos and basil for the salsa and Italian sauce respectively, the mixtures were jarred, preserved in a hot water bath, and finally set to cool and admire on the dining room table.

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It may not feed a community house of six for a whole winter, but it will certainly feel like summer’s latent Christmas when we crack one of these jars on a dark and snowy January evening.

Savoring the Summer

I am very much in favor of perpetual anything (my kombucha crock on the counter being a prime example), so this suggestion for perpetual pickles from the latest Farmer’s Almanac enews in my inbox sounds just divine.  It does help that I found dill sprouting up voluntarily in my garden this year!

Create a “perpetual pickles” crock for summer snacking. Partially fill a large jar or small crock with half water and half vinegar, a few peeled garlic cloves, a few sprigs of fresh dillweed, and pickling salt to taste. Add new vegetables every day or two.

The cleanse of spring.

I am full on into ‘fruits and vegetables omg it’s spring and things are growing’ mode, and enjoying it enormously.  Case in point:

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On the left is sundried tomato and stinging nettle hummus just before blending, and on the right is a banana, pear, parsley, and kombucha smoothie.  I heart my (not so secret) stinging nettle collection spot.

Making delicious healthy things while listening to last.fm radio of the beautiful Neko Case just might be the perfect way to spend a late March Wednesday morning before work.

Does anyone have other favorite early spring wild edibles?  And if you’re from the Cities, would you be willing to share your collection spots?

In January I Read…

Scarlett – Alexandra Ripley
I alternately loved and absolutely abhorred the heroine, respecting her spunk and tenacity one minute and despising her weakness for Southern high society the next.  I also pictured Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable the. entire. time.

Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
The second book in the Hunger Games trilogy was a one sitting read to be sure, briefly broken only for mock duck pad thai, medium spiciness of course.

Farm City – Novella Carpenter
This fantastic book makes every aspect of urban farming seem utterly approachable and delightful (albeit almost certainly messy).  I want backyard chickens and raised beds brimming with vegetables immediately.

Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
I couldn’t resist the final installation of the Hunger Games trilogy.  These books are like candy; addictive yet easily forgotten once consumed.  Worth reading for the sheer adrenaline thrill, but as with many series I wasn’t really satisfied with the ending.

Mathilda Savitch – Victor Lodato
Fabulous and utterly disarming.  Novels written from the voice of an adolescent can be quite awful or spot on, and this was certainly the latter.
“I want something else, but the words for it haven’t been invented yet.”

Plenty – Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon
This was my second read of this delightful account of a year of local eating (something I don’t often do because there are JUST SO MANY wonderful books in the world, so why return to the same ones all the time?) in British Columbia, a place I hope to visit that is so near and dear to my other heart home, the Puget Sound area.
“Making jam had taken all afternoon and evening, but the last thing I’d call it was work.  It was living.”

A fun postscript: one of the Freshly Pressed posts of today is also about books read in January!  And the author and I not only have two books in common, but another of her reviews is of a book that’s in my library queue.  What a small, beautiful world…

The Life List.

I find myself in a ‘what is my greater purpose?’ sort of funk (see page 8).  And I recently watched The Bucket List.  So, thanks to the inspiration of Cartoons and Creative Writing, I’m drafting my own.  Bucket list that is, but I’m going to call it my Life List because several things last longer than a one time experience.

1. Visit all seven continents in a meaningful way (ie more than just one city for one conference like I did for South America).
2. Write something worth sharing with the world, and maybe get it published.
3. Raise chickens or ducks.  And bees.
4. Eat locally for a year, a la The 100 Mile Diet.  Afterward, continue the practice as much as possible.
5. Live in a spiritual community (like Plum Village) for a time.  Discover practices that I can bring back to my daily life.
6. See the Northern Lights.
7. Never own a car.
8. Go winter camping.
9. Hike the Appalachian Trail.
10. Bike the Mississippi River Trail.
11. Learn a craft like wood or metal working, and create something beautiful and useful to pass on to the next generation.
12. Find a mentor.  And eventually, be a mentor.
13. Live off the grid, whether it is by building a generator to produce my own power in the city or by eventually living in a rural community that creates its own power.
14. Figure out what kind of diet makes me feel good (ie not eating dairy and/or gluten, more greens, less caffeine, etc), and actually follow it.
15. Write a letter a week to a friend, relative, or person I admire.
16. Climb a mountain.  A big one, like Kilimanjaro or K2.
17. Love deeply and unreservedly.

November, where have you gone?

I’m finally nearing the end of two months of constant busyness (I hope), and my December calendar is beautifully clear (in comparison), which hopefully will mean more frequent blog posts and writing in general.  All of my journals have been feeling empty these days…

In the meantime, a brief update on a number of things I’ve written about before:

  • I did not do NaNoWriMo.  This was a good decision.  I still want to write a book though, at some point in the future.  It will likely be about the home search, or something like it.
  • I am enormously thankful for many things, among them: wonderful friends that will both attend my crazy parties and entertain my wild musings, access to delicious local food and a system that supports its continued expansion, the health that comes from the latter as well as bicycling every day, and my wonderful Benjamin– we really do balance each other beautifully.
  • Yesterday was a glorious and much needed relaxation day.  Apart from shopping at the co-op for tons of fruits and veggies- I’m doing a cleanse between Thanksgiving and Christmas, sort of a combination of this and this– I napped, went on a walk, finished The Heretics of Dune (the marvelous fifth book in the Dune series) and watched Pirate Radio, now my most recent favorite movie.

Be good to yourselves this holiday season, friends.  Drink tea, visit with friends, and relax into the naturally slower rhythms that winter brings.