Christmas thoughts, 2014

Posted by & filed under my life.

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As I sit down to write this, my little kitty Grace has curled up next to me and is purring happily as I type. It’s a metaphor. I see metaphors everywhere. And this Christmas I wish you all a little grace curled up next to you, comforting you and filling your senses with happiness.

Peace has been on my mind as it is every year and especially this time of year. It is my goal to walk through this world learning more and more how to be an instrument of peace, because that is what this world desperately needs. And it’s not easy. Life gets upsetting at times. But I am learning that the following things make a huge difference in my attitude and effectiveness. They aren’t perfect habits yet. But they will be because I keep practicing! Maybe 2015 will be the year they are completely absorbed into my being! A girl can dream….

  1. Take care of myself. Eat real food. Get enough sleep. Move my body and get outside into the natural world.
  2. Focus on the positive. Turn off the news. Turn negative thoughts into positive ones.
  3. Meditate. Be thankful.

If we all walk around as our best selves, the world will change as ripples of love spread wide. We are all connected.

2014 Events

This was the biggest and happiest one.

landonandmom

Little Landon Carlos Mahoney was born on June 4th. On Auntie Kelly’s birthday. And now he’s this big:

landonandpuppies

This is Landon with his dad, the picture taken up at his parents’ farm (by Landon’s Beula MJ) with their puppies. Of course Landon has been exposed to many animals. He lives with kitties, Columbus always tries to lick his face, and so did these puppies. So cute. He’s a good little boy, very laid back, just like his parents. Tracey and Roberto are wonderful parents; he’s a blessed little boy. As are we, to have him in our lives. He has a Papa and Nana (Andy and I) and a Beulo and Beula (Berto’s parents). Lots of love to go around. And country living in both homes. Now, I ask you, doesn’t this look like one happy family?…

landonandparents

The other big news, which is sad, is that my dad lost his battle to stay here in this world after a bad fall. This just happened in November and is still really raw. I flew down to Georgia and got to be with him along with my brother and sister and mom during the last few days of his life, as we stayed with him around the clock. He was a good dad, and we will miss him terribly, but have been blessed to have had him as part of our lives for so long (he was 82). He got to meet Landon, and of course loved him. I have a short little video of him talking to Landon which is now a treasured possession. Here they are together…

dad and Landon

And this picture of me and my dad, found while putting together a memorial to him, has become another of my treasured possessions:

dadandI_small

As you can see by his expressions, my dad loved little kids.

I had a powerful experience on the beach this summer, at sunset, where I felt surrounded by unconditional love. It was an amazing time, and I felt like I got a glimpse of heaven. So, although I am sad for us, I am not sad for my dad, who is experiencing this now. I couldn’t keep in that moment here on earth. But he gets to be a part of it for eternity.

On the homefront

Andy and I are getting used to being empty nesters. Andy is lovingly supporting me in my efforts to build a food forest on our property, helping me to put in an orchard (still more plants to get in this year), cutting down trees to let more sun in, building a pergola in the back yard for hardy kiwis to climb. In my mind, we are getting set up to live largely off our land as we enter our retirement years, which are still a ways down the road but the fruit and nut trees are going to take awhile to mature and produce, anyway. I consider these learning years, as I begin saving seeds and starting my own seedlings, and how to best preserve the extra bounty for the winter months. Andy is working on building up the soil in our orchard to support a couple more production gardens. And some of the trees he is cutting down we will mill and he will have wood to make some creations with in the years ahead – he made our dining room table from trees he cut down while clearing our land. I feel that this is a wonderful way to honor a tree that you fell. We have a couple of big oak trees that we can’t cut – I was ready to cut one of them until Andy was hesitant. So we will try to work around the shade that he (she?) casts over the garden. These trees are older than we are! I also continue doing herbal studies. I am fascinated by the power of herbs and learning more about how we can keep ourselves healthy just by what we eat. And I’ve started another blog, just for herbal / plant stuff. It’s called Dandelion Forest, which is the name I gave our place.

me in orchard   pergola

Andy and I have our own “children” still at home. Gracie, Max, Koda, and Columbus. They keep us busy. And entertained. Columbus is Andy’s new best friend. He loves that dog.

 columbusintruck columbusintruck2_small andy wood columbus

I love him, too, but he continues to be a challenge.

naughty columbus

The rest of the gang:

koda gracie gracieandmax

 Travels

Andy and I are pretty much homebodies, but we do take the occasional trip. There are separate trips to Florida in the winter months – Andy to play golf with his buddies, me to hang with my girlfriends. This past year they took me to Disney World for the first time ever! I couldn’t believe how special that place is. I always pictured it as a bigger version of all the asphalt-based, long-lined amusement parks I had been to. Never knew it was so quaint and clean. And magical.

disneyworld_small

This fall we went to see what Kelly does in NYC, attending the New York City Wine and Food Festival, which she helps to put on as her job with Share Our Strength.

atNYCWFF_small

Another fun event this year was our Samoiloff family beach vacation in Rhode Island. This year we were in a wonderfully big house that accommodated all the gang. We had enough people there, including a couple of boyfriends, to make up two basketball teams, although they still played half court.

basketball

One of my favorite moments of that family time was when Kelly and Greg took their turn making dinner. Tunes were on and all of us in the kitchen started dancing. Greg took a turn dancing with Landon.

greg&landon

 Family Updates

Andy is working at Reliance Engineering, bought an industrial building with his friend (and Reliance’s owner) Craig, continues to play basketball and tennis and cut down trees and chop wood. We have a fire going all winter long. It’s cozy. His new toy this year is a smoker and he is perfecting the art of smoking meat. His creations are quite popular with guests.

I’m still at IBM, coding up web user interfaces, growing my own food and learning herbalism on the side. I’m a mostly vegetarian (occasionally will have a piece of fish) and don’t eat Andy’s smoked creations.

Tracey is working for Cornell University Veterinary Specialists (CUVS) in Stamford, CT, as a surgical veterinary technician. She is working towards a specialty in anesthesiology. She and Berto and Landon are living in Norwalk. Berto is a stay-at-home dad, doing coaching and caddying on the side. They lost two of their pets this year at too young an age. Stella and Austin (their orange tabby).

Alex is working for Nine Point Medical in the finance department. He lives in Brighton, MA and is the only kiddo close by! He dog sits once in awhile for us or comes for an occasional weekend to hang and watch football and eat Andy’s smoked creations. I looked through my photos and couldn’t find ANY of Alex. My project for Christmas is to pull out my camera and get some updated photos. Meanwhile, I stole this on from Kelly’s Facebook page:

siblingfriends

PS It really warms my heart that my kids are such great friends.

Kelly is in NYC with Greg. They both walk to work. She is an event planner for Share Our Strength and helps plan the New York City Wine and Food Festival, a huge charity event that raises money for hunger. Greg works for Credit Suisse and is in the process of passing 3 tests for being a certified financial planner. He studies really hard for each of them for 6 months at a time and has only one to go!

And Andy’s mom Pinky comes out and spends weekends with us. We love to have her. She and I have babysat a couple of times for Landon when Tracey and Berto had weddings to attend.

pinky&landon

In Closing

And with that, Andy and I want to wish all our family and friends a wonderful holiday season. May you all have a special time with your loved ones and may 2015 bring you many blessings. Love you all!

 

 

 

 

A world at peace?

Posted by & filed under my life.

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First of all, I feel like I want to apologize for my last post. I could take it down, but it’s how I felt at the moment, so I’m not going to. But I’m really trying to not focus on the negative these days. It’s such a waste of time!

Okay, now that that’s out of the way….

I remember as a little girl hearing about the concept of world peace, and really expecting it was going to happen someday. Only it hasn’t. And yesterday, as I was listening to Christmas music two songs in a row came on about peace on earth. And by the second song I was sobbing.

What? Where did that come from?

I guess it really hits me hard that this world can’t get to a place of peace and love for one another.

I don’t really watch the news anymore. It’s about that focusing on the positive stuff. But I see posts on social media. I don’t read the articles they link too, so I really don’t know the details. Only the generalities. I know that the United States is in an uproar right now about a murder. A huge uproar. I’m pretty sure there is an uproar about race going along with it.

<Sigh>

I had really hoped when we elected a black man to the presidency we proved that racism is no longer alive in America.

But, you see, the things we focus on are what we get. So if you focus on racism, you are going to get racism. If you focus on murder, you are going to get more of it.

And what I really feel is that the issue is not about specific murders. It’s about our society missing the fact that life is sacred. Life is a miracle. And all of life is connected. It is this magnificent force, this incredible “being.” Life is.

I just watched my father die last month. Here one minute, gone the next. The body shut down. The spark of life departed. Gone. Just gone. How anybody could intentionally take a life is beyond my comprehension. I felt that way before my dad died, but watching him leave this world just magnifies those thoughts. And now, all those who loved him and are left behind are affected. One life is not lived alone. One life is connected to other lives. It really is sacred. We are all connected, which makes us all part of a larger whole.

Until we realize we are all one, and that what one person does to another person they are also ultimately doing to themselves, there will be no world peace. But, to end on a positive note, you can bring peace to your own world. And the more of us that do that, the closer we will get to peace in the larger world.

Peace and love,

Chris

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

Posted by & filed under miscellaneous.

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“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

It sounds so nice, doesn’t it?

And then there’s this.

everythingiwanttodoisillegal

(link to the book)

Yup. That just about sums it up.

I want to make healthy food for people. I was thinking especially for people who are sick….

Illegal. (Unless I get an industrial kitchen. With a residential kitchen I could make dried stuff, or sugary desserts or breads. The list is very limited and far from healthy.)

I thought about a business creating morning juice for people on their way to work….

Illegal. I can’t have any “traffic” coming to my house.

I want to sell herbal products….

Illegal. I could sell dried herbs. But I can’t sell them online. I guess that enforces the buy it local….and I for sure can’t sell alchohol-based tinctures. Nor beauty products. Not without going through a whole lot of regulations.

I want to plant hemp and black locust.

Illegal. Hemp is banned because it’s a relative of marijuana. Funny, I eat hemp seeds all the time. No buzz. Black locust is illegal because it’s classified as an invasive plant in Massachusetts.

Even with this herbalism certificate I am going for, I’m not even sure what I’m “allowed” to do, although I’m hoping it will lend a legitimacy to the herbal products, as part of a “service” I provide.

Just the other day I learned of the USDA shutting down a neighboring farmer’s slaughtering business. After he spent 10k last year bringing it up to their regulations. If that isn’t the complete opposite of liberty, I don’t know what is. Yet the USDA allows ungodly amount of poison to be sprayed on our food.

Injustice.

Whatever happened to the old days when there weren’t so many rules and regulations and people could provide services to others? It didn’t used to be like this. I didn’t ever live in the old days, though…the old days are when they came up with the words “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” That is what the founders wanted this country to be.

Instead, I get to plod along in my high-tech job, dreaming of ways I can start a business off my land. Dying inside, trapped, and decidedly unhappy.* All the while feeling myself becoming more and more rebellious.

My new business already has a name. Dandelion Forest. I think some day it’s going to be a “pick your own” place for fresh herbs and unusual fruit and berries. But who knows? I think the only way you can make a business off of your land is to homestead (meaning you are providing a lot of what you would otherwise buy and with that comes living frugally), teach others to do the same (but not everybody wants to dive in that deeply and would prefer to buy healthy products from someone who makes them), or figure out exactly what you can sell that is legal, and focus on those items. Even if they aren’t what you really want to do. And even if they might be illegal tomorrow.

Self-evident, my foot.

(Rant over, I just needed to spit that out.)

*Slight exaggeration, for poetic purposes.

 

 

 

 

Living from my heart

Posted by & filed under faith, health, herbaculture, my life.

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bleeding heart

Taking a permaculture class in the fall of 2013 was the beginning of a profound change in me. I *thought* I was going there to learn techniques for growing food.

Hahahahahahaha.

I mean, there was that, and there was designing your garden spaces – technically I have my Permaculture Design Certificate. But even trying to design my own garden spaces didn’t work on paper. It is working for me by “feel.” And there is learning by trial and error. Little bits at a time, step by step. Growing organically, like the food.

What I discovered in that class, and have been discovering more and more since, is that the key to happiness is living from my heart, not my head.

Only that is easy to write in a few words, but it doesn’t describe the topsy turvy amazing moments that brings into your existence. Or how hard it is to make the head take a back seat.

Hmmmm, Chris, what ARE you talking about?

Im talking about stuff like this…

Last winter I was at a NOFA (Northeast Organic Farmers Association) conference, perusing the books on the book table. I kept coming back to this one book, picking it up and putting it down. Finally I decided to just get it. It was called “The Secret Teaching of Plants.” And it was all about living from your heart and not your head. And how to connect/listen to the plants. I never expected that. I felt like that book chose me instead of the other way around.

And I realized I’ve always had a connection with the plants. In my permaculture class, when I learned some of the qualities of plants, I learned that I really have always loved plants that are good for the garden and are food / medicine, even though other people consider them weeds.

Consider these, which I’ve always left in my garden and yard:

  • Vetch
  • Clover
  • Wood Sorrel (which I thought was a variety of clover)
  • Dandelions
  • Violets
  • Purslane
  • An interesting tree that showed up on my property and that I love called an Autumn Olive.

Vetch and Clover bring nitrogen into their roots and as they die back, into the soil. So does the Autumn Olive. Wood Sorrel, Dandelions, Voilets, Purslane, and Autumn Olive berries are all edible. Clover is medicinal, so are dandelions (what I’ll be using them for, because I’m not so fond of eating them). Wood Sorrel is my favorite wild edible, with a citrusy taste.

PS Dandelions are dynamic accumulators, mining nutrients and storing them in their leaves. So if you leave them in the lawn, cutting them down and letting them rot back into the soil, you are actually fertilizing your lawn without chemicals.

Anyhow, this is all just one part of me living from my heart.

There is so much more. I am getting more in tune to the energies around me. I realized that despite Columbus’ over-the-top exuberance when new people come to the house, he has a calming energy.  I realized yesterday that so does my dad (I should say did, but I’m not so sure he’s really gone from my life – I talk to him often). Being in my mom’s house this past weekend I felt that energy missing. I didn’t really identify that feeling right away – nor when we were all there planning his memorial service – but now I know what it was.

All this might sound a little woo woo to some people, but I firmly believe if it does, that’s because most of us have been profoundly blinded by the industrial revolution and modern society. We’ve lost our connection to nature and the energy of it. Intuition, or living from the heart, is our way back to health. I’m going to keep on learning to live this way so I can help others do the same. Only this way of living can’t be forced. I think you are called into it. And once you are called, prepare to be amazed.

 

photo credit: via photopin

He was a good man

Posted by & filed under my life.

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My dad lost his battle for life after a bad fall. He is gone from our physical presence, but one with the peace and love of God, and forever in our hearts.

He was a good man. A faithful husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, uncle, teacher, friend.

I look at his face, and his kind eyes, and I can’t believe this special man is gone from this world. But, although I can’t talk to him the way I used to, on the phone or face-to-face, I have been talking to him daily. I hope he can hear me. I’m waiting to hear from him some day.

I will miss him dearly. We will all miss him dearly.

Goodbye, dad. I love you.

 

 

My dad

Posted by & filed under my life.

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Each labored breath means he is still here with us.

Each gaze makes me wonder what he thinks.

Each beeping machine reminds us he is vital.

Each passing moment,

Each glimpse,

Each gesture,

Held tightly in my heart.

_____________________

My dad is fighting for his life after a bad fall. And the rest of the world has fallen away as life has become all about just being here for him and with him.

 

 

Truth

Posted by & filed under poetry.

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truth

Why do you need to be right?
Why do I need to be right?
Why can’t we both just be?

Our truth of today
Is not our truth of yesterday,
Nor will it be our truth of tomorrow,
So why argue it so vehemently?

Look inside yourself.
Life changes us along the way.
We know this to be true if we face ourselves with honesty.
But sometimes it’s easier to perpetuate the lie.

Because, in facing the truth,
We need to look in the mirror
And say to ourselves
“I was wrong.”

photo credit: h.koppdelaney via photopin cc

Falling

Posted by & filed under my life.

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fall leaves

This morning, after walking on my treadmill, there was a break in the rain.

I stepped outside, barefoot, and stood looking into my woods.

Just breathing. Connected to the earth and sky. Being thankful. Taking in the autumn beauty. At peace.

As I looked up to the top of the tree in front of me, a leaf released itself and danced it’s way down to the ground.

It was a dance. A flying dance of freedom back to the earth that gave birth to that tree and nourishes it through the seasons. Through times of leaves falling and times of leaves re-emerging.

And that single leaf floated back to the ground to become nutrient soil again. For next year’s leaves.

I looked back into my woods and saw oh so many leaves dancing their way to the ground.

I’m sure there are many metaphors in this. But I’m not going to try and find them. Instead…

Go. Stand under a tree. And let them find you.

______________________________

photo credit: Nick Kenrick. via photopin cc

Illogical English

Posted by & filed under miscellaneous.

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definition

Just a little bit of silliness….

I want to start a petition. A petition to Webster’s Dictionary or the dictionary gods that be, to reverse the definitions of lose and loose. I’d go after the founders of the English language, but they’re long gone. And who were they, anyway, and what were they smoking?

Does anybody besides me mix up these two words when writing them? (I know you do, and you should sign my petition.)

Think about it. Just say the word loose, as in “the dog got loose from it’s chain.”

Now say to word lose. As in, “I hate it when I lose my keys.”

Now say them one after another. Which one is drawn out, like the mooooooo of a cow?

Lose is, that’s which one. And it only has one “o.” While loose has two. Does that make any sense? Shouldn’t the word that draws out the “o” sound have more “o”s in the spelling?

Yes! It should! It would be more logical, and would result in less spelling mistakes.

I know you agree with me. As soon as I write up my petition, I’ll be asking you to sign it. Or, you could let me know you agree in the comments, below.

Fruited Oatmeal

Posted by & filed under real food.

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oatmeal

I’m not sure where I got this recipe – so I apologize in advance for the plagiarism- but I wanted to share it because regular oatmeal is so blah for me, now. This is my favorite cold-weather breakfast! And it makes enough for at least 3 breakfasts (3-4 cups).

FRUITED OATMEAL

  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • salt
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins (use organic, please)
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 1 cup chopped or grated apple or apple sauce (use organic, please) – I just chop up 1 whole apple

In a saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil and stir in all the above. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Then stir in:

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (use organic, please)
  • 2 tblsp ground flax seed

Cover and let sit for 2-3 minutes.

Enjoy!