Hear me laugh and roar?

A few weeks ago Erik with the Root Simple blog interviewed me for their podcast.

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We mostly talked about the road issue around here, which lead to some discussion of gender and expectations. We also talked briefly about gardening and art. It was really fun (and relieving) to have the opportunity to share my experience with an empathetic ear. If you have some free time, go on over and give it a listen! 

Also, I owe a huge thanks to Misti for making this happen, and to Erik for sharing my story. 

Homemade Bone Meal, a Crunch Feely How-To

We are a meat eating household, but after my long-term veganism I'm still not entirely comfortable handling meat. I also find myself extremely aware of meat use and waste. Bone broth is a natural follow-up to a meat heavy meal, and a great way to further value a meat purchase. It wasn't until last week though, that  during a bone broth making session, I had a huge DUH moment. Usually, after the broth, the bones would go in the trash. Rarely, if I'm especially organized and on top of hippie chores, I'd get another batch of bokashi going.

Why not take the bones and make bone meal for the garden?

I felt like it was great way to further honor the meat-eating choice we make. I'd see what the process is like and maybe add it to the arsenal of Permaculture approaches we use. The bones are high in calcium and phosphorous, so "waste" seemed to be a terrible fate for them. Plus they come out after a long broth simmer so much more brittle than before going in, so I figured it would be easier on the blades of the blender. 

One more way to use what we have. 

I looked homemade bone meal up on the internet, and apparently I'm not so brilliant. Lots of search returns came up. I followed the instructions on Chiot's Run since I've been reading her blog for a while and know she knows what she's doing. 

Here's the long and the short of it:

  • After making bone broth, separate the bones from the meat. I made another quick broth for the dogs to really clean the bones, but I think a quick rinse would be fine, too,  
  • Dry the bones in the oven on a low temperature. I think I did mine on about 200 F for about 2 hours, mixing them around in the pan once or twice to make sure they all dried. 
  • Throw them in a not-too-precious but hardworking blender, put the top on, and pulse away. I used the ice setting. It took a while to get them to powder form because these were wild hog bones and were stronger than chicken bones (which I find usually just fall apart after making broth). 

...sticks and stones may break your bones but words can kill your spirit.

I posted a while ago about the NCDOT John St widening project, but have been largely silent here. It's turned into quite a fiasco and because we were working with local politicians I had to tip toe around some of the realities (oddities) of my personal experience. I'm still not sure why the John Street Widening (NCDOT U-4714) is being pushed through Matthews, but it is. What was originally presented as a superstreet has been rebranded as a widening, though it's still a superstreet. I think we're supposed to focus on the "super" part of that particular design, even though it will increase traffic by more than 30,000 cars daily.  There's nothing super about destroying a town for the sake of what amounts to false pretense. 

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Charlie and I are raising our kids on this very road, so I spent a large portion of my free time in 2017 fighting it. To be honest my fight hasn't gotten us very far and has been very bad for my physical health. What was a 5 day a week gym habit in 2016 became 2 work outs a week in 2017. Weight gain from convenience foods and stress added to the reality that I couldn't keep up the pace. Also what I've realized is that the low, looming, grey fog of depression has been casting its shadow over me for months now. 

It's just a road, so why? I (we, really, there's a group of us) entered the fight thinking that if we could sway our local politicians to see the downside of this plan then we could successfully negotiate a better design. We approached from all angles: homeowners personal, emotive experiences, the possibility of businesses being hurt, and the facts from the NCDOT documents themselves. Each time we were dismissed, always by NCDOT, usually by the former mayor, sometimes by members of town council. Still we did our best to focus on productivity and fact-finding. 

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A reporter asked me to read and comment on some things the (now-former) mayor had to say about me. I was flabbergasted; this giant punch in the gut took me down for the count. I honestly wasn't sure what I could do anymore. I realized he'd lied to NCDOT about our group's purpose and intentions, as well as the sheer number of supporters we have. He and other members of council lied to other citizens about our ethics, and council members had dissuaded local business owners from even communicating with us. 

I've cried a lot (actually I still cry).  It's hard to feel powerless simply because those in positions of authority use it to inaccurately smear their adversaries. To be fair we didn't actually know we were adversaries until the news brought it to my attention.  

It's hard to be 40 years old and relive all the similar experiences of junior high and high school because middle aged men feel it's ok to bully. It's also hard to be in the fog of depression with the words "they'll hang themselves" repeating in your head...sticks and stones may break your bones but words can kill your spirit. 

I've wondered how to move forward and fight for a healthier street design that will enable safety and independence for my children when they're old enough, but deep down I know an honest fight won't get us anywhere. So I'm going to talk about it. I'm going to be open about my experiences. 

Pumpkins are crunchyfeely

Last year I started what I hope will be a lifelong tradition of gathering pumpkins from the community. Why am I gourd hoarding, you wonder? When we rented goats it dawned on me just how voracious they are and the difficulty many farmers have of feeding their animals nutritiously and on budget. 

The lightbulb went off and I became a self-appointed pumpkin fairy. Since Halloween I spend a little time each week gathering pumpkins and hay and giving them to animal rescues and farms to feed (and bed) the critters.  Four or five trailer loads of pumpkins have gone onto feed goats, turkeys, chickens, and pigs! While they can also be composted, most people just toss them in the trash, so I consider this a #crunchyfeely activity in full force.