Blessed Yule!

Yule(Image credit

As a Pagan, this is my Holy Day.  It is the shortest day of the year, the longest night as well.  Yesterday, today, and tomorrow the sun will seem to have been hovering in the same low spot in the sky; after tomorrow it will be incrementally climbing higher in the sky, bringing more light and eventually warmth with its rays.

Holly still reigns supreme but today he will lose his battle with Oak.  The deciduous trees will leaf again, roots will seek ever more deeply and widely in their quest for nourishment.  Holly will be there, green as ever, waiting his turn once again to be the ruler.  The epic battle for supremacy will once again play out soon, all to soon, at the Summer Solstice.  And yet, as the earth needs time to rest and recuperate, so do we, those who grow our own food.  The rush of summer, endlessly preparing for winter, is exhausting.  When Holly wins the battle once again, we know we too have a rest in sight.  Time to enjoy our labors, the fruits of the Mother, will soon come.  All seasons are blessed, even when death is in the cards, for death too is sacred and a part of the endless dance of the seasons.

The promise of a new spring, a new summer lays in these three days of breathless waiting….waiting for the return of life to the Mother. May you have a blessed Yule!

I think winter may be here.

It comes perhaps a little early for us this year.  We usually have a freeze Halloween weekend and I think of that as the end of my big gardening year — it’s the end of the canning and freezing of most of our crops like peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and beans for sure.  The rhubarb has given up the ghost though my chrysanthemums are still convinced that now is the time for peak blooms.

This year, though, has been different.  The tomato plants under the sunscreen cloth are still alive; we harvested another 5 pounds and sauced them only last week.  These plants, until last night, were not only alive but still blossoming – a really strange thing to happen in our area of the high desert.  Mr. TF harvested figs on Friday afternoon; there are still unripe figs on the the tree, sadly, that I don’t think are going to make it to ripeness before they are destroyed by the frost.

We get four seasons, and we get snow, though our snow at our particular location usually comes in April, not December, and lasts no more than a week.  If we go 30 miles into the nearest town of any size, the snow starts in December though there too it melts off and returns in fits and starts until April.  My little Meyer lemon tree was brought into the house last night; it was 36 at 10 pm with a surety of getting cold enough to freeze the poor thing to death.

We had a windfall this year, literally.  Last winter a storm came through that killed a couple smaller trees on the property next door, and broke large branches off the mature trees that weren’t killed outright.  This spring, the new owner was planning to cut all of it down and take it to the dump.  Instead, I spent several days cutting the smaller stuff by myself for kindling, and both Mr. TF and I spent a couple more cutting the larger stuff with the chainsaw.  We gained perhaps a a little more half cord of wood for the cost of our labor and a little fuel. For those of you in much colder climes, this is a laughable amount.  For us though, we are careful about not overheating the house and it represents more than a quarter of our winter use.

We have lit the wood stove twice in a row and lit it a week earlier than we usually do.  My personal goal is to hold out on lighting it until the temperature in the house is 59 or less.  DH is a cave bear and that is fine with him – he would sleep with open windows in the bedroom year round if I weren’t the mean wife who puts her foot down about waking with frost on the bed covers (and having to strip to shower when it’s that chilly).  It was 58 in the bedroom, on the shady side of the house, at 1030 this morning, and 63 on the sunny side.  It was a brisk 48 outside.  I think the evening lighting of the stove may be with us for the duration of the season.  It’s both a sad thing and a happy thing.  Sad because the bulk of the garden is officially put to sleep, and happy because I look forward to the comforting wisps of smoke rising from the chimney when I’m the last one home on a cold night.    100 thousand years of humans on this world and we still take comfort in the flames and heat rising from a well seasoned log of wood.   Mr. TF is convinced that the quality of  wood heat feels different; he may be right, in that it satisfies not only our need for heat, but a certain primal need to see those flames perform their ever changing dance.  Installing this wood stove was nearly over the tipping point for DH’s tolerance for me and my ideas, but it has turned out to be a blessing both in the material sense and the spiritual as well.  Winter may be here, but we are well prepared.  It’s a good feeling.

Orwell’s universe lives

Prescott wants to be a drone test site

The city council in its ‘wisdom’ voted unanimously for endorsing this government approved spy program:  City Council endorses unmanned drones in spite of citizen concerns

our new privacy invaders

They think this will ‘bring jobs’ to the area.  Are they really that stupid? These drones will be manned at some un-named site in somewhere like Utah, not here.  What jobs will they bring?  They will be manufactured somewhere else as they already are.  Embry-Riddle will not suddenly gain a large number of students and instructors as a result of this program.  So what jobs will they bring?

These will be our new eyes and ears for the government.  As you might think, citizens are less than happy:  Letters to the editor regarding the drone program

I particularly like the comment that states the county will use these to spy on citizens for un-permitted or non-zoned changes to properties.  I think this in fact may be the only reason that it might ‘bring jobs’ because it’s too expensive to fly their plane around looking for code violations/un-permitted changes to private properties — if the drones are doing their work effectively, they can hire at least one, and maybe two new people to process the fines at the plans department.  That’s about the only jobs it will create.  At least initially.

I can’t wait for someone to use the drone for target practice.  And knowing my neighbors/community members, that is not by any means out of the question.  Or, barring that, widespread purchase/implementation of anti-drone technologies like a hoodie that hides your heat signature or Domestic Drone Countermeasures, a company that manufactures software that prevents drones from capturing images.

Stories like this make me wish for a zombie apocalypse.  Because our current slow slide is going to be pretty crappy and dingy for a long time before it gets any better, if indeed it ever does.

The cognitive dissonance hurts.

My husband and I went to a preparedness/survivalist meeting last Saturday at a neighbor’s house.  It was held at a Mormon’s house, with several Mormons and other die hard republicans in attendance.  One person stood up to talk about forming a tribe, and how we needed to form a tribe of like minded individuals.  Another stood up and challenged everyone in the group to go without electricity after 4 pm every night for a week.  My husband, on being invited to this meeting, volunteered me to give my talk on When Zombies Attack!  that I developed as a preparedness lecture for fellow HAM radio club members (sadly, the tongue in cheek zombie references went unappreciated).   The talk dealt with the practical items one should have on hand so that when an emergency happens one is prepared, such as minimum water storage per person per day, foods that store well and can be eaten without a heat source, medicines, records, and so forth.  My husband seemed to think the talk went over well.  I was not so sure, for several reasons I’ll outline here.

The first thing is that these people are trying to be hard core survivalists, it seemed to me.  They are expecting just that thing, the “zombie apocalypse” and that a sudden and irreversible catastrophic event a la “The Road”   or something equally catastrophic though perhaps not so cannibalish.  I stated at the start of my talk that this was originally aimed at preparedness for a local disaster such as occurred not too many years ago; a local creek flooded due to the massive amount of rain we received from a storm and as a result many many people were stranded for up to 10 days without electricity, water, food, and no way to cross the creek to access said items.  I referenced what had recently happened as a result of Hurricane Sandy, and what had not so recently happened as a result of Hurricane Katrina, and pointed out that the great majority of people, even with the lessons of Katrina plain, refused to do the bare minimum FEMA recommends regarding food and water storage.  I then very clearly and emphatically said that, while preparedness for a disaster is wise, prudent, and appropriate, I do not think that there is going to be any sort of catastrophic event that will forever change the landscape in America and cause a sudden, profound die-off as so many survivalists do.  I referenced the last days of the Roman Empire, and pointed out that the center stood firm for a very long time after the periphery started contracting, and pointed out how that’s happening even now in our own nation, our own time.  I gave very specific examples from my own experiences as a home health nurse in our own community that show very clearly that the periphery, economically speaking is already most definitely contracting.  There were a few nods of agreement but I couldn’t help but notice that there were also those jaws set tightly and the shakes of the head disagreeing most vehemently with me as well.

So that right there was one point of cognitive dissonance, it seemed to me.  For the most part, the down and dirty items one should keep in a ‘bug out bag’ were practical and I was asked for a list/printout of the presentation so that people could use it for stocking their own bags.  The dissonance arises because it seemed so odd to me that these were people who, for all intents and purposes, are committed to prepping and have been so for quite some time, but don’t have the faintest idea of what to store or have on hand in the event they actually might need it.  Of course, the Mormons in the group have their lists of items they are religiously required to keep on hand and I do believe a years’ supply of stored food per person in their household is one of them, but what to have other than food or herbal remedies didn’t seem to have crossed anyone’s mind.  As Mormons, I suppose the apocalyptic viewpoint is part and parcel of the religious outlook, but I don’t think it’s necessarily wise to only prepare for the short term…

The second part of the cognitive dissonance was that most, if not all, the people present were either self professed “Tea Partiers” or had sympathies with them.  One of the people present is also going to school, though he is pursuing his bachelors degree.  He began a rant about how our country is turning socialist and communist.  I interrupted and said that he said that like socialism is a bad thing, and told him I really don’t think he has the faintest understanding of what socialism actually is, nor communism either.  I went on to tell him that we ALREADY live in a socialist society, and that we enjoy the benefits of said socialism:  postal service, public schools, fire and police service, public roads, libraries, retirement.  He then said something about Marxism (I don’t really remember what) and I responded that he didn’t understand Marxism because if he had ever actually READ Marx’ writings he would know that Karl Marx never advocated for socialism or communism either.  I told him that Marx was an economic theorist, plain and simple, and he was pointing out the problems with capitalism and positing a theoretical alternative.  Yes, Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto, but he and Engels were positing a definition of socialism and of communism very, very different than what became the United Soviet Socialist Republic; he was fighting against the the standard of the time, the absolute monarchy with a parliament that represented only the wealthy and landed, and advocating for the common man to have a say in his own destiny, government, and a piece of the wealth pie he was working so hard to create.

His point was that same one Romney was making in his speech to the wealthy where he was surreptitiously filmed saying that 47% of Americans are takers.  Whereupon I put him on the spot by asking him how he was funding his education…and yes, he’s getting federal aid for his schooling.  So I told him that he’s a taker too, then, just like those he wants to hate.  I didn’t say it cruelly, or with malice, I just wanted him to see the hypocrisy inherent in his viewpoint.  And I could tell he got it, and had never even thought about it before.  We were unable to continue our conversation because we were both reminded that there were to be no political discussions at this meeting.

Another painful dissonance was the stated intention of these people to hold our community with a perimeter via the use of firearms from any of those from ‘outside’ (both the have-nots within our community and those who might come to try to take what little we have) as though we have in any fashion a self sustaining community here.  A couple dozen chickens and a ranch miles and miles away does not make any sort of community that can supply all its own needs for food, let alone anything else one might think goes with a modern lifestyle.  Which brings me to the final point…

Perhaps the most glaring cognitive dissonance it seemed to me was that these people actually think that they will maintain their standard of living in the face of this coming apocalypse.  The hosts, while having much experience in canning and food storage, do not have a swamp cooler.  They have a large, energy sucking air conditioner/heater, as most houses in the Sun Belt do, and no solar or wind power, and a very inefficiently insulated home.  They have no visible water harvesting system.  They do have chickens, but I didn’t see much of a garden area; nothing like Mr. Tin Foil and I have developed over the years.  I really don’t know how they expect to maintain their living standard if there is an apocalypse, especially if the electricity goes off for good.

I guess it just goes to show that I can’t relate to Tea Partiers any more than I can relate to fanatical Obama supporters.  The lack of critical thinking skills from both sides, and the blinders to whatever doesn’t fit their particular world view, is simply amazing.  And they are so tuned into their points of difference I’m certain they are blind to the fact that in many ways they want the same things from our government, our society, and life.  How very sad.  And I stand at the periphery of both, wondering how the divide will ever be crossed, because it surely has to if we’re to remain anything resembling a polite society.

The dangers inherent in a new serfdom

While medieval serfs and lords had an arrangement that kept the powers of the lord in check, and gave the serfs many protections – such as the right of inheritance – there are no such protections for the common person today, mainly because it hasn’t been particularly thought of yet.

While a medieval serf was able to will his land parcel to his children, without the permission or interference of the lord (the actual ‘owner’ of the land), that is not the case today.  I recently read of a wealthy man in California who was offering a small stipend and a furnished guest house in return for gardening and landscaping duties at his mansion.  Sounds like a pretty decent deal right?  Not really.   The problem was that the stipend was vanishingly small – buying food would essentially wipe it out – and the duties encompassed being at the wealthy man’s beck and call, available for his whims, at all hours.  The duties themselves involved between 60 and 70 hours a week of hard labor.  The astounding thing was that the wealthy man couldn’t understand why he couldn’t keep a gardener.

I have also read recently that there is a farm in Oregon that uses free labor under the guise of ‘teaching’ farming to ‘students’ who come to live on the farm.  There is no pay, only room and board provided.  And the workload is just as great; the teaching is merely the performance of manual labor at the direction of the owner, and little is carried away by the student other than a general distaste for being taken advantage of.   This is not like Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm, where real teaching of the nuts and bolts of what he does and why is part of the daily labor, where part of the evenings are spent answering questions from students.  It is merely taking advantage of eager or desperate people wanting to learn a skill.

On the local Craigslist last year in the farming and gardening section there was a recurring post by a farmer who was looking for labor as described above.   The farmer also gave a warning that his farm was a Christian one, and that there were strict rising and sleeping times, mandatory church and prayer, and no drugs or alcohol allowed.  I haven’t seen the posting in quite a while; I don’t know if he had no takers or if he got some willing labor.  I suspect that his farm was much more like the farmer in Oregon than like Mr. Salatin’s though, regardless of the religious bent of the farmer.

These examples (not Salatin, the others) are to me exactly what we must guard against.  If there are to be land owners using serf type labor, there MUST be accepted rules  and laws in place, commonly known and accepted by society at large, to govern the behavior of the owners particularly, but the serfs as well.  Land owners cannot demand labor on the level of slavery in exchange for housing.  They cannot keep the serf from performing work for himself and his/her family in order to be at least a little self sustaining.  The owner cannot demand labor 7 days a week, with no holidays.  There must be bonuses paid to the serfs, at least in the form of food gifts, money, or offers of land purchase.  In return, serfs must do the contracted labor or they cannot keep their housing.

It sounds simple, or crazy, or both.  I really think, though, that we must begin thinking about these boundaries now, before serfdom/slavery becomes the custom of the land again, or many thousands of people will be taken advantage of a la Tom Joad’s family in the The Grapes of Wrath.

OK, now I’m a conspiracy theorist.

I took the body of my comment on the previous post and made it into a post on its own, after finding these YouTube videos.  It seems relevant.

I read a comment on another site that really started me thinking. I normally shy away from conspiracy theories, but this one seems just a little *too* plausible.

It said that Holmes was supplied and set up by our own government. Crazy, you say?? Well, our economy is getting ready to completely collapse. We have a large percentage of our population who own legally registered guns, who are angry, and on the edge of revolution. We have a government who has set up a military unit (National Guard or Army I’m not certain) specifically to ‘deal with’ domestic unrest. And we have gun control/banning laws springing up once again all over the place.

What better reason to reign in the population’s right to keep and bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment? How better to do it than with a schizophrenic? After all, if he says he was visited by men who told him how to do it, who will believe him? If he says he was visited by aliens who would believe him?

Food for thought. And no, I do not believe for an instant that our government is not fully capable of using one of our citizens as a scapegoat and making others, equally innocent, sacrificial lambs in the cause of protecting their own power structure. The question is whether our soldiers, ultimately, will go along with the arrest, detention, and ultimately the firing upon their own fellow citizens.

Here are two videos that bolster my ‘conspiracy theory’ …

Holder says straight up that “people need to be brainwashed’ into thinking about guns negatively, it’s at about 3:00 but the rest is instructive as well.  Interesting the timing of the shooting, given the whole ‘Fast and Furious’ debacle…we can’t have assault weapons in America because they end up in Mexico and are used to kill US citizens – but they wouldn’t have ended up in Mexico if Holder hadn’t authorized them being GIVEN to Mexican cartels!

Don’t forget that the UN treaty on small arms control is getting ready to be ratified by the US government, either.

Alex Jones breaks down exactly how our government will capitalize on this to take away legally registered guns from Americans:

ETA:  I don’t listen to Alex Jones a lot, just occasionally.  This is one of those times.  If you are of a mind, watch his review of the new Batman movie here:         Sorry, can’t get it to hyperlink.

Very, very interesting.  I think Hegel can be very pedantic and sometimes over the top, but I find Jones’ reference to a Hegelian dialect particularly apropos.


And here, for the counter argument to the gun control nuts screaming their heads off right now…

I give you Sam Williams. My hero of the week. Maybe the year.

Had he been in the theater that shooter would never have gotten off so many shots. And as to it being dark and smoky??? Not from the reports I’ve read, at least not initially. Besides, you aim toward the flash from the other gun…

Post Peak Medicine

As I’ve said before, I am interested in preventative care measures much more so than after the fact fixes.  And I’m advancing my education with the aim of being able to give primary care to my neighbors and community which will be needed even more so in the coming years.

I have had concerns for years about the impact of Peak Oil on medicine as we understand it today – syringes made from non renewable resources, used only once and disposed of just as a for instance.  All the medicines available today are available only because of fossil fuel inputs – what happens when those are too expensive to ‘waste’ on medical purposes?  I think perhaps even those in the medical community who might be Peak Oil aware tend to close their eyes and put their fingers in their ears chanting “LaLaLa” because there appear to be no answers to the question, and there is presently no alternative.  I admit, it is depressing and stressful to contemplate.

I found a site today that really excites me: Post Peak Medicine .  This is exactly the answer to my concerns even though much of it is still a work in progress.  I even found a page where the owner is asking for submissions from registered nurses and I really want to begin working on a submission!  I never pictured myself as having much to add to the nursing community but in this case I believe I do have important contributions to make, and that I have an obligation to try.  I will post here if my article is accepted so you can read if you are interested.

In other news, this house has been alcohol free for over a month.  No freak outs, no fights, no lapses of memory, no drama.  While I miss a cold beer on a hot evening, I’d prefer the money to stay in my bank account for things like the tire my husband suddenly needed to replace on his car, or the TB test we just found out he needed.  We both get more done as well…although I am still a gamer’s widow.  It evens out though, he loses me to the loom, spinning wheel, and school work.


Yep. All riled up.

Update:  found this blog thanks to a post on Facebook :What if Collapse came and nobody noticed?

We really got into politics during class.  Particularly the politics of health care, insurance, and why we don’t have socialized medicine.

I think I am the most politically aware person in class.

What we have is a two tiered health care system.  And too many doctors and providers – indeed too many health care staff period – to serve the few who can afford our high tech health care system.  What we’re facing is a crash.

Some of my classmates were outraged that France (and other nations like them with socialized care) does not pay for things like dialysis or heart surgery for those over 75 (for France, not sure about other countries), instead choosing to spend that public money on sectors of their society who still have a chance to be productive and contribute for many years to come.  They just refused to understand that those same French elderly CAN afford, like most of their society, to purchase private insurance that DOES allow them to receive those treatments.  They are not denied them, they are merely on their own to pay for them.  My classmates were insistent that it should be on a case by case basis.  Really?  How cost effective is that?  And how can one not understand that their system, BECAUSE it is offered to every citizen, allows them a much freer life without the stress of trying to navigate the health care system and worrying about how they’ll pay for their care? How can one not understand that insurance is so very much less expensive even when purchased for the simple reason that it’s NOT required?   How can one not understand that the French have a longer life span, even so, than we in the U.S.?

How can one not understand that in the U.S., we spend 9o% of ALL THE MONEY SPENT on health care for a person in the LAST YEAR of life?  How does that make for sound fiscal policy?

Regardless, even those systems are on the verge of crash.  Look at Spain, where they just recently declared they will no longer offer health care benefits for illegal aliens.  Look at the controversy here in AMERICA where people are outraged at that – like we have any sort of a higher ground to stand on?  We don’t even offer services to all of our citizens, let alone illegal aliens, and people here have the gall to be outraged that Spain is doing what it needs to in order to attempt to preserve some sort of health care for its actual citizens?  It will crash soon, violently.  And they too will have a two tiered health care system with far too many medical providers and staff.

Some classmates were dubious because they thought they would be told where to work and would make less money if they were employed in a socialized system like Canada’s.  Since I have in law family in Edmonton, when they started saying how awful a system it was because people had to wait so long for treatments and surgeries, I called BS on that.  I explained that issues that affect nothing but one’s quality of life may have to wait, but issues that affect life and death get first priority.  Unlike here, where those that have the most money go first, regardless of the seriousness of their issue.  And that in Canada, there is still a thriving private practice of doctors and nurses, it’s not illegal as far as I know to purchase private insurance and many Canadians actually do purchase it just in case.  The key here is that it’s optional, not mandatory, and even if they don’t purchase it they’re covered via the public option anyway.  It seems the Canadians they treat here in the American hospitals – who are being treated courtesy of the health insurance that it’s mandatory they purchase if they are traveling here – like to gripe. And misrepresent a very good system.

Regardless, it’s going to crash.

Why do I keep saying it’s going to crash?  Well, for the simple reason that taxes are dependent on employment; other things as well, but primarily on that.  And employment is down everywhere in the Western world.  50% of Spanish young adults are unemployed.  More than 24% of the population is unemployed.  These people aren’t paying the taxes they were, and they’re drawing on public benefits paid for by taxes.  How long do you think that can continue?  And it’s the same everywhere.  Demands on the system keep going up but tax revenues aren’t rising at the same rate.

It’s even worse here in America.  We offer subsidies to banks, coal and gas companies, oil companies, insurance companies, car manufacturers, ‘green’ energy companies, agribusiness, … the list goes on.  Plus what we spend on keeping our military overstaffed, because to make our military smaller would mean releasing massive numbers of angry young men (and women) who are overly familiar with firearms and accustomed to viewing life through the lens of the conquering occupier, onto our streets with no jobs for them.  We can’t afford to offer any sort of safety net (such as it is here) to our citizens when they need it, because we’re tapped out doing all of that.  It’s going to crash.  It’s bound to.

And the idea that Americans don’t buy into it is because we’re supposedly so ‘independent’ is utterly and completely crap.  Independent?  As in not following fashion trends…? As in not watching the Kardashians, and others equally insipid and irrelevant…?  As in not tweeting our every boring move…?  As in not merely parroting what we hear and see on the news….?  Riiiight.  We may have been independent 100+ years ago, but not for a long time.  And this country was ripe for socializing medicine at the turn of the 20th century, but the AMA got involved in undermining that, and now they get to reap what they sowed so long ago.  Shitty reimbursement, other people telling them what is and isn’t approved for medical treatment, and the reality that in order to survive they have to work for a big corporation and be just a cog in a really big machine instead of an independent, wealthy, respected individual who offered an important SERVICE to their community.  Which, by the way, are they very bogeymen the AMA invoked to prevent our country getting any sort of socialized medicine all the way down the line.  The only time they lost was when Medicare and Medicaid were passed by Congress.  Only it’s not the government imposing those restrictions on doctors now, like they claimed, it’s insurance companies…after all, the insurance companies have stockholders and bottom lines to protect.

I looked up how much it would cost me to get insurance – because since quitting my full time job I no longer have any – through the ObamaCare Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plan.  It would be a minimum of $240 per month.  For the two of us it would be nearly $500 per month.  That’s just not feasible, and to think that I’ll be assessed a tax penalty because even at this price (as opposed to the nearly $2000 per month it would otherwise cost me) it’s too expensive makes me feel trapped.

Medicare benefits for all – the true public option – is the only answer, and it’s not the answer because our system is unsustainable.  So as you can see, there is no answer, only a soon to be overabundance of plastic surgeons, aesthiticians, orthopedic surgeons, and dermatologists and no primary care for the great majority of regular citizens.  Prices will come down, dramatically, but still most of us won’t be able to afford care. Maybe the system will keep lumbering on for a long time yet, and the crash will be slow and gentle, more like a ride down a hill than a step off a cliff.  Maybe.

And what do I think I’m doing furthering my education?  Just to do my best for the people I live among.  I have never been out to get rich, just to get by.  What do I expect for all of my sacrifice to become an NP?  Just to be able to pay my own bills, and to be able to help those who come to me to live the most healthy life they can.  You know, a life of service.

What is the answer?

I wish I knew.

I wish I still believed in the ability of the system to be responsive to the needs of its citizens and to change.   I hate politics.

Back to traditional stuff for a while


While there are months and months worth of posts I could make about the political state of America, ultimately the best use of my time is in keeping my home.  Above you see my newest purchase.  This is Claudette.  She’s a reproduction Appalachian style great wheel, 7/8 scale.  I bought her from a man who used to make and sell them out of St. Michael’s in Prescott during the 70’s.  This was his last one; he said if there were a demand he would begin making them for sale again so I gave his name and phone number out at my last guild meeting.

Claudette has a learning curve akin to that of learning to spin on a traditional double drive wheel like Miss Saxony did.  Meaning that, while children for hundreds of years *did* learn to spin on a wheel like this, it’s not the way I would teach a beginner now.  Too much frustration for someone modern who hasn’t had the joy of creating yarn already.  I did some research and discovered that, much like a fine stringed instrument, she needs rosin on her drive band to truly work well.  I haven’t done that yet but I have a goal of being able to spin decently on her by the time the May Fair on the Square is upon us.  I want to demo on her.

I am ordering a custom spinning wheel; I finally paid more than the 50% down payment just this morning.  Carson Cooper is the maker.  Unfortunately he has not updated his website with a photo of the wheel I am ordering; it is called the Eirny and will have an accelerator on it that enables it to spin at ratios up to 50:1.  Now for those of you who don’t know what a ratio is, it is the number of times the bobbin/flyer mechanism spins per one revolution of the drive wheel.  On the great wheel above, the ratio is 40:1 but being a spindle wheel, it limits the type of yarn that can be spun.  Miss Saxony has a ratio of approximately 7:1 because she was originally designed as a flax wheel.  Flax, from which linen is made, is a very long fiber – 18 or more inches, very strong, and doesn’t need much twist to hold it together.  Wool, or especially cotton, require LOTS of twist to hold them together.  Wool not nearly so much as cotton due to the crimp inherent in most wools and the scales like human hair has.  When I spun cotton on Miss Saxony, I was treadling like a hamster on a wheel to hold it together!  It worked, but it would be nice to be able to spin it without working quite so hard.

The main reason I am buying this custom wheel though has to do more with preparedness for what the future may offer.  Quite simply, after having done the research, I want a wheel that will stand up to the test of time, and I want to support craftsmen/women who are keeping these crafts alive.  Gods know we’ll need them in the future.  This wheel truly incorporates the best of modern technology – brass bearings to reduce friction in the bobbins, and all the high speed turning areas – with traditional technology – hand turned wood, drive band made of traditional cotton cord.  It’s going to hold up to the rigors of production spinning because it’s made by a spinner who is also a collector of antique wheels and knows what a spinner needs and wants in a wheel.  It’s made with attention to detail, individually, by a craftsman who is fully aware that his wheels will be an heirloom to be handed down.  That is what I thought I was getting when I bought my Mach 1 and is exactly what I did not get.  It is ironic that I had to buy a spinning wheel nearly 150 years old to actually get a true production wheel, and to truly appreciate the technology.


We are getting a trailer load of manure delivered next week; we have to mend ALL of the fencing thanks to the javelina.  We can’t plant anything until we fix all the holes.  Mr. Tin Foil said we need a crossbow and I am thinking that might be a very, very good idea – the ultimate silent killer of javelina!  Roast game for dinner, anyone?  After all, they are an invasive species.

We decided we are not going to devote much space to tomatoes this year.  Two years in a row, thanks to our weird (although probably new normal) weather we have lost 50 tomato plants to a late frost and had to start over.  Because the new plants never had a chance to get established before the weather became brutally hot, they never really produced enough to make them worthwhile.  Since I have been getting tomatoes in bulk from the coop anyway that will be our plan for this year rather than try to grow our own.  We still plan to have a couple of roma plants, and the requisite cherry tomatoes in buckets as we do every year.

We are going to devote more space to beans, peas, cucumbers, lettuce, eggplant, peppers, and lots of herbs and spices.  We eat a lot of Indian food as well as Middle Eastern food and latitude/climate wise, we can grow much of our own spices.  I don’t know how productive we’ll actually be, but it will be fun to experiment.  Plus, I would like to grow herbs to tincture, to put into soaps and lotions, and to dry.  Oh, and to dye with.  I’m being honest but I can just hear the groans from Mr. Tin Foil when he reads that last sentence!

We are also going to redo the garden beds again this year; last year we were spending upwards of an hour and a half a day to water the front and back.  We are redoing the beds to incorporate drip irrigation into at least some of the beds.  It just makes more sense, plus it’s water smart, and we will be able to expand into other areas that require hand watering with a significantly smaller time commitment.  Mulch will hopefully play a much larger role this year as well.

I plan to do some guerilla gardening in my next door neighbor’s yard; he is dead now but he left large, well-tended beds as well as mature grape vines and an apricot tree.  I plan to fertilize the grapes and the tree with the manure we get, and to water the tree at least weekly.  I am hoping to get a harvest from the tree this year.  I may also plant corn in his beds as he used to do, though I don’t plan to water every day like he did.  We’ll see how our garden goes first.

I sold one of my looms to a friend; I just didn’t enjoy weaving on it very much.  It opened up space and hopefully it will give many hours of enjoyment to my friend.  I still have my home made monster that says she was made for me (or at least someone with the same name as me).  She is in need of a little rehab but is still usable for the time being. I have a couple of projects in my head that need to actually get warped up — time is running out for Fair items!

School is going well, grade wise.  Interaction wise once again I realize that my background is vastly different than most of the people in my class, thanks to the fire and EMS career, and that I have a much more cynical and realistic outlook than they.  I also am reminded that I am becoming a nurse practitioner for vastly different reasons than they are, mine having a lot more to do with making sure my neighbors have access to medical care for as far into the future as I can work, and focusing on preventative and herbal treatments that are affordable for all.

I have been trying to stay off the internet except for a limited time each day.  I find that I avoid doing what needs to be done by spending far too much time on political, apocalyptic, doomer, prepper, and other forums at the cost of my serenity and productivity.  I just can’t get that involved if I want to maintain my GPA and my sanity.  I also am finding I sleep much better if I limit my time – even watching netflix seems to affect my sleep quality.  I’m not sure why that is but I do notice the difference.  Something about the computer waves is affecting me, I just don’t know what, and life is better and more productive if I limit my time in front of it.

I need to finish plying the yarn I made for my oldest son’s Cobblestone sweater.  I made a lighter weight yarn than the original pattern called for, but that’s because he tends to keep the heat jacked up rather than putting on a sweater.  I’m hoping it will make it wearable for him if it’s lighter.  And yes, I know that it’s March and I was supposed to have this done by last Christmas!  Maybe a combined Christmas/birthday present will happen.

That’s all.  I hope your gardens grow well, your spinning wheels spin true, and you are ready for the next step on the journey!