Monthly Archives: September 2013

Autumn Gold Fall 2013

Okay, I’m big into shopping “local” so actually going out and buying these exact items makes no sense for me. I do like to play with fashion, though. I love color and texture–I mean, chunky cables and smooth, buttery leather boots? Divine!

These Polyvore.com “looks” are inspirational for when I hit my local Goodwill and consignment stores, or even my own closet. This particular look has also inspired a short-story idea. I’ll post it as soon as I get it written, ‘kay?

I hope, my Dear Reader, that you are enjoying the fall weather. Here in Maine, the foliage is absolutely brilliant this year.

Autumn Gold Fall 2013

Mossimo sweater
target.com

H M cable knit stocking
$9.65 – hm.com

Burberry boots
stylebop.com

Hartmann bag
bloomingdales.com

Burberry scarve
farfetch.com

Finding Fall’s Rhythm

I like blogger Cindy’s description of walking her dogs through the autumn woods. Her down to earth style written in an almost poetic form intrigues me. Enjoy!

cindyricksgers

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This morning, I threw on warm, loose clothing and filled my lidded coffee cup. I added a tattered wooly blazer and a black felt hat with a large, orange silk flower in the rim. I put the camera in my pocket, and set out for a walk.

The dogs were stunned!

In the last several weeks, every invitation for a walk has turned into a disappointment to them.

Summer traffic discouraged walks down the Fox Lake Road.

Any off-road walks were necessarily abbreviated because of the mosquitoes.

All excursions were limited by my schedule.

There were days when, having arrived home late, I tried to convince them that a brisk jog two or three times around the perimeter of the yard counts as a walk.

Or a few trips back and forth to bring groceries, mail and other supplies in from the car.

A wander through the garden to pick…

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Localista Healthcare vs. Government Healthcare

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Echinacea or Cone Flower has been used as an herbal remedy for hundreds of years. Learn more at our local herbalist Greenwood Herbals at http://www.greenwoodherbals.com/newsletters/2009/Jan09Newsletter.pdf.

 

I have a vision for an ideal society. We all do, right? And I bet your vision and my vision are remarkably similar. We’d like to see everyone employed in the work he/she finds most rewarding, an educated population, healthcare available for everyone, every citizen fed and clothed and housed. We probably wouldn’t demand complete equality of lifestyles; however, we’d like to see less disparity in lifestyles. We both long to see a productive, happy, empowered population of citizens.

Since we share a vision, why is is so darn difficult to agree on a solution? As rational human beings, shouldn’t we be able to look at facts and see what works? 

Ideally, yes, we should. Realistically, social issues are complicated. 

Which brings me to the healthcare question. Healthcare in the United States is screwed up. We all know this. We know it shouldn’t cost so much for insurance. We know doctors and hospitals and drug companies are charging too much to the insurance companies. We know some people chose not to purchase insurance or can’t afford to purchase insurance, and we know they get healthcare anyway. And we know those costs get passed on to those of us who have insurance or to our employers who then find other ways to save money–like laying off workers or paying less wages. We know doctors and hospitals charge so much because they have to cover the cost of the freebies and the paperwork and the malpractice insurance. We know the drug companies charge so much because research and development is extremely expensive and a gamble. When something does work, it has to compensate for all the experiments that didn’t work.

And all that is gross oversimplification.

Yes, I want everyone to have access to healthcare. What I’m no longer sure about is whether or not a taxpayer-sponsored healthcare plan in a heavily-flawed, crony capitalist political/economic system will actually do it.

So, for the sake of argument, here is a blog post outlining why some people think that government healthcare is a bad idea. http://objectivismforintellectuals.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/why-healthcare-in-the-us-is-so-expensive-and-what-can-be-done-about-it/

To provide counterpoint to that article, here is one that outlines pretty honestly, I think, as an advocate, what the Affordable Health Care Act will look like in upcoming months. http://mykeystrokes.com/2013/09/21/the-obamacare-is-falling-the-obamacare-is-falling-here-are-the-reasons-you-shouldnt-believe-any-of-it/

Even proponents admit they don’t really know what is going to happen; at least they are trying something. Libertarians want to try something just as bold, but they probably won’t get that same chance. We are looking at either “more of the same” or “something different but who knows if it will be better or worse.” 

Yeah, what a choice. I’m so wicked excited. Not.

What I wonder is if we’d be better off doing things to old-fashioned way. Localista Healthcare. You have local doctors in the community. You may even have a local, privately-owned hospital. You get sick, you go to the doctor, she gives you a bill, you pay it. No insurance paperwork. If you don’t have all the money, your doctor works out a payment plan with you. If you are poor, maybe the doctor gives you free care. The hospital does the same. Local community members support the hospital and create charitable foundations for caring for the less able. If you want to go to an herbalist, that’s your call. If you want to try acupuncture instead of antibiotics, it’s your dollar. 

I’m wondering if this would allow for more competition, more reasonable pricing, and yes—more affordable healthcare for all. Of course, when we look at history–back to the good ol’ days of less government, do we see less income disparity? Do we see affordable healthcare for all? No. What we see are poor people dying like flies and rich people getting the best care possible. Why? I’d love some Libertarian to explain to me why, if free market capitalism works so well, why we had that situation. And then I’d like some Progressive to explain to me why the Soviet Union healthcare system wasn’t the absolute best in the world if socialized medicine is so great. 

Thanks for getting back to me and clearing it all up;)

Please Don’t Poison my Honeybees…

Interested in the plight of bees and the role they play in our food supply? This is a good blog, and this post is an example of how easily we can overlook all the ramifications of an action intended to solve one problem and thus causing more problems.

Adventures in Natural Beekeeping

…reads the headline of my letter to the editor last week.

The Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge

has a mosquito problem.  During summer high tides, water fills holes that don’t drain back out.  Pools provide habitat for the salt marsh mosquito, Aedes dorsalis.  People that live near the marsh complain that they can’t go outside without mosquitos biting them.  “It’s hard to get to the car from the back door without several mosquito bites.”  I can’t mow my yard without several layers of clothing.”  “I love to garden, but I feel like I’m under house arrest, because the mosquitos are so vicious.”  The motels have had cancellations, the real estate people can’t show houses, and the golfers are getting eaten alive.

Pressure to DO SOMETHING NOW drove the decision to aerial spray not just the 300 acres of the Marsh, but another 10,000 to 12,000 acres of outlying area.   That’s…

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Darn Good Yarn: A Growing Micro-Business

Dear Reader:

In discussing things like individual freedom and sustainability, sometimes there seems to be a disconnect in people’s minds, as if using the word “sustainable” is a sort of code word for “socialism.” Frankly, that confuses me.

Handmade socks

Handmade socks

In fact, why can’t a business be both sustainable–eco-friendly even–and still be a capitalist enterprise? Is Individualist Sustainability Entrepreneur necessarily an oxymoron?

Because this has been at the forefront of my mind, I was thrilled to come across an article about a Maine company called Darn Good Yarn. The owner, Nicole Snowe, had an idea to create a micro-business out of her home, a company that uses recycled waste silk from India and Nepal to create one-of-a-kind yarns. Darn Good Yarn was born. And it is thriving.

According to the company website, the workers Darn Good Yarn employs receive a wage that “not only allows them to survive, but to thrive.” At the same time, the company is growing. This is not a charitable enterprise but a micro-business with a profit-earning motive. I say BRAVO!

Ms. Snowe exemplifies for me that ideal Individualist Sustainability Entrepreneur I imagined–someone with ethical business practices, entrepreneurial spirit and drive for success, and awareness of sustainability issues I believe will weigh more and more heavily in our hearts and in our marketplace. Darn Good Yarn is a darn good example of how things can be done.

Read the Bangor Daily News Disruptive Growth Blog article “Through the Eyes of the Entrepreneur: Nicole Snowe, CEO of Darn Good Yarn” here. http://disruptivegrowth.bangordailynews.com/2013/09/08/through-the-eyes-of-the-entrepreneur-nicole-snow-ceo-of-darn-good-yarn/

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Harvest Minestrone Soup

Harvest Minestrone Soup

A good pot of soup, thrown together from a harvest of fall vegetables and herbs. In my last post, I promised a recipe. Here is how I created my tomato, veggie, and herb minestrone soup yesterday.

Mix together the following:

1 quart of quartered fresh tomatoes and juice or stewed tomatoes
1 cup of diced onion
cloves of one garlic, minced
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/2 medium radicchio chopped
1/2 cup chopped mixed garden herbs: oregano, thyme, sage, marjoram, savory, etc.
1 medium zucchini, sliced
2 tsp salt
1 can of light or dark red kidney beans, not drained
optional: pepper to taste
optional: throw in one chili pepper whole

Add water to almost cover if the tomato juice isn’t quite there. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, reduce heat and simmer, covered until veggies are tender.

I was quite impressed by the flavor of this soup without having to add any vegetable bouillon, but save any leaves or onion tops, etc. for a future soup stock. This soup was delish sprinkled with a little bit of feta cheese.

We Are All Blemished: Lessons from Canning Tomatoes

Big Pot of Tomatoes

Big Pot of Tomatoes

A First Thought

Dear Reader:

‘Tis the season for harvesting and preparing for the long months ahead when fresh produce in our gardens is only a sweet memory. Since my tomato plants do not produce much more than garnishes for a few late-summer salads, I trucked on over to nearby Porter, Maine for a bushel of canning ‘matoes f0r $15. Honestly, I’m not sure I could ever grow that many tomatoes for that price, so I consider this a great bargain. A couple days later–up to my elbows in skins and seeds and juice and pulp, listening to Windham Hill Christmas c.d.’s (yes, a guilty pleasure of mine come fall before the craziness of the real holiday zaps all the fun out of it), and putting up stewed tomatoes–a realization struck:

We are all blemished, and that doesn’t mean there isn’t goodness in us.

Blemished

Blemished

See, I was cutting out the bad, dark spots on the canning tomatoes which are, by their very nature, second-best. Flinging skins and blemished fruit into my compost container (an old, blue metal pot that belonged to my grandmother and reminds me of her every single day), I couldn’t help but think about how tempting it would be to throw out the entire fruit because it wasn’t perfect. We like perfect. Somehow, nowadays, we expect perfect. What a waste it would be, I thought, if we missed out on all that goodness beneath the surface just because one of the fruits had a spot or two on the outside!

People, too, are not perfect. Friends have character flaws. Community members drive us crazy sometimes with their idiosyncrasies. Some of us talk too much. Some of us are nosy. Some of us are controlling or passive aggressive or maybe annoyingly passive. Like the tomatoes, though, we have goodness inside us if others are willing to dig beneath the surface and take a look at our sweet, juicy centers…

A bushel of tomatoes and herbs from the garden.

A bushel of tomatoes and herbs from the garden.

Well, you know what I mean.

I like people. I also like to criticize people. Taking a lesson from today’s processing, I am going to try to stop focusing on the flaws and concentrate, instead, on finding the goodness.

Of course, once in awhile you just gotta toss the whole rotten tomato into the compost bucket. Even then, however, there is usefulness. A little time in the elements, a little rain and a little sun, a bit of time to rearrange the old molecules and voila! Up pops a new tomato plant from the pile of refuse. It’s probably not pleasant to be rejected, tossed away, and forgotten; however, there is always hope for change and renewed vitality and goodness. If this happens to you, don’t give up. Use your time alone to let your thoughts and attitudes compost. Let the goodness in you spring up from those tiny seeds.

Of course, if the thought of this doesn’t appeal to you, I have advice: Don’t be a rotten tomato!

All Jarred Up

All Jarred Up

A Second Thought

Canning tomatoes is a fairly easy, but long process. So is developing your character. And remember, we can’t all be tomatoes. Some of us are bitter mustard greens. Others are spicy hot chili peppers. Some are tart lemons, cool cucumbers, sweet blueberries, humble potatoes. Throw a bunch of us into a pot, and something happens–something like this tomato, veggie, and herb soup.

Soup

Soup

Tomato Canning Tip

To easily peel tomatoes for processing, wash them thoroughly, remove any major blemishes, and put them into boiling water for three or four minutes. Remove them and put them in cold water in your sink for a few minutes. The skin will crack or loosen, and when you take them out of the water, the skin easily slips off the fruit. You are then able to get to your canning.

Or soup making. I will post a recipe for the tomato, veggie & herb soup next time on Localista.