Casaubon's Book

Three feet and counting so far. The prediction for the “upper elevations” (that would be us) is that we could get another 1-2 feet before tomorrow night. So while I am lost in meditation of the stunning beauty that surrounds me and trying to locate my woodpile, our car and the dog, all of whom are largely encompassed and hidden by snow, I leave you with some alternate reading.

First of all, in the “deeply sorrowful things” category, Leila, who posted at ye olde blogge as “Bedouina” and “Leila” died this fall. I hadn’t realized it – and I feel terrible that I did not realize. The last exchange we had was one in which rightly correcting me for saying something that (unintentionally, but that’s no excuse) played into an ugly set of implications, and I thought that she had stopped reading my blog because was pissed at me. I missed her, and I wrote her an email to tell her she was right and apologize, but never heard back and thought she was still angry at me. Her cancer had been in remission, and it did not occur to me that she might be ill again. I’m so very grieved about her loss, and that I did not know. There is a memorial site here, if any of you have anything to add. I am so very sorry she’s gone. My prayers for her family.

Leila repeatedly pointed out to me that whatever response we have to difficult times had better make us happy in the near term, because sometimes that’s all the term we have. She never argued that we should do less – she would have been the last person to argue that we should not sacrifice to make a better world – but that we should do it joyfully.

In other, less essential news:

Science Daily confirms that small scale polyculture will have to be a major focus of future investment and research into agriculture:

Have any of you truly thought about the human costs of these snowstorms? I’m not talking about the poor folk without power or the heart attacks and lost wages, but the true sufferers, the nigh-human (according to the supreme court) corporations that lost their private jets in the snow. Oh, the humanity!

Given the enormous quantity of snow falling everywhere, shouldn’t you be stocked up? The Onion has a host of valuable suggestions for things that I may have missed, including:

- Gender-specific sex toy: Heavy snow accumulation will make roads impassible, and your weekly visit to a prostitute unlikely
– Tauntaun: When your best friend goes missing in the blizzard conditions, you’ll need to use the carcass of this bipedal reptomammal to keep his body warm

Much as I do like snow and winter, I’m ready to be done by the beginning of March – so I’m trying not to scream with jealousy about what it looks like at the Matron’s at Trapper Creek. I want that to be us, dammit!

Well, it probably will be spring in March here soon enough, since China says no way on emissions capping. Surprise!

Robyn at Adapting in Place offers some suggestions for people who think they may lose their jobs in the near future.

“I would strongly suggest finding all of the programs that are even vaguely applicable to your situation now–yes now–while you still have a job and an income. Consider this just another part of the “assume you’ll be fired” scenario above. Speaking for my own state, there is a morass of programs available, complete with attendant paperwork, all of which is very difficult to sort through. Don’t try to do this when you’re on the edge of losing a job, or worse, have already lost one.”

Risa offers suggestions for how to transform your existing lot to produce food

“Let’s assume that you are a suburban homeowner with a typical lot, about eighty feet wide and a hundred feet deep, on level clay in a temperate latitude, with several trees and shrubs about the three-bedroom bungalow and along the driveway and carport. You have a rake, a hose, a lawnmower with a grasscatcher, and very little else with which to begin. And you’re very nearly “underwater” with a massive mortgage, and so will not being moving “back to the land” any time soon.”

“Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of congress….but I repeat myself.” It is possible, even likely that not all of my leadership is stupid. But the average IQ of House and Senate is brought down dramatically by the monumentally, stupendously, astonishingly stupid (and evil) Senator Inhofe.

On a cheerier note, Gene Logsdon thinks there’s something fundamentally different about this back to the land movement and it is something good.

Grrl Scientist offers us the perfect gift – a postcard garden.

And best of all, Tom Philpott and the New York Times direct us to the idea of “Crop Mobbing” – how to start a farm with little but enthusiasm:

Yet youthful zeal to farm abides, and hasn’t let up, as far as I can tell. This is a major asset to the sustainable food movement. As our nation’s million or so active farmers nears retirement age, an emerging generation of landless farmers is rising.

One of the main challenges of the movement will be to help find them land and create the infrastructure needed to make farming a viable profession.

Meanwhile, all over the country, the kids are organizing themselves, teaming together, harnessing their energy and keeping the vision of a just and sustainable food system alive and moving forward.

One of the most vital such projects I know of is the Crop Mob in the North Carolina Triangle (Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill). I know many of the Mobbers–two of them were my neighbors in Carrboro when my girlfriend was working on a PhD at UNC.

Finally, what to eat while I dig:

One of Leila’s best, her pumpkin tahini.

Into our purim baskets will go these nutella cupcakes.

Also, we’re using up last year’s lamb in this.

Sharon

Comments

  1. #1 dewey
    February 26, 2010

    I had noticed Leila’s absence. So sorry to hear of her passing.

  2. #2 Shamba
    February 26, 2010

    I knew Leila had left us when I went to look for a recipe at here site a couple of months ago. Her pictures showed a beautiful woman in all ways possible.

    I have used quite a few of her recipes in the last couple of years and I’m thankful she got those up on the web.

    Peace to her Family and Friends, and us,
    Shamba

  3. #3 Don
    February 26, 2010

    I didn’t know Leila, even online. But I’m sorry to hear the news.

    Re. Senator Inhofe: astonishingly stupid is right. I couldn’t read the entire interview; it angered me that much.

  4. #4 Lynne
    February 26, 2010

    Also sorry to hear about Leila. She was right, what we do now should enrich us in the short term. Fortunately, adapting in place does that and more.

    Very jealous of your gorgeous snow. We usually have about 3 feet on the ground and this year we have none. 6 weeks and counting of every single day above normal temperatures, and most nights not even freezing, in January and February. Lots of precipitation this year, but it came as rain. I hope you find your woodpile and your car :) I suspect your puppy will find you.

  5. #5 curiousalexa
    February 26, 2010

    Bah. We got *maybe* 6 inches of slush. First in heavy snow that clogged the snowblower immediately, then in rain to really make things messy.

    This is so wrong.

    Apparently everyone south of us is having power outages, extreme wind gusts, and closed roads. [shaking head]

  6. #6 Susan
    February 26, 2010

    Oh. That is so very sad. I was just thinking of her over this past week, wondering why she had quit posting; I never realized you two had had any kind of a falling out.

    The world is a slightly poorer place without her.

  7. #7 Nancy
    February 26, 2010

    I regret to tell you that Inhofe is my senator. I did my best people. I, a life-long Republican was driven by his stupidity to vote for his Democratic opponent in the last election. He is an embarrassment to the whole state. Oh, and btw I am changing my voter registration to Independent. I’m pretty much disgusted with all of them.

  8. #8 Don
    February 26, 2010

    Nancy: I agree. Democrats and Republicans–a plague on both houses!

  9. #9 AnnMarie
    February 26, 2010

    If you want spring, move north. Maine barely had winter this yearto my great disappointment! Please give me your 3 feet of snow!!!

  10. #10 Alan
    February 26, 2010

    Sharon, I can’t find the source of your lengthy quote on Crop Mobbing. Your post implies that it is either from Tom Philpott or the NY Times, but it isn’t in Philpott’s Grist article or the Times article by Christine Muhlke. Can you link to that source, please?

  11. #11 Stephen B
    February 27, 2010

    Here’s a surprising read in The Atlantic: Walmart gets into the local food business….

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/03/the-great-grocery-smackdown/7904/

    “…The program, which Walmart calls Heritage Agriculture, will encourage farms within a day’s drive of one of its warehouses to grow crops that now take days to arrive in trucks from states like Florida and California. In many cases the crops once flourished in the places where Walmart is encouraging their revival, but vanished because of Big Agriculture competition.”

    I still think that Walmart is death for local economies.

  12. #12 Art
    February 27, 2010

    Gets deep enough you can give up trenching and take up tunneling.

  13. #13 Brad K.
    February 27, 2010

    Stephen B,

    The Wal-Mart article is surprising. They require patent/copyright on any local crafts you want to offer. Then, I wonder how selling local produce will play with recent regulations and laws protecting Monsanto’s GMO patents.

  14. #14 Lora
    February 27, 2010

    Even if you don’t have the Trapper Creek weather, there are still signs of spring: Maple Syrup season is upon us here in Massachusetts, and will shortly be upon you as well. Cool-weather oyster mushrooms in a sack of damp straw in the root cellar are fruiting. Next week it’ll be time to put lettuces in the cold frame.

    I really am astonished that more farms don’t do maple syrup and cold-weather mushrooms. This time of year is hard on farmers, as they don’t have much cash flow for several months, and maple syrup fits in that gap nicely. You can use the trees as windbreaks between fields to limit erosion, and run turkeys under them when the sugaring season is over. You can burn bagasse, little bits of branches, ex-holiday trees, odd-shaped pieces of firewood that don’t quite fit in the stove to boil the sap. It doesn’t take much in the way of special equipment, just spiles, which can be homemade but are cheap to buy, and buckets. In northerly climates there’s not much to do for at least a month anyway, you might as well make money on a crop.

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