Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I feel a little bad for not posting for so long. The muse has been around, I just didn't pour her -eek! invite her here, onto this electronic page.

I kind of miss the tool that let me do quick easy posts on my blog... I think it was perhaps a google tool.. I think I stopped using it because Google became so freaking invasive. One of the (many) reasons I don't like being tracked digitally is that it takes up brain space.

Like remember when we had to navigate without GPS but use maps, handwritten notes, have conversations with people, sometimes LOTs of people, and we somehow got from point A to point B. Remember how it took up a lot of brain space to do all that?

So now, many of us mostly navigate with tools, and it makes it easier. We get to have that brain space for something else.

Thinking about how every single key-stroke can be saved somewhere takes up brain space. This pisses me off. So I'm working on stopping that brain wave, and still being able to maintain some semblance of privacy. (20 years ago it didn't matter if "they" collected all your data, they couldn't do anything with it. Now technology allows too much analysis of keywords - hell, all words.)

But the power of instant articles from across the globe has its advantages to be sure.

In online meanderings last year I came across an interesting guy. It was a post on Huffingtonpost about this guy in a coffee shop, who looked homeless, some cops and the knitting. Read it - good piece.

I've enjoyed checking out his site, and reading his views. Like a lot of bloggers, he is an excellent writer, but has gone through the pain of sudden fame.This forces a writer to make a choice: be more "politic", mild, perhaps offend fewer folks, also a privacy choice for many, or ... go for the jugular. In writing, I think there is a lot more payoff when the jugular is loved on. Not necessarily torn open, tho that is another place to find good stuff :) (can be damn messy, in my experience).

Finding one's voice is so hard in writing. And keeping it. Hell, in life, same problem, right? ("I know, right?!")

Being authentic takes guts. To me, it pays off.

Earlier tonight I was wondering about how presidents and politicians seem to enjoy the company of famous people, movie stars, as we used to call them. It dawned on me that much of this must be from shared experiences of living under scrutiny. Yeah yeah, there is the "cool" factor, from both sides, in hanging out with other hot shots. I get that.

But living under constant scrutiny, the "public lens", is a different level of difficult, and in both politics and ... stardom, there must be the constant struggle to maintain one's "center" or essential self. If you don't, well, we know what happens to those folks. They get into drugs, drinking, sex, or shooting weird pics of their private parts. Or they let the power go to their head, or they check out, or whatever.

Similar to the "brain space" comments above, I would think it exhausting to learn to maintain your core self, in the strong buffeting of exposure to, well, everyone. Interviews, radio, TV, internet, appearances, etc. Yeesh. How many of us would actually choose that life?

How many of us would REALLY be president, if given the chance? Not for a day, but four long freaking years. No wonder they come out of office deeply aged. Also, mellowed, I'd like to think.

It really is service, no matter what else. You become *owned* by the public. You BELONG to the people. Ego is needed, sure, but it also gets crushed in the process.

I was hopeful that Obama would come out as an ardent Moderate. Defender of the Middle Class, the Common People, Uniter, Reasonable Man, and Leader of the Entire Country.

I was hopeful.

I'm sad that he's seemed pretty unable to bring Knights (and Ladies) to the Round Table, to form consensus in the midst of this divisive country where extremism is allowed to set the agenda and name the costs that we all must pay.

Most of us are Moderates. Did you know that? Like 70% or more identify as Moderates.

So whassup with the fanatics taking over? Really? Are we that naive? Once upon a time we were all a bit less easily impressed by the shenanigans of the far right or left. Surely McCarthy taught us something. And drug parties of excess (I was too young, don't look at me). And other countries torn apart by radicalism: Ireland, Israel, now Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, stable Turkey even being affected.

Maybe we should stick with Radical Love. :)

I'm Sticking to my Knitting. My family, my job, my friends. Finding fewer causes. That's ok. The ones I care about get vintage that is worth something.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Safety Bet

I've been lazy for the last few years. My passwords are different on every account, most are long, and yes they include at least a cap(ital) letter and a number, and sometimes even a symbol. But that's still lazy for a geek. I need a p/w vault.

I counted up my passwords the other day. Pretty sure there are about 15. None of them are written down around my desk. All live in my head. (I printed a good many of them out once (in case of emergency) then killed the file. Well, I think I did. If I didn't, it doesn't matter because I'm getting ready to change all p/w in my life anyway.)

The Point is, with a new job (in safety/security) I'm all out of brain room for more passwords! I already created a few new ones at work, in my first week, and yea, today I'm researching password vaults and getting "up to speed". In other words, install, figure it out, use it, try to break it. Usually in that order :)

Here is my advice, in the form of an email to my kids, husband, friends, family:
Greetings - It shouldn't be a surprise that with the new job I'm investigating, learning and setting up better protection for my accounts.

Below is some of my research. I like this first article because it pretty much tells you how to use the best tools plus a "hack" to make a thumb drive a physical "key" to keep all your passwords safe. Good idea *and* you can share a p/w file, (holding one or a few passwords) without showing what the p/w actually is.

Two nice overview articles about password vault applications:

Just what it says, but also explains how professional hackers get away with your data : how to make strong p/w

If you haven't already, please download (pay for it!) Avast and keep your system clean and safe :) btw, Lastpass  is also for phones if you pay the $12 per year price. Sweet :)

Sunday, June 23, 2013


So much has been going on it's tough to slow down and capture it all. Still, I'm journaling most days. Feels good to work those writing muscles.

In addition to a membership at Curves I've added walking most of the other days, once it warmed up. The rest of the Spring was taken up recuperating from a grueling 9 months at a non-profit.

Actually, I have also made some progress on my desk. Very. very. slowly.

It's made me notice motivation and how low it is sometimes. To the point of resistance. A seemingly immovable force. Eventually, when the mood doesn't strike me, after weeks of waiting, I just go ahead and get it done, whatever it is. That's the thing about inspiration. Sometimes it just needs to be lassoed.

While the days have been full, somehow April, May and now a chunk of June have slipped by without a lot of visible or earth shattering progress. "Stuff" gets done, but where does the time go?

I started thinking about two big new things this Spring, well, three, and two are coming to pass. The third is germinating :)

First, I began craving a new dog. Not just for me, but for the family. No really. It took a while to be able to articulate the reasons, but 1. Sparky is getting older (he's 9 now) and 2. it's not fair to add a dog in a year or two when he will be older and less likely to want to add a new family member, 3. he seemed to miss Maggie. Today on our walk we saw a neighbor we've met twice, with her dog. Sparky kept trying to get over to visit, even tho we were really too far away to get to them. It was sweet, and also confirmation that he is happier with another dog here. 4. I was longing for the affection of another dog. So yeah, we are doing it. Bringing Sadie home tomorrow - a rescue. Chill, peaceful gal, a rott mix they tell me. Smallish - 45 lbs. Will be nice to have her, especially with G around to bond with her, etc. Pictures coming soon.

Second, been looking around for the next job. Sent a resume in in March, got a call in May and interviewed around May 21. Got a call a couple weeks later that they wanted to make me an offer, and last week finally got the offer. Or maybe it was the week before. Anyway, it's all but signed. I go in tomorrow to fill out paperwork. Cool spot - IT geek interface to the emergency management dept. for a large organization. Beautiful time off and great benefits. Lovin it. Always nice to see debt go away too!

Third, we are seriously researching farming. The good news is there are lots of materials, groups, sites, etc. Bad news is it will be a year of research, in addition to our full time jobs. It's hard to wait. Stan and I had never really examined the idea very closely... then it seemed to click. We had both wanted to have our own farms for so long... well, it was decades for me, and he just said he'd always wanted to have a big farm.

It won't likely be huge, with the price of land these days. But organic, sustainable, and enough to support us, yes. We can do that. Good that he used to care for cattle with a neighbor, when he was a teenager, and worked the family gardens/farm. And I kept bees, chickens and goats. I've shelled beans on a porch with old women. That must count for something!

I'll keep the day job while we get started and very possibly until the end of time. (Right now I like this idea best.) He will run the farm and drive when it's off season. There is a great farmers market here, and many others in the area. Also have found there is strong demand for specialty crops and products going to chefs and restaurants in Chicago (and Indianapolis I bet) as well as a huge interest now in local foods, slow foods and sustainable agriculture. Nice to be here where one of the best ag schools in the country is located. Even local school systems are looking for fresh, local food.

This week I visited 7 Sisters Farm in Sidney, IL and Morganics in Michigan. These were the 3rd and 4th farmers I'd contacted, mind you. That they were generous enough to let me come visit, show me around, explain a bit about their approach, and give some advice was just heart warming. It was the hand up I needed.

[The first two farms I asked for a visit/tour were either just "No" or "Can't, good luck". Note to self: always try to help out the new kids on the block.]

We've applied for a local year long class for beginning farmers at our local (ag) extension office.  If we get accepted it's free and supposed to be a good start. We might be able to get a VA loan, or a grant; or both, to get started.

Once we figure out what we are doing, we'd like to find more ways to bring gardens into low income communities, and see what can be done for veterans and ex-offenders who are getting re-integrated into society. That may be the far-fetched part of all this, but I'm not above learning from scratch.

Love the idea of teaching micro-housing and training men and women to build small, solid homes. So we will see. All kinds of possibilities... all kinds of good talent around here to ask for guidance. "Green" technology, including solar and geothermal need to be taught and tested somewhere...

7 Sisters was, by the way, just beautiful. The garden, the sheep, chickens, guard dogs, goats. Just loved it. Bought some amazing yarn (leicester and corriedale), and some lovely grey roving and want to go back for more! Cathe showed me the house they restored, and we had great conversation about land, local resources and how damned hard it is to keep horses in this part of the country! (Stan agreed later when I told him.)

 Genevieve, at Morganics was also gracious and showed me and Gwyneth around when we dropped in on her this week. We saw her road sign as we were heading to Leelanu way up in Michigan. There were 11 adorable English Shepherd puppies running around (I immediately wanted to bring one home) and beautiful bunnies (one spotted one like a dalmatian!). We came home with fresh eggs and a new idea - permaculture. Also learned that mushrooms put all kinds of good stuff back into the soil. Since they are first generation farmers Genevieve gave us a different kind of encouragement, especially since they are reclaiming some land that was tree farm (red pines) before and all of it is sandy soil. Nice big garden tho, moveable pens for the smaller livestock.

She also had a couple of sheep and some hogs. Sells the English Shepherds too. All good investments I think. 

On both of these operations one spouse works "off farm". Both are in it tho to make more that a subsistence living (which I'm gathering means, more than support the family with food on the table). I see where diversifying is a good idea, where the cost of land and equipment is crucial, and where help, either in kids, interns, or paid help are critical.

That's all I'm good for tonight. Off to read a little and consider. There's a full moon rising ;)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Dancing by the light of the Moon

tamed, even curled up with. Ridden, slain (a trick they pull, letting you think that you won).

  But first they will terrify you.

 Sometimes they seem harmless.
 It's not the battle that is key, it's the willingness, the wiley-ness. In my experience they appreciate the entertainment.
 Sometimes they are young. Still ferocious.
 And there is always treasure they hide, protect. You have to show you want it.

Raise your flagon. Cheers to dancing with dragons, your gorgeous, glittering shadow self.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Started this post last week. I guess it's a reminder that parental units stay busy. All the time.

G asked me what is the hardest thing about motherhood. "All of it." She asked again and I said "Slaying the dragons." She said, "What's the hardest non metaphorical thing about motherhood?" I replied, "Yeah, slaying the dragons." Led to a nice discussion of how mothering is being hyper vigilant and also relaxed. At the same time. It's also being patient when you've gone without sleep or rest for too long. It's keeping too many details in your head at once, and then learning not to do that. It's studying to learn to do things differently than your instincts, and other times it's following your instincts. It's hell. It's heaven. I'm super blessed to have 6 kids now and 4 grandchildren. And if I had world and time, I'd adopt older kids who need a home. Thanks Mom, for teaching me there is always enough love to go around.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Clearly I have not the stamina nor discipline to post every day.

The Good News is I do write. Every day. Religiously.

Lately I've been capturing the scraps of writing in various forms. Using the Journal, which I mentioned last week, I write and capture posts from FB nicely (I put them in the "notebook" section, not the daily journal section). I write in a physical journal (or two or three) and I compose emails, which at least I send to a special account that is just for the purpose of capturing my writing. Goal there is to capture more emails in the Journal, so there is a somewhat central suppository. No wait REpository <g>.

My website is set up for the family business, but I'm going to add another website just for my random meanderings. And likely another for a new business. And a non-profit.

All this in the works, along with getting my house in order (physically and digitally), the business in order (accounting and fiscally) and the relationships in order (reconnecting with people I haven't had time to enjoy for 9 months).

It was a cool thing, to birth myself out of the last job. Well worth the carrying and pushing. Now there is a weird bit of transition, getting re-grounded, and cultivating new stuff.

Putting legs under some of these new ideas is an altogether different matter. I do think I can grow my sideline business to support us, take care of essentials, keep income flow UP. And on the side* another business germinates. Like good writing ideas, it's important to protect it from frosts of people who would judge not nurture, yet it also needs the sunshine and warmth, so I share it with a few trusted friends.

We shall see. It could be mental masturbation, but I don't think so. Even if it fails, at least I will have pursued it. That is what matters really. I've done this before and didn't get to see the idea/organization fully birthed. It was not meant to be, and I was ok. Good experience planning it all and then laying it to rest, as gracefully as possible. I've had many other successful enterprises. They have a creation curve, a lifespan, a return to dust. Legacy stuff and sustainability are topics for another day.

For the sane, it's not just the chase (of ideas and new forms) that matters, but balancing stability with exploration. I live in a smaller town now, and that by definition can hinder risk taking. After all, in a community where there are less options, fewer ideas can be chased, with back up opportunities if your brilliant idea fails. In other words, everyone knows if you are a windmill chaser, and what that means is less certain ... outcomes** can be, well, overlooked in a large metropolis. Not so in more intimate settings.

Just realized this is the first time since '85 I've lived in a smallish community. Hmmm... food for thought. I did find the small towns from '76 to '81 nice but constraining. Too small in some ways. Athens was just right, but then I yearned for Atlanta, the siren hussy Belle, and wonderful dance partner. She will always be my first big love, put stars in my eyes.

One goal for this week is to to check out John Green's*** and other vloggers' posts about online community and struggling with how to best connect. I'm considering blogs, vlogs, social media and other forms of building digital community.

Also have more plans to sketch out. There is a garden to dig. No thought required at first, just pulling old stuff out, getting beds ready. That's what I love about housework I think. It's fairly simple work. No thinking required. Let's me rest.

*that's only two sides, so far.. I think home and hearth are truly my main vocations. This other stuff, businesses and community are avocations :)

**by outcomes I mean failures of course but also successes. And therein lies another two-edged sword. Towns both discourage by their very nature people getting outside the box too much - it's what we do as tribe, only allow so much unknown/unfamiliar behavior. Yet small towns will love to support your success and care much more than cities. Cities encourage exploration and freedom, but care not a rat's ass if you fail. Harsher in their own way, cities sort of offer support, but not like towns.

** I know little to nothing about John Green, but am curious and would like to find info on online communities / forums. Could help the next business grow support. One of my daughters loves Green - I've watch some of his vlogs. Glad he is out there being awesome.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Online Conversations, IP and the Holocaust (or Winning over Evil)

So tired of short posts on FB - it is where I live much of the time, keeps me connected to friends etc. Gives a forum for conversation. I think I'll take myself over here (blog) for a while and see if I have the stamina to post regularly.

I write most days, and capture a lot of it in various electronic forms. Really don't like that the scant "intellectual property" I own is trapped in fb posts and on servers elsewhere. Call me old fashioned, I like my stuff to stay on my hard drive. This week I'll install a journal app to keep my info secured on my own system. (love this app btw, The Journal rocks. I have it on one system and am going to purchase a small bundle of licenses for a select group of my beloveds who write. This guy David is amazing.)

In the meantime, here is a great post about the Holocaust, and our victory over evil!!! It's amazing: