About Me

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Born a Texan, but traveled the US extensively.  Now staying on the East coast.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Autumn

it snuck up on me, 
yes i am not around from here,
to use that phrase.
The calendar said it would,
but i was enjoying,
the summers heat.
I was the only one,
i think.
i was not prepared,
to put my garden to sleep,
for the brisk air
and the changing colors,
tho i love autumn.
It is here now,
whether i am ready or not.
i am prepared now for the beauty that will ensue!

Friday, September 23, 2016

How I garden

a better tile and so it makes things clearer


 



 

My small patch of garden,
has never seen pesticides
or store bought fertilizer.
It was not used as a garden before i came here,
way back in 1991,
but is it organic?
That is a question i ask myself,
often.
Knowledge is a dangerous thing...
i will write in plain language now,
for it seems better to make things clear...

Organic?:

I have had issues with the term "organic" for years and it is not because i am a chemist and was soaked in Organic chemistry from school.
It is because of what i learned while working...
Did you know that DDT is still in soil?
It was banned from use in 1972.
How about the next generation of pesticides, Aldrin (with dieldren as its active component) and chlordane?
Dieldren was banned from use in agriculture in 1974, but still available for use in termite control until 1981.
Chlordane was banned in agriculture in 1977, but permitted for household use and termite control until 1988.
They still can be found in soil and well water and sediment of lakes and estuaries...
Think about it - the "organic label" only requires a farm to have not used "restricted substances" for 3 years...think about it.
My vegetables does not meet my own strict concept of "organic" because i do not know if things were applied in the area before 1991, even though i have a good idea this was only an unused piece of land since 1978.

How i treat the soil:

my house mate raises birds, mostly pigeons, but also doves and occasional chicken.
There is no "organic label" for the bird feed he feeds them, so i can not verify this, yet the cleanings from the coops go into a heap, along with all the kitchen scraps and tree leaves.
This is left for several years.
They turn into dark rich earth, full of earthworms and that is how i replenish the nutrients of the soil. The garden area is very small - maybe 15 feet by 12 feet and i plant things very close together,
contrary to what is recommended and the water is from the tap, which i tested when working and i know it is fine and it is not a worry.

What i plant:

And so i have this garden with many many fruits and vegetables, planted according to season,
peas, radishes and lettuce first
cilantro, dill and anise overwinter in the soil and begin about the same time
then we have cabbage (red and green and savoy), Bok Choy, Napa cabbage, Swiss chard, beets.
Raspberry bush comes up every year, but the fruit does not come till summer.
Potatoes, red, white and sweet.
Beets.
Vaious peppers, sweet, spicy and insanely hot.
Tomatoes of various varieties are next
Finally cucumbers and squash (i do not have much luck with squash).
There is fencing and trees around for the vines to climb and so the garden does go somewhat vertical.
There are many spices, mint basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, tarragon, anise, dill  and cilantro.  These are in pots (clay) and can be moved around.

Pest Control: 

So i have indicated that i do not use pesticides, so with all of this how do i control the pests?
Certain herbs are not liked by pests - basil, rosemary, oregano, mint and thyme and then there is anise and dill, but more on those two in a bit.
marigolds!  a plant and flower that is not well liked by things that like my tomatoes, but there is more!
The flowers of the dill and anise attract bees and wasps and in order to propagate, they want worms to give to their young.  Control!  Balance!  Life!
I am happy and even the most aggressive of the wasps (yellow jackets) are too happy with everything else in the garden to bother with me!

Harvesting and preserving:

The vegetables and fruit and used when they are ready, but it means i do not have lettuce in the summer and only occasional so i have a lettuce and tomato salad.
I can get 2 crops from cilantro and dill and lettuce.
I have "sauced" my tomatoes and used them in the winter.
Peppers (especially the hot ones) i freeze for use in various salsas.
The standard for drying herbs - cutting the stems and shaking the leaves after drying, is easy, but WRONG!
Yea, i did extractions and tests when i was working and found 10 to 50% of the flavor retreats into the woody stems while drying.
So i remove the leaves while they are fresh and dry then in a covered location...
DO NOT PLACE THEM IN THE SUN, the same thing happens).
there are various ways to "extract" the flavors, but leave that to a chemist (yea, like me) to get it done and each herb is different.

Cleaning:

I am weeding all the time, even after the soil is barren.  Weeds take nutrients and moisture from your plants.  Placing hay over your soil for the winter is okay, but i like the idea of planting clover instead,
tho i have not done this yet.

Winter, is of course a difficult time for me, especially when the garden is filled with 3 feet of dirty snow and i enjoy what ever i have been able to preserve for the months i can't get in there.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

and so the question is...

does this post go here?
or in my cooking blog?
or in the environmental blog?

i am clueless so i will start it here.
So many questions asked of me,
so many things i seem to know,
from years of experience,
from work,
from others,
from me just being curious.

My small patch of garden,
has never seen pesticides
or store bought fertilizer.
It was not used as a garden before i came here,
way back in 1991,
but is it organic?
That is a question i ask myself,
often.
Knowledge is a dangerous thing...
i will write in plain language now,
for it seems better to make things clear...

Organic?:

I have had issues with the term "organic" for years and it is not because i am a chemist and was soaked in Organic chemistry from school.
It is because of what i learned while working...
Did you know that DDT is still in soil?
It was banned from use in 1972.
How about the next generation of pesticides, Aldrin (with dieldren as its active component) and chlordane?
Dieldren was banned from use in agriculture in 1974, but still available for use in termite control until 1981.
Chlordane was banned in agriculture in 1977, but permitted for household use and termite control until 1988.
They still can be found in soil and well water and sediment of lakes and estuaries...
Think about it - the "organic label" only requires a farm to have not used "restricted substances" for 3 years...think about it.
My vegetables does not meet my own strict concept of "organic" because i do not know if things were applied in the area before 1991, even though i have a good idea this was only an unused piece of land since 1978.

How i treat the soil:

my house mate raises birds, mostly pigeons, but also doves and occasional chicken.
There is no "organic label" for the bird feed he feeds them, so i can not verify this, yet the cleanings from the coops go into a heap, along with all the kitchen scraps and tree leaves.
This is left for several years.
They turn into dark rich earth, full of earthworms and that is how i replenish the nutrients of the soil. The garden area is very small - maybe 15 feet by 12 feet and i plant things very close together,
contrary to what is recommended and the water is from the tap, which i tested when working and i know it is fine and it is not a worry.

What i plant:

And so i have this garden with many many fruits and vegetables, planted according to season,
peas, radishes and lettuce first
cilantro, dill and anise overwinter in the soil and begin about the same time
then we have cabbage (red and green and savoy), Bok Choy, Napa cabbage, Swiss chard, beets.
Raspberry bush comes up every year, but the fruit does not come till summer.
Potatoes, red, white and sweet.
Beets.
Vaious peppers, sweet, spicy and insanely hot.
Tomatoes of various varieties are next
Finally cucumbers and squash (i do not have much luck with squash).
There is fencing and trees around for the vines to climb and so the garden does go somewhat vertical.
There are many spices, mint basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, tarragon, anise, dill  and cilantro.  These are in pots (clay) and can be moved around.

Pest Control: 

So i have indicated that i do not use pesticides, so with all of this how do i control the pests?
Certain herbs are not liked by pests - basil, rosemary, oregano, mint and thyme and then there is anise and dill, but more on those two in a bit.
marigolds!  a plant and flower that is not well liked by things that like my tomatoes, but there is more!
The flowers of the dill and anise attract bees and wasps and in order to propagate, they want worms to give to their young.  Control!  Balance!  Life!
I am happy and even the most aggressive of the wasps (yellow jackets) are too happy with everything else in the garden to bother with me!

Harvesting and preserving:

The vegetables and fruit and used when they are ready, but it means i do not have lettuce in the summer and only occasional so i have a lettuce and tomato salad.
I can get 2 crops from cilantro and dill and lettuce.
I have "sauced" my tomatoes and used them in the winter.
Peppers (especially the hot ones) i freeze for use in various salsas.
The standard for drying herbs - cutting the stems and shaking the leaves after drying, is easy, but WRONG!
Yea, i did extractions and tests when i was working and found 10 to 50% of the flavor retreats into the woody stems while drying.
So i remove the leaves while they are fresh and dry then in a covered location...
DO NOT PLACE THEM IN THE SUN, the same thing happens).
there are various ways to "extract" the flavors, but leave that to a chemist (yea, like me) to get it done and each herb is different.

Cleaning:

I am weeding all the time, even after the soil is barren.  Weeds take nutrients and moisture from your plants.  Placing hay over your soil for the winter is okay, but i like the idea of planting clover instead,
tho i have not done this yet.

Winter, is of course a difficult time for me, especially when the garden is filled with 3 feet of dirty snow and i enjoy what ever i have been able to preserve for the months i can't get in there.



it seems i can't

The song that had been so pervasive in my life is hiding for a while...
i am not worried...
i have a lot going on, most very good and it keeps me very occupied.
so while i still cook and create or adapt recipes
and while i look and enjoy the wonders and beauties that are here to see,
they are the pulling me where i would like to be.
Yet i am not quite.
There will be a post soon,
one that i started, but have not completed regarding a mixture of things...
all of the have to do how i live and garden and harvest and cook.
It is coming but it is not done yet.
So then this is just a post to let you know i am okay

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

so...what happened?

careful, i wish to choose my words,
for to use the wrong ones,
would make everything sound flippant.
I was careful,
seeking,
searching,
meditating,
praying.
Answers did not come tumbling out of the sky,
but formed deep with in my soul.
I had been complaining....
every pain,
every problem,
every struggle,
seem so insurmountable
and i did want to give up,
but that could not happen.
I was looking so hard at the struggles,
that every sway,
every mistake.
every pain,
became a vast ocean,
for me to drown my self in.
I manage to forget the good,
by dwelling on the bad.
My physical issues,
have not changed,
my vision issues,
have not changed,
my memory issues have not changed,
but i have
and all those issues are lessened by an incredible degree.
So for this part of my adventure,
i am at peace again.

Monday, August 29, 2016

waking

The sun's tendrils of light have just reached the sky
and i open my eyes.
There is the normal confusion of sight,
with too many images occurring at once,
but it no longer bothers me.
i and wiping away the last vestige,
of darkness and dreams from my mind.
Persons from the past,
now long gone,
visit me
and many times i wonder...
What would have been,
if this and so were not so
and we were still together?
These are haunting dreams which plague us all.
i want to caress those dreams some times,
holding fast to the what ifs,
that can never be.
i am fully awake now,
as i don my glasses,
the ones that bring the unruly images, 
of my disparate vision, together.
The darkness leaves
and the sun shines fully
and those shadows,
which touched my soul, during sleep,
are gone

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Father Gage - Humiliity

STANDINGS
Luke 14:7-14
8/28/16
          “It’s a me, it’s a me, it’s a me Oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer. Not my brother, it’s a me Oh Lord, not my sister, it’s a me Oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer.” A great old song from when as a youth I sang in a gospel quartet.
          Now the truth of the matter is that sometimes, where you sit, sometimes depends upon where you stand.
          Every so often my brother, who is six years older than I, would come to visit. Often as not, when we sat at the dining room table, he would automatically sit at the head of my table, in my chair. He did this with complete grace and aplomb, assuming the position of host and dominant personage. Being kind and charitable, I didn't let this bother me much, but have from time to time I considered putting Ipecac in his coffee or loosening the legs of the chair. My brother-in-law has also taken the chair at the head of the table and assumed the role of host. Even though he is bigger than I, I have somehow managed to convey to him that since I pay the mortgage, the head chair belongs to me.
          There is a protocol, sometimes spoken and sometimes unspoken, about seating arrangements. Where you sit often defines or reflects your standing in the community or family. Try figuring out where to sit people at a wedding dinner, and you’ll see what I mean. We have gotten fairly casual in society now days, but newspapers still run Miss Manners' columns to help us with protocol, etiquette and seating arrangements.
          Moreover, social scientists have discovered that it is possible to change the dynamics of a group by changing the seating arrangements. Something happens to the flow of conversation, to the pecking order, and to group dynamics. In fact, during the peace negotiations with the Vietcong in the 60's a lot of time was spent negotiating the shape of the table. Like King Arthur's Court, a table was chosen which did not imply a hierarchy of importance among the participants.
          For thousands of years individuals, societies, and cultures have grappled with the problems of the ranking of places of honor at the table based upon standing within the community. Where one sits often depends upon where one stands. This is a basic human dynamic.
          Now many of the parables and stories of Jesus deal with basic human dynamics. This is one of the reasons why the stories were remembered, told and retold. Such is the case with today's Gospel lesson from St. Luke. Luke tells us that on one occasion Jesus dined on the Sabbath at the house of a leader of the Pharisees. When Jesus saw how people were seated He told a parable to the effect that one should not presume to sit at the head of the table, but rather take a lower one so that the host may move him higher. All who exalt themselves shall be humbled and those who humble themselves shall be exalted. Likewise, Jesus continued, when you give a banquet you should invite not only your relatives and friends but also the poor, crippled, lame and blind.
          You and I need to remember that Jesus was a teacher, a rabbi. It was assumed that He would give a teaching in various situations. Seated with the Pharisees, it was appropriate to make comments and to enter into debate. Jesus seizes the occasion to push the implications of the meal. His teaching that those who humble themselves shall be exalted is right out of Proverbs (25:6-7). Proverbs, as you know is part of Wisdom literature, and assumes that common sense observations reflect not only the natural happenings of nature and society but also reflect God's intention. One can sometimes deduce the will of God from common sense observations on life. So it is that Jesus re-presents the saying from Proverbs. But Jesus does not stop there. Rather, He goes on to push the symbolic nature of host, guests and meal and says that the dispossessed should be invited and given the places of friends and relatives.
          Jesus is not dictating economic or social policy. The meal, particularly the Sabbath meal, is a symbol of the heavenly banquet where all will have a place with God at the end of time. Jesus is saying that social standing does not dictate where one will sit with God. Rather God recognizes the humble and those who are shorn of pretense and self-importance. When you and I stand before God in utter vulnerability, utter openness, in utter humility, without pretense, then we are open to God and respond to God appropriately.
          By reaching beyond Wisdom literature's observations of the world, and by standing conventional values and behavior on their head, Jesus is defining how you and I should worship God. Jesus is defining ethical and religious behavior. This in turn defines who Jesus is. Part of the messianic hope is that the blind would see and the lame walk. Jesus is reaching out to man's sick and unadorned condition. He is saying that God asks you and me to join Him in humility. And Jesus, as we know, goes on to be revealed as the messiah by Himself being stripped of all honor and dignity. It is through His degradation on the cross that Jesus is exalted and raised from the dead.
          So by talking about where you and I sit at the table, Jesus defines our proper relationship to one another and to God. Moreover, Jesus goes on to be defined by His own humiliation. 
          In summary, you and I are reminded by today’s lectionary passage from Luke of three things. First of all when we stand before God, our proper stance is one of complete humility. When you and I let it all go, when we say, “it’s me, Oh Lord”, when we stand before the ultimate and eternal power of all existence, our status, our trappings, our social distinctions are really pathetic. I have been present so many times when people have died to know most profoundly that in the last analysis wealth and status don't count. The only viable posture is humility.
          Secondly, when you and I stand before God in humility, then we stand not alone but with others in humility. Yes, we have positions and relationships and pecking orders. But when we realize that they are superficial and don't truly define who we are, then we can stand with the lame, the halt, the poor and the blind. We stand not in contempt, not in condescension, but in humility, which the precondition for love.

          Thirdly, the meal, which defines our lives, which defines our relationship to God, the meal at which you and I sit with Jesus is the meal of the Eucharist. This is the meal, which has been prepared for us by Christ's total dedication, humiliation and sacrifice. It is in the Eucharistic meal that you and I participate in God's presence in the body and blood of Christ. The only stance at the Lord's Table is one of self-surrender and humility. When you and I join with our brothers and sisters in faith and humility, we are privileged and exalted in a new and special way because we receive the love of God, the forgiveness of sins, and the promise of eternal life. “Standing in the need of prayer”, standing in faith and humility, you and I are assured by Christ Jesus of a seat at the table of the communion of saints in God's eternal kingdom. Amen. - Fr. Gage-