Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Planting a late summer garden
Deer-nibbled garden

The fence is abruptly almost done! I'll let Mark share more construction details with you later. But for now, answers to the most important question --- what can you plant in late June after the deer eat your original garden?

Fall crops should, of course, be on the top of your agenda. I went ahead and sprouted some peas (a bit early) and broccoli (a bit late), and will be direct-seeding carrots and kale and lettuce at a later date.

Bean seedling

But I'm not really ready to write off the summer garden, so I filled the rest of my flat up with bush beans, summer squash, and cucumbers. I succession plant all three of these anyway, so this actually isn't particularly late for a second or third planting.

What else am I eying? Strawberries! I've been itching to expand my patch, but was afraid to risk this deer favorite outside a fence. Time to transplant some runners and decide if I want to add a new variety to the patch.

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Maggie also
How to Set a Heart?


"You can do anything you set your heart to." Anna Hess


A set heart strikes the hour, every hour.
When noon, the wooden boy and girl come out
in peasant clothes and dance around.
When they'd dance,
my grandma said to pause.
The long chains with the pine cones at the bottom
must be pulled down even to set the clock.
As the hours pass they pull apart.

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Maggie also
One Year Ago Me

My brother Joey wrote a program to generate a somewhat random picture for the background on Mom's computer that I am currently borrowing. But it just isn't entirely random, and that is part of the fun. For a while it seemed the program was repeating about ten selfies of me, so there are a few flaws in the design. Still, it's pretty cool. Often I look at Mom's computer and notice a picture of me from a file from a year ago, or just a snapshot of whatever from a year ago, or five years ago, but with the same month. Here is the picture I found today.

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Maggie also
Strengthening

This is my time to become a stronger person, regardless of what I am doing specifically!

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Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Eggplant varieties
Baby eggplant

Despite my doom-and-gloom post earlier, there are portions of the garden that look surprisingly good. For example, my eggplants are doing awesome...since they're still in pots right outside our back door.

Potted eggplantI'm currently growing two varieties --- several Black Beauty that I started from seed and one Patio Baby that came as a seedling from Rose Nell. The latter is already blooming and setting fruit, possibly because I gave it a two-gallon pot instead of a one-gallon but more likely because dwarves tend to mature a little faster than full-size plants.

Earlier this week, I braved deer-land and set two Black Beauties out in the garden so they could spread out their roots. I placed one close to the trailer, though, and the other under bird netting. If nothing else, our eggplants should withstand the deer!

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mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Graduated fence to keep rabbits out
Using graduated fencing to keep rabbits out.

We decided to use this graduated 24 inch tall fencing for the bottom layer to keep rabbits from jumping through the bigger holes near the top.

The new plan is to add a 4 foot fence on top of the graduated fence and use 2 foot chicken wire on the very top 6 to 8 feet.

Cutting the job into smaller chunks will cost a little more in material costs but make the stretching of the fence easier on the two of us.

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Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
The deer won
Deer damage

The deer have officially won the war of the early summer garden. It pains me to admit defeat...but the parts of the fencing delay that I could have changed (Mark enjoying six weeks filming with graduate students, a trip of a lifetime to visit his brother out West, Mom coming to visit our new digs, my writing taking precedence over all else), I wouldn't change. And the parts we couldn't change --- health problems, weather  craziness --- well, we obviously have to roll with all that.

Covered beans

Which is not to say that the garden was a complete loss. We ended up eating a lot of broccoli and lettuce, a couple of cucumbers, a few handfuls of peas, and various herbs. But all of the parts that are uncovered are now pretty much kaput.

Red zinnia

I'm disappointed, obviously. But establishment years always have unexpected hurdles to overcome. And our soil is clearly improving, as evidenced by the fact that our plantings suddenly became tasty enough for the deer to eat as soon as our topdressed manure began to sink in.

Meanwhile, I'm singing the gardener's endless refrain: "There's always the next garden in the fall." If I plant now in flats, maybe we will have managed to fence in the garden when the time comes to set out....

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Maggie also
Body At the Juncture of Two Idyllic Openings

When I was in the mental ward for bipolar disorder, age 17, yoga and making paper cranes were two of the things that I did to cope and get out of that hard to be place. That was when I weighed 118 pounds, before the medically induced weight gain took over my body. I had learned the beginnings of yoga from a book a friend of the family gave me. So around age 8 or 10 I taught myself yoga when I didn’t think anyone else knew it or understood it. It was speedy and mostly just to see if I could kink my body into the hard to form poses. I wanted to prove how flexible I was, and that was the main thing I did it for. So maybe it wasn’t really yoga until age 19 when I audited a class with Dolores at Virginia Intermont. That was the introduction to the concepts of yoga, and the idea that concentrating on breathe is important. I was in and out of mental wards 17-21 due to the onset of mental illness. I am sorry that it is true, but the more balanced my moods got, I also got fatter and fatter, until I did not feel comfortable with what body I found myself in. So by 21, the yoga aspect disappeared, and I quit yoga, and barely swam, which is one of my important things that I do for my whole health, mental and physical. Thank God, the illness did not completely take away my body or my mobility and flexibility.

Around age 29 I took a required gym class, Intermediate and Advanced Swimming. It was the course I chose among a nice list of possibilities from Yoga to Camping and Hiking. I am fortunate for the privilege that my education offered me. I had swum now and then between 21 and 29, but at 29 some things occurred to me. Not everybody even knows how to swim, so I am gifted in a way in terms of the fact that my strokes are pretty well formed and my speed could almost meet the average of my female classmates. My friends and classmates told me they were impressed and surprised by my swimming. So at least that semester, I felt stronger and more active in my body. I felt more able and vibrant in my abilities. A couple semesters later, I took walking for fitness the same semester that my old faithful car broke down and I ended up trading the car in for money ultimately because it was a drain on my finances and I knew I could just walk. At that point, I walked an hour in class three days a week, which was a lot for me, a 330 pound woman. Plus now, I was walking to school and sometimes even home, which totaled up to 4 miles each way! My feet were hurting some. I felt I had done something stupid selling the car at first. But by the end of the semester, which was my last semester of college, I did not regret it anymore. I had done it! I was 30, it was 2012. I started college in 2000, then immediately got ill. This was a true accomplishment academically, but also, my body was at a momentous place in life because I was forcing myself to walk so much.

I moved home to Tennessee, and due to the fact I had a family car, I kind of stagnated a little in terms of walking so much. In these 5 years, I have had a lot of time at the pool, thank goodness, and have resumed swimming as a healing important necessary aspect of my life. I still walk, and terrifically I have overcome the back pain I had in college. I attribute that back pain I had to “resistance.” I also feel emotionally complete and utter joyfulness. I don’t mean I don’t have passing emotions or that I don’t suffer grief, but my general temperament is just so happy. A big part of that is I have let go of trying to be attached to anything. I am aware my happiness is fleeting. That is the wonderful paradox I know.

Yoga in my present life has not been happening much. I took a few classes with Heather, and I adore her patient approach that she offers students who need not to rush their yoga, who need to work on building strength and resistance. That is where I feel I am at in my yoga. Except for one stumbling block. I can’t afford to pay for yoga. People say yoga is pretty cheap in Bristol, and I agree the people involved try to make it very affordable. Community yoga is only 5 dollars, classes are 10, and due to Heather’s great benevolence, meditation is always free. Still, it is nearly impossible for me to raise 5 dollars a week or even per month to pay for that yoga. I tried the ten dollar class, but due to my low income status from my disability I had to set a limit and not pay that anymore even though I so craved the yoga, and got so much out of the classes.

Now it happens that I am reading a wonderful book called Swimming with Elephants that deals with the fact that mentally ill people are healers the fact that it can be a very dangerous approach to ask people money for their healing. Also, recently, I saw a documentary, The Last Shaman, that covered a similar subject. How rare it is to find a shaman who is not trying to make money off of their gift. And some of the shamans and healers and yoga instructors are just doing their best. Many of them are. They are doing everything in their power to spread their love of yoga while somehow making ends meet for themselves. Plus some people are super glad to give their money for a yoga class, for some people, because they do have a little extra money, they are happy to share their wealth and think yoga classes are the absolute best thing they can give their money to.

Also, right now, due to my joy, and my current state of being so well, it happens that I recognize in myself that I am “having an opening.” My response to that is I have to change something. It started where I thought I might get a job. Then I firmly decreed not to just get some job. Then I found a very idyllic Quaker role in Boston that made me turn around and apply to the Quaker job, despite my decree, or rather, due to the fact that this was not just “some job” but a wonderful job in the case that they want me. I have yet to know whether they do or not.

Meanwhile, I was sitting on the front porch reflecting and I pretty much had a clearness committee for myself. I came to a very deep honest place and made a decision, recognizing that if I do not get the job, I will still be in a personal place of OPENING. So if I don’t get the job, I want to have a plan to really do something to use my gifts and talents and strengths to make the world better in some way. That is the goal for the opening. Then I looked at my yoga mat which was sharing the porch there with me waiting for mobility and sun salutations. My yoga mat has a personality and it was talking to me. And it said, “why don’t you get up and do sun salutations by yourself, regardless of all of this money talk? You apparently have all your needs met, so now would be a great time for you to practice your yoga.”

And I want to and will and am excited to listen to the advice of my yoga mat. But first I wanted to write this, because I think the answer for my OPENING has come to me. I want to do the 2020 yoga teacher training at Bristol Yoga if I don’t get the idyllic Boston Quaker job. I think I have a lot to offer as a yoga teacher, that many other people here don’t. For two big examples, I am a large figured woman who could inspire others like me to strengthen, and I am low income and willing to teach for free. Being willing to work for free, I think, is a sign of a truly interested person.

So as I wait to hear back from Boston, I can’t help but to think, what if I took the opening part of my soul and life course and build around myself in Tennessee something as idyllic and helping others as that which I hope to do in Boston. So I could go either way. I don’t know if Boston wants me, and I don’t know if I can raise over 2,000 dollars by 2020 for the yoga teacher training. But I know I am one of these people who commits myself to what I do, and I know I made it through college walking sometimes 12 miles in some days just to make the finish line. And I am pretty sure I can do anything I set my mind to.

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Maggie also
Have You Listened to the Song the Catalpa Tree Sings?

I AM MAGGIE SHAMAN GIRL HEAR ME NOW I AM HEALED TODAY IT HAS NOT ALWAYS BEEN THIS WAY ... i want to shout to the world i am not sick anymore but pharmaceuticals still lock my door PART OF MY LIFE HAS BEEN REELING DOCTORS WHO DON'T REALLY UNDERSTAND HEALING WHO DON'T COMPREHEND HOW THE BRAIN EVEN WORKS AND JUST TRY TO PACIFY ME FROM BEING BERSERKS maybe i need ayahuasca or to drink lithium water what is wrong with me i asked the catalpa tree NOTHING IS WRONG MY GIRL SANG THE CATALPA BURL HUG YOURSELF AND KNOW YOUR START HEAR YOUR ROOTS AND LEAFY PARTS maybe my catalpa tree was right my path to peace was still going i wondered as i walked upon the path that night in tennessee where it was snowing TIME PASSED ON I FOUND SUCH PEACE AND HAPPINESS NO MORE TROUBLED BY MENTAL DISEASE or so i thought but i could not help but wonder if the stillness would also pass like thunder THINGS HAPPENED TO UPSET MY DAYS MY DOG GOT BIT ANOTHER PERSON WAS A JERK YET I RETAINED A PEACEFULNESS i can wonder what is the source of my inner calm is it these medicines i take either way it is not fake ... WHEN I REALIZE ALL THE CRAZIES COULD BE SHAMANS THEN I FEEL A LITTLE LAZY slowly my family members ask for ears i listen hard to them talking about their lives FIRST MY MOTHER TELLING ME ABOUT HER TROUBLES THEN MY SISTER, AND MY OWN PAPA now i know that healing others can be ask simple as what i already offer

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Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Heat pump water heater review
Heat pump water heater drainage
"Hi guys. Just curious if you could do an update on the hot water heater you got for your new place. I'm curious how it's done over the winter vs. summer. Still glad you bought vs. a standard electric?" --- Jason


I'd been meaning to post an update --- thanks for the reminder!

For summer use, I love our heat-pump water heater. It operates as an air conditioner and dehumidifier while also heating water using much less electricity than a traditional hot water heater. We haven't plumbed the drain pipe to the outdoors yet, so I also end up with about two gallons of water to use in the garden every week --- bonus!

On the other hand, we chose to keep the unit in electric mode over the winter so we wouldn't chill down our living quarters. The particular brand we bought automatically turns to heat-pump mode after 48 hours, which meant every two days I had to push a button or end up with a cold room. So, a minor downside...but not enough to decide against the model. (Placed in an unused basement or close to an overachieving wood stove, you could likely leave it in heat-pump mode all year.)

Similarly, the noise factor might be a problem for some of you. I'd say it's as loud as a window air conditioner, which I actually found soothed me to sleep at night. (We generally only use hot water in the evening to do dishes and bathe, after which the water heater runs for around two hours to refresh itself.) For me, this was a surprising plus rather than a minus, but your mileage may vary.

The final factor is energy efficiency...and here I have to trust the manufacturers that the unit is dramatically more efficient than a traditional model. Our electric bill has been lower than expected this summer, despite running the minisplit to cool our living space quite a bit more than we ran an air conditioner back in our old place. But we also haven't plugged in any chest freezers, so it's hard to know where the savings came from.

Overall --- yes, I would totally buy another heat pump water heater. Whether I recommend it to others depends on their house layout and how they feel about moderate levels of noise.

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Maggie also
Watching "Walk with Me" about Thich Nhat Hanh in Bristol, TN

Just before going to the wonderful viewing of "Walk with Me" at Bristol Yoga (because of the wonderful Heather) I realized that my current totem animal is a firefly (or lightening bug which is the same thing.)

I invited Mom and was so glad that she enjoyed the film so much, remarking "that is the most interesting thing that's ever happened in Bristol" and "isn't Heather lovely?!" Yes! Indeed!

I was feeling deep emotions off and on through the movie. They made me periodically well up with tears. Not that they were always correlating to what happened on the screen, though sometimes.

In an opening scene, the monks are walking through the woods, and before I see the monks contemplatively walking there, I notice the noises of the forest. Birds are singing loudly and melodiously.

When the monks enter, their walking seems to bring this real peace to everything, lowering the noise of the forest by degrees. Not in terms of scaring away wildlife, but stilling all of the bustle by magic.

The film follows a year of the life of the people at Plum Village in France, where Thich Nhat Hanh has spent much time since his initial political exile from Vietnam in 1966 for peace raising.

Though there is narration by Benedict Cumberbatch, it is like a guided meditation in itself, in that you get lots of time to think your own ideas and draw your own conclusions, or just be silent.

Even during the movie, I am thinking of myself as a firefly. We all have a brightness of eyes that comes and goes, and I think my firefly spirit is connected with my feeling of hopefulness.

I am having a great joyfulness, like Thich experienced, as he wrote in his journal in 1966, as Cumberbatch narrated. My joy too comes with awareness that suffering and change are inevitable.

We do not fight them. There is this beautiful moment when a little girl asks Thich how to overcome the death of her best friend, her dog. His answer, about the cloud, holds the greatest truth I have heard.

I'll let you check it out for yourself though.

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Maggie also
Stronger


You can leave yourself behind
bleak in the hands of a stranger
stuck without an exit
in a bus stop, isolated, Maine.


I know
I have swum in the rip tide there
where the sharks circle in pods
along the shoreline, only way the land.


But this is the whisper
of a different man who helped me
another stranger on the train I took
who sat there with me about one hour.


Then the stranger on the train
got up and left me there
just to sit a while with myself
and remember I am strong.


I can push myself through the sharks
I'll disguise myself, a fin
I'll kick the tide with all my might
till I'm safe on the sand again.


The whisper of that friend
who helped me find my fight
is what I hope that I can spread
in the night, a firefly.

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Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Wildlife crossing
Turkey family

Can you see the baby turkeys in the photo above? I took this picture at the furthest extent of my camera's zoom, but maybe the image below will help see that the entire family was literally strolling down the road right by our place.

Baby turkeysI don't mind the turkeys, but the deer are getting voracious as we slowly work in fence-building episodes around our various other commitments. While I regret the repeated losses, I can now answer my own question quite easily. Yes, deer love asparagus and cucumbers and raspberries and pretty much everything else imaginable. Hopefully our fall garden will be fully fenced and fully safe.

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Maggie also
Why I Hate White Lies and Find them Unkind

How to Respect Me: When Saying No is Kindness

I am tired of writing half truths, squeezed by the political constraints of an overly conscious concern for the sensitivity of others. I am not angry about this. It is just the facts of life. I have been afraid of stepping on toes, but in this book, my intention is to get to the bottom of things.

Brene Brown says saying setting boundaries is an act of compassion. She is entirely right, but there is a side of the subject that I am not sure if she is considering. When people say yes to everything, or are afraid to tell other people the honest truth, it is a symptom of disrespect. It shows the people who are being pandered to that the ones who won’t say no do not trust them enough to be honest.

I know these things take effort. I used to hear a lot that every time a certain relative of mine said no or told the truth to me it came back to haunt her, I got angry or acted really hurt.

But here is my side of the story. I got diagnosed with a mental illness when I turned 17. My family stayed there for me, but they said the me they had known so well left the seen for a long time. When your family member is in the full blows of a psychotic episode, I will not blame you for any self help you are doing for yourself. If that means hanging out with other family members away from the mentally ill person and telling insulting jokes, all the more power to you, if it helps you cope. But when your loved one or family member has been level on their medications for a while, when they have been out of the hospital at least a year, and maybe are in school once again or holding a job or trying to be a creative writer, or even if they just watch a lot of TV, but they are not back peddling, when your loved one has been level for a while, you need to try to grow up a little yourself. Part of that is telling the truth and another part of that is saying no. Here are some examples of being truthful, which I am saying is kinder than white lies:

I just talk to you because I am afraid you’ll kill yourself. The truth is I am just hanging out with you because of the obligation of our parents being old time friends. No, I don’t want to invite you out there with my friends because you might ruin it for me. Just no. No, I don’t want to drive you there because I think it would not be fun for me. The truth is I need counseling myself now, and I attribute it to you.

You know, writing those examples of what might be said actually reminds me words I either have heard at least once or in some cases, that I imagine might still be true. For example, in the beginning, many of my loved ones either gave me attention or completely ignored me due to thinking I was suicidal. As it turned out, I just had other severe mental symptoms. I have always had a very strong life flame. But almost everyone I know, except for most of the ones who have had their own mental breakdowns or suicide attempts said that to me.

People are so peculiar because it is so easy for us humans to shut down our caring parts or hike them all the way up (which leads to burn out) when suicide is mentioned. So when folks heard I had spent my first week of college in the psych ward, they jumped to the suicide conclusion. I totally agree that it is terrible to have a loved one go in to the psych ward, or like so many of my peers in there, attempt suicide, but I can’t rewind and hold your loving hand every time mid sentence or mid paragraph. I am still trying to get my deepest truth out on this subject.

So then there is hanging out with someone out of obligation. If you are doing it out of kindness and obligation and they are kind of mixed together, that is one thing, and that seems fine. But when it just is obligation, it really starts to get cruel. There are other people there and they keep asking, so how do you know Wilma and Hagar? You’re like, well, no one else is being asked that. Why ask me that? And the other people are like everyone else is just kicking back and having a better time than you. You’re like shit, why did I car pool here.

Actually that is the next issue in the list. Don’t give people lifts places if you don’t really want to. Now, that question is a great reason to go to therapy yourself. For example, how do you know if you want to take someone nine hours away for a week on a family vacation where they could just chill or they could be a screaming jerk the whole time? I mean you probably like them well enough, but they are kind of unpredictable. Well, to answer that wonderful question I imagine you might be asking, say no if you have a lot of doubts.

From my perspective, I don’t have as much money as my family members and part of it is due to my disabling mental illness. Part of it is I am settled and content to not work and to just live off of my pittance check. It might be hard to tell someone no when you consider their circumstances. But if you really want to you should.

Then there is the thing about people blaming folks like me for their need to attend counseling, and that is totally a jerk response. It also is not true. When people grow up in the same family, all of us humans, we all can get mental illness, and most of us do. You don’t see me blaming you for my needing counseling do you?

It really sounds like I am pretty worked up, but I am just trying to be honest. I think many of the people in this world have mental illness and we all need eachother’s help with it, and one thing I can give is truth.

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Maggie also
How to Heal Thyself of Killer Back Pain

I read a lot of self help books, and they are a jumble in my minds sometimes. So I can't tell you with certainty which one it was that said to me that resistance is the main source of back pain. Resistance, huh? I heard it, and I immediately recognized a truth in the blaming resistance, but it seemed like somebody who just has it easy telling me I would be pain free if I just had it easy. How am I supposed to alleviate the resistance? I wondered. And largely, I went ahead with my life, not changing the resistance directly or knowingly because I didn't know or understand what it was, where it was located, or how I could change it.

Needless to say, back then, my back pain was pretty awful. It was dull and I could still do things, but it just hurt so bad to climb a hill or go on a hike. I felt miserable thinking that if I felt this bad at 33 I had only negative times ahead. But there were a lot of positive things I was involving myself with over these couple years of healing. And though correlation is hard to prove causation, and I was regularly swimming and walking dogs, I am certain the reason my back pain disappeared almost instantly, was due to the self help books I was reading. (Kelly McGonigal, Brene Brown, Tara Brach, so on)

When I look at the disappearance of my back pain, I realize what really was going on was quite psychological, though not entirely. The pain was real. But why did I have pain? I really think I had pain largely due to the fact I felt a lack of self worth and guilt around my declining mobility of my early adulthood, as opposed to my late adolescence. So I found that I was not able to do much like I used to do, my capabilities had so dropped and I felt guilt because I was no longer doing as many useful things, like serious exercise for example. But with the self help books, somehow, I realized the way out of guilt is miraculously to let in to the very thing that makes you guilty. Hear that again. If overeating is your thing that troubles you, over eat a little more, but drop the self hate around the eating. If porn is your passion. Surf that porn thing, but do it without shame. So I started passionately being lazy. My new "thing" became relaxing on the front porch and watching the world change.

And then the worry that I was insufficient, and the fear that I might be lazy, and the guilt that nothing I did was constructive faded in a flash. Like a dramatic shift between night and day, my back stopped hurting. And then, ironically, yes indeed, I stopped sitting so often. And I got up a little more. And I became a little more active. And all the while, my back still felt so good.

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mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Brace post tension
Ratchet fence tension wire close up.

Why were we using T posts in some areas of our new garden fence?

To save a little money in spots where a 4x4 might be over doing it.

We elected to use the above ratchet device to keep the brace posts tight.

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Maggie also
Turning Chlorine into Salt

Everyone seems to have an opinion lately on suicide. As a friend pointed out, many of these people look away on a daily basis regarding mental illness. Personally I think we all struggle these days, but it definitely is more extreme for some of us, like me. But it is so layered and complicated, even that statement, because I am not just an ill person, I am someone who meditates regularly, complies with treatment protocol, and quite often am happy. I am no one thing, happy or sat, sick or well. I am all of these things. And in that is the human condition. It is all of us. I happen to speak out regularly about my illness, but I firmly am convinced I will never kill myself. I think the ones who are most vulnerable of that are the ones who never admit mental illness or reach for help.

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Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
House guest
Guest room

Junk pileThere's nothing like an incipent visitor to prompt us to finally unpack the last jumbled pile of untouched boxes from our move. Within a few days, Mark converted the picture on the right to the picture at the top of this post. Then Mom made the journey to give the guest room a purpose.

Tarantula on child

We took surprisingly few pictures even though we had oodles of fun. One major crowd pleaser was the insect talk turned comedy hour at the library. "You don't get out much, do you?" the presenter tossed our way as Mom and I exploded into gales of uncontrollable giggles.

Mound City

We went to the park and the museum and the Indian mound. In fact, I ran her so hard, she lost her shoes.

A huge thank you to everyone who helped make this trip possible --- ferry people Maggie and Tina and Rose Nell and Joey, hosters Sue Ella and Jayne, trip planner Mark, bed snuggler Huckleberry, and most of all thanks to Mom for coming so far to make my week a delight. I hope we can do it again soon!

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mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
T post pounding
Using ear protection when pounding in T posts.

We are using 8 foot long T posts at some of the fence intervals with plans of using 1 and 1/4 inch PVC conduit to slip over the T post to extend the length to 8 feet.

I like using ear protection when using the fence pounder.

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Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Jimsonweed
Jimsonweed flower

Did you know that the common garden weed Jimsonweed was named after the Virginia settlement of Jamestown? The name dates back to 1676 when British soldiers sent to squash Bacon's Rebellion instead ended up enduring an eleven-day hallucinogenic episode due to dining on Jimsonweed leaves.

I'll be pulling these volunteers out shortly, but wanted to enjoy the evening-opening, moth-pollinated flowers first.

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Maggie also
Beach Hoping

It was 2006 when I last went with my family to the beach. Since then I spent a couple moments on Ocracoke on a solo trip in 2012, I think. My family goes every year and it can be a really sore subject for all of us. I hope I can get to the ocean this year. My fingers are crossed.

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Maggie also
My dog is a gardener

My dog is a gardener, a cleaner, industrious licker, a nuzzler, healer. My dog is a runner, a skipper, little hole burrower, nester, nestler. My dog is the size of a football, and easily punted. She comes when I call her, except when she doesn't want to.

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Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Haitian art
Guardians of the night

If you're in the Athens, Ohio, area before the end of September and want a treat, I highly recommend dropping by the Kennedy Museum of Art. Admission is free, and the current exhibit of Haitian art is not to be missed.

Bird shadows

Mom came to visit for a few days, and we spent our first morning in the exhibit formally titled "A Sudden Garden." I think we all ended up walking out of that space feeling like we really had strolled through a peaceful and at the same time inspiring garden deep in the heart of Haiti.

Haitian village

Painting closeup
We each picked a painting that we could have liked to take home. Mine is the first one in this post, while Mark preferred this village scene --- so much more intricate and fascinating up close!

Haitian fowl

Oh, and to make this post vaguely homesteading-related, here are some Haitian fowl to round it all out.

Posted
mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Fence brace post fastening
Securing a brace post with a 10 inch nail and drill bit.

The second part of securing our brace posts was to drive a 10 inch nail in after drilling a hole the full length of the nail.

We decided that one nail was enough for each side of the brace.

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Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Uses for half-composted horse manure
Green tomatoes

How do you use up an entire truckload of partially composted manure in a couple of hours? Start out by topdressing --- applying bands of compost just far enough away from plants so the high-nitrogen effluent won't burn the roots.

Topdressing asparagus

I put the manure on top of mulch near sensitive plants like asparagus and underneath the mulch near hungry plants like tomatoes. On top of mulch is safer but slower since manure juices will take a while to leach through the straw and into the soil. Be sure to stay at least three to four inches away from plant stems either way.

Lasagna garden

Next, I spread an inch or two of manure onto each fallow garden bed (on the right in the photo above). Worms and cats will mix the manure in, resulting in rich, ready soil in about a month. Similarly, the entirely new bed I created (on the left in the photo above) will be ready to plant into by early to mid July.

Young butternut plants

The only real question left is --- can I have a little more please?

Posted
Maggie also
Hemmorhoids and the Human Condition

Contents may embarrass the weak of stomach.

Last night, between long dreams, I wonder if this pain in my rectum could be cancer. It's interesting how when I have constipation, anxiety is high, just as diarrhea makes me exhausted. These are just some subjects I might run by a therapist or my Mother. But, I tell myself, I must not burden Mom with these matters, even if it is the worst possible thing. I owe my sister Anna unobstructed "use" of my Mother since after all Anna lives far from Mom and I usually "get" her whenever I want.

Interesting is the plight of dogs. And too, their bowel movements. Sometimes so in sync with their humans.

The reason cancer came up, I think, is because two neighbors suffered that horrible type of cancer. One survived. One died. But me, usually a person to fight for my life against all costs, lay in bed considering myself a goner, because I know I am not willing to undergo cancer treatment, due to what suffering it costs people. It is a peculiar glitch in my general belief system. So pro me living, usually.

Meanwhile, little sympathetic Brazen quit eating her kibbles and only pooped a little on her morning walk.

Skip ahead to the happy part. I've talked to the doctor, my tireless sister, Dani, who compassionately answered my questions that I had lost drive to utter, and in the process convinced me that what I feel is just hemorrhoids, not easy but not going to cause my ultimate demise. Skip most of tonight's dog walk, where Tobin went deeper into the woods of the cemetery, and I had to go to extreme measures to extract him. Skip Brazen's not pooping (because she is refusing food since Mom is gone.)

Snap off the last broccoli plant. Early transparent apples are landing in the yard. Pick them up in hands almost too small. Now take outside the dog food on to the front porch where munching is done of human and dog food for Brazen.

Something occurs when there is someone present to make happy (little dog) that makes everything worth the fight again.

Posted
mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Easy2Start?
Stihl easy pull

We decided to upgrade to a Stihl MS 181 with the Easy2Start feature.

There is a lot of large trees that were cut down to make room for the mobile home and power line and the plan is to build a wood shed and start cutting it into firewood.

The Easy2Start feature has a little learning curve but once you figure it out it is actually easy.

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Joey
the single most important criteria when replacing Github

I could write a lot of things about the Github acquisition by Microsoft. About Github's embrace and extend of git, and how it passed unnoticed by people who now fear the same thing now that Microsoft is in the picture. About the stultifying effects of Github's centralization, and its retardant effect on general innovation in spaces around git and software development infrastructure.

Instead I'd rather highlight one simple criteria you can consider when you are evaluating any git hosting service, whether it's Gitlab or something self-hosted, or federated, or P2P[1], or whatever:

Consider all the data that's used to provide the value-added features on top of git. Issue tracking, wikis, notes in commits, lists of forks, pull requests, access controls, hooks, other configuration, etc.
Is that data stored in a git repository?

Github avoids doing that and there's a good reason why: By keeping this data in their own database, they lock you into the service. Consider if Github issues had been stored in a git repository next to the code. Anyone could quickly and easily clone the issue data, consume it, write alternative issue tracking interfaces, which then start accepting git pushes of issue updates and syncing all around. That would have quickly became the de-facto distributed issue tracking data format.

Instead, Github stuck it in a database, with a rate-limited API, and while this probably had as much to do with expediency, and a certain centralized mindset, as intentional lock-in at first, it's now become such good lock-in that Microsoft felt Github was worth $7 billion.

So, if whatever thing you're looking at instead of Github doesn't do this, it's at worst hoping to emulate that, or at best it's neglecting an opportunity to get us out of the trap we now find ourselves in.


[1] Although in the case of a P2P system which uses a distributed data structure, that can have many of the same benefits as using git. So, git-ssb, which stores issues etc as ssb messages, is just as good, for example.

Posted
Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
New manure source
Shoveling horse manure

Oh, glorious horse manure! Free for the shoveling at the fairgrounds, we stocked up on a truckload of moderately aged (but still hot) organic matter.

Fairgrounds

Like most stables nowadays, the fairgrounds beds with sawdust (back pile) rather than with straw. And even though that means the combo composts a little slower, I have a feeling we'll be happy with the results.

Horse manure loading

Mark's already happy with the way the pile has been pushed back against a wall so you can stand on the pile or the tailgate and shovel horizontally rather than tossing it up into the truck bed. We filled up the truck in half an hour and I'd used every bit of the organic matter by 1:30 pm. More on garden applications in a later post.

Posted
Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Busman's holiday
Sugar snap peas

We woke up Friday morning to rain on the forecast and all of my writing work done by 10 am. "Let's go to visit Mom," Mark suggested. I was glad to agree because I knew my mothers-in-law would have stocked up on ways to spoil me.

Mushroom compost

What's the key to my heart? Lots of chocolate...and getting to play in mushroom compost all afternoon. Last time we visited, a truckload of the latter had recently been delivered, and I got to spread some in their garden patch. The manure-rich soil amendment was dark enough to make me jealous, far better than any purchased compost we'd ever bought.

Early June garden

Of course the proof is in the pudding --- how do vegetables look several weeks later planted in that mushroom compost? The answer --- beautiful and healthy! No wonder I got so much joy out of spreading the rest of the pile in another garden spot Friday afternoon.

Gummy peach

I also dropped by the peach trees I'd adopted and thinned out touching fruits. There was quite a lot of insect damage, plainly visible from the gummy secretions the plants create where the bugs have bored inside. I tried to pick off damaged fruits if at all possible, but ended up leaving some so as not to denude the tree.

It's your peaches' turn next, Lynda. Let me know if you want me to thin your crop!

Posted
mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Room within a room
EZ privacy bed curtain system.

The EZ privacy bed curtain is a good way of creating a room within a room.

I had to cut a few of the pipes to make it fit in our low ceiling mobile home but installation is easy and only took about 30 minutes. No impact on the walls or ceiling due to the way the pipes expand to snug up against the floor and ceiling.

It blocks most of the light and helps Anna to sleep in a little past the crack of dawn.

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Maggie also
Adrift: Reviewing Shailene Woodley the Heroic Actress

First it takes an a woman on the front lines, an activist in the Dakota Access Pipeline defending sacred Indian land and water itself. She comes into my mental view and I like what I see, a mixture of a courageous international traveler vagabond chick from college I know, myself, and every woman who has ever had to lift her voice up above what limits she knew she had to say something important, because somebody's life depends on it. Shailene is an incredible person because she is a climate activist. Maybe feminism is a word too old for her, and that's okay, because Shailene has something about her that is special and worth listening to. It is why I went into that giant thunderstorm with her on a big scary boat (on the big screen) because I respect and admire this actress more than any I have ever seen. I have a weird feeling I might meet her someday. I guess that is one good motivation or incentive to be or become a climate activist ASAP. I can't say much more because I don't want to possibly give anything away. But in Adrift, Shailene's acting makes the story completely believable. I hope all of my readers get to see it too.

Posted
Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Cake decorating
Cake decorators

Carrot cakeMark's first attempt at cake decorating came out very well. If he was going to do it over, though, he says he would have filled the icing bag all the way for optimal control.

Posted
Maggie also
Listening Inward for Advise

Yesterday I wrote 10 friends asking them for insights on my current question. "...I am realizing that starting and keeping a new job is a major life transition for me. I want to make sure I am equipped because starting a job just to quit it is a bummer to experience. It is really easy to talk myself out of working because I am super happy not working." The rising need for discernment came from recently hearing I am probably hired for a great sounding job where I would mentor children part time in the city where I live.

At the end of my time in Berea I was given this beautiful pot (artist Jeff Inge) which I immediately dropped. I took a photo to capture the beauty it still had, which I was desperate to commemorate. At that time Roger made the amazing offer to me to glue the pieces together, a rare custom with some Japanese word to refer to it. But I declined because that beauty in that photo meant so much to me, and in my eyes the pot was better somehow in this new form, a new art, not an attempt of catching what was inevitably impermanent.

This morning I got a response from my grown nephew with this beautiful question: "What does it mean, why is it important to find the power within to commit to an action?" My sister, the mother of the nephew who said that, also said something that hit to the heart of the matter: "Maybe having a job is overrated? What's wrong with being super happy?" Once I had read both advices, I started to formulate my own decision. I still am not done yet though because I need to factor in the realistic issue of money and financial needs that is a hard question to figure out. Do I need to make my own economic safety net like everyone else or will it all continue just falling into place like magic?

I Don't Know!! But I do know I AM BROKEN like this beautiful pot. I am disabled in a way that my working escalates my nervous issues and deteriorates my mental health. I am a work of art. But I am NOT Kintsugi, this Japanese piece of brilliance, I am Maggie Hess, poet and muse instead. What I need to do right now, I think, is to turn down yet another job, to invest more focused effort and COMMITMENT into my goal: to create a children's book of Hojoki (see blog post 1 in January.) My commitment doesn't have to start tomorrow on some job, no matter how good. It can still be to follow my dream!

<3 <3 <3 <3

Thank you for reading! Comments viewed with adoration!

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Maggie also
Antarctica Photography Talk Scheduled!

I am over the moon because my life mentor, friend, and teacher Libby Falk Jones and her geeky, creative husband Roger Jones are visiting ME in October. A world traveler, Libby stored moments from their time in Antarctica on amazing photographs she took in a recent trip. She will be presenting them at the Bristol Library October 2. Time TBA.

Posted
Maggie also
Know Thyself

Mrs. Callison was my high school English teacher, and might have actually ended up planting the seed in me to get through college. She was a short, outspoken lady, as old as my own mother, in the decade before her retirement. She intimidated many of my peers, saying she carried a green bean can in her purse, to weigh it down for protection. Then she'd "thwack" it onto the desk or table and the whole class would jump, laughing with her, but still shocked by her way of being larger than life.

I once found an old journal that seemed to say I didn't actually want to go away to college. But it ended up being what I was determined to do. In high school, my diary entry said "I wouldn't mind living at home my whole life with a row of children nursing on my teats like puppies." The heart of my expression seemed about not wanting to go away and explore, and college was at the core of my thoughts that era. It was assumed I would go. It's funny how, the turning point for our mental processes often can be something someone says to us that we take to heart.

What Mrs. Callison said was a good reason to go to school away changed my whole opinion. She said we grow up the person our community and family expect us to be. Going to college, according to Mrs. C. is a place to become who we really are and it's interesting because for so many that's the only way to know what that will be. So I wondered, was I more than the daughter of Adrianne and Errol and the little sister of Anna, Joey, Jay, and Dani? I knew I was independent and my own person, but it was the craving to know exactly who I was that kept me trying and trying, 12 years for a degree.

Posted
Maggie also
The First Step Towards Violence

"When you identify a group as being insidious, as being less than normal, then this is the first stepping stone towards violence." Omer Bartov quoted in Brown Alumni Magazine regarding the Holocaust and current events.

Posted
Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Ohio deer can read
Deer damage

Or at least that's the only reasoning I can come up with to explain months without deer depredations then major munching the night after I made this post.

I remind myself that year one in a new property is all about infrastructure-building and learning the new lay of the land. But it still hurts when those darn four-leggers nibble on my precious plants.

Posted
Maggie also
"I’d like to turn some NPR programs into a car" Larry Yates


They veer left and right, the cast is insane,
Wait Wait Don't Tell Me is rolling down the lane.
I'll cash in the program for a new window pane.
And then it's true, I might complain, again and again,
but I will be mobile and not stuck on this train.
This man with his loud NPR, but should I complain?
Of course I got stuck sitting next to this drain!
And his ticket and mine are both headed to Spain,
and we have ten more hours of this terrible pain.


What's that, the man is getting up
to change seats with a woman with a little black pup.
She settles down when she is able.
Oh no! I hear her podcast of "Splendid Table."


Conductor, conductor!


Let me off here!
I'd like to turn these NPR
programs in for a car!

Posted
Maggie also
Three Hours and 70 Cents Later: Riding the Bus in Bristol, Tennessee

When the brakes broke, Mom wondered if she would need to cancel her doctor's appointment 30 minutes across town, but I assured here she could take the bus. I had told her about the bus possibility, and what she would need to do to go that way, but as the hour neared in our mental window, I decided to not make her go alone her first time riding the bus (in my memory at least.)

We decided to walk downtown to the bus stop, though we could have caught a ride in front of our home about the same starting time and still arrived on time. As we meandered down State Street, we did our best at identifying the new trees that line the side walk. Easier said than done for some, but we counted 3 ginkgoes to replace the three the city chopped down.

Some of our homeless friends seem missing. We wonder where they are. Have they magically found places to live? Were they exiled elsewhere, inner city refugees?

At the station we got a more up to date map for our keeps. So the Mall is now the Pinnacle and Cabella and Kmart is now another Walmart?

On the ride over to Mom's appointment near the hospital, Mom was cheery, commenting that the bus might be cheaper than driving for this particular route. (The Virginia side is an exorbitant extra 30 cents, for seniors and disabled people for a similar trip.)

Just before going homeward, Mom had a sad thing happen where removing a terribly sticky band aid gave her a bruise. Also all we had eaten were awfully stale walnuts

I kind of want to just use the bus instead of car for most things. But Mom did get tired.

Posted
Maggie also
Reasons to Take Notes

It is my belief that to truly understand a person, they have to talk about their worst time. It is complicated, for me to do that personally, because my saddest memories stretched out for years at a time. It is hard because I admit my memories are a perspective of warped mirrors, psychotic thinking, and psychotropic medications. For a long time, I stopped making written records coinciding with my worst time, and one of the journals I had, inside the psychiatric ward of a hospital in Washington, DC, was taken up by hospital staff upon my leaving.

Part of the substance of what I am digging into, in looking back at my worst time, is I am considering those bleak moments as worthwhile for something, like building my endurance for suffering and ultimately making me into a more resilient person. When I look back at the worst time and hold it next to the present moment, I feel entirely better, moods leveled, psychosis gone, happiness present, confidence improved. More-so, I feel I now process things at an improved level from what I ever could have if the worst time had not become my life.

That time was such a transition for me, I changed so much, so suddenly. Family members refer to the fact I became a different person over night. I suffered through reacting to their mourning for who I had been, but deep in me, I also was suffering my mourning that same change. Part of it was on the surface, I gained 90 pounds the first year, and kept putting on weight. My body performed in ways I should not expose, that would make a weak stomach gag. I was lethargic, and this was a huge change for me, after an active life that far. My menstruation changed drastically from the ordinary flow of my younger years, to eventually being very light.

I experienced grief around these changes in my body. My mind thought a lot about the physical weight gain, which in itself was a mental weight gain of sort. Family members who I lived with discouraged me in choices they were making and I was often very bitter feeling towards them. I didn’t think I would ever be the same, or happy again. Interestingly, I never was the exact same again, but I have learned to be happy.

I guess what is happening here is I am sorry for the lost record of those bleak moments. I know there are pictures across time, actual photos of different phases of smiles and attempts at looking normal while suffering. I wish I had kept a diary my whole life.

Posted
mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Sika foam fence post new update
Sika post foam update comparing to concrete.

After setting a few more posts with foam I decided to switch to concrete.

The problem I had was weighing in my hands how much was only half to pour in the first hole while it was beginning the expansion.

I kept putting in too much in the first hole which would not leave enough for the second hole.

Posted
Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Wet post holes
Watery post hole

One downside of the non-concrete fence-post mix is that it reacts violently with water. So the manufacturers recommend either backfilling the hole or sopping up any visible liquid before application.

How does that affect us? Immediately after auger day, it set in to rain and continued until the holes all filled up with groundwater. So far, the animals are mostly leaving us alone, but we're hoping the weather will let us get more posts in this week before deer find our crops.

In the meantime, if you have four legs and are reading this post --- I hear the neighbors down the road are planting strawberries. Go there!

Posted
mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Eggplant plans
Potted up eggplant.

It's been a long time since we've tried growing eggplant.

We are leaving them in pots a little longer so they will be strong enough to fight off their insect predator.

Posted
Maggie also
Why we Dream by Mathew Walker

I always have wondered about the science of dreaming. Psychology always seems for me to be hit and miss findings based on guess work. But if it gets the scientist to knowing what people are dreaming, that is pretty incredible.

Why do people shortly dwell in psychosis at night, floating around in an imaginary world, and then wake up to forget large parts of what happened in our dreams? By placing people in brain scanning machines, scientists have examined people as they dream. Four key regions of the brain, the visiospacial section, motor cortex, hypocampus, and deep emotional centers of the brain, are 40% more active than during waking hours, while other parts are virtually entirely suppressed, such as the part that governs ordered, rational thought.

Scientists became able to predict the nature of dreams, such as whether it was visual or predominately emotional. But then, 3 participants were placed in an REM scanner during the early stages of their sleep, and examined the results put next to participants reports of what they dreamed about. The scientists became able to predict the participants dreams based on learning how to interpret the MRI machine.

Of course the most incredible part is the answer to the query where do dreams come from?

Is dreaming necessary therapy for life?

Posted
Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Low nitrogen compost
Strawberries and broccoli

A new garden spot always has new challenges. The first real issue popping up for us is compost quality --- the topsoil/manure mixture Nitrogen deficiencyfrom our neighbor was excellent (if a bit weedy), but the municipal compost is clearly low on nitrogen. Slow growth and slightly yellow leaves on heavy feeders while nitrogen-fixing beans grow just fine is a dead giveaway.

Luckily, low nitrogen is an easy fix. This week, my goal is to follow up on a few leads for other compost/manure sources suitable for topdressing. In the meantime, we're gorging on lettuce, are picking the first small broccoli and a smattering of strawberries, and are eying ripening peas.

Posted
mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
3D or not 3D
Solo the movie promotional image.

We saw the new Star Wars movie on Friday and I liked it a lot.

If we had it to do over we would watch the regular version over the 3D option.

There just weren't any moments where I thought I was happy about choosing 3D.

Posted
Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Comfrey salve, step 1
Infusing comfrey oil

I like having comfrey salve on hand for scratches, but I haven't made any since 2012. Why? I made way too much my first time out of the gate! This time, I've resolved to start with no more than a quarter cup of oil, which I hope will last only a year or two instead rather than six.

Step 1: Cut tender young comfrey leaves and pack into a jar. Pour olive oil over top of them and let sit for two to six weeks.

Step 2: Check back in June to see!

Posted
Maggie also
Indian Oyster Mushroom Part II: How Can I be Sure?

I do not recommend eating a wild mushroom unless you really know how to ID it. Personally I am about the most amateur naturalist ever, but I am nearly 100% certain that I identified it right.

First I found a similar kind of mushroom on pages 70 and 72 of Pelle Homberg and Hans Marklund's fieldguide, The Pocket Guide to Wild Mushrooms. My mother actually was the one who found and identified the fungi, but we were not entirely certain, and wanted a professional to look them over. I thought they were angel wings at first, because they were so strikingly white, as opposed to the gray shades of the oyster mushroom. But angel wings have short stripes and are odorless. These mushrooms smelled like fish immediately after having been harvested and possibly on the stump. Another distinguishing feature is where they grow. Angel wings grow on dead conifer wood but oyster mushrooms grow on elm trunks, which happened to be where we found it.

I was the one to notice the picture of the Indian oyster mushrooms are whiter than the oyster mushrooms, and now that I searched it on wikipedia, I am astonished to find the health benefits of this variety! In studies on mice, pleurotus pulmonarius have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and they shrink the growth of cancer tumors, decrease diabetes progression, effectively treat hay fever, and inhibit colon cancer formation with their magic antioxidants!

So instead of gomming about 50 mushrooms, I am going to dehydrate them, and consume them in more measured bits, as medicine.

Posted
mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Entrance greens
Entrance to trailer.

Planting greens so close to our trailer has seemed to work at making them an unsafe choice for local deer passing through our yard.

In the future we want to add a large container in this area to catch water coming off the trailer roof.

Posted
Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Three days of growth
Squash seedlings

I was gone Friday through Sunday at a writing retreat, and the garden exploded both inside and out while I was away.

Ripe strawberry

Ripening...

Heading broccoli

Heading...

Tomato flowers

Flowering...

Potted eggplant and brussels sprouts

Which means it's time to leave the keyboard, weed, and transplant!

Posted
Maggie also
As my Audible books become available

...it sure would be good to have some reviews for my books! No matter who you are, if you write me an email at maggiemargarethess@gmail.com with the subject line "HappyJoy!" or contact me any other way you know how, I will return you with a promotional code that can be used to listen to my book for free, while supplies last. This is the link to my 3 books. I would be thrilled if you could write me a review, no matter what you say. I am intrigued at your words regarding my words, and I am interested to know what you think about the actors I chose to read the books. My books are short, as in under 10 minutes. So grab a cup of coffee or tea, sit back, and enjoy the read. Then be sure to rate my work!

Posted
Maggie also
Working to Work, Vocational Fruitfulness, and Disability Guilt

Growing into activism in my 20's I realized activism is every day, every step. As a person who gets a disability check, I hear harsh reactions from myriad people. I must be lazy because I am not working. I got a degree, clearly I am capable of work, but cheating the system instead. I could go on and on with these comments I have heard, but I have learned to turn the other cheek, focus on something else, and move on.

I spoke with someone who professionally works with developmentally disabled students, and he said ALL of the kids he works with misuse some or all of their disability checks, or rather their parents do or the guardian who manages it. I manage my own money. My disability is mental illness, a whole other can of worms.

The lawyer who helped me get disability told me I am very different from all of her other clients. Her views on most things reflect mine, we both are Quakers, and I wondered why she was so cynical about how so many use their checks.

I am not a perfect person. I have had a bankruptcy. It took me 12 years to complete college, and my supportive family and friends had to endure that. But I don't think it is healthy to presume misuse, when referring to disabled people and our benefits. It is a tangled issue.

I have been using my disability to enjoy peace of mind and to feel the liberty of time, as something I am in charge of, that doesn't own me. I have friends who work all the time and take care of piles of children (all the time) and barely have a second to care for themselves.

My disability is a mental illness called schizoaffective disorder type bipolar. I withdraw when I get over stimulated, which can be from just meeting a new person or doing something new. Or I get really high energy, and my thoughts go wild. Sometimes I am aware of being socially different, other times, I let it go.

Lately, not working, just pursing my life as I do, I have felt more and more well, more and more able to work. But it is the shifts towards new activities, such as working a new job, that throws me off course.

Earlier in my illness I had to be hospitalized for treatment. That was 14 years ago. Now I take medicine and therapy, and am fine. Medical examiners routinely check up on me to make certain I am not cheating the system. They always say I am still disabled.

I do so many things with my life. I feel I am letting my life speak, as Parker Palmer says. I am proud of the works and writing and art and swimming and discussions I have had. I work part time sometimes. I am trying to quit aspiring to work on over-drive and instead enjoy life.

Sometimes I, while keeping busy, just self care for months at a time, like a retired senior citizen would do. There is not a big stigma on grandparents, but so many people seem critical of my kind.

I am one wholesome girl saying not everybody misuses disability income. Also, if you are disabled, I challenge you to let yourself not listen to the critics you will hear. Find happiness in the flow of life and be your own guide!

Posted
Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Long-term garden thinking
Pinching blueberry flowers
Pinching raspberry flowersAs painful as it is, year one in a new garden is all about long-term thinking. So when both the raspberries and the blueberries that we set out this spring developed flower buds...I pinched them off.

The idea is that a new perennial is better off spending its limited energy on roots and leaves rather than on fruits. So no berries from that patch until next year.

The everbearing raspberries we planted last fall, in contrast, have enjoyed a bit more time to get their feet under them. So when they bloom --- probably for the fall crop --- we'll gladly let those flowers grow. Meanwhile last fall's strawberries are already ripening. In the new few days, I expect to pick our first Ohio-grown fruit!
Posted

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