Category Archives: Uncategorized

On Project Turkey and Farming Cooperatives

I am so proud of my friend Ariella as she pursues her vocation/passion as an organic farmer. As I am not a farmer I have great respect for those who are. I have a whole new appreciation for where my organic food comes from. Check her out!

The Nomad Farmer

Project Turkey has begun at Rootdown – a.k.a. the six day-old turkey poults arrived in the mail from the hatchery last Tuesday. They are still cute right now, before they turn into awkward and homely turkeys. A few weeks back Simone and Sarah approached Aurélie and I and asked us if we wanted to take on raising some turkeys, with the idea being we would raise one turkey for each of us. All would share in daily turkey chores, but Aurélie and I would be the ones keeping tabs on what the turkeys needed and when and why. We were definitely into it.

Apparently, however, turkeys are very sensitive to temperature and can die if they get too cold, and there are a few diseases that they are prone to catching that can be fatal. They also need to be shown repeatedly where their food and water is in the…

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No one told me it would be like this

contemplating the universe; most amusing and is something I perfected while hanging  with my giant dog friends

contemplating the universe; most amusing and is something I perfected while hanging with my giant dog friends

Getting old is not for the faint of heart, not for weaklings, not for sissies.  Yeah, we’ve all heard that and it makes sense in an abstract way but I’m here to say that it’s a lot different than what I envisioned and I’m a bit annoyed that no one let on how it would be.

I’ve never avoided birthdays nor have I felt anxious about the usual milestones, 30, 40, 50, all, no big deal.  My experience has always been that every year is better than the those before and it’s increasingly more fun to be me.  Until the big six-oh.

Now, don’t misunderstand.  I”m feeling good, mostly.  I walk several miles a day every day.  I get even more exercise in the winter shovelling snow and snow-shoeing on my walks.  I’m stronger than I was in my twenties and I weigh within five pounds of my high school weight.

BUT, even though I don’t feel old and if I move fast enough I don’t look old, there is something about saying you are sixty-something that just SOUNDS old.  And there are things that start to go wrong that I wasn’t prepared for.

When I was in my twenties i looked forward to having laugh lines and and character marks.  Still there are a few more than I had figured on.  My solution is to bob and weave and move so fast that the wrinkles are a blur.  So far so good.  Eventually I’ll be 90 and sprinting everywhere.

It’s the aging eyeballs that really are the most troublesome.  This is important to know.  No one told me this.  I thought that the big thing with aging eyes was the need to have reading glasses and eventually catarracts that would need to be addressed surgically.  It’s not that simple.

Last winter first one eye then the other got a floater which is a loose bit of protein that moves around independently  and sometimes can be very distracting.  I ignored the first one then when the second appeared I went to my optometrist who said it’s a normal thing with aging eyes and eventually the floaters submit to gravity and drop down to the bottom of the eye.  I wondered if I could  do some heavy G thing like deep diving to speed up the process but apparently not. Occasionally I’ll be reading and a floater will whiz across my eye and I think an animal is in the house.  A mouse or something.

Then my eyesight got wonky last fall.  I thought I just needed a stronger script again but it turns out that my eyes don’t work together anymore (weakening muscles, I’m told), so I am seeing double, the main reason that I haven’t blogged in a while.  I can close either eye to see 20/20 but with both eyes open everything is a blur.  There is an eyeglass fix for this.  Prisms are put into the lenses to make it easier for the eyes to see together.  I have new computer glasses with prisms that help but don’t make it perfect, so if I want to see if I’ve spelled something correctly and make sure everything makes sense, I still close one eye.  Just call me Squinty.  The idea is that closer is harder to pull the eyes in tandem, but even my distance vision is difficult.  I tried an eye patch, going for the pirate look, but it’s not comfortable with something smashed against my eye.  I’d like to find a clip on black lens so I could just eliminate one eye or the other.

Then I have another thing eye-related: epiretinal membrane.  Both of my eyes have developed an extra layer on my retina.  Normally the cross-section of the macula should look like a broad, gentle valley, instead, my left eye looks like a mountain and the right like a tiny steep gorge.  So far this is not affecting my ability to correct to 20/20.  I keep track of it in case.

I mention this because I know many people who have never had to see an eye doctor because their vision is perfect and then only get magnified glasses to read with once they get to be over age 42.  I am here to say that there are things that can happen to your eyes that you probably never heard of and regular visits with an optometrist after a certain age is advisable.

I use my eyes a lot and it’s very annoying when I’m trying to figure out why my serger isn’t sewing correctly and I can’t see it properly.  No one said what this aging thing was going to be like.  I feel young enough.  I did one of those stupid Facebook quizzes the other day to guess my age and it came up 23.  Ha!  I know I don’t look as young as I feel and I certainly don’t see as well as I did but I refuse to start complaining about my aches and pains and carry on about all my medications.  That’s not what this is about.  I’m just warning you.  When you get to a certain age, take care of your eyes.

The things you see when you don’t have a camera

Note to self: endeavour to bring the camera on the walks.  The morning walk began as usual, dropped my basket of dishes and French press in the house entryway, attached Murphy’s leash and headed down the hill.  There is sun today to melt wherever it shines but ice in the wind coming out of the west.

At the bottom of the drive I stopped at my neighbour’s because, not 8 meters from me and under one of her numerous bird feeders was a beautiful red fox.  The fox stood still for long enough that if I had had my camera I could have taken several shots.  Murphy had no view because of the ploughed up snow by the driveway so I didn’t have to struggle to hold him and we stood in the road for a couple of minutes until it moved off to the nearby row of apple trees and crouched down.  I still had a good view so we stayed in place. My neighbour feeds the birds throughout the year in an over-the-top way so as well as having way too many birds than is natural in her bit of woods, her place attracts squirrels and mice in abundance and other critters and the predators to hunt them.

As I watched, a grey squirrel ventured too close to the fox and she leaped and grabbed and disappeared below the hill.  Half a minute later I could see her streaking for the woods at the bottom of the field, hopefully successful at reducing the squirrel population by one.  Good to see the fox looking so good after this long and cold winter.  Good hunting.

Sad to lose an inspired, energetic, committed leader in what we hope is the journey to living in a wholesome way on our planet.


The green movement has too few visionary leaders and too few women leaders and too few leaders under the age of 40. Tragically, this week it lost one leader who stood out in all three categories.

On Dec. 26, Rebecca Tarbotton, executive director of the Rainforest Action Network, died while vacationing along the west coast of Mexico, north of Puerto Vallarta. In a freak accident at the beach, she got tossed around in rough surf, took too much water into her lungs, and asphyxiated. She was 39 years old.

Tarbotton had been at the helm of RAN since August 2010, and had worked with the organization for almost six years. Under her leadership, RAN has focused on the intersections between forests, fossil fuels, and climate change, and run aggressive campaigns pushing corporations to change the way they do business. Most recently, Tarbotton helped convince entertainment giant Disney to adopt a…

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A very cool experiment in global community storytelling will come to an end with this year.  I happened on the3six5 haphazardly, the way many gems are discovered on the internet and had my chance to participate, yesterday, 1 November 2012.  This is my post:

“From Earth” I’ll say, when asked.  I favour The North, coastal, temperate; mountains too.  Many places feel home-like and being a traveler, I can be comfortable most anywhere, but today I can say, that I live in the spooky forest.

Leaves have mostly fallen, just a few oak and beech leaves rattle sharply in the slightest wind.  There is more light now in my studio, even on a cloudy day, and the angle of the sunlight creates long, dramatic sunsets through my west window.

The Day of the Dead is today, an apt beginning to a sepulchral month leading to the longest night.  I ought to be skulking around a long-forgotten graveyard but settle for a walk up the hill with the dog, attired in blaze orange, the signal that we are noncombatants in the deer war.  I feel like a pumpkin with legs but he looks like a buff crossing guard, ready to enforce his law.

Dreary, gloomy, melancholic, dismal, dark and somber;  words to describe November in my neck of the woods.  So I wonder why do I love this month more than any other?  Why am I so happy to be here in this spooky forest, so murky and overcast?  Maybe because November is a month of the margins; like March, my other favourite, it’s about transitions and change.  Winter is near, evident in the rime on the dead wildflowers and the longer slanting shadows cast by the sun.  Soon there will be a hint of ice in the wind and one day soon, the first magical flakes of snow will drift down.

Transitions and margins are interesting, not easy; but easy wasn’t on the wish list.  Fun, challenging, thought-provoking and varied, rather, and that I have in full measure.   November signals winter, a time that has for many years been my time off from work, time to play with design, time to create; abundance in a time of austerity.  This margin, I am in transition, learning to work where I live for a change.  So, as I haunt this spooky forest, I imagine marketing strategy and I play,  mirthful contrast to the stark, exterior world.


Last swim, probably

Today may be my last chance to swim this summer.  There have not been a lot of swimming days, mostly because I spent all the sunnyhothumid days painting the outside of the house.  After doing all that brushwork and moving ladders around, the last thing I wanted to do is more stuff with my arms.

On the positive side the house looks great and I have amazing shoulder definition.  Image

Sorry, no pics of the shoulders.  You’ll just have to take my word.

Meanwhile, I am gearing up for two September Canadian Rockies tours, leaving Wednesday to fly to Calgary.  It’s a new-to-me company from the UK that kicks it old style.  My favourite itinerary;  it says where you spend the night but otherwise the content is up to me.  As always the biggest concern is what to wear and what to pack.

I am still tweaking the fit with my newly realized understanding of my actual size.  Sometime in my past I fell in love with the concept of designer ease, which is more room in clothes that walking ease; sometimes a lot more.  Loose feels good so I liberally applied the designer ease notion to my garments with the end result being that clothes were overlarge.  I’m gradually fixing that, while re-creating a wardrobe of colours from my new palate.  Sewing has stopped for now, and organizing papers, packing all the cords and peripherals.  (This was so much easier in the days before cell phone and computers.)

So today, when the fog burns off, I head to Northern Pond with Ann and Murphy for a good swim ( is there any other kind), probably the last one here for the year because I won’t be back until early October.


Hornet Detente

Painting is productive yoga

My main activity this month is re-staining the exterior of Ann’s house and painting the trim; actually changing it from the dark red it’s always been to dark green.  It’s a big job.  A BIG job.  I quoted a good price and she agreed and, as has been my custom in July, I’m painting. Usually I’m imported to Boston where it is unbearably hot, so it’s good to be in the woods of Maine.

I like to paint.  It’s a good physical activity that requires some skill but allows me time to ruminate.  The individual parts of the task can get tedious in such a large job so my plan is to prep then paint one face of the house then move on to the next.  In any endeavour I like to start with the hardest part first, or save the easiest or best for last.  I began with the south facing side.  It had the most need for paint and more windows that required lots of sanding.

What I did not plan on was the number of hornet nests in the siding of the house. I have the south side done and the stain on the west side and between those two faces I counted at least twelve places where hornets live.  I’m hoping they like the warm sides only and will not be on the others.

I try to exude a live and let live demeanour which is a good thing around hornets. They are eusocial, like honey bees and ants and from what I’ve read, if one decides you are a threat she can summon the rest of the hive to swarm and attack you.  Slathering paint around their dooryard is not considered friendly by hornets.  The hard part is that sometimes a hornet will buzz you and push for escalation of hostilities.  That is especially not fun when you are standing on a ladder, eighteen feet in the air.

While I was working on the south side, on the ladder, a hornet landed on the trim of the window next to me and watched me for a while.  I watched back, more curious than afraid. Then it went about its business.   The nests that are on a large expanse of wall are not a big problem.  I can paint next to them; no problem.  But one nest entrance was on the wall of the greenhouse right next to a wood-slatted vent.  The flight path of the hornets leaving the nest took them first toward the house then they flew 90° and away.  If I were to paint there, I would have cornered them in a threatening way.  I thought the nest had to go so I waited for dusk and hit it with hornet spray I got at the paint store.  It was like shooting napalm; it came out in an aggressive stream.  The next morning there was one carcass that made it just past the opening before expiring.  I felt terrible.

So now I have more passive strategies.  For the most difficult nest areas, I wait until dusk and paint the area surrounding so that I won’t have to when they are flying during the day.  Still today it seemed like every open knothole on the west side was an entrance to a hornet nest.  One was quite high up so I painted around it and then below and came back to paint higher when the entrance area was dry.

So far i have not been stung, although a couple of hornets have checked me out again.  one was on the only patch I had yet to paint so I tried to communicate that I was headed there and to go elsewhere.  And it did.  then another flew around my head and I retreated briefly but then continued.  No stinging.

I think we have achieved detente.