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“You must speak straight so that your words may go as sunlight into our hearts.”
– Cochise (“Like Ironweed”) Chiricahua Chief
I’m going to try to speak straight here and everywhere. We can manipulate language in so many gratifying and harmful ways when we are fluent in it. We can make the truth read/sound a thousand different ways. Sunlight too, comes to us in unique and varying ways. It can be just enough to warm us on a day between fall and winter. It can beat down on us relentlessly with its burden of heat and sweat. When words touch our hearts they feed us – our state of being. They allow us to form opinions, to react emotionally, to prepare for great triumphs or damaging winds. To render ourselves steadfast. Cochise just asked that we talk straight. We talk straight so that our words feed our hearts like sunlight. So that there is fairness all around.
Summer has become that overbearing master once again. Restricting us indoors. The garden is out of control, though still producing well. Peace from the summer sun is hard to find, and you become a worshipper of conveniences like air conditioning. Deladis absolutely hates the summer sun, and though she wants to play outdoors, she cannot. Her skin is really sensitive because of the eczema and she sweats which makes her itch. Her face turns apple red, and then she starts to feel poorly. Ivy is restless from being cooped up like the hen and diddles. She takes an evening run through the living room and into the kitchen, slamming against the door and back again, like clockwork, everyday sometime after dinner. We only have a wall unit a/c and a fan, and we don’t turn it on until about noon everyday, and turn it off again at night. Our cabin is not extremely cool. We try our best to acclimate for summer and winter. We tend to freeze or burn up when we visit our family. But, right now, indoors is the safer place for us. This is the first summer since living at The Confluence that it has been this way. Though I remember many summers like this.
The sun zaps my energy. As a child I tried to play softball, and would end up vomitting on the field because the sun makes me sick. I’m no different now. It’s why I love the mountainside. The shade. The cool breezes. The altitude. What is harder on me this summer is that I’m not well. I’ve been reluctant to post about it here. I am a believer in what you put out into the world is what you will get back. People tend to avoid those that don’t feel well… or pity them too much. I’d rather not deal with either of those things. Writing about it here is more about talking straight. Writing about things being difficult, my patience being short, or my being tired all the time would be just complaints without being honest as to why. I don’t want to complain. And, I’m not trying to feel sorry for myself.
John and I do without some things in order that the girls can have them, or that I can stay home and be the primary caregiver of the girls. One of those things is health insurance. So, I’ve put off seeing a doctor for a detailed workup of my health for sometime. However, we’ve saved and worked it out so that now I can, and I am relieved. I’ve been so angry at the fact that I should be healthier than I have ever been in my life. My lifestyle, my diet, my physical activity are all joyful and healthy. Yet, I feel awful many days. I have horrible headaches that don’t go away, sometimes nagging for days. I’m always tired. It’s a challenge to keep up with my chores. My moods are up and down. I have stomach aches. I’m dizzy…. etc… The doctor says at this point she knows that it is my hormones and my glandular systems that are causing the trouble. Nothing contagious. Nothing that keeps me from doing my best. Tomorrow, I go for a blood draw for something they are calling a whole panel. This will give her a whole picture and then we’ll go from there.
I’m excited at the thought of feeling better. Of restoring my body to proper function. Healing mind, body, and spirit. Wholeness. I know any improvement I experience comes from my Creator, and the journey is of most importance. It is a way to grow. It is to be accepted and worked on from a place of peace. Being able to just go through the outward movements of going to the doctor, getting results, is allowing me to release the anger at the problem. I’m hoping it will help me to be still as well.
I suppose I’ll write some about it here because it will be my focus for sometime. And, as the summer brings other exciting things I’ll have share some of those too. Opportunities are everywhere right now. I don’t know whether to chase them all or pick and choose. 🙂 The Creator will give me the work of my day upon the unfolding of it.
Introducing Little LuLu
First, you start with real good garden soil, a set of plant starts, and eventually you will have a gorgeousness that looks like this.
When the first pea pods appear, they will be tender enough to put in the skillet without steaming first. If you like peas in the pod, you’ll leave them on longer, but to make this dish, you’ll need to string them, and/or steam them for tenderness.
Make some bacon. A whole pack is nice because you can eat while you cook. I prefer to buy bacon free of nitrates or nitrites and sugar when I can find it. Sautee some onions in bacon grease until they start to brown.
Cook them over medium to high heat until they are fully greased and tender. The amount of grease you use depends on your tastes. I use the whole pan from making the pack of bacon. When tender, crumble in some bacon and serve.
You’ll notice that this dish is similar to the Appalachian green beans and kilt lettuce and onions. Pork was a mainstay of the Appalachian diet, and used to flavor many dishes from cornbread, beans, to greens. Because chickens provided eggs and cows provided milk, they were not butchered as regularly as hogs. When not eating pork, or chicken for Sunday dinner, Appalachian peoples ate the meat of hunted animals including, rabbit, deer, squirrel, wild turkey, opossum (some folks didn’t care for it), and groundhog (has a reputation for being greasy). In our family we eat rabbit, deer, and wild turkey, as well as fish caught from our lakes and streams. I prepare a traditional foods diet for my family most days. I have found that if we eat foods that we are genetically predisposed to tolerate, then we have better outcomes physically. My family has lived in the mountains for generations. My ancestors were Irish and Cherokee primarily. My husband’s were Melungeon. By keeping the traditional Cherokee and Appalachian food ways we were familiar with, and researching those that had been lost to industrialization we have found healthy eating. Being involved in where your food comes from both animal and plant forms, is extremely rewarding.
I’m wonderfully optimistic about the year to come. I think I’m finally coming to an understanding of what it means to let go and let God. To kick off the new year, I have decided to start a series of posts on things we have a right to know about (in fact in many situations our life depends on it), but for whatever reason they are kept “secret” whether through planned secrecy or by tactful exclusion of information.
John and I spent the evening on the couch last night watching our new Netflix arrival – Food, Inc. . I’ve been waiting on this movie since it came out a while back. This film demystifies our current system of industrialized food and the problems that arise from our expectation of fast and cheap food.
It was a little over a year ago now when a prolonged illness of mine prompted me to switch our diet to a traditional foods diet as proposed by The Weston A. Price Foundation and authors like Sally Fallon and Nina Planck. Since then, I have noticed a tremendous change in my health and well being along with that of my husband and children. I have lost and maintained a 100 pound weight loss (though I was already losing weight before changing my eating, I contribute most of it to traditional foods). I have more energy. My gums no longer bleed when I brush or floss my teeth. But, the most noticeable for me is my relationship to food. I no longer fear food making me fat, because I know that what I am choosing to eat is real food and not something fabricated in a factory. I enjoy my food and I eat plenty of it. I’m eating things the diet industry tells us will make us obese and sick – butter, bacon, red meat, and whole fat dairy.
This approach to eating (I don’t call it a “diet” in the terms of how most of us view the word) has changed my life so completely that I can’t help but get excited about sharing it with others. However, all to often I have noticed people don’t want to hear the truth about where their food comes from, and I tend to get tuned out. Instead of accepting that there is a problem here and we are in need of huge change as a society, they continue to eat from the conventional store shelves food that more often than not is some kind of factory made variation of corn or soy bean products and they wonder why they are sick with things like diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, or obesity. Why is that?
The fact of the matter is that we have a right to know where our food comes from and under what conditions it is being processed for our consumption. Our food is life. What we put into our body directly affects how we are able to live our life. However, now that our food supply is being controlled by just a few multi- million (billion) dollar corporations that treat their farmers and factory workers like second class human beings, who don’t care at all about the health of the animals they process for meat, and treat our meat, produce, and dry goods with a variety of chemicals to give them unnatural shelf lives, we are being kept in the dark of food practices that if they were public knowledge would incite the citizens of this country to demand a change.
The truth is that 1 in 3 children in this country born after 2000 will develop diabetes. 1 in 3 children in this country are either considered overweight or obese. Low-income Americans (under $30,000) a year find it hard to afford a healthy diet. This comes along with the idea of fast food being cheap. You now can buy chips for a lesser price than a head of broccoli, and then there are dollar menus at fast food restaurants. The question of food availability also arises. Living in rural Appalachia, I find it extremely difficult to find food I feel is appropriate for my family, and I have to make too many compromises.
Our country is facing an epidemic that is inexcusable. We owe our children a better chance at a healthy life than this. We owe it to ourselves as well. While industrialization has brought about many good changes in our way of life, when its principles are applied to certain more personal areas of our lives, we find we are detrimentally affected by its lack of concern for the greater human good as opposed to the low cost production industry holds so dear. A few profit from the loss of many.
After viewing this film and others like it, I can’t help but encourage others to become informed as well. Know where your food comes from. Know that in one pack of ground beef there is meat from 50-100 cattle. Know that most chickens raised for commercial slaughter for companies like Tyson never see the light of day or feel grass under their feet. In fact, they are lucky to be able to bear their own body weight on their brittle legs. Know that the tomato you are buying that is so pretty and red was shipped to your location in many cases over thousands of miles, and picked while still green. It was ripened chemically. Know this, and decide to change it. There are farmers out there with answers to this problem. We can have normal, affordable, healthy food. We can live without the fear of food related disease. Arm yourself with knowledge. Then, cast your vote for the foods you want every time you choose your purchases at the grocery.
I wanted to avoid even mentioning swine flu on this blog. I try not to talk too much about my opinions on healthcare and western medicine. I won’t even do it now as I feel the urge to do. However, I have heard too many and been a part of too many conversations on this topic. I am also bombarded with it during what little time I do seek out the news of the day. I believe we are responsible for our own health in that we need to educate ourselves as much as we can when things like this creep up or when we are prescribed a new medicine, or told we need surgery. No, we aren’t doctors, but as patients we have the right to be fully informed before taking a doctor’s recommendation. Doctors are humans too.
So, when it come to the H1N1, here are some resources to look at. Also, remember to try to look at a balance of sources. Understand media is hype. Know that if you are eating real foods, getting enough sleep, and moving your body daily, you should trust your immune system to work properly and help you fight the illnesses you do contract. That is what it was made to do.
Dr. Bob Sears – world reknown pediatrician and author of The Vaccine Book – Scroll down half the page to find his comments on the H1N1 vaccine.
Dr. Joesph Mercola – New York Times Best Selling Author and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine with oodles of credentials – this is a page of his recent writings on H1N1.
Dr. Jay Gordon, MD FAAP IBCLC – H1N1 Update (Dr. Gordon has been featured on Fox News, Larry King Live and ABC’s 20/20
An Anti-Vaccine YouTube video – This is a song with some good general information as well and old news coverage of 1976. Yes, it’s relevant as I think the views you look at should be balanced in order to be truly informed enough to make your own decisions and opinions.
I’m not saying that this is an exhaustive list. I have provided you with a beginning to a bit of research you should do for yourself. The first in the list is the CDC and the farthest on the right of this issue that I have provided. They are also an objective resource. It goes down the line from there with the last resource obviously being the farthest on the left. I hope this is helpful to you, and I hope it helps you to relax a bit whatever decision you choose to make for yourself.
With three doctors’ visits this week, dealing with insurances and the lack thereof, filling prescriptions that I’m unsure of, and getting completely ticked off at western medicine’s approach to ill health, my mind is left soggy – like a saturated sponge. I have sat down three times today to write a post and realized I don’t have much to say at all and what I do have to say probably won’t be all that coherent. Not being negative, just stating the truth.
On A Silent Sea is doing awesome work over on her blog. She has gotten me thinking with her new pledge of reading deprivation. A clearing of the mind from outside influences on our creative capacities. Overload is one reason we moved back to the mountains and in an isolated place. Off grid was where we wanted to be, so that if we didn’t want to be reached we wouldn’t have to be. Yet, I’ve found myself getting so excited over so many different things, and wanting to tackle them all at the same time.
This morning John told me I’m dabbling in too many projects and it is causing me to lose focus. He’s right. The problem is I have a hard time choosing just one when they are all so inviting and fun. It leaves me feeling like I’d be losing something. Maybe, I’m losing something by not focusing on just a few things. Or, maybe I’m overanalyzing, reading too much, and I need a time away from learning new things. There should be time for listening to what your heart and mind already knows. I rarely do that. Very rarely.
Where we live we are surrounded by mountains on all sides in close proximity to our cabin. The vegetation is mature and on its downward movement from growing forth from the earth to becoming the earth. We see no one else’s house. We are familiar with a family of deer that grazes close by every evening. Our first tomatoes are on the vines. Birds of all sorts play in the sunflowers growing in our garden outside our picture window everyday showing off their gorgeous array of styles and colors. Being off grid invites you to just be, but in my self somewhere lies a part that wants to control things to insure my safety. I’m constantly reading for entertainment, information, trying to gain more knowledge about whatever is the hit subject at the moment. I’m afraid to be quiet. To do nothing but everything. I have to stop and take the time to just be with my breath. To listen inside and stop feeding myself with new things that will overload me. I need to take an inventory. It’s time.
I’ve been experimenting with sourdough bread making with great results. I made my own starter. Bacteria from my surroundings cultured my starter and gives it a distinct flavor. It is one plus to living off grid. I don’t have to worry about bad air ruining my adventures in friendly bacteria. 🙂 I made my starter with rye as per the instructions in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook. It stews for seven days on a counter top, covered with a cloth to keep bugs out, until you have around three quarts of starter. You use two to make three loaves of bread and save the other quart for next time. I use whole grain spelt flour to make the bread.
As you can see here, the starter develops yeast naturally from what already exists in your surroundings. The dough rises beautifully with nothing else added. I flipped when I first saw this look in my starter, but was reassured, and then began to notice that it looks quite a bit like packaged dried yeast, just moist and gray.
I’m out of batteries in my camera so I don’t have a picture of a finished loaf, but it looks like the milk and honey sprouted wheat bread that Jenny has blogged about at The Nourished Kitchen. The bread is a bit more dense than store bought breads, but oh so tasty. Mine has a distinct cheesy flavor of a sharp variety. Almost like a dry Asiago or sharp cheddar, but better than cheddar. Yours will taste different. That’s the adventure. I have heard that you can get unique flavors by creating starters in different containers and setting them in various locations around your home. Ummm… bathroom sourdough. I’m kidding. 🙂
Storing your starter for next time is fairly simple. Place it in a glass container in the refrigerator. It can keep a month or so without feeding it, but I wouldn’t go any longer than that. The starter is a living thing and needs fed. That becomes obvious and so interesting when you actually put your hands in the dough to knead. It breaths and pushes back. 🙂 You can also order starters online. Cultures for Health has a wide variety of affordable starters for sourdough and other creations that I’ve been dabbling with lately – namely yogurt. I recommend purchasing a starter if you live in a place with lots of traffic, pollution, or an area that is not well ventilated.
We are enjoying sourdough here, and I am quickly learning that we don’t have to be afraid of real, fresh food like we have been taught to fear our grocery store food. Knowing from where our food comes makes all the difference in the world and is why I’m loving my kitchen experiments.