Saturday, July 26, 2014

"We Live and Breathe Words"

    It's funny when you think about what words can do to you; and then you think about where that power comes from.  I mean, aren't we the ones who give them the power they have?  For instance, the dreaded curse words or cussing-these can make the most mature adult turn into a small child again; acting as though they are afraid, and quickly shushing you.  I just want to say to them, "It's no big deal.  It's not the word that you should be focused on, but the emotion behind it."
     And isn't that where we get the idea for the meaning of these allegedly wretched words?  As kids we grow up hearing adults use them in fits of anger and frustration.  I wonder if originally, maybe even back before documented history, the word wasn't what made the original user feel shameful, but the emotions and ideas that accompanied the use of the word; along the way it just got a bit misconstrued.  I think about things in this way most of the time.  "What was it like before modern civilization?  How has it changed in its context?"
     So with this in mind, I try not to be "afraid" of words.  I definitely use them, they are the salt and pepper of my daily language.  Now, don't get the wrong idea here; I think if you don't use these words sparingly you come across a bit uncouth and possibly dull.  I definitely use them when angry or frustrated; or say, if something startles me (hey now, I can't really help those :p).  But sometimes they come out when I'm quite joyful, or being a bit silly, too.
     All of that aside, words-and the juxtaposition of words-can do remarkable things for you, can't they?  And if you are like me, you might sometimes find yourself wondering why.  And if you are like me you might find yourself deciding it doesn't matter at all :D.  I have said all of this just to come to a point where I can type here for you a small part of a sentence I just read in a delightful little book that just made me quite happy.  Here it is: "...the deepest moonless night."  (~from The Poisons of Caux: The Shepherd of Weeds by Susannah Applebaum)
     That is all.  The words just feel so nice bouncing around inside my little brain.  They feel especially nice as I breathe them past my teeth and out of my mouth.  Haven't you ever felt that way?

For the Hearts of Little Children Are Pure


     I have found several books in our children's department here at the local library where I work that convey what I feel is an important message about life and what I find important about it.  Mostly they are books that speak on the oneness of all things, or they send out a very strong permaculture vibe.  I'm sure the list will grow, but as it stands now, here they are along with some of my favorite passages from each:

(1) Crinkleroot's Guide to Giving Back to Nature by Jim Arnosky

A fun little non-fiction book with a cure little character to show you the ways of nature.

"Let a corner of your lawn grow wild.  It will become a cool and shady tangle of weeds and tall grass for small animals to rest, nest, and hide in."

"By caring for this little brook that runs right by my home, I'm taking care of water wherever water roams.  Small streams like this feed the rivers that flow into the sea.  Clean freshwater is a gift I'm giving to the sea."

(2) Little Fur: The Legend Begins by Isobelle Carmody (too many good ones in this one)

"By worldliness, Little Fur came to understand, he meant wisdom, though she was not always sure that knowing a lot about the world was the same as being wise."

"At first the heart of the human was touched by the beauty and age of the tree, but then it saw how short its own life was and it became afraid.  The human hewed the tree to sever itself from the flow of life,...It wished to be only itself and to control all other things without having to care about anything but its own wants..."

"They fear to die...They think if they can control everything, then perhaps they will be able to choose not to die..."

"Ah, but humans cut themselves from the flow so they see their dying as an end.  That makes them want to destroy anything that will live longer than they do, or which reminds them that they will die."

(3) Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life by Molly Bang

This is a non-fiction book that tells, beautifully and poetically,  how photosynthesis works.  It also shows how all things flow one through the other, making a perfect circle of life.

The opening line in this book, I think, is what hooked me:  "Listen to me.  Do this one thing: Lay your hand over your heart, and feel.  Feel your heart pump, pump, and pump.  Feel how warm you are.  That is my light, alive inside of you."

"So you see?  Life keeps circling round and round on your planet Earth, through photosynthesis, and through yourselves.  You share life with everything alive."

"Lay your hand over your heart and feel.  Feel my light inside of you.  You hold my light and make it live.  You are living sunlight."

(4) Brother Eagle, Sister Sky: A Message from Chief Seattle by Susan Jeffers

"'How can you buy the sky?' Chief Seattle began. 'How can you own the rain and the wind?'"

"My father said to me, I know the sap that courses through the trees as I know the blood that flows in my veins.  We are part of the earth and it is part of us.  The perfumed flowers are our sisters.  The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers."

"The voice of my grandfather said to me, The air is precious.  It shares its spirit with all the life it supports.  The wind that gave me my first breath also received my last sigh."

(5) Red Sings from Treetops: a year in colors by Joyce Sidman

This book tells a very poetic story about the different seasons using colors.

"In Spring,
Red sings from treetops: cheer-cheer-cheer,
each note dropping like a cherry into my ear..."

"Green is new in spring.  Shy.
Green peeks from buds,
trembles in the breeze.
Green floats through rain-dark trees,
and glows, mossy-soft, at my feet...
In spring, even the rain tastes Green."

(6) Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman

"A spiral is a snuggling shape.  It fits neatly in small places."

"A spiral moves....It stretches starry arms though space, spinning and sparkling, forever expanding...."

(7) In My Heart by Molly Bang

"You know how every morning, I put on my shoes and coat, kiss you good-bye, And walk out the door?  Well, just as I'm leaving, I feel something in my heart.  I look inside, And what do you think I find?  YOU!  Right here in my heart."

"...You are STILL inside my heart.  How do you DO that, always being in my heart?"

(8) God's Dream by Archbishop Desmond Tutu

"Each of us carries a piece of God's heart within us.  And when we love one another, the pieces of God's heart are made whole."

(9) On Meadowview Street by Henry Cole

This book has a true permaculture message.  It is about a little girl who moves into a new house on Meadowview Street.  Just when she is about to go searching to see if there is indeed a meadow, she spots a small wildflower in her yard.  She first starts off protecting this beautiful little wildflower, and it only grows from there.
The area she marks off continues to fill with more beautiful wildflowers, thus making her "preserve" grow ever bigger.  Eventually her dad sells his lawn mower altogether.  Next she brings in a tree because, "My garden needs a shady spot."
Next thing you know, there are birds and insects everywhere!  So she decides, "We need a place where everyone can get a drink of water."  So dad builds a pond.  And in doing this she starts inspiring her neighbors to do the same: "And soon, the Jacksons' yard changed.  And the Smiths'.  And the Sotos'.  Now there really was a meadow on Meadowview Street...and a home for everyone."

(10) The Enemy: A Book About Peace by Davide Cali

I like the way this story is told from a soldier's perspective-as if he is only fighting this fight because be believes he has to, not that he wants to.  It's as if he's been in this war for so long he has forgotten why or what he is fighting for.  He even almost starts to lose his grip on reality: "Sometimes I think the others have forgotten us.  Maybe the war is over and no one remembered to tell us.  Or maybe the world does not exist anymore."

"At night, there are lots of stars above my hole.  I wonder if the enemy sees them too.  Maybe if he looked at them he would understand that war is pointless and it must stop.  But I can't be the first to stop fighting, because he would kill me.  I would not kill him if he stopped first, because I am a man.  I am not a beast."

He finally sneaks into the enemy's hole only to find: "And what's this?  A manual just like mine.  But there is a difference: in this one, the enemy has my face.  This manual is full of lies-I am a man, not a monster.  I am not the one who started this war."

(11) When You Are Happy by Eileen Spinelli

"When you are sad, I will hold you.  I will let you cry.  I will catch your tears in a blue cup and water the yellow flowers and they will grow more beautiful."

"When you are lonely, I will show up on your doorstep with my heart in a basket.  I will whisper "I love you" until your loneliness grows wings and flies off like a silken bird."

"When you are happy...oh, when you are happy, I will outleap the frog, outbuzz the bee, outwink the firefly.  I will twirl you round meadows until we are both dizzy and dazzled and falling down into our grassy heap of joy."

(12) Jody's Beans by Malachy Doyle

More than any special quotes in this books, I think what I found special about it is that in a fictional story format, he has found a way to actually teach kids how to grow beans!  It even has a little mini index on the very last page so you can look up the different facts.

"It was springtime, and Jody's Granda came to visit.  He brought Jody a packet of runner beans."

(13) Yucky Worms by Vivian French

Another awesome book that teaches factual things in a fictional story format; another book that has a tiny little index in the back, too.  Also, in the back, right before the mini index, there are suggestions on how to look for worms AND how to be respectful when handling them-haha!  SUPER CUTE!

"Grandma pointed at the flowerbed.  'LOOK!  Can you see?'  I bent down-and I saw what looked like a weird, long curly worm made of dirt.  'That's worm poop,' Grandma said.  'It's called a cast.  You know when you recycle things?  Well, worms do it too....'"

     I always check for any book I want to buy before I check anywhere else because they charge no tax on the listed price, usually have much lower prices than anywhere around the net or otherwise, and charge no shipping inside of the U.S.-so it's a nice, flat price.  When I looked up both Crinkleroot's Guide to Giving Back to Nature and Little Fur I found there are other books in the series!  AND they are on Thrift Books!  Woot woot!
     I'm sure on my marvelous adventures here in the children's department I'll find plenty of other amazing books to share with you guys.  I hope you all take a look at some of these books at least.  They are very worth it, even if you don't have a little one to read them to.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Little Steps

     As we walk this path toward a simpler life, it seems we must first deal with a few things that are quite complex.  We have been living with family for about four years now; we pay a large portion of bills here; we have a little girl who will turn one next month; we are both thirty this year, and (fingers crossed) we are about to buy a house!
     This is a major mile stone in our lives.  It has come a little later for us than for most, maybe, but finally it has come.  We should be celebrating!  And in a sense we are.  However, due to the great complications of all things family, it seems more like we are pulling the plug out and watching everything go down the drain.  This is not going to be an easy transition; BUT, though I am a bit nervous, I am much more excited :D
     It is kind of hard to leave behind all of the good work we've done to this land in these last four years, but I can't help but fantasize what it will mean to start fresh.  AND have total. control.  Don't get me wrong,  I feel more than fortunate that we have had family that we could coexist with for this long without blowing the lid off-haha!  Considering the degree to which we are all a bit dysfunctional, it has been nothing short of a miracle.  But since Flora has come along it feels much more important, even imperative, that we be in an environment where we don't have to compromise with others in our household.  I feel like it will be a much more stable environment for her if her parents are more in control-makes sense, right?
     I am holding tight to the hope that this house will soon be ours.  It is too perfect for our situation.  It puts us close to family, it has 1.5 acres of land-most of which is wild wood (woohoo!!!!), and it is something that is affordable for us.  It is not in the most perfect condition as it was built in 1930, but it is structurally sound.  Ever since the idea of having a sustainable mini farm/food forest has become our priority, we have said that when we look for our own place the land will be much more important than the house anyway.
     Ever since we found this place, nothing else has compared for us.  It was as if the moment I stepped out of the car and took a look around it already belonged to me; I could see us living there.  At first we didn't want to rush headlong into things, but it eventually turned into not wanting to miss this opportunity.  In fact, when we first started looking, we didn't think we'd be making a decision this soon.
     It won't be easy at first.  We will be going into this place without a lot of furniture-which, oddly enough, almost seems appealing.  We will have many years of work ahead of us to make this place into what we really want.  But you know what?  It will be OURS.  Saying it won't be easy doesn't just apply to us.  We live in a household where we are a big part of the financial foundation.  I have no clue how they are going to make this work without us, but I have to hope for the best.  Flora's tree we planted on top of her placenta is here.  I don't want to see this place go to the bank or roll over into someone else's hands.
     I hate that it almost feels selfish to be so excited about this, but I think there comes a time in your life where you have to make decisions that put you-and especially your child(ren)-first.  So that is what we are trying to do.  Things will never get less complicated in our current residence.  We have to take those steps.  OH!  Just THINK!!  We will finally be able to have chickens!  So, yeah, I think the pros far outweigh the cons.  So send positive energy our way guys!