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Archive for March, 2012

My name… Emily

I really didn’t like my name when I was younger. I didn’t want to be different. I wished my name was Mary or Lisa or Karen, really any other name that someone else had. There were just not other Emily’s my age, or very few and I rarely encountered the others. As I got older I grew out of that nonsense and I have been happy to be an Emily. My dad had a bunch of stories he would tell people as my brother and I were growing up.

One of them was about how I got my name. He always said that I was named after a pet chicken that he had as a young boy. He actually had two pet chickens, but the other one was named vonRunstadt and he didn’t think that would be the best choice for me. When I was young I would turn to my mom and ask her if this was true and she always said no and tell me that she always liked the name Emily and it just fit when I was born.

In the late 70’s I went to Camp Menogyn in the very NE corner of Minnesota. It was basically a camp for wilderness outings and I went for 2 weeks. I grew up around water and boats of all sorts, but they started out everyone on the same level by teaching you the basics; getting in and out of your canoe, proper paddling and portaging. I can’t remember how long we were out on our “outing.” I think it was 9-10 days. What does this all have to do with my name? The group I was with shared a cabin with another group and there was an “Emily” in that other group. The similarities were uncanny. We both had blond hair, brown eyes, black eyebrows and came with our clothes packed in a green army duffel bags. Cool, huh?!

You know when you hear your name you have that reflex to turn in the direction that you heard it. I knew when I heard my name called, it was in fact, directed at me, and I would turn. Then came the mid-90’s and Emily started gaining popularity. I would be standing in the line at the grocery store and hear, “Emily stop that!” or “Emily come here!” For that brief second, I would start to turn, hearing my name and then quickly realize it wasn’t aimed at me. It took me a while to adjust to that.

As the years went on, I didn’t run into many other Emily’s my age. Then when we lived in Kenya and I met another Emily. She was the girlfriend of a friend of ours and the only thing we had in common (other than our wonderful personalities) was our name. She was a native to Kenya, came from the Kikuyu tribe and she was a few years younger than I was. When we got together, everyone called us “Double Trouble!”  I can’t remember her given name, but Emily was the name she went by.

My next “Emily” encounter was in Palm Springs. I had started to do bead work and was invited to join some of the ladies who got together and beaded on Wednesday nights. I was the 2nd Emily to that group. This “Emily” was a bit older than I was and a wonderful, full of energy, red-head! How were we going to keep us straight? The other Emily was there first, so she was “Emily,” and I quickly became E2 or Emily #2 or Emi. I had been called “Aunty Em” in junior high, because those adolescent boys just didn’t know how to walk right up to you and actually talk to you; they had to come up with some way to tease you I guess (Aunty Em, Aunty Em.) My brother has called me “Em” or “E” along with some other 7-year old clever taunting rhymes that I just can’t remember right now. He was probably just getting back at me for calling him “Wayne the Pain,” or something equally as clever from me I am sure. A few of my friends have called me “Emma”, so now E2, Emily #2 and Emi are added to the nicknames.

When I would have my booth set up and was selling the beaded jewelry I made I would encountered many little (younger) Emily’s. When I found out their name was Emily I would look at them and ask them with astonishment, “Is your name Emily?” and I would usually get the non-verbal acknowledge of a nod. I would then say “your kidding, MY name is Emily!” and I would stick out my hand and say, “nice to meet you Emily!” They would usually smile and giggle and shake my hand.

Fast forward and I know live in South Texas. I have joined a small garden club in the town I am in and wouldn’t you know there is an Emily there too. She is a few years older than me and she has been a joy to meet and fun to talk with. But here we go again with the nick names. Somehow I kept “Emily” and she went with “Emi.”

Now I find myself here at NDIN and as you may already know… yup… there is another Emily! It has been fun running into a few more Emily’s closer to my age. I am still glad to be named Emily and I have had fun meeting other Emily’s along the way.

Recently I was telling my dad’s version of how I got my name, explaining about his two pet chickens and my God Parents where listening as I told the story. As I finished the story my God Mother looked at My God Father with a look of shock and horror and then they both started to chuckle. I asked them what was so funny and she explained to me that they have known this story since before I was born and made a pact to never tell it to me. Never in a million years would they have guessed that I already knew it.

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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Some friends and I were Facebook chatting about the lure of the Homestead.

Self-sufficiency. Pride. Good For The Children.

But then, there’s indoor plumping. Electricity that you don’t have to generate, or understand. Skors bars.

My daughter and I had this conversation as well–how hard it is to live the life that seems appealing when it’s contrary to the mainstream, or makes you stand out. You have to have either strength of character or a certain kind of obliviousness to buck the system.

It came up because she’s met someone she calls a “real hippie.” She says she always thought I was a hippie, but this woman walks the walk, apparently. I’m not quite sure what that means, but it probably has to do with really not tolerating the two Macs (Mac ‘n’ Cheese, and McDonalds) for the children, walking or biking everywhere, and wearing ugly shoes (I think I have the ugly shoes thing going, but I’m a late comer to the don’t-tolerate the junk food).

When I was in college, during one of my brief non-Bill (my husband of more than 30 years) periods, I dated one of those real hippies. Even at the time, I realized that I was making a choice between a truly alternative life and one that would be a little more mainstream.

I’m something of a chameleon, in that I tend to adapt to the prevailing opinions around me. Something to do with low self-esteem, probably, or a dislike of conflict. If I’d stayed with M I’d have been a hippie and a homesteader. With Bill, urban to the core, not so much, although I’ve dragged him a little bit over to that way of thinking. Still, the lure of the homestead, of the self-sufficient, know-how-to-do-stuff, back-to-your-roots lifestyle is extremely appealing. It sounds so simple, so real.

In reality, living off the land or making your living from the land (not at all the same thing) sounds hard. I know this from reading Emily’s trials with the sheep, and Sage’s awful trials with the drought. Of course, city life is hard as well; however comfortable one is in an urban environment, one does constantly watch over one’s shoulder for danger. There’s a lot of noise and trash and people you cannot get a way from.

The big reason that people move out of the mainstream is for the children, but you’re making trade offs there as well. Country kids can Do Stuff. Hammer a nail, milk a cow, wire a lamp. My kids? they can Handle Themselves. When you grow up looking over your shoulder you develop a kind of thick skin that I’ve never seen in more gently raised kids. But I really wish they could Do Stuff. I need someone to build me a new compost bin for my tiny urban homestead (ish).

Conclusion? Life is hard. Choices get made. The homesteader wonders if my grass is greener because I’m putting chemicals on it; I wonder if her grass is greener because of sheep droppings. Neither of us really, in our deepest hearts, wants to walk on whatever it is that is making the grass greener over there.

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We are all experiencing more light with longer days and the “Dark Days” seem, almost, like a distant memory. Winter truly isn’t over, although for many of us it sure seems that way. The participants who live in the northern parts know all too well that even though Spring is in the air and days are warming, that it can be a a false sense of security. Snow can make an appearance at anytime, even in May! (Sorry about that) The “dark” from the Dark Days is fading fast, and technically it is Spring now, it is nice to see some participants are still finding local foods in their areas and supporting local farmers.

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South Region (MD, VA, NC, SC) with Emily from Sincerely, Emily

Susan (VA) from Backyard Grocery celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a classic – venison con queso and chips. Ok, maybe not! Susan did a cooking demonstration this week based on foods found at the market where she did the demonstration. The challenge was coming up with a dish that she could make in one pot. The store carries a lot of local foods and she tweaked hrer recipe based on what was in stock at the store, along with locally made tortilla chips. This recipe can be found in Susan’s published cooked book. You can find out details on her demo along with other information on her blog.

AnnieRei (MD) from AnnieRei Unplugged went hiking at the Conservancy trails near her home and guided a group. She planned ahead and started her meal in the crockpot before she left home. She used center cut pork chops in the crockpot with collard greens, sweet potatoes and a sauce made from local ingredients. She used homemade turkey broth in the crockpot also. All local. All good. Head over to Annie’s blog to see all the great places she found her local ingredients.

Victoria (MD) from The Soffritto was inspired by an Epicurious recipe she saw. She had all the local ingredients on hand and made a beautiful egg noodle torte.  She used oyster mushrooms, chard, basil egg noodles, eggs, milk and dill cheddar cheese all from local resources and her torte is beautiful.  This recipe is perfect, because you can switch out many ingredients and make it your own, using what ever is in season in your backyard or at the farmers market. Stop by Victoria’s blog to see the recipes and her resources.

Rebecca (VA) from Eating Floyd is in the same situation as many of us with warm weather and the itch to plant. She is busy working outside and looked to her preserved items from last year to make up a quick meal. She used a jar of home-canned asparagus soup and also made up a bed of spinach to hold scoops of roasted red pepper hummus and chicken salad. To finish the meal with a nice sweet treat, she opened a jar of canned peach halves in earl grey tea syrup. Visit her blog for recipes and local ingredient information.

Jessica (SC) from Eat.Drink.Nourish. has her spring garden already planted and is looking forward to what it will bring. This week she talks about her experiences with the challenge and how it has changed their family (in a good way.) They fired up the grill this week and made grilled fillets over natural (wood) charcoal and served it with a kale salad. Jessica has eaten kale many times, but this is her first raw kale experience and she loved it. Head over to her blog to read more about her DDC experience and her local ingredients.

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LOWER NEW ENGLAND/MID-ADLANTIC (NY, CT, DC, NJ and Eastern Canada)
with The Other Emily, from Tanglewood Farms

Once again, I find myself incredibly inspired by the beautifully written posts from Karen (NJ) over at Prospect: The Pantry . I also find myself jealous that she can get local saltwater fish over on the coast. Her first post was a birthday dinner of Monkfish on Braised Cabbage that looks delicious; I love the way she garnishes things!

Her second post, Oxtail stock with Borscht, is a great account of her exploration of oxtail stocks and oxtail stew! She has been a fantastic Dark Days participant and I fully intend to keep an eye on her blog from this point on, as it always stirs me with it’s beautiful photos and unique recipes.

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Saint Patrick’s Day is over, but that’s no reason not to cook up this delicious and uber-nutritious “green soup.” This is not The Splendid Table’s recipe, but like Lynne’s, it does require an immersion blender to get the right consistency. Feel free to add more veggies to your liking!

Miranda’s Green Soup from Pocket Pause

  • 1/2 head cauliflower
  • 1 leek
  • 1 potato or turnip
  • Pinch dried or fresh rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 dried cayenne pepper
  • 1 pint condensed chicken stock + 3 pints water or 1 quart regular strength stock
  • 1 bunch kale (or chard)
  • splash lemon juice

Coursely chop all the veggies. Saute the leek with a bit of butter until dark green and softening, then add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer until all veggies are soft (20 minutes to an hour). You can’t overcook it. Blend with your immersion blender to smooth out the soup and get that nice creamy consistency without the cream!

Serve in a nice large bowl with a dollup of yogurt and maybe some shredded mozz. Seen with some sausage added to the top, because i was feeling sausagey for some reason this night.

Really warms the soul and is a great dose of leafy green veggies when it’s too chilly outside for salad!

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There are too many varieties of music in the world to count, and everybody has an musical opinion of some sort, even if it is “Meh”. I’ve recently begun to listen to music just about all the time I’m working on something. It wasn’t until this morning that I really noticed that I have different types of music for different activities. I really like to share music with others, so I thought I’d list some working music that I have been enjoying lately.

There’s Classical (preferably either very early or very late 19th century) for light gardening. The soft tinkle of John Field’s piano nocturnes or the swift and passionate key changes of Ralph Vaughn Williams allow me to drift into another place where sore backs and sunburnt shoulders don’t exist.

Then there is indie folk for farm work like hauling and digging and mucking: modern sounds that allude to bluegrass and blues roots like Iron and Wine or Black Prairie.

For very early morning baking of sweets and cakes there is always jazzy Nina Simone, and as I get into the swing of things I get a little more modern with Feist or Kimbra, but it’s always somebody with a bit of jazz/blues influence.

Then today I realized that when I bake bread there is an entirely different palate of music that I seek out that differs from when I’m baking sweets. Alan Lomax.

Mr. Lomax spent much of his life traveling and collecting folk music from around the world. I really love his depression era recordings from the deep south – things like Texas Gladden. Woo can that woman hit a grace note! When I listen to the rustic recordings of reedy voices belting out Appalachian ballads I can’t help but be whisked back to childhood when every July we would head over to the west side of Michigan to celebrate my mom’s and aunt’s birthdays. I remember watching my uncle move assuredly around his kitchen in almost a dance to the same recordings, or at least something similar. One of his staples was anadama bread, a sweet and dark molasses bread that originated in New England. According to legend, and wikipedia, “A fisherman, angry with his wife, Anna, for serving him nothing but cornmeal and molasses, one day adds flour and yeastto his porridge and eats the resultant bread, while cursing, “Anna, damn her.” The neighbors baked it because it was so delicious and coined it Anadama or Anadamy.”

 There are a number of recipes around on the internet, and this one only slightly resembles the one my uncle uses. I made this back in college when craving anadama – I found it on the New York Times’ website:

Anadama Bread

1/2 cup coarse yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup molasses

6 tablespoons butter, softened, more for greasing bowl

1 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Oil for greasing.

I used a locally milled blue cornmeal in my loaves. It’s the most lovely shade of lavender!

1. In a bowl, stir together the cornmeal and 1 cup water. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring another cup of water to a boil. Add cornmeal mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is very thick, about 10 minutes. Stir in the molasses and 2 tablespoons butter. Transfer mixture to bowl of an electric mixer and cool to tepid.

2. In a small bowl, stir together the yeast and 1/2 cup water until yeast has dissolved. Add to cornmeal and mix on low speed with dough-hook attachment for several seconds. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing for several seconds after each addition. Sprinkle in the salt and nutmeg, and continue mixing until dough completely comes away from sides of bowl, about 7 minutes.

3. Lightly butter a bowl. Form dough into a ball and place it in bowl. Oil a sheet of plastic wrap and loosely cover dough. Allow dough to rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

4. Lightly grease 2 9-by-4-inch loaf pans. Press down dough and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Shape each piece loosely into a loaf and place each in a pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until loaves have doubled.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake loaves for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until bread is a dark golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.

6. Allow bread to cool in pans for 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire cooling rack. Brush all over with remaining softened butter. Serve warm if possible.

Yield: 2 9-by-4-inch loaves.

Edit: I managed to contact my Uncle last night and he informed me that his recipe comes from the Bentley Farm Cookbook. I’ve never been one for posting published recipes but I found someone else who shared it online so if you’re interested in a much darker molasses loaf, try this recipe! Anna Damn Her Bread

Do you have music that you associate with certain tasks? Why do you associate them? 

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There are steps to creating a sustainable life.

In our society the realities of sustainability run up against the national character. Rigid self-sufficiency and individualism are the holy grail; in the words of Maxwell Anderson, how you can tell an American is that you cannot tell him what to do, even when it’s in his own best interest. In the current political insanity, any suggestion that we try to save our common heritage–like, for instance, the air–through sensible regulation, is excoriated as “removing choice.”

Enter the idea of the commons–those things that we own together, starting with the air, but also the water, the language, the creative works of humanity.

What I’ve discovered through the creation of the Peterson Garden Project, is that for many sustainable initiatives that revolve around community action, we lack a language. The language of communal action has been removed from the dialog, or vilified as “communist” or “socialist.” But some things, even most things cannot be done alone. The old saying that ‘your right to swing your fist ends at my nose” needs to be understood again to extend to our food and our health.

A new language does exist, in the old language, through the concept of the commons. What we hold together. What we all must use, but also spare, share, and save. Where our right to swing our so-called individual rights ends at the epidemic asthma in the inner cities because of pollutants, or the loss of aquifers because private owners have drained the wetlands that used to belong to all of us. We’ve allowed private bank accounts to be the fist, but haven’t stopped their swing at our collective nose.

Last week was the annual Good Fest Festival in Chicago (formerly the Family Farmed Fest), a really wonderful trade show all about restoring local, sustainable food systems to the urban landscape.  The exhibitors are all local farmers and food makers. It’s where I first learned how to change my diet to nearly 100% local food.

This year my friend LaManda Joy of The Yarden, founder of The Peterson Garden Project, was on the panel “Growing A Good Food Community”, about building urban communities through gardening and creating gardens by building urban communities. The interesting thing was that her fellow panelists were my old high school friend Jay Walljasper and Julie Ristau of On The Commons.

The panel, moderated by Megan Larmer of Slow Food Chicago, was beautifully constructed around the steps we need to take back collective ownership, working in a very American way, through individual action.

It starts, as I say, with the language. Jay talked about first, the need to start thinking again about the commons, and also laid out a basic way to think about the commons again. As important, he talked about how language can lead this new, old way of thinking, focusing right in on the difficulties I have had getting funders in particular to understand that what we’re doing is not a farm with a single owner or board, but collective action for individual benefit.

But it cannot stop with the language; only talking only works for academics. Enter Julie Riskau, founder and former publisher of the Utne Reader and current spokeperson for On The Commons. Julie talked about turning language into policy initiatives of the sort that lead to intelligent municipal ordinances which, for instance, stop creating criminals of people who put their edible gardens in their front yards because that is where the sun is.

But policy is only effective with an army of individuals putting it to work at street level. Which is where LaManda Joy and her Pop-up Victory Gardens come in, as well as the many other community gardening, and community preserving, and farmers markets, local school councils, in fact all of the community-based efforts that will save our cities and towns.

We need to restore the language, so we can affect the law, so we can own the activities that will make our communities livable.

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We are on the home stretch for the Dark Days Challenge with just a few weeks to go. March seems to signify Spring with longer days and the weather warming. Be sure to take a look at the meals from the WEST in our companion post today.

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I (Emily from Sincerely, Emily) decided to dig into the freezer and pull out some the Southern-type peas (zipper peas, cow peas, crowder peas) that I have from the garden last summer. Those peas grew really well considering how dry and hot it was last summer. I will plant more this spring!

This is the first time I have eaten these Southern peas as a side dish. Up until now, I have always thrown them in a soup or a stew and they have been great that way. Even though I froze them fresh, raw and uncooked, they were still quite firm after I sauteed them. Next time I will cook them in some water or steam them to see if they will soften up prior to sauteing them. The sausage came from a local heritage pork ranch and they called it a Mexican-style sausage. It have lots of flavor and I will buy it again. My neighbor has so many bunching onions growing right now. They are lush and full and beautiful this year and a great addition to almost any meal we have. Many of his bunching onions will be kept to dry and plant next year.

We are eating a lot of salads this time of year. I planted more lettuce than we needed, but it is nice to be able to give some to neighbors and friends as well as enjoy it too. My carrots aren’t ready yet, so I used some carrots from another local farm that I got at the farmers market. They are so sweet and incredible and added so much flavor to the salad.

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Here at Chiot’s Run things are a bit busy with planning for a possible move, fixing up the house to put in on the market, trying to find a nice little farm 4-5 states away, getting the spring/summer garden going. Add to that two weeks on the road traveling for work and you’ve got a recipe for not much time and needing quick & easy meals. When I get busy like I am I have a tendency to make up a big batch of something which we eat on for a few nights, then another big pot of something gets made up. This past week we enjoyed nachos in the evenings made with venison that Mr Chiot’s got for the freezer, topped with local cabbage braised in butter, home canned tomatoes and jalapeños mixed up into a salsa, local raw milk cheese melted on top, and enjoyed with some local tortilla chip (which are even fried in local sunflower oil).

I’m really happy that there are farmer’s around here that have been getting into winter harvesting. I was able to score a few bags of sweet overwintered carrots (since mine are long gone from the pantry). There were cooked up with a venison roast, homegrown potatoes, onions, and garlic. We invited some friends over to enjoy this meal with us, which always makes a meal taste even better!

How are your homestretch Dark Days meals coming along?

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Spring fever is spreading fast across much of the country. Many places have been teased by some warm spring temperatures. New vegetables, like asparagus, are starting to show up in some of the farmers markets. A sure sign of spring. Many participants are itching to get outside and start planting their spring gardens, but there is snow in some parts of the country. The days aren’t as dark as they used to be.

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West Region (CA, CO, UT, TX) with Emily from Sincerely, Emily

Teresa (CA) from Not from a Box made beautiful French “peasant” beets with bucherondin cheese and a big hunk of ciabatta. This meal was both delicious and filling. Beets are winding down for the season in her area, but they still have greens and root veggies available. New things are starting to pop up at the farmers markets, like asparagus and plenty of citrus (she’s in CA after all!) Stop by her blog to learn about her local resources.

Teresa (CA) from Not from a Box also made what she called “dinner in a flash.” It is a challenge getting home late in the evening and coming up with a quick and good dinner. Teresa found a quick and easy meal when she made Welsh rarebit with spinach, creamy butternut squash soup and a side of roasted asparagus using mostly local ingredients around her area. She is right, rarebit is insanely easy. Head over to her blog to learn about her local resources and more.

Julie (CO) from d.i.wine and dine made a nice dilly bean potato salad with garlic miso aioli this week. Not being a big fan of mayo, (that’s putting it mildy) she decided to tweak a recipe she found and make a miso aioli and use it in place of mayo helping to rank this the best potato salad she has ever had. She also used their own canned dilly beans and some locally grown potatoes. Visit her blog to see the receipt and more.

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I think the Upper Midwesterners are all outside enjoying this strange summer weather I think! Hard to take “Dark Days’ at face value with all this bright warm sunshine around! If you pop in here, put your recipe links in the comments!

Did you cook a Dark Days meal this week?

We would love to hear about what you made.

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We had a really hard summer here in South Texas last year and I know we were not alone. As we headed into winter we started getting a little rain. The winter went on and the rains continued little by little. Every little bit has helped, but it still hasn’t been enough.

The winter in my area was much milder than it has been over the past 3 years. My winter vegetable garden has done extremely well and I only remember watering it in the fall to get things started. After that, the rains took over and the cooler temps really kicked those winter veggies into grow-mode. I need to make some notes in my garden notebook… mainly, plant more next year!

In the past few weeks our weather has become quite warm and spring fever is just pushing me to get the vegetable seedlings in the ground. The wildflowers and other “weeds” are growing like crazy. Those seeds all lying in wait for the spring rains and the warmth of the sun to be able to germinate and emerge. They have started to grow and bloom, and produce seed to be able to continue the cycle of life. I don’t mind the wild flowers, but the weeds are out of control this spring.

Thinking of all those seeds lying dormant, waiting for rain and sun, full of hope. I feel the same way. I have hope for a better spring gardening season; better than last year. I am hopeful that we will continue to get some regular rains. I am hopeful that the temperatures don’t rise so quickly. I am hopeful that my vegetable seedlings and other plants have a chance to put down deep roots and grow healthy leaves and have enough energy to produce food.

As I look around, I see beautiful wildflowers, many of which are growing right in my yard. Everything is so lush and green, and the trees seemed to have budded out overnight, and many are full of new green leaves.

I have decided to plant a few tomatoes out in the garden already, not all of them, just a few. I will plant a few more at a time, testing the weather, hoping Mr. Frost doesn’t pay a visit. I am hopeful.

Are you hopeful this Spring?

Sincerely, Emily

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This past week has been rough. It all started with seed starting… then I found myself plagued by serious exhaustion which gave way to low blood pressure with finger and toe tingling, then irritability, leg and back pain, and finally progressed to all out visual hallucinations.

I have two students and a friend who are currently battling mono, all of which I’ve had contact with in the past few weeks… you can imagine where my frustrated imagination was going. Three to four weeks of little or no activity, no lifting heavy objects, no exertion whatsoever. Ugh! I was near tears every time I thought about it. I can’t stand being sick.

Of course, then again, I don’t ever tend to take a hint. Last Thursday I spent every moment of my day sleeping on the couch, except for the hour that I dragged myself out and put new plastic on my greenhouse (taking breaks to keep from passing out – that should’ve been a hint, right? My body going “What are you doing young lady?! Get back to bed this instant!” and somehow managing to do so in my mother’s voice.)

I refused to accept that I was ill, which I know (if I’d really had mono) was a really stupid approach. I complained and whined and moaned about the possibility, but when push came to shove I refused to go to the doctor’s to get tested simply because then I’d KNOW I couldn’t do things, rather than just suspecting it.

Anyway, when I started seeing things (scary faces in the background while talking to students’ parents, giant bugs on the wall… it was… fun) something sort of clicked. Aren’t visual hallucinations a sign of sleep deprivation? In fact, aren’t pretty much all of my symptoms?

I lay on the couch thinking about how I would wake up feeling completely exhausted, like I’d never actually slept. More than that, I was starting to dream while still awake…

Then it dawned on me. From my bed, from right where my head hits the pillow, I can catch a glimpse of the edge of my seed starting shelves. I’d been leaving the lights on overnight just until things start to germinate, and I noticed, but thought that I’d been ignoring, that I could see the lights when I went to bed.

Did you know that fluorescent lights can disrupt sleep patterns? That little thought tickled the back of my brain, dredged up from some crazy college science lecture on REM patterns and narcolepsy.

Well, I was ready to try anything except go to the doctor and actually get tested. I shut off my lights and went to bed, trying not to get my hopes up.

The next morning?

No tingly fingers or irritability, no back pain… just a simple headache and the feeling that I could still use a couple extra hours of sleep.

I’m fascinated by this, and I completely intend to read up on it some more (never again to have lights on at night)… but first?

 

I could use a nap.

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