Archive for the ‘Freedoms and Issues’ Category

On November 11th, the US will celebrate Veterans Day. I will put a flag out on the front porch as a big wave to all the Veteran’s out there and in recognition to their service.

I remember…

My Dad

My Dad

I remember…

Great Uncle Harvey

Great Uncle Harvey

I give recognition to my paternal Grandfather, whom I never met, for his service.

World War I

World War I

Do you hang out a flag on Veteran’s Day?

Sincerely, Emily

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One sees these things coming. A venerable locally-owned brand is sold to a national chain, which then abandons it. Boom. Local ownership gone. Safeway, the grocery store chain (or more likely the holding company that owns Safeway), just axed Dominick’s in Chicago. They are closing dozens, for all I know hundreds, of neighborhood stores. I’m hoping that another local chain will reap the windfall, but think it’s more likely we’re going to end up with WalMarts filled with processed foods and a few bruised Chilean apples and e. coli-contaminated salad bags to keep Mrs. Obama and her corporate sponsors happy.

I say No. Here are my demands:

1. Only healthy junk food, with pictures of rain forests and bunnies so I know it’s safe
2. Fresh organic lettuce, sold in plastic bags, preferably pre-cut, because who has time.
3. No dirt– otherwise who KNOWS where that turnip has been
4. Healthy options at MacDonald’s. If you eat a salad with the Big Mac, I’m pretty sure it has fewer calories.
5. Have Maria teach me the proper pronunciation of “habanero” next time she comes to clean
6. All vegetables presented in faux wood bins, with real wicker baskets instead of shopping carts so I can pretend I’m at the Farmers Market, which is full of all these farmers, which can’t be sanitary
7. A special display with 14 different heirloom tomatoes (not 14 types–14 tomatoes) so I can say I’ve seen one. Make sure they cost $7 apiece so I can complain about how organic (sic) is too expensive
8. Candy in the checkout aisle. Because those nuts from Occupy Safeway are blocking access to the candy.
9. Support local farmers! Give them jobs as baggers, since their farms are all mortgaged to the hilt.

Originally posted on the Mahlzeit blog, October 21, 2011.

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What strikes one first about the site of the crash of Flight 93 is how remote it is. A reasonable drive from Pittsburgh, one of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., set among forested hills full of resorts and towns, the plane came down in the open fields of a former surface mine, safely removed from habitation.

Unless, as has been speculated, they were shot down where they would do the least damage, the hand of the god is the only explanation. The minute luck that planted them here, where only those on the plane could be hurt, is almost impossible to grasp.

Unlike nearby Gettysburg, where centuries of rain and sun, where replanting and plowing and growing have put the ghosts to rest, they still drift on the breeze in Shanksville.

I was there on a rainy weekday- perhaps 10 people were there. Prayer felt difficult, but I recited a psalm, and the kaddish, and yes, a Muslim prayer as well, inscribed on a scrap phonetically. I placed a pebble on the end of the monument (wondering why there were no pebbles there but mine), to mourn the suffering of the world that was highlighted by this terrible act, and to honor the terrible bravery of the passengers and crew who died.


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I visited Gettysburg last week; something I’ve always wanted to do. The battlefields are somber but oddly unhaunted. The cemetery, on the other hand is the most haunted place I’ve ever been. The Civil War graves are arranged in concentric rings in the the center of smaller graveyards from subsequent wars upon wars upon wars. You can practically see the Union and Confederate soldiers facing them and screaming in despair, that their sacrifice did not end it.


The dead in soft sweeps
Name upon name in the green
thousands and thousands

The named dead

All the unknown dead
Are waiting in the green grass
for God to name them

Illinois' unknown

Unknown, unknowing
the nameless lost ones lie in rings.
Who will mourn them now?

The unknown dead

Stone One forty three
Does your name still matter now?
The goddess knows youThe unknown dead-143

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Flower Power came onto the scene back in the late 1960’s and 70’s out in Berkley, California. It was a symbol of non-violence and passive resistance. Hippies embraced the idea and started colorful clothing with embroidered flowers and colors. Wearing flowers in their hair and handing out flowers, they became known as “flower children.”


Being a child of 1965, I (Sincerely, Emily) was old enough to remember some “Flower Power!” Right this moment, for me, Flower Power brings to mind pollination. (It also has me singing songs from the soundtrack from Forrest Gump) “To everything, turn… turn… turn. There is a season, turn… turn… turn” or “R E S P E C T. Find out what it means to me. R E S P E C T. Take care. TCB”  (TCB = Taking care of business)


Funny you should mention that Emily…only the other day I (Fran) reacquainted myself with “Flower Power” in the form of a fibreglass cow wearing gumboots! 😉

DSCF5899“YEAH Baby!” 😉


As Serendipity Farm is suffering the last throes of winter I had to hunt high and low for some flower material. These might be pretty to some folks but Forget-me-nots certainly live up to their name on Serendipity Farm…”WEEDS”! Just flowers in the wrong place 😉


This is a “Where’s Wally” flower


Who needs flowers when you have leaves like this?

I managed to take a few more flower images but I am saving them for Monday’s post…sorry guys, you will just have to take the bait and come see on Monday just what narf7 managed to find under all of the mud, flooded soil and windswept debris. Until then, I am officially envious beyond belief of all of you Northern Hemisphere full flowering summer folks…


Flower Power Central! Can you spot me (Alexandra) at the Independent Garden Center show in Chicago last week? (Thank you LaManda Joy for taking the photo!)


What does “Flower Power” mean to you?

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I confess. When Michelle Obama was in Chicago a few months ago, and visited Walgreens, I stood in front of the television yelling at her.

Why was Michelle Obama, of all people, in Chicago-city of neighborhoods, home of the nation’s most diverse ethnic population, in the middle of the richest farmland in the world, and leader of the WW2 Victory Gardens movement-standing in some anonymous Walgreens, praising them for importing tomatoes from Chile.

Why was she not walking down Clark Street in Rogers Park, where there are probably 15 locally-owned mercados featuring produce raised locally, and run by families living in the neighborhood. Why was she not on Devon Avenue in the 40th ward, another strip of vibrant local economy? How about 57th Street in her own neighborhood, and home, until the big boxes shut it down, of the famous 57th Street Food Co-op? In Chicago “food desert” doesn’t mean no grocery stores– statutorily it means no big national chain stores. So you get the absurdity of the Albany Park “food desert” where there are at least 6 full service, locally-owned grocery stores within 5 blocks of the main intersection at Lawrence and Kedzie.

The solution to healthy food systems and urban vitality is not another vast parking lot, where private security will boot your car if you so much as step onto the sidewalk to mail a letter, but small, locally owned grocery stores, with sensible inspection protocols, and family management.

After the ’68 riots, Chicago let its local economies die. Where once there were dozens of family businesses keeping the neighborhoods, especially the African-American neighborhoods alive, a decades-long shibboleth has been sold us, teaching us that “business” happens on Wall Street or LaSalle Street, over-regulating small businesses while letting the big guys get away with murder and the family silver, and selling our own livelihoods back to us in Big Boxes stocked with the fruits of foreign slave labor. We’ve been spoon fed the lie that a “small business” is someone with 5 million dollars in annual sales, and 250 employees. That’s not a “small business.” A small business is the corner store (NOT the 7-11, but the old-fashioned Mr. Gower-type of store), or the local nfp animal rescue, or the neighborhood clinic.

Once “business” is what your grandpa did, in his shop around the corner from his house, or downstairs from his apartment. You worked there on the weekends and after school, learning how to run a business, a business that you would take over, when your grandpa and your pa got too old. We’ve let not one, or two, but now three generations of business acumen just die in service to the supposed “efficiency” and low prices of Walmart and its ilk.

Walgreen’s is not the answer to food deserts or to sustainable economies. Walgreen’s is the problem. Bring back the neighborhood pharmacists, tailors, shoe repairs, appliance repairs, and grocers.

A coalition of local food activists agrees with me. They’ve created the Statement of Local Food Economy (pdf). You can sign the statement, too. Also- World Food Day.

Originally posted on Mahlzeit blog in 2010.

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Local is the new black.

It goes with everything.

Or does it?

Here at Not Dabbling in Normal we want to know how far we can push this local thing. What can you buy locally and what can you really not? How local can you get? Your yard? Your block? Your neighborhood, your state? Can you tell if what you’ve purchased is local?

This month, we’re going to get “real” at Not Dabbling again. Emily B, Emily S, Suzy, Ryan, Xan, Miranda and DeeDee are going to buy local and only local. We’re talking food, transportation, underwear, cat food, clothes, you name it. We’re going to find out what can we buy that’s locally produced, and what we can’t. If it isn’t produced locally, we’re going to try to find locally-owned shops. And if we can’t do that, we’ll find out what can we live without, and what we have to have.


This challenge is perfectly timed for me, Miranda. I have been feeling utterly disconnected from my food lately, and recently had an epiphany of sorts. You can read more about my recent re-connection with seasonal food at Pocket Pause, and i’m looking forward to sharing my new found inspiration here at Not Dabbling.


Food is easy. It’s the other stuff. I need curtains, which I can make, but if there is a fabric mill or curtain rod factory within 2,000 miles of Chicago I’ll eat my hat. On the other hand, many communities have shops like this one– a locally owned, owner-managed True Value Hardware.


How close to home do you think you can get? Join the Challenge! Let us know in the comments;  leave us a link to your blog and we’ll create a participants blog roll.

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