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Ellen Lattz, "unbound" 2017.png

Sometimes I have something specific that  I want to say, but when I look at the blank sheet in front of me, my mind gets just as wiped clean.  Nothing comes to the surface of my thoughts.  All the important, fun stuff I was going  to say remains buried in the murky depths of the thought scape.

Today, I thought I would try to reverse the process.  I begin with no particular thought in mind.  I write with no fixed destination.  The hope is, that the view will become interesting, that an intriguing scene will spring into being suddenly blooming into a fertile vista that will stretch to the horizon, dragging my eager fingers with it on the keyboard.

It’s been raining for a couple of days reminding me of the children’s tale, “The Cat In The Hat.”  I wonder if Dr. Seuss began his story as a result of being cooped up with his pets by rain.   Perhaps he consoled himself with this tale after having to clean up after dogs and children that needed to go outside occasionally, and also needed to be let back in, mud and all.

We are forecast to have more storms moving in from the west.  It is snowing out there.  Will it get colder here?  Will the water stay on the ground, instead of running off into the already full creek?  I’m reminded of Queensland’s recent inundation.  500,000 cattle were drowned in the flooding.  along with everything else that couldn’t make it out of the area in time.  I don’t anticipate there being that much water here, but them again, Queensland didn’t anticipate that much water either.

We take for granted that we will have time to do things in the future. A future that isn’t guaranteed to happen, and if it does happen, not necessarily in the way we were planning. I have children I was planning on spending more time with, and Grandchildren I wanted to get to know. We don’t always get what we want.

If I had the time to do the things I wanted to do, one of the things would be to build interesting things with them.  To discover their passions, and help them realize even more capabilities.  I’d like to engage with them in creative things they never thought of doing.  To watch them find delight in the work of their hands, and satisfaction in completing a task and watching the results.

I’d like to garden with them, build homes with them, paint with them, and watch their joy.  I’d  teach them to throw pots, make bricks, and make useful, sometimes beautiful items to enrich their lives, and the lives of others. I’d build kilns with them, glaze pots, and fire them into glorious life.  I’d teach them about printing presses, typeset, and telling stories in both pictures and font. Maybe some of these things will get to happen. Maybe this rain won’t destroy the possibilities.  Maybe this rain will inspire me, and them, instead.

If we have time together, I want to hear about what they love, and what they hope to be able to pursue in the future.  I hope that their current experiences don’t lead them to anger, resentment, and destruction.  There is enough of that already in our world.  We are drowning in the results of piled on finger pointing.

We’ve been very carefully taught to play the blame game through our social and educational settings. This attitude is destroying our better creative urges. You can’t make wonderful things while you are engaged in the radical overthrow of everything around you. The two activities don’t compliment each other. I hope we have time to talk about these things. I hope we can re-direct all this pent-up energy back into constructive dialogue, and increased understanding.

We do need a radical overhaul, not necessarily of the physical reality, but mostly of our collective thinking. We need a radical change of heart; a national repentance from where we’ve been, and what we’ve been engaged in.  We all got too comfortable and dis-engaged from duties and responsibilities. We allowed those to fall to others while we pursued petty vanities.

We worked to keep up with the Jones’s and Kardashian’s instead of staying involved in civic planning.  We let people frighten us into giving up not only our freedoms, but also the best of our independence.  We gave up our personal livestock and gardens. We allowed others to dictate what the definition of poverty was.

Instead of a plethora of skills and abilities, which comes with farming and animal husbandry, we fell for the images of wealth, ease, and affluence displayed by those who used the work of our hands to get that.  Our gardens, chickens, pigs and cows were not what held us back. Those are the very things which kept us from positions of begging, of want, and of servitude.

Eventually, we allowed our leadership to trade off our manufacturing jobs, albeit we didn’t understand that was what would happen. We believed the leadership had our best interests at heart.  We weren’t paying attention to history, to what had just happened to others who did the same things, even within our own lifetimes. We allowed ourselves to be distracted by easy entertainment, and rah, rah, chants for teams that played games.  We were lulled by the soothing  sound of “people don’t think that way” and “nobody would do that”, even though we have seen many places where they most certainly Did do that.

If we are fortunate. we will get those jobs back.  If we are dutiful, we can take back control of our civic zoning laws. We can kick out those who wish to frighten us with their tales of health risks, and get back the real health that comes with home grown garden vegetables and clean fertilizer from our own farm animals. Our own chickens will go back to being our natural pesticide squad, and our own cow’s raw milk will be the source of our strength.  Our livestock will once again be the source of our butter and egg money.  Our earned extra.  Our surplus that we use to save and trade for those things we don’t grow or make ourselves.

If we are given the time, if the Good Lord is willing, and the creeks don’t rise, we will rebuild that which was lost. We will improve on what went on before by being more cooperative with each other. We can learn to diversify the works of our hands, while specializing in those things we have a knack for.

Imagine a block of homes, where the open areas are gardened and farmed in a collective effort. Where we put the land under our feet to good use for our health, instead of poisoning it into only growing skinny, short grasses.

Imagine learning to grow edible flower gardens as once was done; where we remember that Passion flowers make good fruit and jelly, and aren’t for just looking at.  The knowledge of these things hasn’t yet been destroyed. It is in our libraries and on the internet. Some of it resides in the memories of our Grandparents, who actually used to do some of the things we’ve lost, or who watched their Grandparents do the things we only see in pictures now.  Our elderly may not have the physical strength they once had, but they have the memories we can learn from. They are a valuable resource, if we will only remember to honor them and allow them to instruct us in a few things once more.

If we can learn to merge the use of the new things, with the activities of the old things, we will be twice as rich, twice as capable, twice as safe, and twice as secure.  We will have the advantages of new creations, with the security of the old skills. We can engage in new pursuits while keeping the ability to do for ourselves, and provide for our own security.  Independence requires work. Work provides dignity and self-respect.  Self-respect is a component of happiness.  The pursuit of happiness isn’t found in too much ease; it’s found while engaged in worthwhile labor.

I hope I live to see my children and grandchildren able to implement these activities. I hope they will have the opportunity to build a better world, a more cooperative world, a more diverse in activities world, a healthier world. We had a world like that once. it was depicted in the 70’s T.V. show “The Waltons.” I hope my Grandchildren live to build it again, and improve on it.

 

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Hi Emily.  Happy belated birthday wishes to you. Yes, I know this is two days after your birthday…..  I didn’t forget it….. I just have other issues. Sorry.  I know, I’m a terrible Mother.

The first issue is that although I have your birthday stuff in my car, and the kids Easter stuff as well, and the boxes to pack them into, and the tape to seal them with, I haven’t had the money for the postage….  I would have had, but it keeps getting sucked out in over charge fees at the bank….  I don’t know why Naomi and I can’t coordinate this better…  It might be because there is so little actual communication between us, or it could be because I’m the only one with a job….Oh well….sigh……second month in a row.

The second issue was that my phone was dead on Wednesday, and I plugged it into the car to get it some charged up before I went to school, but it wasn’t charged enough by the time I got there, so I put my keys back into the ignition and turned the car on while I sat for a while…..  then, because it was still early Your time, I gathered my stuff together, and went to class…. (did you guess yet that I left the keys in the ignition? because I didn’t until I got back out there later that afternoon).

The third issue was school, and having a paper due, and getting my stuff together for the final critique in printmaking next week (I finished my body sized print today).

The fourth issue was getting to work on time (which I didn’t because my keys were locked in the car, (and calling the insurance company’s road side assistance used up the rest of my phone charge, again). So, though I had the time then to call you, I didn’t have the phone charge (again).

Then I got to work (finally, after getting back into the car, and getting it jumped, because the key was not only In the ignition, but also turned to On).  I did remember that it was your birthday, but I was at work, and I had a dead phone…. When I got off work after midnight… It was late, and my phone was still dead.  I got home and plugged it in… and fell asleep waiting for it to charge up again….

So.. then I was into the next day already.  I hope you had a great birthday anyway, and survived your night out. 😉

So, because I’m a terrible Mother, I’m going to write a “Make-up for being a shitty Mother” poem Just for you.  It won’t be for my Creative writing class, for which I need another two poems by tomorrow; he will get two Other poems for that workshop.  This one will be Just Yours. You can see it in the other blog TheMusicOfPoetry.wordpress.com.  Love you much

Mom

 

 

 

I was reading a post by “Musings”  which spoke of temporary architecture, and it’s recent usage.  There were individual mobile platforms for ice skaters, reminding me of miniature North American Plains Indian Teepees, and really large, recyclable venues for Olympic stadiums too.

I got to pondering a bit about the direction this new mobile architecture might be taking us on.  New materials can be light weight, easily assembled, transportable, and strong.  There has also been a new emphasis on smaller scaled living, probably due to the economic downturn that has lasted for so long.  With that in mind, take a leap of imagination with me toward a slightly different looking future:

Picture a wooded slope, previously not to thickly inhabited, but now you see glimpses through the trees of small, sometimes bright colored constructions.  Here in the flatter foreground is a ring of small personal spaces sharing a central area with a water spigot and hot water source, and each having easy access to a nearby row of privies and showers, somewhat like vacationer campgrounds.

61st St. Community Garden, Chicago

61st St. Community Garden, Chicago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Areas of urban blight have been transformed into guarded miniature homestead parks, occupied by individuals with a collective agreement to share responsibilities for the space while in residence there. Structures from Yurts to geodesic domes to re-purposed shipping crates occupy empty lots formerly used as dumping grounds.  Former welfare recipients and newly-released-from-state-care orphans find a place within these communities to begin their upward climb out of poverty.  These communities serve as half-way stops for both those growing into new responsibilities, and as stopping places on the way out of the working life while one still wishes to be useful.  Social security check recipients now reside here and live well, while contributing their aid and skills to the community effort.

The structures aren’t quite tents, nor are they as permanent looking as sheds, but something of a cross between the two.  Light weight composite materialbolted together and anchored into the ground with flexible steel cables attached to long pegs in the ground to keep them from blowing away in storms.  Electricity powered from a central source run into each personal space,  powering lights and small unit cooler/heater systems.  No individual structure taking up more space than what can be easily assembled and taken back down.

Portable home

 

Among the trees  of the turnpikes and within the canyons formed by empty lots between buildings, there are individual sites with similar footage, some on the ground and some built into abandoned buildings.  All of them  parts of guarded community agreements in cooperation with city and municipal governments. There are gardens, both vertical and horizontal in the available spaces, and chickens are raised in long, portable  coops which both fertilize the ground and help control pests in the community garden tended by rotating shifts of volunteers.

This is an urban oasis for the new overworked, and underpaid entry level  technicians in Any Company, America.  This is the new retirement villa’s of the recently retired.  This is the refuge for the homeless and the hopeless.  This is where the shared community garden is carefully raked into the earth and just as carefully tended to by various residents who enjoy growing their own food.  Several Converted shipping crates serve as canning kitchens and storage space for the food stuffs created and preserved here.

There are rental bike racks not far from these new urban residences; and mobile food vendors ply their trade nearby as a service to these hardy human beings.  Clothing and sundry other mobile vendors work the streets nearby to meet the constant needs of these just in time consumers.

Stacked shipping crates have been modified to easily and properly house refugees and migrant workers.  Showers and public facilities are engineered into some of the shipping crates as shared utilities and others are converted into community kitchens. Bunk beds and hammocks are strung through others as sleeping spaces, and still others are rooms for entertainment or study.

A daycare has been created from a grouping of shipping crates and a lightweight cover extending over a guarded play area.  Meals are served on tables that fold down from the inner court’s walls as complete seating and eating units.  Colorful murals by local artists depict a happy environment for growing children on the outsides of these structures, adding to the delightful ambiance of the neighborhood.

An out of service semi-trailer, painted in murals by local artists,  serves as a covered bus stop with benches lining the walls between the doors.

These communities can be located anywhere there is available space; the various occupants working in either the community itself (Guard, daycare, gardening, laundry, clean-up crew, cooking) or outside in whatever labor or industry the occupants can locate, and contributing by helping to pay for the water access and available electricity while being fed by the community for their contributions.

 

© Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises, llc 2012.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
Tim Allen

Image by Alan Light via Flickr

I feel like making those famous Tim Allen grunting noises (huhhh, huhhh, huhhh). Not for extra powerful motors on ordinary home improvement tools, but for extraordinarily successful experimenting in the kitchen.  I’m so pleased with the way it turned out.  It all started with a thawed out, cut up chicken, and a desire to eat it fried, but I was out of eggs.  Without an egg in the milk, the flour batter would fall off too easily…. 😦  What to do, what to do…..

I looked around my kitchen for some kind of substitute batter solution.  In the refrigerator there was a half a can of condensed Cream of Mushroom soup.  Hmmmm….  and I had an open bag of instant potato flakes.  Would it work?

Potato flakes can be used to make potato pancakes…..

I turned on my stove and put the large wok on the burner with a cup and a half of corn oil in the bottom of it.  I made sure I had my largest pot lid ready to cover it.

I quickly put the condensed cream of mushroom soup in a bowl large enough to dip my

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Image by avlxyz via Flickr

chicken quarters into, and added some water (about a the same amount of water as the soup in the can) and stirred it up; just enough to get it to a thick creamy texture, so it would stick to the chicken.  I got a second bowl out to put the  potato flakes in, also large enough to roll the chicken quarters in.  I had a lot of potato flakes, which is good, because you want it to have plenty of flakes to create the  crust.  The creamy mushroom soup was just right for absorbing the flakes and getting it all to stick to the chicken pieces.

I also put a three quart sauce pan on the back burner with lots of water and some butter in it to boil to use up the mashed potato flakes after I was done with the chicken pieces, and I put on a smaller pan for some green beans that I added seasoning salt to for flavor.

 
 

I had my large wok pan with plenty of oil in the bottom set on a good medium temperature (between 5 and 6 on an electric stove) already hot before I put the chicken quarters in and a good large lid to hold the heat in while the pieces were frying.  

 
 

The oil was just about half way up the chicken pieces so they were steaming on the top while they were frying on the bottom.    After about ten minutes, I flipped the pieces over to fry on the other side.  The Mushroom Potato crust stayed on!  And it looked good too. 

 

Another ten minutes on the second side and I took the pieces out and put them on a plate with some paper towels to absorb some of the oil, and then popped them into the microwave for a couple of minutes to make sure these heavy chicken pieces were cooked all the way through.

I repeated this for a second set of chicken pieces as they don’t all fit in the pan at the same time.  I actually had enough pieces of chicken that I filled the wok pan a third time before I was finished.  

 

For the third set of chicken pieces, I just put the pieces in the still heating oil, and let them fry themselves while we ate.  The portions of potato crusts that had fallen off the previous chicken pieces adhered themselves to the third set of frying chicken parts, and they turned out delicious, as well.)

Rachel had fried chicken. Delicious and sweet....

Image via Wikipedia

Add iodized table salt over the tops of the still hot chicken pieces, just before you put them on the table.

 

An added bonus to this cooking experiment was the left over cream of mushroom soup went into the already cooking season salted green beans, and the left over potato flakes went into the boiling water pot to become Mushroom and Chicken Seasoned Mashed Potatoes.  There was no waste and it was all delicious.  Even my picky eater who doesn’t like mushrooms liked it all.

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