Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tent Homes, Wave of the future?( no pun intended)

 In light of the recent Hurricane Sandy and it's aftermath, I remembered this small town of Ocean Grove New Jersey and it's tent cottages  developed in 1869 as a Christian Camp Community,_New_Jersey
Perhaps these types of dwellings would be easier to insure, and replace if need be.  I remember a time when it was considered cool in popular culture to have a shack on the beach. Curious how people in 1869 seemed to have more common sense even before the days of global warming, than those people of  today, perhaps they still remembered the Biblical quote about building your house on the shifting sands. 95 percent of my relatives live in New Jersey, they are all safe and basically okay(despite being without power for over a week), even their homes, luckily. I found that in  this disaster, the blogosphere was more helpful in obtaining information than the local authorities. Thank Goodness that there is a blog in my mom's hometown that was able to be updated in terms of power , gas and food issues.I had to relay information to her via cell phone, since I live in Idaho USA. I have now realized that in a major crisis one needs cash and not credit when power goes out in order to buy any essentials like food or gas.I kept thinking of the Mad Max II Road Warrior movie quote from Gyro Captain something to the effect of "it's all about the petrol mate"  One of my relatives said to me that the shore will never be the same since those days at the beach we remember, but in my mind, N.J. hasn't been the same since I was a kid, in many ways, as there are almost twice as many more people, cars, and buildings. The farms and wild wooded places I remember are now subdivisions  and shopping plazas.I often wondered why I was so inclined to go back to the land in rural America and aim for self sufficiency, despite one of my cousin's sarcastic comments about living in the boondocks. I have my own woodlot and cut my own firewood for heat, and grow a lot of my own food. I now see how big urban systems break down, quickly and leave people unable to take care of themselves. So maybe, my hybrid life of retro/ modernism
 spinning yarn on a foot powered spinning wheel while listening to lectures at the European Graduate School the web, is not such a strange lifestyle choice after all. Sorry for the devastating loss of the Hurricane victims and many New Jersey-ans, nature can be rather callous,  it is up to us humans to find balance between progress, business, and  nature. Perhaps the marketplace i.e. insurance marketplace will be one of the arbiters. Here's a poem I wrote concerning the situation

              Chess Match
the houses swallowed up the land
the sea swallowed up the houses

Monday, February 6, 2012

winter projects, and a story

I finished these two sweaters recentlyLink with Icelandic Lopi yarn from my friend Lee's sheep It's the same sweater in different sizes and knit in 2 different colors with two separate sets of vintage buttons sewn on. I got the buttons from a wonderful hole in the wall store, called "The Button Lady" run by, at the time, a 90 year old woman proprietor. The store was in a small town in Northern New Jersey and is no longer there.I had one of those peak, memorable, mother daughter experiences in the store that many women with overly controlling mothers can most likely relate to. My mom was talking to the elderly proprietor while I wandered around the narrow shop with a wall of floor to ceiling long drawer type boxes of buttons. As I walked around, in overwhelming awe at the wide array of beautiful, vintage, buttons, I finally zeroed in, and made my selections from the drawers of buttons, each of which had a price sheet included inside the box. I carefully selected the sample button, laying it on top of the price sheet, and then placing the button and price sheet on top of the corresponding drawer box, making it easy for the elderly woman to tally up my purchase and keep her inventory in order. I had selected about twelve separate button styles and neatly laid the boxes and info sheets on the counter. The woman asked " are you ready?" as I said " yes" my mom who wasn't paying any attention to the care and organization of button boxes I had made says" Oh lets organize this for the woman" and quickly starts grabbing boxes and buttons, haphazardly, completely screwing up the meticulous order I had so painstakingly arranged. The buttons fell on the floor,and my orderly selection, ended up in utter disarray. Not only had my mom ruined the tally, but insulted me by insinuating that I was a sloppy idiot, that was too lazy or inconsiderate to carefully arrange my purchases for a nice elderly woman. Well, the mentally sharp, elderly, Jewish, woman had not only been able to carry on a conversation with my mom but also noticed all the efforts I had made with her inventory, and sternly chided my mom, the kind of chiding you give when you realize someone went out of their way to make your elderly life a lot more difficult!" your daughter already had the buttons in order"she said to my mom with an edge in her tone on the verge of yelling. My mom kind of brushed it off " Oh yeah I guess she did" in the same inattentive manner in which she caused the problem, not realizing the enormity of work it was going to take to put the inventory back in order. That behavior, unfortunately,arose from a long history of assuming authority, starting with my mom's role as a middle child looking after younger siblings. She was also a former teacher of young students.My mom had a habit of always taking control, regardless of whether it was needed or not, and assuming a position of authority without the sensitivity of observing her surroundings and seeing if authority and taking control was called for. On top of it all my mom was complaining to me in not such a soft voice about the price of the buttons, all the while, I knew how rare it was to find matching sets of 4-5 beautiful vintage buttons in one convenient place. As an adult woman who is careful with my money I had already made these assessments and deduced that the buttons were well worth the money, but such are the experiences one has with parents at times, regardless of your age they tend to see you as their hapless 10 year old, at least in my case. I suppose old habits die hard and people don't always see what is, but leap to conclusions based on old patterns of behavior. Nevertheless these buttons I sewed onto my handmade sweaters are tied up in so much memory for me!

I was able to grow and eat salad from my greenhouse on the winter solstice. I experimented with growing greens, lettuce,arugula, spinach, kale, parsley, cilantro, mint, collard greens, Swiss chard,so far I've been able to harvest everything but the Swiss chard which has grown to half it's size and then stopped.I'm in zone 4 and my greenhouse is in an area protected from the wind, that is not full sun but gets an adequate 6-7 hours.
Winter this year is quite bearable, with high doses of vitamin D, my stack of 12 books to read, fresh vegetables in the greenhouse, and lots of knitting projects, besides work.