Filed under: Adapting to Change, Wellness | Tags: cabbage, cancer, health, Hoppin' John, New Year, wellness
I last posted on this blog September 26th. I tripped on some brick steps in the middle of a workday on October 14th and while the resulting wrist break was ’cause for pause’ the additional discovery of Stage 4 lung cancer changed my life forever. With my arm in a cast and unable to type, I simply gave up on the blog until I could type again. The cast finally came off last week and it turns out that typing seems to be good physical therapy for the newly-healed bone. Then mid-day on this New Year’s Eve, it occurred to me that THIS was probably a good day to return to something I enjoy doing, with the hopes that you’ll enjoy reading.
I’ll start by showing off the four big cabbages I harvested today from my plot in the community garden-perfect for tomorrow’s traditional New Year’s day, good-luck meal of Hoppin’ John and fried cabbage. If you’re not familiar with Hoppin’ John, it’s a rather spicy, Creole-tasting sacrament made with the perfect trifecta of onions, celery and peppers along with black-eyed peas, sausage, tomatoes, rice and greens, with a coin hidden in the pot to symbolize wealth in the coming year. Many people make this southern dish with greens (mostly collards) but I like to fry cabbage to go with my Hoppin’ John and nature provided her very best for this special occasion. Surely I will have a healthy and wealthy 2016!
All of this is simply to say that, just as nature transformed my seeds into cabbage heads, and transformed my broken bone into a well-mended wrist once again, I have confidence that my cancer can and will be ‘cured’ and I’ll be able to make the transition from cancer patient to survivor.
Even though this blog will remain focused on ways that we can create a way of living that’s significantly more connected, more vibrant and more fulfilling than the one we find ourselves in today, I can’t simply ignore the transition that my body is currently going through. To that end, I plan to focus more on healthy ways that we can create that way of living. Without good health, we have nothing. I can honestly say that the fall, with broken wrist, was MY LUCKY BREAK. I was feeling very well prior to its’ discovery and without the trip to the ER the cancer may not have been diagnosed until months down the road. Months that I didn’t have to spare.
I am also editing this blog’s ‘About Page’ to include the words ‘and personal’. Now is the time to take stock and to re-create our future in ways that are not based on cheap, plentiful and polluting oil but on localized food, sustainable energy sources, resilient local economies and an enlivened sense of community and personal well-being.
I wish you the best for the coming year and always. Eating some greens and Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day practically ensures that you will get your own ‘lucky break’ in 2016. Happy New Year everyone!
Filed under: Frugality | Tags: adapt, frugal, homesteader, Longkeeper Tomatoes, New Year, Three Sisters, transition
A new year- If I were going to make any resolutions, it would be to continue to find fun ways to be frugal and thrifty. But that’s always my resolve, and I don’t need a new calendar to remind me what it once felt like to have more week than payday and to rob Peter to pay Paul. I I like paying cash for everything and letting my savings grow. And I don’t know about you, but I want to thrive, not just survive while working towards transitioning to a future that is not based on cheap, plentiful and polluting oil but on localized food, sustainable energy sources, resilient local economies and an enlivened sense of community well-being.
To that end, my family has enrolled in a year-long analysis of our electric, gas and fuel usage. The program is being offered through a local, grassroots group called G.I.N.I. (Green Interfaith Network, Inc) and is sponsored by Tennessee Interfaith Power and Light. Hopefully the resulting audit will help us learn what we can do to weatherize our 115 year old home and about the financial incentives of doing so. Recording our gasoline and mileage will also help us prepare ourselves both physically and mentally for using our own two legs or public transportation to get us to the places we need to go. It’s hard to make myself walk to the dentist when gas is less than $2.00 per gallon, but I find the exercise helps keep me fit, we’re only putting about 5,000 miles a year on our car, and it makes me feel so much more resilient to know that I’ve structured the bulk of my life into a radius of less than 2 miles. When I’m too old to drive or walk, I’ll get an electric scooter. Go Granny go! Savings? you can’t put a price on independence.
One thing that’s become very apparent to me over the last dozen years or so, is that by always thinking and looking ahead for the things that I need or want, and having patience, I will eventually find them at a good price. It breaks my heart to buy something brand new, knowing that all over America there are thrift stores, yard sales, basements and auction houses absolutely bursting with useful items. I see them every day, everywhere.
Monday: I had asked for a very specific type of slippers for Christmas, knowing they are old fashioned and hard to find, but not wanting anyone to buy them new. Not surprisingly, there weren’t any for me under the tree but I found a pair with the tags still attached at my local thrift store this week for 99 cents! Amazon lists a very similar pair but they are ‘unavailable’. I’m happy.
Tuesday: After having friends over for food and music on Sunday, there were leftover fresh green pepper strips that I’d bought and served with hummus as dippers. I rarely buy them and sure didn’t want to waste them so I decided to make one of my favorite meals: Three Sisters. It’s simple, frugal, healthy and delicious. It uses the traditional Native American trio of corn, beans and squash and since I still have about 15 more large butternut squashes in the cellar, I seasoned and baked a few, then pureed them. After freezing all but two cups, I used it to make this dish…
Directions are simple: Spread hot pureed squash on a warm toasted corn tortilla, top with pinto beans, chopped tomatoes, green peppers, salsa and (leftover from the party too) sour cream. Add a splash of hot sauce if you’re so inclined. Savings? About $2.00 worth of peppers. By the way, these tomatoes were some of the Longkeeper type that we grow each summer for, well, long keeping! While not as good as a ripe August tomato, there are 1,000 times better than a Florida-grown, gassed-to-ripen, January tomato!
Wednesday: I decided I’d best harvest some of the winter onions before this week’s frigid temps moved in. Just-picked onions and fresh tomatoes in January? Priceless!
Thursday: After putting out a request on Freecycle for a VCR player, a friend responded by bringing by one of his extra players he’d put back for ‘hard times’. Savings? Being able to watch some of our old favorite movies again is yet another priceless gift! Thanks Bryan!
Friday: I traded a wanna-be-homesteader friend a stack of Mother Earth News magazines for a jar of her home-made relish. win-win
My New Year’s wish for all of us? That this will finally be the year that we can all become part of a viable, local, food network, that our new Congress will get along, that we’ll all learn to adapt to the changes in our lives and the world, and that we’ll walk and ride our way to good health as we meet our neighbors and form ‘communities of well-being’ amongst ourselves. Oh yeah. May this be the year that we all find our dream slippers at the thrift store too. Happy New Year everyone!