Rock Bottom Tuesday: Giving Thanks

It has been a whirlwind of getting this store ready. We certainly could not have done it without the many wonderful folks in our life that support us – family, friends, customers, business partners and those who cross all those divides. This weekend is our soft opening (Shop Local Saturday!) and we are excited to invite all and one to come in and visit us. Gardiner has become a great little downtown to get some gifts and enjoy some time traipsing.

In the midst of getting it all together, it finally snowed and the temperatures have stayed semi-stable at the low end – it is Maine in November, after all. We’ve been canning Carrot Jam and Cranberry Jam (both good with toast, and even better with warmed Brie and little toasts, or with cake, or meats), getting foraged teas and bath soaks ready, and the baker has been making a delicious Cranberry Pecan Bread. This is the official last bake of the house – next bakes in the new kitchen!

Onto more shelving, decorating, and putting the final touches on our little store space to welcome you all. Ledgeway Farm soaps and goodies, The Chef’s Cupboard spices, Farm House Coffee Roasters coffee and a couple of highlighted publishers and small presses like the gorgeous handbound poetry collections from Akinoga Press, the exciting titles from 3:A Taos Press, the voices in praxis from Alternative Field, inspiring and activating books from PM Press, creative language from Terrapin Books, foraging goodness from Sam Thayer, stalwart philosopher/homesteader/writer Scott Nearing, hopefully some posters and fun books from the Bread & Puppet theater, new and invigorating work from Emergence Magazine, Greenhorns’ Almanac, Taproot Magazine rounded out by mission driven groups like Chelsea Green Publishing, Akashic Books, AK Press, Poetry Magazine and New Society Books all grace our space or have been ordered. We’re excited!

So, thank you again for all of you who have helped, monetary, time and space, or even just emotionally from afar! It is all welcome and we are grateful.

Tuesday on the Homestead: Balance

It’s tough these days to find any – balance, that is. Between the wonky weather (70 degrees last week – flush little late Tatsoi and Purple Pak Choi, this week our first snow and down to 20 degrees by the end of the week!), the store opening (in a mere week and a half?! egad!, it looks like impossibility now if you peek in the windows but it will all come together suddenly, will we? that remains to be seen…), and the Solstice creeping up for us (our countdown calendar board starts also in 2 weeks – I need supplies!), it feels like a lot. Besides, the dissertation, the bakery, and yes, the homestead.

What happens around here when we are ‘busy’ with other things? Not much, I’ll tell you that. Everything this Fall is neglected – it looks like we might have to eat the seed garlic we didn’t plant, the garden will likely wait until Spring to be rolled in by the magickal Garden Fork or light tilling, and half the wood is still in the driveway under a tarp. The stargazer chairs that J made are still in the yard, some of my terracotta pots (because just days ago they had thriving nasturtiums and snapdragons still in them) are still out, and the chicken tractor is lonely and still set up for birds we won’t likely have for another year. I might have missed out on the last of the Calendula seed, and a final sweep of Cleavers and if I don’t get out there soon on the last of the rose hips (the deer are eating them like crazy, they must know they need the Vitamin C).

I managed to pull my corn seed (yet to be hung), and some final Mullein and Comfrey for drying. I dehydrated the last of the local apples for snacks and tea. And I managed to get a nice bagful of Milkweed fluff (and seeds) for Winter projekts. D neglected her tree study (she did a couple of good days of nature journaling/drawing of leaves while they were still around) so now she has to identify by bark and twig (which is how I learned, and man, it’s not the easiest way!). And J still needs to clean up the Sugar Shack so it is ready for him in February (which comes sooner than you think by November).

Balance. Always the teeter-totter of sacrifice and attention. We’ve had a lot of (very appreciated, we’re very grateful) help with the store which propels us forward toward this elusive balance. I think it’s going to be very good when we get there – if we can stay upright until then. Keep your eye on something stable, that’s what they say…

Duendesday: Samhain goodness

{life with a curious and crazy 12 yr old}

She likes to tell people we don’t celebrate Halloween, and technically we don’t, but it has become the place where we let her follow some of the more commercial aspects (can you hear me cringing?). It started just a couple of years ago when we joined some lovely friends for pumpkin carving, their kids went trick or treating and asked if Duende could come and we couldn’t say no to friends. It doesn’t conflict with my beliefs or practices of the festival just my dietary caution and distaste for commercialism.

She has a good time running around in the dim light with friends, dressed up (which is always a thing, and we never buy ‘costumes’, if costume pieces come into our lives, go for it – like these wings and the tiara) and I try not to look as she eats small amounts of toxins. Perhaps a side tradition of Samhain is not just to honor our ancestors but to toy with death on a slight scale (now you can hear me rolling my eyes, can’t you?). This year she hit Water St in Gardiner for the store trick or treating; it was quite a turn out. She was pleased.

For us, as usual, a ‘holiday’ or festival, as we prefer, is spent together – eating a nice dinner together (pumpkin meatloaf, anyone – no pumpkin added, that was for the pie this time which D made and it was amazing! – from Ashley English’s Year of Pies), playing games, discussing our lives and plans and dreams.

She’s been helping at the new store – washing windows, helping to scrape off window tint, onto mudding and sanding sheetrock, and then painting. In her off-time there she plays with her matchbox cars and marbles across the smooth clean floor – she’s going to be disappointed when we put bookshelves up! She’s loving her ceramic classes, she’s made a couple of bowls and this stunning lady with one arm (she’s got a story!) and has been arting up a storm: new close ups and characters, carboard spas for tiny dogs, paper airplanes and decorations galore. She’s onto a new tree identification project for homework, sketching leaves before they disappear, marking identifiers, reading Akiva Silver’s Trees of Power.

But today, yes today – we must all stack some wood. The weather has been uncanny – warm, foggy, strange light – I’m sure she’ll be adventuring.

Lunar Festival Muses

witch (n.)

Old English wicce “female magician, sorceress,” in later use especially “a woman supposed to have dealings with the devil or evil spirits and to be able by their cooperation to perform supernatural acts,” fem. of Old English wicca “sorcerer, wizard, man who practices witchcraft or magic,” from verb wiccian “to practice witchcraft” (compare Low German wikkenwicken “to use witchcraft,” wikkerwicker “soothsayer”).

OED says of uncertain origin; Liberman says “None of the proposed etymologies of witch is free from phonetic or semantic difficulties.” Klein suggests connection with Old English wigle “divination,” and wig, wih “idol.” Watkins says the nouns represent a Proto-Germanic *wikkjaz “necromancer” (one who wakes the dead), from PIE *weg-yo-, from PIE root *weg- “to be strong, be lively.”

That wicce once had a more specific sense than the later general one of “female magician, sorceress” perhaps is suggested by the presence of other words in Old English describing more specific kinds of magical craft. In the Laws of Ælfred (c. 890), witchcraft was specifically singled out as a woman’s craft, whose practitioners were not to be suffered to live among the West Saxons:

Ða fæmnan þe gewuniað onfon gealdorcræftigan & scinlæcan & wiccan, ne læt þu ða libban.

The other two words combined with it here are gealdricge, a woman who practices “incantations,” and scinlæce “female wizard, woman magician,” from a root meaning “phantom, evil spirit.”

Another word that appears in the Anglo-Saxon laws is lyblæca “wizard, sorcerer,” but with suggestions of skill in the use of drugs, because the root of the word is lybb “drug, poison, charm” (see leaf (n.)). Lybbestre was a fem. word meaning “sorceress,” and lybcorn was the name of a certain medicinal seed (perhaps wild saffron). Weekley notes possible connection to Gothic weihs “holy” and German weihan “consecrate,” and writes, “the priests of a suppressed religion naturally become magicians to its successors or opponents.” Whatever the English word’s origin, the use of a “poisoner” word for “witch, sorceress” parallels that of the Hebrew word used for “witch, sorceress” in the Levitical condemnation.

In Anglo-Saxon glossaries, wicca renders Latin augur (c. 1100), and wicce stands for “pythoness, divinatricem.” In the “Three Kings of Cologne” (c. 1400) wicca translates Magi:

Þe paynyms … cleped þe iij kyngis Magos, þat is to seye wicchis.

The glossary translates Latin necromantia (“demonum invocatio”) with galdre, wiccecræft. The Anglo-Saxon poem called “Men’s Crafts” (also “The Gifts of Men”) has wiccræft, which appears to be the same word, and by its context means “skill with horses.” In a c. 1250 translation of “Exodus,” witches is used of the Egyptian midwives who save the newborn sons of the Hebrews: “Ðe wicches hidden hem for-ðan, Biforen pharaun nolden he ben.”

Witch in reference to a man survived in dialect into 20c., but the fem. form was so dominant by 1601 that men-witches or he-witch began to be used. Extended sense of “old, ugly, and crabbed or malignant woman” is from early 15c; that of “young woman or girl of bewitching aspect or manners” is first recorded 1740. Witch doctor is from 1718; applied to African magicians from 1836.

At this day it is indifferent to say in the English tongue, ‘she is a witch,’ or ‘she is a wise woman.’ [Reginald Scot, “The Discoverie of Witchcraft,” 1584]

Entries linking to witch

*weg- Proto-Indo-European root meaning “to be strong, be lively.”

It forms all or part of: awakebewitchbivouacinvigilatereveillesurveillancevedettevegetablevelocityvigilvigilantvigilantevigorwaftwaitwake (v.) “emerge or arise from sleep;” wakenwatchWiccawickedwitch.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit vajah “force, strength,” vajayati “drives on;” Latin vigil “watchful, awake,” vigere “be lively, thrive,” velox “fast, lively,” vegere “to enliven,” vigor “liveliness, activity;” Old English wacan “to become awake,” German wachen “to be awake,” Gothic wakan “to watch.”

leaf (n.)

Old English leaf “leaf of a plant, foliage; page of a book, sheet of paper,” from Proto-Germanic *lauba- (source also of Old Saxon lof, Old Norse lauf, Old Frisian laf, Dutch loof, Old High German loub, German Laub “foliage, leaves,” Gothic laufs “leaf, foliage”), perhaps from PIE *leub(h)- “to peel off, strip or break off” ((source also of Old Irish luib, “herb,” lub-gort “garden;” Albanian labë “rind, cork;” Lithuanian luba “plank, board;” Russian lob “forehead, brow,” Czech leb “skull;” Lithuanian luobas “bast,” Latvian luobas “peel,” Russian lub “bast;” Old Norse lyf “medicinal herbs,” Old English lybb “poison; magic”).

Related to lodge and lobby; for another PIE root see folio. Extended late 14c. to very thin sheets of metal (especially gold). Compare Lithuanian lapas “leaf,” from a root also in Greek lepos “bark,” lepein “to peel off.” Also applied to flat and relatively broad surfaces, especially of flexible or mounted attachments; meaning “hinged flap on the side of a table” is from 1550s. To turn over a (new) leaf (1590s; 1570s as turn the leaf) “begin a new and better course of life” is a reference to the book sense. Among insects, leaf-hopper is from 1847; leaf-cutter from 1816. ~

Tuesday Happenings

The homestead is a bit quiet at this time of the year. We are gearing up to do some tree care – putting up deer proof (and snowmobile proof) cages/ mulching and mineralizing, putting the gardens still to bed by cleaning and composting, planting bulbs (and yes, still the garlic!), and collecting the last of the seeds/herbs/medicinal supplies (I can still gather Cleavers, Rosehips, Mints, Apples, Mullein, Comfrey, and with this wet and warmish weather some late Red Clover, and seeds of all kinds – Echinacea, Wild Bee Balm & Scarlet Monarda, Boneset, Blue False Indigo, Common Milkweed). Flowers and some herbs are seeding nicely, too – I’ve collected some Witch Hazel, Zinnia, Cosmos, Safflower, Gilia, Flamingo Celosia, Gomphrena, Rue, Calendula, Bachelor Buttons, Dianthus, Clarkia, and more.

I just pulled my Carrots (these lovely short and stout Uzbecki yellow guys – they like a slight frost for sweetness), and could consider digging up some Sunchokes (though they are hit or miss for my body – too much inulin, better after frost, but I’m not sure it’s been enough frost for those guys…). The little second blast of Asian Greens in the garden look yummy (but apparently only to me, the deer have left them so far alone, not so with the Snow Peas or Pole Beans or second wave of Green/Purple/Yellow Wax beans – they ate those down to the nub). And the Fall Raspberries are still fruiting in snackfuls. The Nasturtium are wondrously blooming profusely and giving off pods, we might steal a few for pickled ‘capers’ and let the others dry for seed. I’m waiting for the corn to dry but that seems perhaps impossible in this ‘tropical’ October weather this year. It will likely rot and I will have to buy or trade seed for next year. I did acquire a nice little sack of Abenaki Flint Corn from the Greenhorns at the Common Ground Fair this year, so perhaps I will focus on that next year. But the child does love to save her cornseed, she’ll be disappointed. I will dig out some Pumpkin seed for her to save soon to make up for the loss when I process all the lovely pumpkins we grew (a little too early this year!).

For me, seed-saving is about making sure we keep localized plant-living, well – alive. The seeds our plants grow have thrived in our soil, with our micro climate so they will adjust and adapt their conditions to ours (and vice versa, do not think our bodies do not also adjust and adapt to the conditions around us) and feed an overall locality and community. We can trade and then diversify our offerings to this biome, strengthening protections for this symbiosis. I love a good Seed Swap; with stories about everyone’s garden did this year, what they had to overcome, how they succeeded, what they let go, what they promote. I like people that grow. It’s really the utmost optimism and sure, some science, but also a lot of magick (there is a lot of magick in science, despite the naysayers – sure – magick can just be science we haven’t found the answers for, but it could just be its own sensibility of wonder and leaps, too). I tried so much to grow various seeds for J’s breads – Poppy, Millet, Barley, and some herbs but most failed this year with all the moisture; it’s an optimism, for sure.

I can’t wait for a Grand Opening of the bakery/bookshop resplendent with a Local Seed Swap! Meanwhile, we’re up to Fedco this week to get holiday baskets, bulbs for the orchard and paperwhites for the shop, orchard minerals, and maybe some seed for next year (I like to get started in February for some things so it’s not that early to stock up, right?!).

What’s the theme? Buying and thinking local while being aware of our places in the world. We are not on isolated little (political) islands, we are connected in ways we haven’t even begun to discover or articulate (underground, overground, and still on the ground, inside our bodies, in wavelengths and vibrations, in dreams and consciousness, in relation and sharing, and so many more) – taking care of each other is the biggest theme and we can do that in a myriad of ways. These are the ways we know.

Musings for Monday

first book at hand, opened to random page

Madame Josephine had no voice, so she made up a new language with her hands. It was a more direct language than the one the other adults spoke. Her father knew this hand language, and people could understand Madame Josephine because of him. It was if her father and Madame Josephine could have been twins, born at the same hour on the same day. She wondered what people would have said if she and her mother had died on the same day. For a while they were twinned, when she was inside her mother’s body. But she never dreamed of being inside her mother’s body, except in that last moment when she had to come out and that last moment always made her think of water.

~ Edwidge Danticat ‘Claire de Lune’ from Claire of the Sea Light

Another Tuesday on the Homestead

And like a flash, Tuesday is upon us again. We have been busy celebrating J’s birthday week with bits of excitement; country drives and roadside apples, antique-ing for the store and surprise Farmer’s Markets, a few stolen moments for a glass of wine and a chat, a long line for a lovely ice cream afternoon (cannoli flavored? yes please), relaxing together and making a slow cooked daube (oxtail and olive stew) and more to come.

Many of our ‘plans’ didn’t come together because we’ve been waiting on news of the store and finagling business accounts, etc and we’ve ignored the garden (but maybe as long as we can – those garlics have GOT to get in! But the deer have eaten all my beans, broccoli, and Fall snow peas though I could still pull my carrots and have Asian greens coming up, the Fall raspberries are still fruiting, and the Calendula are still blooming and seeding) in favor of attending to each other. And so far the Snapdragons are holding their own in stunning little colors, the Driskell mint is big and strong, and my Witch Hazel subtley bloomed while I wasn’t looking.

J did not take a week off for his birthday but instead made a limited menu (thank you for making his day a little easier and lighter) which may, in fact, be closer to a real adjustment of the standard menu in the future: he is only one guy, after all. And it makes memberships and specials even more special. We shall see.

D is in full Samhain-swing. We could not find our big blue spider decoration friend this year (lost to the corners of the attic?) so she made her dolls into ‘scary’ situations (and they were really scary, she is not a delicate child! Aaack!) and drew up a hundred snakes and ghosts to put around the house. We need to find a jack-o-lantern pumpkin soon. Right now she is obsessed with pop up scrapbooking, resplendent with mica sparkles, yarn bits and felt, drawings of cats and fish.

A thunderstorm all night kept me up – I’ve managed to devise all manner of display windows for the store, a few design elements that were still up in the air, a couple of conversations I need to have, some dissertation bumps smoothed out, a menu for the week, some Solstice presents, and where I want the new herb bed for next year (ha!). I’m off to work on the writing a bit today while my beautiful Tulips deliver the goods. I will whip up a Birthday Apple Pie today for their return and we shall play some games and maybe make a nice fire. Perhaps J will grace with us with his guitar and Don Gato (since he keeps wandering around singing/humming it lately) which sounds like a pretty lovely evening.

Tuesday Happenings

Rock Bottom Updates (big & small):

  • the Swine & Stein was a moderate hit – we got the word out so that was good and we broke even on the event spending. I was a little shocked more people didn’t desire a little bag of warm bread with butter to nibble on since it was chilly! And many folks think we are opening a full spread bakery, and a classic style bookstore…but we had a nice time with friends and family who hung out with us! Thank you, friends and family! It was so nice to see you and hang out with you, too!
  • New stamp labeling excites us – moving away from stickers has been a goal (stickers aren’t really made with the best of stuffs, and yes, neither are stamps but their footprint is much smaller), and we’re enjoying the new bulk order bags…it’s the little things.
  • We’re still not in the space yet but we’re hoping it will be this weekend – we might try and woo you into a painting party next weekend if all goes well to round out J’s birthday week…pizza, beer, low VOC painting…
  • And speaking of, we have a bunch of fun adventures lined up this week for said B-day: a leaf-peeping train ride, apple day at MOFGA, maybe a Grateful Dead cover band?, a day in Portland to visit a few of our favorite places…I hope it doesn’t rain.
  • We’ll hopefully have a good day or two still to putting the garden to bed, planting the garlic, and gathering many last seeds to tuck away for seed swaps and spring plantings (I’ve been gathering so many! I can’t wait to host a swap in the store in Jan or Feb!).
  • Meanwhile, we’ve finally convinced the steadfast New Englander of the house to let us partial-flatlanders have a fire – the woodstove is toasting away the morning fog and chill (the dog is in his glory).

It’s good for all of us to enjoy a little extra warmth!