Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Life…, going where no man has gone before, and sometimes, sometimes often, my life feels like this. Living off-grid, trying to figure out how to have electricity, a refrigerator, by pass the electric regulator of a gas oven, boost cell phone reception, relay a trans-sat dish connection further up the farm, how to do all of these things affordably and understanding them sufficiently so that you can do it yourself. You must understand how all of these factors work, or they will never stay working for you. Unless you have more money than God has dirt, you can’t afford to pay someone who knows it all, if those people even exist, a few do, most don’t, and I know even fewer.
I get a lot of my info from Dummies books, forums on line, online research, and friends in the know of a particular subject, which is a very small nitch of an already small group of friends. Let’s face it, when you can’t get online, you need a book. If you live off-grid, you may need lots of books because the fact that you are off-grid means that civilization as others know it, is not a block away. Buy the book (books), all of them, your going to need all of the help you can get. The book is a great place to start, make notes, collect internet sites you did not find on your own, and you will reference it / them, time and time again. Hopefully you will buy more than one.
Living in a foreign country and not being a native speaker makes it more difficult, you can not find a book in your language or subject matter. Buy the books, all of them on any subject you may want to know, including gourd carving and basket making and bring them with you. My gourd carving book has been sitting in the US for 6 months now, along with many other items, so many other items for so long that I can not remember what I ordered online. The gourds are growing, I may as well learn how to express my creativity and I hear that basket weaving is good for potential mental illness.
I love Amazon for it’s simplicity when ordering and I often get carried away with my need to know and have. Solving the problem of how to get these items into my country other than by human courier, has not been solved. Forget the mail, you do not have enough money for this option, and then there is the inconsistency of customs and your item getting hung up with the dreaded tax man. That all depends on the country you are in I suppose. I know my devil.
It appears that I was a child who asked “Why?”, and nothing has changed. Perhaps that is why my parents did not like me all that much, they did not know how to handle “Why?”, and I did not accept, “Because I said so”, as an answer. Of course it is not an answer, never was, never will be. I still ask “Why?”, it is only recently that I realized this, my husband pointed it out to me following a recent need to know moment. Apparently, I have more need to know than some other folks. I did not know that. The only exception here is when I am saying, “Tell someone who cares”.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Five of the horses escaped last night leaving their kids behind. At 11 we went outside to see what the noise was about only to find two restless horses complaining loudly. This morning we will round them up; by midnight, they had all broken loose. At least they were now quiet.
We do not have light pollution, so when it is not a full moon and the sky is clear, you can see a million stars. Last night was as crystal clear as it gets and the heavens were a thick blanket of stars and constellations.
Today is the start of planting time by the biodynamic calendar. It will be a busy week of planting pumpkins, basil, parsley, and many flats of other seedlings. With a many hands, the job goes quickly. This week we have been eating fresh string beans and we still have what seems like a lifetime supply of spinach in the garden. I try to hide the spinach in most everything I make, except when I am not hiding it and everyone is exposed to blatant spinach. Every time I pick up a cookbook I am searching for spinach recipes, perhaps the next great use for spinach has escaped me, not likely however. We eat by candle light, so it is hard to tell exactly what you are eating sometimes.
This weekend I made Falafel patties for the first time, they were good, far better than I expected. Creamed spinach would go nicely with this dish. We are none-vegetarians who eat a lot of vegetables, in fact, we eat more veggies than many vegetarians do. Depending on what is in season, we are often overrun with a particular crop. Because we eat fresh, not frozen or canned, a crop can be overwhelming for the cook. In just 15 minutes, I can pick enough spinach to feed 6 people a spinach entree for 2 days. The time taken to clean spinach takes far longer, sometimes it seems like hours.
Maira's thank you note to me, accompanied a fish from her pond.
Safiya is a volunteer at the farm who has applied for a doctorate program in the US. She does a bit of everything here and starting today she is teaching English in the afternoons. While developing her lesson plans, she has been working with Carolina, one of our employees. Carolina is quick to learn, has desire, and is a joy in general. Her sister Maira also works for us. Maira and I are together every morning and I take that opportunity to teach her English phrases and now cooking terms.
Last week we made two fresh orange cakes with oranges from the orchid. It was the first cake she had ever made, or seen made, and we made it by hand with no electrical appliances. They came out perfect and I gave her one to take home. We cushioned the hot pan and cake in newspaper so that it would not burn through the rice sack that she carefully carried it home in. Maira lives down my mountain, across the river and up a mountain. It takes her the better part of an hour to walk to work and she is never late.
She is a joy to have and at age 21 this is her first job. Maira has not had the opportunities presented to you and me. As with all of our local rural children, her education lasted only 6 years and by US standards it was maybe a 3rd grade education. The children are being cheated and everyone loses. We need these kids to have a prosperous, successful future, and they need the skills to make a living while protecting the rainforest. But it is even bigger than that, so much damage has been done as a result of deforestation for crops like cattle, coffee, and sugar. We need to teach the rural people, that they can make as much money or more than they were making with their deforested land, by reforesting with a variety of carbon sequestration tree crops.
Finca Quijote is a demonstration farm, we are leading by example while extending a helping hand, sharing knowledge and teaching what we know. Blessed with an education and opportunity, the best foreign aid we can give, is the gift of knowledge. We can see change coming, slowly, but it is coming. Maira, Carolina and the others in their pueblo, are listening and watching. Their brother wrote us a letter in Spanish, and then he looked up every word in English which does not translate perfectly, but it was an extraordinary effort to be understood. Once upon a time, they had prosperous lives, and then their employment opportunities went away. I know this to be true. Since then (20 years), they have been in survival mode and there are no jobs available for the rural people at this time. Only the rural people can protect the rainforest, we must show them how to make a living and educate their children at the same time.
You can help by donating educational supplies. We always need:
Spanish English dictionaries
used laptop computers in working order
portable sewing machines
good durable clothing such as blue jeans
We finally have an internet connection and wifi where we volunteer teach the children. Because we are off grid, and with no landline phones in the pueblo, this was a very expensive effort. Our monthly cost for a simple connection is $150.00 USD With laptop computers (easier to get into the country) we can give the kids the opportunity to go past 6th grade via the internet. Please tell everyone you know and ask them to donate their old computers so that we can teach children who have no other options. We need to teach them how to be prosperous again. Prosperous is a word they used when writing us, for them it means putting enough food on the table, shoes on their children, enough money to give their children an education and to afford a doctor when one is needed. Their concept of prosperous differs from yours.
Thank you for helping my neighbors.