Category: Permaculture

The Happening

The girls and I have been sick all week so tonight, Erick rented some movies for us to enjoy.   We watched Monster House with the girls and then after they went to bed, we enjoyed the latest M. Night Shyamalan’s film, The Happening.  Well, it wasn’t exactly “enjoyment” we were experiencing through some truly gruesome death scenes, but I was again thrilled with Shyamalan’s ability to look past the obvious and reach into our deepest sub-conscience for another winning story-line.  

Though a bit rough around the edges, this film makes a firm statement about the state of our planet and offers up the last resort tactic of some truly unexpected antagonists.  Yeah, the neurotoxins were a bit refined on their first attempt, but they accomplish the end-result of so many chemicals we spray without consideration on our lawns, countertops, trees, pets, and in our water each day.  And it’s equally ugly and no less terrifying.  

[And in case you’re wondering, plants really do communicate with other species in a similar way described in the film.]

I prefer this film to Lady in the Water for story-line, but I felt like Zoey’s character really lacked depth in this film, so in terms of acting, Lady wins out.  The Village remains my favorite M. Night film.

In addition to the Carolina house, we’re considering an old farmhouse a little closer to Charlotte (still a 40-min commute).  It’s a neat house with a slate roof and a fireplace in every room along with some of the worst wallpaper of the century (and cats- lots of cats).  The house comes with 2.76 acres and some old out-buildings, nut trees, peach and apple trees and road frontage named for the farmstead.  

Asking price is well below recent appraisal and the house seems very solid, but I didn’t get the same warm-fuzzies I get with the Carolina Ave. house.  I think mostly, it’s the presence of the people and the wallpaper detracting from the original structure. I’d show you additional photos, but the rooms were in a very messy state.  The house has been updated and is “move-in ready,” as they say.  Even our youngest has been spouting real estate lingo:  “Location, location, location,” she repeated over and over again last night. 

For photos, please visit our flickr site


Okay, I know it’s escapism, but Erick and I have been going back and forth with the notion of moving to New Zealand, known to the eloquent natives as “The Land of the Long White Cloud.”  It is a country thick with native culture, governed by a woman and governed symbolically by a queen.  NZ is home to several organic farms and was one of the first countries to initiate WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) International programs, which began in New Zealand in 1974 and supplies volunteers with opportunities to live and work on the farm, while traveling to foreign states or countries. I worked on a WWOOF farm and it’s one of the best ways to get to know locals and folks from out of town who share a love of farming and a passion for learning about sustainability.  

Imagine living cradled by a mountain with a view of the sea – NZ seems like a perfect nest perched on the edge of the world with a spectacular view of the sea and heavens.  Yeah, we’d have to visit first and even a visit could be quite a production.  Imagine moving across the world!  How strange, how wonderful, adventurous.  Would it make travel to other countries easier?  Probably not, but it might encourage us, having taken the first step to relocate to a foreign land to investigate further this incredible world around us. 

According to Wiki, NZ is home to plenty of unique flora, birds and wildlife.  And they have sharks.  How can you go wrong with sharks outside of the water?  The climate on the North Island is mild, dry.  The government is extremely protective of its fragile ecosystem, which means it recognizes the value inherent in preserving an ecosystem in the first place.  Go Kiwis!

Anyway, just some thoughts about why I might consider traveling across the US and over an ocean to visit the Land of the Long White Cloud, even if for only a week.

Since living in the city, I’ve chosen my favorite elevators, which makes me think I think too much about things like my favorite elevators.  Our bathroom self-cleans and I no longer need to polish my jewelry – something in the water does it for me.  I don’t need a light-light; I just open the shades a little.

What I really love about the city are the relentless botanical and animal species; plant-life splintering concrete; tree roots curling asphalt along Providence; kamikaze inchworms dive-bombing tourists in the park.  Nature doing what nature does best: Filling a niche; a gap in our ecosystem fueled by arrogance and perpetuated by ignorance.  

Ayn Rand glorified man and his hunger for dominance in this world; his ability to hold fire in his fingertips. We see empty fountains in downtown Charlotte because we’re in the midst of a water shortage and one man says to me, What does it matter if a couple of fountains are turned on?  It matters because we’ve taken for-granted the value of water, the value of our resources.  We spill blood, oil, water; we order too much and leave our plates half-full and pass men on the street half-starved, but worry only that our fountains have been drained. 

Ah, the city ignites within us a sense of invulnerability.  It leads us all to believe the thin membrane of glass separating them from us is thicker than it really is. 

Do Not Dump – Drains into Creek


My oldest thought it wise to sketch an idea for her room.  She’s only six and already drawing perspective!  And FYI, she explained, “Mama, I added face pillows, but my pillows won’t have faces.”




An echo of a former life, remnants of the original paper could still be seen on the walls.


Some say demolition, I say POTENTIAL.

The next house we toured was on a nice piece of land not far from town.  Six+ acres with three individual creeks and totally fenced for horses.  It was beautiful.  The land was ecologically diverse and the perfect setting for continuing with Healing Tree.


At the rear of the house was a beautiful little girl making a funny face while standing near a gazebo.  I liked everything about the exterior of this house, but wasn’t impressed with the interior.  However, for the right price, I think this could be a great buy.  It’s definitely on my top three.


We no longer have stairs, so we made them with DVD cases so Gug-bug could watch the slinky walk.  She said, “It’s alive!”


I spotted this tiny bundle of green on a brick patio outside my apartment building last night and limped up four flights of stairs to fetch my camera. It reminds me of my grandmother and her namesake, Hope. It was a name I used to think sounded too old. And yet in the last couple of years I’ve learned that the name, as tiny and seemingly insignificant as the small bouquet of clover, holds a meaning that is unrivaled by anything; word or otherwise. Love is important, patient, kind, but there are times when only hope can persuade us to move forward.

When I saw these leaves unfurling out from a barren earth, I related. My own family is enshrined in a concrete palace where helicopters, leaving the nearby hospital, cast long, pulsing shadows on the ground below and where birds hover, wings beating against our windows, finding no place to land. And yet, here we are, gathered together again stretching our imaginations to fit this foreign surrounding; hoping we made the right decision.

It seems each day we’re down here in the midst of all these people, in a sea of swirling cars and trains, our leaves broaden, our path widens and the sun, no matter the shadows cast, is always somewhere overhead.

I’ve had to change course a few times in the last few years. First, with cancer, and recently with Erick’s new position with Cardinal. I started a farm-project for education purposes, but soon I will be living in a hugely biodiverse region with a large peramculture network neatly and conveniently threaded already into the culture. I’ll also be near two- and four-year universities where I might pursue a degree in Horticulture. In the meantime, the experiences are translating into interesting chapters not only for my book, but also in writing the pages of a fulfilling life.

This weekend some friends I hadn’t seen in a while and some friends I’ve made more recently got together. I listened as they talked about stories that we had made together or I had shared and it helped me realize, that even in those times when I was being an absolute f*ck-*p, I was experiencing a part of life I now know with certainty has enormous value. I was on an extended adventure and what I lacked in collegiate education, I made up for in life experience. And now I’m able to appreciate both.

We did some exploring this week at the Old State Hospital and it revived in some of us, that feeling of adventure; in pressing boundaries just a little; in hoping for something magical awaited just around the next corner, behind the next door or within each of us. And we discovered the adventure, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant relative to the rest of our lives, was made special because we were in it together; we were supporting each other and the collective adventurous experience. In essence, we let our inner-children come out to play.

In pursuing a career for myself, I’ve nourished my strengths and realized some of the weaknesses that have held me back. My current goals include returning to schools, feeling good about Imperfectly Yours, finding a way to continue Healing Tree, and discovering a tree under which I can contemplate these and other goals/thoughts in the future. Have you ever noticed the beautiful form a tree holds; arms stretched upward in constant praise of the energy off which it feeds? The tree reminds me to celebrate each day, to stand in peace, with integrity. It also reminds me to move with the wind, but to remain rooted to those principles I hold in higher regard. In doing these things, my life has become a fulfilling experience.

I’ve changed around the bookcases so that some books are vertical butting up to those laid horizontal on the shelf. This is supposed to add to the overall appearance and appeal of our house. How it sits on the market is about to be determined now that we have officially put it up for sale. We decided to list with a realtor, so you may learn more about this wonderful home on the Traverse Area Association of Realtors (TAAR) website. 

[We lowered the price and hope to sell quickly, so I need positive thinking sent our way.] In the meantime, we’re gearing up for a move South. Having lived in Tennessee only breifly, I can say I love the people we met. I adore northern living, but there really is something wonderful about southern hospitality. Land is more costly where we will be headed shortly, but there are colleges in the mountains that have permaculture programs and the smaller lots equate to greater immediate opportunities as I will be able to plant more into smaller spaces. Sounds backwards, but makes good fiscal sense.

The realtor will be here shortly to take photos of the house for the virtual tour. I’m really nervous about it, but I’m not sure why. I just want everything to look just right, but we have so little furniture in the house right now that it feels empty. I’m going out on Friday to get a HUGE festive tree to fill up some of the living room, but the virtual tour can’t wait for a tree.

In other news, the girls and I are reading Anne of Green Gables and I must say it is an extremely well-written book full of new vocabulary for everyone to enjoy. And though Anne’s monologues are sometimes long-winded, there are always subtle and thoughtful hints of a moral to rival that of her own moral-centered care-taker. I recommend it.

Kate and I met up yesterday briefly for cocoa/coffee in ER. It was good to see her, although I had all three girls with me, which made for a quick visit. I feel really lucky that I have friends like Kate who have a genuine opinion of things and can calm me down with her usual retort whenever I get a bit stressed, “It’ll be okay.” Somehow, even when neither one of us believe those words, the sheer utterance is enough to calm even the most frazzled nerve.

And so here I sit in a near-empty room with a very full heart looking out onto a snow-laiden landscape and feeling lucky for another morning, looking forward to another day and knowing our future is bright.


…at Healing Tree Farm!

Linda is posting some fantastic information on Permaculture (and Biodynamics) at her website, Journey Seeds. I encourage everyone interested in either topic (or both) to read her posts on the topic(s).