11 October 2017

How do you answer 'What Makes you Most Proud?'

A work colleague asked me of what accomplishment am I most proud, and I blurted out the first thing that came to mind…which was not poignant, profound, or particularly true.

He was trying to make his point that having kids is his greatest accomplishment and giving the reasons why.

He told me about their little faces and the hope he has for their futures… he also said that he is extremely over protective because he does not feel the world in which he’s raising them is particularly safe (meanwhile, he lives in one of the most affluent counties in the nation).

I replied that I neither have nor want children for that exact same reason, the world is not a safe place. Beyond that, it’s also a corrupt, polluted, increasingly warmer place that requires the immediate attention of the people alive now—who are able to effect positive change. He was not particularly worried about climate change, and I was not in the mood to sway him. It was a good conversation, we both saw each other’s points.


I Have Options: Later, thinking about what I’m most proud, it’s definitely the fact that I have options. Yes, the life that I’ve chosen to live gives me a myriad of options and—at my mature vantage point—I’m able to reflect on the decisions that got me here.

Theoretically I could pick up and move to Madagascar tomorrow…or I can make the decision to go to a family funeral thousands of miles away on a moment’s notice… I can hike the Appalachian trail or act as nursemaid to an injured friend for a few weeks to help them get on the mend.

Part of this pride is obviously based in my decision not to have children, but it’s greater than that. I—along with my wonderful hubby—chose a frugal life, with a modest house, a nonexistent car, few bills, and moderate travel. We eat well, laugh often, debate solutions to urban problems from-time-to-time, we share what we have with others, and we see the world--one bit at a time.

23 August 2017


11:08 AM
I’m addicted to fluoride (particularly stannous fluoride, recommended by many dentists) and fearful of going without it. However, there are several alternatives, to store-bought toothpaste, that are healthy thrifty, and just plain good. This is a good one to alternate between brushing with the star-bought stuff

from clean living, sep.'17

This is my new favorite (but there are many others)

  • 3tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp Calcium powder
  • 1 tbsp kaolin clay
  • 1 tbsp xylitol (an artificial sweetener)
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 30 drops peppermint oil
  • 15 drops spearmint oil
  1. In a small jar, add calcium, clay sweetener and backing soda, stir until combined
  2. Add coconut oil, and mint oils. Stir until you get a smooth paste.
  3. place bought 1/4 tsp of this toothpaste onto your brush using a clean spoon (yo uno not want to contaminate the jar of paste witty dipping a used toothbrush into it). Brush your teeth as usual and spit into a trashcan...remember coconut oil is a solid at room temperature..it may congeal and clog your pipes.
  4. rinse brush under hot water...and smile!.

Check out similar  (and different) recipes:

24 July 2017

Obsessed with vintage leather...

9:27 AM

My latest purchase—or as my husband would say “what you get for the girl who has everything”—is yet another beautiful leather bag. I just learned today that this is completely impractical for bike commuting. However, my inventor’s mind has come up with the biking-tote-harness…more on that later.

This is an extra-large, unfinished cow hide bag...note the raw edged. It’s got a single interior side pocket and a snap to hold the bag together when it’s overstuffed. Beautiful, utilitarian, natural. Just like me

But seriously, this bag is:

  • Komalc Genuine Soft Buffalo Leather, $119.00
  • Interior pocket for Laptop / cell phones / keys / wallet 
  • Size in inches 18.5 (W)x 13.25( H) x 3.5 ( D) Fits up to a 17 inch laptop 
  • Bonus: I biked to work today in a white linen top, and 85% humidity, there was not color transfer from bag to blouse!

I have a few bags that are similarly finished:

18 July 2017

2017 Trip to the Farm

8:09 AM

 This year’s retreat was earlier than usual, and our visit to Northland Sheep Dairy was long overdue. We visit the farming sect of the family only once a year, and each time, being intheir presence rejuvenates us and recharges the batteries!!! While our region of the mid-Atlantic has been hazy, hot, humid, and dry, the Marathon New York region has been lately sloshing with rain.

Firefighter of the year...so proud of this guy!
This meant that the gathering of hay has been preempted for other things. Like baking, milking, and entertaining the visiting guests (that's us). So, we didn’t get to help with bailing and tossing into the new barn. Our first bit of fantastic news was that brother, farmer, climber, mule skinner, and fireman Donn, was just awarded Fire Fighter of the Year.

Oh My Gawd, the New Barn
(view 360 google map)

Check out the Google Maps 360 image of the barn (interior)...it's so cool
Last fall, our family farmers—with the help of several friends and the Amish farmers in the community, built a traditional Amish-style barn on the property, featuring the historic Ohio Truss system. Brother-in-law, Donn has worked with the Amish in the area in building (something like) 15 barns in the past, and this was his turn. This is how their society works; everyone helps everyone else, and when it’s your turn, everyone turns up!

There are no written/drawn plans for these barns...amazing
 During the build, there were dozens of sub-15-year old boys balanced in the eaves, placing and hammering the roof supports. I had to take a full 360 photograph of the interior. More news, there is a beautiful and effective new sheep dog, Lacie, to help out Jack—the veteran—with his herding duties. She is a sweetie.

We happy-houred with the farmers, dined out in Cortland, helped in berry pie production, and lunched with my good friend, Baltimore ex-pat, by way of California and New York—and current Cornell doctoral student, Jayme. Plus, she’s a beautiful, spirited, funny, adorable, passionate, and just goddamn awesome woman. She led us to tacos and beer on a 4 hour visit with her and her doggie in Ithaca.

As usual, the place has the most expressive sunrises and dramatic fog banks that roll into the valleys.

In past years we've chased the ducks, and helped to herd...with the help of the working dogs and professional farmers, of course. We even helped out with the haying (making hay). This was the most grueling and rigorous work I'd ever done, and it's amazing to see the moving pieces that go into making farm life work. There's a routine, and rhythm to everything that goes on... without this rhythm, things don't work. We got to see this particularly during this trip. We helped--or attempted to help move the small flock of goats and rams from the upper field to a paddock. It went smoothly.

The animals followed hubby and I happily, and then at the last minute, as we were nearing the finish line, they all turned toward the adjacent woods.

After much barking and farmers cajoling (and even some attempted food bribery) the animals had to be placed back in the original field. They'd try the move again, the next day.

Our contribution to the berry pie...picking and eating

There was quite a bit of this (cocktails are just out of frame)

These two have the BEST kitchen for cooking and entertaining (and selfies)
Until next year...

Lacie, the sheep dog.

Hubby fell absolutely in love with their newest working dog, Lacie... I warned him that Daisy might be less than nonplussed if she got a whiff of another sweet pup on our clothes.  

Check out our past Trips to Northland Sheep Dairy:

29 June 2017

If you have more bikes than people...

11:10 AM

What to do when your house has more bikes than people?

Get a vertical standing bike rack. It saves on floor space, and makes you look like less of a slob--at least, that's been our experience. We have a stable of 6 bikes, five of which reside in the house with us. While one stays in the basement.

This light-weight bike rack has moved around between the front room and living room in our current house (3 years) and our last apartment (2 years). It's fairly easy to install (since we've long since mislaid the instructions) and does not move once it's up.

It's an inexpensive vertical, bike rack has served us well for several years and we’re looking forward to several more. To be frank, we have even gotten a new bike since the rack allows for slightly more indoor storage space.