Sunday, November 11

My Favorite Memories of You: The First to Reach Out.

It's gonna be a doozy, I can tell you that right now. But I can't not write this, right now. I can't let another minute go by with nothing being said, nothing being done, just waiting and hoping and praying that an earthquake will strike and one person, of the millions it would affect, would wake up and smell her own waisted self. I can only say that because I am like an injured dog, who cries out and limps off, but keeps on limping even after it's healed. But the reality is this: Charity was embodied by this person. I care so much about what happens to her that I haven't been able to say a single word in over two years. But tonight, as I became enraged, driving through the snow, listening to a story about how she has abandoned her first born, I wanted to cry out to her for the first time. And say "Look! Don't you see this!?!" I wanted to write her emails with only subjects, poignant and true, so that she couldn't avoid reading my words. The first would read "Your Daughter is SO Amazing. And You. Just. Lost."

But as I drove and the snow filled the street inch by inch, my husband became increasingly regretful that he had even told me the story. I remembered the last thing I had told her daughter. I told her I wondered how her Mom would take it if I were to write her letters, or e-mails, telling her just exactly why it hurts so bad. Because my life is full of the most amazing memories of the most amazing person. And I will never be able to forget her. So as softly as the snow fell I stopped yelling in anger, the catchy hurtful phrases that all of us humans are capable of. I started to tell Ariel "And the first line would read"; each time a memory of my best friend and most true confidant: "When you picked us up from the greyhound station", "Asking you for new mothering advice", "Watching you walking my babies to sleep". And so, even though there is a very dark part of me that just wants to tell her how hurt I feel and how much she is missing out on, I know that the truest parts of me want her back. So slowly, even though this is so very public, it's the only place I know she can't erase. It's also the only thing I have since I just got a mailer daemon from her e-mail. She'll never get it. But even so I hope to tell a story about how I got here, missing my sister so very much, because I Love her. 

First Subject line:

My favorite memories of you: The first to reach out.

Ensuing e-mail or letter which will never be read:

When I think of you I think of good things. My very favorite memory, the one that has endured strongest in the last couple years, was of you at the cemetery. There we were, a family confused, tired and drawn to our limits with preparations, sleeping in strange beds or no beds, hurting, wishing we could understand. And there was another group of people just feet away from us. The line was clear. We stood facing each other as the dedication of the grave was made. And then afterward we opened our eyes and looked at them. And they at us. I remember the sensation of bewilderment. The idea lingering that there were so many missing pieces to his life, and they were held by those others. I think, looking back that we really just wanted to feel close to Mark. But how to break the barrier between the hurt and knowing that these were the people he spent his last weeks and months with. They were even those who helped him into so many dark places. But You. You took it from inside of yourself to reach out. You walked across the grassy plot and began extending yourself. You introduced yourself, you gave hugs, you comforted. And it snapped us all back into place and suddenly we were aware that they were hurting just as much as we. I don't know if anyone else remembers it that way, But You did that.

Saturday, November 3

West Valley? A Community?


Okay, so remember when I said that I've been dreaming about more space? Physical space, Emotional space, Social space, Community space? Well, that little dream I've been dreaming about the container house and the small farm, just got a little farther away. But it's alright. The good thing about dreams, as far as I'm concerned, is that if the current one seems to bomb and sink, then there's always one more waiting to hoist you up so you don't fall too low. This describes my situation right now. We've pretty much decided to deal with the cards we've been dealt for a while and we're not letting anything keep us down. I expect that over the next few months I will dwell much here, on what we are going to do to follow our dreams and make new ones with our small house, yard and family and big dog. The reality is that it has been a hard thing for me to accept. But amazing things are going to happen in our small realm. I can feel it.

One such thing will likely expand every single one of the space points mentioned at the top. If we can make it happen. You might know that for the last couple months I've been working, on a volunteer basis, with Wasatch Community Gardens, as an Outreach intern. To put it in the simplest terms possible: WCG (In addition to all of it's other community garden related functions) facilitates the County's Urban Farming Initiative for new community gardens to form all over Salt Lake County. They've set aside a few sites on public parks land that they've said they'll fund Community Gardens on for those who want them, one park at a time. A couple weeks into my intern project there I found out that one of these potential sites is the park that sits a block away from me. And so, separately from my internship, I am putting together an application for Salt Lake County to choose our neighborhood for next year's Community Garden. Applications are due on December 1st. So I am busily trying to get the word out about it and gather names of other interested persons.

To put it lightly, the benefits of community gardening are limitless. We'd all like to live in places we can call havens or at least that feel like them. Right now I can't claim that. All I can claim is what resides within the address on my mailbox, though not even the mailbox itself. Right now it's a safe haven for a few things: drug dealers, truant adolescents, young graffiti artists and pit bulls. I don't feel my children are safe when they play in my neighborhood. I can't say when I look out my window that I know my neighbors. I know more and like more than I did two years ago and there have even been times when I felt like a few members rallied in my favor. But I don't have a strong sense of community here. And I would imagine that most people who live here feel the same way. I know a few people that go to my church, a few people that live on my block, and I recognize a few faces when I go to the park with my kids, but for the most part no body knows anybody else. And I figure it isn't this way because anyone wants it to be. It's just that we don't have things that tie us together. We don't have enough reasons to share space, talk to each other and watch out for each other. So that's the most important reason I want to start a community garden here.

I'm hoping that I can find people who want the same thing as me. People who like gardening, or people who live here and just want to find a stronger and safer community. It also wouldn't hurt to have more fresh healthy food around.

This image was taken from the Rose Park Community Garden Blog which you can see by following this link. If you've lived in Salt Lake for long you've probably heard what Rose Park use to be like. Much like what I described above. But in recent years it has turned into a community that feels clean and friendly and vibrant. If you live in West Valley, consider this: this picture could be us in a year. People who right now don't know each other. People who live in the same place and want the same thing, but have no way to do it together. In a year we could have a place to meet and something to show for who we are. A community I would be proud to be part of, because the people who live there decided that it was worth taking a hand in and taking back.

A community is not built by one person alone. I need 4 people to organize the garden with me. Right now our future garden is a piece of grass. In order for it to become a garden we need to show that we can make it happen. After it is approved we'll need to design it, build it and find other people to support it. But before that can happen I need 4 more people who want to give from 40 to 60 hours of their time during this year to organize and mobilize the garden. But unless there are 4 people who, like me, want something more, it will stay just a big piece of grass.  Do you live in West Valley and have a long term stake in your neighborhood? Do you want to be a part of something that will make this a safer place to live? Contact me directly at billythehigbee@yahoo.com. I am putting an application together for the West Valley, Hillsdale Park on 3200 W and 3300 So. Our application needs to be completed and given to Wasatch Community Gardens and Salt Lake County by December 1, 2012.

Or, if you live in Salt Lake County and are interested in Gardening or Community Building in and around one of the other parks please contact giles@wasatchgardens.org.

Wasatch Community Gardens is an amazing resource for anyone who wants to learn more about growing their own food or build communities.  They provide gardening classes, seeds, heirloom plants, leadership training and much more for people in the community. For more information on them and the Parks for Produce Program go to the Parks for produce page at Wasatch Community Gardens.

Deep Fried Last Harvest

Fall seems so be winding slowly into winter. We've had our first freezes and the garden plants have all been pulled out and prepped for composting (thrown in a big pile).

Something else is happening that happens every year. At least I seem to see a pattern forming in my blog posts. I once again feel the irrepresseable need to share a recipe about a lesser known fall vegetable. This year we had Eggplants coming out our ears and with such abundance I tried giving them away. However I quickly realized that a lot of people don't know quite what to do with an eggplant. I think I may have just discovered my second most favorite way to eat it. I adore Eggplant. From it's deep hues of purple to its soft-butter texture when cooked right. My very most favorite is simple: cubed, steamed, with butter and Sea Salt. But coming in at close second is today's creation: Eggplant Tempura.

I started out with a bundle of tiny remnants of my vegetable forest. As I pulled out each cold-withered plant and threw it onto the compost pile, my four-year-old called out with delight as she discovered baby fruits on the plants I threw, most still clinging to flowers, making tiny white nipple on the ends of the eggplants. The tomatoes were just sad, as unripe tomatoes are just sad that way. My first thought was fried green tomatoes, but there were tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and even a few tiny green butternut babies. And so you have a recipe:


Ingredients

  • Coconut Oil for frying.  Heat to 325 degrees F.
  • Garden Vegetables: especially tiny baby eggplants, green tomatoes, and sweet peppers. If the vegetables are thicker than 1 inch, cut into finger size pieces.
  • Batter
          1 egg
          3/4 c Whole Wheat Flour
          1/4 c. Corn Starch
          1 tsp baking powder
          1 tsp. salt
          garlic
          paprika
          1/2 c water, add more to get to a
          runny but sticky consistency

Mix with blender or food processor and pour into a deep, narrow bowl. Batter vegetables and fry. We used fondue sticks since it was only my husband and myself. Remember that whole wheat doesn't brown the same way as white flour and takes longer to brown. With this and the lower heat of the coconut oil I found it's not a bad thing that the tomatoes really needed longer to cook. Pull out of the oil when slightly golden colored. The great thing about Coconut Oil is that it's not only a very healthy fat but it doesn't taste like some oils do when they permeate a food, oily and stale. It leaves a pleasantly crispy texture without the greasiness that comes commonly with fried food.  I served ours with a honey mustard sauce made with my home made mayonnaise, dijon mustard, and honey.