Heartland 2014

I know I said I was done last time, but after a year or so of marinating on the last festival I went to, I thought I would give HPF another shot (double-extra-happy-fun-time-bonus: Camp Taco).

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Home Self Care for Crunchy People

I probably don’t have to tell anyone who reads this blog that there’s a lot of scary crap in the stuff they sell you to put on your skin, through your hair, and in your body. Not to mention the abundance of petroleum products that go into packaging plastics and even many cosmetic ingredients. Dead dinosaurs, on my skin? No thanks.

So, I’ve started making a lot of the stuff I use to clean up and condition. Everything is simple, has fewer than 5 or 6 ingredients, and you can buy most if not all of it in bulk or in glass containers (that you can reuse for your stuff). It should go without saying–don’t use anything you’re allergic to, I’m not a doctor nor a lawyer nor an aesthetician, and your mileage may vary. Experimenting is great; if you don’t like what I use, concoct something of your own. The internet is a great treasure trove of information. I suggest searching sites like Crunchy Betty and My Plastic-Free Life for ideas.

Potions below the cut!

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Sourdough Report

We learn best by failing, don’t we?
Everything about the starter was textbook during the initial week. The distinct smells (banana fading into the signature sour), the hooch, the bubbles. Something fell off, though.

The bread I made at first, with the starter assisted by the yeast, was good. It didn’t have a very powerful flavor to it–it was like my normal bread. I made just the one loaf and wasted the rest of the discarded starter, as it’s been too hot to think about making even machine bread.

This weekend, as the starter was supposed to be “finished,” I attempted a traditional boule. White flour, small round shape. It did not rise. The end result was heavy and hard and inedible. Okay, I thought, we’ll give it a few more days.

Next, I tried a whole wheat boule. Instead of the recommend total 2 hours rising time with appropriate kneading, I let it rise overnight in my warm laundry cupboard. Bubbles formed in the dough. Aha! I thought, this should work.

The result, again, was hard and heavy. I managed to hack into the crust and sample the dense but tasty crumb. But with the crust barely brown but still nearly impenetrable, it wasn’t very useful bread. I managed to make half of it into breadcrumbs for shepherd’s pie and chucked the rest.

Looking back, I should have suspected not everything was perfect when I didn’t get the described doubling of the starter. I got everything else, so I wasn’t too worried. Well, derp.

I’m going to try again, but instead of a water and flour wild yeast starter, I’m going to use a cheater version that starts with regular commercial yeast. If I don’t have success with that, well, I might have to take Zer0 up on his offer to nick some starter from Panera for me.

Sourdough

A couple of years ago, I checked out a book from the Lawrence Public Library called Wild Fermentation, by Sandor Katz. I was in a phase of checking out cookbooks and not doing much with them other than reading and daydreaming about the things I could possibly do. This wasn’t exactly a cookbook–it covered topics like pickling, making sauerkraut, and other fermented foods. Continue reading

Objects in Space: A brief inventory and a wishlist

The one thing I think attracted me most to paganism was the sense of ritual, of manipulating metaphor objects in space, and measured, solitary practice. My family are lapsed Catholic, and I wasn’t raised in the capital-c Church (much), but it was an influence. So, of course I love the toys. I know some of the most powerful Work is simple–chants, raising energy, dance, movement. But I also like the paraphernalia–the Cauldron, the Knife, the Altar, the Book. I’m one of those types that feels the tool is really the extension of Self; the tool focuses and directs and strengthens. Anyone who knows me knows that focus and direction is always something I naturally lack.

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On Simplification

I can’t really say where my somewhat unorthodox (in the middle-class American context) lifestyle choices began. It could have been growing up as the token poor kid in a rich kid’s high school, where I didn’t have a car or a job and a friend of mine had to convince a lunch lady to look the other way so I could have something to eat every day. It could have been when I picked up a book about Tasha Tudor, a children’s book illustrator who’d chosen to live on a farm with no electricity and a herd of corgis. It could have been as recently as the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill, when the consequences of our country’s insatiable thirst for oil was splashed all over newspapers and CNN.

The typical American middle class lifestyle is not one I want to live. Even if I had the means (and I most certainly don’t right now, but the future, as ever, is uncertain), I would still drive my beat-up car only on the weekends when the bus isn’t running. I never want more living space than what a two-bedroom apartment could provide (though a small house with a yard big enough for a garden would be ideal). I can hear my neighbors running their air conditioners already and can only wonder why–it’s only 72 degrees Fahrenheit right now.

I won’t go out and buy a shiny new SUV tomorrow or ever for two reasons–the first, because of how inefficient it is in multiple ways. I won’t ever need that much car (the phrase “hauling groceries and the kids” makes me dry heave). There are still SUVs on the market that get 12 miles to the gallon or less, and despite what Fox News naysayers believe, we have passed peak oil. It’s only going to get more scarce and more expensive. Driving a car for a year still produces more emissions than a human being would otherwise produce over a lifetime.

The second reason, though, I personally grok more. I feel guilty that the environmental consequences don’t have as much of a personal impact, but the act of buying a car and driving it is such a hassle. The whole bother around buying a new car stresses me out just thinking about it. Haggling with salespeople, test drives, careful research, and yet another monthly expense–I probably wouldn’t even do it to buy a hybrid.

I think that’s why I like riding the bus. I have the good fortune and the privilege to live in one of the few Midwestern cities with a halfway decent bus system. I don’t have to worry about traffic, I don’t road rage anymore, and I can just chill and read a book. Be at this point at time x, get to work at time y, no problem in between. No having to stop for gas. The driver can worry about rude drivers and careless pedestrians. Less stress. It’s good.

Less stress is a reason why I choose to only work a 30 hour week. I realize that I’m in a position of privilege (that word again) to do so–I make enough in thirty hours that I can take care of my responsibilities. I can even afford to take a class or two. I could work a 40 hour week and make slightly more money, but I don’t need to. I rarely go out drinking, I don’t do recreational shopping, most of my clothes come from the thrift store.

I have time for hobbies. I can make real food instead of unwrapping a plastic cube and putting it into the microwave. I go to the library and read books. I still have a TV and play video games and watch Netflix, but that’s not all I do.

Recycle instead of trash. Goodwill or Freecycle instead of landfill. Thrift store instead of big box store.

I still feel crazy and strange and mixed up and guilty, but these little things make me feel a little bit better.