dweller by the river

sojourner of earth attempting to understand the journey home

Category: Earth

“Companion Plantings”

I’ve got so many related and complementary projects going on at the same time that it’s starting to scatter my brain a little. Some are a lot more clearly related than others, which have a more tenuous link, but really, all of them have something in common.

I don’t count my day job, not really. It’s something that I have to do in order to be able to eat, sleep under a roof in a (sort of) permanent location, and afford to do the stuff that really means something.

There’s writing, both on its own and on this blog. And stuff that’s good enough to put in the public sphere needs a little time to polish. I know not everything I publish makes a huge point or even a very useful one, but it does say something that’s not absolutely stupid or baseless. I don’t general post simply for the sake of posting, and that’s why I’m quite all right with periods of seeming inactivity. I just prefer to see it as dormancy. I write about a lot of things, and am inspired by a lot of things, not least of which are the other things on which I choose to spend my time.

There’s hula, which isn’t a cheap activity. The classes are not cheap by any comparison to the plethora of other dance classes available in this country, and the costumes and accessories are anything but. I dance because I’ve read about and am fascinated by the beauty of the art form and the depth of its cultural significance. I dance also because I like the language and the music, and I also enjoy being able to speak a language – to “write” – with my entire body. I enjoy the rootedness that it has in nature.

I’m currently undergoing chiropractic intervention for misalignments in certain groups of vertebrae. This is affecting my dancing because the adjustments cause sensitivity, and bones and joints that are being “forced” to move correctly where they have long gotten used to moving incorrectly will inevitably ache. I get tired and feel pain a lot more easily now. The irritation and frustration bleeds into my thought processes and my writing.

My plants, which are a primary source of inspiration (and amusement and joy), require a lot of maintenance. Right now there are about forty altogether (some have been given away, and some have died), and they all require careful checks at least once a week to prevent bug infestations, and thorough watering twice (or at least once) a day to keep them strong and healthy and able to resist bug infestation to a certain degree. Talking to them is calming, and the window at which they hang is conducive to prayer – which in turn feeds positively into my thought processes (writing) and worship (dance) and health (spinal healing).

I’ve decided to add another thing to the mix – crochet. This will be my third attempt to learn this craft, and I hope it will be the last. It’s not the floral accessories and lacy doilies that I want to make – it’s practical things like rugs, pot scrubbers, fingerless gloves, baskets, bags and the occasional shawl or cowl that I want to make. Seeing beautiful and useful items result from a crazy series of knots seems like a good metaphor for how all the many loose strands in my life coalesce into a harmonious whole… I’m probably not patient enough to do a needlepoint tapestry, but a good crochet piece is like as not a similarly good picture of how God works all our lives into His master plan.

As I go through life as a sort of apprentice gardener, trying to keep my actual plants alive, I’m also attempting to work all my various “plantings” into complementary relationships so as to avoid time and effort wastage. I can’t help but think of how it’s all just layers and layers and layers of metaphor… because we’re all the plantings of the Lord, aren’t we? As we shepherd others in the faith, they’re also plants that we as junior gardeners nurture and cultivate. Our children are our plantings. And we’re stewards of the earth, the land, so actual plants are also under our care.

We’re both plant and gardener, and we need to understand both sides of that relationship in order to fully appreciate our identities as human beings and as “little Christs”. It’s a crazy, complicated thing, so many disparate strands… getting all hooked and knotted up together in a beautiful project.

Moonlight Prayer


“It’s beautiful.

“Will I one day get to see it up close in person?

“You know, I’ve always found it so much easier to talk to You when I’m surrounded by stuff that You’ve made, instead of stuff that we’ve made. You know what I mean, don’t You?

“It’s like, when someone has gotten married and is moving house, but they’re still walking around in their old house and letting the old things and old sounds and old smells and old atmosphere and old thoughts and old feelings permeate them… and suddenly it feels hard to believe or imagine that they’re married and no longer live here.

“Being stuck here on this physical plane is a bit like that, cos I know what’s real is where You are, in another dimension.

“Being stuck in a job where there’s nothing but concrete and metal and dead trees everywhere around me, in an office where the air itself seems to suffocate small plants to death, is MUCH worse. Cos there are nearly no reminders of You anywhere at all.

“It’s not that I don’t want to talk to You more. I just need… help, sometimes. Thanks for this one. I needed a reminder of how small I am and how huge You are. And it’s beautiful, which is a real bonus.

“Thanks again for the plants. Sometimes I egotistically think You must have created them all those millenia ago just with me in mind – the silly 21st century plant-lover whose every soil-based attempt is a disaster. Heh.

“Leave me this little conceit for tonight; You came down here and suffered the bounds of gravity and fragile skin, what’s it to You if I… oh, never mind.

“Thanks, anyhow. I guess You allowed me to forget to put my keys back into my bag (right now I can’t even remember when or where I last saw them, actually, which is absurd) so that I would have to sit down and write this. It’s good, I think.


Dramatic Irony Indeed


 An extract:

“I think it’s amazing that in a country which promotes the freedom to own firearms, freedom to worship and freedom of speech, we don’t have the freedom to choose our own food. If I can’t choose the proper fuel to feed my body, I won’t have energy to go shoot, preach and pray anyway. Half the alleged food in the supermarket is really dangerous to your health. In fact, if we removed all the food items in the supermarket that would not have been available before 1900, the shelves would be bare. Gone would be all the unpronounceable gobbledy-syllabic industrial additives, irradiated, GMO, cloned pseudo-food.

The reason this issue is hard to articulate is because most people don’t realize what’s not on the shelves, or in their diet. We’re fast losing the memory of heritage food, as in made from scratch, in the home kitchen, with culture-wide generic culinary wisdom. I remember when every mom knew how to cut up a chicken. Now, most people don’t know a chicken has bones. As the food police have demonized and criminalized neighbor-to-neighbor food commerce, the food system has become enslaved by the industrial food fraternity. And just around the corner is the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) coming on strong, under the guise of food safety and biosecurity, which will annihilate thousands of non-industrial farms. We don’t need programs; we need freedom. If we really had freedom, farmers like me would run circles around the corporate-welfare, food adulterated, land-abusing industrial farms.”

Joel Salatin VS James McWilliams…

…on “the myth of sustainable meat”. This might not seem immediately relevant to a blog that focuses mainly on plants, but you’ll understand once you read it.


Why Have I Never Heard of Joel Salatin Before Today?


An extract:

“The food industry views everything through the skewed paradigm of faith in human cleverness rather than dependence on nature’s design. the difference is expressed in many ways, from parts to wholes, from manipulative dominion to nurturing, from worshiping techno-glitzy to honoring wise traditions and indigenous knowledge. But this hubris seems to relish the fact that we can irradiate food to sterilize poop, rather than slowing the processing down enough that we can wash the poop off before it gets in the food.

Which opens up the next big problem: safe food. And this runs the gamut from nutrition to outright danger. The food industry actually believes that feeding your children Twinkies, Cocoa Puffs and Mountain Dew is safe, but drinking raw milk and eating compost-grown tomatoes is dangerous. The industrial food system depends on dredging up horror stories from the early 1900s as food was just industrializing and rural electrification, stainless steel, and sanitation understanding were not available to continue demonizing, marginalizing, and criminalizing back-to-heritage foods in the modern day. Using its political clout, industrial food is waging war on local, nutrient dense foods as surely as the U.S. Cavalry hunted down native Americans earlier in our culture’s history. A people, who by the way, only wanted to be left alone and who were routinely labeled barbarians and worse from the earliest days of our country.

Which brings me to the final point: disrespect of the inherent uniqueness of the living world. Industrial food never asks whether the pig is happy. the pig-ness of the pig never enters the conversation. It’s all about fatter, faster, bigger, cheaper. And a culture that views its life from such an arrogant, manipulative, disrespectful hubris, will view its own citizenry the same way–and other cultures. We cannot return to traditional nutrient density until we respect soil microflora and pigs for what they are and do in the system. Bringing this level of respect to the table is the foundation for a moral and ethical society. The industrial food system perhaps more fully than any other aspect of our culture expresses unabashed greedy pride.”