Changing Seasons · Garden · Nature · On Being Green · Painting · The three R's


On our way out to an island in Maine the trees were not yet showing signs of spring, but by our return trip the forsythia was blooming in Albany and the willows had gone from gold to green. Maine for me was wonderful, I am certain it was not so wonderful for the man, and for my friend.  Dog ate a toy and managed to barf on a white rug and a brand new mattress.  Of course after that she was fine, she doesn’t barf a lot so of course she had to christen the new furnishings.  grr.  But for me the peace of painting in a place, outside, despite cold temps, downright drizzle and brutal wind.  My legs cold through and my left fingers icy from holding the palette.  Upon return and viewing this work with the work of last summer I am super pleased with this new body of work.  I am really looking forward to the summer when I can go back and paint more.  There were several sites I would like to sit and paint from, just from the brief tour we had by our hosts.

I wandered around my yard on Easter Sunday after two days of spring cleaning, still utterly not complete, and noticed the tulips pushing their heads up past the mud and coal ash.  The tips of the elderberry bushes have started to bud, the rhubarb with its dark green leaves is growing beautifully.  The crocus and hyacinth are blooming, though my transplanted grape hyacinth is not too happy with life just now.  The tansy and the comfrey are looking healthy, and my transplanted lilies look like they just might bloom.

The man made a compost tumbler out of an old dryer drum.  So impressed, he is really an artist in a way, he can fix anything, he can cobble together anything.

The dogs, particularly Marley the little beast, ran to the neighbors house for cookies.  Following L. into her kitchen while I shot the breeze with M. who lifted the lid of his grill to show me Easter dinner, roast venison on a spit wrapped in bacon.  “This is what rednecks eat for Easter he said deprecatingly, though I did not say it, I thought this is what I would consider a superior culture.  He again iterated my option to walk his land and gather plants from his property, along with a hug and a kiss on the cheek, as my man says, M. likes me because he usually doesn’t let anyone on his property.  We talked about natural dyes.  He thought I said natural guys.  So we made a few jokes about manscaping, and ear whiskers….

I looked up the possibility of using rhubarb leaves for dying wool, high in oxalic acid, I think it would be cool to mix them with pokeweed which grows in abundance in the yard, nettles or maybe sumac.  My summer project slowly forming.

I spun my white wool for a while and finished a recycled sari silk scarf.  STILL trudging away at the brown and white log cabin weave on my 32” Ashford.  Blah.  So dull and my tension is wonky and annoying.  So much to do for spring.  So very little time in the day.



Cooking · Dogs. · Eating Locally · Garden · Healthy Eating · On Being Green · Small Joys

Embracing All of This

The dog asks to go out into the bright morning, and I climb back into bed grateful she wants to come in too, it is so cozy and I begin to drift off but there is a nagging sensation that I have forgotten something.  It is an hour before I realize it is Saturday and I am down to three radishes, a dozen and a half eggs, a lemon and a handful of wilted scallions in the fridge.  

I park in the shadow of a tractor trailer without it’s tractor and open the windows half way.  I am still saying there should be designated dog parking all summer long.  It is only 68, this is the only shade anywhere. How hard would it be, to make a corner of the lot safe for those who are out with their pets?

Now later I feel such a sense of peace and contentment.  There is a moment at which you find yourself, in a place where everything comes together and begins to make sense.  It is really just an inkling, but it is there and it feels like it will become more profound.  

I would not have this home, nor my yoga teacher without my ex husband.  I would not have this belief in my personal strength and integrity without the pirate nor would I have known that the problem was not with me with regards to our difficult relationship, would not have my daughter if it were not for her father… you get the picture.  I would not be cleaning my house organically and with such a small footprint without A.  and a Tau sister I lived with who reminded me that there was a time when this was what I did.  Oh. Yes.  The dogs at my side, my ex again, and a Tau sibling.  I feed them pea pods, blueberries, strawberries and sour cherries.  The pup putting her paw on my knee, asking for more.  What would my life feel like without them?

I wash and cut and prepare my fruit and vegetables.  Storing some in freezer bags, some in the fridge.  I slice cucumbers, the little ones with no seeds, and poor hot vinegar over them, cutting up cilantro and parsley from my garden, trimming lettuce to put it on later, with chickpeas.  

My sour cherry jam is boiling away on the stove and fresh homemade scones baking in the oven. A lifetime of having to live poor, now coming to fruition through living clean.  My six face cords of wood on order, I look at this wood stove and do math in my head, 75 dollars a month to be warm all winter.  Sometimes my gas bill was as high as 350 dollars a month, and that is cheap.  I really can get used to this.

I embrace this, it is perfection.  What a gift.  I am filled with gratitude.  


Changing Seasons · Climate Change · Nature · On Being Green

Dry Year in the Adirondacks

Hinckley Resevoir

hinkleytwo hinkleythree hinkleysix hinkleyone hinkleyfour hinkleyfive

These images were taken on my way home this morning from points north of Speculator.  They were taken along the edge of Route 365 as I headed south.  This is Hinckley Resevoir.  In years past this has been a very full and active reservoir.  I was absolutely astonished on my way up because it is really low to my eye.  There was essentially no snow pack last year, and it seemed like the foliage was so dry on my drive and my walk up the road where my friend lives.  It poured all the way up, but even where she lives there was not yet one tiny patch of snow anywhere and remained above freezing the whole time I was there.  She said she has a friend who is a forest ranger who was quite worried all summer, frankly I was thankfully surprised there was not one single fire this whole summer.  I am really concerned about how tremendously dry this is.  This reservoir feds the city of Utica, as do a couple of other very dry lakes I visited in a region northwest of here in North Lake and South Lake.


North Lake in August


North Lake in August


On Being Green

What a shameful waste.

Big basket of pencils

I stand at this post every morning.  I try to greet each child as they come up the stairs,  one new child from Iraq gets a Salam wa aleikum which always gets me a big smile.  The girl from Nepal says Namaste to me every morning.  The boy from Burundi says a formal Good Morning Mrs. Octopus.  And the Eritrean girls throw their arms around me and say Dehandalahi.  The Karin girls say no low eh (you are pretty). I get ignored, I get hugged, I get laughed at, people stop to chat with me, people wave as they rush by.   It is a busy post, I miss it when I have a meeting, I feel like I don’t know which kids are in the building.  They miss me too, where were you yesterday, are you feeling better?

Today as I was standing at this post my friend who is an art teacher turned TA came up to me with this basket full of pencils.  Ms. Gregory do you want these.  Of course I said.  What is their story?  The first grade teacher was throwing them away.  What?  Why?  I said incredulous.  They do not have erasers, said the TA with what I know is absolute disbelief.  I rescued as many as I could.   Oh my God are you kidding me?  What was she thinking?  Really.  Wow.  The girls from Burma were there and the little girl from Iran, whose beautiful black braid is at least 3 inches in diameter.  Why would you throw those away said the girl from Iraq quietly.  I have no idea I said.  This is our planet and throwing all these pencils away is a waste, a terrible waste and I think it shows a lack of care and consideration for our planet.  Oh she said softly, it is, I cannot believe anyone would throw them away.  The Karin girl took a pencil out, look I said, it is brand new, but no eraser.  I said, if you really want an eraser you can get a whole box (144) of pencil top erasers for less than one dollar.  The cost of just 12 of these pencils is exactly 96 cents.  That is not right they all said.  I am sure that the people in the refugee camps they came from would be happy as clams to have these pencils, even without the eraser.

As they walk away I find myself wondering how many of these pencils are thrown away each year in schools, just because they have no eraser.  I am filled with disgust.  What  a shameful waste.

I spend my whole planning period sharpening them, not all because my sharpener gets hot and stops working.

Later the 1st graders in my afterschool program, use them to write their names on the dragons we are making.

I stop then and write a note for the bulletin board.  Save us from certain death I say with the pencil taped to the top.  Donate us to the art room.


Humor · Musings · Nature · On Being Green · Rants

Nuclear Power


Over twenty years ago I worked for Greenpeace for part of a summer.  The job really sucked, honestly, I had dreams of big protests and whales but all it was was door to door marketing.  Sucked.  But I remember distinctly some of the issues we campaigned about, one of which was nuclear power. Which I still to this day do not quite understand why we have allowed these plants to be built, why would we even consider it.

Yes it is initially a cheap source of power, but at what cost?  They talk about how safe it is and yet we have, in just the last 25 years, two disasters of significant proportion.  Oh I know Japan is hanging on by their bloody fingernails scraped down to the quick, but really it is in my opinion a disaster.  Considering that our nuclear plants are now aging and soon will be aged, I cannot imagine that the disasters will go away; I suspect more of them will occur in the near future.   One of the things that scares me the most is that nuclear power is a profit based business, and as with all profit based business, the safety of its workers and infrastructure will be compromised in search of the almighty and sacred dollar bill, the shareholders will insist.  The board of directors will authorize illegal cuts and we will all go “huh, how could this have happened?” scratch our heads while someone who wants to run for office will get up on his soap box and say “there should be congressional oversight!” and then the shit will really hit the F___ing fan.   I have no doubt in my mind that in 100 years as these plants are disintegrating the concrete is becoming brittle and the metal has begun to rust our descendants will all say “what the hell were these morons thinking?  Why did they ever think nuclear power was a good idea?”  Dolphins, whales, overfishing the ocean, pesticides, herbicides, growth hormone, food additives, putting grocery stores several miles from housing, Walmart, and fast food to name just a few things that will earn us disdain and out and out hatred.

I digress.  Who cares what those bastards think anyway, we have to have our cheap ass power now!

We have screwed up people!  Can someone please stop hitting the snooze alarm, and can we start getting our butts out of the lazy and dead asleep bed and start making some changes?  Or are we content to turn on your TVs and listen to Glenn, or Bill or maybe Anne, or Rush.  Those buffoons have it right, ah so blissful, like taking a benedryl, feel yourself drift into obliviousness.  Ah that’s better.  It ain’t your problem.  Sigh.

Or is it?

Buddhism · Musings · Nature · New York State Parks · On Being Green · Small Joys

Midwinter Thaw

We started this winter with a bang, and now all 71.9 inches of snow are thawing.  It has been above freezing for a couple days now, and may be again overnight.  We went to our park, one of the advantages of this park over the most popular Green Lakes State Park (hot bed of deer ticks) is that it is just not a particularly muddy trail.  The paths are still pretty leaf strewn and these trails are not for the faint of heart, not too many people travel over the trails that I know will be safe. despite the icy slushy snow.  The limestone is slick and wet, and the snow is more (or less) forgiving over the cracks, we tread slowly and carefully, sticking close together and with some missteps into the broad openings.  We pass a family of four, I warn the dad of one particularly deceptive spot ahead, the little boy says something about safe and I think he is scared.  He may have already slipped into a spot from what the dad says.  Its an adventure I say cheerfully.  The mom says yes it is enthusiastically.  I pass Santa Claus and a Burmese Mountain Dog.  Good day for a walk, he says in his Norwegian accent.  Indeed it is.  A Chinese woman slides on the  limestone and falls on her butt, her boyfriend reaches to pick her up.  They were in the lot when I was and they are headed back to it already, not for the faint of heart.  I continue along taking the long path up Pulpit Rock.  Stopping to view the quarry scared area, I think on the path that shows the impact of man, a few sawn logs across the trail, a few broken branches and well tread path, and the contrast to this the destruction of man.  The old quarry building and the new, the muddy slag heap, the deep scars where nothing grows, and the long line of power wires and the burnt remnants of poisoned weeds.  I sigh and head back to the woods.  I take it slowly.  Enjoying it.  Not striving to be best or better, just taking pleasure in each step.  Not looking ahead eyes cast down to avoid ice patches and mud.  Just one step at a time along the path.  The trees creak above me and we stop and listen.

The back end of the trail is absolutely sopping wet and I can feel my boots getting heavy.  I suppose I should invest in waterproof snow boots, but I kind of have this desire to not buy any new clothing for a whole year.  Who knows how long this will last.  I come down the last hill and hear a person playing a recorder.  They are not good, but practiced and I stop to listen.  A woman comes over the rise and her Corgi runs towards us.  The dogs greet pleasantly and I talk to the woman for several minutes, each of us exchanging cuddles with each others dogs.  I really like Corgis they are friendly.  Her dog is the exact same size as mine but with shorter legs.

I feel refreshed and relaxed.  I think I will paint this afternoon.  First time in ages.