A Tour of Swap-O-Rama-Rama

This video shows me walking through a Swap-O-Rama-Rama. It just appeared on YouTube. I remember taping it, gosh I think it was two years ago and if I remember correctly I had just contracted lyme disease and had a really high fever and was considering going to the hospital. You'd never know! Anyway, it's pretty good check it out.


Wall Street Hosts Your Revolution

Like you I have been watching the Wall Street Occupation this week. The images and sounds make me remember the final moments that I spent in New York City. One of the strongest of my parting memories was during the Republican National Convention in 2004 where I was one over 3000 people who was plucked off the street, caught in the same orange nets used this week on the peaceful protesters of Wall Street,  arrested, and jailed for over three days. The cops told me at the time that it was to make a better media image for the Republicans convention that week. You know, clean up the streets. 

In times like this one wonders why the cops stand on the wrong side? When I was in jail and asked a minority cop if he realized that peaceful protest was how his civil rights were won he said "I'm getting my pension next year." Turned his head down and walked away. Ah yes, money. We're back to the theme of the week! 

The video of my arrest is almost identical to the one shot this week showing several young girls being maced by the NYPD. This kind of police violence produces a response in me that can only be known by those who've been brutalized in this way. It makes one know they've been abused, changed. I wonder, how many of us will have to know this by direct experience before we put an end to it? 

Even though the format of the police brutality is the same as what I experienced in 2004, there is something different about the people banding together in solidarity on Wall Street this week. They are talking about unity and our shared humanity. Artist Immortal Technique spoke eloquently about the need for us to find our "shared bottom line," our humanity. He reminded listeners that the strength gathered by the elite to obtain the power they now have was done so by unifying together on their bottom line in spite of their differences. Too bad for us all that their bottom line is money and power and has led to suffering for all but themselves. And others too, just keep watching the videos, people are saying that it's time for unity and in the words of Hazrat Inayat Khan,, "unity is not uniformity." 

At the end of a video by Occupy Together someone says, "If you paid any taxes last year than you paid more than General Electric, and you should be here!" Yes, we should all be there. If you think the folks sleeping on the streets on Wall Street this week are not there for your rights than your naiveté is bringing you dangerously close to the day when the orange nets come to your front door. 

I wasn't sure I'd post about the events in NY this week.  I doubted that I could write anything that matched the respect I feel for everyone on the street representing the 99%. I decided to post for volume, another voice saying "I wont shut up!" a thumbtack on the bulletin board of the internet, a cry from my computer from where I am wishing that I was there. I posted to remind us all to keep thinking about them and about our world and what it is and what it can be.  Look at pictures every day, watch video, listen, feel. 

Krishnamurti said, "It is no sign of wellness to be well adjusted to a sick society." 


Jay and Ryanne on Citizen Reporter

Remember last weeks podcast that featured Wendy and I talking about our departure from city life? Well this week Mark from Citizen Reporter put out a fresh episode with our friends Jay and Ryanne. Jay & Ryanne are probably the only people we have managed to convince to leave the city and spend some of their retirement early in order to enjoy the good life. They have made a fine home for themselves in Virginia and are dealing with the kind of small town problems that you see everywhere.


Favorite Breakfast Smoothie: Peach

We rotate between raw yogurt smoothies and fresh juice for breakfast. While our peach tree continues to hemorage peaches we have been enjoying a peach, honey, yogurt, vanilla, ice and cream smoothie.

Making Room for Staples

Making Room for Staples by mikeysklar
Making Room for Staples, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Our weekly wine, bread, cheese and kombucha routine continues right through harvest season. This week we racked another kit wine of Shiraz, made a french bread, made a romano cheese wheel and cycled another batch of prickly pear kombucha.

Making Room for Staples #2Making Room for Staples #3Making Room for Staples #4


A Sweet Bounty

I am glad we did not get all full size fruit trees, we got more than a few dwarfs. And any future fruit trees that I buy will be dwarfs. Today we tried to pit and freeze one day's picks from our peach tree plus we juiced some apples from yesterday's trip to the farm where we picked 4 bags of apples.

The Bountiful Alliance is Growing Up

I post often about Truth or Consequences', NGO The Bountiful Alliance. It has been operating for a few years and has achieved the completion of a lot of on the ground projects: a Michael Moore library, a community garden, the running of the farmer's market, a community kitchen, a water harvesting program and tilling project to name a few. As one might expect, when a group runs this fast there is a need to look back and examine where it has been, what has happened and what may be done better in the future. A recent meeting was held to do just this, to re-imagine. The meeting produced the desired result, revised enthusiasm. 

My own approach to unifying a group towards a common culture is to think of the group identity as if it were a person and imagine who this person might be. The questions that logically follow are many. . .  is she plump, generous, happy, lively, reserved, tender, a busy body, curious, a sturdy person, someone who gets things done, a nurturer? What are her manners, her etiquette? To serve so many fundamental functions for a diverse community must she must be lovable, someone you want to know and be friends with, someone universally liked. If so she's likely above petty things, gossip and exclusionary behavior. She probably loves nature, plants, bugs and bees. She probably communicates effortlessly with nature and has a magic touch for creating things. She might be a healer a cook, good with an axe. Is she plump because she's so bountiful? She should bring out the best in everyone. You get the idea. . .

To the degree to which a group can define their shared identity as though it were a person will be the degree to which volunteers will show willingness to be her and people who represent the organization will appear to be cohesive in how they portray the org. 

Fruit Pickin' Season

Peaches are continuously falling from our 3 year old dwarf peach tree.  We've been ripening them indoors in covered bowls and will today freeze them for smoothies all winter. Of course a cobbler was made and brought over to our friends apple orchard where we celebrated the equinox and picked apples. The only traffic you'll find in the nearby village of Monticello is a large slow congregation of cows.


Small Town: A License to Print Money

While the economy wavers throughout the US there remains opportunity for those who know where to look. T or C's main drag, Broadway, is a good example of this. It is lively with businesses owned by people who have the insight to read the economic climate and recognize how to work within it, they sell used merchandise. Our thrift shops thrive. 

There is more opportunity than this in T or C. Our town is plagued with businesses that hold monopolies, many run by members of one of a few families who dominate this town in politics and economically.  Those who live here know the names well and sigh tiredly when they hear them. To me the names are a red flag, they're coupled with mediocre service, poor quality and "we're doing you a favor" attitude. I regularly hear about people driving over 100 miles to find something better. I have done it myself. 

The imbalance is not uncommon in small towns. Families who arrived in earlier times and who started up and handed down small business through multiple generations feel entitled to monopolies. For the consumer however this often translates into lousy service, arrogance and poor quality. Nothing drags a community down more than mediocrity in social etiquette and material goods. Competition is a good thing. In the political arena the same thing appears as favoritism. Guess who gets the bid when one family run biz meets family in local gov? 

If your living in a place with a plethora of opticians, veterinarians, repair shops, hotels, retail and service businesses of all kinds, consider coming to a town where alternatives to a family dominated monopoly are welcomed and celebrated. Competition promises better service, better quality and fairness. The inheritors of the family businesses might even benefit from a more egalitarian life that encourages good manners, a standard of quality and creativity. It even makes evident the thing that is (in question) at the core of hoarding behavior, abundance. 


Holy Scrap Interview With Citizenreporter.org

Last week we did a radio interview for Citizen Reporter, a Netherlands based web project by journalist Mark Fonseca Rendeiro aka Bicyclemark. He's a neat guy who is offering up under reported news from all parts of the world. Check it out


Between Seasons

In southern NM we have a 260 + gardening season. I'm not the only one who finds the transitions between seasons to be the most enjoyable times for gardening. Between winter and spring (and before the windy season) and also from summer through fall and into winter are my favorite times. Right now, with a 10 degree drop in temps from summer's 90 degree days and with the cool nights of our high desert region, I'm growing new crops of kale, radish, lettuces, bok choy, spinach, garlic and herbs (dill, cilantro, fennel). At the same time summer crops like melon, eggplant, tomatoes, celery, beet, loofa, carrots are maturing and slow crops planted way back in spring and that like cool temps like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower  are rapidly advancing.


Autumn Harvest Crepe

It's time for autumn harvest crepes that bring together autumn veggies that are in season this time of year. For the filling I fried garlic and shallots with okra and beet greens that I seasoned with cumin and nutmeg. When this cooked down some I added fresh tomatoes and cooked it just a bit more. This mix is scooped into a crepe which has a smear of goat cheese, fresh chives and a little fresh basil. Of course the veg mix can change based on what's in the garden but this particular mix is one of my favorites.

The Dam and the Rain Storm

The Dam and the Rain Storm by mikeysklar
The Dam and the Rain Storm, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.
A small dam was put in place at the south end of town last week.  It is installed every year at the end of the summer to assist in keeping the hot springs hot. A large rain storm came along just after the bull dozer and front loader finished creating the obstruction. It set free a small section that will need to be rebuilt.
The Dam and the Rain Storm #2The Dam and the Rain Storm #3The Dam and the Rain Storm #4The Dam and the Rain Storm #5

Cursing VW's Window Regular Design

We had to take apart our VW door again. This time the passenger window fell out of it's clip. On close inspection Wendy noticed that the rubber gasket that protects the glass and in which the window hangs inside of split in half. Normally it takes us only a few minutes to get into the door and adjust the window clips, but we dropped a bolt behind the door's metal plate and had to fish for it. This took a bit longer to repair. At least we have a temporarily working fix that will hold up until we get the replacement gasket.


A New Mexico Story - 150 Years And Still Standing

There is something about New Mexico. It invites bigger dreaming. Maybe it is the huge sky? It is a place that lures the imagination onto it like a projection screen.  It is the land of enchantment - officially.

This quality entices an uncountable number of passers by to stop to fill their gas tanks and then look deeper. It is not uncommon for travelers to say, "whoops I bought a property."

Our friend Josh Bond has taken on one of the bigger projects in the area. He bought himself part of a 150 year old town including the old bar which is rumored to have been visited by famous outlaws.  Ghost hunters have rigged his place with equipment and made the claim that entities other than Josh are frequenting the place. It's a cool old place that needs a whole lotta work. You'd have to expect that from a 150 year old desert ghost town.

If New Mexico were a person he/she'd be a trickster, maybe a seller of snake oil. That's ok. And we like her because sometimes we all need a little help otherwise we might forget to dream big.

Read this bit about Josh's place in True West Magazine.
And check out this recent piece on local painter David Farrell.

Every Day Juice

This summer's garden was successful in all the ways needed for us be daily juicers. We grew crazy amounts of carrots, celery, beets and apples. To make the best juice ever all we needed was ginger and sometimes a few oranges. I  feel like a super hero drinking this every day!

Cubes of Pesto & Prickly

It's crazy how much pesto I made and froze this summer. Since I can't throw basil away I will give the pesto cubes to friends throughout the winter. Competing with the growing pesto supply in my freezer is a huge batch of prickly pear cactus juice concentrate (also made in cube trays).  Oh la la!

Burnt Leaf Pears ? ? ?

Three years ago I planted two pear trees. They came from a crappy local store called Alco. I should have but did not know better at the time. They've struggled since their start. In late summer their leaves turn black as through burnt and they curl up. The fruit is turning black too. Even though I have three years of growth invested in these trees I'm thinking about pulling them and starting over with better quality stock. Since this could be a fungus or something that resides in the soil I'd likely cover the soil over with plastic, bake it in the sun to kill of any microbes and then begin anew the next year with lots of compost and new trees. Arg!!!

Not Summer Lovers

Not all trees like New Mexico's summer heat, not even the indigenous Mexican Elder which tends to shrivel by summer's end and then blossom out in the fall.  In the photo you can see it rebounding from the summer's heat with fresh leaf growth. The almond tree pictured here has the same temperament, it prefers the coolness of autumn. During the summer it appears as if it's about to die.

As luck would have it I planted both of these next to a porch and double sliding glass door so they would shade these areas all summer and then let the south sun in by loosing their leaves in the winter. Looks like I got just the opposite. I will take my chances on loosing them and move them this winter when they've gone dormant.

Hello Li & Lu The Jujubes

Last winter we planted two jujube trees one li and one lu. This summer they showed us who they are, they even produced a couple of small sweet fruits. They are lovely and we are excited about finding ways to eat their candy like fruit. I'm looking forward seeing them as a hedge like wall in the future, a mini jungle if you can imagine it in a desert. They are known for being prolific growth and for spawning lots of babies. They'er off to a great start. 


Film Review: Under Our Skin

A couple of years ago while visiting friends in upstate New York I got lyme disease. The first thing I noticed were flu like symptoms. Knowing I was in a lyme infested area I went to the hospital. The doctor did not look me over. She gave me a pamphlet and told me that I could not test for lyme until 5 weeks had passed, suggested I come back then and charged me $245.00. 

Later that night I found a tick under my bra strap on my back and had someone pull it out. Two days later I was in San Francisco producing a huge 10,000 + person Swap-O-Rama-Rama. While standing before my 100 person staff I realized that something was terribly wrong. I could not remember anything, names, numbers, dates and it was as though a thick fog covered over the space between me and every other person. I felt remote and scared. That night a circular rash on my chest told me that the tick on my back had lyme disease. That same night I could not lift my arms over waist height. The bacteria had moved into my heart and it hurt. Unable to remember my PIN number I could not get money out of the cash machine, which is a real problem when your far from home. Somehow I made it through that weekend and back to NM.

When I got back to New Mexico I studied the disease. The material available was confusing and often totally contradictory. Many said it is easy to cure, others said you can not cure it ever. Neurological problems threatened the quality of the rest of my life. Along with a doctor who happens to be a close friend I chose a treatment of three months of three different antibiotics plus quinine. I treated lyme plus every possible co-infection. I was sick as hell for three months. The spirochete fights back. As far as anyone can tell, today I no longer have lyme disease.  

My story is common with one exception, the ending. Most don't get diagnosed in time or they go up against denial by the medical industry, much like the hospital that let me leave unchecked with a lyme tick on my back. If lyme is treated within the first 48 hours the chance of being fully cured is high. If I listened to them and waited 5 weeks I may have had an untreatable chronic case. They continue to try to bill me for this visit. Today doctors who are willing to treat lyme disease patients are loosing their licenses. 

A film has been made to shed light on what happened when I went to the hospital.  Insurance companies are blocking patients from treatment. They do this through doctors who provide the guidelines that set insurance company standards and who happen to have conflicts of interest that include patents on vaccinations and tests for lyme. I can never stop marveling at the charm of our little creation, capitalism. Evidence is now popping up that Parkinsons, MS and a host of other mysterious diseases are coupled with and actually bi-products of lyme. The film reveals how fast lyme is spreading across the globe, and the many ways that this could be a profit center for those who's motive is money. Unfortunately, they run our health care and our government. 

In recent years there's been talk about how overdue humanity is for an epidemic. Lyme sits ready to fill that slot and with a little surprise, it's a bacteria. 

This film is not only right on time but it's well made and thoroughly interesting. You can find it on the web


Sun Drying Tomatoes

Sun Drying Tomatoes by mikeysklar
Sun Drying Tomatoes, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Our tomato plants have been nothing to brag about this summer. We have produced just enough to avoid buying tomatoes from the farmers market. Normally we would have quite a few jars of tomato sauce saved up for the winter, but this year we have none. I've just kicked off our first round of sun-dried tomatoes. My hope is that we will reach at least 3 quarts of sun-dried tomatoes by the end of the warm season.

Favorite Dish

Favorite Dish by mikeysklar

Favorite Dish, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.
Hands down our favorite meal this summer has been home made tempeh and kimchi (lacto-fermented) over wild rice. Oddly enough it is also the least expensive and maybe the healthiest. I added in pan fried beet tops with garlic and olive oil. Yum!

Back to Mescal Canyon

Back to Mescal Canyon by mikeysklar
Back to Mescal Canyon, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.
We enjoyed a 1.5 hour hike this morning at our favorite Mescal Canyon. I kicked a rock and hurt my baby toe and Sesame rolled in fowl smelling dead animal.  I got an herbal comfrey oil for my toe which Wendy made and Sesame got a shampoo bath.
Back to Mescal Canyon #2Back to Mescal Canyon #3

What's In Your Mailbox?

Here's a photo of the mail that arrived today. What fun! It includes four letters. One is reusable with a slip in paper that can be swapped out so that the card can be used again and again, it came from Melbourne Australia; another contains a card and two kinds of stickers "reject" and "ok." My friend sent these for marking approval of things in and around the public space. The third package contains real cacao, filbert nuts and a tea locally made in Portland. These are thank you gifts from friends who spend a couple of days here (note: this is the right way to say thank you!). The final package contains two huge bags, one of dried mint the other lemon balm (although she wrote lemon basil). Both came from Mikey's mom's garden. She grew more than she needed.

HS blog readers what can you tell me about my mailbox? It's all fun and contains no bills. This is the result of a continued effort to uncommodify my life and in particular my mailbox. I consider the box my personal space and I am determined to choose it's vibe. I like handwritten letters and gifts and so I decided that is what I would have in my mailbox. I don't like bills or advertisements. Every time I get an advertisement or junk mail I write or call the sender and put an end to it. I rarely get any junk mail. I receive bills electronically. Since I hand write letters and send gifts many do the same to me. It is that simple.

The mailbox can and should be a place of wonder and surprise not dread.

Comfrey The Bone Knitter Meets Mikey's Baby Toe

I've been waiting for an opportunity to test out comfrey, a plant known for its ability to knit broken bones. The allantoin in it rejuvenates old cells, promote's growth of new cells and provides immunity for many infectious diseases. Today Mikey discovered one of the downsides to hiking in Vibram 5 Finger shoes when he slammed his baby toe into a rock that jetted up from the newly rearranged rock bed of a familiar arroyo that we hike. When we got home I pulled out a jar of comfrey that I'd been steeping in olive oil for about a month. We soaked gauze in the mixture and wrapped the toe with it.

The second photo shows the comfrey plant growing in my garden. I established it my beds but will surely have to move it. I hope it will not be too unhappy being relocated. Comfrey is a real space hog and will take over if not given a permanent home to expand into. This winter I will test comfrey's properties in salves. There is an toxicity issue to consider with comfrey but it seems an exaggerated. In reasonable amounts and used on the right occasion comfrey is safe and will not cause liver toxicity. As always moderation and a bit of common sense is key.

T or C Art Blog

Former San Franciscan painter and current resident of Truth or Consequences, James Gasowski, has started an art blog to track the Truth or Consequences, NM art scene. The blog happens to be making itself known in the same month that  former T or C artist Sky returned to town after going walkabout about a year ago.  Sky was known for handing out puzzle pieces glued to pins and saying, "your a piece of the puzzle." She is what Mikey and I call a glueologist. She glues things to other things. Sky was featured in Vanity Fair's piece on the T or C art scene a couple of years ago.

IMAGE: painting by local artist Ruth



I learned a lesson recently when a huge wide mouth jar of coriander seed molded. Although it appeared dry, it was not dry enough. Today, rather than bottle a batch of freshly dried holy basil after drying it in an outdoor solar dehydrator, I made this screen pouch and clipped it to a willow latter that I made for vines to grow on. It's in a particularly breezy spot. I'll keep it here for a couple more days before storing.

In Spite of Drought

In spite of drought we have had a great garden year. We did water about 4X as much as in previous years but found that it was worth it. We could not have obtained the organic veggies that we grew even for the price of the extra water. I also love gardening and would have been sad without one. As summer begins to transition to fall I am excited to see cool crops that I underplanted a couple to a few weeks ago emerge below the spent plants I plucked.

Images: two of about a dozen of our beds

Giant Arugula

We LOVE arugula. This year I grew two varieties, a thin light leafed plant that grows in bunches form it's base like lettuce and a succulent variety that claims to be Italian and is pictured here. This succulent is not only super yummy, it has been growing like a bush since the spring. Today I finally plucked it because it was taking over the garden and was no longer producing much leaf. The plant seen here is about 2.5' in diamater!

Mystery Plant. . Do You Recognize It

One of the best things about having a blog is asking blog readers what the mysterious life forms that are growing in my garden are called. Here's the latest. . .  this plant grows in bunches of tall sticks (3' at the tallest) and seem to be without roots. When I pull a stalk up and look at the base the cylinder is filled with a spongelike substance. Anyone?

One Green Pepper

It has been a strange gardening year. We are in a drought and so gardens have required as much as 5X the amount of water they usually need. And yet we're having an amazing year in general with abundant carrots, parsnips, celery, beets, loofa etc. Crops that we grew in abundance last year, like tomatos and peppers, are just hobbling along. Today I pulled our first pepper of the year. I can't say I'm confident we'll have much more than this one!