Top 5 Fabulous Things of the Week 2.27.09

1. I went to see Branford Marsalis perform with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra last week, and I took Sarah along. I asked for symphony tickets for Christmas from my parents, and this was my first ticket redemption. It was great! He played the first two pieces with them, and the third piece was just the orchestra. He’s got nimble fingers! I was a music minor in college, so it was nice to take a couple of hours out and just listen, which I don’t do often enough.

2. I didn’t get to watch the Oscars due to a satellite mishap, but I read some quotes from that night that I thought were great. I don’t normally watch the Oscars, but I love movies, and I love quotes, and some really great ones tend to happen at this ceremony.

“All my life I’ve had a choice between hate and love, and I chose love, and now I’m here.” – A.R. Rahman, scorer for Slumdog Millionaire

“I think [Milk] would want me to say to all the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, by the government, or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value, and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights, federally, across this great nation of ours.” – Dustin Lance Black, accepting his award for Best Screenplay for Milk

3. I just love Facebook. I’ve gotten to reconnect with so many people from different seasons of my life recently, and I’m getting to know a new group of people I met recently. It’s such a wonderful tool. My mother thinks it’s a waste of time, but in my opinion, it’s all about building and maintaining relationships. Who needs a Christmas letter when you’ve got Facebook??

4. I went out to Beth and Deanna’s community garden to see what theirs is like, and it was fun. I saw several different kinds of plots, different ways of laying things out, and vegetables I didn’t know existed. Have you ever heard of a black radish?

5. “He turns my tickle box over.” – Paula Deen, about how her husband makes her laugh

Hope you’re having a good week!


Farmer Jane

I joined a community garden this week, and this weekend was our first planting. It’s a 6×12-ish plot in the back yard of a new friend’s home in Cockrell Hill, just on the southwest edge of Dallas. There are 6 plots in the Archer Avenue Community Garden, and ours is toward the center, next to a walkway. Four of us decided to share it, because it’s just too much for one person, and none of us have families to feed. Jon and I went in with our friend Jen and our new friend Rob.


We started with a planning meeting over coffee, and we decided how much we could do with our space, how to divide it up, and what we wanted to plant. Then we walked over to Redenta’s Garden, an organic gardening center in Lakewood that sells heirloom seeds, natural/organic fertilizers and pesticides, seedlings, containers, and pretty much anything else you could need. We got some “bed starter,” a mix of stuff that helps enrich the health of the soil without scary chemicals, a natural bug repellent, our seeds, some seedlings, gardening gloves, and Rob’s awesome hat.



Then we got to it! We started by weeding and deciding where everything should go. I’m going to start an asparagus bed at the end. It takes a year to produce any asparagus, but when it does start coming up, you don’t have to replant literally for decades. I didn’t put that in yet – I’m saving it for this weekend. We did plant cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, and onions. I think that’s all. We saved some room for squash, zucchini, quinoa, lentils, possibly corn, and a few other things that we’ll plant over the next couple of months.


This is the compost area that Jon’s going to try and work on. He’s thinking about building some barrels that you can turn instead of having to turn all this over in its chicken-wire cage. We’re not sure yet.






Jen pulled up a carrot she thought was a weed! Jon ate it when he got hungry, dirt and all. This red Swiss chard was our first harvest, left over from the previous tenants. I’m about to cook it for dinner – hope it’s good! There are also four big groups of cilantro and parsley left over, so that will be nice. I think we’re going to take some out and use the space for something else, as there’s a lot of it, plus more in a pot.



The water we used for the garden came from these cisterns that collect rainwater. Pretty cool!


Here’s Farmer Noel planting spinach seeds.


Here’s the finished product. We’ve got a lot of space open for more crops, and I’m really excited about it. Jon and I are hoping to put a dent in the vegetable budget over the next year, considering the prices at Central Market! I’m REALLY excited about this. I’ve been reading about personal gardening/farming/nutrition/organic agriculture for a couple of years now, and I’m so excited to put it into practice. I’m also looking forward to taking back a little control over my food supply and the satisfaction that comes with knowing I could survive by my own means if I had to, given a little bit of land. I’m also glad to be getting to know some new people in the community, including my new friends from Church in the Cliff. If any of you have any tips on anything we’re doing here, please send them along – we could use the guidance. I’m fully expecting a few hiccups along the way, as none of use has ever done anything like this before, but it is a learning process, and one that has so far been REALLY fun. I’m a farmer now!




Burial Reefs

My (alive and healthy) mother wants to be buried in a pine box. She has reminded all of us on multiple occasions to visit Budget Casket upon her demise. I am a budding environmentalist, but the idea of that just creeps me out. For myself, I want a big, solid container that keeps everything out! I’ve been reading about green burial options for years, but none of them seem appealing to me. I know this makes me a bad environmentalist, but I don’t like the idea of decomposing along with the rest of what’s in the ground! (shiver)

That said, I read about one green burial option today that actually sounds viable! This one, I think I can get behind. There’s a company called Eternal Reefs that takes a person’s cremated remains, seals it in a concrete container, and turns that container into an artificial, underwater reef. Sea life grows around the reef, and it lasts about 500 years. A little brass plaque marks the spot, so people can still visit and even dive to the site. Voila – you’ve got a place for loved ones to visit, you are sealed in from all the scary biological processes (except for the horrible cremation process in the first place), and you’re not only not harming the environment, but you’re actually fostering its health. Another plus: your children don’t have to diligently keep the dog from knocking over your creepy urn, nor do they have to keep paying for a burial plot in perpetuity. Kind of neat. Just make sure I get submerged off of South Padre, not Galveston, please.

Book Review: Jesus Would Recycle

I just finished Jesus Would Recycle, by Joe Johnston, and I wanted to share some of my favorite parts. For my non-Christian or atheist friends, I really recommend skimming through these quotes. It’s not your average Christian-living, head-in-the-sand kind of book. It’s probably the best thing I’ve read since Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It’s not the most eloquent prose I’ve ever read, but in content, it has made a huge impact on me.  I have a proclivity to wander around bookstores and see what’s there, and thank goodness that this one jumped out at me!

I’ve never heard of the author before, but I consider him a kindred spirit. Not only does he write about green living, but he talks about salvation, rebirth and the essence of what Jesus said to us in a way that seems revolutionary and, at the same time, one of those things you never knew you always knew.

If you don’t go buy this book, you will be getting it from me for your next birthday or Christmas! Here are some links to order it online and learn more about Joe’s other writings and ventures (he’s also a songwriter, publisher, advertiser, and music producer).

Here are a few of my favorite parts of the book!


*Joe’s view on salvation as a way of life: “It’s about adopting a lifestyle that will naturally save us in this place. Like everything else in the Bible, Noah’s story is ultimately about our salvation. Salvation not only in the face of sin, but also in the face of floods and whatever else this world throws at us…Everything is saved by living the life intended for it. Jesus said that. We can choose the lifestyle of salvation. We can accept his gift of healthy ways of living that can go on and on without end.”

*”A lot of people don’t realize that Jesus didn’t really talk about salvation. That idea was formulated some time after his life. But he did talk about the way we’re supposed to live our earthly lives. In Luke 10, when a man asked us how we are to live, Jesus tossed the same question back to him. The man answered that we’re supposed to love God, and love our neighbors the same as ourselves. Jesus said that’s right. “Do this and you will live.” ( Luke 10:28 ) He didn’t say you’ll get a robe and crown and walk the golden streets. He said you’ll live, right now, today, in this life. He wants us to live, not only forever, but right now. He said no one comes to the father except by him. In other words, if we’re not living the way he showed us, we’re not living. If we’re aware of our Creator’s presence in all things, we’ll naturally live in a way that will sustain us. We’ll be saved.”

*”The Great Commandment is at the very heart of our role as caretakers of the earth. If we truly love God, love each other, and love ourselves, we will be faithful sustainers of every part of our earthly home.”

*”When Jesus says, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life,’ he isn’t separating, he’s inviting. He’s not talking about himself as a man, but as a way of living and believing. He wasn’t setting himself up as a membership chairman of an exclusive club. He didn’t prescribe a way to worship or select a Bible translation we should use. On the contrary, Jesus wasn’t about methods. He was about faith, heart, intention, and results. So all he really means is that if you don’t get Jesus’ message of love in the flesh, you don’t get God. That was his invitation to the Father, and we just can’t improve on that. So as inhabitants of our shrinking globe, when waste on one side of the world pollutes the other side of the world, we can’t use John 14:6 as an excuse to shun those who don’t worship as we do.”

*”We need things from the world, and the world needs things from us. In traditional, indigenous societies, they make a big deal of giving and receiving with the world. For example, if a person gathers berries or medicinal herbs, that person will first ask permission, then give thanks, and make an offering, perhaps of some tobacco or a piece of bread or fish. So while taking the berries or medicine, that person is giving respect, and in the scientific way, we know that little offering will rot, providing a little nourishment to the plants that aren’t picked that day. This assures good harvests in the future, both in a spiritual way, and in the scientific way. But in our lifestyle, our way is to take. We take without respect for the life of the things we take, nor of the void left behind when we take them. If we pick a handful of wildflowers, that leaves a void in some bumblebee’s lunch plans.”

*”We’ve lost touch with our Mother Earth. We’ve lost touch with the changing of the seasons and flow of life from birth to death. We’ve lost touch with other people. We’ve lost touch with everything we once depended on…Meanwhile, wherever we go, the earth is giving us information and positive feelings. All we have to do is listen, be close, pay attention. Then everything will be better for us and the people who come after us. We’ll gather words and emotions and intuitions. We’ll learn lessons that we need to teach our children. We’ll see who we are and how we’re related to everything. We’ll find our lost community. God will give us what we need and tell us what to do. Funny thing is, people can’t be healed without all of creation being healed. That’s simple natural law. The healing will begin when we acknowledge the interconnectedness of all creation and let that lead us back to God’s universal healing power.”

*”The more oil we pump, the more pollution we create, and the longer we as a society postpone the change to cleaner, more efficient fuels. Everything about oil production is abusive to life on earth, so the only love in the picture is love of money.”

*”The Christian community is in a unique position to unite and motivate people and nations in this, the most basic and pervasive of missions. It has to start in the hearts of individuals, but every church also has a sacred calling to do this work. The church has the people in the pews where they can hear the message. Churches have the buildings for meetings and for organizing action. And the church knows how to unite people and set them into action in important work.”

*”No matter what we do, where we go, what we build, what we think, or what we want, natural laws apply. We suffer to the extent that we ignore these things, and we flourish when we honor them. Everything we have and everything we can make in the future – modern science, medicine, airplanes, computers, food, entertainment, and marvelous things we haven’t even conceived of yet – can all be ours only in concert with all of creation.”

*On the “problem of pain” – this one just made me giggle, and I love it!: “Are we loved? What if we’re not loved, and a flood comes along and drowns us? Thoughts like this have been ruling our lives. We’re repeatedly told that nothing’s ever good enough…But you see, we are loved. And yes, by the way, a flood could come along and drown you. The flood is loved, too. And all of that is perfect.”

*”We’re to understand that natural law continues always in everything, even the things created by humans. We’re to embrace the notion that we are of the natural world. We’re one family with the sunlight and the storm. We share the same life as the grass, the river, and the mountain. Our pain and our healing are two sides of the same gift. Everything that has been here before will be here again, and everything that passes will be reborn.”

*Jesus was flesh and blood in a very different world. He spent a lot of time walking around dry, arid plains, at a time when towns were far apart and almost everybody lived near a body of water. In his era, waste was almost unknown, because everything was so scarce. Most people were just scraping by. So if he were flesh and blood today, in affluent, crowded, fast-paced America, he’d say different things, use different parables, and probably even perform different miracles. After all, ours sheep are raised on corporate farms, and simply don’t get lost. So he’d be talking about the world we know. Not about a cruel Caesar, but about over-consumption. Not about leprosy, but about diabetes. Of course, his basic message, the Great Commandment, would be the same. No matter where or how we live, in every age he asks us to love God and creation. So when we ask, ‘What would Jesus do?’ we don’t mean, ‘What would a wandering rabbi do?’ We’re asking, ‘How does someone exhibit God’s love here, now, in my house, with my spouse, my kids, my friends, my job, my mortgage, rooting for my favorite team, being bombarded by all these media messages?’ The answer is far-reaching. But one thing’s for sure. Jesus would recycle.”

Quotes of the Week

In the spirit of TIME Magazine’s Quotes of the Day, here are some quotes I came across this week I thought I’d share. Happy Friday!

1. “We live off of what comes out of the soil, not what’s in the bank. If we squander the ecological capital of the soil, the capital on paper won’t much matter… For the past 50 or 60 years, we have followed industrialized agricultural policies that have increased the rate of destruction of productive farmland. For those 50 or 60 years, we have let ourselves believe the absurd notion that as long as we have money we will have food. If we continue our offenses against the land and the labor by which we are fed, the food supply will decline, and we will have a problem far more complex than the failure of our paper economy. Remember, if our agriculture is not sustainable then our food supply is not sustainable… Either we pay attention or we pay a huge price, not so far down the road. When we face the fact that civilizations have destroyed themselves by destroying their farmland, it’s clear that we don’t really have a choice.” – Wes Jackson, co-founder of The Land Institute, in an interview with Alternet

2. “My childhood really was as good as it sounds. I am tragically normal and completely obsessed with my family.” – Kim Watts Rutligiano (I love this because it resembles my own experience!)

3. “…(I call it) Placenta Brain, the situation that occurs when a pregnant woman’s blood supply is so concentrated on growing someone else’s fingers and toes that her brain doesn’t have enough juice to complete simple tasks. Like remembering her husband’s name. Or turning off the car before going into the grocery store.” – Heather Armstrong,

4. “As a U.S. citizen, you have more political power that most humans who have ever lived on this earth” – Molly Ivins (she didn’t say that this week – she is dead – but I read it this week!)

5. “We’re supposed to love like Jesus. I pray and I have hope that everyone will realize that this world is ours. We’ve been given this incredible gift, and we have to take care of it and each other to the best of our abilities.” – Lindsey White


I know that everyone and their dog has put up a post about Obama and his inaugural speech, but there were a couple of parts I really liked, and I thought I’d add my take on it to the pile. I know not all who read this blog voted for him, and in fact, some are quite fearful/angry/doubtful/choose-your-own-incendiary-adjective over his election. These are just some parts of the speech I found personally inspiring, should he follow through on them (although the fact that someone in his position is saying them at all is partly enough for me).

“Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what this country has already done, what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose and necessity to courage. What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long, no longer apply.”

I’ve been receiving a subscription to Ode Magazine for several years now, and their self-proclaimed audience is “intelligient optimists.” It’s story after story of invention, ingenuity, compassion, and reporting on the positive news across the world – people who are finding innovative solutions to overarching, persistent problems, rather than just reporting the problems themselves. That’s what this quote reminds me of – “what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose and necessity to courage.”

“The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.”

I liked this one because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about globalization, with its pros and cons. What we do on one side of the earth affects people on the other side, be it pollution, conservation, consumption, operation of a free press, black markets, factory farming or sustainable agriculture, etc. I don’t know that I buy into the traditional idea of karma, but I am coming to understand that what we put out into the world, be it positive or negative, really does matter somewhere along the line to someone, be it in a large or small way, and that in turn enhances or detracts from our common experience. When one suffers, we all suffer, and not just in an emotional or spiritual sense. We are all connected, like it or not, and I’m glad this is being recognized and talked about by our new leader.

“For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth. And because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.”

I know that this was written in part by a speech-writer, and I know that there is nothing new under the sun, and that these are career politicians we’re talking about. I put absolute trust in none of it. But I have to say that I am very impressed that these discussions, these ideals, this outlook on our economy and the nature of our country and the way we relate to the rest of the world, are being talked about from day one of this administration, and that much of it has already been set in motion in only a couple of weeks.

As I’ve said before, I’m not a Democrat, and I’m not a Republican. I know very little about economics, taxes, stocks or international finance, although I am trying to learn. I know I have a lot to learn. I know that not everything one promises on the campaign trail will come to pass. But I do find these parts of Obama’s speech encouraging, in that these things I have come to care about over the last few years – economic sustainability, environmental responsibility, and compassionate, active citizenship – are being championed by the President of the United States.