Friday, March 27, 2009

Just a seed?

There is something of a miracle to a seed. It is such a tiny thing with boundless potential. It is all pent up energy, almost quivering with the Grace of God. One tiny seed that can feed the multitudes. With a couple of basic needs, that one seed can turn into thousands in less than a decade. Soil, Water, and Sunlight. That is it. That is all it needs. The better the soil, the better it will grow, but it will still reproduce itself exponentially even with poor growing conditions.

It is almost like nurturing a child. Give it a few basics, like food (soil), water( or milk, tea, or in some cases Kool-Aid) , and a healthy dose of sunlight (fresh air, shelter, warmth) and that child(seed) will thrive. And with the Grace of God, the child is bursting with boundless potential.

Is it any wonder we talk of children "growing up" with the same terminology we use to talk about our gardens? Growing like a weed, indeed. We nurture seedlings as if they were children and as they grow, they become less dependent on us and depend more on the rain and the sun, and God. They mature and fulfill their purpose that God has set for them.

We all start as a seed of potential, grow and gain the strength to withstand the weather, mature and fulfill our purpose, and then go dormant, giving our offspring their time to bloom. The cycle is beautiful in its simplicity. There will always be periods of drought or flood, the rains may come and try to beat us down, the sun may scorch us from time to time, and there will always be weeds, but in the end, we will always do what our potential has set for us.

It is humbling. Yet empowering.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dreams of self-sufficiency

Trying to be self-sufficient is becoming popular these days. More and more people are trying to eat healthier and are paying more attention to their overall health.

I have noticed that online seed companies are selling out of vegetable seed more quickly and the seeds that are selling the fastest are the heirloom seeds. More and more people are getting scared of GMO (genetically modified organisms) and hybrid seeds. A lot of people, my self included, want to only buy seeds once then let some of the end-of-season crops go to seed for next year. There is a problem with that, though. Some vegetables, like corn, are so hybridized and so easy to cross pollinate, that it is almost impossible to keep the variety pure. Corn has to be planted like 2 miles from other corn or it will cross-pollinate from the wind. And some vegetables take more than 1 year to produce seeds, like carrots and asparagus.

There are a lot of little things people can do to become more self-sufficient these days. One of the easiest( for us at least) to do is to just stop buying things you don't need. You have to know the difference between a need and a want. You NEED food, water, shelter, clothing, and climate control. You WANT an i-phone, a big screen plasma TV, eating out every week or even every night, and Prada. Once you can deal with the difference between want and need, you will realize just how much money we all waste every month. With all of the money you save from cutting your spending, you can get yourself out of debt. You simply cannot be self-sufficient if you are in debt. Money has to come from somewhere and if you have debt, you cannot make enough to be SELF-sufficient.

You can grow your own food, raise animals for meat and/or eggs, cook your own meals, make your own bread, sew your own clothes, and you still will not be completely self-sufficient. You will still have a water bill unless you have your own well, electric bill unless you have gone solar or wind, fuel costs for your vehichles unless you can bike everywhere you need to go and are physically able to do so, and countless other things that nibble away at your money. There are even some things we would have to buy even if all of the other criteria have been met. There is simply no way to grow coffee where we live. It just gets too cold. And the same with sugar cane. Sorgham for molassas, yes, sugar cane, no. We "could" grow herbals for tea if we were really in a bind, and roasted dandelion roots makes a passable coffee substitute, but those would be desperate times indeed. And as long as we have access to enough dirt and/or pasturage, we could free up money from other food items to buy coffee, sugar, and tea.

Being truely self-sufficient is a complete dream these days, but cutting as much as possible, given the current economic climate, only makes sense.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Land of the Free? Not any more

It is starting to get really scary to live in the Land of the Free. Because our rights are being stripped, one by one, in such covert ways that most of us don't even realize it. The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States is as follows:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Now, just how much of all of that is still actually in effect? Let's take it apart and look at it.

In order to form a more perfect Union... well, depending on how you look at the United States, we are not actually a Union any more. When the Constitution was written, we were a Union of United States, hence the name. It was a Republic that was formed by numerous sovereign States for the purpose outlined in the Preamble. The States held the power over it's citizens and the Federal government was developed to support the States. To Form a More Perfect Union. Now, the Federal government dictates laws, statutes, taxes, social programs, fees, and last but not least, penalties, to the states. Just see what happens if you don't pay your IRS bill to prove my point. The federal government has manipulated itself in such a way that Federal law supersedes all state law, and that no state can legally remove itself from the Union. If you don't believe me, go look up the Civil War. So what that boils down to is that if you don't like what the government is doing, leave the country because moving from out of state won't help you.

Establish Justice...Oh yeah, we have some serious justice going on in our country. Just look at Bernie Madoff, O. J. Simpson, Corporate bank executives, and all of the Wall Street brokerages. And all of the major corporations who had their hand out for bailout money, until, of course, they were told that they couldn't have the money if they were going to use any of it to ship jobs overseas or pay executive bonuses. When that little detail got out, a lot of those hands went away. Why? It would seem that the execs who were responsible for running the business, or bank, into the ground in the first place wanted to be rewarded with bailout money for their efforts. Or lack thereof. So the average taxpayer gets no justice. Ever. So we all work like dogs, pay our taxes, try to pay our bills, so that the country can go Trillions of dollars in debt just so we can give free cash to the people who are trying to take our jobs and homes away from us. Doesn't really sound like justice to me.

Ensure domestic Tranquility...that means keeping the peace in our country. Translated, that means crime. Yup, our government is charged with the responsibility of keeping us safe within our own country. And aren't they just doing a bang-up job? We have gangs running unchecked through large swaths of the country, including in every major city in the US. We have children selling drugs on street corners and in the schools. We have oppressive laws where the police can interpret any given statute on the books to suit their own purposes. (That doesn't happen much, and I have great respect for law enforcement officials, but bad cops do happen, and when they do, it is bad for everyone, not just criminals) We have legislators who are bought and paid for by special interest groups, or who just openly sell themselves to the highest bidder. None of these things Ensure Domestic Tranquility. And that isn't even talking about the fact that crime is such a factor in our every day lives that we lock our doors and keep our children always in sight without even thinking about it. We are fearful as a nation. We don't trust one another. And after 9-11, we cetainly don't trust outsiders. Doesn't sound very Tranquil, does it?

Provide for the Common Defense...that is our military. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard, Border Patrol, FBI, CIA, DEA, ATF, and all of those other folks who protect us every day from dangers we never see. These are the people who get shot at, sometimes daily, so you have the right to go to Starbucks and pay $5 for a cup of coffee whenever you want. And what is our government doing to provide for the common defense? Cutting military spending. That means the people who die for us on a daily basis have to get food stamps to be able to feed their families. It means that they do not get the armored vehichles to keep from being shot while they are patroling the streets of Baghdad or Faluja. It means that the flood of illegal immigrants, some of whom are transporting drugs into our country, cannot be stopped because there are not enough patrols along our very long border to stop them. Not to mention the laws in place that prevent them from actually being able to do anything about it if they do happen to catch anyone crossing the border. And what is Congress doing about it? Cutting spending some more. I am thinking that we could almost be invaded by a troop of boy scouts with sling shots. We are not Providing for the Common Defense.

Promote the General Welfare...this one is my personal pet peeve. That does NOT mean that eveyone should be getting a check from the government every month. It means that the government is responsible for ensuring that we are healthy, have a decent standard of living, have access to the basics of food, housing, and heating and cooling of said housing to be healthy, productive citizens. It means that the government is responsible for protecting our children and grandparents, and that we are safe in our own communities. Instead, we are being force-fed genetically modified, antibiotic laden foods that have nominal nutritional value, have staggering health issues due to poor nutrition, foreclosure rates that are driving people even futher into debt or in some cases, into the streets. And the lack of safety(for both food products and general day to day safety in the communities) has spurred the nation's healthcare system to overload. We can't get affordable insurance because we are all too sick. Our elderly cannot afford to eat healthy food or even get decent( read that as minimal) care in nursing homes. Obesity and diabetes have become epidemic in our country. And the government is subsidizing our downfall. Corporate farms growing genetically modified foods are given billions of dollars every year while the small farmers who grow healthy organic foods are being driven out of business. There is current legislation before Congress that will force even more small farmers out of business. Do a search on NAIS to see what I am talking about. And there are several states passing legislation that is similar in nature. As for the general safety, well, we have Amber Alerts for a reason. General Welfare in this country is a joke. And it isn't funny.

Secure the Blessings of Liberty, for ourselves and our Posterity... We are giving up liberty every day, and most people don't even realize it. Could you imagine someone telling Benjamin Franklin that he will have to have a passport and photo ID showing proof of citizenship before being allowed to travel to France to secure their help in the Revolutionary War? Could you imagine George Washington being told he has to pay a toll to ride from one city to another on a certain road? Can you imagine Paul Revere being told he has to go to a certain doctor, 80 miles away, because his insurance will not pay for him to see the doctor in his home town? The Founding Fathers threw the world's biggest Tea Party over one single food item being taxed by the government, yet we are taxed on everything we buy, every day. If you think about the levels we are being taxed daily, it is just appauling. Federal income tax, State income tax (in some states, mine included), sales tax, property tax, real estate tax, car tags, drivers liscense, permits for absolutely everything, gun control, business liscenses, health inspections, ad nauseum. We cannot travel freely anymore, we cannot own an unregistered gun even though we are guaranteed that right in the constitiution, we cannot own a business without paying fees and buying liscences, and if all of the legistation currently under review, both Federal and State, we will not even be able to grow a small garden for personal use or have a single livestock animal, like a chicken, to feed ourselves. All of our food must be purchased from a corporate farm. The thing is, most people don't have a clue where food comes from. They think it comes from the store and are fine with that. The easier it is, the better. And they don't want to think that an egg is an unfertilized chicken embryo, or that a hamburger used to moo and walk around a pasture. So we are willingly allowing ourselves to be stripped of our liberties because it is a lot easier to just not think about it. It isn't really a problem because "I" am not exerting that liberty anyway. Ben Franklin is quoted as saying, "Anyone who is willing to give up a little liberty for a little security will lose both and deserve neither." I think that pretty much says it all.

The Constitution of the United States is a contract with the people, or I should say citizens, of our country. It is the basis of all of our laws and rights as a free people. We have amended it 27 times in the last 222 years, although at least one has been repealed by another amendment. But it is still the basis for being free. If we use that document as a contract, and not as a page full of words to twist for our own purposes, we actually will be the Land of the Free once again.

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