Monday, April 27, 2009

Moving Molecules

The Garden House has a partnership with two local farms. One, Brightmeadow Farm, supplies organic eggs and chickens raised like chickens were meant to be raised; the other, Orchard Falls Farm, supplies a variety of vegetables and flowers. I supply some equipment (mostly Kermit, a small John Deere Tractor) to both farms as needed; in return I earn access to the rich rewards of fresh food and working outside. Today found me moving special molecules: thousands of worms embedded in about a ton of aged horse manure. Kermit loaded the manure into the pickup; elbow grease unloaded the worms at Orchard Falls Farm. Later in the summer this partnership (the manure, the worms, Kermit, the farms, the sun, water, soil, seeds, loving attention, air, bacteria, birds, Nature, and hundreds of other players, most too small to see) will offer tomatoes, eggs, chickens, 6 kinds of basil, 7 kinds of broccoli, lilies of every color, peonies, beans, strawberries and more; some will find their way to local restaurants, like the Doe Bay Cafe, Cafe Olga and Chimayo's, and some will find their way straight to the table. Know your farmer; know your farm; know your food.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I stumbled across a reference to "Nudge" in a New Yorker article about Obama some months ago. The last time I was in the Orcas Island library, it was sitting, lonely and obviously waiting for me, on the New Releases shelf. As I read it, I was reminded of another New Yorker article, this one on Naomi Klein, author of "Shock Capitalism". The article included a photo—the photo showed her wearing a button entitled "Move the Center". I watch a number of presentations on line; a recent one was by Agassi on a bold idea to switch automobile propulsion to all electric (bypassing hybrids); it seemed plausible, appropriate, essential. But how to get there? How to move the center? How to Nudge?
Years ago I read "Iron John" by Robert Bly. One story described a young prince who was playing with a golden ball at the edge of a pond. An ogre emerged from the depths, grabbed the ball, then retreated beneath the water. The boy ran back to the castle; the king's men were instructed to empty the pond. Their only tool was a bucket. They emptied the pond bucket by bucket, giving rise to Bly's phrase "bucket work." We move the center through bucket work, pail by pail, not giving attention to the size of the pond and the apparent inadequacy of our toil.
Today found me unsatisfied with the degradation of the cleaning ability of the central vac in the Garden House. The diagnosis was some large but not complete obstruction, which had plagued the cleaning Goddess (Abby) for weeks. Since she was gone, it was my turn to personally wrestle with my own Cleanliness Goddess (and she was disamused at the dirt still on the floor after numerous swipes with the vac). I had installed the central vac and all its piping four years ago; it has worked flawlessly until now. My several attempts to non-invasively dislodge whatever was obstructing the air flow (by sliding various hoses down the pipe—that didn't work—followed by inserting a string that would hopefully be sucked all the way through the piping on to which a large rope could be tied, whose purpose was to be pulled back through the pipes to dislodge what was presumed to be some unknown obstruction) failed uncerimoniously. The only remaining choices were to "live with it" knowing that something was not right and not likely to improve, or to move from non-invasive to invasive. I chose to grab a saw. I speculated on where might the most likely obstruction might be, then severed the pipe. I struck gold (in the form of an egregious amount of dust and more). Another bucket from the pond.