Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Post-PSG Writings I: The Bad Stuff

I do gotta say, I feel like shit right now.  This is not PSG's fault.  I'm crashing pretty hard from going a week of living a very natural, low-stress lifestyle surrounded by supportive spiritual people and then making poor decisions when reintegrating back into normal society (mostly dietary but other poor decisions as well).  I've had a hard time adjusting to being indoors, in particular, although based on some workshops I went to I have a new appreciation for where I currently live with its many trees, critters, and wild spaces as well as large windows like the one right next to my spot at the table where I write.  So I can utilize a lot of the things I learned (I'll talk about those at some other point) in my own yard and community.  One of the fascinating things to happen... I was having a really stuffy gross headache the day after I returned, but going outside temporarily cured it each time.

Anyway, Pagan Spirit Gathering was an absolute blast and I will probably be spending a lot of the coming year saving up money to go back next year.  But there were a few things that happened that were quite frankly bad, and they're important subjects to bring up.

First, I need to make a distinction here.  People like talking about any mention of bad things happening as "drama."  Basically, if you complain about anything, you're being dramatic, you just want to hear your own voice, you just want to always be right and assert your superiority via correction.  This is bullshit.  I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but just talking critically about things doesn't make you a drama queen.  A good rule of thumb is to look at what's being said along axes of oppression.  In my case, a good portion of the worst parts of PSG had to do with being a trans person among cis (non-trans) people who were allergic to shutting the fuck up about the subject.

This was rare.  The good parts of PSG were so much more numerous, hence why I can jam all the bad stuff in one post to begin with!  I wanted to get it off my chest first, though, due to overall frustration.

1. I'm not naming any names, but I seriously put a bunch of stuff back at a vendor tent because I overheard the people running it whining about trans inclusion.

Some context:  A number of years ago (I don't remember how many, more than a few but not by much) a trans woman was turned away at the main women's ritual.  This led to a talkback of sorts and in the long run PSG changed their policy to state that all workshops and rituals that are only open to one sort of person must use self-identity only for access.  So a trans woman must be allowed into any ritual or workshop for women, a trans man must be allowed into any ritual or workshop for men, etc.

The people running a particular stand at PSG were having a conversation, admittedly a private one but definitely out in the open, in which they not only explained that "people should be able to hang out with their own kind" but that the trans people who have stepped forward and demanded inclusion were "just looking for their fifteen minutes of fame."

I didn't hear enough of it to confront them about it (and to be fair I was too pissed to be rational about any response anyway) so I just put back the items I was planning on purchasing and didn't return

First off, don't ever assume when you're saying something like this loudly in a space where there are people you don't know that nobody there is affected by what you're saying.  Seriously, it makes me fucking gag that people assume they're never around trans people and feel totally cool with vomiting this sort of thing at any moment.

But let's talk about this "fifteen minutes of fame" comment.  Do you know what "fifteen minutes of fame" means to a trans person being outed?  In the relevant trans woman's case, it meant that she showed up to a ritual that would have been important, powerful, and affirming for her only to be told that her womanhood is not valid.  Showing up as a trans person to something like this only to be told to go away is humiliating, dehumanizing, and downright cruel.

Furthermore, once a trans person does something like this, they are likely to be harassed and criticized left and right by people who have no idea what they're fucking talking about ever.  To be a trans celebrity fucking sucks.  You wind up on hit sites concocted by conservative bigots and left-wing "feminist" bigots alike where you will be torn down, misgendered, and often doxxed (where personal information is posted with intent to make you feel physically unsafe).

Again, this was a conversation between three people and was probably the worst part of PSG I experienced, and at least they were just mouthing off among their own asinine kind rather than making a stink about it so overall?  PSG was pretty damn good.  The rest of the things I have to write about are nuisances more than anything.

2. A trans-related event was pretty much dominated by cis people.

There was a trans meetup type thing of which only two people identified ourselves as trans (I know there were at least three or four more of us but schedules collide and all that).  A big portion of this event was actually dominated by a cis man complaining that his trans friend gets too mad that he constantly misgenders her "because it's hard."  The gist of this line of thought was "why do you have to be so mean?" in an indirect way.  Eh.  It did give me a good segue into actually identifying myself as trans, one of the mild hazards of being well into hormones.  So it was a good event but I wish it had been more trans centered and not centered on cis peoples' perceptions of trans people.

3. Some people were really mean to food vendors.

There were only two food trucks and with the bizarre schedule of the festival they were really getting burnt out, with one finally blocking off a couple of hours a day to prepare so that they could continue to work without being exhausted.  Most people were chill about it, but there was a not insignificant number who apparently wanted these two food trucks staffed by only a few people to be like a fucking 24/7 Taco Bell or whatever.  I have a serious distaste for people who fly off the handle to those in the service industry.

4. People still can't seem to fucking listen regarding garbage and recycling.

Again there was an epic amount of recycling thrown away in the trash despite being told ahead of time there were no recyclers and we'd have to take our recycling with us.  So many of us dutifully bagged up our recycling (it's admittedly easier for me as I was alone and didn't pack particularly heavily), but the number of cans and bottles I saw was astounding.  One of the food trucks had a thing where you'd get refillable large mason jars and even those were getting thrown in the trash (luckily several Kitchen Witches were rescuing them).

Also, that last day, wow.  People were told multiple times to bring their trash to a particular dumpster but of course it started piling up by the latrine trash cans, the one place they explicitly said not to bring it.  It's ironic because Pagans like to think of ourselves as eco-friendly green people but we're often just as lazy and ignorant as anybody else.


And... those were the worst.  I didn't want to dwell on them but I did need to get them off my chest.  There were some other annoyances, but most of them had nothing to do with the organizers of the festival or attendees (Can I blame them for the ticks? Of course not.).  The rest of the things I intend to write about are overwhelmingly positive, and those are coming up.

Happy Trails!
-- Setkheni-itw

Monday, June 6, 2016

Plant Fort!

The base setup of my garden is complete, and I'm so far very happy with it.  I had a nice high-activity day, but it wasn't particularly hard, either.  Bonus: You can see our tiny dog poking her head into some of these pictures.

First I tilled the garden to be a bit bigger.  Tilling is one of those things that I've seen is kind of controversial among natural gardeners... my dad went over it once and said I should do it again, but I've decided not to disturb the soil anymore.  Getting rid of the grass was enough.  The garden was between a big raspberry patch and a four-platform fort that I believe I mentioned I was going to turn into a vertical garden of sorts.  So far this has been successful, but the plants are not yet big enough to see how successful.

Main part of the garden including stands for green beans
and cages for romaine lettuce.


I'd started with romaine lettuce, which I planted as seedlings (I can't seem to find seeds anywhere for some reason) inside cages to protect it from rabbits.  There are six heads out there right now that are doing really great, like they're my pride and joy right now, not to mention lettuce is sacred to my Patron God.

Strawberries have been a pain.  I had them by the house last year, and while there were some successful berries produced, for the most part the rabbits and birds ate them.  This year I transplanted the surviving plants to patio hangers on a climbing rope, but unfortunately the birds are still eating them.  I'll be putting metal wind chimes all over it, so hopefully that will help (not only to keep the birds away, but to keep negative energies away and add some charm to the whole thing).  Still, the plants themselves are no longer being eaten by rabbits.

Plant fort showcasing hanging strawberries.

Speaking of rabbits, I've been distributing a rabbit repellent that is mostly granulated livestock blood.  So far it seems to be working, as they haven't eaten any more of my blueberry bushes.

Anyway, the raspberries need to be weeded but otherwise they're doing great (they're established plants).  Lots of berries on them.  Oh, and the blackberry I kind of hid within them is also doing fine.

Bush of raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries
in need of a good weeding.

I planted grapes intending to let them climb the fort earlier this season (like way early).  I thought I'd planted them so early they died, as they didn't have any growth for weeks and one of them had basically turned into a dry stick for a while.  Well, today I found that all of the plants are coming back!  So that's good.

Other than the romaine lettuce, the garden patch by the fort has zucchini, pickling cucumbers, green beans, and some purple cabbage I purchased as seedlings (we'll see if they survive the rabbits cageless).   I also put some potatoes in there that had gone to sprout from lack of use; I have no idea if they'll succeed at all in that kind of soil but I'm not particularly worried about it, it was all extra space.

On the fort itself I have the grapes I was talking about on the ground around it, a container with red and matchless lettuce growing from seed on the first platform, watermelon on the second platform (I'm going to tie it so it climbs the fort, protecting the fruit), peas on the third platform (there's a nice climbing area for them there) along with some more green beans and some carrots (I'm getting another container for more carrots), on the fourth platform I have a patio acid orange tree, some cabbage I'm starting from seed, and some radishes I'm starting from seed.

There are also two beds by the house I grow food plants in.  The first is my herb garden that I started last year; this turned out fantastic and all but a couple of the perennial herbs I planted there came back.  I have some annuals there, too.  Altogether I have mint (chocolate mint, sweet mint, peppermint, and spearmint), tarragon, two types of basil, dill, parsley, rosemary, thyme, stevia, lavender, sage, and onion chives.  I'm considering getting chamomile, but we also have a fairly large amount of pineapple weed (wild chamomile) growing on the property so I may not.
Garden full of perennial and annual herbs.

Finally I have the tomato and pepper bed, which just looks fantastic.  I have four types of tomatoes (I think two types of cherry tomatoes, a big heirloom variety, and a green and gold stripey variety) and three varieties of peppers (a small sweet pepper variety, a jalapeƱo plant, and a yellow cayenne plant).  There's room for one more plant, but I'm not sure what I want there.  I also, since last year's strawberry incidents (they had this bed last year), kind of trashed that bed and decided to pretty it up with mulch.
Patch for tomatoes and peppers.

Oh, I found some sprouted ginger as well so I'll be trying to plant that once it looks well enough, probably some garlic too.  Whatever my mood tells me, I guess!

That means the grand total of food and medicinal plants that are produced on the property is (including stuff that came with the house and wild edibles):
  • grapes
  • strawberries
  • raspberries
  • blackberries
  • blueberries
  • apples
  • rosehips
  • crabapples
  • pineapple weed
  • dandelion
  • broadleaf plantain
  • yellow wood sorrel
  • yellow dock
  • mustard
  • yellow rocket
  • cherries
  • maple
  • zucchini
  • butternut squash
  • lettuce
  • onions
  • carrots
  • cabbage
  • acid oranges
  • tomatoes
  • hot peppers
  • sweet peppers
  • watermelon
  • green beans
  • green peas
  • rhubarb
  • radishes
  • potatoes
  • mullein
  • chives
  • sage
  • lavender
  • rosemary
  • thyme
  • tarragon
  • mint
  • dill
  • stevia
  • parsley
  • basil
  • garlic
  • ginger
Which is just great for barely an acre of property, and I still have room if I feel like putting anything else in.

I'm still working on the ability to acquire my own meat.  I mean, I eat venison from my family and I have a fishing license now, but due to environmental damage done by local industries there aren't many places to fish here that aren't nastier than normal.  There is a much less nasty fishing location about twenty minutes away at a state park, so I'll probably start with that.

I ate some of the pickled stuff I prepared for Pagan Spirit Gathering in a couple of weeks, namely the "overflow jar" of kimchi.  It was fantastic!  There were some failures, especially the dandelion buds which are downright embarrassing and I'm pretty sure the rhubarb didn't turn out, either.  I'm not sure if the beets turned out, either.  But the cucumbers seem fine, the kimchi is fantastic, the sauerkraut seems fine, and so do the dilly beans.  The tomatoes look nice but I'm not sure.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Cauldron-Cooked Pork, Onions, and Apples

I did this about a week ago but basically forgot to post it, so here it is.  In my last post I said I wanted to practice cooking in a cauldron, and this is my first serious success with it.  And it was easy, too.

I didn't add any oil because it was seasoned with coconut oil already.  I added what probably amounted to around three tablespoons diluted Four Thieves vinegar (the recipe I use is apple cider vinegar with sage, rosemary, thyme, and lavender steeped in it).  Added a cut up onion and apple, a couple cloves of sliced garlic, and some fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage from my garden.  Then I just put it over the fire until it was done.  It's not difficult and it turned out very good.

The pot next to it is for making tea and coffee, currently being used to make coffee as sort of a test.  There's a basket on the inside that sends spurts of hot water over the grounds much like a typical coffee maker.  The only problem with it was that at some point the grounds wound up stuck in the tube that spurts the water, so I was wondering why the spurts stopped (you can see them through a little window up top).  It's also made of aluminum which was not my first or even second choice.  It was also hard to get it hot enough to work, I wound up having to stick it right in the fire rather than hang it with my tripod.

I did buy and seal some beef and pork that I got at Costco, including pork loin chops and beef strip steaks.  I also sealed some fruit and nut packets in good serving sizes.  I still need to get canned fish (for breakfast and in case my other meat goes bad).  I'll probably eat the fruit/nut packs and fish for breakfast, the sealed fresh meat and fermented vegetables for dinner, and for lunch... still not sure.  I'll probably just keep easy stuff around for that.  I tend not to eat three whole squares a day anyway.

I finally got my gate pass for Pagan Spirit Gathering, and with that I am entering into the very last portion of planning and getting the last few things I'll need.  I plan on setting up my tent to test it this weekend sometime, I'll clean out my car and start packing things that I won't need out.

I've gotten the bulk of my gardening done, the only things left to plant basically being carrots and onions.  My romaine lettuce (which I planted way when it was cold, being that it is in fact lettuce) is doing fantastic.  I have a little hanging garden of strawberries that are doing pretty good, and spreading granulated livestock blood has mostly kept away the rabbits so I haven't needed to put up a fence yet.  Right now the property should be able to produce tomatoes, both hot and sweet peppers, lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini, watermelons, and green beans with onions and carrots coming soon.  I picked these based on things I like (tomatoes... although to be fair everyone wants those, as their supermarket versions are such trash, green beans, strawberries), foods that are commonly considered sacred in ancient Egyptian Paganism (cucumbers, onions, watermelons) with zucchini thrown in just because they're easy to grow and make a great noodle substitute.

In the herb garden (which is flourishing right now) I have from last year garden sage, onion chives, lavender, thyme, and several types of mint.  I planted rosemary (my plant from last year didn't survive the winter), two types of basil, stevia, dill, oregano (another one that didn't survive), and I think one other?  I don't remember.  But currently all of them are doing well.