Blessings and Bugs; 3 parts
August 8, 2011, 4:16 pm
Filed under: Home Sweet Home, Saving the Harvest, The Movement

A very unfortunate thing has occurred in my neck of the woods…that neck being the warm womb called the MonkeyHouse. My husband knows the wheres, hows, ins and outs…but the crux of the matter is….the majority of our collard plants….c’est morte.

Dead. It’s almost like it happened overnight, and yet…the foreboading of such fate has been with us all season. First it was far too cold, then too rainy, then entirely too hot. We couldn’t control the insects naturally, which meant– they were uncontrolled. And we missed more market days vending than ever before.

Did we get too big for our britches? We did amp up production on kale, and reduce the amount of chard we usually sell. Adjustments that are made annually to sufficiently respond to market demands. We did diversify our own crops that we grow for personal consumption much more, but that wasn’t it. For some reason, we may never know, God gave us an obstacle–a hurdle– to slow us down.

Friday evening when I cam home from work, MonkeyMan was completely submerged in the blues. Crestfallen. Bereft with despair. It was one of those moments  that happens, all the time, in a marriage. In a situation where you would otherwise feel totally helpless to do anything for the other person…you just pull it together. You have to because that is what you are there for, so emotionally you reach for that adrenaline shot and lift the car off the baby.

With my husband, a gentle and caring pep talk usually steers him right on track. We stood outside and lamented at our luck, the withered and decomposing plants, and fought for the courage to place the tragedy into Mother Nature’s hands.

Monkeyman forgot his phone Saturday, so when he arrived home I was surprised to see that he was laden with sacks of potatoes, cantaloupes, tomatoes, sweet corn….you name it. An abundance of wealth on a day of sorrow. Turns out, when the other vendors discovered our malady, they offered up encouragement to us…in the form of food. We spent all weekend putting up things for the winter and realizing that there really is a silver lining, especially when you aren’t expecting it. “In times of hunger, you offered me food.”

I am really proud of our community, and extremely grateful to be a part of it. These are people who have stepped outside the cold and ignorant realm of modern convenience, and into the heart of giving and sharing and helping. I realized that when you do good things, good things do happen to you, and when you treat your neighbors with respect and generosity, it is offered to you in turn.

We aren’t lost souls on a sinking ship. It may be easier to be cruel, and look the other way, but what if you just…..stopped? What if you woke up one morning and started all over again, looking people in the eye, smiling, and offering help and empathy where it is needed? Living a simple life can often be a life of love and joy, even in times of hardship.


Climb Every Mountain
July 28, 2011, 3:55 pm
Filed under: Activism, The Movement

About 3-4 years ago, MonkeyMan and I were journeying to a reunion of his extended family in Colorado. We had anticipated camping for a week before the reunion, just spending some quality time fishing and hiking, but our estimated time of arrival was…off. We had reservations at a fantastic National Park near Rifle, Colorado…but we arrived a tad early and had nowhere to stay. ALL campgrounds were full, and we were a little nervous to pitch our tent in the wilderness. Animals and mother nature were no threat, we were more afraid of being ticketed by the local jondarms 😦

As a result, very tired and crabby, we settled into a horribly over-priced and under-maintained local motel. It was late, we grumbled a little to one another and fell asleep, and the next morning attempted to begin a new adventure.

Somehow, we were bemused by the idea that this is the town that housed the Columbine tragedy several years back. Instead, we happened upon another, even more grisly and upsetting discovery: mountaintop removal.

We noticed that several of the ordinarily picturesque and breathtakingly beautiful skylines were crowded with ugly machinery and what appeared to be — MINING devices. Now, I say this affectionately, but…my husband is any money-grubbing politicians worst nightmare. Not only is he as curious as they come but once he gets his  mind set upon something he is as persistent as an attack dog. His dedication to ‘get to the bottom of things’ is positively RABID. Thus, he just had to find out what was happening here, and even from our travelling limbo state — he began his inquiry.

People don’t like to talk about this subject, and the government REALLY ‘ want you to know it is a reality. Rather than place my own spin on things, I have decided today to impart the information that led me to my opinion, and let you decide for yourself. Here are informative links. Let me warn you, this topic became the gateway drug to my lust for eco-activism. I really hope it inspires you to take up the same addiction. The only negative side effects are hoarse throat from screaming, red eyes from crying, and irritated family members tired of hearing your endless rant. All easily treatable 🙂

That’s all I will say for now. Maybe tomorrow I will have a fluffy bunny story. Maybe not. Although I am simply mad about bunnies….

Whaddya know
July 26, 2011, 7:21 pm
Filed under: The Movement

Time for a wee bit more political ranting.

Earlier today MonkeyMan showed me a pretty cool article on NHNE (New Heaven New Earth) about how 270,000 farmers are suing Monsanto. That takes a lot of courage, but I will say one thing: organic farmers are NOTHING if not courageous.  One thing I have discovered since entering this realm of consciencous consumption is that it becomes a core fiber of your being– you cannot go back. Once the knowledge –the TRUTH–behind commercial farming and commercial food production is revealed, it is almost impossible to back down from the fight. That’s really exciting (to me) –I just hope that we win. Personally, I don’t give a real fig about what some people want to place into their bodies– I am more concerned with preserving our right to feed ourselves and our communities the way we want to. I would love it if everyone educated themselves towards universal change, but they simply cannot do that if we aren’t free to produce food our way…which, incidentally is the natural way 🙂

Yesterday I was playing around on Care2, doing a little research and improving my daily vibe by refreshing my mind and reassuring myself that there is more good in the world than evil, and I happened upon a little quizzzzzzzz.

I love school. I love education. I love reading and learning. Every day on my morning drive I wistfully cruise by the state university where I did all my undergrad work and received my Masters degree. And I wish I were one of those hopeful newbies, laden with books and starry eyed enthusiasm, brains like sponges ready to soak. Preferably I would like to be one of the stellar cute awesomely dressed Asian exchange students, but I digress.

So finding this quiz my interest was piqued, especially since it was about our food smarts. I cracked my knuckles and set in for victory– despite the fact that the quiz was developed by Oprah Winfrey. Not dogging the Queen of Talk but….ok forgive me. Rich celebrities frost my non-existent balls (that phrase is way funnier when spoken by one with existent balls). All I can think about is what could be done with gobs and gobs of money! And I am soooooooooooo NOT talking about mansions and diamond 18 carat baby rattles and Hummer limousines and ….Lord knows what else. I am sure she is a nice lady and all but I am not exactly one of the billion housewives lining up in the grocery store aisle to ponder her latest narcissistic magazine venture.

Howevvvvvvvvvvvvvvvver, I was really impressed that she challenged readers to take this quiz and also to become interested in this tumultuous food issue. She has the persuasive powers of a sven gali so — I have to be grateful she uses some powers for good instead of evil.

Here is the link to the quiz.

 It’s five questions…take it. But then, if you get some wrong– or right even– probe further, open your eyes, and dip a toe into our pool. The cold may shock you at first, but don’t be afraid. The more you know, the more warrior you will find within yourself to join the good fight.

My Soapbox
July 14, 2011, 4:26 pm
Filed under: The Movement

It had to happen, and the time is now. I am going to insert a little personal political opinion and everyone might not like it. But fortunately, since I wage all arguments against the article of freedom, I live to openly express myself and thus, I am going to rant…..just a tad.

MonkeyMan and I are very big supporters of Ron Paul. Basically a strong libertarian and independant, he will likely if not definetly run under the guise of a Republican in the next presidential election. I will not waste time discussing his stance on any of the issues, other than to tell you openly that I have never believed more in any other political candidate who has ever run for office. I have always been a libertarian myself, and I admit that over the course of the last several years I have lost a lot of hope in our government. The things I hold dear to my heart; protecting the freedom of the nation and the sanctity of the environment, preserving peace around the world and heralding the value of the constitution….these are all fundamentals which have fallen to the wayside in favor of religious, special interest, high taxed affairs of which I find of little or no consequence. But anyhoo….

So MonkeyMan comes home last night and says “Mannnn the Free the Weeders were out tonight.” He was referring to the Paul supporters who are using the legalization of marijuana as their paramount topic to garner support for his nomination.  Aside from the fact that Paul is in support of legalization of drugs across the board, this saddens us deeply that it is the hot buzz to voters. “I kinda wanted to pull over and talk to these people. There was a woman carrying a baby and a “Moms for Weed” sign.”

Talk about sending the wrong message.

I support the legalization measure — but for other reasons which are much more scientific and rationally based. I am opposed to the high level of attention being placed on such a small and frankly, debatable, issue. Likewise I greatly fear that it alienates the receptiveness of voters to hear the other, much more important measures Paul favors, like ending the wars we are unnecessarily involved in and bringing home American troops. As I told MonkeyMan last night “You can’t enact a law, or end a law, based on just ‘wanting to do something’ — like smoke weed. There has to be a real reason why it is a positive or negative law.” That made him chuckle a little. Probably because (as normal) I was gesturing wildly while saying it. And he made an excellent point: these advocates that are on streetcorners, attempting to cojole new supporters for their cause — are not in any way interested in the powerful asset of hemp. Hemp is plentiful, renewable, inexpensive and durable, but because it is a product of the marijuana debate, we are legally unable to freely use it as a fabulous natural resource. And we can ALL admit — we are seriously hurting for any natural resources in this country right now.

Part of me hates the stress of getting all involved in a political movement right now, but in another way, a little doorway of hope has opened a crack. There is a little light coming in to remind me that –no matter what, one person can always make a difference. It so hard to remember that and so easy to get distracted or frustrated. I commend people for the courage that it takes to fight– for any cause- even if I disagree with it.

Children of the Revolution
July 8, 2011, 3:38 pm
Filed under: The Movement

Today I got to thinking about…offspring. For lack of a better word, I suppose I think of ‘children’ as too general and non-specific. Last night I dreamt that my mother was still alive, but barely hanging on, and she had all of these crazy animal pets. There were litters of teeny tiny kittens, dogs of various ages — some of them nursing illnesses themselves, SNAKES….she even had my old bird Petrucchio (now deceased) who had mysteriously asexually spawned a baby.

Petrucchio was a real enigma; my family received him as a ‘gift’ from my uncle (more of a –take this bird before I kill it PLEASE- than gift) when I was about 10 years old. Over the years my mother and I loved him (he was a cockatiel) and taught him to sing songs and talk….but we were the only ones. Everyone else hated him. They hated the noises that he made at high decible every morning that sounded like he was repeating the mantra ‘Rape the Fuhrer Rape the Fuhrer!” over and over and over again. And –his cage made a mess, and attracted bugs, and ya da ya da ya da….but I loved him dearly and was very attached. And so when my mother died I took him, and bought him a new cage that hung from the ceiling, and he was very happy until his death about a year ago. No one could believe he lived so long. And to this day, every SINGLE day, when I pass through my living room my eyes automatically rise to the hook that his cage hung from, that now holds a lamp. I still miss him.

So this morning I rose and — naturally began thinking of what all of this crazy dream could mean to me. I understand its a composition of random thoughts that waddle through my subconscious….really, scientifically, and yet my heart still tried to find meaning in it all.

My husband and I do not have children. We have two amazing dogs and three whimsical cats and of course, the garm to tend to….and with the fusion of rational thought and scientific predestination, spawning actual human children of our own has not been in our present or future. Realizing this, in juxtaposition with the dream I had of Noah’s motley ark of nonsense, I started to think about the plan of the universe…and caretakers.

I cared for my mother through a long illness (7 1/2 years) and simultaneously my grandmother fell ill so I stepped in to help her as well. At that time I was unmarried, and I felt it was God’s will to assign me the task of caring for my elders. Once I assumed that role, it became very natural and I understood that these were my ‘children’ to foster and love through the ends of their lives, rather than the beginning. After they both passed on, I found myself a little in limbo….a little confused at which way the nurturing skills I possess were to be transferred.

This may appear to be a mishmosh of whatnot, but this morning I began to think of parents of the planet. What if your destiny is to be Mother Nature’s nanny? To use the soil as your womb to seeds that need to grow to feed your fellow species? And the animals…..that rogue dog or cat or ferret or mouse that needs all the attention and love of one person? If we did have small children to care for I do not know that Monkeyman and I would have the ability to maintain our land and our crops with the same amount of attention and detail that we do. Noticing– recognizing– that this was our destined direction was a paramount element of any success we might have in this venture. Realizing that we needed –socially -to reject the standard ‘family’ in favor of something much more unique had to be accepted.

Due to man’s abuse of the planet (and much more attention will be given to this in a later post) there is a huge decline in the bee population. This is disastrous for the growth of many plants that depend upon the bees to pollinate their flowers to propagate development. Over the last long weekend, my husband had to self -pollinate our pepper plants with a little tiny paint brush for them to flower and fruit. The amount of love, attention, and detail he pays to each one of our plants is amazing. He has found his calling; he is a proper father to the children of his garm. Each evening he stands proudly at the top stair of our deck and bellows down to his pepper bed “Look at my beautiful bells!!!! MY BEAUTIFUL BABY BELLS!”

Love is very unique. There is not a formula to mix together chemically in a laboratory; there is no recipe to follow. It’s free flowing and completely original to each individual. In our case, the ‘standard’ that society begged us to follow could not defeat the knowledge in our hearts that the universe needed us a different way. We smell it in the scented air when we walk the rows of our leaves, we feel it in the cool moist dirt of our beds, and we taste it in the fruits of our labor. There is nothing missing.

The Monkey Mind
June 28, 2011, 9:11 pm
Filed under: Activism, How I got Here, The Movement

Now, those of you familiar with some of the new age hoodoo voodoo speak may know of  ‘the monkey mind’ as the extrenuous thought process, which combined with the human ego, can create horrible distractions — like fear, paranoia, greed, gluttony, and on and on. This is in no way related to the mind of MonkeyMan (the mister) and his MonkeyGrrrl (the missus) who produce and grub gobs of green veggies in a weird and wild backyard in the middle of the nowhere America. These monkeys are completely at peace with themselves and the universe, and these are a few of the philosophies, as the MonkeyGreens, that we abide by:

1. Every man, woman, child (and heck even most beasties) should know where their food COMES from. This means, paying attention to how far your food has to travel to get to your table. Better yet? Get to know who is PRODUCING your food. Me? I’m lucky. I live with the crazy farmer who grows what goes in my belly! In fact, many a summer night I see his little headlamp aglow as he lovingly picks slugs off our leaves. Some of our plants even have names! But the best part is, in addition to having the great priviledge of knowing where OUR food comes from, we can offer that to our community.

2. Ahhhh! COMMUNITY. There is a word you don’t hear often enough these days. Do you know your neighbors? Think about it….we allow fear and individuality and LETS  face it– technology–separate us from our sisters and brothers. We don’t care about the people that comprise our community, which means in turn they do not care about us. That is a pretty lonely concept. And in terms of food– it means that rather than sharing what we grow (if we do grow) with our community, we are either stashing it to ourselves…or…we are becomming a slave to the supermarket, where we literally have NO idea what is in what we put into our bodies, or where it came from. In the MonkeyMind, community isnt an abstract concept, its a real, tangible entity, and it lives in each and every one of our hearts.

3. Start asking questions. Lots and lots of questions. Here is a good one to start with. Chemicals that are designed to KILL insects, KILL. In order to kill they must be a form of poison. How long does it last? What is it made up of? What are the ingredients on a can of insecticide? Chemicals designed to kill a living thing. Next question. How long does it take for those chemicals to ‘die?’ In other words, do they ever die? What do they become like when they are old, or mixed with water, or heated, or frozen, or…..touching the food you place in your body. Do you have a yard? Do you go into your yard? Do your children play there? What about your pets. The MonkeyMind lets these questions in, and wants to know the answers. But the best answer is very simple. DO NOT USE CHEMICALS. Not to make your food bigger or bug-free, not to grow grass, not to kill weeds, not to erode your children’s intestines and shrink their reproductive organs. The MonkeyMind says ‘Lets find another way.’

4. LOVE. Love your family, love your fellow human, love animals, love the earth, love your creator. Balance all questions against love. See what answers you come up with. We care too much about the future of the planet to do it any harm now, but even better– we can create change NOW that will improve today and save tomorrow.

5. We believe in the power of using our bodies as modes of alternative transportation. Wow isnt that an amazing concept, to use your legs for walking or peddling a bike? Sorry, sometimes MonkeyGrrrl can be a little sarcasmo. Trust me, MonkeyMan is much nicer. Well, not really, lets just say he has better finesse. Maybe thats why he is the green thumb! He does all the heavy lifting I just write about it. But seriously, folks, a two person family doesnt need 4 cars COME ON!

6. Often times the very best solutions to easily completing everyday tasks have been in action for generations –we as a society just dont want to take the time. That means, to our family, we do it by hand. No machines. No tractors. We use hand held instruments our forefathers used to toil the soil and it works beautifully. Doing things the right way takes work, love, endurance and devotion. THAT is why you may find that the naturally grown, chemical free apple (perhaps even with a worm!) costs more than the apple that was imported from Peru three weeks ago and sprayed with war-zone unnamed chemicals. Yum 😦 Which brings me to….

7. If you find a bug on a piece of produce, that bug sees that it is safe and nutritious (probably also–delicious)to eat. Listen to that bug.

8. Meat! We eat meat! We love meat! Happy animals are tasty animals. Which essentially means the bovine frolicking in the pasture looking like a Laughing Cow ad munching fresh unfettered grass, well, he has it pretty good. When I think of cattle being ‘fed’ truckloads of chemically engineered corn, all I can think of is frois gras. Then I cry, and no one likes a crying monkey. Then there are the chickens. A pretty revealing experiment is to purchase a dozen eggs from a local farmers market. Talk to the farmer. Are these chickens free range (they run around) What do they eat? If they eat bugs and grass and twigs and whatever else the earth provides, that is a bright green light. Now go home and cook one farm egg and one mystery egg and do a taste test. One of them will taste like water (or worse)

9. The insects that destroy plants (and before you think we are bug-loving aliens, we DO have to have concern for our food being damaged by pests, so we are not totally irrational…Daddy needs to bring home the grassfed all natural bacon, after all) have natural predators. They get eaten. Its super fun and really cool to use nature to fight nature. Its not even a fight, its evolution….the circle of life. Ducks, toads, ladybugs…..each of these methods will be discussed in this blog, most in very vivid and entertaining detail. Its all a ‘work in progress.’ But its totally possible. Then when that favorite nephew or your grandchild or — heck — YOU– go out into the garden and want to grab a green bean off the vine and eat it? Pop it straight in your mouth. You won’t grow a tail. Not growing tail=awesome.

10. Putting up the food you grow, i.e. canning, freezing, drying, using root cellars, etc….SAVES YOU MONEY. Shhhhhh don’t tell anyone right? Everyone will jump on that. Yeah sure. Its a lot of work. But thats not hte secret. Other than eating safe, healthy, SCRUMPTIOUS food all winter long….the process? Its super fun. MonkeyMan and I laugh, and tease, and we are SPENDING time together. Nobody wants you to know that honest, hard work feels fantastic, expecially when you reap the rewards later down the line.

There is so much more…but this plants the roots for the tree of life we are growing. Hopefully its branches will reach out and touch your heart, and if anything , make you think.

Life doesnt have to be routine, or unsatisfying, or dull. And it doesnt have to kill our MotherEarth to go on, either. Just little steps each day, and this is the beginning of our story on how we are trying make change.

Greener Pastures
June 28, 2011, 4:06 pm
Filed under: Activism, Home Sweet Home, How I got Here, Saving the Harvest, The Movement

This very first post will serve as an introduction of sorts. I am Mrs. Gibbons. My husband (and I…sometimes hehehehe) run a local, home-owned and operated small business called Gibbons Greens. We specialize in chemical free collard greeens, kale, and swiss chard, but we also grow an endless bounty of fresh and natural goodies for our own consumption. What makes us a bit unusual? Oh, several things, but for starters? We live in the city. Our garm, or farden (whatever you prefer) encompasses the front, side and back of our double lot yard. In addition to our wee business, we are part of a small but growing community of young(ish) local producers who attempt sustainable living. My feeble, but sincere, offering here will be a glimpse at the life of two crazy thirty somethings living life a completely different way; shucking a good portion of society’s technologically dependent ‘norms’ in favor of a slower pace. We have a lot of adventures to share around the garm, and a lot of philosophies and ideas too. Ever wonder what a day in the life of your grandmother from Kansas might of been, and thats a taste of summer at the MonkeyHouse. Yup thats us, just silly monkeys who love fresh veggies. And while most of our livelihood depends upon the food we grow, we also cook, can, dry, and preserve our food for the winter. This all sounds mighty boring right now….but this is just the pilot. Come along and follow us on our journey of doing something totally different. Trust me, we are having a lot of fun.

What comes next? The Monkey Philosophy…….