Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Are We Spring Yet?

Entrance to my Courtyard, May 2011

Well, the first day of spring is finally here (I am so done with winter) but, since I live in Santa Fe, I have to be a little more patient.

A lot of people who haven't spent much time in the Southwest lump everything into the "Phoenix" stereotype—blazing hot summers, warm winters and relatively no spring or fall. That isn't the truth with Santa Fe. Because we are further north than Phoenix and at a 7000+ foot elevation, we have all four seasons (including snow in the winter—there's even a ski resort here). All of our seasons are fairly mild, but for some reason winter seems to last forever to me. As a matter of fact, it just snowed at my house last week—blarf!!

March teases me with a few really nice warm days and then shoves my face into a pile of 45 degree cold and windy mess like I'm a puppy that crapped on the floor.

Daffodils and Tulips, April 2011

Since I have been outside a lot the past few weekends building the Nano Farm, the cold and wind have been more irritating to me than usual. But, building the farm has got me thinking about my Grandma Nit (pronounced neat).

When I was a kid growing up in northeastern Oklahoma, we would often (once a month or so) load up the car and make the drive to visit my maternal grandmother. She hated the word "grandmother" so we either called her Grandma Nit or Enisi (Cherokee for maternal grandmother). The trip was maybe two hours long, but having the patience and attention span of gnats, my brother and I would start the chorus of "Are we there yets" about ten minutes into the trip and repeat every five minutes or as often as we deemed necessary. We would only pause our relentless queries when we saw the sequential roadside signs for Buffalo Ranch which would immediately launch us into the refrain "Can we stop?...Can we stop?!... Can we stop?!!...Pleeease!!! CAN. WE. STOP??!!!" (I force myself to remember doing crap like that to my parents whenever I am tempted to throw them into a nursing home—it calms me like "mind yoga") Wow, exercise is exhausting.

Anyway, we always did stop and, even though it was the 80's, Buffalo Ranch looked exactly the same as it did in the link above.

Iris bed, April 2011

As I have mentioned on this blog before, my mothers side of the family is Cherokee. My grandmother lived on a piece of land that has been in the family since the Dawes Act of 1887. The land is heavily forested, hilly and rocky. Beautiful to look at, difficult to cultivate and use.

Somehow my ancestors were able to carve out a true homestead and sustenance farm way before it became the suburban trendy thing to do. I remember my brother and I "helping out" (which wasn't much) while we were visiting. When we would bitch about having to remove rocks from the garden at planting time my grandmother would gently and quietly say with a wry smile (as only my Enisi could), that our family had cleared that patch of land and had been removing rocks for over 100 years and if we would spend more of our time working instead of complaining, we just might get the job done that year.

Mostly my brother and I would run around in the woods exploring, eating wild blackberries, building forts, fishing and swimming in the streams and tributaries that would eventually lead to Twin Bridges , never realizing how lucky we were to have such an amazing playground, all while being completely unaware of how much we were learning about nature and the earth simply by immersion.

Darwin Hybrid Tulips, April 2011

I am modeling my Nano Farm after my grandmother's homestead with some definite old-school Santa Fe farm influence. I should be ready to start really writing about it in a few weeks.

In the meantime, as I sit here on a cold March day waiting for my garden to begin to look like the photos I have posted from last spring, I can't help but say to myself over and over again "Are we spring yet?...Are we spring yet?!...ARE. WE. SPRING. YET??!!!"

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

It Isn't Easy Being Green...

Evening Snow in my Courtyard

So, in honor of everything that is green for Saint Patrick's Day on Saturday, I thought that I would post a little about what I am planning to do with this website.

You may have noticed that I have placed a new navigation bar under the header at the top of my blog. In an attempt to be organized and make navigation easier, I am going to place all posts into the nine categories listed. I have actually gone through the old posts and linked them to start with, and I will give a complete explanation of each category when I update my profile page. Most are self-explanatory, but a couple may need to be clarified.

As a nod to all the Irish out there, I think that it is appropriate to explain the two categories that are very green themselves.

The first is "Nano Farm".

You may have heard of the locally grown and farmer's market trends across the country. Perhaps you are even aware of "Micro Farming" and the new Homesteading movements.

All sound great except...

Understandably, much of the organic and locally grown produce can be quite expensive. But, those of you who know me are aware that the primary reason I don't do the "locally grown" thing as much as I should is because of most farmer's market hours. They open at like the crack of dawn (I think it's about the same time that animals wake up), and then proceed to close at noonish. Obviously those hours don't work for me.

The other trends of Micro Farming and Homesteading are ideal for the people who live in one of the square states where land is abundant and people are scarce...

Wait a minute, I live in a square state with wide open spaces and a population ranking of 36 out of our 50 states. So what's my gripe? The cost of real estate and land in Santa Fe is exorbitant. Sure, I would love to have a one to two acre Micro Farm or a forty acre homestead but I live in a planned community with "zero lot lines" and livable but distinct covenants.

So what is my solution to trying to be at least a little sustainable and green when I have almost no land and lots of rules? I turn my nose up at the massive Micro Farm conglomerate with all their "space" and "friable soil" and build myself a mini-micro farm or, as I like to call it, my Nano Farm—carved out of the cement-like adobe clay dirt that I call home.

Therefore, the Nano Farm link will be a complete report from start to finish on my Nano Farming efforts.

The second link that may need explanation is "Greenish". Like many of you, I don't have the time or money to be Ed Begley green and, to be quite frank, those super-green people kind of freak me out a little. I read books on being green and some of the publications I have worked on have jumped on the "green" bandwagon. I also browse some "how to be green" websites, but it all seems so daunting and so difficult to implement that I just want to give up. But, I have found that there are ways of making little bits of headway into the green movement without much effort and when I come across a tip or suggestion, I will post it under the "Greenish" tab.

So, I hope that all of you find at least a little something of interest on the new Santa Fe Steeze website. Thanks for reading.

In celebration of the holiday, I will leave you with one of my favorite classic Saint Patrick's Day hoilday vids. Please enjoy:

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Long Absence, A Sad Ending, and A New Beginning

As most of my friends and family know, I started this blog to communicate with my brother. He had lost his hearing due to illness which rendered the telephone useless. Fortunately, he retained a fair amount of his eyesight and was able to go online and get a chuckle or two from the stupid things I wrote about my daily life in Santa Fe.

I like to think that this blog entertained him, enabled him to remember some good childhood memories, laugh at some of the inside jokes contained in the posts, and perhaps I can hope that it even made him a little happy at times when happiness was hard to come by.

It is with extreme sadness that I must inform those of you who do not already know that my brother put up an amazing fight but has lost the battle. He is survived by his daughter, his wife, myself and our parents.

His funeral was a testament to a life devoted to caring for the well-being of others. Memorials were held in two states with processions of countless emergency response vehicles including ambulances, fire engines and state and local police cars all led by MedEvac helicopters hovering above the streets. The Cherokee Nation sent a Shaman and an honor guard who escorted him across state lines for his final memorial and burial in Oklahoma. He received tribute and commendations from two past presidents for his work in emergency health care and his dedication to the Native American population of North America. Many people spoke about him either saving their own lives or the lives of their loved ones. Several people who he taught also paid tribute and most made the trip to attend both services. He was a truly amazing person that had a gift for creating positive change in the lives of others.

The last year has been difficult for us all and I chose to spend as much time as I could with my brother and family instead of posting updates on this blog. Since my brother and I lived in different states, I must thank my employer for allowing me the time I needed to be with my family, a courtesy that I know I would not have received if I had continued to work for large corporations.

I have been asked to continue this blog by many of my friends and family members who started reading it along with my brother. I have decided to move forward but not so much as a tribute to my brother but more as a true document of my real life, concerns and activities. I think that the death of my brother has made all of my close friends and family realize that we need to keep informed of each others lives no matter how far apart we may live.

As I wrote this blog, I tried to keep myself, my friends and family, and most importantly my brother's identity anonymous so that he had the discretion to reveal his illness on his own terms and only to those whom he chose (hence the eezy suffix on all names). I will probably be less anonymous now (within reason of course), I will continue to have the same whack sense of humor and probably write about stuff you think is just stoopid and my posting will more than likely be sporadic at best, but I will really try to organize this blog into something that will be entertaining and perhaps even informative.

But for now, you will just have to wait and see what bangin' hot freshness happens on the newrific Santa Fe Super Steezy blog.

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