Saturday afternoon there was a march on the state capital. 4000-5000 people joined together to march down 16th street. I couldn’t get down there in time for the march, but I went with Cora and Manuel, my mom’s husband, to join the few hundred remaining protesters around 6:00pm.
I’ve never been to anything like this. The Occupy Wall Street movement is a peaceful protest, but the Denver police department and Colorado state patrol lined the streets in full riot gear.
As we walked down Broadway from Colfax, the citizens started moving into the street, chanting “Police are the 99 percent!” and the police line backed up. I got chills. I was almost moved to tears, and I wished I had my camera ready to get that on video.
We spent some time walking around among the protesters. We got a lot of warnings to “get that baby out of here, before they gas us.” One guy warned us that we were taking her into a “really volatile area.” I have to admit, after the third or fourth such warning, I was a bit intimidated.
Manuel shot a few videos with his phone and in one, you could hear a citizen shouting, “They have automatic weapons. Why do they need automatic weapons?” I was glad to be there and also nervous. I wonder just how far we are entrenched in this bizarre culture of fear. In reality, it really was pretty calm.
Rick and my mom were watching the news reports, and the police began making arrests. Around 6:30 we saw two people getting arrested for “blocking traffic.” Odd since the police were the ones in the streets, and the street was completely shut down anyway. The citizens stayed on the sidewalks and in the park for the most part. And after reading a few news stories I realized just how much is sensationalized.
The whole time we were there, we didn’t hear any people shouting “shame” at the police. We did however hear chants and shouts of “Protect the kitchen!” when the protestors gathered around the food tent, linking arms, to keep it from being trampled to the ground. And chants of “Peaceful. Peaceful.” as the police formed lines and advanced on the group in the park.
We stayed until about 7:30pm when we saw several more police vehicles show up followed by a couple of ambulances. The police had formed lines, seven or eight officers deep and started advancing on the crowd. As Manuel and I walked back to the car, I stopped and asked an officer on the fringe of things why they were in such heavy gear and out in such force for a peaceful protest (hey, I figured they wouldn’t arrest or pepper spray a lady with a baby strapped to her). The officers were polite, and explained their position (you know, being prepared, just in case, and all that). Of course they are just doing their jobs.
I realize that attending a protest for just an hour and a half, and leaving when things start to get heated totally makes me the diet soda of protesters. But it was more than nothing, and I plan to go back in the very near future without Cora. I still won’t be able to stay – she is breastfeeding and I can only be away for so long. But I plan to keep showing my support in little bites and chunks as I can.
There are probably a lot of people like me that might want to stand up, but for some reason they can’t be at the protest (or like me, have little kids and may not want them in such a charged environment). Here are a few simple things that anyone can do to help, without attending a rally:
- Close your bank account with a large bank and open an account with your local credit union instead.
- Buy local or handmade items for all your holiday gifts, or better yet, make gifts yourself using locally sourced materials.
- Buy your food at a farmers market instead of from big corporations.
- Make your own food at home instead of going out or buying it in a box (granola is just oatmeal, honey, oil and nuts baked in the oven – this is a great alternative to cereal).
- Gardeners, buy non-GMO seeds from seed companies not owned by Monsanto. Here is a decent list of which are safe and which to avoid.
- Sign a petition online or in person.
- Donate supplies to your local Occupation.
- Donate money to the cause.
- Spread the word. Facebook, Twitter, email, telephone, blogging, whatever!
- Pay in cash! Credit only helps serve big banks.
I also realized that a lot of people still don’t understand what Occupy Wall Street is all about. And why would I be posting this on my homesteading blog? Food Democracy Now posted that,
4 firms control 84% of beef packing, 66% of pork production and 1 company (Monsanto) controls more than 93% of soybeans and 80% of corn grown in the U.S.
Occupy Wall Street will affect us all. Here are a few good articles that might help in understanding what the Occupation is all about:
Now is the time. Spread the word.
When we got married, Rick had a lot of the kitchen basics covered, or so I thought. When my mom offered to buy us cook ware or dishes I declined. I’m the practical type. I figured his dishes and pots and pans were working and that was good enough for me. I didn’t realize the value of good quality kitchen items and that this was the one big opportunity to get these big-ticket items given to us! Instead, I registered for pillowcases and a shower curtain. A SHOWER CURTAIN!?
Fast forward eight and a half years. Rick’s pathetic cheap-o non-stick pans are long gone. I’ve inherited my grandpa’s awesome cast iron, and I’m slowly building up my collection of stainless steel to replace the mid-range non-stick stuff I bought, oh, seven years back. And Rick and I know what we’ll buy our kids when they leave the house or get married, even if they think whatever they have is “just fine.” There are just some things that every kitchen should have.
Here are my top five items that are truly essential to a kitchen:
1. A sharp knife. Ideally, you need a good chef’s knife and a sharp paring knife at minimum. More is better. If you could only have one, though I’d go with the chef’s knife. At least that way you can chop an onion, which is the base for nearly everything else you’d need a knife for.
2. Cast iron skillet. It can brown up meat perfectly, bake corn bread or cobbler, fry an egg or make a frittata. It’s not hard to clean at all (despite the rumors you’ve heard). I honestly can’t think of a pan I use more unless it’s my dutch oven.
3. A sizable dutch oven or a heavy, oven-proof stock pot with a lid. Soups and stews, braising, roasting, chili or mac and cheese. This is a kitchen work horse. My dutch oven is enamel-coated cast iron and can roast a chicken just as beautifully as it fries one on the stove top. It makes one-pot meals far tastier than any crock pot. Soups it can do in its sleep. In a pinch, your stock pot can do most of these things too. I never look at wedding registries any more. This and a dutch oven one-pot meal cookbook is my go-to gift.
4. A wooden spoon. Ok, I know this seems simple, but try managing a meal without one. I’ve been in kitchens with no good cooking utensils and found myself wishing desperately for a plain ole wooden spoon. They don’t scratch any surfaces, are strong and sturdy and generally can’t be beat by anything plastic or metal.
5. A stainless steel saucepan. With a lid. Besides the obvious (sauce), you can boil noodles, steam veggies, make popcorn or no-bake cookies in it. And it’s easy to clean.
I almost added a garlic press to the list. I can’t believe how much we use ours, though a good chef’s knife can do a comparable job.
What about you? Can you not live without your funnel or food processor? A good baking sheet or pizza stone? What are your kitchen essentials?
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
— Wendell Berry
Just before Cora was born, Emmett hit a growth spurt. He suddenly got solid – heavy for the first time, filling out his long, lean little body. He really did become a big boy right as he was becoming a big brother.
Right after his sister was born, he got his very first hair cut:
He got to hold his baby sister:
AND he learned to go potty on the potty:
He also had his first head injury. It was minor, but it sure scared me! He hit his head on his bedroom window and broke it, cutting his head. It was the first time I had all three kids by myself. Thankfully, Henry was a huge help, Rick was only a few minutes away, and no stitches were needed. Emmett wasn’t upset by it at all – he didn’t even cry. He’s a tough kiddo, and I have a feeling it was just the first of many minor (but potentially bloody) injuries to come with my little fearless adventurer. I better get tougher though, since I can handle poop or vomit all day long, but just seeing a bloody nose makes me dizzy.
Two is really such a great age. Fortunately with Henry and so far with Emmett, we have had none of the “terrible twos” (three was another story, however). Don’t get me wrong, Emmett’s very independent and I hear an awful lot of, “Emmett do it, Mommy!” But he is very funny and charming, and such a delight most of the time.
A mother blessing, sometimes called a blessingway, is kind of an alternative to a baby shower. Since this is our third baby, we really didn’t have a need for a shower, and to be honest, I kind of loathe those creepy games where you can’t say certain words or have to guess what kind of chocolate is grossly melted into a diaper… yuck! But I did want to celebrate the birth of this baby, and to spend time with the women close to me… I think I kind of needed the encouragement actually.
So I threw my own mother blessing. Mine was pretty casual and simple. I invited my beautiful midwives, and my mother and my mom-away-from-mom, Jody. And just a few close friends. All together, there were ten of us here, including me.
A blessing way is a celebration of the rite-of-passage that birth and motherhood brings. The celebration and ceremony is less about the baby and setting up a nursery and more about connecting as women, encouragement and support for the upcoming birth, and celebrating labor and becoming a mother. And I’d never been to one. I had mostly read about them online. But I really like the idea of them, and some of the things that are traditionally included in a mother blessing.
Some things that women commonly do at mother blessing include candle lighting, flower ceremony, and a bead ceremony where each woman chooses a bead for the mother, which is them strung together onto a necklace or bracelet for the mother to wear during labor. My sister did something similar for me at Henry’s baby shower, so I didn’t do this at my mother blessing. But this is what I decided to include:
– An introduction where we can share about ourselves, our mothers and our own journey into motherhood.
- Next would be a binding ceremony where we will all get a red string bracelet, representing my connection to each of woman present. When I go into labor, they will each get to “cut the cord” of their bracelet, and send a prayer or well wishes my way for a safe birth.
- Then henna artist, Amy Swagman, will be coming to paint my belly. And while this is going on, I wanted each woman to make a prayer flag for the upcoming birth.
Of course, being crazy me, I started getting jumpy about labor starting early (I was 12 days early with Emmett), so I scheduled my henna appointment ahead of time. My mom went with me to Amy’s house, and we both got a little mehndi done. It was really great, and I am glad I did it early, because Amy ended up having to attend two births the weekend of my blessingway and she would have missed it anyway.
So the mother blessing itself ended up being very casual indeed. We sat around chatting for a while, and then did the binding ceremony. We passed a red ribbon around the circle, each woman saying who their mother was and their grandmother. Then we cut the ribbon between each of us and tied them to our wrists.
Next, since the henna was all done, we got the table set up for everyone to make the flags. I had fabric markers, glue and various craft items for people to use on the flags. They all turned out beautiful. The idea with prayer flags is that they should spend some time out in the elements… with wind taking the prayers. then when they become tattered or when they are no longer needed, they are burned, rather than kept as a keepsake.
Right now, the flags are hanging in my living room, so I can look at them during labor. I know they will probably spend a little time in the baby’s room as well, and they will go outside at some point too. I think it will take a lot of grit for me to work up to burning them.
After the flags were done, we had brunch. I asked everyone to bring something, and everything was delicious. I had promised gifts to my friends too, but being nine months pregnant, I didn’t get them done… they are sitting about a third of the way done on a shelf down in my basement. Thankfully, no one seemed put out by not getting their gift.
I’m sure it was less than many people do for a mother blessing. I was kind of winging it. But I really enjoyed it, and it was really a no stress party and great time with family and friends who loved me. Just what I needed.
Edited to add – Amy Swagman now makes a beautiful prayer flag kit for mother blessings! Check it out!
Sorry for the lack of posts lately. We’ve been up to a lot. We spent some time pulling weeds, trimming hedges, cleaning up the flower beds and mowing this weekend too, but I didn’t get a picture. This is very sad, because it was the first time Rick used the new push mower! Other garden news – the sunflowers and okra I planted are up and should make a nice screen soon. But between all the projects, I’ve been pretty exhausted and have had weird hip-nerve-fire-stabbing pain going on my right side. Because of that, I’ve been spending the boys’ nap time (my usual blog writing time) napping myself. 38 weeks pregnant and counting. Here are some pictures of what we’ve been up to over the last couple weeks. As always, click to view larger.
The tree stump came out:
The garden is growing:
The rest of the basement got “finished”:
The nursery got a few more touches:
Baby’s ETA is any time now. I was 12 days early with Emmett, and although I know I can’t count on a repeat of that goodness, I can still hope. You can bet there will be pictures.