Friday, 31 January 2014

permaculture dreamin'

Eat food?  Then you need to watch this.

I mean it.  No pleas or petitions cloaked in pretty turns of phrase, just fact.  You need to watch this.

Permaculture calls itself a quiet revolution.  A revolution of actors too enthused to wait for government support or mass movements before they act.  A revolution that believes small changes lead to big.  A revolution of idealists bent on saving the world, and of realists who understand that their role in salvation begins within their immediate spheres of influence.  It's quiet because it's led by people at home, not corporations, politicians or pedagogues.

But I think it's time to get louder - starting with me.

My love and I have a dream, and our dream is this:  a small permaculture farm buried in the wilds of the Northwest.  Some ducks, some goats, maybe a horse or two.  A bevy of rescued hounds, to be sure.  Just living off the land, as the land wants to live.  We'll grow our food and make our music and learn to weave environments and textiles that we'll grow ourselves.  We'll continue to travel and learn and wander and wonder, for these things are in the blood and cannot be denied.  But we'll do them while living our dream.  Our farm.  Our home.

“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.” – Sarah Breathnach

Designing the land courts neither riches nor fame.  It feeds you.  To paraphrase climate expert Bill McGibbon, the one shared asset that farmers around the world have always possessed is the assurance that they can grow their crops on the same land as their mothers and fathers.  The freedom of permanence in an impermanent world.  That assurance is eroding, just as the land erodes and withers from our current growing systems, counterintuitive to mother nature's design.  Systems that make it impossible for her to protect herself.  Systems reliant on one of her most finite resources.

So my love and I want to listen to nature, work with her, not against.  Land should be a dependable legacy; for centuries it has been so.  But land too has a biological clock tick tick ticking away, and humanity's greatest efforts aren't bent toward researching climate renewal or planetary fountains of youth.  Rather, we naively plunder the very earth that sustains us.  That feeds us.
Without consideration, but with consequence.

But what has begun has far from ended.  Hope and research and resolve and revelations and revolutions are alive and well around the world.  We want to join in.  We want to feed, as do millions of others like us.  Feed ourselves, our souls, our families, our communities, our countries, our planet.  Contact our local prison so that those men and women can spend a day in the sun and take with them all the fresh vegetables they can carry.  Have neighbours come to share wisdom and devise experiments, while we feed them from our yard.  Create safe havens for the birds and the bees, the fields and the trees.  Learn to grow orchards, turf rooftops, embroider linens, reduce possessions, watercolor walls, weave grasses, craft earthships, shape guitars, reconsider waste, tin rutabagas, sculpt adobe, reuse relics, preserve ecosystems.  Preserve us.  We'll make the land into an artefact.

The earth will be our artefact.

- xx

[image via, a great place to drift, dream and drool for hours....]

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

sur les quais

She wakes before dawn.  Sneaks on tippiest tips of toes into her brother's room and sweeps up his discarded work clothes from the day before.  Boots in hand, steals quietly quietly down the stairs.  Eases the door shut behind her, grabs his bike from it's resting place against the garage wall and it's out, out!  Into the riversides and alleyways that make up the playground of the street urchin.  Such a waif of a girl won't be found out right away, though so lovely a face is no help to her cover.  Whistles for her dog.  Plays it cool.  And rides, rides like the wind if any scoundrels get too rowdy or corners get too tight.  This is Hugo's Paris, and it is for everyone...

Ragamuffin, street rat, urchin, bohemian, beatnik, hobo - not words one associates with the Parisian essence and elegance, no?  But today, oh today, Vogue Paris has issued an ode to the street, to rough around the edges, to clothes with age, with wear, and to a girl with a story to tell.  She owns this town, but she's always on the run.  "The spontaneity of a neo-Gavroche [a street child from Les Mesérables], who also knows how to play the high-spirited, clever Parisian young lad."  In her case, a tomboy and a lady.  Femininity that is not lost in wild ways or denim-clad days.   

This is exactly how relaxed winter dressing should be done.  Generations later, it still rings true.


- xx

photographer: lachlan bailey   stylist: claire dehelens    model: kati nescher
Vogue Paris February 2014
all images originally sourced from: visual optimism

Sunday, 26 January 2014

amores perros

Meet Tom.

Tom is a hulking mass of canine goodness.  A gypsy in a former life, he was found wandering the streets of Cardiff two years ago, rummaging through bins and back gardens for his meals.  He almost was the dog that wasn't, as his boisterous bouncing nearly bowled over dear Granny, most honorable member of the Committee to Acquire Canines.  But after eighty plus years, nails have nothing on this lady for toughness.  This woman breathes wisdom.  She declared yes; that was that.  Tom the greyhound was rescued, adored, cherished forevermore.  Aside from a gluten intolerance (yessiree, a canine celiac), an adeptness for thievery and an unfortunate penchant for sheep, there's nary a bad word spoken about this phosphorescent hound.

Quite the opposite.  Tom forces you to take time.  Time spent outside, time preparing meals, time companionably lounging, time recording memories, time living now.  One of my favorite things about my love's family home is losing touch with The Screens.  Mobile?  Haven't seen it for hours.  Laptop?  Around somewhere, I imagine.  Most recent episode of Girls?  Perhaps, but there's newspapers to read, board games to play and an omnipresent set of ears that need scratching and photographing.  Tom may not be the cause of my de-techification, but he's certainly a catalyst.

'Borrowing' a dog has taught me the Midlands better than my own beloved Texas hills.  Feeding the  need for novel canine stomping grounds has led to many a fine field and riverside.  This dog has taught me new ways to communicate, to speak to animals, if you will, and a lot more about my in-laws in the process.  Ears perk instantly at the call to tumpies (supper).  Vigorous wagging ensues at the mention of  butwanajits or bindy (sausages and bacon).  Anxiety is soothed by slowly murmuring, "Stoooooooooooooooones, Tommy.  Woooooooooooooooooooooooooooods."

 Copious wandering?  Exotic languages?
Why, owning a dog is a holiday.

(Dog owners, allow me to indulge.)

I believe, I may give up everything for one of these to call my own.  No more constant nomading, no more life of crossing continents, no more chasing the unknown 'round the next bend.  All for a hopeful pair of eyes, an extra swish of a tail and a daintily drawn out snout.  

Wouldn't that be practical?  Wouldn't that be gaining more than losing?


Tom helps me work:

Tom helps me play:

Sorry, I meant outdoors.

He obviously loves fashion, no?  I'm smitten.  With conviction, I do solemnly swear:

I want a dog.

What about you?  What do you romanticise about?

A tune to help you ponder...

- xx

[Photos by my love and I]

First outfit: Vintage blouse, vintage levis, vintage brogues
Second outfit: Vintage Gloverall duffle coat, Free People sweater, vintage Victorian slip, vintage boots 

Friday, 24 January 2014

black ice antidote

This week, I've been tangoing with a new... acquaintance.     

A devilish character, she's a chameleon who slips her way in clandestinely, no matter the place or time.  Cold she is too, with malevolent intent for all who tread too close.  Sometimes even black.  A duplicitous, black intent.  

Lady ice, why are you so stealthy?  Announce your presence, claim your turf boldly.  I'm tired of the feeling of falling.  Your yang, Sir Frost, has no trouble announcing his presence, though he's as silent as could be.  When in a rush, I don't have time for ginger-toed testing and anxious penguin shuffles.  I want to stride.  Texas taught me boots are made for walking; you're challenging my well-shod truths.

(And my apparently not-so-well-padded tail bone.)

After this week, I need a rest from your freeze.   I need brightness and lightness and barely-there wear, and sheer cottons and cutoffs and feet freely flying.  
What's more, I need a touch of decades past 'cause Mama Sheryl said it best:  

I need to soak up the sun.  

And yes oh yes, dear Sher-bear, a change would certainly do me good.      

Have a toasty weekend, loves.
- xx