Damn Good Biking

Damn Good Biking
Mammath Mountain

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Greet'ns from the Road

Hello folks, I am sitting warmly in a public library in Saint Louis.

I arrived yesterday after about 17 hours of being in the car.
Straight Shot, well I took about a 5 hour nap after being up for over 24 hours and flying cross country, just to then pack all the stuff up and head back west to where I flew from.....whew!!!

Agadez the super pup is a marvelous road dog, but is a bit of a bed hog in the truck.

The first night spent in Louisville I spent on my back in the fetal position as wonder pup slept beneath my feet.

Why not put him on the floor board you ask?
I tried, but when he is determined to sleep somewhere its like trying to plug a leak in a damn with your finger.

I'm staying in Saint Louis until Friday and then moving on to Warrensburg, (old college town) then to KC for a week, then my farm for a week, then Sauk Center Minnesota for who knows how long....but I hope long. I need a home.

The road trip thus far has been awesome, I love traveling and experiencing the joy of seeing the diversity of our country and the people we meet along the way are not to shabby of a perk as well.

so yes, single, homeless, and without regular paychecks coming in does have its drawbacks; but this is the happiest I have been in the last couple years. And they have been good years spent all over the country doing the things I love; A life devoted to creating music, traveling, farming, and eating good food regularly sure is a tough way to go.

I am loving life greatly and appreciating the joys of having Agadez the super pup always at my side.

but damn, charlie, my other dog.......sheeeeeeeeeee is going to be pissssSSSSssed!!


A quick food fact

Did you know?

4, count them 4, companies control 83.5% of the beef market.
Another 4 own 66% of the hog industry.
And to mention evil reincarnate; 93% of the soybeans grown are under the control of 1, yes 1 company's patents.......Monsanto? Ever heard of them?

I don't have to say anything more about this, the numbers just say it all.
Not good. Nuff said.

Buy local, Buy from a farmer you know.

Friday, January 22, 2010

North County Times of San Diego

here is an article that speaks of many that work in our circles.
Nadia is the rock behind the Village here in Minnesota.

John Keith has faced his issues is doing well, and has started an online forum for veterans to speak with one another about VA issues and the high rates of suicides experienced by our current veterans. He is a definition of action hero, within two days he had thousands of people signed up.

Lastly I met Mary Ellen in DC during the summit to end Veteran Homelessness in 5 years. Good ole' irish gal if I ever knew one.

Pay attention to the last line of the article because it relates to even me.
I'm doing this practically for skittles.

Although Chaplain Fred Tittle left Vietnam in 1970, he only filed for compensation from the Veterans Administration in 2003.

"I never considered filing a claim; as a matter of fact, it was filed for me ... I'm not sure if I ever would have unless prompted by someone else, another combat veteran. This is one of the reasons I do the work that I do with injured veterans; I know how difficult it is to ask for help."

Tittle is a former combat-disabled Marine who is working as chaplain at Moffett Field, located near Sunnyvale, with combat-disabled veterans as well as active duty members. Most of the injured have traumatic brain injury and PTSD.

The last time I talked to him, he had just helped an Iraq veteran and his family who were living in a homeless shelter find "a more suitable, calm place to stay and get them connected with help and resources." The couple have a young daughter ,and the wife was about to give birth at any moment.

On a given day, Tittle will drive a soldier to her doctor's appointment, defuse a potentially violent altercation with the police and help a confused and frustrated veteran fill out his mountain of forms so he can get his disability compensation. He does not get paid for any of this.

John Keith, an Iraq veteran, was at the lowest point of his life when he e-mailed Nadia McCaffrey last year. McCaffrey's son, Patrick, was killed in Iraq in 2004, and she has since become an advocate and "kind of a mom" to many young veterans who have been flailing, utterly alone and desperate in the months and years after serving their country.

In physical and emotional pain, Keith felt like he couldn't keep trying to get his benefits, trying to deal with the VA, trying to find medications that wouldn't make him have black-outs. It was through McCaffrey's emotional support and practical guidance that he was able to regain his strength and start advocating for himself ---- and others. McCaffrey does not get paid for saving and rebuilding lives.

Mary Ellen Salzano started the California Statewide Collaborative for Our Military and Families because she saw the need to save lives by not only connecting the dots, but connecting the humans. She spends most of her waking hours helping people who are struggling with a myriad of issues and a sense of deep desperation, to get in touch with people who might be able to help them. She does not get paid.

The VA has seen a 26 percent increase in suicides, mostly among 18- to 29-year-old veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It's time to create a new kind of work force ---- of paid advocates.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tweet Tweet, said the farming blogger

Hello everyone...reporting from Sauk Centre MN.  

For those of you who may or may not know me, I am the farm manager of the Valley Forge Veterans Village.  I wanted to let everyone know that i have been up here on site for roughly two weeks now and have started laying the ground work for the very first installment of the village farm program.

Beginning modestly we will begin production by building a high tunnel to get a head start on the Minnesota seasons and grow high value vegetables such as tomatoes, cukes, peppers and eggplants in the summer.  This spirng we will begin a modest garden and begin production of cool season crops such as kale, spinach, salad mixes, raddishes, broccoli, turnips....yadda yadda yadda.

WE also will begin seeding the pastures for fertility and future animal use.  Though we are waiting for acceptance from city council our plans are to potentially begin getting into pastured poultry and begin growing birds for meat, eggs, and amusement. 

So far we are getting grants underway to modestly begin. I have also created a three year development plan to ensure our growth fits sustainably into our abilities; while laying the foundation agriculturally for another hundred years of wayfarers arriving to bask in the beauty, serenity, and bounty of this powerful place.

Its been a long road for all of us to get to this point, and I am thankful for all of your commitments to our mission.  The real work begins now.

With that being said, let me say this clearly. IF there is ever a time to start putting your shoulders to the grind stone the time is now.  Though we are opening officially in coming months, we are still in need of monetary donations for operational expenses, not to forget suggestions or help in grants, potential funding, sources, contacts, even equipment donations to better enable us to get this farm off to the best start possible.

Honestly I'd even take a stubborn ole Missouri mule if someone had one to lend or give.

Be well everyone and be rest assured this project is happening and will be one that brings hope, great food and opportunity to enable others to burn as bright as the sun for many years ahead.

Signing off for now,

your professional wayfarer and relentless goofball

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Travel, Snow Dogs and Artists in Minnesota.

Today's flight with the tiny but mighty super pup Agadez was a smashing success. He was granted carte blanche access, enormous hospitality, and even left a few souvenirs in the terminal as a tribute of thanks when the urge to not release was too much to bear.

So I am here safe and sound, its 2111 and I am bushed.
Last night I got 1-1/2 hours of sleep and then only a few cat naps during my flight.

Factors impeding my quest for a few quick zzz's on the flight were:
1st A super chatty stewardess who ran me through the escapades of every dog she has had. Grr!
2nd, Well who the heck can really sleep back with in masses in coach.

O'how I long for the days of traveling internationally 1st class on Air France!
Thank you peace corps!

Once you taste the good life certainly there is no joy left in coach.
Well not really, people are always much nicer in the back.

In fact a guy sitting next to me bought me a beer and I received some great advice from an interior decorator as to which color to paint the barn here in Minnesota.

I would have went with the traditional barn red, but perhaps a rich hue of royal blue accentuated with a creamy white along the borders could really be very stunning. Who knows?

Touchdown, Minneapolis!
Arriving in perfect timing, Jimmie our project director made a haul from Wisconsin and picked me up at the airport. Then two hours later I safely arrive to this stunning campus currently blanketed with about a foot or more of snow.

What a contrasting vision compared to the lush greenery of my earlier voyage here in May. The current temperature is soaring at -4F, and I must say with the right layers it didn't feel to awful bad.

My present hypothesis is that once the mercury dips to say below 10, it doesn't matter how cold it is. Its just cold. Apparently the natives mentioned it felt much better due to the lack of wind, which is not always the case.

Wind? Ah man, its usually windy here in the winter?…..grr!
That changes the game.

My first day and the security blanket of my thoughts to be able to withstand the cold has been already yanked from beneath me.

Worry not, I have not lost the faith.

Like Niger and everywhere else, you adapt.
A beneficial by product of my wayfaring ways and not living in regulated environments for extended times like cars, offices, and houses certainly has a pay off, that being my body acclimates rather well.

Moving on.

Relishing in the opportunity to take a walk and bask in the glory of this glorious place Agadez and I went on a night tour of the farm. We walked in knee high snow, followed squirrel and raccoon tracks leading from trees to hideouts, and from there to brush lines then fence rows, and looping back to the trees.

It made me appreciate the tactics, nature, and cycle of life in the north. As I observed the underground lairs of these scavenging species I received a darn good edu'ma' kation too; which can be best summed up as protect your nuts and dig in.

Taking the signs of the lesson to heart I know my charge to feed so many during these wintry months will be a considerable challenge. Similar to the squirrels experience, if harvests are successful then after the difficult winter months the pay off is emerging into the magnificence of another spring and living for another renewal of seasons.

Without the cold, one could never truly appreciate the opportunity to once again be embraced by warmth and another chance to procure adequate bounty in anticipation of the next winter. Its nature!

Despite the many challenges laying in wait, I'm feeling very eager to attempt the task at hand.

To teach others and provide sustenance is a duty, the ability to do so annually is learning and embracing natures truest art form; survival, above all others, this is my favorite form. Unfortunately not too many or enough in contemporary times are learning to wield the brush and peacefully create a masterpiece for themselves while striving to paint a portrait for sustainability.

Currently I'm looking out a window on a whole campus that resembles a blank canvas in my minds eye. Within my mind I envision an obtainable portrait, and if we work hard, plan precisely, and execute brilliantly then this place has the potential to be a true masterpiece.

Well its time to shut it all down, cuddle into my sleep sack and doze off to the delightful sounds of Agadez chasing the farm squirrels in his dreams.

Today was a day, tomorrow is another day.
They all add up to create a life.

Be well, and yes the view from my window and the hard comfort from my pallet on the floor here sure beats your fancy pants beds and the cubicles many of you are reading this from.

In the words of my father, Keep your powder dry!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A new dance number

Well today is the day.

My first month at my new home in Minnesota begins today.
Big grin here.

Flight travel begins in Charlottesville VA at 0714 and ends about 1330 in Minneapolis.
From there its about a two our drive with the boss man Jimmie Coulthard until we arrive at the campus.

It will be a big change coming from the mild eastern winters versus the rugged and burly -20 below temperatures of the northern plains.

Am I prepared?
Was I for Niger when the mercury rose to 130+ F?

Who is? But you have to literally "weather it out", take your lumps and get adjusted.

My feet are leading this dance, no need for control, I'm liking this number.

Will it be a feeling like Niger? When I arrived in my village for the first time it felt as it took 30 years to arrive at a place that had been waiting for me.

If I only had the time to mention all that I learned there.

They were my family, the village was my home.
I thrived, if anything, this is all I seek for my next journey.

What a lovely word.

Well its about 0115 in the morning, wake up is at 0600.
You do the math, I need sleep.

Bon chance!

New Year, New Decade, New Beginings, Same old Me!!!

Can you remember where you were a decade ago?

I remember hazily New Years Eve, the millennium, New Orleans, a young, inexperienced and frisky kid wandering the unknown french quarter, but intrigued. I guess at that time I was interested about the world enough, but not a clue where I fit into it. A week after New Orleans I shipped out with my Army unit to Osaka Japan to help run a health clinic during training operations.

Japan was my first time out of the United States it was a welcomed break from my first paltry academic performances at school. The Mark Twain quote comes to mind of "Don't let your schooling interfere with your education" Sounded like good advice so I took it. My month in Japan was one of the most defining moments of my life.

To say the travel bug bit hard would be an understatement.

Fast forward 10 years, 14 countries, 4 continents, and many journeys living, working, studying, and traveling abroad and domestically. No real goal comes to mind other than simply attempt to better understand the world and learn how to live meaningfully in my own right.

Geez, thinking of me as that kid makes me chuckle. Despite my experiences starting from that date hanging from the rafters of that glorious city off the big muddy, I am grateful to say I still don't have a clue about the world. But I sure as heck am still eager to learn.

If anything about what I have learned is this: If you follow your feet and passions it seems life has a way of taking care of itself or in my case bringing it all back full circle.

Me a farmer? It made my family laugh when I came back from Africa.

Farming is a multiple generational occupation within my family. Its part of why I joined the service before I graduated high school, college didn't appeal to me and farming was something I swore I'd never do.
Now its all I want to.

Monday, January 4th 2010 I leave from my current abode in Charlottesville Virginia and go to visit my new home in Sauk Centre Minnesota for a month. In tow with a mandolin, computer, some clothes, bedding and my new puppy I am very eager to get to the farm assessed evaluate the structures, soils, and growing spaces while also initiating the process of meeting the natives.

As far as my wayfaring ways are considered, they will never be done.
But for the immediate future, I am looking forward to the prospect of waking up for many years at one location and continue to learn more about the world while creating a home. Its a warm feeling to have a future shining as bright as the sun, nothing could be better than being the 1st farm manager and part of a team focused on redefining veterans services. that 21 year old kid 10 years ago never would have thought I would be helping to start an intentional community for military veterans.

This next portion of my life would not have been possible without the shaping and molding from my four amazing parents. The patience and wisdom of my grandmothers, the adoption of myself by many other mothers and families and friends around the world who have always seemed to be there to pass on and share their knowledge, food and homes to get me along while wayfaring along my merry way.

I am utterly in awe of the beauty and magnificence of this world. Not a day hardly passes where I am not taken by the earths plants, terrain, wildlife, humans, and wonderful little puppies like the one snuggling next to me. They all regularly fill my heart with joy and wonder at the diversity of creation.

Honestly I don't really care to know who or what created it. To know would ruin the surprise and mystique.

Besides what would happen if it was like some intergalatic hillbilly creator?
Like a cousin eddy from the chevy chase family vacation movies.
I suppose knowing might explain the wisdom in some of the worlds more peculiar creations. You know ones like the duck billed platapus and Rush Limbaugh.

Lastly so so so sorry for being out of touch on this darn blog for the last half year, a lot has occurred, way more than one could imagine. Maybe someday I'll write more reflectively.

Till then, ta ta for now and happy new year.