Still Glowing After an Amazing Family Reunion

I’m sitting in a little laundromat in Savannah, Ga on our way home from a family reunion in Jacksonville, Fl. It’s a homey little washhouse with wood paneling on the walls and counters, and no change machine to speak of, meaning the operator of the laundromat must personally change bills for quarters all day… I like it. The laundromat operator has just asked me if I’m reading something funny or if I just like to smile. “Definitely the second option,” I reply with a grin.

The Reunion

Little Lotus on Aunt Vivian's lap

Our family reunion was phenomenal! I expected it to be amazing, but I had no idea just how much effort had gone into this year’s event. My Jacksonville family, Auntie Monie, Uncle Arthur, and cousins Emius, Essie, Kevin, and Alicia did an amazing job organizing. We got to connect with family members from all over, some of whom I hadn’t seen since we were children and some of whom I was meeting for the first time. What is it about being around cousins that brings out the playful child in me? My favorite part was seeing Little Lotus cuddled by aunties and uncles that hugged and cuddled me as a youngster.

Great Grandmother Essie

My amazing cousin Essie researched and wrote an almost 200 page book detailing the generations of our family complete with pictures of great-great grandparents. It turns out my great grandmother, also named Essie, was a mother and land-owner who built her own home on her land. When my great grandmother Essie lost her first plot of land (through eminent domain), she relocated to Georgia, worked, and sold vegetables until she could buy another parcel of land on which she built a home, a school, and a church. Hmmmm I wonder where I get my determined and incurable homesteader streak?

The Forest Garden
Things at the Forest Garden were amazing, although not as permanent as we had hoped. We learned so much and we plan to go back soon to help build the necessary structures for the farm. Visit my fundraiser page to learn more about this project http://livingourbliss.net/GreenBuildingFundraiser.aspx
Wishing you a day full of magic and fulfillment!
Asante
www.LivingOurBliss.net
Read more of my articles at http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/954076/asante_george.html

A Quick Trip to Tuskegee Institute

I’m writing from the Kellogg Conference Center at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. This morning, Uzuri, Little Lotus, and I found we had received scholarships to an organic farming conference held at Tuskegee Institute, complete with hotel room reservations, so we quickly packed and drove for several hours stopping at fruit stands along the way. The conference actually began today, but we’ll attend a day of organic farming classes tomorrow.

I love being here. There is a bust of the founder Booker T. Washington in the Lobby and lots of cultural and historical art decorating the walls. It feels profound to walk on ground that Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver stood on. I am humbled.

Things at the farm are going beautifully. We’ve finally finished weeding the hoop house, and we’re beginning to harvest zucchini and sweet peas. Uzuri and Little Lotus harvested two big drinking cups full of sweet peas to eat during our ride to Tuskegee. They were delicious. After eating sweet peas fresh from the garden, we are all baffled by the thought of cooking them. They are so tender and flavorful when fresh and raw.

Our happy household has decreased by two. The lovely Rasta couple moved last week. Beginning an organic farm from scratch is an adventurous idea, but the reality is a lot of work. It’s not easy, but it can be a wonderful growth inspiring experience.

In love, joy, and peace,
Asante
http://www.LivingOurBliss.net

Weeding and More Weeding in an Alabama Garden

I am rising earlier each morning and establishing a routine. Because we’re closer to the equator than we were before, 8 o’clock in the morning feels like noon, so waking earlier comes naturally. This morning I rose, made a pot or yerba mate, did my morning yoga asana, and headed to the hoop house in the garden to weed.

Uzuri working in the hoop house

Most of our work this week has been weeding. I know we’re making progress, though, because the children in the neighborhood say the inside of the hoop house doesn’t look like a forest any more.

Yesterday Yawah, her daughter Uzuri, Little Lotus, and myself headed to the hoop house together for a day of work. We all wore straw hats and smiles. I got to use a hoe for the first time, and, I swear, my arms are going to be well-defined by the time our garden starts to produce. We got so hot while we worked that we drenched ourselves in water and worked some more. We got dirty and muddy and worked some more. I loved it. By the end of our work day about 15 people from the neighborhood had joined us in the garden. Some helped work, some just had conversations, one little lady played piano, and lots of children ran around playing. It was amazing,

Our garden fresh lunch

Today we made a delicious pate from sunflower seeds and wrapped it in romaine leaves fresh from the garden. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

In love, beauty, and light,
Asante George
http://www.LivingOurBliss.net

Unkowingly in the Mississippi Delta

While watching the news in our hotel room last night, I learned that Little Lotus and I are in the Mississippi Delta. I also found out about a music festival happening in Greenwood, Mississippi commemorating the 100th birthday of blues legend Robert Johnson “The King of the Delta Blues”. The festival is free, begins tomorrow, and we are less than 120 miles away! Two of my favorite musicians, Alvin Youngblood Hart and Keb’ Mo’, are playing.

Last night, after learning of the festival, I completely talked myself out of going with arguments like, “I didn’t budget for two extra nights in a hotel,” and, “It’s a bit out of the way.” When I awoke this morning my first thought was, “What am I thinking?! We are very close to the historical home of one of my favorite musicians when two more of my favorite musicians are playing at a free outdoor festival!” So… we are on our way to Greenwood , Mississippi to visit the Robert Johnson museum, at least, and perhaps stay for the festival.

At Little Rock, Arkansas our journey took us from driving on an interstate to driving on a highway. Interstates are much busier and flanked with hotels, gas stations, and chain stores, but by traveling on a highway one gains a true sense of a region. While driving on the open highway I felt as if I has been transported back through time.

I must admit, it’s hard for me not to judge this region for its past. As I drove through Little Rock, I thought of the Little Rock Nine who desegregated Arkansas public schools. While passing large beautiful trees, I thought of Lady Day’s Strange Fruit. Shells of burned houses reminded me of nighttime riders in white sheets. I look forward to exploring the southern U.S. more deeply and rounding out my knowledge of this region that saddens, intrigues, and inspires me. Our trip to the Robert Johnson museum is a great start.

In love, beauty, and peace,
Asante
http://www.LivingOurBliss.net

A Teary Beginning to a Wonderful Adventure

Little Lotus and I are in a small town in Arkansas. We’ve stopped here on the way to our friend’s land in Alabama. The adventure we have prepared for over the last several months has begun!! We envisioned our project, plotted the steps it would take to get here, worked really hard, and here we are at the beginning of what we call our ecoadventure. Amazing and exciting, right? Not exactly. As the last steps of our preparation became a reality, we realized that embarking on this new beginning meant saying goodbye to people and a place we had come to love. We left Oklahoma in tears that left me wondering whether I had made a very wrong decision. After about fifty miles passed under our adventure-mobile tires, we were both able to catch sight of our dream again. The vision of our plan came back to us in small glimpses at first, and before long we were both smiling again.

We are excited, once again, about our road trip with our cat Max (who travels on a leash) and about our plans to build an eco-house, but we’ll never forget the folks we love that we hope to see again very soon.

In love, adventure, and bliss,
Asante
http://www.LivingOurBliss.net

The Gifted Greenhouse

The world outside my window is covered in a snowy white blanket, and the wind is whipping. A stormy day is a perfect opportunity to sleep in, reflect, and write.

Collecting materials for our recycled lean-to greenhouse has been very successful. As I stated in my last post, we had most of the wood for our greenhouse frame in our yard already. After watching an informative video called ‘How To Build A Greenhouse From Recycled Materials’ I was inspired to call the commercial greenhouses in my area to ask if they had large pieces of plastic sheeting that where no longer suitable for a large commercial greenhouse, but would work for a small lean-to structure. The first place I called didn’t have any materials for me, but they offered wonderful advice on maintaining a greenhouse. Calvert’s Plant Interiors was the second place I called. The manager was out when I called, so I left a message explaining my project and the reason for my call. The owner, Mr. Bob Calvert, returned my call the next day. After a lively game of phone tag, Bob told me that Calvert’s may have materials to donate to my project. Mr. Calvert called me back on Friday to let me know I could pick up my plastic sheeting on Monday.

Bob explained that the rolls of plastic sheeting used at Calvert’s are 100 feet long, this is about 20 feet longer than their greenhouses. They were willing to donate a roll with the remaining 20 feet of sheeting on it to my recycled greenhouse project. When my five-year old assistant and I arrived on Monday to pick up the gifted plastic sheeting Bob Calvert helped me load it into the trunk of my car. He even smudged his suit in the process.

This project, and this experience specifically, have reminded me of the many reasons to support local businesses. In a nutshell, local businesses are more likely to support you. According to Local First Chicago locally owned businesses put 70% more money back into the local economy. Non-profit organizations receive 350% more support from locally owned businesses than they do from large chains or non-locally owned businesses. Business owners who live where they work are more likely to give to community groups and organizations, or in my case, a small greenhouse project. Anyone who visits Calvert’s, with their elegant yet shabby chic vibe, can attest to the fact that locally owned businesses give an area character, and help maintain what makes a neighborhood distinct. Big-box stores can’t do that!

Wishing you creative adventures and profound abundance,

Adventurer Extraordinaire Asante

www.LivingOurBliss.net

Planning a Recycled Lean-to Greenhouse

I’m so excited about our current project! We’re building a lean-to greenhouse in our backyard. This in and of itself is a wonderful project, but what makes it extra special to me is that we’re making it out of found and repurposed materials.

After watching lots and lots of youtube video on other people’s projects (thank you!), I have an idea of where to begin with ours. Yesterday I looked around our yard for materials we can use for our greenhouse, and to my surprise we had almost everything we need to build a frame laying in our yard. We had several large posts, several 2x4s that I salvaged from a curbside, 2 old tires, and an old pallet that I collected from a restaurant. While looking in our yard, I spied a piece of plastic sheeting in our neighbor’s yard that looked like it wasn’t being used. My neighbor was happy to give the sheeting to me, plus I got to meet a new neighbor and have a wonderful conversation about composting and gardening.

Today Little Lotus and I will go on a treasure hunt for more old tires. The tires will become the foundation for the outer wall of our greenhouse after being filled with compacted dirt. I’m so excited, our greenhouse will be a wonderful place to begin seedlings for our garden.

Wishing you love, joy, and delicious healthy food,

Raw Chef Asante

www.LivingOurBliss.net

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