Sunday, September 17, 2006

I lived a farm day

WOHOO!!! Last night, when I was assembling all the letters that were left over from my paper cut, I had no idea that today would be anything like it was. First, I need to share something from Felicity Lawrence's Not on the Label depress-o but expected book about the scary food industry, b/c it's the first time someone explained to me (when I was paying attention & cared) about how the body works:
As the glucose level in the blood rises, the pancreas releases insulin, which reduces the blood-sugar levels. Simple sugars and starches from white bread, white rice, cooked potatoes and refined cereals are converted to glucose very fast. Fibre from unrefined carbohydrates meanwhile slows down the entry of glucose into the blood. Excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates overstimulates insulin production, leading to highs and lows of blood-sugar levels, which leave you feeling hungry and eventually cause the glucose-regulating mechanism to break down. The liver then converts more glucose to stored fat and you end up both overweight and with diabetes.

Rock on! This, read over a bowl of cereal, made me worried again about my diet. But mostly, it made me happy to FINALLY understand what the pancreas has to do w/everything (since my bodyworker, before I left Chicago, did a lot of pancreas work. It's my new "focus-on" organ, but only when I remember it. I'm too worried about my heart and lungs right now). I learned during transcription that compassion has nothing to do w/being compassionate. On my walk, I encountered major caterpillar traffic; butterflies will be upon us soon, just in time to migrate south. Wind doesn't sound like anything until it blows against something, and then I looked up at these big trees, and was reminded of trees at my old elementary school, and old movies about the south. It's astounding how much I think about the FUTURE when I'm walking; I have to work really hard at bringing myself back to NOW.

I came back to the MOST AMAZING MAIL (in the wrong box. One is for where I live, and one is for the other house. The mailman seems to not believe that I live here. Or that I live at both, since mail comes to both boxes): Two SASEs!! Well, so much more than that. One was from Dylan, who I met a couple years ago when he was still at the Cultural Center. The other was, and still is, a total mystery: postmarked Grosse Pointe, with two SASEs, one to Michigan and one to Astoria. Wait, more: CHOCOLATE, fruit leather, and biodegradable lavendar dish soap!!! I almost fell down. I was just so heartened. People I don't even know, wanting my art and sending right-on-target gifts! If that's not a successful mail art project, then I can't imagine what is.
All that, on top of finally getting my papermaking w/plants book (by Helen Hiebert) and windy cooler weather, gave me the final push that I needed to start on papermaking: I HARVESTED MILKWEED TODAY!!! I spent about an hour in the field, cutting stalks, which required learning to identify them. It took a little while; I was first just following the big seed pods, but then figured out the leaf shape. I wheelbarrowed them back to the house to let them sit and drain (the milk that comes out apparently can make rubber? Something like that). Then I had to pull off all the leaves and pods, which took another hour or more. I took a break and picked 25 apples from the tree (I think Jonathans. I thought about Jill, naturally, and almost sprained my ankle, jumping for apples). Jami arrived from Omaha and delivered my gift from Rory Golden, an artist I met at Bemis: a sewing box! [you can see that an also a spool of pink thread in the next image.]

112 stalks later, I had finished the batch. The best part is that after I'm all done, I'll probably have only a few sheets of paper - I still have to do a billion more steps before even getting to form sheets (harvesting is the EASY part - now I have to steam all the stalks so that I can rip off the outer part of the stalk, then the inner part off of the core, and then cook the inner bast). Ed showed me the industrial blender and other supplies/tools around campus that I can use. I figure if I make ONE batch of paper here from scratch (harvesting, cooking w/wood ash, etc.), I'll have done a good job. I have some abaca half-stuff here, so I can always do that. But I can't really call myself a papermaker if I'm out in the prairie and don't do anything w/native plants.


  1. so, is cereal out? that's what i never understand. i mean, i grew up thinking cereal is a healthy way to start the day, but it is a highly processed food, so should i replace it with something else?

  2. I think cereal is OK as long as it's not some crazy refined cereal. And as long as it has lots of fiber.

    Aimee! What am I going to do? Both you and Paulette have these amazing in-touch-with-nature and really exciting lives!

    Can you live out there for the rest of your life? 'Cause it sounds so amazing.

  3. you could do like at osca and make yr own granola. i'd love to if i have the wherewithal. it's just that most cereals nowadays are super refined and have TONS of sugar.

    i recommend hot fruit w/nuts and seeds for breakfast!!

  4. Hi Aimee, I'm the grosse pte postmark, (I enclosed one for my daughter in astoria, too) not such a mystery! I found you by linking from Jennifer’s blog ( ) ► to Tamara’s blog ( ) ► to yours. Thanks for the package! I love the book, your notecard and business card, and the painted block ~ I have them on my desk at work, to remind me that there is a whole other world out there (sigh). Now that I've also found Chela's blog through you, I'll eventually get around to sending her an SASE, too!

  5. YAY!!! that's great. thanks SO much for participating. it was a fun mystery while it lasted (i kept thinking, hm, i sold a piece to someone in michigan, or maybe it was __ or __ or...). i'm so glad you got everything and enjoyed it!


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