Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Roundup

Happy Monday, everyone. I've spent the past couple weeks camping in Montana and then returned home to a whirl of activity while we get our house ready to sell. Whew! What a change of pace!

While at Glacier National Park, I started reading Farm City. I was really enjoying it and was going to renew it from the library when I got home, but it turns out that someone else requested it. It wasn't going to get read any time soon with major projects and contractors buzzing around like bees, so I returned it. I guess I'll have to find out what happens when she gets the rabbits when my turn comes up again.

So anyway, no review this week. I'm swamped. And I'm supposed to be on vacation! How about you? If you've read a good book or written a review, please drop in a comment!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Nation of Farmers

Before I began blogging, I lurked at other people's blogs. I roamed the green blogosphere and soaked up everything I could on Climate Change, mass extinctions, Peak Oil, and such. One of my favorite blogs to hang out was at Sharon Astyk's Casaubon's Book.

At that time, Sharon had not yet become a published author. Then, she was just a prolific blogger. Very prolific. Every other day or so, she wrote a long tome about Peak Oil, living on a farm, low energy living and all other kinds of topics that made me think but even more made my stomach hurt. And, while I thought Sharon was probably right when she intimated that "this is the end of the world as we know it", I got tired of walking around with a burgeoning ulcer and a overheated heartbeat.

I quit reading Casaubon's Book (though I do take a peek from time to time). She's still writing those wonderfully long and thoughtful posts that will make you lose sleep . . . or plant a vegetable garden that can adapt to climate change or can something or learn a new skill like knitting or sewing. Any way, I moved on to other bloggers and began writing my own blog. I planted a Victory Garden in my front yard. I flexed my cooking muscles. I started knitting again. I trimmed my waste line. And I didn't question where some motivation might have come from.

Sharon has published two books since I abandoned Casaubon's Book. I reviewed the first, Depletion and Abundance, here earlier this year. It was vintage Sharon. Easy to read. Prolific. A little "end of the world" for me. Felt like a compilation of her blog posts rather than new material.

I hesitated to pick up her second book, A Nation of Farmers, from the library last month. I sort of figured that I could just stop into Casaubon's Book for my Sharon fix.

I'm glad I ignored my first instinct.

A Nation of Farmers is far from the heavy rhetoric and instructional root cellaring of Sharon of old. Instead of focusing on how to grow food on several acres in upstate New York, this book brings food growing - and even more importantly food cooking - to all of us. Even me on my oh so tiny lot in the urban Bay Area. Sharon and her co-author, Aaron Newton detail why it is so important for this country, this planet, to have a million new farmers and two million new cooks. Where we, as a nation, went wrong and how far off we really are. How we can grow and cook our own in urban, suburban and country settings. How we start over.

The book even comes complete with fantastic, frugal, low energy and high nutrition recipes from various bloggers including our very own Chile!

The book was realistic, easy to read and, considering the subject matter, relatively optimistic. Moreover, it was inspiring. I'm not sure anyone could finish this book and not go outside an plant a garden or into the kitchen and cook a meal from scratch. It instills meaning and pride in much of what we already do and motivation to do more. Note: I am no longer a Victory Gardener. I'm a full fledged farmer . . . and quite possibly a chef.

I recommend A Nation of Farmers to all shades of green. It's not too heavy for those of us on the lighter side but still plenty informative for those forest green types. I rate it 4 out of 5. Read it and then go grow something.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Novella Carpenter/Farm City Audio Interview

I've always wanted to do this. To post an audio link of an author of a book I love. The link isn't a review, which is what we mainly do here, but there are so many ways in addition to a review to enter a book, a story or to gain new information. And I loved this book so I'm going to do it. Here's the link.

Last Friday Novella Carpenter, the author of Farm City, The Education of an Urban Farmer, was interviewed on KQED, The Forum. Listening to her was as fun as reading the book. I laughed, I learned, I clapped for her while sitting alone in my office.

I hope you do to.

If you've heard a good author interview lately let me know and I'll put a live link to it at the bottom of this post.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday Roundup

It's been awhile since I've looked at the Bookworm list of reviews. There's a million of them. Really. Check it out.

The next review will be the one millionth one. Is it you?

It won't be me. I've only five page into Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop The Corporate Theft of the Worlds' Water, which Theresa at Pondering the Myriad Things reviewed here last year. Already I consider water wildly more precious than before.

The sailor at my house is reading A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World - cod, which means I'm getting a daily outline of it. And happily so. Did you know that the guy who first marketed frozen food was named Birdseye? And back in the day it wasn't unusual to hook a cod the size of a man. The ocean was a different place than today. I may read cod for myself when he's done.

What are you reading at your house? Anything good? Bad? Anything new?

Whatever you're reading I hope you're enjoying the time spent doing so.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Zen Heart: Living with Mindfulness and Compassion

I had originally planned on reviewing Zen Heart: Living with Mindfulness and Compassion (Ezra Bayda) for July, but from the moment I started reading, I realized I'd be spending quite a bit of time nestled between the covers of this insightful read.

After completing the book once, I took my time the second time through allowing myself to meditate on each chapter. Bayda engages and challenges us to look deep within and find our practice not only in formal meditation, but in each and every moment of each and every day. Most notable, for me anyway, was the continual insistence that we must also reform our way of thinking about life events we would normally label "bad" - Asking ourselves, "Can I welcome this as my path?" to heated disagreements, health problems, failure, etc; turning them into instruments of learning and personal growth.
So this first question, "Can I welcome this as my path?" reminds us that our difficulties are not an obstacle on the path, but the path itself.
and later in the book:
Usually, when these difficulties arise and we get upset, we automatically believe that something is wrong. Then we jump to the belief "I have to fix this." But in doing so, we're missing a crucial point, which is seeing that these obstacles, these difficulties, can themselves be a step on the path of awakening. They are not in our way so much as they are our way.
Look, we all know the disappointment in misleading headlines (like the recent study on organic vs. conventional produce); and we all know the hard work (and sometimes failure) involved in changing local and national policy. But rather than become angry and frustrated at the slow (or stagnant) progress of the green movement in the US, can we instead accept these things as part of our path; as part of the journey; as opportunites that make us more educated, stronger, and dedicated?

I have no doubt, that to read this book a third time, it would move me in a different way, new passages catching my eye and challenging my heart. Zen Heart: Living with Mindfulness and Compassion is not a book to be quickly read, it's a book you digest slowly and mindfully; allowing time to absorb it's beautiful message.
Recommended: To anyone ready to explore an open and loving heart
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Monday, August 3, 2009

Monday Roundup

Even in the summer heat, there's always a few good (and often air conditioned) places to curl up with a good book - lounging at the beach, relaxing in the cafe, or stealing a few moments before bedtime. Of course, I can find an excuse to read during any time of year...

Lately, I've been drawn to books on the mindfulness of my simple-green-frugal journey and I have another great one for you later this week. But what about you bookworms? What's in your book bag?