Some Thoughts #59

13th Anniversary
    This issue marks the 13th anniversary issue of Slug & Lettuce.  It’s one of those things that in some ways is a big deal (cause it’s been a long time!) and at the same time is just another passing year gone by quickly.  But it’s exciting none-the-less and always worth pointing out.  When I was 15 and first started with my zine, I would have never guessed that it would still be going all these years later and be such a huge part of me.  So Happy Birthday S&L.
Happy Spring
    There’s a lot going on at this time of year.  It’s my favorite season and also the busiest one.  After all that winter hibernation, it’s the time when I feel all of my energy return in full dose and I want to do everything.  I feel like I’m coming back to life like the trees and plants surrounding me.  Each and every day I look around the garden and the surrounding town to see what has changed, cause every day there is a new plant beginning to bloom.  I think it’s an incredibly exciting time.  The days get longer and the sun’s rays stronger and being a creature of the sun -- I feel my energy being restored.  But as it’s a busy time of year -- there is much to balance.  I have to plan all of my time carefully among my various projects and keep focused on what needs to be done as well as remembering how to enjoy the days at the same time. 
    This issue is actually running a couple weeks behind, which was a source of undue stress and sickness for me.  See I’ve been planning my own wedding for the past several months.  As I write this it’s in less than a week.  The deadline for this particular issue was a couple weeks prior to the wedding.  I saw no reason why I couldn’t get it all done.  But the days started to pass by quickly and I felt like I was moving in quicksand - getting nothing done.  I started to freak out as I realized that the time I had lost on getting S&L had the date for the papers to come back from the printer and the arrival of good friends to help out with the wedding were starting to overlap.  On top of all that - I started to have technical difficulties, which totally put me over the edge.  All the prompting from Erik and others to put off S&L till next month did no good.  I was so focused on getting this issue done that I couldn’t even see straight.  After a string of events, I finally conceded that I just wasn’t superwoman and I couldn’t do it all.  I realize that it was more important for me to take the extra days so that I could actually enjoy myself, and not make myself unrepairably ill and still make this a good issue, rather than a half-assed stressed out and rushed issue.  And ya know - S&L comes out every other month but I only plan on getting married once and I want to enjoy it rather than remembering that it was the most stressful week ever. Sometimes it’s the hardest thing in the world to do what seems so obvious, especially when you have self-imposed deadlines.  So I got it all done and in a few days I get married.  That is pretty hard to believe too.  Doing things the only way I know how, I’ve planned it all on my own -- and on my own terms.  Meaning that it’s going to be a pretty untraditional event and very DIY.  I’m so much looking forward to having  a bunch of my best friends from all around come to join in the celebration.  It’s going to be a blast.
In the Garden
    I’ve had an obsession with my garden for many years now and last year was the first time I really had a chance to delve into it.  This year the garden is even more exciting for me.  Now that I have a little bit of experience and a foundation laid, I can expand and build upon what I learned and did last year.  The herbs and plants that last throughout the year have grown back in full force.  It’s so exciting to see the new growth and the expansion of the plants.  I have a tendency to plant everything really close together.  Partly because my space is somewhat limited, and partly cause I think that it makes more sense to get as much in there as possible (just like text on the pages of S&L).  But now these tiny plants from last year have turned into huge bushes that are intermingling with their neighbors.  It’s pretty cool.  I make the rounds with the plants on a daily basis -- checking out what has changed and how they take to various conditions.  I talk to my plants and find out how they are doing.  I haven’t really gotten to a point where I would say that they talk back to me - but I am open to feelings and instincts and so on some levels - I’m listening to what they have to say.  I’ve read a few books lately about working with nature sprits and plant devas.  It’s an awesome thing to work in collaboration with nature.  I’ve been very excited to realize that this one woman who has done this kind of work extensively -- to the point of writing several books upon her experiences -- lives very nearby in Virginia.  As I develop new interests and explore my resources I keep finding that more and more totally amazing things are happening literally right in my backyard (that being, the state of Virginia).  It’s really exciting to feel that is yet another validation that I’m in the right place.  If you are interested in the idea of working with nature sprits the books that I read are: The Elves of Lily Hill Farm: A Partnership With Nature by Penny Kelly (Llewellyn Publications) and Behaving As If The God In All Life Mattered by Machaelle Small Wright (Perelandra).  I would also recommend books on the Findhorn Garden in Scotland. 
    Right now I’ve got some plants growing by seed and some by transplant.  I’m at that point where I can’t quite imagine the size that the plants will grow to by mid summer while they are just sprouting. I am always fretting and coaxing them along.  I think the most exciting thing about this spring’s garden was my tulips which grew from bulbs I planted last fall.  Tulips are my favorite flowers and each spring I seek them out anywhere they are growing.  Finally planting my own bulbs was very rewarding.  Having them pop up out of the ground while it still felt too cold for new plants to be growing was awesome!  It’s still kinda hard for me to navigate the right time to plant each plant.  I’m still getting used to the flow of seasons here in Virginia and still trying to understand the needs of each kind of plant. I decided this year that I wanted to plant just about everything from seed.  I got my seeds well ahead of time and had a plan.  I still like to go to the plant store just to see what is growing when and try to learn about the plants more by seeing them.  And then when you see a pepper plant that is already a good size while mine are still in seed form, well I really have to remind myself that I don’t want to give in and buy all these plants when I have the organic seeds at home.  I get mad at myself for almost falling for that “more, now, bigger, better” kind of marketing scheme.  But knowing how exciting it is to work the magic of growing my food from seed -- and knowing that before long I shouldn’t even need to buy seeds -- well that is the reward of self-sufficiency which I work towards. I’ve been giving a lot of thought and attention to the news media and the hoopla about Monsanto and they patents on seeds and herbicides.  Read the Carbon Cycle column for more info on that.  This subject gives me chills to even thing about.
    It’s really important to remember that it’s very easy to grow plants from seed without using chemicals.  Plants can help one another by being planted near others; while the same methods of companion planting can work towards fighting off pests in a natural way.  It’s also very easy to grow plants and food with next to no equipment or tools.  I use a pitch fork to turn up the new areas I am preparing.  I then use my hands to separate out the grass and roots mixed in.  This method preserves the top soil as well as keeps most of the weeds roots from coming back.  I laugh when I see the neighbors who use a roto-tiller and just churn up the grass which will then grow right back.  My garden is small enough that I can manage it by my hands.  Plus it feels awesome to dig your hands in the dirt that you will sow your seeds in - and really get familiar with your land.
On Photography
    I’ve been pursuing my obsessive study of photography by reading many books on photographers from the library.  I’ve been really into Ansel Adams and Edward Weston - photographers who’s work I was initially not very interested in when I was first exposed to them. I have come to learn that Ansel Adams, cliché as his landscapes may seem these days on calendars and day planners; was a rad guy who did so much for the environmental and conservationist movement.  He was a fireball and an outspoken activist.  He also did so much to really establish photography as an artform -- an affordable one at that.  He was obsessed with what he cared about (photography and the land) and he did so much for both movements.  It’s interesting how you can be exposed to something at one point in your life and it just goes right through you; but then you come back to it at another point and the meaning sinks in deep.  That is what these classic photographers have been like for me - as I rediscover them and learn so much.  I’ve been working in the darkroom on a regular basis and it’s one of the best things in the world.  It’s a good time of year for me - when all of my passionate obsessions ring loud and clear.
    I’m interested in running photography contest in Slug & Lettuce.  Because I’m so into photography and love the artform so much I want to be able to create a forum for photography to be shared.  The contest will simply be to have your work printed in S&L.  There is no deadline - it will be a revolving thing.  I’m interested in band photography as well as other photography.  There are no guarantees that your work will be printed - but I will print what I feel is the best of what I get - in both categories.  Send original prints along with return postage to have them sent back to you.  If you don’t send the return postage - then will not be returned.
Good Reading
Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh (Bantam)  This book was really helpful to me at a time when I was really stressed out.  Much of it is about breathing and how the control of your breath will enable you to better deal with all situations.  It’s about being “mindful” and conscientious -- about being aware of yourself and about being in the present moment.
Into the Forest by Jane Hegland (Bantam)  This is a novel about a family living in the Redwood forest at a time in the near future where society falls apart.  The electricity goes out; there is no gas available; the store shelves are empty.  It’s about how two sisters deal with rationing their resources and learn about the natural resources surrounding them in the outdoors.  Awesome reading for anyone interested in self-sufficiency and for anyone thinking on the survivalist front of the Y2K thing.
Voluntary Simplicity: Toward A Way of Life That is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich by Duane Elgin (Quill)  I think that the name is pretty clear, but this is about living a simple life - about reducing your needs and expanding your resources; about treading lightly on the earth and not participating in the mainstream consumer culture.  This book is amazing whether you are already thinking on this level or if it’s a new idea.  This is the kind of book that speaks to my soul.  It’s a direction I have already moved in and feel familiar with and encouraged by the words of others experiences.  A wealth of inspiration.
The Sun: A Journal of Ideas  This is a magazine that has been a huge source of inspiration for me.  Unlike most magazines, it’s advertising free and has a very pure heart full of integrity.   The contents are quite varied from humanistic stories of life experience to more radical social and political issues.  The last issue had an amazing article about the Public Relations industry and how much money is spent to manipulate everything.  Other features of late have been interviews with John Robbins about the vegetarian lifestyle,  a man on death row who finds a positive outlook through meditation.  This is one magazine that I look forward to each month and read from cover to cover.  It’s so refreshing to have a forum for unbiased new thought and I very highly recommend checking out a copy of this.
CHRON!IC!RIOTS!SP!SM! by Fly  (Autonomedia)  I was so excited to see Fly’s book finally come out - printed in perfect bound book form with a full color cover and the whole deal.  A real book!  This is awesome!  A collection of her artwork, comics and writing.  Fly rocks!  This is an amazing collection of her work -- there’s so much to say I don’t know where to start.  As far as I’m concerned this is essential for any one reading S&L.  Fly’s work is an integral part of this community and I’m so proud of her book!
On the Punk Rock Front
    Things are looking pretty good here in Richmond.  Spring is always a good time of year for the scene - as bands start touring and people’s energy is at it’s peak.  There are some new spaces for shows with some good potential for the future.  There’s been  a lot of good stuff happening -- new bands for me to obsess about; a few roadtrips to satisfy my thirst and I am feeling more at home here, which is always nice.  So rock out and enjoy spring!!  Chris(tine) 4/99