I promised I’d start a monthly roundup of the things I’ve been currently enjoying, learning from, studying, or just delighting in. I’ve had a couple of very intense weeks and I need a little levity so I figured now would be a good time. In the future, these posts will be open to members only.
Like I’ve said many times, if you don’t have the means to be a paid member, drop me a line and I will gift you one. No questions asked. Okay, here’s a little list of the stuff that has been feeding me, sometimes literally, over the last few weeks.
What I’m reading/rereading:
I’m terrible for reading anything other than nonfiction, so I made the commitment to start reading one fiction book for every five nonfiction books I read. I figure it’s a reasonable ask given our times.
“The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” by Carson McCullers. With every page I’m just gobsmacked by the author’s talent and her insights into the human condition. She was 23 when she wrote this book! Astonishing. I can’t give you a final review, but I can say I’m really into it and that’s something. I hear I’m going to be ripped apart in the end. What else is new.
“Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered” by E.F. Schumacher. I’m only four chapters in so I’m reserving comment. So far, I wish I could go find Ole’ Schumacher and hand him a copy of “Sacred Economics” by Charles Eisenstein which, I think, is a far superior read thus far.
“What are People For?” essays by Wendell Berry. What indeed? What can I say about Wendell Berry. Nothing, I’d only embarrass myself. I will let him do the talking instead. “As local community decays along with local economy, a vast amnesia settles over the countryside. As the exposed and disregarded soil departs with the rains, so local knowledge and local memory move away to the cities or are forgotten under the influence of homogenized salestalk, entertainment, and education. This loss of local knowledge and local memory, that is of local culture - has been ignored or written off as one of the cheaper “prices of progress”, or made the business of folklorists.”
“Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley. This was my third go around with this book. Each time we creep ever closer to fulfilling Huxley’s seeming prophecies. Are we just that dumb? There’s been some argument about which dystopian novel we are living in. 1984? Brave New World? Seems to me, depending on what spin you want to give it, you could make a reasonable argument for either. Me? I think it’s a mash-up. But, I will end with Huxley, “The perfect dictatorship would have the appearance of democracy, but would basically be a prison without walls in which the prisoners would not even dream of escaping. It would essentially be a system of slavery where, through consumption and entertainment, the slaves would love their servitude.” Love their servitude indeed.
Online, I have a few different Substack accounts I subscribe to including “Natural Selections”, “Bad Cattitude”, “Alex Berenson”, “Common Sense” and a whole whack of different sources I turn to for information. Mainstream media is long lost so that’s not an option. It leaves one having to create a patchwork of information from all sorts of trusted sources. I’ve started subscribing to magazines again like “The Critic” and “The Spectator” and we get the “Epoch Times” delivered weekly.
What I’m listening to:
My favourite podcasts don’t change much. When there is a new edition of Dark Horse, I plunk down on my sofa with some wool and try to keep up with the two illuminated minds, Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein, sharing and teaching from a place of great authenticity. I also love the way they challenge each other and their banter. I suppose that’s what I want in a podcast, or in my teachers and mentors. I want grounded, down to earth humans. I don’t need polished and perfect. Aren’t we all tired of that by now? I can’t take another drop of fakery and plastic. Blah. These two, Heather and Bret, will give you none of that, but a whole lot to ponder and question.
The other podcast that gets played the day it’s released is “The Healthy Rebellion”. Robb Wolf has been in the podcast game for a long time. He generously shares his wisdom and experience with a side of self-deprecating humour and good reason. I used to listen to his first podcast when I would be out on a 4:00 a.m. sprint session before my kiddos would wake up. Now, he and his wife, Nicki, have formed an incomparable duo. Again, these two are the real goods. Smart and funny and knowledgable. They have proven to be some of the few people that have really stepped up and spoken courageously and with conviction in a time of censorship, self and otherwise. They have been a touchstone of sanity in these crazy times.
I guess you can see a theme here, real goods, no plastic!
Lastly, Bari Weiss’ podcast, “Honestly” is absolutely fantastic. This podcast challenges me, encourages me, gives me a little hope that there’s still some sense in the world. I trust Bari’s intentions and judgment. That doesn’t mean I agree with everything she says. That should be obvious, yes? She’s Bari, I’m Tara and never the two shall meld. She’s a woman of integrity and courage. Another real-deal human.
My favourite meal in the last few weeks:
I went totally old school and made Duck a L’orange for hubs and I . I used one of our extra fatty drakes that we had dry aged when we butchered him (hanging for a few days in the meat cooler for extra flavour and texture). I used this recipe. Instead of using a dry white wine, I used a boozy elderflower concoction I made last summer. I used duck bone broth instead of chicken stock. I skipped the flour altogether and used raw butter for thickening. I used one tablespoon of honey instead of sugar and it was plenty.
Sweet mama! It was fabulous! Troy and I ate the entire duck between us. The juices and carcass made a divine broth, with a hint of tangy orange in it. So yummy for sipping.
One of my favourite moments:
I was crouched down in the snow, watching our two Jersey twin calves, Honey and Greta, eating alfalfa with their mama, Olive. I love watching cows eat. Really, I love hearing them eat. Every spring, when they first return to pasture, I follow them around for days just listening to the sound of them ripping grass. It’s one of the most hypnotic, melodic sounds in the world. Brings me to tears just thinking about it.
While I was sitting with them, Theo, one of our daughter’s sweet barn cats, crawled up on my lap. He is awfully friendly, but he has never been so forward with me before. He then turned, faced me, eye to eye, and lifted up his one paw. And there he sat, balancing on his three legs, holding up his paw so carefully, looking into my eyes. I looked at his favoured limb and saw that it was swollen quite badly. I got the message. He needed some tending.
What happened there?
It never ceases to amaze me how our animals seem to understand that we can help them. We see it again and again. A cow whose calf needs tending will step aside, following us, mooing her low, worried call to her calf but trusting us to help her. Or a cat or a pig or a duck or a chicken that slow down and let us approach them.
Last year, I had a chicken that had half her head ripped off by a raccoon. When I found her, her head was a flap hanging over her eye with her brain exposed. She just went limp in my hands and every day, when I went to go feed and water her, doctor up her wound, in her quarantined hen hospital ward, she came towards me. I think she liked the company. She healed. Her name is “Half Head Hennie” now. Pretty sure she’s proud of the moniker.
It’s those moments of vulnerability with our animals, when there is an exchange of trust, or whatever you want to call it, that I feel so deeply honoured to be doing the work that I’m doing.
Theo is right as rain, by the way. He had got in another cat fight with a stray that frequents our farm and his foot was infected from a bite. All good now.
The picture I keep looking at:
What we watched:
While we love movies, it’s been awhile. What it is about this time that makes us crave the wholesome I do not know. Actually, not true, I do know. Our latest favourite show is the remake of “All Creatures Great and Small”. It is sweet and corny and just delightful. We love it. I used to watch the original show with my dad when I was a young girl. We’re thinking of revisiting the classics once this new season is over. We never get to watch shows in the summer so maybe that will happen next winter.
Now to you. Any good podcasts, shows, sites you’ve been enjoying? Care to share?
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