Spinning, Knitting, Crocheting, Organic Gardening, Living off-grid, and chasing sheep - because- I'm, like, NOT SANE!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Stripping off the label...

PICT0001It seems to me that we are mostly all screw-ee these days. Mostly politely meaning, pretty much everyone and all meaning the peoples of the world. Screw-ee meaning backwards seemingly harmless and intentionally harmful ways. Take this puppet for example, it is harmless (maybe strange, disturbing, and sadly comical but I don't tell you who to make friends with so please do the same)that I have spent the last few days propping it up with a sock swatch, talking to it about the state of affairs and world peace, and studying it to see what it wants to be named. Is it a boy or a girl? Does it prefer hay or grain? You see what I mean. Harmless. Then, there is the harmful- the judgement, the competition, the range of normal that is accepted as the 'only' way to live around which the rest of us humble misfits must try to hover and pretend it isn't bothersome to be outside all the time. We like to label the things that shouldn't be labelled and want the things that should be labelled to surprise and even lie to us so we can feel good about ourselves.

In the last few years we've had to wait out the decision that would determine if our dairies could label milk free of growth hormones and still few will tell the truth about other food additives and the tricky ways merchandisers get around disclosing what is really in your food. This is so odd that we want so much to be in denial about food sources - yet it seems that as soon as a label can be slapped on a person (and preferably if the label pointedly identifies the person as a 'friend' or 'foe' of other labeled persons so we can get around the sticky mess of liking someone who thinks differently than ourselves or having to actually get to know someone before we judge them)it is done so and it sticks like super glue. Superstar 1 gains 5 pounds and the world wants to know but please don't tell them that their male children might grow boobs if they continue to eat growth hormone or that their daughters may be sterile if they are constantly exposed to the estrogen morphing chemicals that make up the lining on canned foods. Whuh?

One of the worst (and my personal pet peeve) is religious labels. How can you label something so deeply personal and why would you want to? Perhaps to feel safe? How can that be when anyone can be anything thereby proving that you are just as likely to find a slime ball in any denomination, group, or anarchy club in town? How safe are you, really, when you conclude that because someone is the same religion, class, race, sexual preference as you that they are a good person and what ever happened to revering someone for their works and not for their label?

Growing up in the Catholic church gave me lots of material for jokes at parties, a hefty dose of cynicism and really bad knees. While I take my turns in playfully batting the ole Church around so, understand I know I am cursed. And, while I've laughed at far too many nun jokes with a ferocity that involved almost convulsive slithering across the floor, I have to draw the line at Mother Teresa. I love this woman and have since I was a very little girl in the South trying to find some meaning in womanhood in a place where a woman was still something you owned like a piece of furniture. Twenty years ago, it was still legal for a husband to kill his wife and her lover if he caught them in the act of adultery in the state I grew up in. A friend of mine from high school developed a nasty drug addiction and stole a car to presumably sell. He got 10 yrs. in prison. My good friend, whom thing 1 is named after, left her abusive husband and two years later, restraining order and all, he shot her 5 times through the chest. He got 4 yrs. in prison. Her two small children will never know the wonderful person that was their mother.

Mother Teresa was a mother in every sense of the word, as far as I'm concerned. When her calling required to her drop the finery of clothing that was customary for a nun and take on the challenges of poverty, famine, and charity - she broke even with her church to do so and did just that until the day she died. Sadly, letters that she wrote (in confidence) to her friends and superiors over so many years have been published against her wishes. I'm confused on how I feel about that because on the one hand, her writings are so beautifully honest that I'd like her to be remembered that way but on the other I feel kinda slimey reading them. One summer (and there were many) when we were living with my grandparents, I gave in to curiosity and started looking through my grandma's 'private' drawer. I still feel bad about it because it was the only place in her whole house where she kept things that we couldn't see. Still in a child's eye a secret is not to be respected - it is to be investigated. I was digging through it nervously when I looked up and saw her standing in the doorway, quietly watching me - the traitor. I feel kinda like that reading these letters. But, what bothers me the most - is how quickly the catch phrases have begun to circulate. Seems like before you know it this woman whose works were merciful, truthful, loving, and ultimately sacrificing, are shadowed and hidden beneath the cloak of her new label, "the Atheist". I care not what she was, I care more about what was inside of her. That is the secret ingredient that we should try to reproduce in large supply. I have nothing against atheists, nuns, catholics, etc. I just don't see the benefit of this label beyond startling a readership to come forth and buy a book without real thought to how shamed and harmed the person would have been to have been so marketed. I see the benefit of lifting people who are down by sharing her experience but such a label is only meant to harm. It is mean. So, who's buying all those magazines at the checkout stands that humiliate the next super sex model who gains a few pounds and also mocks the one who is apparently withering away and dreaming of bacon? It's backwards, I tell you.

PICT0003We've been thinking about our labels alot around here and we've finally decided to quit the farm. No, we're not moving. We're staying right here and doing things the way we have been (though maybe the frugality thing has been amped up since we are both working from home, now). It's strictly our label that we're changing. The thing is, we're not really a farm. Few farms in this country haul their own water and chop their own wood. That nostalgia has long since been replaced with agricultural technologies and modernized homes. We also are not 'crop oriented'. We're people oriented and, of course, sheep oriented. We've come to understand the distinction between the meaning of farm and the implication of farm. By calling ourselves a farm, we mean that we mean the act of farming which the dictionary describes at "to cultivate (land)". Of course, it also describes a plethora of commercial, crop-oriented endeavors. And, that's just it - we aren't commercial, industrial, or profitable (yet) but that is the one thing I hope to change. Really, we are farming with a conscience. We are walking with Nature and co-habitating this land with some really interesting and phenomenal creatures. Really, we are a homestead. So, I'm changing some of my terminology and dropping the 'farm' part from our name. We're the Enchanted Knoll. A homestead, a farm, a happy place - whatever label is slapped on and sticks - we're hauling water, begging the sun to come out so we can watch some dvd's, and pretty much doing things the hard way. Not for the glory or bragging rights, though. It is more for the moments like owl mating season where we turn the lights off at night and go to sleep listening to the owls call, sing, and generally woo one another into the night.