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APRIL FOOLishness Special…

Artists have to pay taxes too…well, they don’t have to…but this one does…

Help me prove the nay-sayers wrong–who say things like “Why don’t you get a REAL job?”….or, “It’s been 25 years, and I still don’t understand what you are doing for a living.”….or “You know how the saying goes: Once a starving artist, always a starving artist…”
AArrkkkss…my foolish feeling is that whoever is reading this blog, really needs a piece of o’K useful art….and I have just the item….The Year of Cow calendar—at a special APRIL FOOL two for one price!
So, I’m inviting you to go to my Etsy page….at… 
….and contribute to the serious, ridiculous o’K art cause.  Thanks!
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Since December, I’ve been re-viewing the i don’t know…

… and, part of my three month winter hibernation has been immersing myself in that re-invention, re-engineering, re-visiting place of what i’m doing and why and where.

The re-s are really big, including re-pair….this repair manifesto was on another blog called the re-play-ground, and i thought i’d spend a little time in my pre-earth day re-entry time of parade build and permaculture tea-times checking it out.
Up for other re-view, re-engineering and re-wiring:
  • my Little Artshram summer-work schedule
  • my home-place
  • my work-place
  • my precious time spent in meetings, meetings, meetings…..
  • my non-profit, no-profit bankrupt career
  • my true need to make art
  • my true need to wander in the woods
  • my way of annual and/or perennial gardening
  • my energy and intentions of being a mentor and teacher
  • my cranky shoulders, numb buttocks and achey back from computer company
I’m in agreement here:  
Stop recycling and start repairing.  
Well, okay then.

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What does an Art-Farmer do?

Art-Farmers are everywhere…..perhaps, very soon even on the White House lawn.

Here’s is a fine example of an Art-Farmer…

It may be that when we
no longer know what to do

we have come to our
real work,
and, that when we no longer know
which way to go–we have
come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled
is not employed.

The impeded stream is the
one that sings.

~Wendell Berry

I myself, am a self-appointed O’k Art-Farmer variety, and this is my answer to the question “what do I do?”

For the past five years in the winter months, I’ve spent a lot of time drawing and writing, and doing a little painting and making big papier maiche puppets and masks. Along with a few more tasks in planning the Art-Farm workshops, during my spring, summer and fall garden hours, I spend a lot of time making friends with the soil in our Community Gardens and hauling water from the creek to water the plants in the Art-Farm teaching and market gardens. In between all of this, I hang out with amazing kids, I’ve become a full-time bike-rider, been studying permaculture, and, of course, I bake pies.

This week is a BIG week for me with the culmination of many hours of meetings, and many months and even years of planning all of the above and including a whole lot more.

On Tuesday, what began as my creation and is now shared by many, our Art-Farm brainchild, Little Artshram, presents a final request to acquire and hold a lease with the City of Traverse City and Rec Authority on a 54-acre piece of land that includes the old State Hospital Farm and our beloved Community Gardens and Art-Farm Workshop space. Little Artshram has worked with and towards carrying on the vision of Rolling Centuries Farms for this property to become a working educational farm. Our partner organizations are SEEDS and the North West Michigan Botanic Garden Society, as well as Spireworks. We have worked to craft a governance agreement under the guidance of Northsky Nonprofit Network.


I’ve been able to share and survive hundreds of hours of planning and organizational meetings for the barns property, with the help and understanding of the Little a board and advisory circle, and also, by drawing and cartooning business and program plans and ideas.


Some of them come from my “Epic Adventures of the Demanding Universe”. And, some of them I call cartoon maps…or described as…..” a handful of puzzle pieces that have gathered themselves into a grand magic-drawing board like picture (…from my Captain Kangaroo days)…and then tossed up into the sky, scattering themselves here and there, where in a Matisse cut-out fashion they are reassembled….”


In an effort to stay true to my Art-Farm vision, I’ve attempted to share some of these illustrated plans and ideas. At times, it hasn’t gone over real well. And I’m not the best at explaining myself. I wonder about my abilities and language and the true desire to understand and be understood. I’m humbled to realize that no matter how old I am, how many years of experience or head-banging realities I’ve encountered, or, what my resume lists as accomplishments, there always seems to be another deeper layer underneath and further to go.

So what’s next after this lease agreement is offered to Little Artshram and our Art-Farm has a real, homeplace?

Without any righteous attitude, I feel like I’ve done a fine job of creatively tossing puzzle pieces into the sky and gather them back into a whole, lovely, picture originally called ARTSPACE and now called Little Artshram.

As I shared last spring, I’m side-stepping my solo role as directress of Little Artshram, remaining on the board, and perhaps teaching, to become a full-time O’k Art-Farmer. And I’m not sure who will be heading up the Little a bandwagon, or what my O’k Art Farming will bring except I’m going to keep practicing and studying permaculture, growing my own food, and, writing, drawing and cartooning for quite awhile longer.

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My Ganesha of the North Woods…

Since I brought up Ganesh, the remover of obstacles when last month, we intelligently voted in a new presidential leader and his family….I’ve decided to add an image of Ganesha from a mural painting I made for my friends Libby and Michael which hangs at their Yoga for Health Ed studio in Bldg. #50…..This work is a 5′ by 6′, acrylic painting of the elephant boy-god resting at the base of a maple tree. I painted the background green in hopes of chasing off the long winter, cabin-fever blues I was experiencing while working in my art-farm studio in early 2005.

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The Good Elephant Ganesha says: Go a little heavy on the whipping cream, with this pie…..

After you VOTE, today’s socio-political-spiritua-pie-baking sharing:

Ganesha, you know the Elephant God—the one who teaches us to balance our mind to be strong enough to handle the tides of our external world and gentle enough to explore the realms of our inner world? His message is: Spiritual perfection comes when we use reason and knowledge to temper our emotions, and cut our attachments so we can be of this world with out being affected by it….

(Well, I’m trying–but I do feel affected and challenged….)

Ganesha’s likeness is rich with symbols, showing us his connection with the material plane and his desire to help us with our day to day concerns. Ganesha is the remover of obstacles and is prayed to before any venture for success and wisdom. Even though his hands are busy he always has one available to bestow blessings on anyone who asks.

Trying to pick my pie-baking knuckles up off the ground—-it’s been a twisty-turny time of keeping myself steady and my outer and inner worlds in balance—-pie-baking helps—and I’ve about exhausted myself baking a few hundred this year.

My friend Robert would be proud of me, and would have shared a few of these pies with me this year too. Since his death, I’ve been struggling and have to admit it, as I see my family and friends struggle, good people who are trying to do necessary work. Robert was like that, he did SO much volunteering of his time, working to build community in Lansing, and turn things around. He was a trusting and open-hearted man—one of the most beautiful, fine men I’ve met.

In the wake of losing this dear friend to the sick, violence of our world, I’m getting fiesty, and ornery. Tired of being spun around on this wait-and-see, big BS circus wagon when there is SO MUCH work to be done. Fed-up and tired of keeping quiet and minding my manners. Not having enough money to pay basic living expenses, jumping through so many damn hoops to make ends meet that we are dizzy—watching depression and addiction swallow my loved ones and friends.

No one is feeling sorry for themselves, we know we have it good “compared to others” but the struggle and stress and dog-eat-dog, competition has eeked itself into all of our experiences whether we invite it, or want to believe it or not. We are a stressed bunch of people in this so-called free land of ours, and yes we need to create a MAJOR shift.

In terms of this Star-search, or Hero-s journey for a new leader/president….I personally do not believe in a single human being able to fill the roll of “savior”—it goes against my good, woman and girl sense. I would rather consult with a Hindu-Elephant God. And, why would anyone spend so much money marketing themselves when there are hungry people right outside our back doors? I don’t get it….food, or, paid-for advertisements?

Most of our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy rotten system.” Dorothy Day, who started the Catholic Worker movement said that. My friend and another good woman, Chris Bernard, one of my spiritual-seeking sisters, gave me that quote on a magnet as a birthday gift a few years ago, and it’s stuck on my refrigerator in my pie-baking kitchen. I believe Dorothy Day, and I would have voted for that woman for president, if she hadn’t been busy trying to figure out how to feed people.

Pardon, the tone of the grand statement that’s about to be written out here, but, I believe that in my lifetime, my work is to help shape, shift and re-create the stinking, out-dated system that we know is a stinking, out-dated, filthy rotten system. And I thank amazing women like Dorothy Day for having the wits and courage to share her opinion, and I’m deeply grateful to my beautiful, smiling face-friend Robert who’s spirit still hangs with the likes of me.

And so, heck ya I’m pretty darn happy with the recipe that the Democratic party has come up with for this year’s presidential pie. Obama. I love the O. I love the ba. And, yes it ends with Ma. Ma-ma.

I’m gonna call him my O-ba-Mama. And I’m going to bake that beautiful black man, with Hussein as his middle name, a chocolate, pumpkin pie, and I’m going to count all the hoops he’s jumped through, to get himself this job and try to muster up some faith and trust, again, like I had when I was a little girl and learned about the beautiful, big-wide world of Dorothy Day and Martin Luther King, Jr. that was just beyond and on the other side of my all-white, farming life in Laingsburg, or when I began my art-farming work in Lansing and met my beautiful friend Robert Busby…

Chumpkin Pie—or Who put their Pumpkin in my Chocolate, Pie?

Please, make a home-made pie crust of your choice, and remember to consider the absolute, artistic experience of shaping a round object into an edible work of art, and the healing power it contains, while you’re making it.

  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked deep dish pie crust
  • 7 ounces of Grocer’s Daughter 65% dark chocolate chunks ( )
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 glop of yogurt (equal to egg size)
  • 15 ounces of roasted or steamed pumpkin/squash,
  • OR, 1 (15 ounce) can Organic Pumpkin—-
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can Organic Evaporated Milk (which you can purchase locally in TC, at Oryana Co-op)
  • optional, Grocer’s Daughter Cocoa Maple Nib mix for sprinkling on top of pie

Directions, as I’ve made them up:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Melt the amazing chocolate with a chunk of butter in a double broiler.
Combine sugar, salt, cardamom in a small bowl. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Put pumpkin, sugar-spice mix and melted chocolate in a blender and whip it good. Stir chumpkin mixture into large bowl with eggs, gradually stirring in evaporated milk. Pour this loveliness into the pie shell.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425, turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for 40-50 minutes more.

OPTION—-sprinkle the Cocoa Maple Nib mix on the top of pie about 15 minutes before you pull it out of the oven.

Cool the pie on a wire rack (2 hours is a good amount of time), then serve it with heavy whipped cream.

In honor of Dorothy Day’s birthday on November 8, a brave leader O-ba-Mama, and Robert’s mighty strong spirit, I give you this ode to Ganesha the Remover of Obstacles, my pie-prayer of the day:

Om sri ganesha Namaha–
Great Lord of Wisdom,

Here I stand with so many decisions to make,
with so many ways to turn,
I beg your Grace.
Please fill me with righteous judgment

and clear discrimination

as I lay all confusion at your feet
and immerse myself soley in your being.
Om Ganesha Saranam.

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WHY Pie? Part Two,

Pie-making-baking and eating is good and necessary for my well-being for many reasons, and I’ve been sharing my kitchen and baking space with others, trying to spread the Pie Word.

The whole process of making a pie is very theraputic. Whenever I need to ground and comfort myself in my humble home from the wild and crazy outside world, I go to the kitchen and pull out the rolling pin and ingredients, tie on one of my Grandma Crider, or, my other Grandma, Bessie McFadden’s hand-made aprons and begin creating.

I consider pie-making an art-form also. 3-d art made with flour, butter, water, fruit(sometimes), and did I say butter? And when I can get the good fat, ie: lard, yes, it is used and makes the BEST crust……

PLUS, there is something powerful about intentionally making a round food item, that you then slice into, put in front of someone’s face, and share…..Yes, a piece of pie is a magical thing.

The only other wonderful, round food item, that comes quickly to my mind (besides pancakes) that is served in a honorable, ceremonial way is a birthday cake—-and that only happens for us once a year. How minimal! Pie can be made and served anytime, no questions asked, any season of the year. This is just a rough estimate, but I believe that I’ve baked more than 97 pies between the end of May and October 2008. That’s an average of 16 pies a month. I admit, this has been a big pie year for me.

Pie is multi-functional: breakfast (quiche), lunch (pot-pies), dinner (have you ever had Onion Pie?) and of course dessert (Apple pies are my favorite, but I had fun this summer with many different types of Berry pies).

We just had our second Pie Social in TC, at the Harvest Festival at the Community Gardens, and the night before my friend Dan and I put on the aprons, whipped up some pies (seven in all) while Kristyn cheered us on listening to a music video from New Orleans. I came up with a new concotion, which I will share later on, when I try the recipe for a second time—and we named it a “Chumpkin Pie”—-made with 75% dark chocolate, with a nut/seed/cocoa nib topping.

This was Dan’s FIRST pumpkin pie—only the second pie that he has ever made in his life—and so I documented it by taking some photos. (He is wearing his Detroit Tigers baseball cap, and sporting my Grandma Crider’s rosebud, Cinderella apron. You are looking so fine, Dan!)

We’ll post our recipes for Dan’s Pumpkin and my Chumpkin pies later, so check back!

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WHY Pie? Part One,

Because I have a long and memorable relationship with the making and baking and eating of pie. Here’s part of my story….

My first pie was made when I was about 13 years old, for the Clinton County 4-H Fair. I was a scrawny little kid that liked to draw and make things, and in the summer I enrolled in Baking with Mrs. Baker (no kidding) as my leader in our Victor Twp. 4-H Club.

I wanted my fair entry to be special, artistic and get a blue ribbon, and so, I decided to make a Pecan Pie. It was my grandmother’s recipe, that I intended to improve upon.

Bless her heart for inspiring me to become a baker, but my Grandma Lois Laverne Crider was lousy at what she taught. My mother would cringe when Grandma showed up at our house with pies or cookies or candy or cakes….Her main problem was adding TOO much sugar. Even as a sugar-loving kid I’d have to agree. Most of Grandma Crider’s baked goods made me cringe too, BUT…….what my Grandma did teach me was to bring a fearlessness and fierceness into the kitchen when I began my baking work. Even though her baked goods sucked, she had an attitude that was impressive.

The way she taught me how to make pie crust, was to just stick your hand in the flour pot and grab out two or three handfuls of flour and throw it into the mixing bowl. She wasn’t just tossing it, or dropping it in the bowl—she was slamming it down into the bowl with a strong “YEAH, that’s right” once it hit the spot. The first time I saw her do this, my jaw dropped and I grabbed the edge of the counter to steady myself. Not in a million years would my mom put her hands in the flour pot.

My grandma stood there in her apron, all white haired and blue-eyed, and from then on, to me she was like a big-time Baking Wrestler She-ro. Then she’d look at me and smile a teeny bit on one side of her mouth, and say nothing. But it was almost like she was on the verge of snarling and telling me and everyone in our family “Who cares if my pies suck? Have you got the guts to NOT use a measuring cup?”

So here I am, thank you very much Grandma Crider, finding my powerful self and courage everytime I bake a pie!

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Harvest Festival is happening at the Art-Farm & Community Gardens

HARVEST FESTIVAL Saturday, October 11 Noon to 5pm At the Historic Barns A fabulous fundraiser for a new irrigation well at the Community Gardens!

Join us for a community picnic, farmers market, music, dancing, arts and creative crafts, pie social, Moomers ice cream, sensational silent auction, and so much more! Zero Waste Event ~ Pack it in, pack it out. Bring your own picnic! $5 person, $20 family Bay Bucks accepted. See attached flyer for more info & directions.

Look at the music and entertainment line-up:
11:30-12 Noon, Pat Ivory
12:10-1:00, Seth Bernard and Daisy May
1:00-1:20, Helio Conceicao of Ondas Cultural Arts
1:20-2:05ish, Harriet and the Love Fossils
2:15- 2:45, Susan Fawcett
3:00-3:50, Cap’n Crunch and the Cereal Killers
4:00-4:45, Soul Patch
4:45 until the party is over, Dede Alderman

Want to help?
Great! !
~Click here to see a list of volunteer needs. You can sign up online! Volunteers get into the festival free!

~Want to donate goods & services to the silent auction? This can be artwork, crafts, toys, baked goods, gift baskets, gift certificates for your services…anything you can think of. The more varied the better! See the attached sponsor packet.

OR simply respond to this email ([email protected]) to donate your time, money, goods or services. Any help is greatly appreciated!!!

Thanks! We’ll see you there!!!

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Art-Farm news….TC Harvest Festival, OCTOBER 11, 2008,,,with another Pie Social and Rolling Pin Toss!


Garlic growing in May in our Community Garden… about a Garlic and Onion Pie????

AND now, the garlic has been dug and it’s time for our 2nd Annual Harvest Festival! We are planning for a fine, fall afternoon at the Art-Farm Workshop and Community Garden near the Barns–Saturday, OCTOBER 11th, 12 noon until 5 PM—Join us! It’s going to be a great gathering of friends, Village neighbors, farmers, Community-gardeners and your family! What a wonderful gardening and growing season it has been— so, let’s celebrate!
Here are our plans so far: Community Picnic and Harvest Feast(bring your own tableware, blankets and chairs); fantastic Farmers Market; Walking, Talking & Really Good Auction; Pie-Social and Rolling Pin Tossing Contest; the Little a Art-Farm Treasure Hunt; Garden Tours by the Market Garden interns and apprentices; Family art activities; wonderful music-making by our beloved, and talented local musicians; PLUS, Near the Barns Dancing with Helio Conceicao and Alita Townsend of Ondas Cultural Arts Studio….and MORE!

This is a ZERO-Waste event—-EVERYONE packs it in and packs it out—-only compost bins will be provided —learn more about ZERO-waste—-as we practice sustainable ways to care-take our 54-acre Barns property home-place!

The Harvest Festival is being organized by a bunch of good folks and Little Artshram supporters including: Rolling Centuries Farms, Michigan Land Use Institute, SEEDS, The Botanic Gardens of Northwest Michigan, Spireworks, …and others….

Proceeds will go towards: Putting a well down in the Community Gardens, Little Artshram’s Art-Farm and Market-Garden/C.S.A. programs, and the Family portion of the 2008 Great Lakes Bioneers conference!

Lots of ways for you to get involved:

Join any of our Harvest Fest Crews:

Volunteer and help us prepare the week of, or join us the day of the Festival….there are many tasks and roles involved in each HF Crew…contact Sarna…[email protected]

Become a Sponsor of the Harvest Festival, from Stupendous Scare-Crow levels to a Precious Pea-Pod we’ll graciously accept anything you can give….Contact Kristyn…[email protected]

Set up a table of your harvested garden goods at our Farmers’ Market….Contact Diane…[email protected]

Donate an item for our Really Good Auction….last year’s auction was so much fun and really, truly good….Contact Jenny…[email protected]

Bring your favorite, home-made pie and a recipe to share for our Pie-Social, and a rolling pin for our tossing contest….contact Alex and family….[email protected]

Donate pumpkins, squash, and gourds for our Pumpkin Sculpture project…contact Dan…[email protected]

Help us spread the word—-Word of Mouth is a great way to connect local families to this local gathering and CHECK BACK SOON, to download our poster and press releases! For more info: 231-510-3491

[email protected]