recent podcasts listened to

Well, I listen to a lot of podcasts but these particular ones/episodes felt relevant to share here.

Out of the Box podcast ep 105- Scott Santens on Universal Basic Income – Whenever I mention Basic Income, either here or elsewhere on social media, there are always questions. Most people have never heard of it and a lot of those who are in the know just have a lot of questions about how it would work. This episode is great because it covers just about everything about UBI you could possibly wonder. Universal Basic Income is how we can lift people out of poverty, reduce crime, boost the economy, improve health and well being, and create a much happier society.

In the Dark –  episode 6 – This may be a hard podcast to listen to, even if you’re a fan of true crime like I am. I had to take breaks to get through it sometimes and that’s undoubtedly in part because I have a 11 year old son and this podcast focuses on the 1989 abduction of 11 year old Jacob Wetterling. Yep, it’s a tough one. I know this doesn’t on the surface seem relevant here but episode 6 talks about the effects of legislation regarding sex offenders and the national registry. It was Jacob’s mom Patty who pioneered and pushed for a sex offender registry and now she’s not so fond of the monster it’s become. The overwhelming research on pedophiles and other sex offenders says that the lack of stable housing,jobs, and support after incarceration increases the chance of recidivism but because the consequences of being on the registry is so damaging to all of those things, that stability is impossible. The registry covers a broad range of offenses and there’s many people who really shouldn’t even be on it. The intention was to keep children safe and it hasn’t actually done that but it has pushed people into poverty.

On to happier things. Literally…

Happier with Gretchen Rubin – This is a super complicated podcast for me, even if I do love it. As someone who struggles with ADHD, I am constantly looking for strategies that help keep my mind and life better organized and aid in productivity and this really fills that need .I can’t say that it really makes me happier but at the present time, my mood is very influenced by my financial status, so I feel like all the little things suggested (sometimes they’re things I already do) don’t really make anything better but they may reduce some stress or help me embrace the things that are awesome in my life, which helps me get through the day . Poverty-induced depression isn’t a thing that I can fix by  making my bed every morning or taking photos of my everyday life but it can’t hurt either.



“And I love how you love the people as much as self .I love it how you want redistribution of the wealth”

Now this is my idea of a love song. Happy belated Valentine’s Day, folks.

Yo, life and debt, light a cigarette smoke the stress
Take a deep breath baby, let’s rearrange the mess we’ve inherited
Alienated from what is rightfully yours and mine, land
Is life, money is time paid for labor
Working eight to five, sometimes six seven eight
We come home and barely know the neighbors
Bills are usually late
Interest accumulates at a usury rate
Collection agency waits from
Pay check to next one, budget like a noose

Working while we sing the proletariat blues
On 501-C3 community plantations
Non profit sector propped up to kill the movement
For the changes in production relations
But woman you’re my comrade, ride and die, revolution-making mother earth
Standing with me in the grocery line
While I’m paying with a jar of pennies, nickels, and dimes

And I love how you don’t like art without a message
I love it how you call some fellas on they fetish
Third world sister, never sacrificing substance for style
But stylish with a golden type smile
I love it how you organize with other strong sisters
Love it how you talk about tearing down the system
Like a soldier, my dialectical reflection
“Yes” is the answer to your question

Life and debt, write another check to the landlord
No time to dwell on all the things we can’t afford
Got a baby in the womb, a soldier for the future that we’re fighting for
Concrete conditions that I’m writin for
The payback, it’s way past due
And they say that the masses ain’t ready but
We know that ain’t true
You and I both children of Filipino immigrants
From the same island, our ancestors smiling
Cuz we found one another in a strange land struggling
Moms tryin’ to tell us not to protest instead pray for peace
But that ain’t the nature of the beast
So lady grab the bullhorn and take it to the streets
Yellin power to the people, el pueblo unido jamas sera vencido
Til the wealth is spread equal
You 21st century Gabriela Silang
Fierce like Lorena with a rifle in her arms

And I love how you love the people as much as self
I love it how you want redistribution of the wealth
Third world sister, never sacrificing substance for style
But stylish with a golden type smile
I love it how you organize with other strong sisters
Love it how you talk about tearing down the system
Like a soldier, my dialectical reflection
“Yes” is the answer to your question
Life and debt

Best Food & Gardening Books of 2014


My personal picks with one caveat: these books may not have been published in 2014 but that’s when I got around to reading them.

1. Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love and the Perfect Meal by Ava Chin – At first, I was disappointed that this was more memoir than how-to forage guide but I quickly got over that. Ava Chin uses her childhood, love for18144094family and traditions, and coming to terms with her past quite beautifully as a backdrop to how her love for foraging and food fits into the whole scheme of things. This was one of my favorite and more memorable books I read in 2014, not just among food and gardening type books.

2. Backyard Winter Gardening: Vegetables Fresh and Simple, in Any Climate, Without Artificial Heat or Electricity – The Way It’s Been Done for 2,000 Years by Caleb Warnock

16235813 I struggle with winter in NY for many reasons ,one being that it’s a sad time for gardening. So very sad. I’ve been looking for low cost ways to extend our gardening season and this book covered all I needed to know. Even though a lot of methods seem to be more practical for traditional large scale/ large space gardens, it would be quite easy to adapt to fit alternative garden spaces. There’s also good info on food storage for the winter. Can’t wait to put some of the ideas in this book  into practice.

3. The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook: From Lamb Stew to “Groosling” – More Than 150 Recipes Inspired by the Hunger Games Trilogy(The Hunger Games Companions) by Emily Ansara Baines

I took this out of the library thinking it would be cute -neato to have a Hunger Games themed dinner some night (I have kids,you know) but I ended up legitimately loving this book as an actual practical cook book for anyone who is a fan of11206339 foraging,hunting, and frugal meals. There are some more decadent recipes,too, but they aren’t complicated or require much in the way of ingredients that would be hard to come by.  As far as book tie-ins go, this was genuinely well thought out and a perfect compliment.

4. The Forest Feast: Simple Vegetarian Recipes from My Cabin in the Woods
by Erin Gleeson – This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen.  It’s a little like holding a well designed food blog in your hands  but it’s more creative than that. It has an art journal feel to it.
The recipes are all truly simple vegetarian recipes. Nothing fussy or elaborate. One of my biggest criticisms of v18405511egetarian cookbooks is that they are often way too complicated and require ingredients you have to go on gourmet supermarket hunt for (after you’ve googled what the hell it is you’re looking for). Not the case with this one,thankfully.

5. One Acre Homestead by Sara Simmons McDonald – The author assumes that if you’re reading her book , you probably know how to garden and homesteading basic ,so this isn’t really a beginner’s guide but more of a “This is how I did it and all the ways I screwed up and what I learned,too”  . Inspiring for someone who has an acre of land who wants to achieve self-sufficiency and food sovereignty.

I don’t really do resolutions but maybe for 2015, I’ll try to do more complete book reviews on a regular basis. I was thinking about doing a Cook the Book series, maybe. That could be fun.
I do manage to update my Good Reads when I’m done reading things. You can follow me over there: Goodreads!

Student Talks with His Former Teacher About How He Helped His Mom to Make Ends Meet When He Was a Kid

Student Talks with His Former Teacher About How He Helped His Mom to Make Ends Meet When He Was a Kid.

In the most recent episode of the animated video series from StoryCorps, A young college man named Noe Rueda talks with his former teacher Alex Fernandez about his childhood and how he found inventive ways to help his mom to make ends meet while growing up poor in Chicago.

Noe Rueda grew up poor in Little Village, a neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. As young as 8 years old, Noe often relied on his entrepreneurial talents to help his mom and three siblings make ends meet. At StoryCorps, Noe tells his high school teacher Alex Fernandez about his childhood, and Alex shares his dreams for Noe’s future.

Welfare is a Women’s Issue (1972) by Johnnie Tillmon


Welfare is a Women’s Issue (1972) by Johnnie Tillmon

I’m a woman. I’m a black woman. I’m a poor woman. I’m a fat woman. I’m a middle-aged woman. And I’m on welfare.

In this country, if you’re any one of those things you count less as a human being. If you’re all those things, you don’t count at all. Except as a statistic.

I am 45 years old. I have raised six children. There are millions of statistics like me. Some on welfare. Some not. And some, really poor, who don’t even know they’re entitled to welfare. Not all of them are black. Not at all. In fact, the majority-about two-thirds-of all the poor families in the country are white.

Welfare’s like a traffic accident. It can happen to anybody, but especially it happens to women.

And that’s why welfare is a women’s issue. For a lot of middle-class women in this country, Women’s Liberation is a matter of concern. For women on welfare it’s a matter of survival.

Survival. That’s why we had to go on welfare. And that’s why we can’t get off welfare now. Not us women. Not until we do something about liberating poor women in this country.

Because up until now we’ve been raised to expect to work, all our lives, for nothing. Because we are the worst educated, the least-skilled, and the lowest-paid people there are. Because we have to be almost totally responsible for our children. Because we are regarded by everybody as dependents. That’s why we are on welfare. And that’s why we stay on it.

Welfare is the most prejudiced institution in this country, even more than marriage, which it tries to imitate. Let me explain that a little.

Ninety-nine percent of welfare families are headed by women. There is no man around. In half the states there can’t be men around because A.F.D.C. (Aid to Families With Dependent Children) says if there is an “able-bodied” man around, then you can’t be on welfare. If the kids are going to eat, and the man can’t get a job, then he’s got to go.

Welfare is like a super-sexist marriage. You trade in a man for the man. But you can’t divorce him if he treats you bad. He can divorce you, of course, cut you off anytime he wants. But in that case, he keeps the kids, not you.The man runs everything. In ordinary marriage, sex is supposed to be for your husband. On A.F.D.C., you’re not supposed to have any sex at all. You give up control of your own body. It’s a condition of aid. You may even have to agree to get your tubes tied so you can never have more children just to avoid being cut off welfare.

The man, the welfare system, controls your money. He tells you what to buy, what not to buy, where to buy it, and how much things cost. If things-rent, for instance-really cost more than he says they do, it’s just too bad for you. He’s always right.

That’s why Governor [Ronald] Reagan can get away with slandering welfare recipients, calling them “lazy parasites,” “pigs at the trough,” and such. We’ve been trained to believe that the only reason people are on welfare is because there’s something wrong with their character. If people have “motivation,” if people only want to work, they can, and they will be able to support themselves and their kids in decency.

The truth is a job doesn’t necessarily mean an adequate income. There are some ten million jobs that now pay less than the minimum wage, and if you’re a woman, you’ve got the best chance of getting one. Why would a 45-year-old woman work all day in a laundry ironing shirts at 90-some cents an hour? Because she knows there’s some place lower she could be. She could be on welfare. Society needs women on welfare as “examples” to let every woman, factory workers and housewife workers alike, know what will happen if she lets up, if she’s laid off, if she tries to go it alone without a man. So these ladies stay on their feet or on their knees all their lives instead of asking why they’re only getting 90-some cents an hour, instead of daring to fight and complain.

Maybe we poor welfare women will really liberate women in this country. We’ve already started on our own welfare plan. Along with other welfare recipients, we have organized so we can have some voice. Our group is called the National Welfare Rights Organization (N.W.R.O.). We put together our own welfare plan, called Guaranteed Adequate Income (G.A.I.), which would eliminate sexism from welfare. There would be no “categories”-men, women, children, single, married, kids, no kids-just poor people who need aid. You’d get paid according to need and family size only and that would be upped as the cost of living goes up.

As far as I’m concerned, the ladies of N.W.R.O. are the front-line troops of women’s freedom. Both because we have so few illusions and because our issues are so important to all women-the right to a living wage for women’s work, the right to life itself.


Review: Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm


Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm by Mardi Jo Link 


To set the background: Mardi jo Link lives on a sort-of farm in Northern Michigan with her three sons. I say sort-of farm because she has horses and a veggie garden. (Horses!  Do you know how expensive horses are to have?!) She has 6 acres, which sure… that can qualify  as a small  farm but it’s really more like backyard homesteading.

Mardi has her “dream life” with her horses,kids,and husband and then, the husband isn’t so dreamy and they get divorced. This is the basis of the entire memoir : Divorced,single mother,broke, raising 3 kids on a farm by herself. Not a unique story. It’s one that comes through my inbox a few times a week from readers of this blog. I probably compared way too much to those personal stories because I kept thinking, “This lady doesn’t have it so bad.” I mean, there are people who only contact me through email because they can’t leave any trace of themselves online for fear of their ex-abuser tracking their activity and somehow finding them. Some of them are living in shelters. Even without the domestic violence element, there are a LOT of newly single mamas struggling to get through. So, Mardi jo isn’t alone,no, but I appreciate there being a narrative out there like hers that explains this reality.

But Mardi Jo has some advantages. She has a $300,000 house with property to grow food and keep animals. Her ex husband rents a house across the street, so although it’s not mentioned, I’m assuming he’s available to co-parent and lend that support. Her boys are all in school so she doesn’t need daycare.  She has a vehicle. Her ex actually pays the child support he’s ordered to pay her.

The disadvantage is that since she stubbornly refused to sell the farm, she had to be responsible for the mortgage while her only real source of income is an editing job and the child support. In Internet land, we poor people would be told this is a stupid choice.
(And STILL with the horses! At least in the beginning…)
Just read any thread online where a poor person is telling what it’s like to be poor and house downsizing is always given as one of those “helpful pointers”. One of the readers of this blog was even told once that she should build a shed and rent out her double wide trailer.

And I truly understand Mardi jo’s desire to keep the house. Having the land gives the opportunity to be self-sufficient, which is money in the bank, so to speak.

She was raised like I was: You DO NOT ask for help. That’s a sign of weakness. On this point,I can DSC_0559relate.  She refuses to apply for assistance because that’s not what “her people” do. Yeah, I was like that once and literally could have starved because of it . It was SO frustrating for me to hear that credo repeated over and over again ,while she and her boys were hungry.

But FINALLY, she at least applies for free school lunch, even though she’s mortified at being judged by the school.

Of that experience, Mardi jo said this in an interview:
“Yeah, I was pretty resolute that I would never ask for government assistance. Not that I’m against that; I know that there are people who need it. But I always had this idea that that was for other people. I was educated. I had been raised in an intact family. I’d had advantages that other people probably didn’t, so I certainly didn’t think that I should take advantage of any public assistance. And yet nine months into that year, I had signed my kids up for  reduced lunches at school. That was a line that I thought I would never cross. I think the only reason I did was that it wasn’t for me, it was for them; it was important that they have a nutritional meal every day. It was temporary, only March and April, but it was pretty hard to step over that line. It made me realize things would have to change pretty soon or we would have to sell or just let it go to the bank.”

She mentions her advantages there in that interview but all through the book, I kept waiting for that acknowledgment. There was gratitude and feeling blessed for her sons and when something good happened. I probably would have been less irritated consistently if there had been more of that.

The parts I was least inclined to be irritated: any and all gardening talk, DIY stuff, and chickens (even though…who orders chickens through mail order and expects to get full grown chickens?). She  has one horribly heartbreaking food loss that I could relate to. During a power outage, she lost most of an entire butchered pig because the freezer wasn’t on. ( For me, it was because I couldn’t pay the electric bill nor buy ice to keep the food until it was turned back on). Losing food when you have no grocery money is one of the worst things.

I was thoroughly prepared to hate this memoir based on the title alone. Oh, the myth of the bootstrapper …hard working people who pull themselves out of poverty all on their own because they tried hard enough and wanted it bad enough.  So,maybe I went into this with some presumptions and ready to be overly critical. While I ended up not hating this as much as I thought I would, it wasn’t my favorite “getting through the struggle and ending up ok” memoir.

Also, in the end…she met a man and didn’t have to worry so much anymore, anyway. Yay for happy endings.









Poverty Lit: “Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. … I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’ — I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready.”


It’s the 75th anniversary of Grapes of Wrath. Grapes Of Wrath’ Is 75, But Its Depictions Of Poverty Are Timeless  on NPR talks about the timeless depiction of poverty and the American reactions to the book.


This feels particularly true still…

“Part of the shock, initially, was resistance to believing that there was that kind of poverty in America,” she says. “Other people thought that Steinbeck was a communist, and they didn’t like the book because they thought that that collective action that the book is moving towards — because it really is moving from ‘I’ to ‘we’ — was threatening to, sort of, American individualism.”


Tom Joad’s speech in the film gets me every time.

“I’ll be all aroun’ in the dark,” Tom says. “I’ll be ever’where — wherever you look. Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. … I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’ — I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build — why, I’ll be there.”