Saturday, December 31, 2011

Startin' A New Year!

 Well, the weather around here for the past couple of days has just been drop dead gorgeous, so I couldn't waste any of it by staying inside.  Piss on the pottery, I had to do some gardening!  But it wasn't just for the sake of good weather.  There is a big cold front coming and I really needed to get some stuff ready for that.  They are predicting lows around 18 degrees several nights.  Now, for us that's cold!  Sweetie Jack raked a bunch of pine straw for me and made piles in the garden so all I had to do was mulch around whatever plants I wanted.  So, I pruned and mulched the blueberries (on the left).  I have 4 blueberry bushes now and a few herbs planted between them.

I pruned and mulched the raspberries too.  Yes, I know you can't really see much but some types of raspberries you are supposed to cut all the way to the ground.  I'm still learning on these things.  I also applied another layer of enriched topsoil around them before I mulched.  They did pretty good this past year but I want more!!!  To the right you can see a couple of cabbage plants and some leeks.  They are doing well and in that seemingly empty space above them is 2 new kinds of garlic.  I really hope they do good.  Over to the left is my strawberry bed but I think I'm going to order a new type this spring that is better suited for this climate. 

This is a handy thing I wanted to show ya'll!  Jack put this up for me after I described to him what I wanted.  And yes, I do sometimes let him build things on his own!  I found this old discarded mailbox and had seen in a book how you can turn them into a kinda toolbox for your garden.  It was his idea to add the hose bracket, which also works good.

I just cram all kinds of things in here and it all stays perfectly dry.  Pruners, clippers, gloves, string and so on.  It's very handy to have it right in the garden and not have to keep running back to the shed or whatever to get stuff.

So, I had intended on doing one of those end of the year synopsis kinda things but haven't got around to it yet.  I might still.  I also had a new year's goals post in mind so we'll see!  I wish you all the best for the new year.  May you find everything you are hoping for.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Enjoying The Last Of The Year

 The weather has been quite mild around here lately and everybody has been enjoying the warm sun!  Nights are cold enough to keep a fire going though.  I told Jack yesterday that I certainly appreciate these days in the 50 degree range but I would like to see a little snow this year too.  Anyway, we have been taking advantage of the sunny days by having a little fun.  It being the last week of the year, and in keeping with some traditions of the 12 Days of Christmas, we have taken time to visit with friends and just enjoy some time to ourselves instead of working so much.  We went to the city yesterday to see some of the decorations before they take them down and just see what there was to see.  We've enjoyed a couple of dinners out and taken advantage of the good sales to get a few things.  For instance, I bought a stoneware bread pan (for baking) that I have had my eye on for some time.  It is environmentally friendly and made in the US and, I got it for $10!

 Soon enough it will be time to get back to business as usual though!  We need to harvest about half of the meat chickens soon.  Real soon.  They are eating us out of house and home!  We have learned quite a bit having these though so I know if we have them again I will definitely do some stuff differently.  We underestimated how long it would take them to mature for one thing.  It's been about 14-16 weeks instead of the 6-8 that you read about.  They have also grow at vastly different rates.  Some are well past time to harvest and some are still a couple of weeks out.  I don't know.  We have fed them well and they get a vitamin supplement in their water.  In addition to the natural feed they did have grass to eat, which they devoured in no time.  After they mowed all that down I have taken to going each day and digging up clumps of grass for them and putting it in their run.  This gives them the greens they like and something to do so they don't get so bored.  They love digging and scratching through the clumps.  I also harvest spare leaves off the broccoli and chard (and whatever else I can think of) for them.  Jack even grows sprouts for them!  I believe next time I will grow a whole crop of greens, like collards or such, just for them in the garden and then throw them so much a day to supplement the grain.  If we only get them in cooler weather I would have plenty of room in the garden for this.

They LOVE chard, broccoli, cabbage, anything like that.  By selling some eggs at $2.50 a dozen and letting the hens out to forage all day, we are pretty much covering our feed costs for the hens.  I have even had some people insist on giving me $5 a dozen for the eggs so that helps to cover some of the cost of these meat chickens.  Not much but some.  Once all of the hens are laying consistently (selling 5-6 dozen eggs a week) I believe I could completely make up the cost of feeding the meat birds, with the addition of growing a crop of greens just for them. 
So, it's all a learning experience and each year you learn more and more to refine your operations.  I have been very pleased with the amount of poop these guys are producing too, which goes right into the garden, which helps greatly to produce more crops!  We are finally beginning to see success in this cycle of things and it's great!  A permaculture system is really what we are going for. 
I am waiting to hear if I will go back to the construction job after the first of the year, as the plan was.  In a way I hope they don't call!  But, I could use the money. 
Now that Christmas is over I suspect the pottery orders will slow down some but I think I have made headway into that cycle also.  As your work becomes more well known you can develop better sales all year 'round, rather than just at holidays when people are buying anything!  As soon as I finish, one way or another, that welding job I can focus on getting more places to carry my work and therefore more revenue from that coming in.  2012 looks to be a very promising year!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

On Christmas Day

 Merry Christmas!  Happy Holidays! or Joyeux Noel!!  to everyone!  I hope you have all are having an enjoyable holiday season whatever your practices or beliefs.  I finally had time this year to actually make a wreath!  From greens I gathered about my land, of course.  Hehe!  I have always enjoyed the practice of decorating with evergreens and whatever grows around the area.  Even the chicken coop got a wreath!  I'll have to try to get a photo of that.

Today has been a very quite, laid back day for me and Jack.  We visited with family yesterday and decided to spent today at home.  We don't do a lot of gifts but did get each other a couple of things.  I got him, at his request, a Kindle.  I don't really see the allure of those things but he seems to be getting a big kick out of it.  I got a Le Creuset brasier (5 qt. I think)!  I am stoked!!  I got my range hooked up and now have to decide on what appropriate dish to cook in it! 
I'm cooking a nice dinner for tonight and then we'll watch It's A Wonderful Life.  I wish you all peace and happiness and much love.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Night Before Christmas

 'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the kitchen
Not a creature was stirring, not even Basement Chicken.

 The stockings were hung by the fireplace with screws
In hopes that Jack would notice the cues.

 The chickens were nestled all snug in their coop
 And I was trying hard not to step in their poop.

 And Jack in his T-shirt and I in my slip
Had just settled down for some nog and some lip
When out in the woods I heard such a ruckus
I fell off the couch and landed on my tuckus!
Away to the door I hobbled kinda quick
Flung open the same and stepped on a stick.

When what to my blurry eyes should appear
but a big goofy bloodhound and eight giant deer!
With a yip and a yalp and a howl so loony
I knew in a moment, it must be stupid Ernie!
More thunderous than cattle, here they all came
I cursed and shouted and called him such names
You dumbass, you stupid, you lousy ol' cur!
I'll beat you, I'll choke you (just joking)
if you don't get outta hur!!  (that's redneck vernacular)

So up through the valley they all did run
With Chigger in hot pursuit
If only I'd had my gun.
But I did hear him yelp as he ran out of sight
and I laughed at the thought of how Chigger can bite!


So Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Friday, December 23, 2011

O Christmas Tree

 Many of you that have read my blog for a while know that I'm always a bit later than most in getting my tree put up.  I don't follow the norm anyway, as far as societies traditions go and prefer to stick closer to our ancient traditions of Solstice or Yule.  Therefore, my tree gets put up right around that first day of winter but it stays up until Epiphany or 12th Night as I do celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas from the Christian view.
I know I had previously also mentioned that the little corner stand where I normally get my tree had sold out before I could get down there this year, leaving me facing a bit of a conundrum.  I knew where another lot was that sold trees but they were expensive there and I could really use that $70-80 somewhere else right now; I am laid off.  Plus, the trees had been shipped from quite a distance and did I really want to participate in that?  I mean, I preach this buy local, buy local etc. all the time.  Or perhaps, not buy at all?  Shouldn't I practice what I preach?  Of course, I should.  This left me with really only one solution if I wanted a tree.  Cut a local one and preferably from my own land.  I mean, I do have about 18 acres.  There are lots of trees on that much land.

But let's back up just a little shall we?  Say....30-35 years or so.  You see, the only evergreens that grow in this part of Alabama are either pines or cedars.  Now, when I was a child we always had a cedar tree.  They grew prolifically on our land and if we couldn't find a suitable one there, our neighbors would always welcome us to look on their land for one to cut.  From what I remember we always had a good time, going out to choose the tree.  Sometimes we would even hitch the horse to a little sleigh-like contraption we had.  We would all ride on the way over and then let the tree ride back to the house so it would not get torn up from being dragged.  And we were happy with our cedar tree...until we got older.  Then we began to see what other people had and what they had in town and our little minds began to turn and we began to think that maybe what we had wasn't good enough.  And sure enough, it wasn't long before the unspoken truth crystallized in our minds.  Cedar trees were what poor people had for Christmas trees.  Now, we were by no means wealthy but we were not what I would call poor, but God knows, Christmas is certainly THE time to keep up all those appearances, so we confided to our parents that we needed a "bought" tree.  You know, one of the real Christmas trees, the Frasier firs, even a Douglas fir!  Anything but the homely, scrawny little "corndogs" as we so derisively began to call the cedars.  I suppose in the spirit of the season, or the spirit of just getting us to shut up, our parents went along with us and from then on we had our bought tree.  Smug in our self satisfaction and conformity we all carried this on into adulthood and I must sadly admit it has been my one weakness, my one last holdout in my personal Christmas vigil against the rampant consumerism.  Boycott Black Friday?  Of course!  Handmade presents?  Certainly!  Have a local, native, unendangered tree?  Uuhhh, I think I smell the ham burning, excuse me please...Oh, I've used every excuse in the book; 'the firs are so pretty and they look like what a Christmas tree is supposed to look like!'  'I'm supporting a local merchant by buying one' and on and on and on.  But it all comes back to that little unspoken suggestion I learned as a child by observing, a little too closely, what other people have.  Cedar trees are what poor people have for Christmas trees.  In all of my unconventional life spent thumbing my nose at what society thought, I could not admit to myself my true aversion to this simple thing.  This simple and stupid thing. 

Why?  Well, I reckon you'd have to go back even further into the Southern mind and history to find that answer.  My guess would be that the South and it's people have far too long had their faces rubbed in their lacking.  Yes, things are catching up now but when I was a child the spectre of poverty still hung over most country folk like the pendulous moss in our ancient oak trees.  The appearance of having more than enough was very important.  Spare change to see a movie or indulge in the luxury of ice cream.  Not much to most city folk but it meant something to us.  So, being able to go out and buy a 'real' tree, as opposed to having to cut one you find in the woods, meant that you were doing okay, that you were not some country bumpkin that just didn't know any better.  It's a silly thing I know; you don't have to tell me.  But as Chigger and I hiked through the woods last week, just looking mind you, it occurred to me just how easily our society can take such a silly thing and twist and fold it into a spectacle ranking right up there with the whole idea of Christmas itself.  Yes, we are celebrating the coming of The One whose birth was so lowly even a occupied cattle stall would do but don't you dare drag that trash tree into my house!!  I can see the designers of Southern Living passing out now!  Somebody get the vapors!!

So, come this past Monday I requisitioned Jack and we trekked up the side of the mountain to where I had earlier spied a somewhat stately cedar tree.  Well, as stately as they can be...and we cut it down.  Lacking the horse, he drug it back to the house but that's one good thing about cedars, they are much lighter than the firs and they don't shed!  Very little anyway.  I still had a number of pottery orders to get out so it took me until yesterday to find the time but then I decorated it as a cold rain fell heavily outside.  Rain, not snow.  This is the South after all, where cedars and pines are our evergreens.  
Now, were certain people to come to my house for Christmas I know I'll be teased about this tree.  It's scrawny.  I mean, you can practically see right through it.  The lights don't sit on it quite right but then, lots of things don't sit on me quite right either.  But it's real and it's appropriate.  I am poor, by most of society's standards.  Dirt poor.  I've got bare plywood floors for goodness sake!  But I have my life firmly in my own grasp, not loaned out to some bank or faceless corporation and if I want to take the rest of the year off to relax and enjoy this holiday season, as we should, I can. 
But most importantly, as I gaze into the tree's golden light, I can see the reflections of so many family members, now passed on, in the shiny decorations and I can hear their laughter and I remember a time when we had so much fun dragging a scrappy ol' cedar tree into the house.  And we didn't pay a dime for it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Silent Sunday (well, not really)

 We've been getting some hard frosts but the broccoli is taking it all in stride and growing.  Supposedly it can take down to around 20 degrees F.

 Full occupancy!  First time I've seen this!

 Ms. BeaBea hiding out in the dusting box.  She's been molting so she's been keeping a low profile.  She almost seems embarrassed by what she looks like and doesn't want anybody to see her.  Bertha has been kind enough to stay with her and keep her company though.  They are the two oldest hens and pretty tight friends.

Interesting rock.  These are all over my land and range from golf ball size to truck size.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Overdue Update

 I had thought I might get some rest while I was "off work", so to speak, but things just keep piling up and multiplying.  On a good note, I am almost finished with all the orders for pottery and am now just making whatever I feel that people might like.  Small stuff mostly; pie plates, mugs, small bowls and such.  I have been so busy with this!  The kiln often does not even completely cool before another load is ramping up.  That's good though!
Unfortunately there is usually bad to go with the good however.  About a week or so ago I noticed one of the smaller meat chickens was out standing in a mud puddle, covered head to toe in mud and grime.  I had just been out to check on them about a half hour earlier so he hadn't been there long but he was obviously not well.  I have seen how vicious some of these chickens can be to the smaller ones and suspected one of the big ones had stomped on him a bit.  I actually saw a big one grab one of the smaller ones one day, by the nap of the neck, and sling that poor little chicken halfway across the pen.  Although I think it's a horrible practice, I can see why they sedate these chickens in a commercial environment.  5,000 of these monsters crowded in one place and you would have half of them dead in no time.  Anyway, I scooped the little feller up in a towel and took him into the basement where I gave him a warm bath and set him by the stove to dry.  Chigger came in to warm too and they hung out for a while.  It was apparent that the bird was messed up though and I wasn't sure what to do.  After a while he started to eat and drink but he couldn't stand up and was very quite.

The next day I noticed that another one was staying in the coop house and wouldn't come out.  Upon investigation I saw that it was having trouble walking but seemed fine otherwise.  This breed just has issues with their joints and tendons and this one's knee joint wasn't working well, so I brought it in to keep the other one company.  I gave him a bath too and he seems to really enjoy being a basement chicken!  He just chattered and talked the other one's head off.  I tried all kinds of treatment on the first chick but it just couldn't seem to recover.  It would eat but got to where it would not drink.  It could sit up, like you see here, but could only take a step or two and was always unbalanced and teetering around.  I suspect one of the bigger ones damaged it's neck maybe?  I hoped and tried so hard to help him recover but it just started to get worse and I was afraid the little guy was suffering, so I put it down.  The other, bigger one seemed to miss his buddy but is doing well now.  He stays near my pottery wheel while I'm working and chatters to me and Chigger, or whoever else may be around.  He has a VERY good appetite and eats well.  I have been massaging a healing oil into it's knee joints in an effort to keep him mobile.  We'll see.  I told Jack I feel kinda like the witch in Hansel and Gretel;  "Here my sweetie, eat this so you'll get plump and juicy!" 
And so, in more bad news, our sweet Emily (a young laying hen) died yesterday.  She was a good little Leghorn hen that had just started laying.  I never noticed anything to be wrong with her; she seemed the picture of health.  I went out to check on how many eggs we had and saw her on the nest, which is normal.  But she had her eyes closed.  I thought this was odd but when I petted her she stood up and clucked at me so I went back to the studio for a while.  I went back out maybe 45 minutes later and she was dead, laying in that same nesting box.  It's so hard to tell if a chicken is sick.  I examined her body but couldn't find the first mark or swollen spot or anything on her.  I mean, gushing blood or not eating or spitting up you can tell, but otherwise it's baffling.  So, we buried 2 chickens in 2 days.  I can take a good many things in life but I can't bear to see an animal hungry, sick or miserable.  I think we try to take care of ours the best we can but sometimes stuff still happens. 

Today is a rainy, dreary day but it's not cold at least.  Some of the production rush is over so it is a slightly lazy day.  I'll do a little more throwing today as the kiln cools off, keeping BC (basement chicken) company.  If the rains slacks off a little we might go walkabout to find a Christmas tree.  I noticed that the little corner market where I normally buy one has sold out, so, looks like this may be a homegrown Christmas for real!  I might even make out some of my Christmas cards and do a little shopping online tonight while somebody else is occupied with reading or such.  Tomorrow looks to be a nice day.  I must go into town to deliver yet another load of pottery and while we're there we thought we'd check out a couple of holiday markets and just generally piss around and enjoy ourselves.  Have a nice lunch somewhere; that sort of thing.  I'll try to get some photos!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Two Hands

During the past few years many of us have seen a huge surge in interest and production of handmade items.  Some of it due to disgust and revolt of the rampant, mass-produced hysteria of consumerism and some of it is simply due to unemployed people trying to make a living the best way they can.  As someone who has made a living with their hands for most of my life, there are several false notions out there that I would like to address so that if there are others out there considering crafts or such as an income source, that they would not be discouraged by people who have no idea what they're talking about spouting a bunch of crappola.
1.  You can't make a living with art/ crafts in a bad economy.  Well, I tell you, going by the number of orders I'm getting for my work right now, I'd never know things were not good in this country if I didn't read the news.  Yes, I understand that it is the holiday season and people are buying more and it will drop off after the first of the year but.....people are buying.  If you make a good quality product and market it in the correct area, people will buy it.  You might have to make smaller items, as I have had to do, but you will sell lots of these.  My big, expensive casseroles are not moving, at all, but I am overrun with orders for small dessert bowls, soup bowls, mugs etc. and am bringing in a substantial amount of money from that.  People are fed up, for the most part, with cheap crap from China and are looking for an alternative.  These are the people you want to focus on and find.  Forget about the rest.  They wouldn't appreciate your work if they had a million dollars because some people just do not get handmade.
2.  I'd never be able to make enough money off it to pay for my time.  Now, if somebody is using this excuse simply because they don't really want to try to market their stuff, then fine.  However, if anybody really believes this, then I'd have to call bulls**t on ya.  It all comes down to where and to whom you market your work.  Yeah, if you go to flea markets and crap trying to sell handmade sweaters for what they are actually worth then people are going to laugh you out of the place.  BUT, if you market your work through high-end consignment shops, galleries or other alternative markets you are likely to find many customers.  There are still lots of people out there with money and who usually appreciate hand made.  Now, it must be of very good quality.  Lots of people nag me about how picky I am on my work.  I cull my work and a defect means I have more stuff to make mosaics out of, if you get my drift.  Bring out the ol' hammer!  You must be ruthless in judging your work.  You may also have to go cities 100 miles (or more) away but if you can find a place or places who will accept a large enough inventory then it can be worth the drive.  If you choose to do craft shows, only do the ones that insist on jurying the work and I personally never do one if the entry fee is below $75.  This insures most all the entries are going to be from serious artists and craftspeople and you are not going to have to deal with somebody next door selling foam lizards on a stick.  (been there, done that.)
I know a number of successful craftspeople who make their living solely from their art, so it is possible.  One fellow, who lives not far from me, makes furniture and has for most of his life.  Now, one chair or small table can go for $2,000- 8,000, so it is art, not just any ol' stick chair.  But he makes his living with it.  Yes, he has to travel and be very selective about where he shows but once you make a bit of a name people will begin to seek you out.

The thing is, even if you just make quilted potholders or clay jewelry; if your craftsmanship is good and it is a quality product, there are places and people who would love to carry your work.  Think big, forget the flea markets.  The environment in which works are shown determines their value.  That doesn't seem right but it is so, I guarantee you. Don't sell yourself short.  Don't be shy.  Most shop owners are happy to look at stuff because they are always looking for that great new product or artist.  I will say one thing though; don't lug a giant box into their store or gallery without asking first.  Many galleries ask that you submit your work electronically these days but you can walk in and ask about their submission policies.
And of course, online is okay too but I find that most people still want to hold the object in their hand before purchasing when it comes to craft.  I do sell some work online but for the most part, in person is the way to go. 

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Free Bird

 Well, of course they are not completely free but for them, it's close.  The Cornish Rocks are doing pretty well but bless their little chicken hearts, they are dumb as a box of hammers.  However, they are happy as little 2-legged clams when they get out on the grass and get to run around and scratch a little.  It thrills their soul to be out in the sunshine too.  They are the first to storm out of the coop at dawn and the last to go in at night well after dark.  I hope their short little lives are enjoyable in a chicken kinda way.  I would like to let them roam the yard but since they are not the sharpest knife in the drawer, we are afraid they may not be able to find their way back to the coop at night. 
Thanks for all your comments on the last post.  It's all kinda funny sometimes when you think about how people are and that mainly, most people just don't think about how or why they live.  I have taken a bit of heat over these chickens too.  How could I be so CRUEL as to raise these precious things and then eat them?  But, it's somehow okay to eat chickens that come from a store that never see the light of day or a blade of grass and that are abused their whole lives.  Go figure.  I'm not trying to be a smartass really; it's just kind of astounding that people never think about that.  And I know that what they often mean is, how can I personally, end these creatures lives?  Well, it's not easy.  Jack and I don't enjoy doing that.  But it's a burden I'm willing to shoulder in order to not participate in the horrid abuse of other creatures.

So, on to better subjects!  We got our first double yolked egg!  Bea lays enormous eggs and it was one of hers.  After I first started advertising about selling eggs I wasn't sure if it was going to work.  Several days went by and I got no response at all.  So, I emailed a few more people and now I'm flooded with people that want them.  You what's funny though?  The rural people around here where I live don't want them.  You would think that these would be the people that would understand the benefits of homegrown eggs but other than Fred and Allen, nobody will touch them.  The people that want them are the city folk and they are even telling me I should be charging $4-5 /dozen!  I'm not going to do that necessarily; we just wanted to make up our feed cost.  So far we are only getting about 5-7 eggs a day but hopefully all 12 hens will be laying soon and there will be more coming in.  After talking to some of the people who were really excited to get the eggs I'm thinking that maybe I cold expand a little.  Maybe start my own little teeny CSA.  I don't know, it's something to think about.  I know one lady was real excited to hear that I have meat birds and was very interested in perhaps buying some.  We just got them for us; I didn't really think people would buy them but I guess it all depends on the people you market to. 
Well, I've got bread to bake and pottery to make so time to get off this computer! 
I hope ya'll are having a great weekend!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Cold Days To Come

 We didn't get any snow the other night but it has turned considerably colder since then.  As you can see, Chigger's favorite rope toy was a little stiff this morning!  She played with it anyway though.  That dog is a never-ending source of amusement.  If people could be so content with such simple pleasures we would all be much better off.  There was such a heavy frost last night that when I awoke this morning it almost looked like it had snowed.  I thought it would be a good morning for a little walkabout and Chigger is always agreeable to such.  She knows the word 'walk', so you have to be careful saying it in front of her.  She starts jumping and dancing around in anticipation.  she has free run of the place but won't go down the drive or some other places by herself so she really gets excited if she thinks you are going to take her down to the creek.

In the colder months it takes a little while before the sun begins to peep inside the house as it first must make it up over the ridge behind me.  Once it's over though, the sun floods into the house.

The creek is up a good bit right now due to the recent rains and it normally runs a little more during the winter.  I was trying to get some good shots and I just happen to find another piece of broken ceramic in the water.  It has a beautiful rich, green glaze on it.  I think it's curious that I find so many pieces of broken pots in this creek.

So, I think I'm getting back into the blogging swing.  I have to make another small confession.  I had gotten a bit discouraged while working out of town and had not felt as much a connection to the whole homesteading/ sustainability thing.  I think I did okay considering that I was living in a hotel, but it's very difficult to maintain a certain lifestyle in that environment and work schedule.  But mainly, people are by far the most discouraging aspect of the whole thing.  Now, my guys at work tease me unmercifully about eating tofu and all that but we have a lot of fun and I don't mean them when I say people are discouraging.  A few of them even told me over the course of my time there how lucky I was to be able to live like I do and not be a slave to a corporation.  But it's just the general attitude of the public and the white collar people that we interact with in the course of our work.  I was not prepared for that, especially in a university setting.  I don't go around telling people how I live because I know by now it is considered very weird but I will say a little something if someone asks me.  And people will ask because they know I only work at times and they see this or that.  I had a few ask me about how I ate and they just laauuughed, like I had told the funniest joke.  I'm sitting there thinking, "what did I say that was funny?"  They scoff and snicker a little if I said I would be glad to finish my work and go home.  Their eyes bugged out and they sputtered incomprehensibly when I said I didn't shop at Wal-Mart.  Or they would just stare at you and kinda slink off, like I had something contagious.  Over the past few years that I have been really trying to live with more of a conscience, I have been called various, unflattering names.  I've been accused quite often of thinking that I am better than everyone else. (This makes no sense to me)  And like I say, I generally don't talk about stuff unless someone asks.  Guess I should stop doing even that.  Anyway, I guess it kinda got to me and I began to think, "Is what I do really of any importance?  Does it make any difference at all?  Is there really any point to any of this sustainability stuff?"  Well, coming home, of course, reassured me that it does make a difference, even if just to me.  And I realize that people who make fun or criticize others for trying to do right are only doing it to cover their own guilt or shortcomings they feel and are not willing to face up to.  Well, really this is a whole 'nother post, as I often say but I had to write a little about that.  It just confounds me that people will be so ugly to others when it really doesn't make a hill of beans to them what I do.  Do any of you ever encounter these issues, or is it just something about me?