One of my favorite quotes is by J.R.R. Tolkien: "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." Here I'm giving glimpses of all I am deciding in the time that is given to me. Enjoy! All pictures and posts are mine, thank you! Please ask permission for photo use.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

morning magic

Morning Magic
By Natalie Ramirez

I sang with the stars
and drove west
to a fat harvest moon,
low in the sky,
a bright orange beacon
glowing in the cold autumn air.

The first golden streak
that pierced the horizon
transformed the dark indigo velvet
where Orion and Cassiopeia had danced
into a robin's egg blue sea
and painted the sky
with dappled pink clouds,
the color of cotton candy
at the state fair.

Golden leaves that glittered
as they fell
in patches of sun
that peeked through canopies
of green, red, orange, and brown
whispered morning magic
as black birds sailed
past fluffy white contrail.

I drove through rolling green hills
that saw the civil war,
past tracks where Southern served the south,
past crumbling silos and headstones,
into land
where some are awakening from deep, long sleep
as others slumber on.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

gaining ground

When I was younger, I desperately wanted to live on a farm. I also wished I had been born a boy, and much of that had to do with my intense dislike of dresses, barrettes, lacy socks, and the like. Plus, I liked the games the boys were playing on the playground (soccer, kickball, Batman) much more than I liked the girl games (hair braiding, hopscotch, "house," and dolls). I stopped wishing I were a boy a long time ago, but the appeal of a farm has never left me.

I wrote a story in the 5th grade, one that won a competition and allowed me to attend a young writers' conference at the local university. The story's setting? A farm.

During my years at university, I spent two summers working on a horse farm. The intense physical labor, the connection with nature, the exhaustion in my body at the end of the day, and the interaction with animals was nothing short of glorious.

Today, I like to support local, organic farms by choosing to purchase their goods at farmers' markets or my local organic market. One farm that I discovered at the Del Ray farmer's market is Smith Meadows. It's 75 miles from my home and, while I don't eat meat, I've encouraged my partner to purchase his meat from their booth since all animals are grass-fed, humanely raised, and not treated with hormones or antibiotics (and the pasture is not chemically fertilized or treated with pesticides). They also sell free range eggs from grass-fed hens as well as homemade pastas and sauces.

I was so excited when I learned that the lead farmer, Forrest Pritchard, wrote a book about his experiences of being born into a farming family, choosing to become a farmer himself, overcoming huge obstacles to achieve the success he has today, and learning how the earth takes care of itself when humans take care of it in turn.

I just finished the book yesterday afternoon and already feel like I could read it again. Fabulous writing coupled with fascinating stories (all true!) made for a really fun read. It's so much better knowing where our food comes from and it's comforting knowing that there are still farmers, unsubsidized by the government, that farm with integrity.

For anyone who ever dreamed about living on a farm and for those who want a closer look at farm life, working with the earth, and knowing where your food comes from, I highly recommend this book. You won't be able to put it down.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

a pie for a rainy day

It's a cold and super rainy October day, there's a leak in the ceiling, and I worked a 10-hour stretch. What else was there to do but go home and make a tofu pumpkin pie?

What do you do when you want a little lift on a grey and stormy day?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

walking down the aisle

I made a really difficult decision recently, one that required a lot of inner reflection, time to think, and bouncing my thoughts off of other, close, trusted individuals. I decided that I will walk myself down the aisle during my wedding ceremony.

I had already asked both my biological father and my stepdad to walk me. I hadn't even thought about the logistics of the whole thing. If I were holding flowers, would they link their arms in mine? With three people walking side-by-side (down a narrow aisle, at that) and a train involved, how would we avoid trampling the dress? Deep down, though, it wasn't about how the three of us would get it done. It was all about the feminist in me.

I hate labels. I really do. People associate certain ideas, memories/experiences, and stereotypes with labels. Someone recently told me I was a free spirit. Immediately my reaction was to cringe, even though I absolutely love the idea of me being a free spirit (and others being free spirits, too!). It's just that I've seen so many different labels misused and misunderstood that, even when someone is complimenting me, my first instinct is to rub it off like an unwanted kiss.

Ultimately, I have to admit that I am a feminist, whether others like it or not. I am an activist. I am a free spirit. And I really don't want anyone walking me down the aisle.

There are so many odd wedding traditions I think are outdated or horribly sexist, and others that are just plain gross to me. However, the idea of someone walking the bride down the aisle is, in my mind, a beautiful tradition. So many people have walked with me on the road to where I am today; the problem is that the number of family and friends who have walked with me is a HUGE number! Why does the father walk the bride down the aisle, and not the mother? How does my twin sister play into that, or some of my best girlfriends? What about my grandfather, my great-aunt, my high school teachers...? Better yet, what is the meaning of any of them walking me down the aisle in the first place?

To me, I feel it is a gesture meaning that person is giving me away. There are multiple reasons why I don't like the idea of someone "giving me away." I made it clear to my fiance, before he asked me to marry him, that he only had to ask me--not my parents. I've been independent for over nine years. I moved out of my parents' home just weeks after I turned 18 and never went back. I've been supporting myself for a long time, so why would my future husband ask anybody else but me permission to be his wife? Even though I could try and ignore the symbolism of my dads walking me down the aisle, my inner compass was telling me that it bothered me, a lot, and that I shouldn't ignore it.

I know I tend to resist traditions that are followed simply because "they've always been done that way." Still, making this change to the order of things and risking hurting the feelings of others was nothing I took lightly. Luckily, both of my dads are supportive of strong women, are not anti-feminists, and are extremely understanding guys. Both said that above all they wanted me to feel comfortable with all of my decisions and do what would make me the most happy on my wedding day.

I've heard a lot of really cool wedding traditions, and I've nothing against individuals doing what they want to do to celebrate their union, partnership, love, and commitment. The beauty of weddings is that you don't HAVE to do what people say you HAVE to can do whatever you want! Okay, unless your parents are paying for the wedding, in which case, I think you're probably out of luck. I truly believe that the more creative we are, the more fun we have. Our intention for our wedding day is to enjoy it simply and lovingly, and we really aren't incorporating many traditions into our ceremony or celebration. I definitely look forward to hearing about what others are doing or have done for their own weddings--traditions that I may or may not be able to share in but ones that I can appreciate nonetheless.

In the meantime, I'm so grateful for a huge weight to be lifted from me. Now, if I can just NOT step on the dress...