Pockets of the Future Blog

Striving to live now as all will live in the future.

Nov
24

Our Kefir Grains Are Spectacular Right Now

Posted by pockets

Our Kefir Grains are spectacular right now. For those of you that our interested in making your own kefir from grains here is a link to our kefir page. Below is a short video of our about are grains in their current spectacular condition.

If you are interested Contact us here.

If you would like to support the Pockets of the Future Project, prayers, encouragement and donations are always welcome.

 

Aug
02

And All That We Don’t See For Which We Could Otherwise Be Grateful

Posted by pockets

The other day I happened upon the below comment and it moved me very much. I am forever amazed at how little I know about anything including how much is done for me and provided for me by Him but about which I remain unaware. I long for greater sensitivity and awareness if, for no other reason, than to be able to be grateful for that much more.

The grace of God is the love of God, love manifested in innumerable blessings, known and unknown to us. Human beings live on Earth in their shells, mostly unaware of all the privileges of life, and therefore ungrateful to the Giver of them. In order to see the grace of God, one must open one’s eyes, raising one’s head from the little world that one makes around oneself, and thus see above and below, right and left, before and behind, the grace of God reaching one from everywhere in abundance. Hazrat Inayat Khan

It seems like our view of things is always so much more narrow than we think. Even of the good stuff. We long for so much and there it is before us and within us and yet we still don’t see it.

May we yield gracefully in our lives as our Higher Selves - our inner bits that are Him and Nature and All - draw us into circumstances and possibilities that will allow us to become aware and grateful for all that there is. May we do all of this and still get dinner on the table night after night. That is the real trick. Expanding on and on into endless gratitude while still harvesting the squash in a timely fashion, sweeping the kitchen every morning, and pouring love into each child no matter what. It is striving to achieve the delicate balance of inner and outer, however, that is exactly the minute-by-minute challenge that propels us forward the most quickly.

May we all harvest and sweep and love beautifully in gratitude for all that there is.

From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,
Leslie

If you would like to support the Pockets of the Future Project, prayers, encouragement and donations are always welcome.

 

Jun
23

A Bit of Appalachian Boiling Did the Trick!

Posted by pockets

I have been doing a lot of extra hand washing of laundry the last few days to make up for the weeks of rain we have just been through. Today I finished up by scrubbing and scrubbing an old, off white cotton polo shirt. I was getting pretty tired as using a washboard can be pretty rigorous exercise sometimes and my elbow was aching (washboard elbow anyone?) from all I had already done. That darn shirt was just not coming as clean as I wanted it to. Then I remembered something I had read in one of the Foxfire books. A family in one of the narratives mentioned washing their laundry in the creek and then boiling it for fifteen minutes before hanging it to dry. I figured that those Appalachian folks had gone to all of that extra trouble for a good reason as boiling laundry is certainly not easy in an already taxing life. It must have done something great for their laundry!

So I decided to give it a try. I boiled that shirt for fifteen minutes on top of the stove and it worked! The shirt looked much cleaner and whiter afterwords. I was delighted and happily hung this very clean shirt to dry in the sun.

I just thought I would pass on this little Appalachian-gleaned tip. It is so fun trying these simple measures for myself and discovering through personal experience that they really work. Perhaps you would like to try this one too.

From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,
Leslie

If you would like to support the Pockets of the Future Project, prayers, encouragement and donations are always welcome.

 

Jun
19

Beauty Springs Up in the Humblest of Places

Posted by pockets

Beauty springs up in the humblest of places, astonishing us and inspiring us to pause and imagine the possibilities.

 

lilly

 

Inexplicably, this beautiful lilly grows right next to the well casing within the cinder blocks that surround it.

lilly by well

 

Generally the boys use the cinder blocks as their “wood shop,” tucking away handmade tools and meaningful stones in the nooks and crannies. At this time of year, though, this area simply becomes the place where the lilly grows. We admire it as we pass by every morning and evening on our way to the milking barn. We all gaze at it and remark upon it. It refreshes us as it quietly goes about its flowery business. We don’t know how or why it is there but no matter - every day at this time of year we pause and imagine the possibilities.

From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,
Leslie

If you would like to support the Pockets of the Future Project, prayers, encouragement and donations are always welcome.

 

Jun
03

Oh Joy - A Box Full of Organic Veggies!

Posted by pockets

We are going through a very formative time of financial stringency these days. It has its place, I guess, because we learn that much more about faith, have that much more gratitude towards those who extend a hand, and experience that much more vividly just how much you really can do without and still survive well enough.

Just yesterday, though, I noted that we didn’t eat one single scrap of fruit or veg all day. What veggies we have are in the ground (!) so inaccessible to us at the moment. I don’t care so much about me on this score but I do want the children to have lots of vegetables while they grow. But fresh produce is like protein - expensive to buy. Never mind organic produce. Yikes.

So how amazing it was to receive a box of organic veggies from the Organic Vegetable Club in the mail today out of the blue! Look at this:

 

org veggies

 

Oh joy. Oh joy. What a lovely dinner we had tonight.

Thank you so much, dear sister. You lifted hearts as well as nutrition and taste levels. And, yes, organic produce really does taste better. And, yes, there is even some left for another couple of meals! Oh joy, oh joy!

From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,
Leslie

If you would like to support the Pockets of the Future Project, prayers, encouragement and donations are always welcome.

 

May
26

Something Simple YOU Can Do to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint (plus videos)

Posted by pockets

When it comes to reducing our carbon footprint, I find that the ideas and systems that get the most attention are always the big, expensive ones. They are always about electric cars, solar panels, wind turbines and other big ticket items which most of us can’t afford. Often the necessary work of changing how much energy we use gets lost in endless circles of ‘meta’ type discussions and nothing ever really gets done. There isn’t a lot of interesting information out there about what individuals and families can do in their real lives to reduce their personal footprints. Well intentioned people often have little to no idea about how or what they can do on a daily basis to conserve resources other than using compact fluorescent light bulbs and recycling plastic but there is so much more to do than that.

My family and I have been particularly focused on reducing our footprint, conserving resources, and living more simply for the past five years or so. Gradually we have implemented one simplifying and natural system after another with considerable success. Several months ago, my wife came across an incredible way to cook food that uses 20% - 80% less energy, increases nutrition of the food, saves time, space, money, resources, and electricity plus it lets you come home at the end of a long day to warm, well cooked food you don’t have to do anything to but serve. This way of cooking is called retained heat cooking, fireless cooking or cooking with a cook box or hay box. We use it practically every day now and it has made our lives a lot easier.

Scientifically speaking, “cooking” food is not really what most of us think it is. “Cooking” isn’t necessarily boiling or simmering food on your stove top, for instance, because technically food is being cooked whenever it is at 180° or higher. No matter what method you use to keep your food at a minimum of 180°, that food is cooking. You can accomplish this conventionally by setting your pot on a hot burner and continuously forcing heat up from the bottom of the pot over a long period of time until that food is completed cooked OR you can recognize that stove top type cooking is really done best as a two step process. In step one, you create a low insulation set-up in which you add heat to the pot and its contents until they are over 180°. In step two, you transform your set-up into a high insulation arrangement whereby that built up heat is retained in the pot so that it can proceed to cook the food gently and evenly with no additional energy input until that food is completely cooked. All the energy required for complete cooking has already been provided. You are just retaining it within the pot until it has done its work rather than allowing it to dissipate into the surrounding air. In other words, put ingredients in a pot, bring them to a boil, boil for 15 minutes or so, take the pot off the stove and then insulate it in a simple cook box or basket until the cooking cycle is completed. Depending upon what you are cooking, in anywhere from a half hour to several hours later, you can take a pot of piping hot, perfectly cooked food out of your cook box and serve it up just as it is.

My wife has just completed a 50 page e-book about this process entitled Retained Heat Cooking … The Wave of the Future Again: Discover how easy it is to make and use your own off-the-grid cook box to cook uncommonly good food of all kinds. It includes detailed instructions on how to assemble your own retained heat cook box as well as sections on the history behind this method of food preparation as well as the scientific principles behind how it works. She not only includes recipes and other cooking instructions but also a section on the importance of retained heat cooking in developing countries which are so often characterized by deforestation, shortages of potable water and grinding poverty. My family strongly believes that the resources we over-consume here has everything to do with the lack of enough resources elsewhere. So we feel happily compelled to use retained heat cooking regularly in our home as well as any other measures we can manage to reduce our load on the earth’s resources.

Putting together your own cook box can be as simple or as involved a project as you want it to be. Design specifications and ideas are in the e-book. You can make your own from boxes, baskets, drawers, or coolers and insulate with anything from hay, cardboard, or blankets to rice hulls or Styrofoam. Cook boxes are very simple to put together and can be made to fit your kitchen, your wallet and your design sense. You can probably get up and put one together right now from items lying around your house and use it to make a meal right away. That is what my wife did and we are still using that instant cook box she put together months ago. If you have a laundry basket or a similar sized box, an old comforter or sleeping bag or blankets, a few old towels and a trivet then you can can get started right now at reducing your energy bill.

While you are reducing your carbon footprint with retained heat cooking, you will be reducing your energy costs as well. Cook box cooking saves 20% - 80% of your energy costs over stove top cooking, with the most savings coming from long cooking foods like grains, beans and meats. The food in a cook box is cooked slowly over a longer period of time which is actually the most beneficial way to cook many foods. Cooking at a lower temperature preserves nutrients, releases flavor, and increases digestibility. We have learned through personal experience that food cooked by the retained heat method comes out perfectly every time with each ingredient done just right.

The only real adjustment that most people will have to make to use a cook box is to plan meals in advance and start cooking them ahead of time. In the instantaneous microwave world that we now live in, this may appear to be difficult but it really isn’t. Besides it is a small adjustment to make so you that you can help to reduce your contribution to global warming, overconsumption of water and other negative environmental damage. Any little changes many of us make can add up to big changes that can reverse our current disastrous course. All of us pitching in with such small changes is basically mandatory at this point. We are going to have to make adjustments. Making the adjustment to retained heat cooking is easy because it costs nothing to implement and makes the food taste better anyway.

In terms of our 50 page e-book, Retained Heat Cooking … the Wave of the Future Again, it is available at our Bamboo Grove Press website for $5.95. My wife is an incredible researcher and a great cook. Her e-book has all of the information you need about how and why retained heat cooking is the best available method for cooking most of your food. My wife has also released a shorter 10 page e-book about solar cooking entitled On Your Way Towards Solar Cooking:The Why’s and Wherefore’s of Solar Cooking in Brief priced at $1.99. In this book you get a brief overview of solar cooking along with over 50 links to all the information you need about solar cooking, buying a commercial cooker or building your own, solar cookbooks and more.

Please forward this post and links to these e-books to anyone you know who might be interested in cooking with a cook box, improving the taste and nutrition of their food, and reducing their carbon footprint with virtually no start-up investment. It will improve their lives and help the earth tremendously.

Below are two videos we made about our experiences with fuel efficient, retained heat cook box cooking. I hope you enjoy.

All the best,
Paul

 

If you would like to support the Pockets of the Future Project, prayers, encouragement and donations are always welcome.

 

May
15

Announcing the Release of Our First Two Bamboo Grove Press E-books!

Posted by pockets

Bamboo Grove Press is the publishing arm of Pockets of the Future and today we are releasing our first in a potentially nearly endless series of e-books on a wide range of subjects related to natural living, homesteading, herbalism, homeschooling, old paths/new ways of thinking, innovative building techniques, frugality, preparedness from the inside out and the outside in and so on. I am so excited to have our first two e-books ready for you that as I share this, I am trying to type and jump up and down at the same time!

Our first e-book is:

Retained Heat Cooking … the Wave of the Future Again


by Leslie Romano

Discover how easy it is to make and use your own off-the-grid cook box to cook uncommonly good food of all kinds. This is a frugal, time honored method of cooking that saves time, space, money, resources, nutrition and electricity. Includes sections on the history and science of retained heat cooking, how to make and use your own cook box, tips and suggestions based upon personal experience, recipes, related homeschooling ideas and ten incredible advantages to cooking highly nutritious, perfectly cooked food with this natural, easy to implement retained heat cooking method. Only book of its kind on the market. 50 pages. $6.99

Our second e-book is:


On Your Way Towards Solar Cooking: The Why’s and Wherefore’s of Solar Cooking in Brief
Plus Over 50 Links to Solar Cooking Information, Reviews, Directions for Building Your Own, Places to Buy Commercial, and Cookbooks From Which to Make It All Happen


by Leslie Romano

Once you discover the significant benefits of cooking in ways other than on an industrially made stove in an electrified kitchen, you just can’t stop! Here on the farm, we have become so enamored with retained heat cooking that we are eager to learn more ways to cook alternatively. Solar cooking will be our next endeavor. Become more prepared and more self-sufficient through solar cooking. This e-book will get you started with a brief overview of the why’s and wherefore’s of solar cooking as well as over 50 links to all the resources you need to make solar cooking an effective way to save energy and cook nutritious food for you and your family. 10 pages. $2.50

 

More titles in the works:
We have several more e-books already in the works on a special herbal tea you can forage yourself that provides surprising benefits, easy to make herbal personal care powders, and the wonderful benefits of raising rare breed livestock on your family farm or homestead. And those are just the titles we have already started writing.

If there are subjects you would like to see addressed by us in e-book format, please leave a comment and let us know or contact us personally.

This is so fun! Come join us. There is much to learn and share.

From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,
Leslie

If you would like to support the Pockets of the Future Project, prayers, encouragement and donations are always welcome.

 

May
12

Thank You So Much with a Farm Fresh Mother’s Day Bouquet

Posted by pockets

 

I want to thank all of you wonderful readers and supporters with a big bouquet of beautiful flowers still dewy from a morning on the farm in the mountains. Your uplifting comments mean so much and thanks to you our computer bill was paid for the year. Thank you for your generosity.

My husband and children went out into the yard and picked this bouquet for me on Mother’s Day morning. I want to share it with you as a token of my gratitude and esteem for you all.

 

flower basket

 

Here is to another blooming year together filled with the color and scent of natural living.

From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,
Leslie

If you would like to support the Pockets of the Future Project, prayers, encouragement and donations are always welcome.

 

Apr
02

Our First Upcoming E-book and a Call for Donations

Posted by pockets

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Our annual computer hosting bill is upon us. This is the fee we pay to keep all of these web sites and blogs on the web and freely available to you. This is a very challenging financial requirement for us to meet on top of everything else. Please help us keep the Pockets of the Future project going and all of this information and experience available to all by making a donation of any size.

We also want to say that we are taking a brief pause from blogging while we complete our first e-book on a homesteading, simple living topic that has already proved to be of great interest. We should be finished up shortly and back to blogging in no time.

Stay tuned and thank you for your continued interest and generous support,
Paul and Leslie

If you would like to support the Pockets of the Future Project, prayers, encouragement and donations are always welcome.

 

Mar
22

Society, Love and Homesteading

Posted by pockets

I just reconnected with a dear friend I met overseas 20 years ago and haven’t seen since. I am quite delighted by this unexpected event. She is an interesting, artsy sort of person who likes to contemplate big questions and then fold her discoveries into film making. These days she is contemplating this: how does society destroy love? I have been thinking about this question of hers for several days. I think it has captured my imagination because it frames what we constantly think about and talk about here at Pockets of the Future a little differently than we usually frame it and that slight difference is shedding light for me.

What is the ground from which love springs? To start with, I believe that love and the ability to love (not be attached, mind you, but actually love) are natural to us. The ability to recognize love and be love is part of our Original Design. Therefore that which is unnatural takes us away from love and, given enough time and force, eventually destroys it. The ground of love is also characterized by simplicity, intimacy, and awareness. The atmosphere of love is one of purity and desirelessness. There is a timelessness to love and with that comes the ability to wait and to perceive correctly.

Love holds you accountable beyond all other ideas or obligations. It requires of you the maximum in all ways in terms of willingness, cooperation, patience, sacrifice and acceptance. Not because that which is loved demands those things of you but because your own loving heart demands those things of you. Love itself demands those things of you.

Within love, there can be no force, no willfulness, no profligate excess, no flagrant disconnection, no distraction, no noise. As long as love holds sway, any such tendencies will be thrown up to the surface to be washed away for there is no place for them. The ripples they cause within the ocean of love are disruptive. The ocean of love is mighty and moves to roll over and over such tendencies until they are polished back into love.

Ideally, human society would reflect the Original Design just as individuals most thrive by reflecting the Original Design. What would such a natural society look like? I have no idea. I have thought about this question since I was in graduate school studying social policy and yet I still have no idea. That is the unvarnished truth.

I do know, though, that it would not look at all like what we have going on right now. The goals of present day human society do not include anything to do with love, never mind fostering love. In fact I would go further and say that the goals of present day human society run precisely counter to love. Or perhaps it is ultimately the most accurate to say that love runs counter to virtually all aspects of present day human society and it is because of this and this alone that a great correction is in the offing.

The keywords characterizing present societies run along the lines of domination, profit mongering, control, an obsessive pursuit of physical comfort, fear, placation, instant gratification, ignorance, denial of reality, destruction of all natural resources both within and without, specialization, learned helplessness, disconnection - in short, immorality. Human society is built around taking from nature what nature is not designed to give over the long run. Human society is built around procuring for humans what is not in the best interest of humans to have. And it forcibly denies (both in terms of acknowledging and in terms of allowing) humans access to what is natural, right, congruent, loving.

I have been thinking of the specifics of this in terms of the life cycle. Pregnant women are “managed” and made to answer to the medical system of childbirth. Their access to appropriate care takers, foods and medicines and the time and atmosphere most suitable for pregnant women is regulated and denied them. Childbirth itself is an event dominated by technology and control which is by far and away not in the best interest of mother and infant. The powerful spiritual opportunity the natural intimacy between mother and infant provides and which is the foundation of the family, healthy childhood development and so on is methodically denied and destroyed.

Intimacy is a very delicate state. I remember back to when I had my first baby. My parents came to visit when she was just a couple of weeks old. Now my parents had never been interested in or supportive of children or family or marriage. Those things held little value for them. They were well traveled, educated people who needed to be entertained. They were not the kind of parents who came to help out. Rather they came to eat the best food and see the most interesting sights in the area and so on. Oh right, and see the baby. Now up to the point of their visit, my intimacy with my daughter was total but by the time my parents left three days later, not only was I exhausted but I detected a slight shift in myself. Even though my baby girl had been in my arms the whole three days, my attention had been forcibly drawn elsewhere and this had created a slight space in our intimacy. I only had the opportunity to see this because I went back to my old quiet ways with her immediately upon their leaving. The space was filled back in with loving intimacy right away because I saw it. This was an incredible revelation to me - the delicacy of intimacy. Whatever direction we start in, we tend to continue on with. A slight space or rift in our attention, our connection, our intimacy will lead to a rift and thence to distance unless we take corrective action. But to do that you have to see it and to see it, you have to stop and feel and take note and that society does not want us to do. This subtle intimacy is true of all important relationships (familial, spiritual and so on) and it brooks no master other than love itself. I don’t think many of us can even imagine any longer what it means to live within a web of truly intimate relationships.

We could go on and on through the entire life cycle like this. People get married at odd times and have children at even odder times in order to accommodate educational and professional schedules. Children are sent to schools to be tooled to fit into the industrial/technological economic model. Mothers and fathers are both out in the workplace earning and earning and earning. Families live in houses that are too big and filled with too much technology that fosters individual isolation rather than family togetherness and which sit empty most of the time. Health care revolves around technology, rules, ignorance and profit with natural, simple, timely approaches to health problems frequently outlawed. Care and instruction about health, child rearing and virtually all other endeavors of daily life comes from so-called experts and not from trusted family members or elders of the community. Older people are shuffled off into buildings and systems designed to manage them away from the hustle and bustle of a profit oriented society. And the land and nature? No connection whatsoever any more. Nature has been objectified into a sometimes recalcitrant provider of resources owed to the owners of production. People do not even know how to eat any more so how can they be expected to love? All relationships have been fractured. Society and, perhaps, particularly American society, pitches towards the system and away from intimacy, love and connection at all points of the day and the life cycle. As my husband frequently notes, present day society rewards sociopathic behavior and calls men with soft hearts weak. Many others note that highly intelligent, well educated women who choose to give themselves up to love and intimacy at home are said to be wasting their educations and lives. Where would love and intimacy, simplicity and awareness even come from under such conditions?

This kind of list is not new at all. What is new to me, however, is thinking of this endlessly negative list of how society functions so unnaturally as society methodically destroying love. And destroy love it must. You cannot control people who live by the dictates of love. When people are firmly grounded within familial and spiritual love and intimacy, they will not choose to sacrifice their ways of live in order to buy widgets. When people live close to the land in grateful reciprocity, they will not be as inclined to listen to foolishness. They know better. They still listen to their hearts. They can still recognize, at least a little bit, the difference between natural and artificial and know from long experience that natural is always better in the long run. (This pivots to a certain extent upon how you define the word natural which is a surprisingly interesting topic I will save for another post some day.)

All of this brings me to the vibrant reason we homestead here and homeschool and meditate and do so many other of the things that we do and talk about. We want real food, yes. We believe in our rights to self-determination from a political standpoint and revile NAIS or the watering down of the definition of organic or any attempts to control homeschooling and bring it back into the fold of profit and control, yes. We want our children to learn real life skills like milking a cow or reading the weather or designing and creating what they need for their daily lives themselves, yes. We know from experience that a life with a balance of physical efforts along with mental and all other efforts is a healthier life, yes. We can go on and on with this list too of why homesteading and homeschooling and slow cooking real food and living simply and so on are life affirming choices that promote intimacy and quiet awareness.

But really we homestead and homeschool to preserve love. We homestead and homeschool to preserve our family, to preserve our beautiful intimacy, to preserve our Divine heritage. We homestead and homeschool and live simply in order to have the space to create community, to create the quiet within which to hear what comes next, to create the future.

Someday, someday the phrase “society, love and homesteading” will not be a study in contrasts. Someday “society, love and homesteading” will be a phrase of natural congruity. And when that day comes, that phrase “society, love and homesteading” will be reduced to one single all important word.

Love.

The rest won’t matter. Societies and ways of life will be original, natural expressions of love and gloriously un-noteworthy because there will be just that one word and that will be enough.

From the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia,
Leslie

If you would like to support the Pockets of the Future Project, prayers, encouragement and donations are always welcome.

 

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