Category Archives: North Carolina

Knowing Our Farms

Twice every year, the people responsible for my CSA organize the Know Your Farms Tour; a weekend in which area farms are open to the public.  We packed the car with friends, snacks and a cooler for fresh produce and hit the road.

Most of these farmers were around my age, which was surprising and inspiring.  As much as I crave life in the Concrete Jungle, there’s always been an inkling for land.  And I have no idea how to reconcile these two wants.

Food is a precious commodity and I’m extremely grateful for these farmers.  I listened to them talk about not having enough water, having too much water, insect infestations and overwhelming financial instability.

I’ve been thinking a lot about a personal challenge regarding finances and food.  The details are still coming together and I will share them with you soon.

Until then, enjoy the pigs:


Posted by on 8 October 2012 in CSA, North Carolina, Photographs, Video


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8 May

8 May is Primary Day in North Carolina.

We will be voting on whether we want to keep a racist homophobic crazy person in office and if we want to elevate a moron to the federal level.

There is also something of great importance on the ballot:  Amendment One.

Gay marriage is already illegal in North Carolina, but this would define marriage as only between one man and one woman and adding said definition to the State Constitution.

Other than this Amendment being complete and utter crap, it is so poorly written with vague language that it could legally jeopardize the relationship status of unmarried heterosexual couples and homosexual couples with civil unions.  It is unnecessary and blatantly discriminatory and I was so pleased to read this New York Times editorial that ripped it to shreds and this fantastic column by a local journalist.

(Note: if you want to lose all faith in humanity, read the comments following Tommy’s column.  Then pour yourself and drink or two and let me know when you come out of the fetal position).

As you may imagine, the rhetoric regarding this vote has been vile and abusive.  But, this is the South.  Religion and politics mix freely; politicians openly discuss how their God is better than your God and clergy tell their congregations how to vote.

That brings me to Pastor Sean Harris of Berean Baptist Church.  This past Sunday (29 April), Pastor Harris gave a sermon advocating fathers to punch their sons should they display any behavior that could be interpreted as effeminate.  He also said to “reign in” girls that were “acting butch” by reminding them how to be girls: look pretty and smell nice.

All of this in the name of God.


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A cold-ish drizzle has been dripping in Charlotte for a few days.  I enjoy this for a few reasons:

  1. It obviously reminds me of home
  2. Charlotteans freak out and remain indoors and find leftover wood to…
  3. Start fires; I love the look and smell of smoke coming from chimneys

I’ve recently started a new volunteering gig at a nearby botanical garden.  I’m a greenhouse grunt and though I may be familiar with growing edibles, the extensive variety of plants and flowers at the garden are daunting; I’m way out of my comfort zone.

In the past two weeks I’ve also been chased by an amorous wild turkey, wielded a machete, dug up 800 tulip bulbs, was surrounded by a deranged flock of Canada Geese, accidentally frightened some tourists, help plant flowers in three enormous landscaped areas and learned to identify three weeds previously unknown to me.

The people have been gracious and kind and not meaning to draw parallels, none of them are from the region.  They have formed a little tribe, devoted to beautifying and maintaining a stunning piece of land in place that does not belong to them for people who do not want them here.



Posted by on 25 April 2012 in North Carolina, The South


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>Because I Could Not Stop for Death


Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.
We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labour, and my leisure too,
For his civility.
We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.
We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.
Since then ’tis centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity.
– Emily Dickinson
Rest in peace, Elizabeth Anania Edwards.

Posted by on 7 December 2010 in Condolences, North Carolina, Sadness


>The Neighborhood


The South sure loves her fireworks.  Just as New York City will take any excuse to have a parade, the natives of these parts will blow shit up at the mere idea of ‘merica!  I’ve never seen anything like it; nothing says, “Hooray for the Nation’s Work Force!” like my unemployed, intoxicated, neighbors waving sparklers in the street.



Late last night, while watching television, the channel was interrupted by a very official looking man that had this to say:

“Residents of Union County: TAKE COVER!”

Considering Union County is adjacent to the county I live in, I took interest. There had been flood watches most of the evening as some areas were being pelted with rainfall up to two inches an hour. But, “TAKE COVER!” was something new.

The official looking man then issued a tornado warning. Over the last year and a half that I’ve lived in Charlotte, I have quickly learned to brush off (insert natural disaster here) watch because my neighbors never seemed to take issue with them. However, we’ve yet to have an (insert natural disaster here) warning. This was a whole new ball game.

Watch is defined as “We gonna get some rain, y’all.”
Warning is defined as “The Four Horsemen just rode into town. And. They. Look. PISSED!

Charlotte was between two very serious storms. One to the East and the other to the Southwest; both were Northeast-bound meaning the second (and more severe) of the two weather patterns was heading right towards Charlotte. The National Weather service had detected “revolving clouds” in the second storm and stated “a tornado was attempting to form”.

Not really knowing what to do, I fired off text messages bequeathing my shoes to a sister and a reminder to friends that I wanted to be cremated. As you see, I was quite calm and rational about the whole thing. My friends and family also indicated their level of concern by either ignoring my messages entirely or replying, “Let me know if you land on a Wicked Witch. Have fun!”

Note to self: make new friends.

Obviously, I lived. My backyard took a beating; 10 inches of water moved a few items around (including a rather heavy planter containing a blueberry bush. Don’t know how I’m going to get that back into place) and the city only suffered a few downed power lines and tree damage. A funnel cloud never fully formed or touched down, but this made me realize that we are totally unprepared for any natural disaster. Today my goal is to assemble an emergency kit and develop a disaster

Emergency Kit
All items are to be stored in large waterproof containers except water

  • Food/Kitchen Supplies

*Water: 1 gallon per day per person (plan for three days)
* Pre-cooked, ready to eat meals, ie: canned meats, peanut butter, instant soups/oatmeal, dehydrated fruits/vegetables, crackers/cereals stored in airtight canisters, granola bars, nuts.
* Avoid salty foods that may cause unnecessary thirst
* Choose foods with high liquid content
* Manual can-opener
* Plastic cutlery/dishes/basic serving utensils
* Comfort foods: instant coffee, tea bags, hard candy

  • Supplies

* Portable, battery powered radio and extra batteries
* Flashlights and extra batteries
* Waterproof matches, or matches stored in waterproof bag/container
* Candles
* Waterproof/laminated map of area; indicate location of emergency shelters, hospitals, police and fire stations
* Trash bags
* Blankets/sleeping bags: one per person
* Flares
* Utility knife
* Rubber gloves
* Safety pins
* Paper and pens/pencils

  • First Aid/Personal Supplies

* Medications: antacids, anti-diarrhea, pain/fever: ibuprofen (Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol) and/or naproxen (Aleve), antiseptics: iodine and/or antibiotic ointment (Neosporin)
* Hand sanitizer
* Bandages: various sizes
* Medical adhesive tape
* Gauze
* Soap
* Toothpaste/toothbrushes
* Tweezers
* Hairbrush
* Scissors
* Feminine hygiene products
* Toilet paper

  • Documents

* Photocopy: identification, bank information, credit cards, titles/deeds, pertinent government documents
* List of pertinent medical history: medications, diseases/conditions, physician information
* Emergency contact information

  • Extras

* Cooking supplies: camping pot/pan, camping stove, propane tank(s)
* Fire starter: old Armed Forces trick is to use cotton balls and petroleum jelly (Vaseline). Keep in an airtight canister.
* Hydration salts
* Water purification tablets
* Surgical/dust masks
* Sling and splint
* Instant ice/heat packs
* Fire extinguisher: know how to use fire extinguisher
* Travel size board games, decks of cards, books
* Children: coloring books, crayons, small toys
* Plastic bags/storage containers (gallon size/Tupperware)
* Tarp
* Extra seasonal clothing
* Prescription medications
* Extra sets of eyeglasses and/or contact lenses: include lens solution and storage container
* Cash/change
* Extra set of house/car keys
* For baby: diapers, wipes, formula, juice, food, pacifier, bottles, clothing, blankets
* For pets: food, water, leash, crate, vaccination information

Disaster Plan

* Where is the safest place to be during an earthquake/hurricane/tornado/flood in your dwelling?
* Where will your family meet in the event of a disaster? Choose location near your home and another outside of your neighborhood.
* Establish an out of town contact person and make sure everyone in your house knows how to contact them and what information to give.
* Plan and know an evacuation route to nearest shelter.
* Plan and know an alternate evacuation route to nearest shelter.
* Shelters may not always accommodate pets on site. Know where to take your pets and have appropriate documentation attached to their crates.
* Know your neighbors’ special skills (medical and technical).
* Do any of your neighbors or family members have disabilities or will require extra assistance?
* Locate emergency shut-off valves for gas, water, etc and know how to use them.

For those interested: check with your municipal government offices or local fire department for regional specifications that may apply to you (coastal areas may need to have rafts/life vests, mountain areas may need special supplies for snow/ice, etc). This list was comprised of the recommendations I found online from Mecklenberg County (where I live), FEMA and a great website called 72 Hours which is full of easy-to-follow, precise information about preparing for a variety of disasters.

Be sure to note the expiration dates of the food in your kit. I have set up electronic notices to myself one month before they expire so they can be used. Also note the expiration dates of any medications; I plan on using travel size medications as to not waste large quantities. Finally, according to Energizer, their Max Alkaline Batteries have a shelf life of seven years (in the package).

I will post photos and keep everyone informed about how my kit is coming along. Good luck and be safe!


Posted by on 25 January 2010 in Charlotte, Community, Emergency, North Carolina, Weather


>To-Do List: Write a Letter to Congress

>20 November 2009

Senator Richard Burr

217 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Burr,<!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>

I am writing to express my deep regret in learning of your opposition to the healthcare bill introduced by Senate Democrats on 18 November 2009.

Currently, it may not be a perfect plan, but I find it unfair that, by your own admission on 19 November 2009, you had not read the Bill completely before promising to “work to see that it does not become law”.

Perhaps my writing to you is also about my growing dissolution and disappointment with members of Congress. There seems to be a vast unwillingness to move forward and accomplish anything that does not comply with a “my way or no way” style of legislating. The poor leadership and continued political posturing of this Congressional Session only allows for your uninsured constituents in North Carolina to suffer.

Please reconsider your stance and honestly recognize the millions of Americans that are all waiting for anyone to take the first step towards achieving something truly great.

Regards<!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>,

Jessica Eiden Smedley<!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>


Senator Richard Burr

2000 West First Street, Suite 508

Winston-Salem, NC 27104


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