30 June 2009

Prostitution...Wha Wha What?

About a month ago, I was interviewed by JJ Stambaugh from the Knoxville Sentinel about my views of prostitution. He was referred to me by city councilman, Rob Frost.

About a year ago, I wrote a series of letters to our local weekly, The Metro Pulse, to comment about an article on restoration in the center city of Knoxville. The original article had a business owner complaining about the prostitutes who parade in front of his business. The business owners reaction was to arrest them all and throw away the key.

I felt miffed by his ignorant statement. At the time, I had finished a series of prostitution research for a neighborhood task force that we enacted to find solutions to the problem in our neighborhood. After a month or two of research, I realized the solutions, so I wrote my response which was a very long and breathy letter.

Someone from Asheville, NC retorted me and stooped to name calling by labeling me a "short sighted prude." So I wrote a second letter. This is probably how Rob Frost came to know that I am very vocal on the subject of prostitution.

I had a very nice interview with JJ Stambaugh, and his three series article had been quite informative, educational and well-written until today's paper came out and he completely misquoted and misrepresented the neighborhood in which we live.

You can read today's article here:

Prostitution a nuisance to businesses, neighborhoods

I have written a comment at the end of the article on the News Sentinel website. I encourage you to jump in and tell Mr. JJ and the News Sentinel that the Parkridge neighborhood was GROSELY misrepresented.

28 June 2009

Purification: Prayer and Sweat

This is for my friend, BB Mumblings who couldn't go with me last night. She claims that she got caught up on the river in her kayak, but I know for a fact that she was really in some trucker bar off Govenor John Sevier Highway drinking ice cold Millers and smoking Marlboros.

Last night I went to a purification ceremony led by my friend, Chaska, a Dakota Native American. I did not plan to journal this experience, so I didn't enter the realm in a journalistic frame of mind. I, instead, tried to remain clear minded and open to the experience.

When I arrived, a three men were preparing the site and fire, and I quickly jumped in to help assemble the sweat lodge.

Chaska came out after some time and spoke to us at great length intermingling stories of his own life with general life lessons and native teachings.

Chaska had told me to bring two towels and wear comfortable sweat pants and a top. I donned a thin pair of cotton capri yoga pants and a tank top, which ended up being the perfect amount of clothing. It was comfortable without being overbearing, but I know for next time not to bring such thick or big towels.

Before going into the lodge, Chaska and the others were gracious in their instructions to me, a new comer. I truly felt like a young child embarking on a new adventure with protocols that were unfamiliar. For example, I didn't know that participants bring gifts of tobacco to the singer (Chaska) and the firekeeper. Oops. I had also been told that I may see flying lights or orbs during the ceremony. I was also forwarned about the not so pretty side which is snot running from the nose and coughing stuff from the lungs. That's what one of the two towels is for. The other is for wiping the sweat. A small dish towel would be sufficient for a snot rag and a handtowel might be suffient for the second towel. I was grateful to have a thick towel which I folded to sit on.

Chaska told us that during the purification ceremony, we didn't pray for money or material things for ourselves, but we prayed to the spirits and our ancestors for our family, friends and loved ones. We pray for health and happiness. We go into the hut to humble ourselves and make ourselves pitiful so our ancestors and the spirits will help us.

Before going in, Chaska showed us all a medicine bag that he made for a Dakota medicine man, but the medicine man died before the gift could be given to him. He explained that during a ceremony, the bag, which sounds like a rattle when shook, laid outside the hogan by the door where an alter of sorts was erected. During song, he could here the rattle. Towards the end of the round, the ground shook, and no one knew what it was. When he finished singing and the person went out to get more rocks for the pit, he asked, "Is someone shaking a rattle?" Everyone responded no. They found the medicine man's medicine bag in the water and not on the ground where he left it. The above sequnce happened three more times with each time the medicine bag ending up in the water. Chaska took that as the deceased man declaring that he wanted to be invited into the ceremony. Since then, the bag also enters the hut. It has been known to fly around during ceremony.

We entered the lodge, saying, "All my relations," or, "Mitakuye Oyasin" (pronounced mi-TAWK-wee-a-say) which is a way of honoring our ancestors and is a prayer of oneness and harmony with all forms of life. It reminds us that we are connected to these other aspects of Creation, that we share a common kinship in the cycles of creation and life. We entered the hut in a counter clockwise direction with Chaska in the front circling all the way around to his seat by the door followed by four more and with myself at the rear next to Chaska on the other side of the entry door. There was a space between us where the hot rocks were brought to the fire pit in the middle. We sat on blankets on the ground. I'm sure that Chaska put me by the door in case I freaked out and needed to leave. He never said this, but it was a wise strategy.

The fellow handling the rocks brought in ten rocks per Chaska's instruction. While he did this, Chaska tossed sage onto the rocks. After the rocks were in place, the rock handler climbed in and shut the door. He crawled past me and took the seat immediately to my left. Once the door was closed, we sat in complete darkness except for the glowing rocks.

Chaska gave some instruction that we would have three rounds. During the first round he told us to focus on our loved ones and purification, but not to pray which we would do during the second round. He, then sang in his native tongue with everyone else who knew the words joining in.

I soon heard the rattle and when I looked towards the direction of its sound, I saw an orb of greenish yellow light, between the size of a golf and tennis ball, enter the hut at the door and go to the area where the I heard the medicine bag shaking.

Chaska continuously played the drum and sang. I heard the medicine bag flying around. I saw yelowish sparks in the fire pit. Using a buffalo horn, Chaska poured the spring water onto the rocks, and things really heated up. He explained that the rocks are the oldest things on this planet and hold ancient wisdom and knowledge. He prayed that as the water hit the rocks that their wisdom would some out in the steam and heat which he instructed us to breathe in. He said to breathe in through the nose and out the mouth as well as in the mouth and out the nose.

After the water hit the rocks, the sweat began to pour from my body, and I told myself not to freak out. Chaska was good at warning me to let me know every step. I felt that I could handle it, but when in the heat of things, the mind can become powerful and try to enact the flight reaction.

Each round can go for an indefinate amount of time. Each round is determined by the singer who gets his cues from the spirits. The protocol is to follow each session and prayers with, "Mitakuye Oyasin." At the break, only the rock handler goes outside. He opens the back of the hut and the front door to give us some cool air, but we all remained in the hut. Chaska passed around water served in the buffalo horn.

Last night, each round was successively shorter, but this may not always be the case. We went for a total of four. The second and third rounds, we spent in prayer. While Chaska played the drum, we chanted and said our prayers all at once outloud. Everyone spoke at once and was aborbed in his or her own prayer, so even if one was standing outside the hut, no one could distinguish what was said. In the fourth round, we all gave thanks.

We exited the hut inthe same counter clockwise manner. My big towels were a bit cumbersome, because I had to crawl all the way around to exit whereas I had an easy climb in just stopping at that first seat. Upon exit, each one said, or tried to say in my case, "Mitakuye Oyasin." (I quickly added an, "All my realtions," to make up for my poor tonque and pronunctiation.)

We ended with a handshake to all and a gracious, "Thank you," to each other.

A few folks went in for a fifth round, but I just laid on my towel, spent, yet exhilarated. As far as I could tell, we were in the ceremony for about two hours.

After everyone exited, we sat together and shared a meal.

And, then, I got in my car and headed back to town.

19 June 2009

Bad Blogger. Bad Blogger.

Wow. I have been a bad bad blogger. Nothing in a week? I need to get on it.

I haven't been thinking about anything too deep. I've been quickly plugging through the Artemis Fowl book series by Eoin Colfer. It's easy reading and keeps my mind in a fun place. Pure summer indulgence reading filled with high tech fairies, an evil teenage villain and stabs at humans' Earth eco mess. I wonder when the movies will come out.

Last week, we went to see the synchronized fireflies. They don't synch in a way that is off/on off/on. It's more like it is all dark for about ten seconds, then one firefly lights up, then hundreds light up...blink, blink, blink, blink...fast and furiously...then quiet.

The males blink trying to attract the females down on the ground. To explain it to Blue, we said that the boys were looking for girlfriends, that one would blink and the others would be all like, "Oh, I better blink, too, or I'm not going to get a girlfriend."

The Smoky Mountains are well known for their plentiful water, but with all the rain this year, the creeks and rivers were really MOVING.

This is one of my favorite creek pictures. It's where Jake's Creek hits the Little River. The photo, though, is of Jake's Creek. There was something very magical about it. Maybe it has something to do with all the green moss, underbrush and flowing water. Look carefully because there's a good chance that there's a fairy in the pic.

We couldn't find a house-sitter, so Sally made the trek with us. She did very well for a 15 year old dog. Since we were in a National Park, we had to keep her on a leash at all times. We couldn't take her on any of the trails, either, but that was for the better because she was limping after a mile. She had a fantastic time sniffing out the campsite! So many people asked, "Is that a wolf?" We forgot what a stir she causes when we take her places.

And since we had to take Sally, we realized that two adults, a 52" 75lb child and a dog would be over-stuffing our little 3-person backpaking tent. So for the full American experience, Chad went out and bought the mac-daddy Coleman that sleeps 6, has a closet and a little zip-door so one can reach the cooler from the inside of the tent. I could stand up in it. It was a bitch to set up. No wonder most Americans don't camp. The instructions were so idiot proof that erecting the tent was hard! Beer helped.

Blue took this photo of me. Since he took this photo, I have had my hair cut off in the fit of the Aquarius moon (dangerous thing that Aquarian moon). My long locks are in a hat, which is how I wore it all the time...boring. Nice photo though. Blue shows some talent with the camera. And yes, I wear long skirts when I hike. It's very comfortable.

I will leave you with some parting shots...

11 June 2009

Friday Night Plans

While 80 million bazillion folk descend on Manchester, Tennessee to go to Bonnaroo, our little family will be spending Friday night watching the synchronized fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Different strokes, right?

08 June 2009

The Agrarian Urbanite

The first issue of the Agrarian Urbanite is finished, but I don't know how to post the PDF. There are buttons for adding videos, links and pics, but nothing for attachments.

I do know where I can post it though.

The Agrarian Urbanite on my page at the Knoxville Permaculture Guild.

Moon Report: Sagittarius and Capricorn:

Hi. Time for the moon report.

The moon moved into Sagittarius yesterday. I didn't worry telling you about it because most folks can't make hair appointments on Sunday, and the moon report is mainly about creating the lovely hair that you want. It is also helpful for gardening advice.

Hair first. Sagittarius moons are barren, hot and fiery. You should not do chemical processing to your hair during this moon. You should give your hair a nice conditioning, instead. Cutting now will slow growth, but it is a good time for short, sassy easy to care for styles. The Long Hair Lovers (where I get all this information for you) says, "Sagittarius in medical astrology rules the process of detoxifying the body, so now is a good time to take a critical look at your diet. Greasy, fatty foods will reek havoc in the body and ultimately manifest as lifeless, unmanageable hair. If you have dry and brittle hair, use a deep conditioning treatment."


Tomorrow, the moon will move into Capricorn, and be there for two days or so. This is a productive, earthy, feminine sign. It's good for cutting hair for faster growth. Avoid radical styles. The Capricorn moon is good for the conservative sensuous look. It's a good time to color, but nothing wild and crazy. This is not the time to show off y our individuality. Remember the mood of this moon is conservative so avoid trends, but is is a good time to cut to maintain your current look.

06 June 2009

Cleansing My Conscious

Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! FUCK!


What a fucking day.

Have you ever had to call the cops because your neighbor left her five year old son to look after her nine month old son? Have you ever heard a five year old child sitting on his back steps holding his nine month old brother crying, "I want my mom!"

I was on my way back from the market, when Chad called me on my cell. "I have (the neighbor boy) and his brother in the backyard."

Not really putting two and two together and forgetting that the brother is only nine months old, I respond, "How did they get in the back yard?"

Chad proceeds to tell me that he heard the five year old boy crying on the back porch and went over to ask him if he was okay.

Then it dawned on me, "Oh. (The five year old neighbor boy) and his nine month old brother?"

Chad responds, "Yes."

I ask, "Where's (the mother)?"

"She's not there."

"Are there any grown-ups? Yesterday, a cousin was looking after them. Is there a teenager?"

"No. I'm making him lunch."

"Okay. Keep them outside. I'm two minutes away."

It may seem strange that I told him to keep them outside, but my attorney friend has told me some horror stories and the last thing we need is a child claiming sexual abuse. She has me pretty paranoid.

I returned home about two minutes later. The two boys were on the back porch and Chad was making lunch for the five year old. I made him lunch the day prior when he was on the backyard playing with my son and told me he was hungry. His teenage cousin was looking after the two boys. I asked him if he had lunch or any food at his house and he said, "No." By the way the teen was eyeing his PBJ, banana and sunchips, I believe it.

I asked Chad and he said that he returned home and was making himself lunch in the kitchen when he heard the little boy crying through our open kitchen window. He looked out the window and saw the boy (whose house is across the alley) sitting on his own back porch with his baby brother an crying that he wanted his mom. Chad walked across the alley and asked the little boy where his mother was. The little boy responded, "I don't know."

Chad asked if he was alone and if anyone else was in the house and the boy told him, "No."

Chad called into the house, but no one answered. Chad then offered to take him to our house. The little boy went into his own home, made his baby brother a bottle with no grown-up assistance, then went with Chad and that's when Chad called me.

The little boy's face was tear stained. I asked the little boy if there were any grown-ups at home or if his cousin was there and he said, "My cousin was here yesterday." Which I knew to be true, because they were all at my house and she kept using my phone trying to reach the boys' mother while I fed the little boy lunch.

The baby's diaper was soaked and leaking. I said, "Oh this baby needs a new diaper."

The five year old responded, "I need to get him a pamper."

I told him, "You don't need to do that. You are five. That's a grown-ups job. Not a five year old's job. A grown up needs to get him a diaper, and you need to eat your lunch. That's all you need to do."

It was promptly after this that I called the police.

I didn't call police because of this one incident. The little boy, as far as I know, is not even in the mother's custody. Last year, she was arrested. When the boy woke up the following morning and his mom wasn't there, he came screaming out of the house. The construction workers renovation the house next door called police, and the boy was put in custody of an aunt (with her own major problems).

A week prior, the boy was playing at our house. I had a few friends over and her child was over playing. We were letting the boys go crazy. Summer vacation had just started, we were all happy to be free of school schedules and kicking back with a few beers. At one point, the boys let themselves out of the fence and were in the alley playing. I shooed them back into the yard. The neighbor mother was on her back porch so I went over there to let her know that I wanted the boys in the yard. She said, "Well I'm out here." And she was, but when I went up her steps to go see the baby, she was there with the baby's daddy and neither one of them could barely speak they were so fucked up.

Anyway, the cops arrived, and I started crying as soon as I let them in my home. I was thinking, "Good God, this is really happening, and they are probably going to take these kids."

While the cops were at my house, the mother arrived home. She claimed that she had to go get the baby milk. Granted, she did have a small can of formula, and she went when the babies were sleeping. She was gone a minimum of thirty minutes that we know about.

She kept saying, "But Tracie, I had to get the baby some milk."

I told her, "But you wait till the baby is awake. You don't leave a five year old to look after a nine month old baby."

"But I had to get the baby some milk!" I could smell alcohol on her breath. It was a little after noon.

I told her, "(The five year old) made him a bottle!"

She responded, "But there's not much in that."

It was a full bottle. It was mostly liquid, but it was enough to hold a baby over till she could put the kids in the car and go get more formula.

I don't know what the outcome is at this point. Child protective services came to investigate. It's been very quiet at the house for two days. I have called the child protective service agent that showed up, but that was very late on Friday, and I haven't heard back. I'll call again on Monday.

I think they took the kids. I wonder if she'll get pregnant again? That's why she had the fourth baby. The other three children have been removed from the house and she was going to loose her Section 8. She got pregnant to keep her housing. The baby is nine months old and the size of a four month old child. Because they smoke around him all the time, he wheezes when he breathes. I can hear gurgling in his lungs.

I know this wasn't the first time that she has left those children unattended. The neighbor heard the boy crying earlier in the week and sat with them till she returned.

I know that I did the right thing. So why do I feel so awful?

02 June 2009

Moon Report

I haven't been keeping up on the moon report! I went out of town for a few days, and was so busy yesterday with The Agrarian Urbanite (which I'm almost finished with) that I forgot. I know you're sad because the moon report is something you look forward to everyday, isn't it? I'm telling you, once you start following the moon, it's a bit addicting.

Today, the moon is in Libra which is symbolized by an Omega with a straight line under the Omega. (I'm trying to learn all the symbols so when I begin henna tattooing people, I can do their astrological signs.)

Libra is a semi fertile and moist sign. Since the moon is still waxing, it's a decent time to plant if you have any last minute things to get in the ground. Better times to plant above ground crops (where the fruit of your crop is above ground) are the 4th and 5th (23rd and 24th, too) when the moon is in Scorpio, which is a very fruitful and moist astrological sign Below ground crops? Wait until the 14th and 15th.

As for your hair, according to Long Hair Lovers, "perms, colors and styles have a better chance of success during this moon although working with a style you already have is better..." So nothing radical.

I thought this to be interesting from the The Farmer's Almanac, best dates this month to go camping? The 6th, 7th, and 8th. If you want to start a diet to lose weight? The 14th and the 18th. Start an eating plan to gain weight? The 4th and the 27th. Quit smoking? The 14th and the 18th. Cut hair to encourage growth? The 3rd, 4th ,29th,and 30th. Cut hair to discourage growth? The 14th, 15th, 19th and 20th.

Oh, and if you want to begin logging? Try June 9th and 10th. Of course, I may be lying about that...just on purpose.

Well, that's the moon report for today.

01 June 2009

The Agrarian Urbanite

I am embarking on a new adventure called The Agrarian Urbanite. It's a newsletter type publication that I plan to publish once a month. By the title, you can probably figure out the core of the 'zine. And if you can't, it's about gardening...regenerative agriculture type articles.

I am super happy for myself. I'm going to figure out how to post it online as well to save on paper costs. Right now, I am focused on Volume 1 Issue 1 which I plant (no pun, just a misprint)...plan to finish by this Saturday so I can have it ready for the Beardsley Farm Festival. I think that will be an excellent debut arena. I may even get a few donations to help cover printing costs.