Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Reporting in Ann Arbor

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

The Ann Arbor Chronicle ends next week. One of the more successful – by some definitions – news publications in a long while. After six years the Editor and Publisher are calling it quits. David Askins and Mary Morgan have gone above and beyond the call of duty, and apparently that is not a sustainable business model, or lifestyle.

There have always been an odd assortment of publications in Ann Arbor, and I’m thankful that I have written for a number of them. Two special pieces in the Chronicle on people important to our community – Ken King and Dick Siegel. I also posted very frequent “Stopped Watched” short reports, on many natural and unnatural events I observed mostly while just walking around.

As a digression, I started by helping to create and write for “Yenta” – a student publication at Community High School in the ’70s. Our motton was “Chicken Soup for the Mind”. I wrote a few pieces for the Ann Arbor Alchemist, one I story in particular really enjoyed on the underground vaulted sidewalks downtown. I’ve written for The Ann Arbor News (guest editorials), The Crazy Wisdom Journal, I started and wrote many years formy own nearly monthly newsletter called “Contributions to Wisdom”. The best part of that newsletter was the monthly interviews of people who I found interesting, generous, and doing important work. I also wrote a few pieces for “The Ann Arbor Observer”. The first was on capturing a swarm of bees, then on the death of my odd neighbor, and most recently on a trip down the Huron River. I was also asked to blog for The reinvented Ann Arbor News – annarbor.com.

The Ann Arbor Chronicle had, from the start, a very clear mission. My interpretation of that is striving for very high standards of writing and reporting, an obligation to report for the community and provide an accessible record of public and especially governmental events. It turned into a forum for thoughtful and mostly kind commentary and additional contributions form readers. Something that informed readers in Ann Arbor no longer take for granted. David and Mary also became frightfully informed sources able to quickly reference and make sensible previous decisions, and related actions. Their ability to provide deep background and useful explanations became more and more awesome the longer The Chronicle went on.

The current version of The Ann Arbor News (reinvented yet again from annarbor.com reinvented from the The Ann Arbor News) continues to provide much of the important day to day “hey there was an accident”, this is happening or has happened, breaking stories, informing us of crime and mayhem. Some good recipes, access to restaurant inspections, and some good news as well. It is a quicker, simpler, more basic kind of news without the context and linking that The Chronicle excelled at. The “news” also has its moments of awfulness, I agree. A running joke around here is in any breaking news event waiting for the story of how people feel about what happened rather than actual reporting on what happened. The recent ferris wheel mishap seemed especially heavy on reporting if people would still go on the ride. This is not news reporting.

The comment section of the Ann Arbor News is especially painful as nearly all the comments actually add nothing of any substance, but are quick conclusions, strongly stated opinions without a lot of substance attached, and often confusion and misinformation. It often destroys any positive reaction I have to a story, and leaves me wondering about the fate of humanity. Signed and verified comments would improve things I believe. The accusation is that it isn’t done because comments increase clicks which increase ad revenue. Yikes. This is no way to get good content.

The Ann Arbor Chronicle ended up relying heavily on voluntary paid subscriptions. Mary tells me I may be the longest subscriber they had. I would be very proud of that if it is true. I believe in these alternative funding models, and while my support was never in large amounts of money, the persistent confidence and trust that a regular payment portrays is also a very vital part of supporting a venture I truly believe in.

I will miss reporting for the Chronicle’s Stopped Watched column. I’ll try and do more of that in my blog. Short, interesting posts that are image heavy. I will miss The Ann Arbor Chronicle as a resource. But I trust other venues will emerge. There is a very funny group of people who tweet city council meetings, #a2council They may become the public record of actions taken within city hall. That would be funny, and not all bad. But a little weird, like the fact that so many now rely on Jon Stewart to get the world news.

It matters a lot to me that Mary and Dave stick around, even that they are in my neighborhood. I hope their next adventures will include my selfish need to have people as funny, talented, creative and with such enormous integrity near by. I’m not the only one who feels that way.

Local reporting can be done so much more on an individual basis. Blogs, facebook, twitter, are three dominant methods. Relying a bit on larger corporations that are in it for the money isn’t all bad. They do employ some talented, creative, and caring people. I know many at The Ann Arbor News, and respect those individuals. I refuse to be bitter or absolute in my critique of that news source. A broad brush does not meaningfully describe what they are contributing.

The best thing that can happen next is creative, interesting ideas for local news and information. The largest hole that will need to be quickly addressed is the need for eyes on government. Openness and transparency in public work requires good and extensive press coverage. Dave and Mary set a new much higher standard, and proved how important this is. How do we meet it now?

The Explanation of my Name

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

When I was a kid it was somehow considered a weakness or a problem if people knew your middle name. It was as though the person with that knowledge would have special control or a claim over you. It didn’t make sense, but middle names were power.
My middle name is Diane. It always has been, and now everyone can know.
My mom named me Linda. i found out rather recently that it wasn’t what she and my dad had agreed to, she just filled out the birth certificate when he wasn’t around.
My last name is Feldt, a Swedish name that was given to a relative long ago when the Swedish Government was trying to phase out the “Carlson” “Anderson” etc. way of naming. Because so many people had the last name. Feldt is relatively popular in Sweden

In 1987 I was apprenticing with Susun Weed in Woodstock. It involved many trips there, she came to Ann Arbor a few times, and we also corresponded. One night I had spent time with a number of the women who were also working with Susun. A couple were changing their names to powerful goddesses and figures of myth. I wanted to acknowledge that I was changing and becoming more of who I am. I considered what I might call myself if I had a choice. I liked my name. I had been initiated into a religious group and was “Vidyshwari” – the omniscient Goddess. But I never considered making that public or being called that. And I was no longer with that group, anyway.

I was about to walk back inside Susun’s home, it was about 10 pm and the sky was so deeply dark, yet with the stars abundant, and a small crescent moon. I was in the Catskill mountains. I suddenly thought that the approximate transliteration of my name, the name I had always had, was “Beautiful Moon Field”. That was like a secret that had suddenly unfolded. It was a moment of feeling very powerful – newly discovered. If I used my middle name, I would be bringing out the moon, the emotional part of me. I would be sharing my secret middle name, and my emotional secrets as well. That seemed like a good thing.

Practically speaking, I needed a new name. There was someone else in Ann Arbor, Linda Feldt, who had a business selling replacement windows. It would be better if people didn’t mix us up. Linda was also the most popular girl’s name when I was in elementary school. But Linda Diane? I had never met anyone with that name.

When people started calling me that, it felt very different than being Linda. It felt more whole, almost like being stroked, being full. It was right.

My mother loved the idea. “I named you the right name!” She took all the credit, which she did deserve. It is a good, powerful, balanced (every part has five letters) name.

Later, I named my publishing company “Moon Field Press”. Because it is me.

I certainly don’t mind people calling me Linda, it just feels incomplete. I feel a physical “yes!” when I hear Linda Diane. And I also get a kick out of friends who abbreviate it to “LD”. I always wanted a nickname, and once again it was there all along.

My name is my work. It helps to have something a little unique. I have that. I have all along.

I lost a lot of weight. Here is what worked for me.

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Even strangers have been noticing that I’ve lost a lot of weight. About 120 pounds over 5 years. Maybe 8. About 30 pounds last year. More in the few years before that. I love the drop jawed responses, I love waking up every morning to feel ribs and hip bones that I don’t remember feeling before. I love being content with my body. I don’t think I’ve ever known that before.

Weight loss is a funny thing. There are a lot of people who want to make money from it. I’m not one of those. There are complex theories and ideas and more and more science about the causes and solutions. I think that is interesting, but I have also found it to be pretty simple and easy once the right things were lined up at the right time. And I’m happy to share all of that with anyone who is interested.

Here are the six primary components I found useful, in brief. I could say a lot more about the food, but also want to keep it simple. Everyone comes to this issue with unique history and body types and health issues. So it is not a one size fits all list – and anyone who says their weight loss plan will work for everyone is giving you the red flag that you should not take them seriously. This worked for me, that’s all. Maybe it will work for you, or maybe you can just take some inspiration that you’ll eventually find what works for you. But you are unique and need to find what will make you happy.

1- I had to let my body know that from now on we are fit and active. The best way I know to communicate that is to be fit and active. A little exercise here and there a couple times a week did not give that message. Daily repetitive activity of at least an hour was what started to make a difference. I walk, swim, bike, canoe or kayak every day. Mostly I walk. I rarely take a day off.
2- I needed reinforcement , and looked to the science of operant conditioning for ideas on how to create intermittent reinforcement, which has been shown to be the most effective for mammals. I’m a mammal, so I figured it would work for me. Posting most of my workouts on facebook has given me that reinforcement. My friends respond, and especially when I post big milestones I get “jackpotted” with lots of comments and support. Setting up a weekly email to friends who have agreed to help you would have similar results, and be a little less public if you are shy.
3- I didn’t use weight loss as a goal. It is just too arbitrary. It felt as though I had no control over what the scale would read. Instead, I counted my success as did I work out or not. That was absolute, and at the end of the day I could say yes I succeeded or no I failed. Nothing ambiguous about it. And I succeeded day after day after month after year. The weight coming off in fits and starts and reversals and with progress was just extra, and I didn’t worry about it.
4- I ate well. I had already been eating pretty well, but I kept upgrading my diet and adding in more and more good foods. Eating breakfast was a critical change that actually started the weight loss. I don’t like breakfast, I rarely am hungry first thing in the morning, so I created the ideal breakfast and ate it no matter how I felt. I can’t imagine a healthier start to the day. I eat oatmeal with all organic ingredients. That includes steel cut oats, raisins, almonds or walnuts, wild berries (raspberry, service berry, black berry) or blueberries, homemade yogurt from raw milk, local honey, fresh ground flax seed, and a bit of cinnamon. I eat a vegetarian diet and work to include lots of dark green leafy vegetables, healthy fats, simple home cooked meals, and lots of water. I also indulge in chocolate, and some other foods that would raise eyebrows. I know focusing on healthy foods helps, especially the vegetables – most of which I grow myself. I think the important part is to continually upgrade, keep adding great food, and especially base at least half your diet on plants. You do need to eat real and healthy food to lose weight. I think it is the only sustainable way to do it. The trick is to learn the pleasures of it. That’s why I’m writing cookbooks as well. Extremism isn’t sustainable. Upgrading and continually improving is.
5- This is lifelong. And you will need to continually improve. Keep adding great habits, wonderful foods, and restarting what you fail. That’s normal. Upgrade at every opportunity and expect that these are changes you can live with (hurray for living!!) forever. I do tell myself that I’m either active or I will die. It is a life or death matter, and of primary importance. Every day I find the time to be active. I have to now.
6- Love matters a lot. I think this was the key to the whole weight loss and getting healthy process. In November of 2009 I had major abdominal surgery for a fibroid tumor that had regrown to 10 pounds. I came home after one night in the hospital with a 16 inch incision – pubic bone to sternum. Prior to the surgery, a number of friends and clients asked what they could do to help post-surgery. With nearly every offer of support I would start to cry. It felt very intense to have to rely on other people helping me. I come from a family that was close and intellectually supportive. But there was no hugging, no “I love you” ever, very little emotional expression of support and love. I kind of knew I was starving for it, but really wasn’t aware of how much this defined my life. And my body. More than 50 people ended up pitching in over about 4 weeks. They helped me to move, use the toilet, shower, begin to walk again. They fed me, walked the dog, and kept me entertained and happy. My family, who live nearby, responded to the three requests for help that I made (fill a prescription, drive me to an appointment, and one fill-in dog walk) but didn’t initiate any visits, didn’t check up on me, didn’t visit or hang out. I finally realized that I would never receive from them the easy love, affection, nurturance that I craved. But from my friends? Amazing. Wonderful. Overwhelming support and love every moment of every day for those weeks I needed them. This was a pretty simple but profound learning. I got it in every cell of my being. And something changed inside of me, palpably. I just opened up to that love in a way I had never done before and received. It was exhilarating, freeing, humbling, and just the sweetest sort of nectar that a starving person could encounter and enjoy. Nothing has been the same every since. I came out of the experience fundamentally changed, and finally felt safe and loved enough to shed the weight. That was the emotional shift that made it possible.

I need to add a note on an issue that isn’t really part of the how as much as what now? There were times during the process that I felt a bit toxic. I feel strongly that this is no time to do “detoxifications” or “cleansings”. Fat stores toxins, so when it starts to shrink there is some gunk that will be released into your system. The body is amazingly brilliant in dealing with this, with support. So that might mean eating lightly (I start to crave soups) or adding some herbs for support (dandelion tincture for the liver) and certainly decreasing any food that stresses the body (fried foods, heavy meals, white sugar and processed flour, alcohol). Learning to listen to your body and interpret cravings (salt is a need for more minerals, ice is often associated with iron deficiency, etc) is part of this whole process. Believe in the body’s wisdom, and support it as much as you can.

The final word is: tell your body you want to be healthier. Do it through movement, great food, love, and nurturance. I think it will work.

Starting over again

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Writing books took over from writing blogs. I’ve been writing, just not as much for free. Still for pleasure. I itch to get back into the blogging habit. It is better than facebook. My 6 – soon to be 7 – books are available here. Currently the last three are still available only by weekly subscription, but that will change before the year ends.

Meanwhile, subscribe here for free for frequent musings and observations and links.

Wildcrafting tweets – acorns, goldenrod, mullein

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

Here are the last few tweets, and links to the annarbor.com blog. Follow me if you’d like. I’ll be posting an expanded version of the tweets on annarbor.com later today. I’ll need to photograph some Mullein first! You’ll want to read it to find out how a toilet can help with acorns.

Met another urban beekeeper who believes in encouraging hives in the city. We agree mentoring newbies is the way to go. Education is key.

Sitting next to a friend who has used mullein stalks for a hand drill friction fire. Fire with no matches. Will try it.

Yellow Mullein flowers on tall stalks used as oil for earaches but hard to find enough to harvest at once.

eEvery apple tree seems to offer a unique taste sensation. I’ll try as many as possible. Occasionaly I find perfection.9:49 PM Aug 21st from txt

Blogging on ethics and wildcrafting http://bit.ly/1tfs

Taste those apples that are beginning to drop. Any of them might be ripe, many will be really tasty. Carry a knife to cut and avoid worms.

I’ve never noticed goldenrod to this extent. And there are hundreds of bees in bee heaven, little legs heavy with golden pollen. Lovely.

On my walk today just missed being hit by falling acorns. May be big year for those. I’ll gather and make flour. Lots of work, nutty taste.

Latest Blog at annarbor.com encouraging dandelions and letting your lawn go, a forager in England who uses road kill http://bit.ly/b575f

Blogging my Wildcrafting Tweets

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Here are the last few tweets, follow me if you’d like! The expanded verion of these tweets is posted as a blog on annarbor.com

Search under wildcrafting, or my name, or use the links below.

All parts of the dandelion are edible. Try leaves in your salad, cooked with kale, I made a Greek Spinach Pie with dandelions, not spinach.

Some dandelions are bitter, some not. Depends on type, time of year, part harvested and stage of growth – before during or after blooming.

An hour show Fergus the Forager on wild food and roadkill http://bit.ly/iY6Px check it out – from England

Latest blog post on annarbor.com – making soda pop at home. http://bit.ly/3SoZaH

Mowing the lawn is a little painful. Mowed around St. John’s Wort, over beautiful plantain, and wanted to rescue dandelion and yellow dock.

The soda puzzle is partly answered by the shape of the container and the quality of the seal? All new to me, but one bottle is great.

Blogging about herbal vinegars http://bit.ly/12uTsP

So far, it appears my efforts at making carbonated juice (soda pop) are failing. Calling in expert advise for tweaking ideas. Yeasty flavor.

I’m still finding mulberries to eat on my walks. A wonderfully long season.

Another blog entry on wildcrafting http://bit.ly/IDD36

Camped out last night, in a few minutes found amaranth, clover flowers, lambs quarters, alfalfa flowers to add to Thai dinner. Yeah Greens!

A fun part of wildcrafting is figuring out what to do with what you find. It promotes creativity and wild food imagining. Mayapple a hit!

I made mayapple juice. A musky, citrusy, tropical flavor, very unusual, very pleasant and all four of us liked it a lot. Would like more..

Wildcrafting tweets – maple syrup in August?

Saturday, August 1st, 2009

Here are the last few tweets. An expanded commentary is available on annarbor.com
Search for Linda Diane Feldt or Wildcrafting
Follow wildcrafting on twitter

If you tap non-sugar maples they just have less sugar. Either boil longer, or enjoy the taste without as much sweet. I prefer it.

You can tap birch, sycamore, and the maples don’t have to be sugar maples. But they are far easier to identify now than in Feb and March.

Buckwheat blueberry pancakes with homemade maple syrup. Now is the time to ID maple trees so you can tap them in March. All maples work.

The nettle was dried last May, no sting when dry. Dry by hanging, on screens, on trays, in an oven with a pilot, in the attic, many choices.

Using some dried Stinging Nettle as infusion, steeped 3 hours, jar with lid, lots of protein, iron, and calcium. 1 oz herb 1 qt boiled water

Latest tweets expanded http://bit.ly/2vIiRD

I usually pass on eating milkweed so that the monarchs have plenty. Milkweed is toxic-maybe that means we should leave it for the monarchs.

Milkweed buds are edible if toxins are removed by cooking with 3 changes of water. But the Monarch butterflies need them. And they are back!

I’m puzzled by apricots. The two trees that were loaded last year appear to have nothing. Looking for a tree or two to pick as they ripen.6:36 PM

Another blog entry posted on wildcrafting http://bit.ly/u2dm7

Been wanting to taste may apples for years. Wait til ripe and the deer take them. Unripe are toxic. Found and picked some to ripen later.

The storms have knocked some nuts from hickory trees. But they aren’t really ready yet. Pass.

Newspapers – a self centered post

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Tomorrow is the last day that I’ll have a daily newspaper. Maybe the last day every. That’s something to ponder.

Because for as long as I can remember, and certainly for longer than 40 years, I’ve read the daily newspaper. My parents always subscribed, I talked them into the second subscription to the Detroit Free Press once we got to Ann Arbor, and I kept up that enthusiasm when I was living on my own. At the height of my addiction, I got The Ann Arbor News, The Free Press and the New York Times daily. I stopped the Free Press years ago, then started reading the Times on line and dropped down to Sunday only.

This will be weird.

Getting mail is no longer a thing. Many days I don’t even get any, since I’m on the junk mail removal list. Now no paper, except two days a week. The shift to this lap top becomes stronger and more central to my life.

I like reading the paper where ever. In the bath, in the sauna, at the lake, while traveling (and leaving it behind). The sensation of newsprint folding and piling up. The habits of scanning and deciding what to read. There is so much richness and texture there.

It may be time, it may be a thing of the past, but that doesn’t mean I can’t mourn it. Slow news, slow delivery, journalists who work on stories and they are held for publication later. It is all changed now. I’ve been a part of dozens of news stories, form now on no more clippings. I even have my own “column” – a long time dream – but it is really just a blog. And it may never be in newsprint.

The Ann Arbor News particularly has been a great paper, has been a bad paper, it has been enjoyable, it has been infuriating. It has been constant. I’ve been a daily subscriber/reader since before we moved back in 1971 – because taking the daily paper was a way to feel part of the community before we got here. So for 38 years plus, I’ve been a reader. Almost 14,000 papers.

I’m worried about my journalism friends making a living. I’m concerned about journalistic standards and the web. I’m excited about the potential of the internet to deliver content and relevant and timely ideas.

But it will feel very strange on Friday to anticipate the daily paper, The Ann Arbor News, and realize it is never coming again. The end of this era. Strange but true.

Ethics interview

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

I had a chance to talk about one of my favorite subjects recently, with Bart Bund and Jeanine DeLay who are part of a2ethics.org. It was an enjoyable discussion, wide ranging and also covering some interesting aspects of ethics and alternative health care.

The pod cast is about an hour long. I did have a chance to talk about my ethics project, currently in the implementation stage.

They are interviewing “local superheroes” and you can listen to me squirm a bit with that idea. It is always nice to be acknowledged for my work, and I’m more comfortable talking about the work rather than having any super healing powers. And in the interview, I do talk about how those “powers” may be developed, as well as an appropriate container for that.

Nala is present for the first part of the discussion, until she is sent to the basement.

I could talk about ethics for days. Very inspiring, very brain expanding. I’d be curious to know if anyone finds this discussion interesting or stimulating. I liked listening to it again! That’s a good sign.

The podcast is on the site, no separate URL for it.

Ken King

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

Rather than repeat myself here, it would be easiest just toread the tribute I wrote for him at The Ann Arbor Chronicle. I was hoping the Chronicle would write about his death, and Mary said they were swamped with other projects. Would I? A wonderful synchronicity of people places and timing then unfolded, and the article nearly wrote itself. Of course.

I hope this is just one of many tributes for this remarkable man who has really touched so many and made a wonderful difference in the world.