Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Nazis, Arizona and the Power of the Printed Word

Growing up in 1960’s suburban California, where everything was bright, sunny and new, I could not comprehend Nazi Germany. Watching the TV news in elementary school I saw student riots at Berkeley and Kent state; Stokley Carmichel, Angela Davis and other Black Panthers clad in leather standing on the steps of the Oakland City Hall; rock concerts; and Moratoriums for Peace. I didn’t understand much of it, but there seemed to be a general sense of empowerment – demand what you want, stand up for your rights.

Fast forward to the summer when I was 17. Craving a great tan AND intellectual stimulation, I spent my afternoons laying on a lounge in the backyard reading all of the WWII books by Leon Uris. Beginning with Exodus, I then raced through Mila 18 (Warsaw Ghetto), Battle Cry (Marines in the Pacific Islands), Armageddon (Berlin after the war), and QB VII (fictional libel lawsuit similar to real-life suit against Uris). At dinner each night I would badger my parents (who themselves had been teenagers during WWII) with question after question. “How could the people of Germany (Poland, Austria) let this happen?! Why didn’t the United States DO something? How could no one know?” At 17 things are black & white; I was incensed - how could this have happened???

Years later I found Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi.
I finally began to comprehend the slow and insidious way the Nazis wormed their way into German society. What I remember most about the book is how they started with the re-education of the children, who then were rewarded and praised for turning in adults who were Jews, or spoke poorly of the Fuhrer. It was stunning, and terrifying. But I was still pissed off and wholly uncompassionate regarding German citizens.

Last night I finished Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum.
It was magnificent. It deals with soul-shredding shame, with choices that no one should ever have to make, with the everyday gnawing hunger that all Germans (with the exception on Nazi officers) faced as the war went on, anti-Semitism, brutal cruelty, bravery, and lives totally ruined. I don’t want to write about the plot at all, because the way it unfolds is marvelous. Do not read the back cover, or any spoiler reviews. Just get the book, and read it.

What does this have to do with living in an eco-village? I’m not quite sure. But I think that the more understanding I have of people in difficult situations the more compassionate I will be. I tend towards judgment, and personal bias, and often forget that people are individuals and not just cogs in a big wheel. It also makes me think of what is happening in Arizona lately, where the police now have to freedom to stop anyone who looks Hispanic and demand papers. I find this exceedingly odd in a country made up largely of immigrants.

What is wrong with this picture? How about "My family and I are here, so now let's close the door"?

While I hesitate to make comparisons to Nazi Germany, the fear and the hatred sure seem similar. It is not a direction I want our country to go in. And yet, NPR says that while many folks are boycotting Arizona, “…the immigration legislation cuts both ways. A recent Gallup Poll shows most Americans are in favor of it. And ever since the governor signed the bill, supporters from other states have written to local news agencies to say they're considering a move to Arizona.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mother's Day at the Mercantile

Photo credit: JudyStalus on Flickr

Hi friends. Just wanted to give you advance notice that the Milkweed Mercantile is serving Brunch on Mother’s Day, Sunday May 9th from 9:00 am -2:00 pm.

We’ll have a full Brunch menu, including:
  • Classic Eggs Benedict made with Primmer's Pastured Ham, Homemade English Muffins, and farm-egg Hollandaise
  • Blueberry & Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast served with real maple syrup
  • Quiche with sundried tomatoes, feta and nettles served with a small salad
(May I stop here just for a second and say just how much we love Anthony?)

We’ll also have specials for children.

Photo Credit: RickBucich on Flickr

Rise and Shine meets Bottoms Up
We’ll be serving a variety of morning cocktails and “mocktails:” from Bellinis and Mimosas to Virgin Sunrises, we've got you covered.

All meals feature our own bread, house-made organic cheese made from organic raw local milk, pastured local meats, farm-fresh eggs from happy chickens, and organic produce. We serve Coffee (roasted in Minneapolis ) and SerendipiTea, both organic and Fair Trade.

Photo credit: JudyStalus on Flickr

Spring Flowers

In cooperation with Danette at Countryside Flowers we’re making it easy for you to pre-order a gorgeous spring bouquet which will be waiting at your table when you and your partner/wife/mom/mother-in-law/date/sister/friend/surrogate arrive. Bouquets can include your choice of lilies, daisies, gerbera daisies, larkspur, snapdragon, carnations, stock and spray roses (which come 4-5 blossoms on a stem). Let us know how much you’re interested in spending, and we’ll take care of the rest. $25-$60

A Relaxing Massage at the Mercantile
We have arranged for Nani to do four 75-minute massages on Mother’s Day. Massages will be given in a quiet, private room upstairs in the Mercantile. We’ll provide the music, essential oils, sheets and ambiance - you provide the recipient. Each massage will be followed by a light, refreshing snack. Sliding scale $60-$80

Please make your reservations by Wednesday, May 5th to ensure a seat, bouquet and/or massage.

After the event we'll post pictures - it's bound to be a great day!

If you build it, they will come.

Brian, Apple and Ali sing for the crowd

Oh, my. Be careful what you wish for because sometimes your wishes really do come true!

Anthony preparing Chickpea Fries with Spicy Pimenton Sauce for the Grand Opening

Local friends peruse the buffet.

We had the official Grand Opening of the Milkweed Mercantile two Saturdays ago. It was a gorgeous sunny day. Lots of folks showed up, we had musicians playing and singing, and the food, of course, was amazing. More Grand Opening photos here.

La Quercia charcuterie (from Norwalk, Iowa)

Then last Saturday we opened for lunch, and were delighted to have a full house once again. It was the day of the regularly scheduled DR tour and Bob brought the group to the Mercantile as the last stop. It began to rain, then pour, so the entire group came in for a beer, and then sat on the porch for a few hours discussing Dancing Rabbit and "waiting for the rain to stop." Then a really fun group of students from Knox College came for a tour. They come every other year - last time they were here they stayed for the No-Talent Show that was happening and were a bit hit. Serendipity abounds, and a No-Talent Show was scheduled - Liat invited them to stay. By the time the show was over, it had been raining hard for about six hours, and there was no way they were going to get to Sandhill Farm (where they were scheduled to spend the night) on our muddy, rutted roads. So they spent the night, scattered here and there, in the common house and on the Mercantile porch.

The Judys

And that's still not the end! We were thrilled to meet Jan and Greg Judy of Green Pastures Farm. They do a "mob grazing" style of raising pastured beef. It is not only good for the animals (and for us by producing healthier meat) but it is good for the land, too. We sat and talked through dinner, mesmerized, and all got very excited about this method of farming. I am SO not doing a good job of explaining this, but promise to do better later. In the meantime check out their website. We're hoping to host Greg here at the Mercantile to do a workshop on October 9th, 2010.

The Milkweed Mercantile Bar by candlelight

Last, but certainly not least, is the reception that our "bar" is receiving. We're currently holding Happy Hour Thursday - Sunday; we usually close at 9:00 but have been known to go as late as 10:00 p.m. Not exactly a wild time but a comfortable place to come and have a drink and chat with friends, new and old. After a week of rain we finally ran out of power and had to shut off the inverter (to save the batteries). So we lit a bunch of candles (many in beer bottles - Marth Stewart has nothing on us in the decor department!) and carried on. It was great fun. Anthony took the photo (above) from his phone while tending bar.

So things are good. Business continues to increase every day, and we are really enjoying ourselves. Life is fantastic!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Blog-a-thon for Dancing Rabbit

Hi all! The Milkweed Mercantile is currently hosting a blog-a-thon to raise money for Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.

Inspiration for the event comes from Jeff McIntire-Strasburg of Sustainablog.org.

Dancing Rabbit's newest members, Dennis and Sharon demonstrate the pedal-powered computer as Dan and Tony McGuyver with the controls. In the foreground, Nathan and Jeff.

Juan, Dan, Sheila and Sharon play cards.

Dan pedals to power the computer. Sharon supervises.

Papa Bear, Zane and Alyssa.