Julie A Carda

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Location: United States

Julie graduated from Creighton University with a major in dance and Theology and taught for several years at an inner-city school in Milwaukee. With a desire to expand her knowledge of the arts and spirituality, she attended St. John’s University in Collegeville and completed a Masters in Theology and Liturgical Studies. Over the years, her quest to merge diverse religious beliefs and practices through the commonalities of love and peaceful living, led her to travel, live, and study with shaman practitioners, herbal healers, Native American medicine women, Buddhist priests and other earth-based spiritual teachers. Through these experiences and experiences with global metaphysical teachings, she learned to honor the eternal source of love in all people.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Songs of Nature

Where I live the cicadas are singing quite loudly. A few days ago, I was playing outside with my two year old nephew. We were at a lovely park. To get to the play equipment, we traversed a well-treed pathway. Overhead the cicadas chatted.

The little one turned to me.

"Aunt Julie, what is that sound?"
"Cicadas," I said.
"Where do they live?"
"High in the tree branches."
"Why do they change their song when we get close?"
"I don't know."

I hadn't been giving it my attention but he was right. When we walked closer to a cicada filled tree, they changed the song to a softer whirring. When we moved away, they took the whir back to a fevered pitch. Awesome that the two year old noticed the various tonal nuances had to do with our approach. I say time to get all children outside. Kin Domains are a child's first school.

Here is a poem from an anonymous Hellenistic Poet

We bless you cicada,
high in the branches.
You sip a dew drop
and whistle like a king.
What you see is yours:
all the soft meadows
and furry mountains.
Yet you do no harm
in the farmer's field,
and men exalt you
as the voice of summer.
You are loved by muses
and Apollo himself
who gave you clear song.
Wise child of the earth,
old age doesn't waste you.
Unfeeling and bloodless
you are like a god.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Walt Whitman Insight

I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid
and self-contain'd,
I stand and look at them long and long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition,

They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,

They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,

Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of

owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands

of years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.

~Walt Whitman~

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pumpkin Festivity

I've spent this past year working on a community food bank project. The project started with a local church learning about permaculture and lasagna garden layering technique. After doing the ground preparation in early March, the church community decided to plant a crop in which all the members, regardless of age or ability, could participate. They chose pumpkins.

My job was to help them anticipate the various needs of the plants and of gardening in general throughout the project. As you can see from the above photo, they are now at harvest. This next weekend, October 3rd and 4th, they will hold a pumpkin sale and fall festival to celebrate their accomplishment. The money raised from the sale of the pumpkins and the purchase of treats will go to benefit the local food bank.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Chocolate Tomato

For those who love homegrown tomatoes and listen to John Denver, then here's a keeper. I haven't heard this song in years and it still brought a smile to my lips. Go listen while you slice the last of the season tomatoes.

BTW, below is a picture of a heritage chocolate tomato. (I don't know if it is a Cherokee Chocolate or a Chocolate Amazon variety.) Yes, you read that right. A chocolate tomato and it isn't even some type of GMO!
I was having tea with a friend today and she gave me a sample. I'll be saving the seed. The dark areas aren't bruises. There is a brown undercoat to the red skin. Really this is a rather intriguing piece of produce.

Have your chocolate and vegetable and eat it too!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Kin Spirits at Work

I just had to share what Ted Andrews says about the Goldfinch. For those who have a deep attachment to Anastasia's spiritual teachings, this was a profound reminder to me to tend my life give attention to my work.

"The presence of goldfinches usually indicates an awakening to the activities of those beings that are normally relegated to the realm of fiction. Goldfinch can help you to deepen your perceptions so that you can begin to see and experience the activities of the nature spirits yourself. This deepening of perceptions is reflected in the black cap-awakening to that which is normally hidden from view."

Friday, September 25, 2009

And the bird is a...

If you tried to make a guess on Wednesday, and wondered about the outcome, here's the scoop. I contacted The Cornell Lab of Orinthology and asked if I could send a picture for identification. The woman who responded back had an answer for me this morning.

It's an American Goldfinch, says the CLO Public Information Specialist, "identifiable by their conical bill; pointed, notched tail; wingbars; and lack of streaking." First year she thinks and probably a female. Click the link above and read about this lovely bird. The Cornell website is also very good. If you're a birder, you should bookmark it.

Here are a few guesses from my timid guests:

Yellow Throated Vireo
Traill's Flycatcher
Finch of some kind
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Thanks everyone for all the great help. Naturally my next step is to check out Ted Andrews, Animal Speak book. There will be some message here for me since I needed to pursue this identification with such intensity.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Kin to Kin Share the Abundance Harvest

Yesterday, my mother stopped by with about twenty pounds of apples from a friend's tree. Like me, she has a difficult time seeing REAL food go to waste so she shares the abundance.

Since I was really short on time, I quartered and cored the lot then tossed them into my biggest pots with a bit of water to cover the bottom. After a slow simmer for about an hour, I let the mixture cool then pressed it through my sieve. The process left behind a pulpy bowl of skins.

I have a batch of canning jars which are freezer safe so I bottled the sauce, labeled it and sent it to the freezer. The sauce was so thick I would describe the result more like apple butter than sauce. In any case the whole batch has a wonderful flavor and aroma. Yum!

The cores and such I gave to the chickens, who adore the red color and apparently the taste, too. I do love harvest.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bird Guess

My son was out playing golf on Monday evening and rescued this fledgling from the flight of a hungry hawk.
He snapped a picture with his phone and sent it to me.
Now I'm trying to identify it.
Any birders out there who want to give it a try?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rest of the Day

Just be for a second, a minute, an hour. Lie down on your back in the grass and look at the sky. From this position what do you see? What do you feel? Do you remember creating pictures out of the clouds in the sky? Try it again. In your imagination go places you've been or never been before. Take time to dream. And for heavens sake, don't be afraid to dream big!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Animal Pathway

This looks like a large hiking trail but in actuality I hunkered down to get a shot of a narrow well worn animal track. This particular track leads down to water.

After taking the photo, I spent some time imagining which animal frequented the path the most. Then I found myself wondering if they ever came in single file or if there was ever any pushing, shoving or predator alerts along the way.

Wouldn't it make a fun children story? Perhaps titled "On the Way to the Water".

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Water Call Poem

I hear the water calling
not in words but songs of longing.

Responds the soul whose divine ability

abounds with creativity.

As the current that laps the shore

wave upon wave and so much more

Paintings, poems, and dance await

co-creators mustn't hesitate.

Awake! Awake!

I hear the water calling

not in words but songs of longing.

~Julie Carda

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mineral Year Magic

Every time I see these stones, I see a magic moment. My elder son and I were walking in a stream in Montana. We had taken off our shoes and were venturing into the center. The ice cold mountain water gurgled over our shin bones sending pin-pricking sensations up our legs. It was a joy filled moment.

As we meandered, we were exclaiming over the multi-colored stones made more vibrant and colorful by the afternoon sunlight reflecting through the rippling water. I reached down and picked up the first stone in the photo here and held it while I called to my son who was further down stream. I wanted him to see the treasure I'd found.

At the same moment I had called out, my son turned and said, "Hey, mom I found a stone you would like."

We walked toward each other and exchanged our stones. My son reached back for the one he'd given me. "Look mom they match, one broke off from the other."

I of course witnessed the metaphor and magic. He thought it was just plain COOL!

Behold, the Dagara year of the mineral, 2009, the year of our stories being revealed.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fall Fruits

Wild plums. I stopped by the side of a country road to pick a bucket full of these. I think I did it more out of nostalgia. When I was little wild fruits were abundant in the mid-west and those who preserved food had a favorite harvest spot. Sort of like how mushroom hunters operate once they find a location they keep the details to themselves.

These are flavorful but the pit is larger than the pulp area. I'm not a big fan of sugar or I'd cook them down and make a wonderful jam condiment. What I've been doing is giving a few to the chickens each day. The red color and the pit seem to fascinate them. I'll probably find sprouted plum trees in my garden next summer.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

First Eggs

My first eggs. Three days in a row. What more can I say? Do you think my four Rhode Island Reds like it here? I don't know which one is laying. Guess it doesn't matter. I feel such gratitude.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bee Happy

I was at a cross country race today watching the runners and taking a few pictures. When I turned around, I spied this lovely milk thistle with a bumble bee in the middle just as happy as could be. The color of the purple seed pod is something eye catching amid all the golden yellows of late summer and early fall.

And the runners...they finished strong!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fall Poem

Fall strikes with temps of hot and cold
Leaving colors painted red, orange and gold.

Scents waft up from the ripening earth
Garnering attention towards the results of birth.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Conversion: Step Six

Is this a telling picture? Four guys to move the very heavy house. I used the same cage netting as on the coop to close in the little gap left on both sides of the house. I removed the blue temporary house from the coop and transferred the food and water into the remodeled hen house.

All four hens just stood and clucked at the house. After about an hour, I stepped into the coop and corralled them into the closest corner, then threw cracked corn into the house. They pecked along and up the little ramp like the birds eating Hansel and Gretal's bread crumbs until they were inside the house. Once inside, I closed the Plexiglas door for the night. I really hope they learn to go in at night without any prompts--keeping my fingers crossed.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Conversion: Step Five

The addition of an electrical hook up for a light fixture will give me the advantage of lengthening the days. I guess chickens, like all life forms, take their cues from the sun. If I want egg production to remain the same in the winter I need to provide the same amount of daylight hours as the summer. So the electrical box was mounted to the ceiling. We used wire made for exterior use and drilled a hole from the interior out under the eave of the exterior wall. I fastened a hook under the eave so the plug in can be hidden away when not in use.

In my early teacher background, I learned how to make a small solar panel to power a toy car. I'm hoping I can figure out how to make a small panel to turn on the light bulb inside the hen house. That project will be saved until after the garden is done for the season. A person only has so many hours in the day!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Conversion: Step Four

Check this out--a Plexiglas door that slides up on a pulley. I can stand at the rear of the house pull the cord and let the hens run out into the coop. Then I can lower the door and do my daily maintenance. When I'm done and I've closed the rear doors, I can open the Plexiglas slider for the day.

The Plexiglas lets in lots of light so I don't need to be outside early in the morning. These chickens will have natural light, food, water, nesting boxes and a roost. I'm going to have the best chicken condo around town!

One tiny caveat here. The door operation reminds me of a guillotine and seems a bit gruesome. "Off with your head" is not something I want to contemplate about my chickens as they really are pets at this point.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Conversion: Step Three

In this step, we added the doors. When they close there is a free spinning wooden knob on the top and on the bottom to secure them in place.

Imagine, I can collect eggs, add food and water, and clean really easily. I love the design.

The wood used here are pieces of recycled house siding. My elder friend had his home refinished using vinyl siding. Since he is an avid wood worker, he saved as much of the old wood as he could.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Conversion: Step Two

Using the wood from the external panel of the house, we built a movable roost and nesting boxes. My personal goal is to use recycled products for the entire remodel process. So far we've managed to find plenty of used wood and hardware. As a side point, when you work with someone born in 1915 and who lived through the Great Depression and several wars, you get creativity and ingenuity around the practice of reduce, reuse, recycle.

For four chickens, I'd only need one nesting box but stacking the two saved on having a permanent ceiling mount. I can easily pull out the boxes and use the roost to clean the interior.
You read that right. The triangle side of the roost serves a double purpose. I can use it to push the manure, straw and wood chips out the opening and into the garden where I can spade it into the soil.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Conversion; First Step

The house is finished inside and out, so we began by measuring the opening, drilling a starter hole in the siding, then using a circular saw to cut through the first layer. Our next step was to pull out the yellow fiberglass insulation. After drilling yet another starter hole, we used a scroll saw to cut through the inner wall board. We had to guess where the 2x4's were located.

If I didn't mention earlier, the person who helped me with project was a dear friend. He is ninety-five years old and the best carpenter/woodworker I know. He spent sixty years as a scout master so makes an excellent teacher--very patient with me. I gave him the pictures and specs for the dog house and he drew up plans and pre-fabbed much of the work in his wood shop at home. Did I mention he is AMAZING? Due to age he is physically challenged yet mentally astute. For me, he is the gentle reminder of the wisdom we, as a culture, have yet to tap.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dog House to Chicken Condo

Over the next few days I will post the after sequence of the dog house to hen house conversion. But to get you started this is what it looked like prior to the conversion.

Here are the dimensions: 3'x4'x3' and it is fully insulated with a finished floor and ceiling.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Moving Day for Chickens

Phase one of the chicken coop move is in progress. I cleaned out the center of my large raised- bed garden space and lifted my movable coop inside--with the assistance of the elder son. Let me tell you, the baawking, humming, and stretched necks had me laughing for an hour. These four will have enough to chatter about for the next few days.

By mid-afternoon, they were so busy they barely noticed me working around area. I didn't realize how happy chickens are to play in the dirt. Peck, peck, peck, scratch, scratch, scratch and I have a wonderfully tilled center in my garden. If I'd have known what a great advantage they'd be to keeping a garden in order, I'd have done this long ago. No waste. All the extra green stuff goes into the coop and is either consumed or buried.

But their journey is about change again. The blue Tupperware tub is about to make a permanent departure. Watch for phase two the dog house conversion.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Alchemy in Golden Beets

Time for a few root vegetable check. I cut one of these beets and peeled back the orange outer layer so you could see the beautiful golden color.

I'd saved this seed from several years ago until I was in a location where I could grow them again. I had about 70% germination rate so the seed aged well, but I planted them too near the carrots and they were crowded out. Unfortunately, I didn't get the quantity I would have liked.

Each bite of this root vegetable in succulent and bursting with flavor. I will find more room for these next year. They seem to light up a serving plate like gold on a platter. I wonder how they'd taste pickled?

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Life Cycle--Seed Saving

Seed saving is such an exercise in moment-to-moment awareness. I don't save enough to be in an exchange, but someday when my gardens are better established I'd like to trade with some of the extended seed saver networks.

There are some unusual eastern European plants I'd like to introduce to this part of the mid-west.

In the meantime, I thank those of you who are keeping the dream of heritage seeds and seed diversity alive. If we work together we can fight the infringing seed patent laws and damaging GMO movement.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Vision of Kin Domain

Imagine this homestead some day filled with 2.5 acre Kin Domains. Each with some unique eco-home that compliments the environment.

Here and there are solar panels lined up and wind turbines whirl suggesting the albatross lives in the mid-west.

Each domain is surrounded with a living fence of trees and shrubs, and somewhere, snuggled amidst the house, garden, and wooded area is a pond where one can contemplate the future.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kin Domain Beauty

I was going to place this photo with a poem from earlier in the week and decided it needed a different venue. The flower, a type of morning glory, was part of a lush cascade spilling over the side of beautiful native perennial garden. When a visitor arrives at this Kin Domain garden he/she must pass this magnificent co-creation. I like the message the blossoms trumpet to the guest.

"Wake up! Beauty abounds. Tread with softness and allow love to flow in this gentle place you about to enter."

Thank you, Karla for sharing your fabulous photography and magnificent Kin Domain garden! As part of a documentary on different soil types found within urban landscapes, the soil terrain of Karla's garden will be featured on a local PBS show.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Nature's Artistry Within the Kin Domain

As fall encroaches on summer's end, I'm finding many beautiful works of art around the house and garden. This year the spider webs are particularly profound--large and literally in my face messages. I took this picture several days after the new moon. Like most artists, my creativity must spin around my daily life. The balance is delicate. When fall comes and the time of outdoor productivity slows, I'm reminded of the shift I must make toward my indoor productivity. I'm a writer. The temperature changes, the old season culminates, a new one begins and I start the inward journey that takes me to the written word. I'm clear this is the time I write more and read more.

If you are curious about the connectivity and messages given to us from the world of nature, you'll be fascinated by Ted Andrews' study of the insects and animals. In his book, his insight, his animal speak, on the spider is several pages long. Below is the section which spoke to me.

"Spider is the guardian of the ancient languages and alphabets--Chinese, Norse...to many, there was an alphabet even more primordial. It was formed by the geometric patterns and angles found within spider's web. To many this was the first true alphabet. This is why spider is considered the teacher of language and the magic of writing. Those who weave magic with the written word probably have a spider totem...Because it is constantly building and weaving new webs, it has also been a lunar symbol, with ties to the waxing and waning of the moon. For those with this totem, this pattern is a reminder to maintain balance and polarity in all aspects of life. Spider teaches that through polarity and balance creativity is stimulated..."

If you would like to know more about this insect or about the attributes associated with all animal life, consider Ted Andrews' book , Animal Speak.