Dear mishpacha v’chaverim, (family and friends)

We are well-blessed to have some very dear friends.  Beyond this, we have been blessed to receive miracle provision through compassionate people who love us and believe in us. One very dear friend, Kent Runge, is among those who have been fountains of miracles for us. He has now passed on, leaving a wife, Laurie Anne and young daughter, Elisa Mae.
Twenty-two years ago, Kent and Laurie believed In a young couple who were yet to be engaged, and and gave us a wedding gift of of a used car that was badly needed, but that we could not have afforded at the time. The title came with a note, “…and it is fully expected and hoped that this will be a wedding gift. ”  It was, and 22 years later, our marriage is strong and healthy. They were not financially affluent,  but chose compassion. We bless the One Who gives life, and Who is the Source of Compassion.
Fast-forward several years, and we were living in an area where the smoke was exacerbating my multiple autoimmune disorders, and where rent was rapidly climbing, while wages were not. We were economic,  climate,  and health refugees, but we could not afford land to move. Kent and Laurie were, again, a fountain of miracles for us. We now live in a house we made of grain bins on the land they offered. Aside from their kindness to us, they have been kind to the poor, the fatherless, the widow, the orphan, and the stranger. Again, we bless the Author of Compassion and of Miracles.
We knew Kent’s health was a serious struggle,  but his passing is still a shock for his wife and daughter. Kent leaves significant financial strain behind. I am posting a link to their gofundme here:

May the One Who makes peace in the heavens make peace for Laurie and Elisa, and for all those who choose to be a fountain of miracles now.

L’Shana Tova!

Kirsten Dirksen has been a resource and a bit of a grounding note for us over the years. It is good to see a resonant note here or there with other people in her videos who also have found “a path less traveled.”
Aaron is a bright kid with a LOT of ideas. Some are very insightful. I think he’s grown a lot in the last few years. I remember some long conversations. Kirsten’s editing is a gift.

As I watch Aaron and Kirsten’s interview, I am reminded of the gift it is to “release,” or sometimes to be forced to release. We have been there, letting go of so many things.
I miss being surrounded by, and helping out the “prophets,” and I am also thankful to be here, in our little patch of woods with few distractions. I am also thankful, at this moment, that we are in a position to remember the Schmitta here, on our own little bit of earth that isn’t really ours. “To every season…”
Aaron (See Kirsten’s video on him, with sheep and wagon) is a bit of a living, breathing Schmitta Year, minus the laws. He is “harvesting where he has not planted,” (Deuteronomy 6:11) which is truly a blessing. May we receive balanced, functional “release” (Schmitta) in 5782.

This recipe started out as bug spray, and it still works for that, but I decided I wanted something I could spray on my mask so that I could reuse it and kill the germs on it and kill anything airborne on the surface of it before the air came through, and I also wanted it to be safe to breathe. I looked at all of the wonderful essential oils that had been so good at getting rid of bugs, and, as it turns out, they are also antiviral, most of them. (I encourage you to look up the essential oil of your choice on ncbi for the antiviral and antimicrobial properties and how they have performed.)

When someone gets a bit too close to me in the grocery store, or has delusions of grandeur that whatever comes out their nose is somehow more holy than what comes out the rest of ours, and so they have allowed it to hang out to spurt it’s goo into the air we all have to breathe, I give a spritz all around my head and face area, being careful to cover my eyes as the essential oils can burn.

There are commercial brands of cleaners that have found the good use of antiviral essential oils. I first met thymol, a component of thyme essential oil, in the cleaning wipes made by Seventh Generation. I bumped into another brand at Aldi’s this week. I don’t know what the other ingredients are in it, so I wouldn’t use it as a spray on my mask to breathe through. I only include it here to celebrate the fact that mainstream is getting a clue on the beauty of herbal antivirals.

I ran across this article this morning,  and it made me think. Zinc is vital for cell wall integrity. Strong cell walls can only be good when a virus is trying to invade them.

Doctors say loss of sense of smell might be Covid-19 symptom

This article explains that there is a possible connection between a loss of sense of smell and covid-19
A loss of sense of smell is also a symptom of zinc deficiency.
Zinc deficiency, like Covid-19, affects men at a higher rate than women, as zinc is lost in ejaculation.
I am wondering if these coincidences may be more than coincidence.
I like the optizinc supplement by Source Naturals as it is methylated and also includes copper to avoid copper deficiency which can be problematic when supplementing zinc. Another good one is made by Jarrow. (No, neither brand sponsors me).
You crown the year with your bounty;
your tracks overflow with abundance.
–Psalm 65:11

Dear Mishpacha v’Chaverim,

I’ve had a few friends ask what might be useful as supportive measures during this global pandemic. Obviously, we don’t have very much in the way of studies that can confirm for us that the tools we are using at our house are effective for treating, preventing, curing, or otherwise mitigating COVID-19. It’s only 3 months old.

What we do have is a body of research that lets us know that certain natural tools are useful for killing other coronaviruses, and viruses in general. I would encourage anyone who is able to read a medical study to look at ncbi and the various studies that have been done with essential oils for antiviral purposes.

In our home, we are giving each household member a half cup of aloe vera juice diluted in a little water daily. Aloe is beautiful for helping to strengthen cell walls including our skin, mucous membrane and gut lining which are major protective barriers against viruses.

We will be plugging in a UV light over our washroom area as UV light has actually been studied directly on COVID-19, and found to kill it. The one we found a few months ago was relatively inexpensive at around $15. It is designed for aquarium use, but should work fine.

I am also using a homemade essential oils spray with a little oil and water to dilute on all of our hands whenever we go out, and using it regularly. We are looking at making homemade fabric masks and spraying them with the spray also. While this is not an N-95 mask, it will at least reduce the exposure to droplets carrying the virus, and the essential oils can weaken or kill viruses that come into contact with the surface of the fabric. This gives the additional societal benefit of not tapping into those resources which will be needed by medical personnel.

As always, we are keeping up on our vitamin D at levels above the u.s. RDA as Studies have shown it to be much too low. We are also upping our probiotic foods, and improving our faithfulness at taking our regular vitamins and supplements.

Thank you again to all those who believed in us and supported us through getting our house closer to functional. We appreciate you so very much!

Technically, I am in the class of people at risk because I am on an immunosuppressant herb which is helping to mitigate my rheumatoid arthritis. It does not suppress my immune system to the degree that another herb I was on had done and so I feel blessed and safer especially now. We will continue to take precautions and to educate ourselves as we are able.

Please take care of yourselves! We love our elders and vulnerable friends.

May the One who makes peace in the heavens make peace for you.



“The measure of the strength of a society is in the number of old men planting trees whose shade they will never enjoy.” ~Unknown

Dear mishpacha v’chaverim / family and  friends,

Those of you who know of me probably know of the lady who took her family cross-country to homestead land. Some may think of me as someone who takes risks and thinks of consequences later… possibly. Those of you who know me (the real me) know that that is far from the case, and that this trip cross-country to homestead and build our home of grain bins while we lived in tents through tornado- watch summers, working against the clock  before  early winters, is uncharacteristic of my grounded and rather sedate personality. Even those who know me intimately may not realize how much I feel responsibility for both past and future generations: not just the grandparents I’ve met and grandchildren I will meet, but responsibility  to help correct the mistakes of generations for hundreds or thousands of years of history. I have a deep yearning  to leave  the world in such a changed state  that, thousands of years in the future, there will be less pain  because multi-generational mistakes have been corrected in my lifetime. This long-term vision is sharply in contrast with an instant-gratification society, and sometimes leads me to occasional bouts of emotional exhaustion. Yes, my husband has informed me that this is entirely unreasonable …and it hasn’t transformed me. He does balance me well, and reminds me that the present does exist on occasion. As we say in Judaism, he is my “ezer kinegdo,” or strength in oppositional force. Without him I’m afraid our children might be depressed with all of Mom’s reality checks. As it stands, they seem to be fairly well-balanced young people.

This time of year, in between the high holy days and Sukkot (just passed), and Thanksgiving (coming up), has me noticing squirrels. They tuck their food away for winter in nooks and crannies and wherever they can hide it. They are smart creatures in that respect. Winter is long here. It’s only sensible to tuck away a wee bit extra if you can. This is the first fall where I have felt like we have been able to tuck away just a wee bit beyond this week’s groceries. We are finally beginning to feel the stability of not paying rent. We are far from what most people would call “in a stable financial position,” but to us it feels very comforting to have more than one week’s groceries in the house.

The picture of the squirrels tucking their bits away has given me a deeper level of comfort even beyond the image of a few extra groceries. Squirrels are not perfectly efficient creatures, even if they do think ahead. They forget where they have buried their acorns. Stashes of nuts go unused because they’ve forgotten them. It is exactly those lost bits and pieces; the ones they couldn’t keep track of; the ones that spilled out and were forgotten: they give me great comfort this year. Some of those lost bits buried in the earth in some forgotten stash hidden away will become the oaks that will nourish the next generation of squirrels and humans. May all of the places where I couldn’t hold all of my bits together, and where I made mistakes, and where I forgot  the very important “acorns” that I had meant to keep track of serve as instruction for future generations to become the mighty oaks of wisdom that nourish them beyond what I ever could through my responsible efforts.




E’s new mandolin, hand-made by J.


J’s banjo-in-progress, inside the grain bin-come quonset-workshop.IMG_20190220_181944179

Half a grain bin, on its side, with tarps on the ends to serve as walls. “The shop.” Someday, we hope to insulate and enlarge it enough to be able to do reliable woodworking / climate control / insulation.


E playing her new instrument. Friends patient enough to use a mattress in the kitchen during their visit.


J and our friend enjoying a lathe & furniture-making workshop. Thankful for the gift of learning to J this spring!


Our little grain bins-come-castle in the woods. Thanks to all who helped make it possible!

Every week, we do housecleaning and food-prep to  get ready for Shabbat. While the kids are doing their lists of chores, they play music from youtube. This week they found a new one.

If your spring cleaning (or this April blizzard!) feels oppressive, smile. Freedom is around the corner!

Dear mishpachah v’chaverim,

We are warm and well. The blizzards are staying outdoors, and we are grateful for those who helped us to insulate that first year we built the initial grain bin structure. We’ve been blessed to have house guests twice now. The first are very good friends whose sanity I question, but they did survive with us in Minnesota winter for a few days before we were insulated, and helped us to insulate along with several others who pitched in financially.

The second group was a family visiting who came to see where we had landed. The kids enjoyed playing in the snow together and didn’t seem to be bothered at all by the depth of it. It only added to the play value.

My world is expanding a bit more, and I’m not in need of the chair as often. I’ve also begun using voice-to-text, which allows me to write a bit more. It’s a useful tool for learning to think before one speaks, but I’m not finding it useful as a creative friend yet. I may grow to love it more in future.

We are grateful for neighbors who have helped clear snow from my driveway on multiple occasions, the most recent of which would have taken us two days to dig out on our own.

This winter we also finally graduated to having the master bedroom *not* in the kitchen. Loving that.

A neighbor brought over a dining room table to celebrate the occasion, along with 4 dining chairs to match. It’s rare that we’ve had matching furniture, but it’s pleasant and feels a bit decadent.

The Chinese herbs continue to allow me to function more than I had been. I feel less in need of 24/7 care and more able to cope.

The children are growing amazingly, with unique skills and interests. They’re each blossoming into their own kind of beautiful. J is doing a lot with woodworking and building musical instruments. He plays a bit of recorder and guitar, and is making a mandolin for E. He just went on an adventure with a friend to a traditional skills school, and came home with the project he’d built over the weekend: a bar stool, with the tool marks still in it, quite lovely.

H is continuing with her art, practicing drawing with pastels and charcoals  and also learning a little guitar and the Scottish whistle flute. She is also making beautiful progress with our rescue dog, who had never been socialized to humans. She now comes and goes in and out the doors, which had been a fearsome spectre when she first arrived with us. She also is learning not to fear strangers, as we found in this most recent visit from our friends.

E is crocheting and knitting up a storm and also writing poetry, which she hopes to publish in a book. She is also working on a book co-authored with her siblings about our adventures in homesteading. Her mandolin got a test drive before the strings broke, and she can play a few songs already.

K took up the guitar about 2 months ago, and has already surpassed his father’s teaching capacity, so he is now learning a good deal by watching musicians on YouTube. He still loves to build and create, but the music has got his attention lately.

S is working on growing his business and we are grateful for many repeat customers. The trick is going to be finding indoor projects sufficient for the winter. The outdoor projects waiting for spring and summer are piled up as deeply as the snow. I’ve never experienced a March that felt so very much like January.

The clean air and absence of rent or house payment hanging over our head feels more than adequate compensation for the late Spring, though I wouldn’t mind if it were to arrive tomorrow. The next stage of construction is a roof and wall for the bath. A hot bath always had seemed to me a “basic necessity,” but i am learning how luxurious a thing it truly is.

Meanwhile, enjoy our little “Grown-up nook,” the height of luxury afforded by the bedsheet that a friend Out West had given us before we headed out here. There is one room of solace from the mylar in the little castle in the woods.