Nicole Alderman

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since Feb 24, 2014
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Five acres, two little ones, one awesome husband, 12 ducks (give or take), and a bunch of fruit trees and garden beds. In her spare time, Nicole likes to knit, paint, draw, teach kids, make fairies & dragons, philosophize, and read fantasy. She doesn't HAVE spare time, but does like to fantasize about it!
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Recent posts by Nicole Alderman

Another option for couples is to make a budget. Figure out how much money goes to bills, clothing, car expenses, emergency fund, etc. And then set aside an amount for each person that's a "personal spending" amount. Depending on the amount you make, that might be $100/month, or $10 a month. The spouse can save up their personal spending to buy bigger things, or spend it all each month. They can spend it however they want.

For other purchases that aren't necessities (say getting a pretty new light fixture, or dishwasher or a new wheelbarrow or chainsaw or expensive new coat), then both discuss the purchase to see if it's a good idea.

Speaking of dishwashers, I love mine. Yes, I know that a sink can be more efficient. But, it's not that much more efficient. For me, the mental health benefits of being able to just put all the dishes into the dishwasher is immense. Every time I put a dish in there, I don't have to see it and feel overwhelmed. If I have to clear the table and counter and put everything in the sink, then every time I put it there, I feel overwhelmed at the amount of MORE work I will have to do. Not everyone else deal with this, but I sure do. The dishwasher turns giant task into one dish at a time going into the dishwasher, where it is "done." This is so much better for my mental health that I think it's worth the small amount of extra electrical power. I'll take shorter showers and drive less and plant more food to compensate!
2 days ago
I haven't read that book, but I do highly recommend Dr Tilgner's Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth and Herbal ABCs. She's done giveaways with us twice and really shared some fantastic info with us. You can find her profile here ( and look through the nearly 200 posts she's made here on permies to see if it's the sort of thing you're looking for.

Her two books are invaluable resources for me.

Herbal ABCs goes ailment by ailment, offering treatments and herbs that help with each. It's organized by the different systems of the body, so it's really easy to look up issues and find remedies.

Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth Lists herbs alphabetically and covers their side effects, advantages, how to use them, and tons of medical studies. It's very easy to look up something you're taking or thinking of taking and see if it's a good idea.

You can read my reviews on both books by following the above links I really, really love these books (and no, I don't get a kickback for referring them, or anything. I just really am grateful I have them!)
2 days ago

Brody Ekberg wrote:This is a total tangent and probably could be its own thread, but do you view permaculture as almost a religion or ideology? I was raised Catholic but am not any sort of orthodox religion now. But I feel permaculture has filled the void in my life that I always thought a religion should. It answers all the questions Christianity couldn’t answer for me. It gives me purpose and meaning and hope. I wonder how many people feel similarly about it vs people who think its a cool way to garden 😆

Definitely its own thread in the Cider Press. There might actually be one there already! I know we've covered the topic a bit, but I'm not sure if it has its own thread.

Brody Ekberg wrote:I guess where I’m at now is, should a couple have to “make” a marriage work, or is that a sign that maybe they would be better suited (more easily happy and healthy) in a different relationship? Not trying to give you doubts about your relationship, just saying, my wife and I dont have children. If we’re tired of trying to “make” it work, I wonder if there’s a difference relationship that would more or less work by nature without having to “make” it. Oir dog is a Texas Heeler. Im sure I could make her be a good retriever or a good service dog. But shes bred to chase and bite. Shes more suited to herding, regardless of what I try to make her do. I drive a Subaru Outback. I could make it keep hauling loads of firewood. Or I could just get a truck and use the outback for less work intensive things. I could make myself do an office job in a cubicle. But I’m much more naturally inclined to do manual labor outside…

My husband I constantly reference the old DC Talk song "Love is a verb." It's not a feeling. It's something we do.

I was thinking the other day that the Spanish covers this better than English. In Spanish, if you like something, you say "A me me gusta" ("it's pleasing to me") and if you really like something, you say "A me me encanto" ("it enchants me"). But, to love someone is "Amar" ("to love"). The things that are feelings, like liking baseball or loving chocolate are worded very different from loving someone. When you have a feeling of liking something, you are enchanted by it. It just happens. You don't control it. But, when you love someone, YOU are doing the action. This reminds me that love is an act that we do. It's not a feeling that we have.

Sure, the feelings make the act easier. But, it's still work. Feelings come and go. They are ephemeral. My marriage vows had "in sickness and in health"--so I take that to mean that marriage is a pledge to work on it, in sickness and in health...even mental sickness. I know I've gone through mental downtimes. My husband got frustrated that I wasn't responding to his cute romantic surprises the way he expected. But, this wasn't because I didn't appreciate them--I just am not good at responding to surprises. But, he stopped doing cute romantic things because he didn't see they were being appreciated, so why try? Sometimes, things are appreciated even if you don't see them.

In life, there's always hard things to work through. There's always going to be hardships. Sometimes, the grass is greener on the other side...but usually it's not. I've watched many people change jobs, churches, friends, locations, etc over and over hoping for things to be easier. But, they're always complaining that there's something terrible about where they're at. Maybe some of that terribleness was from their own perspective? Sure, there are abusive workplaces. There are war-torn areas or that constantly flood and it makes sense to move. But, I think those are rare compared to the instances where we could see the beauty and potential in where we live or work. Where we can see that the "problems are the solutions" (to put it in permaculture terms).

My parents have been married 40 years. My grandparents were married for nearly 70 years. I'm sure they struggled. I've seen some resentment from in the hard times. But, they pledged to work through it in sickness and in health, till death did they part. And they have. People always compliment them on their relationships...but they wouldn't be happily married all these years later if they hadn't pushed through and worked and LOVED through the hard times.
2 days ago

Brody wrote: You mentioned being non-judgmental and it’s obvious to me how that would be a good thing in a relationship. We judge eachother. I may judge her more than she judges me, and even if I don’t vocalize it she can feel it. But the thing is, if she’s doing something self destructive, counterproductive or honestly, kind of being crazy, how cant I judge her? At least internally. And when I feel so strongly about something and she has the complete opposite perspective and can’t justify it with any sound reasoning (flat earth), how cant I judge her? If it were just a random person on the street i could just laugh it off and walk away. But I live with this woman, i am committed to her and she may be the future mother of my children. If she’s being unreasonable, self destructive or kind of crazy, am I just supposed to let it go and think “to each their own”? I dont want our future children to adopt silly ideas, self destructive behaviors or illogical reasoning.

Maybe this is a good opportunity to apply the "be nice" permies rules in your relationship? I know I've learned a LOT about sharing my ideas kindly and non-judgmentally here on permies. At the root of it is sharing your opinion and experience and info without denigrating theirs.

I believe that people are smart and can be reasoned with. I'm a teacher by heart and trade, and maybe that's from my fundamental belief that people can learn. Maybe you can share information about what you think and believe in a "Hey, look at this! I found this really cool video/article/book and it said some really fascinating things." Share your passion and enthusiasm for the knowledge you have, rather than sharing the hatred and judgement for their knowledge.

I've had the honor of teaching history at my kids'  homeschool co-op. Apparently, a lot of people hate history and think it's dry and boring and just battles and rulers and dates to memorize. None of the kids in my class think that. Every day, I get at least one kid saying, "Why is history SO COOL!?" We carve runes into soapstone, weave, bind books, write with goose quills, etc. We make and use the stuff people in the past used, and we create cool stuff in the process. (I'm inspired by the PEP program here on permies and the focus on learning by doing cool, useful, meaningful things). But, all this is to say, when you share your enthusiasm for a topic and make it interesting, people are more likely to want it. You mentioned the Bible, and one of the quotes that always confused me was that  we're "to be the salt of the earth." Salt kills things! But, salt also preserves, it makes things tasty. It makes people come back for more. I try to be "salty" in my presentation--make the information tasty and make them want more. Being filled with resentment makes that REALLY hard, I know, but I think it can be done.

My husband and I had a span of years where I resented his spending and he resented some stuff I did. It made it hard to talk. But, we've moved past it. It took time and trying on both of our parts, but now I think we're closer than we have been since our kids were born. It can happen. There's hope, especially if you're both willing to work on it (and it sounds like your wife finally is)
3 days ago

Brody Ekberg wrote:
I actually got into writing a bit after my revelation and one of the first things I wrote about was how she was my anchor. I was like a balloon filled with helium ready to float off into new, exciting, uncharted territory. Willing to risk suffering or death for a cause. And she was the string with one end tied to me and the other tied to the ground. It was romantic in a way. But also, made me wonder if I really wanted or needed to be tied to the ground. Is it better that way? Safer, sure. More familiar, sure. But better? I dont know.

I still feel this way. She anchors me to a lot of things that I would have let go of if i was on my own. That has been good and bad. But that string causes tension and is limiting. And sometimes she just wants me to hang around the ground, even though I’m full of helium… it just isnt my nature to want to ride the brakes on something I’m passionate about.

Part of it is age too. I mean, I’m young, healthy, motivated and passionate. I have a warriors mentality. I feel like the best way I can be of service to the earth at this point in my life is to bust ass, be productive as possible and make huge changes. One day I will be old, disabled, tired or dead. Then I will have to slow down. Then maybe my best way of being in service to the earth will change. But there are enough parasites, lazy people, unmotivated people, disabled people, old people and dead people already not being helpful. Shouldn’t us able bodied, motivated, passionate people do what we can while we can?

Then again, without her I would probably burn out, get injured and maybe even die an earlier death. Not that any of that is bad or wrong, but its also not helpful either…

My husband is more like you in this aspect, especially in years past. We've been married for 16 years, and I've known him since I was 19 (exactly half my life now!). He's often talked about wanting to travel and go on adventures and would bemoan that we're tied down. But, also, he really likes the stability. And, since he's basically almost died twice (thanks Crohn's flare-ups), he's much happier that we have our home and stability. Sure, I've tied him down, but he's also lifted me up. And I've always been a constant in his life. His parents uprooted him, on average, every year of his life. He hated always moving and all the change. We balance each other.

It's easy to get caught up in a passion and let that drive us to greatness...or burn out. And burn out is real. We both pushed ourselves so hard in the past (especially the sleep deprivation and emotional distress from a colicky baby) that it resulted in some nasty auto-immune conditions for us (see the above note about him almost dying twice thanks to Crohn's).

Another thing to note, is that you really can burn yourself out. If you're body is constantly pumping adrenaline to get stuff done, your body might decide to give you some lovely Chronic Fatigue. This is rather common with people who have hypermobility. Since lots of our soft tissue is elastic, that often includes our veins. This results in low blood pressure. The body compensates by pumping you full of adrenaline. All though my childhood and early teens, it would take me HOURS to fall asleep, and I could stay awake all night without any tiredness in the morning. My body was pumping that much adrenaline, constantly! I finally got to a normal energy level as an adult, but the stress and sleep deprivation of parenting gave me full on fatigue that took YEARS (like 6+ years) to get back to some semblance of normal.

Slow and steady really can work well, and I like your idea of being grounded so you can teach others. One person can only do so much for permaculture. Why do you think Paul Wheaton made this forum? He knew he could only do so much. He still does a lot (and pushes himself way too far, far too often, causing all sorts of nasty health problems), but he knows he can do far more if he teaches others and creates a place where we can infect the world with permaculture.

Sometimes I feel down that I'm not doing more. But, moderating on this forum helps. Teaching the kids at my kid's homeschool co-op about natural building and historical skills helps. Teaching my kids helps. Talking about permaculture when it comes up naturally helps.

I'm a Christian and grew up Christian. I've found that trying to shove religion (be it permaculture or Christianity) down someone's throat tends to make them throw it up and never want another taste. But, if you live your life and share knowledge when applicable, you can sew the seeds of permaculture into people's minds. You can help them move up the Wheaton Eco Scale, bit by bit.

I guess what I'm saying is, sometimes being "tied down" can make a bigger impact than the epic permaculture adventures. Just like going an being a missionary in a country probably doesn't do nearly as much as just making connections in your own community.
3 days ago

Brody Ekberg wrote:I dont know of any successful marriages where both the husband and wife share passions, hobbies, perspectives, goals and attitudes towards life. I mean, I see couples that appear that way in public and on social media, but I have not talked to them. Everyone I know personally and have actually talked to are in the same situation: they are almost always on 2 different pages with their spouse. Its a constant balancing, compromising, arguing, head shaking confusing mess. This goes for young couples like us, older couples like our parents and even older like our grandparents. It seems that marriage is a process of settling, compromising and always kind of thinking the other is a little bit crazy or “wrong” in a variety of ways.

My husband and I share some passions, hobbies, perspectives and goals...and differ on a lot, too!

I'm more of a saver and he's more of a spender. But, if you compared me to my father or others, I'm more of of a spender. If you compared my husband to a lot of the population, he's a saver. It's easy to think about ourselves in opposites, rather than simularities.

This kind of reminds me of how, in high school, I had two different history teachers. One was very conservative--in his class, I was the class liberal. My other teacher was extremely liberal, and I was the class conservative. Even being "middle of the road," I could look like one extreme or another. Maybe, just maybe, your opposites aren't as opposite as you think? Maybe comparing yourselves to those more extreme might show some commonalities?

My husband loves fish keeping. Before I met him, I'd taken Oceanography and knew more and cared more about fish and aquatic ecosystems. But, when compared to my husband and those really into fishkeeping, I look like I hate fish because I don't want out house filled with 2 dozen+ aquariums. But, in truth, that doesn't make us opposites.

I guess it's easy to focus on the differences and think they are extreme. But, maybe they aren't? My husband and I like a lot of the same things, and value a lot of the same things. But, we value them to different amounts. Sure, there's some things we disagree on. But, we're human. No human will agree on everything, but we can find common ground, compromise, and learn from one another.

I still need to read the rest of your post and the rest of this thread, but I've got to make dinner first. Maybe this is helpful, and maybe it's totally off-topic to the main theme of this thread.
4 days ago
Thank you all for you help! I think it's really helped make her more proportionate. I think she needs a little more fine-tuning to be even more accurate. But, I've been staring at her so long that I can't figure out what is wrong, let alone how to fix it.

I think something is wonky with her head and neck. If anyone sees something I should fix, please tell me!
4 days ago
Thank you, Carla! That's immensly helpful, as it shows both the side and top views of the same breed at different weights. The dog I'm trying to depict looks to be in the "ideal" weight.
4 days ago
Those help a bit, but I'm still replying on what another artist interpreted, and that might not be all the way accurate.

The hard thing with making figurines is that they can look great from one side, but when you rotate them, they look "off."

I haven't started working on the puppers head yet, but here's the side view

It still needs work, but doesn't look too bad. But, when viewed from above, it sure looks off!

Those are some pretty extreme curves. And they don't look right...but I don't have dog to go stare at to see what is off. Why do the proportions look okay from the side, but not the top?
4 days ago