Nicole Alderman

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since Feb 24, 2014
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hugelkultur kids cat duck forest garden foraging fiber arts sheep wood heat homestead
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!
Pacific Northwest
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Recent posts by Nicole Alderman

N Stephanson wrote:

paul wheaton wrote:Any questions for me or my past assistants?

To the former assistants, what are your best and worst memories of working with Paul and all the crazy people he mentioned in the ad?

I didn't mind working with most of the people. For me, that wasn't the hardest part. These were the two different types of people I had a hard time with:

(1) One was a dude who would just CONSTANTLY bombard me with emails telling me to do something and how awesome it would be and I just needed to do it NOW. He usually wrote like that, too (lots of shouting capital letters). And when I told him I needed to verify with Paul before doing said thing, he would get very frustrated and send me more emails about how AMAZING his idea was and how I needed to do it NOW. I told him I worked for Paul, and Paul was busy, and I wasn't doing something without his approval. The guy really, really grated on my nerves.

(2) Interacting with potential WWOOFers was more depressing than anything. I would spend sometimes months communicating with someone back and forth to arrange their stay during the WWOOF week at Wheaton Labs. I'd get really excited for them an And, in the end, they'd never show. I probably communicated with 100 WWOOFers/HelpXers, and only I think 3 ever came.  (This is why Paul has the $100 bootcamp fee. It takes a lot of time to communicate with people....and a lot of the time they just never show. But, those that pay are a whole lot more likely to come, and it pays for whoever  never shows)

Best memories? Sepp Holzer called me Frau Alderman! *Insert fan-girl scream.* I literally got emails from him, and that was amazing. I also really enjoyed learning how to make websites with Wordpress. I recall being entirely entranced by website making for a few weeks as I built the and websites. It was really fulfilling and fun!

Edward Norton wrote:A difficult subject but what about succession planning? Who will be running Wheaton Labs and Permies in 50 years, 100 years? AI girbot?

I'm thinking Paul has a will that covers all of that. And I sure have no idea what's on that will, and I wouldn't expect Paul to tell many/any people what's on it. I just hope he'll have a long healthy life!
I'm pretty sure Paul wrote nearly all of it! He did ask for his previous assistants input, which we gave merrily!

The "cry for two days and eat a case of chocolate" option was from me . Mmmm, chocolate!
I was Paul's VA for a bit more than 1.5 years. I really liked working for him, furthering permaculture, and learning so many new things. He's by far the best boss I've had! I really appreciated how he paid me to learn skills and follow my passions that helped him out. I got to figure out how to make banners, do graphic, make websites, email SEPP HOLZER (he called me Frau Alderman, and I'm still squealing about that months later).

I wish I could have kept working for him, but I was just juggling too much elsewhere in my life, and kept dropping balls. I had to put this ball down, and I hope someone wonderful can pick it up and do it justice!

I worked usually 14-30 hours a week. Things get really exciting during kickstarters and summer events! I really, really appreciated when Lara was working with me, as she was handling events/rentals while I worked on other tasks. There's LOTS of tasks, and I think Paul would do well with 2-3 more assistants, rather than just 1 more!

My tips:

~ Be willing to be a mind reader! Paul's got a ton of plates spinning, and he really doesn't want one of those plates to be explaining something. It's generally better to spend the time to figure out what he wants and ask if that's it, rather than asking him to explain further.

~ Do the best you can (or as Paul would say, "give a shit"), and be okay with him coming by and telling you to change/fix/improve/scrap various things. You're still helping a ton because you did a lot of the mental work for him. Also, be okay with trying 100 things and only 2 of them working out, and not knowing in advance which two.

~ The search function is your friend! There's a lot of info stored on, and you can usually find a deeper understanding of a task or Paul's works by searching permies.

~ Make lists. Be organized. Prioritize. You will be given a LOT of tasks. And then more. And then more.

~ Be willing to stare into the abyss of things to do, pick a thing to do, and do it.

Check out these threads by Paul for a bit of a view into the Abyss that is all the tasks:

State of the Jungle

my plans for my permaculture empire

If you happen to be a Pollinator, check out this thread
Another option, for those that have Microsoft Paint, is just to color over the people's faces. If you use the "color picker" (sometimes called "eye dropper") tool, you can kind of match the color of their faces. It looks a bit funny, but who cares!

Using Paul's face again, here's how to blank it out with Paint:

first select the color-picker tool and then click a spot on the face


I think the Brush tool usually is automatically selected. But, if it's not, just click it and then scribble on the face like a toddler!

Save the image, and you're done!

And here's an example, featuring my piratical family!

Aren't our faces absolutely lovely?
4 days ago

L. Johnson wrote:Polynesians made it to Hawaii. Maybe not "The Americas" but it's modern day America!!!

Here's a fun article by the Smithsonian on the subject: Native Americans and Polynesians Met Around 1200 A.D.

Researchers, published in Nature, sampled genes of modern peoples living across the Pacific and along the South American coast and the results suggest that voyages between eastern Polynesia and the Americas happened around the year 1200, resulting in a mixture of those populations in the remote South Marquesas archipelago. It remains a mystery whether Polynesians, Native Americans, or both peoples undertook the long journeys that would have led them together.

I gotta run! But there's more evidence than just that, such as sweet potatoes in both places, similarity in language, etc. I'll try and add more info after we get our Christmas tree!
5 days ago
My kids are learning about the Age of Exploration, and my son loves boats, and the kids need more practice recognizing number arrangements/adding.

Coming America board game with viking, Columbus, Polynesian boats

Ages: My kids just turned 5 & 8. I'm pretty sure kids as young as 3 would probably enjoy it, especially since it's fast.

How to play:

  • Pick a boat (Viking = red path, Portuguese = green path, Polynesian = orange path)
  • Roll dice and move that many dashes (my kids like to roll two dice for a faster game. Added plus: they practice their addition!)
  • Whoever makes it to the Americas first wins!

  • world map with boats


    I tried to make the boats resemble the boats used by those cultures to traverse the seas. They could probably be a lot more accurate...but that would highly increase how easily they could be broken.

    I also tried to make the routes look vaguely like the routes that the various peoples used to cross the ocean. Hopefully I didn't do anything glaringly inaccurate.

    I know that there isn't indisputable evidence that Polynesians made it to America, but I figured there was enough evidence to add them in here.

    This seems to work great for learning different names of the places. The kids like to just sail their boats around after they play the game a few times, and they like knowing that they're by Greenland or Iceland or Panama, etc.

    I like that it shows a diversity of different ocean-traversing boats. There isn't one right way to cross the ocean!

    after a while, the kids just started playing. My daughter brought over her Princesses for them to explore, too.

    I'm not quite sure what to name it. It seems like there's a lot of ways of naming it that could go horribly wrong. My brain just keeps singing ♫ We're coming to America, today! ♪

    dice, boat game pieces, map game board
    5 days ago
    homeschooling during december

    I saw that on facebook and didn't know if I should laugh or cry. Apparently advent started on Sunday, and we still need to roll candles. My husband will be working 10 hour night shifts from December 8th-28th, so all the schooling, celebrating, holiday-making is on my shoulders.

    Guess we best roll those Advent candles and make one of those Christmas paper chains tomorrow....
    6 days ago
    We have Oregon Grape growing wild and merrily on our property and I finally had a chance to do something with it!

    It grows at the top of our property, which is a bit of a hike. I should have brought a hori-hori or a trowel or shovel, but didn't think of it until I was half way up the hill. Thankfully, a sharp stick and a bit of digging with my hands afforded me some Oregon Grape root!

    wild oregon grape plant
    oregon grape growing on my property

    small oregon grape plants
    three little plants that were growing on a path, all dug up

    oregon grape roots on stump
    I scrubbed the oregon grape roots with my fingernail under a hose to get most of the bark/dirt off

    I figured it was better to clean off as much stuff outside, so it didn't clog my sink inside. I read that the medicinal qualities are in the orange part of the root. So, I carved off the brown bark, and then carved the orange root straight into my pot. The inside of Oregon Grape was white, so I didn't bother carving that up.

    oregon grape root shavings
    I cleaned them up further inside, and then shaved the orange root straight into my pot

    Dr Sharol Tilgner's book, Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth states that for one cup of decoction, to use 1-2 teaspoons of dried ingredients, or 2 teaspoon of fresh ingredients. Apparently, I can't read, because I thought it read 2 TABLEspoons. But, since I am using this topically and not internally, tripling the concentration makes sense, I think.

    I checked the Mother Earth News article on how to make a decoction

    For 1 quart:

    Usually, the proportion is 5 parts medicinal herb to 100 parts water, but the amount of herb varies based on what form it takes. Dried seeds generally are rich in essential oil, so you need about 2 tablespoons. (An example is fennel seed, which would require 2 to 4 tablespoons per quart of water.) When dealing with roots, on the other hand (an example is gingerroot “coins”) you would want about 1 cup. Another factor is volume; some herbs need more like 2 cups. Rosehips, for example, need about 2 cups because they are hard-skinned and full of seeds. Dried seeds generally are rich in essential oil, so you need about 2 tablespoons. (An example is fennel seed, which would require 2 to 4 tablespoons per quart of water.) When dealing with roots, on the other hand (an example is gingerroot “coins”) you would want about 1 cup. Another factor is volume; some herbs need more like 2 cups. Rosehips, for example, need about 2 cups because they are hard-skinned and full of seeds.

    So, for 4 cups (a quart) of root, you want 1 cup. 1 cup is 16 tablespoons. 1/4 of a 16 is 4 tablespoons. So, I think my amount of root in this decoction was reasonable.

    2 tablespoons of Oregon Grape root in a pot

    As per Dr. Tilgner's directions, I let the oregon grape root "simmer for 25 minutes or more. Remove kettle from the burner and steep 10 minutes." I then strained it into my jar!

    oregon grape leaves next to jar of decoction
    I let it simmer and then steep for a total of 40 minutes, then strained into a jar.

    labeled oregon grape root decoction