The Funktional Family

A family who works together, stays together! News about the Mikkelson-Kersbergen family collaboration

NWA Community Connections Newsletter Oct. 21 October 21, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Trish Patricia Mikkelson, founder and director of Vegan Utopia Ecovillage @ 5:27 pm

Oct. 21 2009

Published by Patricia Mikkelson, professional organizer, senior member and mom of the Funktional Family 313-0414

For an online copy of this newsletter, go here.

There a lots of great activities coming up—I hope you will check them out. The Funktional Family members will be attending some of them–and I hope I will see you soon! Patricia

OACC Conference: This is an expensive way to do some major networking and community building.  Call me if you want to carpool and learn all details here:

Time Banks is getting started in Fayetteville. Learn more about this movement that is helping us to develop a core economy based on giving, receiving and cooperation where everyone has value. For more info on our local Fayetteville Community Exchange, contact Mary Lilly at 466-5641 Next gathering will be Nov. 1

Climate Change Rally in Fayetteville: Sat., Oct. 24 2pm Dickson Street.  More info here:

Social Justice Movie Night: Mon. Oct. 28 6-8pm at Unitarian Church. Food, INC. More details here

Halloween Spooktacular Party for kids sponsored by CAT Fri. Oct. 30 4-7 Fayetteville Town Center. Learn more here.

Swine Flue: What you can do naturally.  This is a great resource: from Also, olive leaf extract is a great antidote. We are so grateful to Dr. Shriver, the Ozark Natural Doctor in Kingston for delivering this remedy in our great time of need. He has a high quality olive leaf extract for sale.

Green Resources in NWA. Find out more here.

nded cab Ford truck.

Funktional Family News.

We continue to have our almost weekly family meetings and a kind of work retreat at our Wellspring Eco-village in formation. I realize that having kids 13 and 20, to get together for an evening and a day is really a wonderful thing. I feel so blessed to have everyone in our family. You can find out more about what we call the Funktional Family comprised of Robert, Mahriyanna, Chris and I are about here. Hey, if you need a big job done, we are available to help with all sorts of stuff, including leaf raking, moving, organizing, cleaning, and garage sale set up. Here are some offerings and needs we have:

Ford Diesel F-350 extended cab Truck for Sale: The Funktional Family is selling our beloved truck.  It needs work, but has potential of being a great farm resource. Call Robert 665-2403

Healthy Chickens for sale: The Funktional Family is needing to let go of a lot of chickens. Star Sprangled Hamburgs, Plymouth Rock, Ostralops, and Banti’s. We have some good layers, roosters and youngsters.Reasonable prices.  Call Robert for more details 665-2403

Garage sale: Items needed: The Funktional Family is having another garage sale Oct. 30 and 31 and we are open to picking up items you want to give away. Call Patricia 313-0414

House in Fayetteville wanted: A friend with a two year old, Mahriyanna, and I are looking for a 3 bedroom house or apartment in Fayetteville. We want to find a creative arrangement where we can do at least partial trade, minimum deposit. Robert has great handyman skills and is willing to help with repairs. Learn more here. Call Patricia 313-0414


We’re looking for a 4 bedroom house in Fayetteville October 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Trish Patricia Mikkelson, founder and director of Vegan Utopia Ecovillage @ 4:37 am

I have decided that I want to have a house in Fayetteville for many reasons which I have listed here–along with the qualities of the house. I am happy that a dear friend and her two year old wants to share a house with my family, who will live part time with me. First, my ideal qualities:

Four bedrooms or more

Inexpensive rent ($400 or less) and/or trade for keeping up the house with basic repairs. Someone having challenges renting or selling a house but who wants their house to be used for positive purposes would really benefit.

Wood heat. Well insulated and easy to heat.

Large back yard with garden space and fruit trees.

Quiet street in a neighborhood where people are already cooperating and would enjoy having even more encouragement.

Low Crime area.

Lots of trees.

South fayetteville preferred, but open to other areas.

near bus line

Basement that is already developed or could be developed for a place for people to meet for bible studies, classes, dances, band practices, pre-school and other activities.

Plenty of space for parking.

Neighbors who are open to us having gatherings and thus people parking in the area.

Lots of light with double insulated windows.

Friendly, cooperative landlord who supports what we are doing.

Well behaved animals allowed

Dry with no mildew/mold problems

Rain gutters and rain catchment system

Large living room for meetings.

Here are the things I hope to accomplish by living in a house with Taina and my other family members.

1. Have a place where I can be supported and encouraged in my relationship with Jesus and living out his teachings of loving God and loving neighbors.

2. Spend more time with especially my daughter Mahriyanna and have a nurturing place for her to be when I am working.

3. Encourage each other in making the healthiest environment possible for ourselves and our children and ex-spouses when they come to visit.

4. Be a place where we can extend hospitality to our friends and neighbors as we are able.

5. Encourage each other in our goals of helping people live out Jesus’s teachings by offering concrete solutions to problems, including how we treat our children, living simply, non-violent communication, grace-filled parenting, gardening, emergency preparedness, preventative health, and more.

6. Be a living demonstration of “they will know we are CHristians by our love” as we love each other and create a mini-community.

7. Create agreements that help us to stay on track and be nurturing to each other.

8. Share expenses so that we can be better stewards of our money. Encourage each other in our giving to our spiritual inspiration, paying off debts, and using our money ever more wisely.

9. Support the local Fayetteville Community Exchange time banks and help it grow so that we can live more and more without relying on the money system.

10. Have  huge garden where we can demonstrate possibilities of growing enough food to live on if we had to. Encourage wild edible growth and learn how to forage in urban area.

11. As we deepen our relationship (Taina and I), she becomes more a part of our extended Funktional Family and we connect more and more at our WEllspring Eco-village in formation.

12. Have fun with our kids together, and have child care where we all support each other in having a rich environment where kids can thrive.

13. Share meals and food preparation so we can eat more raw food and eat more healthy, as well as enjoy our family sharing fellowship at meals.

14. Meeting daily when I am home for prayer, meditation, bible study, and testimonies of how God is working in our lives.


He’s joining the army because his wife has cancer–I am praying for them.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Trish Patricia Mikkelson, founder and director of Vegan Utopia Ecovillage @ 4:04 am

This story brings tears to my eyes. I feel so grateful that in spite of all of our struggles, we know about healing cancer in a natural way and we don’t rely on the hospitals for such things. At the same time, I have great empathy for this family–and I encourage you to pray for their situation.

He’s in the Army now Wife’s cancer prompts man to enlist By Mark Johnson of the Journal Sentinel Posted: Oct. 18, 2009 enlarge photo Michael Sears Michelle Caudle (right) is comforted by her mother-in-law, Marguerite Hemiller. Family members were accompanying Michelle’s husband, Bill (left), at the Watertown Army recruiting office, as he waited for the shuttle to take him to the Milwaukee military processing station. more photos Michael Sears Michelle Caudle (right) is comforted by her mother-in-law, Marguerite Hemiller. Family members were accompanying Michelle’s husband, Bill (left), at the Watertown Army recruiting office, as he waited for the shuttle to take him to the Milwaukee military processing station. Close Forum What do you think of the Caudles’ decision? Join the discussion in our forum, then check back to see what others had to say. Health care help Workers who have been laid off can seek help with health coverage from several places. BadgerCare Plus, the state’s public health insurance program, has a Web site: On the site, there is a link to help you determine if you are eligible, another that allows you to apply online and another that lists community organizations that can help you enroll. BadgerCare Plus also has a members hotline at (80…. Information about the federal COBRA program that helps laid-off workers receive health coverage can be found at This site offers an overview of the program as well as answers to frequently asked questions. Trust Fund A fund has been set up at Associated Bank to help the Caudles with their medical bills. Contributions to the “Michelle Caudle Benefit Trust” can be made at an Associated Bank in Wisconsin. 56 days . . . 55 days . . . 54 days . . . Chelsea Caudle began signing her text messages this summer with a countdown. At 14 years old, she knew no better way to express what was coming. Day Zero was to be Oct. 7, the day Dad left for Army basic training in Fort Jackson, S.C. He was moving 950 miles from their home in Watertown, 950 miles from Mom. He was leaving, even though Mom was sick with ovarian cancer. Even though he had been at her side through two long, miserable rounds of chemotherapy. Even though she now faced the likelihood of a third. In fact, Dad was leaving because Mom was sick. In March, he was laid off from his job as a raw materials coordinator for a plastics company called PolyOne, where he’d worked for 20 years. His severance package had provided several months’ salary, but by August the paychecks were winding down. Soon the cost of his family health coverage was going to triple, then a few months after that, nearly triple again. They needed coverage so Mom could fight her cancer. Dad’s solution: a four-year hitch in the Army. So Chelsea counted down the days to his departure. When the countdown reached 49, the text message signature began to annoy and depress her, so she stopped. High school was beginning, her freshman year. In the first week of class, one of the teachers asked: What do your parents do? The question jolted Chelsea back to the shifting ground of her family. Mom was working part time at a Culver’s restaurant, preparing for more chemo, worrying about how to pay the bills. In less than six weeks, Dad would enter the Army and her care would be covered. The tradeoff was that he would be far away when Mom needed him home, when Chelsea needed him, too. He would miss all of her high school years. The band performances. Prom. Chelsea thought of all his absence would mean. When she sent her next text message, she resumed the countdown. 36 days. *** Mom and Dad are Michelle and Bill Caudle, high school sweethearts now 40 and 39, respectively. They have three children: Chelsea, the youngest; Alysha, a 21-year-old working at a nearby Holiday Inn; and Little Bill, an 18-year-old ex-high school wrestler. The Caudles are not fond of politics. Michelle and Bill have paid little attention to the shouting this summer over health care reform. They have not gone to any of the town hall meetings. They are well aware that politicians and interest groups would like to trumpet their story or dismiss it to score points in the debate – and they would just as soon avoid all of that. “We’re not activists,” Michelle said. But this year the national story of lost jobs became their story. And the saga of families losing health insurance was about to become theirs, too. Except that Bill wouldn’t let it. True, he had been interested in the Army for years. And he could always request an emergency leave to come home if Michelle’s condition grew dire (Army regulations allow this if a family member’s death is imminent). But for weeks before enlisting, Bill had sought other options. He revised his résumé. He answered “help wanted” ads, then watched the companies cut workers instead of hiring them. He interviewed for one job that would have paid $13 an hour – less than half of what he was making at PolyOne. He didn’t get the job. Finally, on May 13, his 39th birthday, he signed the Army papers. He remembers thinking: What did I do? Chelsea learned about her dad’s decision when Michelle picked her up from school. It had been a bad day already: a problem with one of her teachers, then she had to do the mile run. “I have something to tell you,” her mom said after Chelsea slid into her seat. “Your dad enlisted in the Army. There’s more: He’ll be gone for four years.” Chelsea started to cry. Two weeks later, Michelle Caudle sat in the office of her doctor, Peter Johnson, at Aurora Women’s Pavilion in West Allis. Johnson has been an oncologist for 13 years, and despite the immeasurable sorrow that comes with treating cancer, he loves the work for the hope in it. He has shared the joy of patients who’ve lived to see birthdays, anniversaries, and the graduations and weddings of their children. On this particular day, Michelle’s latest tests had come back. Just six months earlier she’d celebrated the end of her second chemotherapy treatment. Now, the tests revealed tiny “spots,” or changes on her abdomen, neck and lungs. Not a good sign. The measure upon which cancer hopes rise and fall, the CA125 number – Please, let it stay low – was climbing. “I could lie to you but I’m not going to,” Johnson told Michelle. Although he could not say for certain the cancer was back, this early sign pointed to that possibility. The doctor compared her cancer to a chronic disease that would never be completely vanquished from the body. Michelle broke down. For three years she’d been nurturing her hope in the face of uncertainty. “I’m not going to beat this,” she said. *** Ovarian cancer is a stealth disease, shadowy and overshadowed. Years of publicity about breast cancer have empowered women with the knowledge that they can catch the disease early by performing a self-exam. Ovarian cancer has garnered just a fraction of the publicity, and the message has been decidedly more negative. There is no self-exam. By the time ovarian cancer has announced its presence, the disease has often progressed to the third of the four cancer stages. Once a woman has been diagnosed, her odds of surviving five years are less than 50-50. All told, the disease kills about 15,000 American women every year. On Nov. 14, 2006, the day Michelle first walked into Johnson’s office, she thought she had a cyst. Her abdomen felt tender and she was constipated. No one had said “cancer.” Still, she had been referred to an oncologist and she was scared. A CT scan showed a large mass, about 8 inches in diameter. Her CA125 level, which measures cancer antigens, was 21 times higher than it should have been. The next day she went into surgery. Johnson spent more than four hours removing as much of the cancer as he could. From that day forward, Michelle and Bill had a new job that superseded any other: fighting cancer. Although the disease was hers, he would assume responsibility for meals and laundry and the things she’d always done but was too tired and sick to do now. Michelle passed some of the days curled up on the recliner, drained and queasy. Bill worked around her, cooking hot dogs and other simple meals. Chelsea made spaghetti and chicken. Bill went with Michelle to her doctor appointments, surgeries and chemotherapies. When the cancer returned in 2008, he sat beside her as the doctor discussed what to try next. He felt he had to be “the strong one,” so when she cried, he did not. Of all Bill’s responsibilities, one rose above the others: Health coverage. *** The March 2009 layoff was announced months before it took place. Though the news was jolting, Bill thought maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. He’d wanted a job a little closer to home than PolyOne, 30 miles away in Sussex. Now he could find something better. But it had been a long time since he applied for work or sat for an interview. What do you tell people about yourself? After sending out résumés, he got the feeling it didn’t much matter. Even companies that had advertised for staff were changing their minds. By the second week at home, he was struggling to find things to do. He cleaned the kitchen. He vacuumed. He exercised. He logged onto the computer and checked job sites. The president’s stimulus bill was helping laid off workers pay for the health coverage they had while employed. Between this assistance and Bill’s severance package from PolyOne, the Caudles initially paid $136 a month for their coverage. But in September, when Bill’s severance package ended, they would pay $497. In January, when they would be on their own: $1,370. Bill needed a job. He needed health benefits. And a cursory look persuaded him that the answer would not be BadgerCare Plus, Wisconsin’s public health insurance program. Besides, he was leaning toward another idea, one that presented the Caudles with a quandary. The Army would solve their health coverage problem. In years past he would have been too old, but in 2005 the age limit for enlistment was increased from 35 to 40, and a year later it was raised again to 42. The tradeoff would be his absence from home. In the end, although he risked leaving Michelle to fight cancer on her own, Bill chose the Army. He signed on for a job as a signal support systems specialist, a soldier who works with communications equipment. “Seventy percent of the reason is for the insurance,” said Bill’s mother, Marguerite Hemiller. “He told me, ‘I’ve always wanted to do something for my country and I have to help Michelle.’ ” *** Enjoy the summer, Johnson had advised Michelle in May when they got the first inkling her cancer might be back yet again. There was no emergency, no need to hurry into another round of chemo. Not yet. So Michelle tried to live her life as if cancer and health coverage were not calling the shots. She continued working at Culver’s in Watertown. She enjoyed the return of her auburn hair after the previous rounds of chemo. She spent time with her husband and children, though it was not always easy to avoid reminders of what they were facing. Bill began a vigorous program of jogging, pushups and exercises to prepare for basic training. Once a week, he went to the Army recruiting office in Watertown to train with other recruits. In August, they celebrated a friend’s wedding. As they slow-danced at the reception, Michelle wondered how many dances they had left. She leaned close to Bill’s ear. “That’ll have to be good for the next four years,” she said. Bill reminded her they had another wedding in two weeks. Also, they had a week coming up at a cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains with Chelsea, Little Bill and Michelle’s parents. The vacation in Tennessee was a last chance for the kind of closeness the family would have to manage without. Bill and his son went four-wheeling in the mountains. He took Chelsea horseback riding along a forest trail. Riding single file was not conducive to long conversations, so they savored the quiet. Michelle and Bill had their time, too, sitting together at the cabin, then white-water rafting down the Pigeon River. Michelle enjoyed the cool spray on her face. The future stretched only as far as the next bend in the river. One day they all hiked up Clingmans Dome, an elevation of 6,600 feet. There were benches every tenth of a mile or so. Michelle had to sit frequently. She found it hard to watch her parents, both in their 60s, waiting for her. She had been trying to forget about being sick. *** On Aug. 27 – 41 days – Michelle’s summer ended. She sat with Bill in a private room in Aurora Women’s Pavilion waiting for the official word on her latest blood tests. The doctor’s office had called to tell her that her CA125, the cancer measure she hoped to keep low, had risen from 17 to 66. “Odds are he’s going to tell me it’s back,” she said. Johnson entered the room and crouched beside Michelle’s chair. There was cancer in her abdomen, he said. “There’s some areas in the lung, too.” “Oh no.” “Not a lot,” the doctor continued. “There’s one area in the right side. There’s a little area on the left side. None of these are big. We’re talking three-eighths of an inch.” Michelle’s eyes went watery. The nurse reached for a tissue. “You know what? I brought my own,” Michelle said, and her smile let everyone know it was OK to laugh. For a moment they did. Johnson said there was no single area to go after surgically, but Michelle had responded well to chemotherapy. His soft voice outlined the chemo plan. “I’d suggest we start fairly soon,” he said. Right after Labor Day. Michelle bowed her head and Johnson leaned toward her. “I’m sorry,” he said. During the car ride back to Watertown, Michelle told Bill there was one thing she wished she could do. “I’d like to be a grandmother. I’d be a really good grandmother.” At home, Michelle wrote six words on her Facebook page: “Cancer back. Sucks to be me.” *** 35 days. “I’m going to blow the whistle and you are going to jog.” Staff Sgt. Larry Finefield stood before Bill and half a dozen other recruits on an empty soccer field in Watertown on a cloudless September afternoon. Finefield called out each new exercise. The recruits shouted back in unison, then went to work. Bill was surrounded by teenagers, kids who could have gone to school with Little Bill – in fact, one had. After 10 minutes of pushups, leg lifts and other drills, Bill’s face reddened. Sweat beaded along his forehead. The teenagers were straining, too. Each time they jogged, a chorus of panting filled the air. An hour later, they finished by sprinting pass patterns one-by-one as Finefield hurled the football downfield. “All right guys,” Finefield shouted finally. “We’re done.” This was a taste of what Bill could expect at basic training. He was building up his body. 20 days. Michelle was more than a week into her new round of chemo. The exhausting ritual was familiar and she tried to approach it with humor. “They have to draw my blood first to see if I’m healthy enough to be poisoned,” she said one morning as she waited to be treated. Chemotherapy destroys healthy cells as it attacks cancerous ones. That’s why nurses had to measure Michelle’s white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets to be sure that she had recovered sufficiently from the previous dose and could receive the next without risking life-threatening complications. And that’s why Michelle’s stomach churned and her energy vanished. The previous Sunday, she had gone back to sleeping in the recliner for a simple reason: “When you sleep, you don’t feel sick.” As she slept, Bill cooked and cleaned. When she woke, he asked what she wanted. “Who’s going to baby me?” Michelle asked, anticipating the days ahead. Now, as she sat beside Bill, waiting for the next dose of chemo, she still had no answer. The pale liquid arrived in an IV bag. The pump pulsed, emitting a soft, mechanical whir as the liquid flowed. Michelle talked about going to work at Culver’s. Might take her mind off things. The bag was empty, the poison inside her. On the way to the car, she told Bill she might look for a new hat. “I have a feeling I’m going to need it.” 11 days. The cake was for Bill, but the party was as much for Michelle. In the chemo cycle – two weeks on, one off – this was her break from the poison. She was ready to feel good again. Friends and relatives arrived at the Caudles’ backyard carrying dishes. Bill shook hands. Michelle wandered back and forth between the kitchen and the yard, smiling and laughing. She stayed on her feet until just about everyone else was seated. “She’s a strong woman,” said her mother, Sharon Hutchins. Both Hutchins and Bill’s mother, Marguerite Hemiller, have accompanied Michelle to her cancer treatments. Hemiller, a nurse for 27 years, remembered that during the first months of chemo, Michelle would stand in the parking lot crying, not wanting to go inside. Now, Hemiller felt conflicted about her son’s decision to join the Army. “One half of me says, ‘Go.’ The other half says, ‘You’d better stay,’ ” she said. “I know he’s got to do it. He’s got to get that insurance.” Hemiller lived without insurance for two years after she lost her job late in 2006. When she did not feel well, she diagnosed herself. That would not be an option for her daughter-in-law. At the party, Michelle wore her birthday present from Bill: a Green Bay Packers jersey with the number of her favorite player, defensive end Johnny Jolly. Her birthday was still a few weeks away on Oct. 20, but by then Bill would be gone. After dinner, friends and family sliced up a “Farewell Bill” cake decorated with an eagle clutching arrows and a shield. There were no songs, no toasts. “We’re kind of quiet,” Michelle said. By evening, most of the guests were gone. The Caudles lighted a fire in their outdoor fireplace and sat around talking until it was time for bed. 6 days. Oct. 1, Chelsea’s 15th birthday. A balloon and flower bouquet waited for her on the dining room table. Chelsea was at a football game. In the living room, Michelle lay in her recliner, huddled under a blanket. She had turned the television way down, but the glow from the screen flickered over her, the only light in a dark room. The chemo, administered two days earlier, had hit full force, nausea overwhelming her. During earlier rounds of chemo, Bill had tried to talk with her, to distract her. Now he knew better. He left her alone. Posted on the door of the refrigerator were the doctor’s orders and the date of her next appointment: Oct. 6. The same day the recruiter would take Bill to Milwaukee before his flight to South Carolina. “It doesn’t seem real yet,” Bill said, coming in from the garage where he had been cleaning. “I don’t know if I feel anything yet.” In the dining room, he had the list of things to bring: comfortable clothing, socks, underwear, shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, disposable shaver, $50, Social Security card, birth certificate and marriage certificate. “I’m scared for when you leave,” his daughter Alysha said. Bill knew how the family felt. To help them prepare, he had written lists of the tasks they would have to pick up when he was gone. Weekly jobs: “garbage, cleaning the bathrooms and bedrooms, laundry, vacuuming.” Biweekly: “dusting, cleaning the shower, recyclables.” Monthly: “cleaning windows, running computer disk cleanup.” Seasonal: “mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, switching the furnace from summer to winter, then winter to summer.” Little Bill had arranged the night’s dinner, a rotisserie chicken that came free with the purchase of 10 packages of Rice-A-Roni. Bill ate alone at the dining room table. Michelle slept. Then her cell phone began beeping. A text message from Chelsea. The football game was over. “Get me.” Michelle called to her husband. Bill grabbed the keys and headed to the garage. *** Day Zero. The separation came sooner than Chelsea had expected. Her dad was not scheduled to fly to basic training until Oct. 7, but a day earlier he had to report to the recruiting office where a van would take him to Milwaukee. The recruits would be driven to a hotel in the city so that early the next day, they could be processed, sworn in and flown to their base. Bill’s family would not be there on the 7th. Hard enough to face one farewell. No one had the stomach for a second. Besides, separation wasn’t the family’s only misery scheduled for Oct. 6. Hours before Bill left, Michelle was to receive her next dose of chemo. Bill planned to accompany her to the hospital. Chelsea, too. This time, however, Michelle’s blood tests were not good. She was not healthy enough to be poisoned. She would have to skip a week. So, on a rainy morning, everyone, including Bill’s mother and stepfather, waited in Watertown, watching the clock tick closer to 1 p.m. and his appointment at the recruiting office. Less than an hour remained. Bill hooked up the camera to the TV and they watched a slide show of images from the past year. Here was Little Bill at his high school prom and graduation, and Chelsea at confirmation. Here was the Fourth of July parade, Chelsea marching with the band and holding the flag. Here was the trip to the Great Smoky Mountains – the cabin, four-wheeling with Little Bill, horseback riding with Chelsea. “This is me dying,” Michelle said, smiling at a photo of the climb up Clingmans Dome. “You made it,” Bill said. When the slide show returned to Little Bill’s prom, the family stood up to go. Bill grabbed his backpack. The long goodbye moved to the recruiting office. The van was late. Michelle straightened her husband’s jacket and hugged him. She talked about the last few months, how strange it had felt to have him home during the day instead of away at work. It would feel stranger still not to have him around at all. “I’ll find out how many times I say, ‘I don’t know. Ask your Dad. That’s your Dad’s department,’ ” she said. Just before 2:30, the van arrived. “Butterflies are coming back,” Bill said, excusing himself for a last trip to the restroom. The driver checked IDs, consulted his clipboard, then eyed Bill and the other recruit. “You ready?” Chelsea and her Dad hugged. It happened so quickly; all she could say was: “Bye.” In the parking lot, tears streamed down Michelle’s face. She held Bill near the van, unable to find any words at all. “I love you,” Bill said. “I’ll call.” And then he was gone. On the ride home, Chelsea texted her cousin and her best friend. My Dad just left. No signature this time. The countdown was over. *** Early the next morning, Bill Caudle learned that he would not be going to Fort Jackson, S.C. He was headed to Fort Knox, Ky., instead. He would be half as far from home – 475 miles instead of 950. The moment he was processed at Fort Knox, his Army health coverage kicked in. Having missed a week of chemo, Michelle is scheduled to return for treatment Tuesday. Her birthday. “Not exactly where you want to spend your birthday,” she said, managing a grin. If all went according to schedule, Bill would finish basic training in mid-December. Michelle would still be in the midst of chemo. She hoped to make it to his graduation.


The Amazing Cucumber October 17, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Trish Patricia Mikkelson, founder and director of Vegan Utopia Ecovillage @ 4:07 am

I received this email from a friend…if it all this is true, The Funktional Family will definitely focus on growing more cucumbers next year! Wow! You are going to be amazed at all this.

This information was in The New York Times several weeks ago as part of their “Spotlight on the Home” series that highlighted creative and fanciful ways to solve common problems.

1. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.

2. Feeling tired in the afternoon, put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a cucumber.  Cucumbers are a good source of B Vitamins and Carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.

3. Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower?  Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance.

4. Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds?  Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long.  The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.

5. Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool?  Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes, the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite.  Works great on wrinkles too!!!

6. Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache?  Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free.  Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!!

7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge?  Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often used by European trappers, traders and explores for quick meals to thwart off starvation.

8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don’t have enough time to polish your shoes?  Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.

9. Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge?  Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!

10. Stressed out and don’t have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa?  Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water, the chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber with react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown the reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams.

11. Just finish a business lunch and realize you don’t have gum or mints?  Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the phytochemcials will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath..

12. Looking for a ‘green’ way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel?  Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean, not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but is won’t leave streaks and won’t harm you fingers or fingernails while you clean.

13. Using a pen and made a mistake?  Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing, also works great on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls!!

Pass this along to everybody you know who is looking for better and safer ways to solve life’s everyday problems.


Ozark Area Community Congress Nov. 6-8 October 16, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Trish Patricia Mikkelson, founder and director of Vegan Utopia Ecovillage @ 5:06 pm


You are invited to The 30th Annual Convening of the Ozark Area Community Congress…

OACC 30 – November 6-8, 2008
Ananda Kanan International Retreat Center, Willow Springs, MO

All those who love and care about the Ozarks are invited to gather together once again to celebrate, appreciate, and learn from this phenomenal part of the Earth and each other…

Our theme this year…

**Why “Lifeboat Ozarks”?…At this year’s OACC, as part of her presentation of Ozarks biodiversity, biologist Andrea Radwell (of Eureka Springs) will tell us the amazing story of how for untold thousands of years the Ozarks has been and remains among the prime refugia of the planet.  Refugium. A special place on Earth that is a sanctuary for beleaguered and refugee species. **

-The first and longest-standing bioregional congress.  (The original greens!)
-An ecologically-aware, child- and family-friendly community village where together we learn, play, relax, and take care of each other.
-A meeting place for ecologically-informed, creative, talented people, growers, activists, operators of small businesses, musicians, writers and innovators; where you can meet with others about what’s of interest to you. OACC is just plain useful, valuable, and often life-changing!
-A three-decades-long planning and development process for a sustainable and regenerative green economy for the Ozarks.
-A place to network and get informed about significant issues affecting our lives in the Ozarks, in an ecological context.

OACC is a celebration of the Ozarks and all things restorative and  ecological!

– Workshops and presentations on ecologically-related subjects, campfires, music, poetry and readings, and homegrown Ozarks culture in general. Some sessions may be scheduled on the spot through the “open space” process.
-Good vegetarian food, as locally grown and organic as possible.
-Please come ready to help out daily with your choice of volunteer, community-sustaining work, whether in the kitchen, child care, grounds cleanup, and whatever it takes to keep our little village going. It’s fun to work together as well as play, and this is one way OACC keeps its costs so low.  When you register we will sign you up for your choice of fun volunteer opportunities! Without your wholehearted volunteer help, OACC can not function or continue.


Jim Scott (A special treat for OACC XXX.) Friday evening concert, and collaborative song-writing workshop on Saturday. (We may even be able to coax him into doing a song or 2 at the Coffeehouse.)  Jim’s guitar skills, song writing, and voice for the Earth are legendary, going back to his days with the Paul Winter Consort.  Jim played for us at OACC’s 22 and 25.  Extraordinary! Learn more about Jim and his music:

Presenters, Presentations, and Sessions So Far…

-Andrea Radwell: Biodiversity of the Ozark Plateau – A New Perspective of Natural History.
-Bo Brown. Introduction to Primitive Skills.  (
-Ilene Myers: Introduction to Somatic Repatterning. (Consciously create your reality by “rewiring” your neurotransmitters…access inherent potency, ease, flow, joy and gratitude!)
-Aubree Taylor- Well Fed Neighbor Alliance (Springfield); Drumming Workshop: Drumming into the Sacred. (
-Lavinia McKinney: The Joy of the Home Greenhouse. (
-Daniel Roth: Ozark Seed Saving and the Seed Solution to Hunger Program (
-Mary Mike Taylor- Green Building, Co-Housing, and Sustainable Community Development.
-David Haenke: OACC History and its Influence on the North American Green Movements.
-Denise Vaughn: “Karst in the Ozarks.” Preview and focus-group discussion for new 15-minute educational video targeting middle school science classes.
-Sasha Daucus: Memorial for Friends and Allies Passed This Year.  Saturday, 5PM. (You can contact Sasha beforehand before the session to talk with her on who to remember, and how. Otherwise, just come. )
-State of the Ozarks Report and Forum.  All in attendance will be invited to give a short overview of their organization, their work, or an issue of concern within the Ozarks.
-Ozark Bioregional Native-Style Wrestling Seminar and “Championship”
-Ozark Bioregional Stone-Skipping “Championship” (bring your own stones!)

..and Open Space…
At any given OACC people have attended who are strongly involved in, for instance, re-localization, organic gardening and agriculture, appropriate technology, alternative health, communities, land trusts, ecological protection, forestry, home schooling, conservation, responsible media, sustainable businesses, biodiversity preservation, ecological restoration, culture, music, arts, eco-villages, and the list goes on…
OACC’s program this year will have pre-scheduled presenters, plus time available for anyone who offers to conduct a session after arrival. These previously non-scheduled presentations will be scheduled during an “Open Space” process on Friday evening. Got something to say? Here’s a place to say it! (If you want to be part of the Open Space be sure to come on Friday.)



-Noon: set up begins
-3 pm: registration opens
-Late afternoon: impromptu discussion groups
-5 pm: Early dinner and potluck. (We will have some simple snack-type food, and if you could bring some potluck additions, we will save our food folks much work early on as we are getting set up.  Thanks in advance if you can bring something to share!)
-6 PM. OACC overview, Opening Circle. This is your chance to introduce yourself, meet all the other participants, and find out what they are doing. Very important! Tell us where you are from, especially your home watershed, and what you are passionate about!
-Open Space scheduling. If you want to conduct a previously unscheduled workshop, this is your sign-up time.
-Jim Scott Concert.

9 AM to Lunch: Workshops, presentations, events start.
–     12 Noon to 1:30: Lunch
1:30 PM to 6 PM: Afternoon workshops, presentations, discussion groups, other events;
6PM: Dinner
7:30 pm: Coffeehouse. This is our own talent show, where everyone, from the smallest child up, is encouraged to perform, be it with music, poems, theatrics, dance, or jokes. (Major fun.)
Campfire – after Coffeehouse
Morning: workshops, presentations, discussion groups
Noon to 1 PM: Lunch
After lunch: Silent auction for leftover food (great bargains possible!), clean up, closing circle. Please stay after if you can to help clean up. Thanks!


We serve vegetarian meals from Friday dinner to Sunday lunch, prepared as much as possible with organic, local, or fair-trade ingredients.

Please help us keep registration costs low by bringing food to share. It could be a covered dish for Friday night, if convenient, or perhaps your garden produce, or bulk food, or wholesome items like bread, fruit or cheese.

(However, Ananda Kanan asks that we please not bring any meat, eggs, mushrooms, garlic, onions or onion-like vegetables such as leeks, shallots, etc.)

Our kitchen coordinator would be happy to answer your questions about what food items we need the most. Contact Pearl at, 417…. She appreciates calls to let her know what food you can bring, especially bulk items. Planned ingredients make better meals, so please get in touch with Pearl.

Ananda Kanan Ozark Retreat Center has dormitories, bathrooms, hot showers, a dining hall, excellent group meeting places, play area, large pond with canoes, and more. If it rains, we are well covered.
Bunks and mattresses are provided in the dorm rooms. BRING YOUR OWN BEDDING, SLEEPING BAGS, PILLOWS…Tent sites are also available. If you have special needs for accommodations, please contact the coordinators at 417…, or; or

Bring food donations, drums, musical instruments, acts for the coffeehouse talent show, your kids, your friends, and your songs. There’s a lake, so canoes and kayaks are OK. Don’t forget the kids’ life jackets. You will need your own soap, shampoo, towels, sleeping bags and bedding. Dishes, trays, and silverware are provided, but cups are scarce. Please bring cups. Be prepared for Ozark fall weather, which can range from mild and dry to cool and wet. Bring clothes to cover these possible weather conditions.

Childcare will not be provided.  Parents are welcome to work together and with us to organize cooperative childcare during the Congress.


Ananda Kanan is approximately 5 miles southwest of  Willow Springs, and 18 miles north of West Plains, Missouri.
On a Missouri map locate the junction of Highways 60 and 63 (about 2 miles east of Willow Springs). From this junction, take Highway 63 south four miles to “UU” Highway. Turn left/east on “UU” (Coming in a northerly direction from West Plains, turn right on ‘UU.)
Go about 1.5 miles to County Road 1670, turn left/north on this dirt road and go about 1 mile. Look for the Ananda Kanan gate on the left, and turn left here on the driveway up to the Retreat Center.
We will have “OACC” signs at the Junction of Hwys 63/”UU”, “UU”/Co. Rd. 1670, and at the Ananda Kanan gate.
(CAUTION: If you go too far east on Hwy. “UU” you will come to Hwy. “U”. If you come to “U”, turn around and retrace to Co. Rd. 1670.  Don’t take “U” highway. Obviously it could be easy to confuse these similarly-named roads.)
Ananda Kanan’s phone number is: 417…. The address is: 3157 County Road 1670, Willow Springs, MO.

After decades of charging the amazingly – and even absurdly – low amount of  $35/person, $15 kids; $60/couple; $100 max/family, this year we are with great reluctance forced by the rising costs of everything, particularly our per-person costs for Ananda Kanan (up nearly 40%), and  food, to raise our attendance costs.( If we get several more co-sponsors, or someone gives us an extra pot of money or a serious amount of good food, this could much help our bottom line.  Money or food angels, are you out there??)  The bottom line is, we are committed to keeping the attendance costs as low as we possibly can and still be able to continue with OACC. As oft this writing, however, please note the small increase…

Registration fees for all three days, covering everything (meals, lodging, programs, etc) are:
-Adults – $40 (still cheaper than staying home);
-Couples,  $70 for the two of you;
-Kids (aged 5 to 18): $20
-Kids, 5 and under: no cost
-Family Maximum: $120

Attendance for the whole three days is encouraged, but day rates will be pro-rated. Please help us out and register as soon as you get to OACC.

Attendees under 18 must be accompanied by a responsible adult.



For $120 (or more if you are able), you or your organization can be an OACC 30 Co-Sponsor.  Co-sponsorships help us keep our registration costs down while giving good people and organizations recognition.

If you or your organization would like to co-sponsor, please make co-sponsorship checks out to:

P.O. BOX 1226

For more information, please contact Co-sponsorship Coordinator Michelle Gurley. Tel.: 417…;

OACC 30 Co-Sponsors to-date…
-Acupuncture Werks, Van Buren, MO.
-Alford Forest, Inc., Brixey, MO. ( )
-Noelle and Keith Callaway, Springfield, MO.
-Crater Critter Community Council, Osceola, MO.
-Golden Light Center, Doniphan, MO. ( )
-Scott Hamlet, Talihina, OK
-Hawk Hill Community Land Trust, Drury, MO.
-Thomas Hubbard, San Francisco, CA.
-Lick Branch Settlement, Pettigrew, AR
-Mama Jean’s Natural Market, Springfield, MO. (
-Mary Mike & Associates, LLC, Springfield, MO. (
-Mid-Missouri Peaceworks/ The Peace Nook, Columbia, MO. (
-Missouri Coalition for the Environment, St. Louis, MO.  (
-Ozark Regional Land Trust, St. Louis, MO. ( )
-Ozarks Resource Center, West Plains, MO.
-Planet Drum Foundation, San Francisco, CA.  ( )
-Renaissance Books and Gifts, Springfield, MO.
-Scarlet, Rick and Gloria Johnson, Springfield, MO.
-South Central Solid Waste Management District, Eunice, MO.


(That’s all for the particulars…Now, a little more about the nature of OACC…)


OACC as a “congress” is distinguished clearly from a run-of-the-mill “conference” in that it is a gathering of peers (not just conference attendees passively consuming information from paid “experts” and “professionals”) who inexpensively and on a volunteer basis organize and conduct the event themselves as a temporary green “village,” take care of themselves (preparing food, providing their own entertainment and presentations from within the group itself, cleaning up, etc.), and decide among themselves by consensus the present and future directions and content of OACC as an informal “organization.”  The  “Open Space” format for workshops and presentations is very much a part of this Congress tradition.

Come to OACC and contribute your talents and energies to the community!
Invite and bring one or more like-minded folks who you would like to be there with!

For Further Information:

OACC 30 Co-coordinators:

Michelle Gurley; ; 417-37…

David Haenke; ; 417-679-3098


Cllimate Change Rally Saturday Oct. 24 in Fayetteville

Filed under: Uncategorized — Trish Patricia Mikkelson, founder and director of Vegan Utopia Ecovillage @ 4:13 pm

The Funktional Family definitely supports  raising awareness of how we need to be better stewards of the planet.  I personally am not so sure about the effectiveness of having legislation that makes this happen. However, I still want to support this event.  Here’s the info from Morty and Hamsa:

Greetings, please invite everyone you know, including those with alternative transportation (bicyclists, scooter people, those with bio-diesels etc.) to join in the parade – rally for Climate Change on Saturday, October 24th, at 2pm behind Bordinos Restaurant.

This is an opportunity for us all to be part of an international tapestry with over 1300 other cities world-wide to help push for substantial climate change legislation. This issue affects everyone on the planet and is universally the most pressing! Let’s join in solidarity on the 24th….here are the details: Climate change is real and you can do something about it. October 24th is International Climate Action Day and Fayetteville is one of over a thousand cities around the world that will host a rally. Join with fellow citizens of NW Arkansas and people world-wide on Saturday, October 24th, 2:00pm for a March and Rally beginning in the parking lot off Dickson St. behind Bordinos then marching to the Fayetteville Square. There will be speakers, music and information on how we can make a difference affecting the December treaty in Copenhagen. Stand up for Action on Climate Change, Saturday, October 24th, beginning at 2:00pm behind Bordinos, sponsored by and 1 SKY. For more information call 521-7786.


Green web sites for NWA and Ozarks October 10, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Trish Patricia Mikkelson, founder and director of Vegan Utopia Ecovillage @ 3:48 am
  1. – Activist site for progressives, greens and other like minded persons.
  2. – On-line alternative  community newspaper.
  3. – Green directory for individuals, businesses and organizations.
  4. – Working web site for extending the reach of the Green Party.
  5. – Bringing Open Source software to the people.

Thanks to Randl for supplying these web sites.