We’re at the end of 2016 now and it’s the day for ringing in 2017.
It’s a good day for summing up a year’s worth of efforts to build a “Simple Life of Abundance and Peace”.
2 cent Christmas Tree
I’m ever grateful for the freedom to pursue this dream I’ve long held; having basic needs met and time to do things the way I’ve always wanted to.
It might be fun to have no end of money and be able to ‘buy’ all the things that could accomplish the ultimate goals more quickly; but I think, the best part of it all is the journey and the challenges that near-poverty offers.
I’m rich as far as I can tell.
Of course, a big part of the dream is to have the ability to walk out into the property around my home and be able to pluck the foods to eat each day. Living in a high desert, there are many challenges toward that goal. A big part of what was done this year was to create as many soil building strategies that resources available to me would allow. Having a #GoodNeighbor offered external inputs that were unexpected and allowed to increase this goal more quickly. Another goal is to not need external inputs, but that is a very, very big challenge indeed.
Leaf bin from leaves gifted by my #GoodNeighbor
My #GoodNeighbor gifted so many leaves that I was able to completely cover the #1HugelkulturBed and make this big bin. For some reason, most of his leaves fell before mine did, so once mine fell, I had enough to cover the #RaisedBed and the #NorthFencePlot, all of which are in the #NorthFacingFrontYard. The #ScragglyTreeBed got a layer as well because, after all, it’s right under the main leaf dropper.
Oleander debris from my #GoodNeighbor in the #AlleywayProject
My #GoodNeighbor also dropped a huge load of oleander debris from a job he did nearby. He said it would be a lot. I had no idea it was to be so much. I distributed it all along the #AlleywayProject. It ended up being about 12″ thick before it started its breakdown. I think once the leaves dry and drop, I may re-corral the sticks for another purpose. Green, they are easy enough to lop, but once dry, too hard; and there are just too many of them to lop at this stage anyway. I did lop them down enough to get them laid here, but that was enough.
So much was accomplished this year. As I look back at images, I realize just how hard I work to not work, (a ‘real’ job). This is exactly the kind of work I’ve always wanted to do, just providing for myself the best I can.
Part of the “Simple Life of Abundance and Peace” requires that radically simple solutions to things be the modus operandi. As appliances are wearing out and beyond repair, they are being replaced with simpler ways of doing things. This usually means harder and taking longer. A big part of simplicity is to do things in ways that create far less of an impact on the environment, waste far less of precious resources and contribute more to bettering community.
Plumbing issues have been with me from the beginning of taking this 1945 built property. They have been being addressed defensively as money just isn’t available ahead of most issues.
This faucet has been a nuisance for a very long time. Things have been under it and beside it to collect drips for several years probably. The metal is so calcified, I’ve been afraid to try to tackle it myself. The #SouthFacingBackYard has been in terrible shape for a long while and has been grating on my nerves to improve it.
Once #TheCatastrophe was fixed (new window glass silicon secured into the old frames), work began on the back yard. There was a mess of things up against this window while I waited for the $$$ to put the new glass in. There was a gorilla rack behind two glass doors, timely donated, to keep weather from overtaking the plastic taped to the window frames.
The gorilla rack was relocated under the tree to the right of this window for the kitties #HighriseLoftApartment to sit atop. But, before that could be moved, all kinds of junk had to be moved out and the dirt leveled. Years ago I created an elevated area to plant a peach tree. The peach tree failed and for the life of me, I can’t remember the thinking behind moving all that dirt. Nonetheless, it had to all be moved again. During the dirt moving, leaves were raked, weeds were pulled, Bermuda grass dug out and a bin created to hold it all. The working faucet was farther away, so I turned the calcified one on and that was when the plumbing trouble began, this time. Once the calcification was broken… drip, drip, drip only this time, much faster and more of it. So, out to the main to turn it off. Then to try to assess the trouble. Dig, dig, dig. The pipes were finally exposed and identified. The plumber was grateful and said it would have cost me another hour of his time had I not done that.
So, while the water was turned off and I’ve been waiting for the plumber to find time in his busy Handy Andy schedule, toilet flushing became an issue and it was decided to be the perfect time to start composting my own ‘waste’, rather resource; #Humanure. Remember that no external inputs goal? Well, there we go, further along the road less traveled; resources from within.
#HumanureBin and other composting
And, thanks in large part to my #GoodNeighbor, I had lots and lots of leaves to use to get things started.
An album was created on the First Do No Harm Front Yard Farmacy Facebook page, here for how the bin was built. I researched it and of course have the book, The Humanure Handbook. Here is a great page with all the how-tos, why-fors and what-nots directly from the author of the book if you want a short cut. Be sure to click on the links therein. Great stuff. And here is a wonderful essay on rural hygiene, written in the latter 1800’s, digitized and made into a pdf. Fascinating stuff and to realize that composting humanure was the answer at that time to the trouble that was a cesspool. Mr. Good For Trade, of course, came along and over took any useful enterprise to capitalize on those same needs for profit in spite of what it might do to the betterment of community or the environment. Not much changes with time, unfortunately.
Before the faucet trouble, there was the demise of the washing machine; one that was my mother’s, pre-owned when she bought it inherited when she died, then used by me since 1997. It had a good long life. It was at least 30 years old.
I have been hand-washing clothes ever since and it does present some interesting challenges. I’m trying to will an old fashioned ‘hand wringer’ to myself to make things a little easier.
Hand washing clothes in a tub in the tub
Another of the goals started this year was the #MosaicFloorProject. I had been collecting tiles here and there. At one time, I was bringing home one or two at a time to see what I might like to install throughout the house. Once it became clear that that would not likely ever be in the budget, the mosaic idea came to the front. This has been a goal since I moved in here 13 years ago now. Finally. I got this far when I realized I should put an ad in our local trader to see if I could get enough to do the entire house. I stopped at this point to wait to see what came my way so that they could all be worked together for the greater look.
Two people responded to my ad. This was one collection and another came later.
Free tiles for the #MosaicFloorProject
Originally those same tiles were stacked in the carport, but with all of the defunct appliances accumulating, I needed this area to stage them for getting them off premises. So, the tiles were moved to the front of the house.
Clutter Busting old appliances and junk to get it off premises
A lot has been done this past year. These are just a few of the more recent things.
As the year comes to a close, it’s fun to think about what’s ahead.
We’ve been having what seem to be more rain than I can recall from past Winters. So wonderful. And it all started right after the leaves had fallen and needed it to weigh them down and get their decomposition started.
Lots of rain so far this Winter
Rain, rain, rain
That makes me so happy, because it means that the things put into place for soil building will likely be further along than they might have without it.
All throughout the year, I’ve been doing things to practice food forest concepts. In a forest, things just land where they do and nature takes over.
Some cilantro debris was tossed over the fence from some that had grown, turned to seeds and got wet over Summer. It volunteered and is growing as we speak, right next to one of the three baby Italian Cypresses that were planted equidistant apart in the #ParkwayProject.
Volunteer cilantro in the #ParkwayProject
Likely while carrying seed heads around, a Brassica volunteered at the West end of the #RaisedBed that had Sweet Potatoes last year, 2015-16; see header image on the main page. There was arbor mulch buried here that same year after building a little #2HugelBed right before it; so there is composting material under the surface here.
Volunteer Brassica making it in the shade
Today I spotted this critter in the #HackberryTree in the #SouthFortyTriangleLot. It looked just like a cardinal to me, though a little trimmer and black. Sure enough, there is a bird often referred to as a Black Cardinal. I take it as a sign of unusual and wonderful things to come. Apparently it is only ever seen in the Southwest. Lucky me. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen it. I see cardinals all the time and they are a treat as well.
Part of the value of living this kind of lifestyle is that it makes one feel less vulnerable to the “powers that be”. So many ugly things seemed to have happened this past year and it doesn’t seem to be relenting. My hope is that enough of us will adopt this kind of lifestyle to make a difference. If ‘they’ don’t own us by our need for sustenance, they really can’t manipulate us the way that they have. At least that’s how I see it.
As I’ve mentioned here before, most of my ability to do this now hinges on Social Security income. Of course, ‘they’ are threatening to steal that away from us too. I’m going to adopt Scarlett O’Hara’s perspective, “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”― Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind
Little Red-Haired Girl, my constant sidekick
For now, I’m happy that my Little Red-Haired Girl is still with me. She got very feeble this year but she is a trooper and I feel that it isn’t my right to decide when she should go, it is hers. She’s my joy and I will love her just the way she is and do everything in my power to make her life as good as it can be.
Little Red-Haired Girl starting out the night beside me on the bed
I pile her up in dog bedding right next to me. Middle of the night she wants out for a pee and then she spends some time on her mat on the floor. Sometimes I lay her on my chest and we sleep like that for awhile. If she’s having a bad night, it seems to calm her to be on me; she relaxes and falls right to sleep. I love her to the moon and back. She’s a hot mess, but I do as little intervention as I can so as not to traumatize her.
Lucy and Mickey in their #HighriseLoftApartment
Lucy and Mickey Mouser seldom apart
Mickey and Mini (Lucy) are never far apart. Mickey has gotten to be quite a large feller. Lucy is a very little kitty; she’s 2, he’s 1.
Gertie keeping track of me
Gertie is in pretty good shape. She can’t hear worth a darned. If I call her, she goes opposite of my voice, even if I whistle. So, when we’re out together, she keeps a close eye on me. It’s a food thing. I usually have to go up and tap her if I want her to come in.
Whole Food Plant-Based Eating = No animals
All in all, it was a very productive year for me. Still not providing my own food to eat, but have great hope for the future. I’ve decided that I’m not going to try to grow a bunch of exotic things or too many things in general; but rather just focus on the things I eat regularly. I do have two avocado trees that volunteered from seeds in compost that I have been babying along for two seasons now. They will need a greenhouse to keep going. That is a goal; a poly-tunnel at the least.
I found a bean that grows well in this area and will practice with it next Monsoon season, during which time they are supposed to be planted. Tepary Beans, grown in this area with great success, actually won’t grow right if they get too much water. Aren’t plants just the most amazing things.
First grown in the Southwest during ancient times, tepary beans (Phaseolus acutifolius) mature quickly and are tolerant of the low desert heat, drought and alkaline …
Mostly what I eat is beans, rice, sweet potatoes, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, onions, garlic, tomatoes and avocados. Of course there are other spices like turmeric I’d love to figure out how to grow and herbs like Chamomile. I do need to think about greens, but they too are a rather tricky thing here. Since Brussels sprouts are so, so good for us and a favorite of mine, I am determined to figure out how to grow them.
The staples are what I will focus on for now. It would be nice to be able to grow a grain. My #GoodNeighbor was talking about how he’d like to grow wheat. Imagine if each neighborhood set up a string of growing venues to help each other out.
You can solve all the world’s problems in a garden ~ Geoff Lawton
I believe that and I’m going to spend my energy trying to will that for the world this coming year. The only other ‘resolution’ I may project is to quit buying Payday candy bars to torment myself about eating processed sugar with. Those and Cheez-Its are a struggle to pass up at the grocery. The thing that helps to keep me from purchasing them is that they site *Palm oil as a possible ingredient. That and the ‘real cheese’ are enough to make me stop that unsustainable, foolish, unfriendly thing. Hole forests are being razed to grow palm oil trees. How can I possibly be complicit with that not to mention the horror that is a dairy!
Time to start planning for Spring, because it’s closer than we think!
Happy New Year!