Just One Thing

Every late afternoon as I go on a two-mile trek around my neighborhood, I think. I’m big on thinking, but this allows for a rather clutter-free venue for doing it. Except that there are plenty of stimulating distractions as I walk without a cell phone, i-pod or any other electronic device.

I can’t speak for almost every driver that I pass with their eyes gazing down, one hand on the steering wheel, one hidden, sometimes both hidden, but mostly all with eyes down. I suspect they are all looking at devices.

People that I pass who are walking also often have something in their ear or in their hand. Sometimes they rip a plug out of an ear when they see me smile and my lips start moving. “What!”, they ask. “Hello”, I repeat.

There is one man I often cross paths with and we’ve gotten to stopping for a brief “what movie are you watching tonight” conversation. He lives alone too and asks me if I get lonely? “No, I don’t”, I respond. He says he does a little. He has two leads, one in each hand, no devices as he walks “his girls” around. They are both very old as he and I are too. They walk very slowly, I very fast so we often cross twice. I love to see his doggie’s butts in front of me as I come upon them. They are all so happy, out walking together. One of the dogs is always off stretching the lead to sniff; the other stays on the straight and narrow.

There is another lady whose yard I go by and it has chickens in it; five or six beautiful things. Once in awhile she is outside and we stop to chat too. Her name is Francie and I made myself remember it by thinking of the Gidget movies. She had forgotten mine and apologized. She commended me for walking and complained that she does not. I always invite her to walk with me. She hasn’t taken me up on it yet.

A little farther up, I make a special whistle for Jewel to recognize that it is me that is coming and that she doesn’t need to bark if she doesn’t want to. She has a special conversation for me anyway, not really barking, “Arr, arr, arr, arrrrrr!”. Her mother was out yesterday with a friend at her gate and she looked up to tell me, “She’s talking to you!”. I shared my special whistle so Jewel’s mother knows that I make sure to talk back to Jewel each time I pass by. I always tell Jewel how pretty she is. She’s a black and white, very fit boxer-pit mix of some kind I think. “Hi Jewel. You’re so pretty”, I say. I want to tell her mother that if she ever needs a home…

Sometimes I run across a homeless man who makes his two beautiful hounds, (one probably the mother and the other one of her babies), traipse around the neighborhood with him everywhere he goes. Sometimes he is on foot, other times riding a bike. The dogs have to keep up with him, strapped to whatever he has with him collecting junk; a cart or a bike with a cart. I try to divert my path if I see him ahead as it breaks my heart the way he treats them. It’s all I can do to not chastise him. I have heard from a friend who lives near him that he gets mad and pounds on them. Oh, my heart aches for animals that are not treated right.

Today on my trek it was snowing broom seeds everywhere I went. Desert Broom is everywhere here and most people think of it as a nuisance; an invasive species.

Of course, I think they are beautiful and that whatever will be should be. There are a couple in my yards.

I ended up the proud owner of a very nice pair of lops because a friend wanted me to take out broom plants that were interfering with people getting up her long and winding driveway. She can’t do it herself anymore so donated the lops to me so that I can do hers for her once in awhile. I have only done them once. I love the lops. Lucky me.

Desert broom is a vertical, evergreen, densely-branched shrub usually 3 to 6 feet tall, occasionally up to 10 feet tall. Its many fine twigs are green; the tiny, linear leaves are deciduous during dry periods. The plants are dioecious (that is, each individual plant bears only “male”or “female” flowers) and blooms in the fall. The wind – dispersed, white-tasseled seeds are produced by the female plants in such abundance that the plants and nearby ground appear to be snow-covered.

Desert broom grows in the desert, desert grasslands, and chaparral from 500 to 5,000 feet elevation in Arizona, California, Sonora, and Baja California.

In the winter the cottony mounds crowning the female plant are composed of countless individual fruits. Each seed is attached to many silken, white hairs called pappus. The pappus, serving as parachutes, carry by the wind, the seeds which drift to the ground, collecting everywhere!

Desert Broom is relatively short-lived. It is rarely browsed by mammals, but its strong shade fosters the growth of other plants. Desert Broom is most prominent in the higher areas of our Arizona stream beds.


Lizards are brumating at this time of year. I ran across this little baby while doing some cleanup work today. It was moved to a safer location. It was between some door skins that needed to be moved so that compost could be transferred. First do no harm.

There is just one simple little thing that any person can do to make this a better world. First do no harm. After that, all other things can fall into place.

Just one thing. First do no harm.

Imagine if we all just did that. Imagine.


The Waterfall Event

On my neighborhood walk this evening, I went down an alley where the back part of a lot has a fountain with water cascading down two tiers. It made me recall being nine years old and going on a Girl Scout trip; actually I was probably still a Brownie at the time.

Mr. and Mrs. Acker were the leaders and just a lovely, kind couple. My best friend at the time, Patty Hoyt, was there too. She was the youngest and I recall her being picked up and put on the shoulder of Mr. Acker for me to take a picture with the camera my mother gave me to take along. I remember it looking something like this:

It was hanging around my neck as we all went off on a hike. I remember there being quite a few of us marching along a mountain trail with the leaders ahead of us. We came upon a waterfall and I became so enamored with it that I just had to get a picture and started jumping from rock to rock in its stream to try to get closer. I remember thinking they all seemed to be getting a little too far ahead, but of being even more determined to get that shot then worried about their leaving. Some saw me doing it but marched on.

The memory includes the camera banging around on things as those stepping stone rocks were navigated and then a feeling of exhilaration of getting the shot.

When I got back out from the stream and waterfall, no one was within proximity enough for me to hear them. A tiny bit of fear crept in as it was getting dark, but there was an overwhelming sense of confidence that it would all be okay and that I would catch up.

Well, I didn’t catch up until, by some miracle, I found my way back to the lodge where we were staying; I had climbed out of the wilderness and found a paved road that I was following. By the time I made camp, everyone was fully engaged in getting their beds set up and had no idea whatsoever that I was ever missing.

That was my first recollection of feeling invisible and of realizing just how alone we really are in life. That image of the waterfall is still in a box somewhere; black and white and very poor, but a wild accomplishment logged in the book of my life. Maybe even the bigger accomplishment being that I didn’t lose my head when it finally dawned on me that they had left me behind and didn’t have a clue.

I read a quote lately, “The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before.” Not sure who said it originally and it’s kind of stating the obvious.

That day as a little nine year old Brownie, I felt like I had been somewhere no one else wanted to bother with. I remember feeling all the elements fully and enjoying the experience as I went through it. Even knowing that it was risky, it felt inevitable; something I had to do and I did it. I remember feeling challenged to get close enough but striving and not giving up. I have a vague recollection of thinking I wouldn’t get close enough to take a good shot but I took one anyway, as close as I could get to it, not willing to risk going any farther or making any longer delay in catching up with the crowd.

Of course in those days, there wasn’t the instant gratification of seeing a digital image. No telling how long the wait was for that film to be developed. I do remember being so happy to see that picture though. Things were very special because of that fact then; slow living.

Wild accomplishments are available at any age. I think of waterfall events as being things that you may have only dreamed about for a very long time but finally manage to scale the obstacles and eventually get to, even if you feel left behind most of the time getting there.

There are always streams to navigate and rocks to climb. There is a waterfall in front of me most of the time as I go through life; a thing I want to get to. Sometimes things can feel a little hopeless, but most times the feelings of enamor, determination and accomplishment overcome any reluctance to keep at it.

My young friend, whom I refer to as my Bohemian Fairy Daughter, brought me the latest issue of Where Women Create yesterday. Scouring the pages is so, so inspiring. It puts a flame anew in my soul to not give up and I’m always so grateful to her for making sure I get to see it. Thank you Sammie.

The waterfall event in front of me now is to finally get out in the studio, where this woman creates, and get creating.

lipstick roses

Lipstick Roses; handbag in the queue


Do you have a waterfall event in front of you?

What is it?

Thirty Seven Years

It’s so very important to be doing what you really love to do.

It’s important that this gets figured out as soon as possible.

It’s not always easy to do this.

I wrote a whole post years ago about how, as a child, I loved to go out in the open fields of my neighborhood and build imaginary neighborhoods where my family and friends would live. I dragged things around in these open fields to section off roads and plots that defined these spaces. I was very spatially oriented even then and would gravitate to a career that utilized those senses, Interior Design. It was a matter of being able to make a living doing something close to what I loved to do; which basically was simply to configure things, anything/everything in ways that pleased me.

I just turned 64 on June 22 and now, today, July 1, it dawned on me that 37 years ago today, July 1, 1981, I had a first date with a man who would be the most significant influence in my life to date. I thought that I was madly in love. Of course I know now that those feelings are transient and usually mean that it is going to be an experience of profound growth for me; which that relationship surely was.

True love is a whole different thing than madly in love.

Nonetheless, he impacted my life in ways I will never regret. We didn’t get married, we didn’t even move in together, but we never broke complete contact until just recently when he died. Several years had gone by since our last encounter and that encounter provided me with a release from all the thoughts of what could have been.

As it turns out, what could have been happened. He was everything he was supposed to have been for me. We would never have been happy as a couple; we were far too different in our passions and preferences. For one thing he didn’t really like animals all that much and that’s a very big difference.

The moral of this story is that all experiences nudge and plod us along in life to end up where we need to be. Some experiences have more significance than others.

As I shared in that story about my childhood, a publication about drapery hardware and beautiful window coverings had a profound effect on my life early on. That single thing steered my life in a direction. It made my heart beat faster. It gave me goose bumps. I couldn’t wait to get myself into that environment and I did everything in my power to get there and I did get there, step by step by step. And I’m still there. I still move things around, configure things to please me. I still love to handle fabric and fashion it into things of greater value. I still love to drag things around and create plots where my family and friends will live. My family and friend are now mostly pets.


Turtle found crossing the street lately on a morning walk around the neighborhood. I think I’ll call him Buster. “Hey Buster, where are you hiding now!”



A place for Buster to keep wet


Buster at feeding time

Thirty seven years ago today, I had a first date with a man who saw these values in me and encouraged them. He applauded my endeavors making it easier for me to go on with them. He saw things in me that I didn’t see. I felt special in his presence. For a very long time, I felt lonely without him. But because of him, I was stronger and even that was easier to endure.

I believe that everything happens for a reason and that everything will turn out right in the end and, to quote from the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, “if it is not alright, it is not yet the end”.

I don’t know how thirty seven years went by so fast and I’m very sad about the fact that it has. I don’t want to spend another minute dwelling on things I can do nothing about or things that don’t utilize my skills in the best way possible.

There are a great many things wrong with the world and it is easy to get caught up commiserating about it. I think it is a far greater thing to do something about it. To my mind, permaculture practices and living a radically simple life are about the greatest things anyone can really do to effect change. And that is what I shall do. Certainly nothing else I have done has worked and this I love to do.

Life is far shorter than we start out thinking it is.

It is so important to do what we love to do.


What do you love to do?

Are you doing it?

Why not?



Every. Single. Day.

It’s really about a lifestyle.



Choosing #VoluntaryRadicalSimplicity was about not participating in things that seemed to be complicit in destroying peace and happiness for myself and others.

I certainly wasn’t at peace getting up each morning to “dress for (someone else’s) success”. It was getting clearer and clearer that I was running on a treadmill, getting nowhere fast and using up my valuable life doing something that I was beginning to hate.

Yes, it did require me to participate in said system just long enough to get to the point that I could leave it all behind. Every. Single. Day. of my career was spent angling for ways to use it to get out of it. Every. Single. Day.

Now every single day is about getting up to see what success nature has brought to my attention. I’m in love.

I see so many posts each day that could cause me the same anxiety that used to fuel my drive to escape the status quo. Articles about exactly how to get good soil. Exactly how to maximize your space. Exactly how to not do or to do this or that.

I try to utilize my intuition instead for it has sustained me all throughout my life thus far. For me now, dressing for success is getting up and putting on the same dirty clothes I wore yesterday to fill up with yet more dirt. It’s about not looking in the mirror to see if I am acceptable but rather getting out there where the birds and bees and flowers and trees could not care one iota about how I look but rather that I put out some water for them, or plant flowers that they like, or throw out some seeds that they can steal…

Yes, I’m in love with life now, finally.

I guess I always have been but I had to tolerate the invasion of the body snatchers just long enough to find a way to escape them.

Now the daily task is to assist nature the best that I can so that I might be rewarded with ever more natural peace and happiness.


Self imposed daily rituals only involve utilizing the least of things for the most of things.


And maybe, getting to the library in time to check out a new collection of movies to watch in the evenings.

It’s all I can do to get cleaned up enough to go shopping for essentials.


As my house continues to fall into ever more disrepair, I try to imagine how I could live without it. There is no point in worrying.

Every. Single. Day. is for not letting other people’s bad politics infiltrate what can otherwise be a day for improving something, anything.

Will there be a nuclear attack? It sure seems that it is being normalized to be expected. Oh, woe is me! What can I do? I know…I can plant food. I can not drive my car. I can eat an organic, plant based diet. I can not participate in anything that supports what is at the root of all the destruction; using resources that are scarce. I can live a voluntarily radical lifestyle. It’s the best I can do.

And, possibly…not vote! Yep, you heard it here. That also is participating in a corrupt system that needs to be extinguished. At least in my humble opinion. It isn’t working; at least not fast enough.


So I will continue to plant food and flowers in hope that enough people will plant food and flowers enough to change things the real, good way.

And…I would like to learn how to paint clouds.


Image from Doc Martin








Every Day’s a Holiday

These were beautiful zinnia’s in Summer.

I think they are still beautiful; dry seed heads dancing on dried out, brittle stems. They were all over the yards; here, there and everywhere. All different colors. All from seeds saved from other years.

Flower Power

It’s hard to distinguish one thing from another these days since everything is one or another shade of evaporated green or other color.

Holidays come and go like any other day for me.

I don’t have children, except for fur babies. I don’t have a husband; never have. My sisters children are all busily involved in their own wonderful lives and live distances away.

New Year’s Day comes and goes with little fanfare here. Our mantra, mine and the fur babies, is “No hurry, no worry”.

I lived that crazy life of corporatism’s entrapment until I could find my way out and into this peaceful existence.

The other late afternoon, a friend called and asked if I wanted to run up to get something at McDonald’s with her. I said I’d rather she would come sit and have some of my #KitchenSinkSoup. I had been bragging about it lately. This batch had turned out especially good and she wanted to try it.

She agreed since I was in the middle of cooking and didn’t want to leave it to go with her. I went about setting up the table for an impromptu, what she called a, “Tea Party”. I put out all my hodge-podge favorite eating things; pretty, vintage glassware and mismatched bowls and plates for all the little odds and ends of foods I could come up with to make it a dinner that included the soup.

I didn’t take a picture. It wasn’t all that special. But it was special to feel free to do that without a lot of rush, planning and fretting.

We talked our heads off for a couple of hours, uninterrupted by TV or any other distraction.

For me, the turning of the year is completely insignificant. It’s just another day, a wonderful day, a day to be one’s best. Always be one’s best.

I think every day should be a holiday. At least it should be treated like one because there aren’t that many of them and I cherish every one.

Haute Handbags

“Haute Handbags” in the queue

Things I love to do: Garden and Sew. I’m determined to continue to declutter to the point that those two things are pretty much all I have to think about doing.

Oh, of course, and to love me some fur babies. The more the merrier.


The only thing I can think of that I want to do more of now that today is today is to drink more green tea. 😉

Here’s to your health, your peace and abundance.

Every Day’s a Holiday.



Inventing The Wheel

There is nothing new under the Sun.

This has been a hard lesson to learn for me as one who is always trying to come up with some new, wonderful thing that could potentially sell. Once upon a time I tried to invent a harvest apron based on my own needs when trying to use whatever top that was on me to cradle the pickings wasn’t fitting the bill. When I finally bothered to “Google” it, someone had already stolen my idea. Ha! So much for that, and they were selling it for way under my cost of labor, let alone the materials needed.

After Thomas Edison’s seven-hundredth unsuccessful attempt to invent electric light, he was asked by a New York Times reporter, “How does it feel to have failed seven hundred times?” The great inventor responded, “I have not failed seven hundred times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those seven hundred ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”

All of the things we use every single day were invented by someone somewhere. It’s mind boggling.

After years now of trying to figure out how to grow food, it is becoming ever more clear that Mother Nature knows exactly how to do it and the key is to be with her enough to hear what she has to say. Read, read, read…hear what others have to say…go to the ‘experts’ for advice; but the only sure way is to actually do it and live in the results.


Even then, it’s very perplexing and the science behind it is complex and sometimes hard to grasp.

Researchers have long assumed that the main way that plants lose water is through leaf pores called stomata. When water is abundant, the stomata open wide to let carbon dioxide flow in — maximizing photosynthesis, but allowing water to exit. Plants also lose moisture through a leaf’s waxy outer surface, or cuticle, but this effect has been considered negligible…

Is this why my plants look so dwarfed compared to the ones I see in places that get tons of rain? Are they not opening their stomata enough to take in carbon dioxide because of so little water and trying so hard to conserve what they have/transpiration? No, that doesn’t seem to be all there is to it:

Higher temperatures cause the plant cells which control the openings (stoma) where water is released to the atmosphere to open, whereas colder temperatures cause the openings to close. Relative humidity: As the relative humidity of the air surrounding the plant rises the transpiration rate falls.

I’m so confused.

Hand watering is terribly inefficient, not good to splash dirt up on the plants, and some don’t like water on their leaves, especially in this arid, Sun-tortured desert. It’s a great way to get to know the plants though and I rationalize my water use by claiming I’d rather use it to grow plant food than to eat meat.


There is no way to know it all either. Things continue to unfold and awareness follows. Reading about how and when the wheel appeared in history revealed that sequences occur. First tools that could be used for the precision of making them had to have been already invented. And, of course, there had to be a value and need for them.


Inventing the wheel was certainly an achievement; but as history tells, when roads weren’t available (war ravages), camels came back into play and that was because camel saddles had been invented. The wheel was of little value for transportation.

It’s an awesome world we live in.

I can’t imagine living without a wheelbarrow or a hand-truck. I certainly wouldn’t lash things onto the backs of animals and burden them with that trouble.

The moral of this story is though that Mother Nature has it all figured out already and we don’t need to re-invent what She is already an expert at. We just need to pay attention and study her habits.

She’s the best teacher of all.

They say that most inventions derive from nature, but that the wheel was a completely human invention; nothing like it exists in nature.

As far as gardening goes, I’m going to follow the wisdom of Thomas Edison and claim no failures, just eliminations of what doesn’t work.

Happy Gardening.


June 29, 2017




Is Happiness Overrated?

Not long ago I finished up to season 7 of the Doc Martin series. Season 8 has yet to be released. I want to own that series someday. I could watch it over and over. It really makes me feel happy for some reason.

I think it is because it is a rather poor community of people who care for each other in all ways. Martin is the rich ‘outsider’ who comes into the play of things because of his own frailties; he has a phobia of blood for one thing and is forced out of his passion and extreme competence as a surgeon. He has to face his ‘failures’.

The character Dr. Martin Ellingham is a brilliant man who has issues with expressing positive emotions. At a point, he and his wife Louisa seek professional help for their relationship. In an answer to the therapist, Martin says, “I think happiness is overrated.” He would like to ‘make’ Louisa happy, but he doesn’t think it is necessary for himself.

As the story unfolds it is revealed that Martin had suffered an emotionally deprived childhood. He wasn’t wanted by his mother and his father was self-involved.

I love his character. Even in the depths of emotional isolation, he struggles to turn his unsuppressible love for Louisa into a good thing; he sees the errors of his parents ways and realizes he doesn’t want to be that way himself.

A big key to unraveling what genuine happiness is seems to be self-discovery and not hiding from truths.

In the 80’s I read “The Road Less Traveled”, by Scott M. Peck. In the book he is describing what he says to a patient when they ask about terminating their therapy. He tells them, “When you yourself are able to be a good therapist.”

To which he claims many patients say,  “That’s too much work. To do that means that I would have to think all the time in my relationships with people. I don’t want to think that much. I don’t want to work that hard.. I just want to enjoy myself.”

A permanent feature on the bottom of each blog post on this website is my all time favorite quote about success.

This seems to be where happiness resides for me. When I feel that I have met a challenge and not shirked from it, I feel a real sense of happiness.

My career in design was often grueling. It required tedious attention to detail if I didn’t want to run into trouble and even then, my own efforts were no guarantee because there were so very many others involved in the process. It meant constant attention to ‘relationships’, constant thinking, and exhausting work, both mental and physical.

But, I remember one specific job that was especially grueling and at the same time exhilarating. A woman wanted a bank of woven wood shades on a string of windows on the street-facing side of her house. There were so many little issues, I can’t even begin to explain it. The shades themselves had all kinds of details that had to be properly considered; where brackets can be placed, valances over the brackets, how far above, how close together between blinds, the gaps that would exist…and then there were the windows themselves with no two measurements alike.

Well, it was an unbelievable amount of focus on detail and required mathematical gymnastics that I felt forced to attend because my livelihood and reputation fell on that focus.

The job went in without one single solitary hitch. I felt probably the same way a rock star feels after an especially successful concert. I felt as high as a kite.

Driving home required a trek along a long stretch of downward sloping highway. Well, in my stupor-high from self-satisfaction, (happiness), my foot got heavy and a cop’s light went on behind me. Somewhere in the conversation he asked me where I was coming from and what I did for a living, (my car was filled with samples). When I explained that I had just come from working with a client as an Interior Designer his face lit up. His daughter wanted to pursue that path. I further explained how utterly high I was feeling from the ‘success’ of the job that had just been completed.

He was the nicest cop I have ever experienced. He gave me a chance to explain. He gave me a warning and let me go.

Part of why I think I wanted to remove myself from that career was because I had had relative success and I wasn’t interested anymore in going through those grueling episodes for money.

Money has NEVER been the ultimate motivation in anything I have done. It has always been about  pursuing my own truth, feeling free, and knowing that I was seeking truth in all things related to that freedom.

I do think though that I have gone a little too far in a direction I need to turn back from, isolation. I feel a need to reengage with ‘society’ again. That is what I will be working on to improve on the happiness I already have in this life of #VoluntaryRadicalSimplicity.

Even in this radical simplicity, there are needs and no one can kid themselves that it can be done without some form of ‘money’/ exchange.

This is where the new goal comes in, Spare Shelf, (an old business idea that needs to be exhausted), and why I am determined to get this old house in a less than hovel condition.

More than simply positive mood, happiness is a state of well-being that encompasses living a good life—that is, with a sense of meaning and deep satisfaction…

…Research shows that happiness is not the result of bouncing from one joy to the next; achieving happiness typically involves times of considerable discomfort. Money is important to happiness, but only to a certain point. Money buys freedom from worry about the basics in life—housing, food, clothing.

~ Psychology Today

“Meaning and deep satisfaction” involves getting outside of self. Hopefully I can be what I need to be to make this change. It’s not about the money. It’s about feeling a deeper sense of value in the world. One that isn’t focused on negative things, but in making better things happen.

The Road Less Traveled

The Road Less Traveled

Are you happy?

What makes you happy?

Willy Nilly Whimsy

*This technique of watering annual weeds to get them to sprout and then wither before they can set new seeds —known as premature germination—has been used by organic farmers for many years to control weeds. When the weeds grow up, they shade and cool the ground long enough for the vegetables to get off to a good start, then they act as mulch for the vegetable garden, cooling the ground and conserving moisture. When the autumn rains arrive, fewer weeds come up since they were “tricked” into germinating too soon. Mr. Fukuoka is suggesting that this technique could also be useful in broad-scale rehabilitation for establishing trees, shrubs, and perennial grasses. – pg. 73 – Sowing Seeds in the Desert ~ Masanobu Fukuoka

Seems this man has the most useful ideas of all of the permaculture practices toward not needing, (eventually) any external inputs; which is very attractive to anyone who is living a lifestyle of #VoluntaryRadicalSimplicity.

I’m about to turn 63 and have almost a year now of making Social Security stretch to keep me going. It certainly requires frugality, to say the least. However, it is so much better than wondering day to day if enough sewing jobs would appear in time to make ends meet; now they can be supplemental income. And, of course, it has freed me up to be in the garden more. It doesn’t get any better than that in my book.

It’s amazing how little one can get by on when one decides to do just that. It has been a wonderful experience for me. I have stopped using a washing machine so therefore have stopped wearing one outfit after another, am wearing clothes until they are sufficiently dirty (who am I trying to impress in the garden) and have realized that it is true that we mostly wear 20% of our wardrobes 80% of the time.

Fortunately, my intent to add income to my SS is to up-cycle fabrics and clothes I’ve hoarded all through the years to sell in my Etsy shop; so, nothing will go to waste here.

Broadcasting seeds of many sorts

Broadcasting seeds of many sorts

This is a patch of dirt in the #SouthFacingBackYard that was getting scorched by the Sun. I wanted to do something to cover it so brought out a collection of seeds that hadn’t found homes yet. I threw in some bean seeds for good measure. I had in my hand, turnip, eggplant, beets and carrots. Couldn’t tell you now what went in here and I haven’t grown the first two before so don’t know what their sprouts look like. They were broadcast over the area and then the “Garden Claw” was used to break up the soil and mix them in. The area was raked to even it out. If they do well, they might get thinned a little to have a potential harvest. The goal was initially to just see what would come up in this parched, unamended dirt and to get it covered with something living that would create biomass, chop and drop for mulch and roots to feed the soil microbiome.

A little terraced area in the #SouthFacingBackYard

A little terraced area in the #SouthFacingBackYard

As it turns out, they are congregating some, which is good as it allows some space for traversing through them; willy nilly whimsy is what it is.

This seems to be more like how Mother Nature might decide to do things. She doesn’t plant things in rows and make trenches for the flow of water. Whatever lands and likes the spot comes up and plants that like to grow together do.

Volunteer tomato and cantaloupe among the strip of bunching onions

Volunteer tomato and cantaloupe among the strip of bunching onions

Bunching onions seeds from one grown last year were sown in a little strip inside the wire fence in front of #CompostCorner. Mulch in the form of debris that had been cold-composted was used to lightly cover the area. Volunteers have shown up; cantaloupe and tomato for sure, not sure what some are yet. There’s portulaca in there too which is an edible ‘weed’.

A little strip for bunching onions that had volunteers come up from the 'cold compost' material around them.

A little strip for bunching onions that has had volunteers come up from the ‘cold compost’ material put lightly over the sown area.

Tomatoes transplanted into the #NorthFencePlot

Tomatoes transplanted into the #NorthFencePlot

Several things have been sown behind and in front of the tomatoes that were transplanted from seeds sown in pots. When one thing failed to germinate, it was either resown or sown with something else. Sunflowers and zinnias were put up against the fence at the beginning of Spring but failed. There are just now a few zinnias showing up. Carrots were sown in front of the tomatoes because “Carrots Love Tomatoes”. One or two little seedlings can now be spotted after broadcasting whatever I had in my hands when doing the terraced area in the back. I guess they saw competition coming and decided to have a go?

The #RaisedBed in the #NorthFacingFrontYard

The #RaisedBed in the #NorthFacingFrontYard

This bed started out with cabbages that overwintered. Popcorn seeds were sown in two rows and eventually bean seeds were sown on each side and between those rows. Sweet potato slips grew on the farther end of this bed last year, so this year they were put in starting on this end going up to where things are volunteering in the ‘cold composted’ material put over the area they were last year; more willy nilly whimsy.


It feels like the season got off to a slow start but actually it just got off to a start that suited my own pace with life in the not-so-fast lane now. This method seems to allow for more intuition-based growing and just practicing to get to know Nature’s ways.


The #TriangleRaisedBed is also full of volunteers and things that decided to germinate after being raked around a few times. It’s a #WaitandSee thing here. All of a sudden a bunch of little green sprouts appeared; they do things their own way and in their own time.


without direction or planning; haphazardly.

a thing that is fanciful or odd.

At first glance the field appeared to be a failure to everyone, with the plants growing in such confusion…

…In the first year people sow the seeds, in the second year nature makes adjustments, and in the third year many unplanned and unexpected surprises begin to appear. That is when nature begins to make a natural garden for us…the vegetable flowers had bloomed, gone to seed, and reappeared as volunteers. Other seeds had been eaten and dispersed by birds and mice, and, as a result, the vegetables were scattered in every direction…”

– pg. 130 – Sowing Seeds in the Desert ~ Masanobu Fukuoka

I can’t recommend this book enough. It makes so much sense to me and is full of wisdom and philosophy as well as planting/not planting techniques that are designed to work with Mother Nature rather than against her.

Cheers and a hope for great success to you this growing season; however you garden, just that you do is a great thing.

Volunteer Marigold

Volunteer Marigold



So Much Abundance

I sometimes feel that I don’t live simply enough. I feel like I have so much abundance, it might even be too much.

I lived in the world I now criticize for many years, though I was never comfortable in it. I used that system just enough to get to where I could leave it. I was in my early 40’s.

At the beginning, I was simply ignorant and following the ‘American Dream’ like I thought I was supposed to. For years, I worked as a designer helping people create wonderful spaces, and loved the creative process; but I always felt that it was so much for nothing. A lot of what I made money on was contributing to the unsustainable system we are now engulfed in and I could feel it. I did, however, live in a tiny, tiny (about 400 sq ft at most) apartment for 20 years. I only bought a house, after my mother passed, when I had accumulated enough to make a sizeable down payment toward what I thought would be future security. I was lucky enough to come out less scathed than many. Timing is everything.

Last night I made the mistake of visiting some of my old friends on FB that have achieved great monetary success and started to feel a sense of failure. I started feeling a little shame about the condition of my dilapidated home. I always come full circle after an episode like that and realize that I am exactly where I want to be.

I get up every morning with something wonderful to tackle. The fact that I have to find unconventional ways to accomplish most things just adds to the adventure and resulting sense of achievement. I guess for some, the achievement of so-called wealth is the goal; the material elements just an outward expression of that.

This particular person won’t read this, I’m sure. We’ve lost touch. We were roommates for a couple of years when we were in our 20’s. Even then, it was evident that nothing was enough for her. I soon backed away from involvement with her because I was quite content with very little and her lust for ‘things’ filled me with anxiety. She now has a huge ‘ranch’ with many horses, attends dressage events, (her daughter competes where she failed to), in a souped up giant motor home with amenities the rich and famous would envy. She has a second home in Hawaii and a shop for western wear that is cram packed with all manner of dead animal things, Swarovski crystal embedded handbags and authentic Indian jewelry she touts as “having great weight”; the bigger the better I guess.

Seeing all of that eventually gave me the same anxiety it did when we were roommates.

So, full circle, I’m up again this morning tackling some wonderful things. It’s so hot in the mid-afternoon now that I am finding inside jobs to do. I have lots of second hand furniture that almost all need some kind of amending. This is how I get my “Designer” on now. Years and years of accumulating ‘junk’ here and there is being transformed into a space I love.

As a designer, I was privy to left over materials and have quite a stash of great drapery and upholstery weight fabrics to play with. It’s now a matter of what to use for what.


This was a huge piece of a highly sought after, (at that time), Waverly pattern. Over 20 years ago, I cut off pieces of it to make little curtains for my mother’s laundry room. I’ve always loved it, but couldn’t quite find the right place for it. It’s cotton, so even after all of these years it is in excellent condition. There is enough to make two side panels for the big window in the living room. I’ve committed to using it as a jumping off point for what I put on or do to other things.


This is a chair I inherited from my sister. It is in horrendous shape because I tried to paint the fabric and frame and the cane sides have gotten punctured. It is really comfortable and guests seem to prefer it. Until I can make myself learn upholstery and re-caning, this fabric table round makes it tolerable. Another thing from my sister.

The floors are all getting a mosaic tile treatment. I ran an ad in our local trader not long ago and got quite a big stash for free from just two contributors.


I just brought some in and laid them on the bedroom floor to start washing and deciding how and where I want to lay them.


Years ago, when ‘head vases’ were all the rage, I certainly couldn’t afford them, but found a love of these animal vases instead that were just a few dollars each. For years they lived in boxes. Periodically being influenced by the minimalist mentality I would think, “I ‘should’ get rid of them”.

I’m so glad I resisted. After donating 2/3 of my books to the library awhile ago, I got the vases all out and put them on the highest shelf that I look directly at when lying on my bed. They make me so very happy. Little things, mean a lot, and… I built the shelves myself, (using closet brackets, planks and included poles), which adds to the satisfaction. I use the poles all of the time to sort clothes while doing laundry and for displaying things I’m working on up-cycling.


Okay, so this isn’t actually using the pole, but I do, I can assure you. There is a collection of things I made (or am making) hanging here and sometimes they are strung out on the pole to inspect. Here they don’t take up so much visual energy but are still available to remind me I’m not finished with them.

Over winter, when it was the opposite of now and too cold to be outside in the garden, I brought fabrics in to work on up-cycling projects. They are just being sorted to take back out to the studio; which is a ‘next’ project to get sorted and set up to use during these too-hot-to-be-outside days of Summer.  Everything for sewing has finally made its way out there. It just needs to be tweaked into better organization for actually using.


I have a few nice things that need no help from me. Years ago now, when I opened a window coverings business here in town, I splurged on this mirror chest to act as a centerpiece in my tiny little shop. I just simply love it.

The electrified hurricane lamp sat on my mother’s nightstand for years. I was the beneficiary. These kinds of things I just can’t part with. I remember many days of sitting in her room with her and seeing it.

The green triangle bowl she bought from a thrift store. One day we were ‘mooching’ through and I was fondling it, too poor to purchase it. Sometime later, I was delivered her conventional brown paper bag with a ‘tear dryer’ in it. It was this bowl. She gave us things when she thought we needed cheering up.


This beautiful work of art was purchased just as it is in a second hand shop. I ‘needed’ it. It has all the colors and sensibility of things I like.

The dangling bookmark was my sisters. Some verse of wisdom was written on the back but has now rubbed off.

The cheap utility clamp light, $6.97 at Walmart, is perfect to read by. It reflects the light on the ceiling and broadcasts it softly all over the room.

The headboard, of which there are a queen and full, (the full is in the guestroom), were donated by a client of mine when we were setting up a home for my dear departed sissy. Now it has come back to me. It could easily be padded and upholstered.


I thought about getting rid of this old set of The Books of Knowledge. My father was a pushover for door to door salesmen. We got these instead of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Many reports were written from these.

Before parting with them, I sat on the edge of my bed with a random one and it opened to this page. The information is timeless and not often made as easily understood as this, so these books are staying. So much for a minimalist lifestyle.

So much abundance, sometimes I feel like it is too much. I’m just grateful that most of it is old, pre-owned, inherited and still of great usefulness.


There are projects at every turn. Again, my mother bought each of her three girls and herself too, this print; all of them second hand. The frame and glass have broken, I still have the pieces of the frame. It’s on the to-do list. Meanwhile the laundry basket, making its way to where it is supposed to be, supports it where I now want to hang it, reminding me to get both things done.

I dreamed about my old roommate last night. I guess that is how we process thoughts and get them sorted. I woke up feeling not one bit envious of her exorbitant lifestyle. Au contraire. I felt revitalized, convicted for having had such lusting thoughts and renewed in my confirmation to live as radically simple a life as I can possibly accomplish. And, happy as a lark about it.


Because I don’t use air conditioning, but rather fans blowing on me when I sit or lie, I get to enjoy the sounds of silence and whatever warm or cool breeze might flow through the open doors and windows; fresh air anyway and sweating just helps process toxins, right?

I hear bird song most of the day.

People refer to me as “the lady with curtains hanging on her porch like they do in Bisbee”. The curtains help keep out the morning sun from the East in the Summer, give me privacy from my neighbor all times, and help keep the cold out during Winter. The folding shutter is out there to make an enclosure for the kitties. That will be on one side for privacy from my neighbor and the other will have a chicken wire door for a catio of sorts. Projects at every corner. If I had no end of money, I could hire someone else to do it, but then what would get me up in the morning?


Standing on the mudroom stoop.


Mountains all around

Soil is defined as that portion of the earth’s surface in which it is possible for plants to grow. It is the storehouse containing the chemicals which men and animals need to build their bodies. We do not get these chemicals directly from the soil. Plants draw them from the soil and change them into food that we can use. We eat the plants, or animals eat them and we eat the animals. If the soil lacks the necessary chemicals, the plants that grow in it are partly or wholly unfit as food for man.

Soil is made up of mineral and organic matter. The mineral part is rock that has been broken down and chemically altered by a process called weathering. The organic part is composed of decayed plants and micro-organisms (very small forms of life). Most soils are made up largely of mineral matter, but there are exceptions. Muck has about 50 per cent organic matter; and peat has more than 70 per cent organic matter.

~ The Book of Knowledge – Volume 7, page 2663 – ©1956

So, muck is a good thing.

It’s all about perspective. I’m glad to have had my perspective challenged and brought full circle back to being wholly satisfied with #VoluntaryRadicalSimplicity as my chosen style of life.

Now, what project to do next…






In Due Time

The main reason water is disappearing from the rivers is that rain has stopped falling. The first step we must take in countering desertification is not to redirect the flow of rivers, but to cause rain to fall again. This involves revegetation.

Trying to revegetate the deserts by using the scarce water remaining in the rivers is putting the cart before the horse. No, we must first revegetate vast stretches of desert at one time, thereby causing rain clouds to rise from the earth. ~ pg 60-61 Sowing Seeds in the Desert ~ Masanobu Fukuoka

What I have quickly discovered after removing straw and wood chips from my planting areas and instead, planting green cover crops is that the interspersed food crops are fairing better than they did last year with the carbon type covers. I think it is because of the humidity that the green cover crops create when they transpire, thereby cooling the area some as well.

As it is, in a desert, for carbon covers to be of value they have to be irrigated regularly to break down and they don’t seem all that efficient at holding much moisture; especially not straw. I decided to invest that same water in green covers that will be chopped and dropped eventually. It makes more sense, to me. Both clover and buckwheat flower. Bees love the clover. Turns out there is a honey that tastes like molasses that depends on buckwheat for the bees. Win-win.

Bees in the buckwheat

Here is something I would do if I could. Bees in a field of buckwheat seems too good to be true. The source of my all-time favorite honey, Fagopyrum esculentum, just doesn’t want to grow in my shady forest apiary. Believe me, I’ve tried. So I have to be content looking at a photo like this and dreaming about the molasses taste of buckwheat honey.

I’m also throwing out old seeds willy-nilly. Why not? Whatever should come up, can be more biomass or food if it ends up fairing well enough.

Here are a couple of stands of buckwheat that are doing especially well. They seem to like being up against something.


Behind the pomegranate tree, the straw was pulled away and buckwheat scattered.

The intention is to improve soil. The straw there did very little to improve the soil. This will be chopped and dropped closer to monsoon season when the rain will help it decompose more consistently.


The #WestMost corner of the #SouthForty Triangle lot was ‘clawed’ up and buckwheat broadcast.

The dirt in all areas of this compound is sandy. It is hard until watered well and then the water dissipates quickly. When developing this corner, it was watered heavily so it could be dug up to remove Bermuda grass. Nothing has been successful with Bermuda grass except to do this at the beginning. I suppose if lasagna beds were made, in due time, it would smother the grass; but there just weren’t resources for that.

After the Bermuda grass was removed, the dirt was leveled out and newspaper/cardboard/straw was laid over it. It had very little effect in a year’s time except that the newspaper and cardboard were broken down. That is now being use in the Humanure bin.

All of the straw was raked off and put into the paths this year and then I got out the ‘garden claw‘ and broke up the dirt enough that buckwheat could be broadcast and raked over to set it.

I’m so glad I decided to do this. I’m much happier with the results over carbon covers.

The other thing one might be afraid of is competition, but my experience thus far has been that everyone likes being crowded. Below is an image of what looks like a watermelon that has volunteered. To the left is a cage over a pumpkin that was transplanted from the patch on the down side of the #4HugelBed. It’s as lush as can be.


Looks like a volunteer watermelon in there among the buckwheat and zinnias.


The #PumpkinPatch has a fourth one sprouting. Two others were transplanted.

I have been using the raked off wood chips and some leaf mulch to cover transplants and seedlings where they are too exposed. As a result, volunteers are popping up all over from seeds that didn’t germinate in the areas that material came from. I always pulled back the covers to sow seeds, but the birds kick it back over; so when it got raked up, it brought seeds with it. Whatever works to get things started.


Tomato transplants covered with leaf mulch

Where the wood chips were laid, volunteers are popping up around the tomato transplants; beets and looks like radishes.


Bunching onions covered with a little bit of leaf mulch.

Where I sowed bunching onions was covered with a little bit of leaf mulch that also brought over some things to surprise sprout.


#5HugelBed with clover and buckwheat around a couple of food things

The #5HugelBed was just installed at the beginning of this season. Clover was immediately broadcast over it and later filled in some with buckwheat. I think it’s two cantaloupes growing there, not doing all that well, as well as a yellow squash and a nasturtium. Wood chips were added around them to help retain moisture some.



The #NorthFencePlot is home to many of the tomato transplants that are all doing well. This was thick with wood chips and several times sowed with beet seeds; pulling back the mulch to put in the seeds. Again the birds kicked it back over hunting for grubs and other bugs. It was mostly raked off so some of those seeds are popping up where the wood chips ended up. Now there are  some zinnias finally appearing along the fence where they were scratched into the improved soil minus the wood chips. The bricks were holding down the wire trashcans when the tomatoes were babies and needed some shelter; just haven’t bothered to move them.

The #RaisedBed still has some cabbages doing okay. The chicken wire has done little to thwart the white butterflies as they can navigate the wire easily. I see them in there all of the time. Some are more affected by chomping than others.

Popcorn rows between and aside the cabbages and some sweet potato slips put in the upper right area where leaf mulch was topped over the soil. The lower right had some cold-compost put over it and all kinds of things are volunteering there. Some will get transplanted when they get big enough.



Seems to be taking forever, but in time, it will become greener and greener; this season and hopefully long term as well. I find myself almost jealous when I visit images of Bealtaine Cottage and see how lush and vibrant her patch of heaven is; but, after all, she is in Ireland where there is so much more rain.

I wait with bated breath, but nature does things as she sees fit. All in due time. I can only try to help.

Water seems to be everything.

Well I for one will listen to the wisdom of Masanobu Fukuoku and do my best to green this little part of the desert. Maybe the water will come back if enough of us do.

The time has come and gone to get started, so let’s not waste any more of it.

If Humanity can regain its original kinship with nature, we should be able to live in peace and abundance. Seen through the eyes of modern civilization, however, this life of natural culture must appear to be monotonous and primitive, but not to me…

…We must realize that both in the past and today, there is only one “sustainable” course available to us. We must find our way back to true nature… pg. 16 ~ Sowing Seeds in the Desert ~ Masanobu Fukuoku


Fig tree


Plum tree


Chaste tree in bloom. The bees love it.


#2SquashPit planted with #ThreeSisters

Some of this had to be resown, hence the various heights of the popcorn. Not all of the squashes germinated but there are some extras on the #3SquashPit that will eventually be transplanted to here.

I’m not a big fan of sweet corn, and it doesn’t store all that well. Popcorn I love and it can be ground into meal to use for baking cornbread and stored.

I’m still reluctant to use external inputs because there is not really any telling if there is herbicide/pesticide residue that will contaminate the organic nature of what I hope to achieve, in the long run it isn’t really sustainable/regenerative and it isn’t what I am being lead to believe is the best way overall. Transportation and money are issues as well. For now, I work with what I have and can find locally and am trying to stick as much as possible to the Fukuoku method.

We’ll see. We’ll see. All in due time.