Home Sweet Home

It’s coming on Christmas; the time of year we seem to value home the most. Growing up, I was referred to as a “homebody” and the most likely one in our family to have children. Truth is, I was and still am more likely just an introvert. I do love home, but as much because of how it allows me the security to be an introvert as that I am any kind of a worthy homemaker. I loathe housekeeping, aside from the interior design aspect of it; which does require cleaning on occasion to effect the results I want to see in that respect, (most of my career was spent in helping others create the homes they wanted). Cleaning as a rule is so much vanity; more dust settles as soon as the rag leaves the surface. Talk about insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. ~ Albert Einstein

I am aware that “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”, but there are so many more interesting things to do. I got that from my mother, who also, was not much interested in having an ideal home, but rather loved her independent activities of choice. This is not her home. We were visiting a friend of hers, sometime in the 80’s. That was me on the far right. My older sister and I had no children; our younger sister went on to have four. The oldest of hers on the left, ‘grew up’ with us.

My Mother and her favorite pass time, her family

My Mother and her favorite pass time, her family

Before my mother died, she had me pulling weeds in her little patch of vegetables. I didn’t have a home of my own, so I would play in the dirt around her home whenever I was there; which was often. Once upon a time I brought her a gallon sized container of ‘Red Apple’; which over the years, spread all over her yard and eventually was pinched and planted to create a screen of sorts around her front porch, growing up wire fencing attached to the vertical supports.

Red Apple Succulent Flower

Red Apple Succulent Flower credit: (jjharrison89@facebook.com)

My first tiny apartment had a terrace full of potted things, which I watered with a hose attached to the kitchen sink; mostly succulents. That was California, where succulents can live outdoors most of the year. Not so, here in Arizona. I have to bring mine in and out of the garage during the winter or they turn to mush.

So my Home Sweet Home is now allowing me the opportunity to engage in independent activities of choice, like my mother did. And those activities have now been defined to be gardening, sewing, animals and health related activities.

Free tiles for installing a mosaic pattern throughout my home sweet home

Free tiles for installing a mosaic pattern throughout my Home Sweet Home

I do care about the appearance of my home, but it is a slow process getting it to where I want it to be; mostly because I have chosen to have more free time than money, per se. These tiles were free to me from a man who saw an ad I placed in our local trader. Now the fun begins.

This last week was spent ‘redesigning’ the back yard some. When I first moved here, I did some things there that make little sense to me now; moving dirt around. Dirt is being moved around again to level things out for more planting opportunities.

After clearing out the 'messes' and shifting the dirt. More shifting yet to be done.

After clearing out the ‘messes’ and shifting the dirt. More shifting yet to be done.

Sunday my neighbor brought over all of the leaves he raked from his yard. This same neighbor continues to bring me resources as he gets them. He apparently does work for others. He’s the same one who brought the oleander debris that you can see in the last post. He and his girlfriend are very fond of my tomatoes, ;).

#MyNeighbor bringing me his leaves

#MyNeighbor bringing me all of his leaves

The first big City trash can full of leaves went to #1HugelkulturBed

Stray pieces of wire fencing keeping the leaves from leaving; #1HugelkulturBed

#MyNeighbor used my huge City trashcan to deliver the first load and it all went on the #1HugelkulturBed.

The next several batches went to fill up two wire rounds that were positioned at the shady side of the #RaisedBed; performing double duty as a partial cover for the bed over Winter and as planting mediums come Spring.

Two wire rounds full of leaves

Two wire rounds full of leaves

Soil building in progress

Soil building in progress

Not much is going on that is visible to the eye. A few brassicas are trying valiantly to grow, but mostly there is soil building going on. Winter is a good time for this and the strategies also yield habitats for overwintering critters as well.

Volunteer radishes and beets are managing on the #4HugelBed in the #SouthFortyTriangleLot

Volunteer radishes (pictured) and beets are managing on the #4HugelBed in the #SouthFortyTriangleLot

Next fall I shall plant more radishes and beets as they seem to be able to brave the relative cold here in Arizona, at least for a time; and that time helps to send their substantial roots down for breaking up compacted soil also helping to build the microbiome.


A hint of Spring to come. #AliceInWonderlandishness

Spring is closer than we think. It won’t be long before it will be time to start some seeds indoors.

People often comment that something about my Home Sweet Home makes them think of Alice in Wonderland. I think it’s the colors that I favor; but there are other things, like this rabbit and a big collection of teapots and cups and saucer that I have accrued over the years.

Whatever makes your home yours, I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and that you are engaging in independent activities of choice. It took me a long time to find my way to here where I am able to do just that. I’m so happy that the time has come.

Reindeer waiting for me to paint him (for years and years and years)

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer waiting for me to paint him (for years and years and years)

I was commissioned by Home Depot (twice; two different stores) to design and paint a Santa in a sleigh and two reindeer for a Christmas display. This reindeer escaped with me, unpainted. He is jig saw cut out of plywood and has endured for at least 15 years now. The other two sets ended up in their dumpsters. 😦

Morale of the story: There’s no place like home sweet home for the holidays.

A Right Livelihood

Graduation ceremonies occurred tonight across the street on the school’s football field with attendees in the bleachers. Many people park along the street, I guess to make it easier to leave once the event is over.

It was fun watching them all walking, families of all sorts and ages; some dressed up, some in jeans. One man spent an inordinate amount of time inspecting his vehicle, which, mind you was a pretty hot, souped up truck with special wheels. The wheels were more than half as tall as he was. He was at least above 40, so not a kid. I couldn’t tell if he was making sure of whether his parking was satisfactory or if he was just admiring his beast.

I was in the yard making early evening inspection of the plant goings on and took the time to enjoy the people passing by. It was impossible not to think about choices. All these young people getting ready to advance to another segment of their lives, with so much in front of them. All the different classes of people attending their respective graduate’s accomplishment. A Corvette drove by. Made me think of the several Corvette’s I’ve been acquainted with and the one time I sought to almost purchase one.

A right livelihood

I took this image lately because it is an area that is next on the agenda to tackle doing something about. When I look at the picture, I see so much that is wrong with my home and property, and what little resources I have with which to work. Choices I’ve made.

The first choice I made in life was not so much one I really had much to say about as it wasn’t in my nature to take a sensible kind of job like my mother hoped I would; civil service, utility,  or the railroad. That would have been like eating peas to me, they make me gag. My mother finally stopped trying to make me eat them and she knew I needed something different for a life direction. I wanted to be an artist. I had received a summer scholarship to attend The Academy of Art in San Francisco, leaving the day after graduation. Of course, when I returned, it was necessary for me to work. My mother had already lined up something she was sure would be my cup of tea. A man had started a business that was on the order of a Kinkos, (which now don’t even exist), but long before any of us knew of them. Business services. He had paste up and layout. He did advertising. He bound books. He did radio and local events at malls. He had artists on staff and created an art gallery, hiring a man to curate it that had been a portrait painter at Disneyland. He hired me as a “Girl Friday”. He thought I had great potential. I was 18. I got to go out and run errands all over town in my car, with my gas. He paid us a couple of times and we worked for free for the remainder of the year or so it finally took us all to realize that it wasn’t going to succeed. He was charming and we all loved him and the work we were doing. My wonderful mother kept telling me to “hang in there”.

Submission for Scholarship

Submission for Scholarship, Pastels

Most of my life after that was spent “hanging in there”.

I was enjoying myself, drifting from place to place with the breeze. I challenged a lot of people with my conviction that everything is meaningless and of no value, that everything returns to nothingness”,  quoting Masanobu Fukuoka, of The One-Straw Revolution fame. A wonderful book mind you. He was a revolutionary farmer in Japan.

Most of my career was spent as an Interior Designer, so to speak, using artistic talents and a passion for sewing and all things fabric to help clients make their homes what they wanted them to be; but I was never really happy. I loved the work of creating spaces, but I soon got to the point of feeling it was meaningless, wasteful and of no value. For the most part it is a completely unnecessary consumption. A pure luxury.

I have managed to spend parts of two days this week working on cleaning out the garage/studio to make it ready to teach sewing. All of it so far, sorting through papers from life, (I plan to use the file cabinets to organize patterns). Purging that past forced me to revisit the history of a young woman who I can see clearly now was razor focused on getting to a right livelihood; i.e., “Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow” ~ Marsha Sinetar

All these young people marching off to new futures; some to useless wars, some to certain servitude with a college education. (“Student debt is really nothing more than a fancier form of indentured servitude.” ~ Simon Black of Sovereign Man)

I hope they get quickly to where they are pursuing their right livelihoods and don’t waste a minute doing things that will eventually seem meaningless. Of course, some people will still want that Corvette or the big fancy truck with wheels and think it means something.

Maybe for them it still does.

Front Yard Farmacy

I’m happy watching plants grow.

The article referenced and linked above by Simon Black is a wonderful tool to help your young person focus on a direction for their future. Well worth a read.

I’m so glad I had a mother who encouraged me to seek what my soul asked me to. It wasn’t always easy, and it took way longer than I would have liked but I am finally at a point where I am free to do what I love and let the money follow.

This week the Dorsett Golden Apple tree found its home on the #SouthFortyTriangleLot just east of the #3Hugelbed. The left over dirt was made into a bed to give 3 more of the volunteer watermelon seedlings a second chance.

#UnderTheScragglyTree got some flower seeds sown and some donated, cedar-smelling logs placed to help keep the #WildGirls from scratching them up. The little volunteer mystery tomato that I left there is doing exceptionally well, especially after the addition of the compost.

I hope you had a good week doing whatever it is you love. If you are following me, no doubt you’re a gardener too.

Until next week, hope you do no tilling.

Distractions in Wonderland

Sitting areas, sitting area #UnderTheScragglyTree

My young friend, who refers to me as her “Bohemian Mama”, called wanting to know when I might be ready to start teaching her home-schooled kiddos how to sew. We’ve been planning it for a long time. I had intended to spend yesterday in what I refer to as my #GarageThatWantsToBeAWhereWomenCreateStudio. It is jam packed with sewing resources that need to be further organized, (that’s where I want to set up for teaching). So far things have made it out there from the house but I stopped once spring started its approach to focus on getting crops going. Well, yesterday I went out and flipped the light on in the studio and then remembered a thing that “needed” to be done in the garden before starting. Needless to say, I went from one task to the next and never made it back to the studio.

Years ago, I had a shop in town that was also jam packed with things. Many of which were crafting things as this same friend and I had long wanted to share business efforts and she was convinced papers and things would have a good market. She is a wonderful paper artist. As we both discovered, this depressed area has little market for anything other than garage sales and for those, people want things for nothing.

She came over today to collect all of those crafting things to sell in her Etsy shop. I had invited her to bring her kiddos, she has 5, 4 girls and a boy, because they have wanted to tour the garden. I had my camera on my neck the whole time but got not one single picture of them. We got carried away.

The kiddos ended up collected in the above pictured sitting area, one of the older twins holding the new baby girl while their mother and I finished with our “business”. They were all so well behaved and had great fun going through the garden. They especially look forward to saying hi to Little Red-Haired Girl and Gertie. I put the #Kiddies in their “high-rise loft apartment” so we could leave the doors open. They all took turns standing on the chair to inspect the caged animals. Lucy and Mickey love it out there. They chitter away at birds and lizards for as long as they can.

She brought two #GiftsToTheGarden. A cup of Evening Primrose stock and a Verbena stem already sprouting leaves. I think she said it was lemon. She makes tea with hers.

I followed her home with a car load of crafting things, she was filled with kiddos. I went from there to Walmart to get more compost and then straight back to plant primrose and water everything else.

Little bed in the back yard along the fence footer

Little bed in the back yard below the fence footer

Four little sad looking Evening Primrose stems planted in the front of this little bed that I transplanted watermelon volunteers to yesterday. She said hers came to her the same way. I saw them today and they are looking lovely. Another #WaitAndSee. Below is what they look like thriving.

The #WildGirls followed me around watering and then we all plopped down to take a rest, #UnderTheScragglyTree.


#MeAndTheSidekicks, #UnderTheScragglyTree #FarmersTan

Another distraction from yesterday was to put a bag of compost on the debris under this tree because some of Little Red-Haired Girl’s favorite lounging spots have been cordoned off and there need to be new soft spots for her to land. There was only one bag of compost left, so only part was partially completed. Where do you think she landed…

Partially covered armor debris, #UnderTheScragglyTree

So much for soft spots

…right on the crunchy debris.

We languished there for a few minutes with a soft breeze, birds making their lovely conversations, enjoying our simple life of abundance and peace.

The first thing that sidetracked efforts yesterday was this wire border fencing. It was green. It has a new coat of pink in memory of my sister. Bright pink was her favorite color and I love things that remind me of her. The #WildGirls have been laying on the flower border so the little fence is a hopeful deterrent. The tomatoes in the #RaisedBed are needing a little more protection as well, so border fencing went all around it, pink on one side as that was all there was of that.

Another sidetrack thing was to replace the 4’stakes at this end of the bed with light purple-painted 3’stakes. These keep the hose from running over things. Little things mean a lot to me.

The sidewalks got swept, riff-raff got cleared out, compost was added to the tomatoes and all but 4 of the volunteer watermelon from the #CompostCorner of the #SouthFacingBackYard were put in pots to decide whether to transplant or give away.

The lower leaves of the tomatoes were pinched off, the straw pulled away from the stems, and bagged organic compost added. This encourages them to add roots, making them even more sturdy. After reading a forum on Permies.com, a decision has been made to refrain from staking them. These are all indeterminate varieties so go wild, getting tall and heavy. It is near impossible to control without constant pruning, which is hard to keep up with. For now, the pinching is to get them to grow tall rather than wide. A piece of arched wire fencing may be added between the rows to keep them off the surface.

My friend looked at the rabbit and teapot on this table and the teacup planter and laughed, remarking that it made her think of the Mad Tea Party of Alice in Wonderland. Kinda does.

Nothing like good friends and a garden for a simple life of abundance and peace.

Community is the new New Deal. Don’t you think? #GiveAndTake

Happy Day to you. Thanks for visiting.