Sunday, June 28, 2009

The garden is really starting to go crazy, even though I was so late in planting a lot of it. We've got a grand total of 448 square feet of garden this year—four 4' x 25' beds and two 3' x 8' beds. I've been having small salads every day—mostly just lettuce, spinach and chard plus a few radishes and green onions.  The potatoes and tomatoes have started to blossom, although I pinched off the first tomato blossoms. I think we have at least 30 different things growing this year: potatoes, radishes, parsley, garlic, zucchini, carrots, lima beans, oregano, red onions, cantaloupe, white onions, cilantro, chives, spinach, lettuce, Swiss chard, beets, green beans, watermelon, Roma tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, and a mix of heirloom tomatoes, gourds, butternut squash, basil, hot peppers, bell peppers, dill, chamomile, and pumpkins. In the house there’s also catnip and rosemary and more basil, plus some cabbage seedlings. Oh, and I forgot the two kinds of sweet corn and the pickling cucumbers (out in the garden of course!)

I keep praying a hailstorm doesn’t come and wipe it all out. We should have quite a bounty otherwise. The only major problem so far has been a plague of baby grasshoppers. They decimated the basil so I planted some more, but now the ones I thought were total goners look like they might survive. The new batch of basil has sprouted, so we could be totally overwhelmed with basil this year (or get nothing at all). We already have an absurd amount of oregano and parsley.

Next year I want to add still more types of veggies. I don’t know where I'll put them, though. I'll have to expand even more!  I still haven’t had luck getting any broccoli seedlings going. Either they don’t sprout at all or they die off as seedlings. This is the second year in a row I’ve had issues with broccoli. So I’d like to get some broccoli next year. Also, rutabagas, turnips, and parsnips, Brussels sprouts, maybe start some rhubarb and strawberries. Grow kale, collards, bok choy and celery.  Try Spanish peanuts and horseradish. Okay, so all of this would require at least one other whole bed, maybe even more space. If I could just get the side yard fertile enough to grow herbs, I could move all the herbs there. Not that that would free up a huge amount of space, but it’d make a dent.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I’ve been in another King Solomon phase again lately—what is there under the sun that is new? What hasn’t been done before and why do we keep doing the same inane things over and over again?

We went over to John's to watch movies last week and I realized there are really only a few plots out there—the great themes of human existence—just done over and over ad nauseam with infinite variations. Why do people want to watch the same thing over and over? So few of the major plots apply to me anymore so there’s really little appeal. Movies about money, riches, stealing, greed, materialism, envy, treasures, collections, fancy this, fancy that—no appeal. Murder, betrayal, jealousy, violence, war, brutality, gore—no appeal. Love, lust, sex, winning the girl (or boy), tragedy, loss. All of these basic themes over and over and over again. And none of them represent real life that sits waiting to be lived once you get off the couch. I just don’t get it. And once you do get off the couch and live the real themes of live—what’s really the point when they’ve already been lived over and over and over again in the real world just as they have been in the movies? There has to be more to it than this.

I’m at the point where I realize it doesn’t matter a bit if I live or die. I’m just one of an infinite number of processes unfolding on the earth and in the universe and death is just a transformation of my energy. I don't cling to my life because in and of itself it's not all that significant. I think it’s the ongoing process of life and transformation that matters much more.

Probably the fact that I wear my life loosely is an asset or could be if I knew how to use it. It gets back to fearlessness and freedom. With no fear of death I should be able to live fearlessly and radically. But what are these times really calling for?  What are the radical, free, and fearless acts that are needed?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I’ve been refining my latest model of the cabin I want to build when I move back east. I think I’ve got it pretty much figured out. It would be 512 square feet, strawbale on three sides (the south side will be largely windows and doors, so I will just in-fill the post and beam with 2 x 6 studs and thick insulation), there’ll be a stone floor (or possibly brick) with braided area rugs. A built-in bed, a loft above the bedroom/sitting area, a wrap-around porch on two sides, enclosed on the north side, so it could be used in three seasons and as a sleeping porch in summer, a masonry fireplace, wood cookstove and probably propane cooktop (for summer cooking), my non-powered fridge, solar and woodstove heated water, a composting toilet, a nice pantry that could easily be expanded by 64 square feet, bringing the total square footage of the house up to 576—91 square feet larger than the house I live in now.

This model doesn’t waste any space the way some of my previous models did. It’s pretty efficient, I think. At some point I’d like to build a balsa-wood scale model of it.

Speaking of using space efficiently, the other day I drastically rearranged the kitchen. By drastically I mean going so far as to move the refrigerator. There’s not really much else you could move around in there. The fridge was right next to the stove, which is always a bad place for a fridge, plus whenever someone had the fridge door open you couldn’t get past them to get into or out of the kitchen. I moved the fridge into a corner where I had some shelves and the table, moved one of the shelves where the fridge had been, moved the hexagonal table out into the living room, moved the rectangular harvest table into the kitchen and put it under the window where it fit perfectly between the counter and the fridge. What a huge difference it has made! It feels so open and airy and bright. It’s easy to move around and nobody’s blocking anyone’s way. Why didn’t I think of doing this sooner?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I was flipping through the workbook we used back when we had our little Mastermind group and I came across one exercise I had done in it. You were supposed to list your deepest urges and afterwards see if you could identify certain themes. Could some of them be grouped under a single theme, or were they quite separate? I don’t think I recognized it at the time, but what really jumped out at me when I saw it the other night was that it’s all one theme. All of my deepest urges concern occupying a particular spot on this earth and participating fully with that spot. That’s it. That’s all I really want.  A place of my own, preferably a place with some biodiversity. A place to sink down long roots. A place to get to know with great intimacy. A place that could support me—where I could raise and grow and gather all my food. A place that nurtured my soul as well. A place where I could participate in the rhythms of nature, and the seasons. A single spot on earth that I could merge with, become one with. That’s been my deepest urge and my deepest need. That’s how I can be the fullest embodiment of who I’m  meant to be.

I saw a neat plan on the Internet last night for a non-powered refrigerator. It just uses a copper coil full of refrigerant and a bunch of radiator fins placed outdoors to freeze solid a huge chunk of ice each autumn. The chunk stays frozen (or mostly so) all through the year until the next autumn when you freeze it again. More and more I’m leaning towards going not just off-the-grid, but even totally without electricity of any kind. I could have a masonry stove, wood cookstove with hot water reservoir, solar hot water, a non-electric fridge, candles, lanterns, a root cellar and other forms of cold storage, and lots of hand tools. If it was all paid for as I went and I truly could be self-sufficient I could get away with having no phone or internet. Those are the only two things I might still need if I weren’t self-sufficient and I still needed to earn some money. Of course, I’ll always need to earn enough to cover property taxes, but I could probably do that without having phone or internet.

It’d be nice to find an inexpensive piece of land and build a small strawbale cabin. I’d have a composting toilet and maybe an indoor hand pump and an outdoor one. And a gray water system from the sink, tub, and wash tub. No wiring, no septic system, no major plumbing to do.