Posted in inspiration

Everything I Do Kills the Planet

mother-earth-wallpapers-for-android-For-Free-WallpaperI still get those dreams.  The “if-we-don’t-change-things-now” dreams, then glimpses of what will be.  They frighten me and I become extremely aware.  I look at my fake nails (I have no idea what came over me to go get nails last week) and can see all of the plastic nails in all of the salons and the chemicals that pervade the colors and liquids and fumes.  I sigh and look at my fingers…ooh sparkly!

Mother Nature can and will, of course, change as she sees fit.  Fires, floods, and I well know that her own temperature has raised and lowered over many more eons than I have been here having dreams.  I know that the polar bear on the internet could have died from illness.  Yet my heart breaks all the same.  My ancestors would have never seen that.  They would only know what they could do to heal the waters or the air in their own neck of the woods.

People spark outcry for the drilling on our beautiful lands then fill their cars with the very same fuel that they protested at some point and drive…everywhere.

I would love to live in a little off grid sanctuary- full knowing the work involved- and heal a small area of space in time.  That is not my husband’s dream though.  What can I do, then, in this space of the planet to be mindful?  The bouncing Christmas lights color my home with joy (and electricity) and my coffee is hot and welcoming to the day (and comes from who knows where) and my car doesn’t drive on air and the gifts I am buying may end up in landfills and I sigh and know that we really have gotten ourselves way over our heads.  We know that we are doing great harm and that we need to change as a society but we have no idea where to start because by the time we get done looking at starving polar bear pictures and put away our protest signs we have lost sight in despair followed by complacency.

What can we meditate on this Yule season to spread healing to the waters and air and lands of this earth?

Perhaps I will get a bicycle.  Stop coloring my hair and nails for godsake.  I could start making my own cleaning products again.  Unhook the pipes and let the water run into 5 gallon buckets that I could then water the trees with.  Sneak a composting toilet in this place.  Or I could stop using paper cups while getting coffee.  I could stop buying packaging.  I could stop buying junk.

If I were to feel more gratitude and wonder here in this place in time that I breathe, I would naturally remember what is good for me and the earth and be more mindful in the coming year.

That could be my new dream.  I can’t save the world, but I can start here…

What will you do?

Posted in Farmgirl Decorating

Unfeathering the Nest

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When I was very young I loved it when I would come home from school and my mother had rearranged my bedroom.  I loved decorations and furnishings even early on.  Fast forward to thirteen years old and you would find me and my best friend, Susan, shopping the antique stores down south Broadway with our babysitting money.  I still have an antique Folgers can in my kitchen from one of our excursions.  I couldn’t wait to decorate my first home.  Off white lace curtains, hand me down furniture, painted walls, my own artwork on the walls.  I have found treasures and trinkets, unique pieces, and have held onto heirlooms from our respective families.  Our home has always been a reflection of our love for cozy quarters and a house full of family and friends.  It is easy to feather a nest.  I have been doing it for thirty years.  How does one unfeather a nest?

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Sometimes we begin to view things as an extension of ourselves.  Something holds a memory.  Something holds a belief.  Something makes us happy to see it.  It is often hard to look at a material item and see it for what it is, wood, nails, paint, metal, glass.  It is not easy to part with things that we have used to decorate our homes, that belonged to our grandmother, that our children gave us, or that we collected over the years on vacations.  So how does one deal with watching each piece leave one by one?  How does one get rid of all of their possessions?  We know some folks have the trauma of natural disaster that does it for them.  I do not know which is harder, having everything gone in one fell swoop, or consciously watching each piece walk out the door.  Here are some tips I have learned to downsize one’s possessions.

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1. Realize that the memory associated or the person it reminds you of does not leave with the piece.  You will still remember great grandma’s smiling face at the door, the cruise on your honeymoon, your child in second grade.  Getting rid of yearbooks and old drawings and awards and journals and clothes and furniture does not take away anything from your life history, memories, or people in your life.  Detach the memory from the piece and you will just see another item that will eventually deteriorate.

2. Imagine the item torn or broken.  I have Doug’s grandmother’s watch.  I bet it is eighty years old.  It is beautiful and intricate and worthless.  It does not work, it cannot be repaired, then when dropped accidentally the face fell off.  It no longer looked intricate or beautiful.  It was just a paper face.  If the leg broke off a table, would it still be valuable to you?  Envision things as broken and see if they still hold a place in your heart.

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3. Imagine moving all that stuff!  We helped our friends move out of another friend’s home.  That latter friend has to fix his home up to sell.  Many, many years of accumulated items clutter the yard and home.  I do not know how he will do it.  The land we are on now holds a collection of discarded items that once held value and now look like a giant dump!  Things break, they rust, they deteriorate, they are just things.  When Doug’s grandmother died no one wanted any of her things.  It became a burden for those involved to empty her apartment.  It is hard for those left behind to sort and try to give away everything that the person in life held dear.  The material items do not hold the same memories to the ones trying to clean up the accumulation of things.

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4. What is the actual value of an item?  I paid $300 the gorgeous New Mexican style armoire that held our television.   It is a heavy, sturdy piece in great condition.  I have it for sale for a hundred dollars and no one wants it.  I thought I would get $10,000 for all of our antique collections, farm implements, animals, collectables, fine china, heirlooms, and stuff.  Closer to $2000 will be the final number.

Material items are really worthless.  Using just what we need and releasing attachments to finite items can help unfeather the nest.  It makes it easy for the next generation to sort our things when we pass away, leaves us with less housework and burdens, and gives us more freedom.  The real treasures are the lives that share ours; our cats, friends, children, neighbors, wildlife, people, they are what is important, not an antique Folgers can.

Posted in Homestead

The New Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

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The three R’s, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle has sadly been overused and overlooked.  Folks think about the big green tub that their trash company may or may not pick up on any given Thursday to send their recyclables off somewhere.  Hopefully the rumors aren’t true and they really are being recycled.  Many people don’t have recycling services available to their homes so don’t even bother.  We tried, sorry, we’ll wait for recycling to come to our town.

Alright, now we need to slightly tweak our way of thinking so that we are not dismissing these three R’s.  We don’t want to view them as an inconvenience and we don’t have to wait for someone else to offer us a service.  It would be wise for us to start considering these R’s.  I know that we all have heard over and over again about our finite resources, islands of plastic in the ocean killing animals and fish, oil spills tainting our water and who knows what floating in our drinking springs.  We have heard of landfills the size of states and the problem isn’t decreasing.  But, when we can’t see the detriment with our own eyes, it is hard to fathom and is often easier to just go about our day and hope all that remedies itself.

Here are some easy ways to bring back the three R’s into our day to day routine, save money, and keep things out of the landfills and oceans.

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Reduce

This is one of the harder ones.  “I need this!”  I do attempt to stay out of stores all together now.  It doesn’t always work.  I try to see Walmart and department stores in a new light.  Shelf upon shelf upon shelf of cheaply made items shipped from overseas that may or may not be bought that will ALL end up in a land fill.  Boxes and packaging and cheap petroleum based items.  Tons and tons of it.  Scary.  Set it under fluorescent lights and you have the makings of a horror movie.

Do you really need it?  Probably not.

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Reuse

Things like twist ties and rubber bands can be reused in a myriad of ways.  I use the twist ties to fasten plants to trellises and cages.  I use the rubber bands to bundle produce, extra silverware, pencils, etc.

Paper bags can be reused to hold vegetables in the fridge or be used to pack a lunch.  Or to dry herbs.  Likewise, the plastic produce bags can be reused to hold homemade bread or potato chips for a picnic.

Sandwich bags and freezer bags can be washed and used several times.

Glass jars can serve as leftover containers or drink receptacles.

The obvious scratch paper can be used to make lists or write down reminders.  They can be shredded and added to compost.

Cardboard can be used to suppress weeds or make a playhouse.

Try to give everything a second life.

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Recycle

Now at some point we have to throw some things out or we get a little cluttered.  There are recycling services out there, whether the trash service that will take marked bags or a place you can drop off.  Try to recycle what can be recycled!

There are other ways to recycle.  When we need wood for a project we immediately go to the hardware store.  We have never thought twice.  Our friend, Rob, showed us another way.  He drives to building sites after hours and hauls off the wood that has been placed in dumpsters.  Perfectly good, wrong sized, wood thrown in a dumpster to haul off.  He has collected enough wood to build a goat barn and a chicken coop.

He came to our house (we are boarding his goats) and built a feeder out of wood strewn about the yard that has been here longer than we have lived here.  Now, mind you the goat kids flipped it over and are using it as a playground, but a recycled wood playground nonetheless!

Thrift stores have a ton of usable fabric instead of buying new.  They also have quite nice clothes that can be reused.  And dishes, and pretty much anything else one would need to set up house.

Craigslist is a great way to find what one needs without buying new.  I did end up buying a new cheese press yesterday because I had exhausted every avenue finding a used one, but in most cases, from furniture to cars, this service helps folks save money and reuse something instead of buying new.

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Analyzing the Trash

What is in your trash?  For me, most of the trash is paper towel (could I use clean towels that don’t attract cat hair?), plastic coverings (overused sandwich bags or bread bags…maybe I can sew some?), used cat litter (is there a litter that breaks down and can be put in the compost?), torn plastic bags (can I remember my reusable bags maybe??), and empty coffee bags (would they fill a different container?).  My business is trickier.  Wax and oils are really messy to work with and we almost have to  use paper towels and end up throwing away really gross jars and old bottles.  I wish I could find a more eco-friendly way to do business.  Could folks come over with their own bottle and fill it up?  If I could do business out of my house, maybe.  There will not be a perfect solution, we cannot go back to our great-grandparents’ time when things weren’t so over processed and packaged.

How about the recycle bin?  Beer bottles and wine bottles, organic soda cans, paper, and cardboard are the main things in there.  I noticed that if I do not buy packaged cereals, crackers, and other processed foods, I have a lot less waste.  Homemade food is not only better for us, but saves us money and creates less waste.

We could go on and on with ideas…compost, don’t buy it in the first place, make things into planters….but one day at a time.  We just need to bring the three R’s back into the forefront of our day to day and make better choices so that we can take care of ourselves and our planet.