Green Living

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Trying to stay upbeat, (however…)

Posted by on 12 Jul 2017 | Tagged as: citizenship, climate, economy, editorial, environment, Green Living, Politics and War, science, weather

Climate change.

I worry about the future, not that I would likely live to see the worst effects in my lifetime, but my children might — and if they have children, my grandchildren will.

Already, I believe that our climate has irrevocably altered. Things I enjoy like chocolate, coffee, vanilla… those may disappear in a couple decades, because the species that produce these treats are not likely to be able to adapt quickly enough to changing climate patterns. In our own part of the world, for several of the last ten years we have MISSED the “pre-spring” summer. When I was in college, we could count on getting a couple of weeks of near-summer weather in March before the rains returned. It would gradually warm up, and although we could expect rain as late as early July, we knew that mid-July to mid-September would be dry. So did the plants and animals, and growth cycles adapted to the peculiarities of our rainy season.

Here are two articles that I believe are based on science, that describe what has happened in the past when certain parameters are met.

NY Magazine 9 July 2017

CNN Sixth Mass Extinction 10 July 2017

I do not necessarily think this will happen, but I think the possibility exists. What can I do about it? I am continuing to attempt to live lightly, with fewer purchases in general; trying to take fewer trips by cars with combustion engines; trying to eat locally when possible (with my allergies though I must supplement with additional food sources from far away…); using up and wearing out, recycling, upcycling, and other ways to prevent materials that have finished their first use from entering the waste stream.

I try to teach my children (my own children as well as my students) to be thoughtful, aware, and safe. I know that a worst-case scenario will be devastating world-wide; already such awful conditions exist in many nations near the equator, in areas that suffer drought, famine, and weather disasters on a regular basis. Cholera in Yemen. Fires in Europe and North America. Hurricanes on the East Coast and … this could be a long list. Long story short? Things are changing. They are changing quickly and the old ways of dealing with limited resources won’t work.

It’s not just the economic picture, which will definitely have to adjust; with many on the losing end finishing in poverty. It is the ecosystems that will suffer the most: animals in the wild, plants, the oceans. As each species adapts or, more likely succumbs, to the changes, our world will never be the same. Already, some changes are inalterable. They may not all be bad in the long run, but we will need to change to keep up with them.

For me, step one is to be aware. The second is to address in my own life that which I can without withdrawing from society and waiting to die. The third is to contact my elected officials, friends, others who may care; yes, I vote! But I am ill-equipped with my allergies to participate in demonstrations or sit-ins, my professional training and avocational interests do not equip me to invent a device or material that can restore our atmosphere and biosphere. For other steps, I must hope there are people who will fill in.

Am I worried? Yes. Do I lose sleep over this? Not often — Not sure what the benefit would be of that! But I am doing what I can, to the best of my ability. And I still hope, because my children and my students are worth it. I do what I can.

Do you?

Today in the Garden…

Posted by on 09 Jul 2017 | Tagged as: garden, Gardens and Life, good things, Green Living

Tom, Grant, Allison, (and I), and Wally worked to get the area by the fish pond, under the peach and through to the chestnut cleared out a bit and ready for the hammock. Also got a bit of pruning on the apple tree and ceanothus — not usually done this time of year, but they were overgrown and leaning in the wrong direction. And a few other things… the yard is FINALLY looking like someone cares, and to be honest, so is the house. Swept floors, got a start on cleaning the kitchen’s surfaces/sinks/cupboards… and stopped before anyone was too badly hurt.

In no particular order…

Mid-process leveling the slope to a former hole dug before we bought the land…

Gooseberry ready for action!

The prunings under the apple tree – we left a lot!

Grant rejuvenating the lilac by the fishpond.

Six tags from plants that did not survive last year, at least two of each need to be replaced…

The space by the fishpond that was cleared today.

And last but not least… the hammock!

Allison enjoying the best part of yard work!

Today in the Garden

Posted by on 14 Jun 2015 | Tagged as: environment, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, Green Living, seasons, Uncategorized

Today we were in the garden. Until about 1:30 in the afternoon, we worked slowly and steadily.

And it is starting to show!

One of the planters by the front door is now blooming nicely.

Not sure what types of rock flowers (succulents of some sort) these are, but I love the daisy-like blooms.

Not sure what types of rock flowers (succulents of some sort) these are, but I love the daisy-like blooms.

Tom and Grant built a lovely bench for me out of the reclaimed cement blocks that used to prop up our old house. There are more of these blocks — look for future installations!

The bench, partially completed, showing how they stacked the

The bench, partially completed, showing how they stacked the

I pruned back the St. John’s Wort a little bit, after Tom spent some time yesterday clearing the weeds from around it so I could see what needed shaping. I got a little too close in a couple places and it touched my face and skin, so I will be uncomfortable. At least I know what causes the rash, and so I am not as worried as the first time I reacted to it. Still, it looks a lot nicer than before and since we are actually living here again it will be easier to keep it shaped and manageable.

I started to pull some of the weeds from between the pavers in the front patio. It’s a constant, thankless job, but necessary. I cleared about 30 assorted aster-relatives, dock, and forget-me-nots. And noticed got distracted by the lovely pattern the table makes on the pavers when the sun shines…

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Today in the Garden

Posted by on 05 Jun 2015 | Tagged as: garden, Gardens and Life, good things, Green Living, Uncategorized

Finally, progress!

As I woke up earlier than normal, I had some time this morning to water the garden before I left for school. One week to go…

These are some of the sights that met my eyes on a Friday at 6:30 in early June.


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Today in my garden

Posted by on 17 Apr 2014 | Tagged as: children, Gardens and Life, good things, Green Living, house building, Uncategorized

I grow a lot of things.

Click on the link to see a few of them: Continue Reading »

Today in my garden

Posted by on 13 Aug 2013 | Tagged as: environment, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, Green Living, hope, house building, Uncategorized

A long time since I had a post like this.

The plants on the mound are hanging in there. Among the tall, dry grasses are signs of the secret garden waiting to emerge.

The rosa rugosa on the mound, bright vermillion blooms atop lanky, thorny limbs.

The rosa rugosa on the mound, bright vermillion blooms atop lanky, thorny limbs.

Somewhere in all this, a large fennel and my lovely pink rose that makes its own nosegays.

Somewhere in all this, a large fennel and my lovely pink rose that makes its own nosegays.

And further up the hill, behind my lovely chestnut, cedar and elderberries…

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Thirteen years…

Posted by on 20 Jun 2013 | Tagged as: environment, Family Matters, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, Green Living, hope, housefire, parenting, social justice, Uncategorized

Almost fourteen years ago now, the house was placed in the yard (September 1999). I planted trees in front and on the sides the following Spring. Flower beds in front the year after that, if I remember correctly. And gradually the yard and the home took shape. A few years into the process, I started recording the changes here, in the A Garden View page under the About tab.

Now, the house is being removed. Where there was a home, there is now only memory.

Memory, and hope. Monday morning, bright and sunny, the house still stood, but not for long.

Just before it all started...

Just before it all started…

And in the middle of the day… the roof gone, the interior exposed, the bulk of our lives in tatters.

the power box remains standing, the view through what was our bedroom wall

the power box remains standing, the view through what was our bedroom wall

And toward the end, the excavator in what was Matthew’s room. The remains of our lives together were piled high in dump trucks.

even the floors were torn out, and the foundations

even the floors were torn out, and the foundations

In a few weeks, with luck, we will have begun the process of rebuilding for real. We will have approval from the county, and from the bank, for a home that has more than enough space. We will have space to gather, to linger, to grow old.

the house elevations, as planned

the house elevations, as planned

I have a garden still, and that will have to do for now. Do the children understand how important it is that we have space for them? Do they understand how hard it has been, to work for so long, only to start again?

They are about to begin their own lives, and in the beginning when everything is incremental and one is responsible only for oneself, it feels much simpler. The idea that beginning now means we will be well past middle age when all this is resolved seems horrible to them.

It’s not easy, but it’s possible. We have lived through difficult times, and even now, thinking about a new thirty year mortgage it’s daunting. But we have made it this far.

The anchor of “home” will give us what we need to go a little farther.

my garden, and my darling Tom -- all that I need to be happy

my garden, and my darling Tom — all that I need to be happy

Old and New, Endings and Beginnings.

Posted by on 31 Dec 2012 | Tagged as: Gardens and Life, good things, Green Living, hope, Uncategorized

Some years feel better than others.

This year was filled with better and brighter events and opportunities than the previous year, and although many things remain undone and wanting, there is a sense of grace and gratitude as I think about the upcoming year.

I didn’t have to write a master’s paper under conditions that tied my hands and resulted in a paper that I was not interested in and wasn’t free to write to the best of my ability.

I wasn’t worried about being able to get enough work as a substitute to pay the minimum of expenses (student loans, gasoline at almost 15% of earnings).

I didn’t have to pay for huge car repairs (the accident in February was covered by insurance), or upkeep — though there is some on the horizon with a scheduled timing belt replacement.

I DID make it to visit friends at a distance, and happily was able to see one of them that “one last time” that we often do not get in life.

I DID bring the garden back to a sense of order and productivity, with the help of Tom and the boys.  We are still harvesting and eating good things from our summer garden!

I DID start getting a lot more calls to substitute and several people are calling me first!

I DID get around to starting a decent filing system in my office, and have a plan for getting the rest of it cleared out and usable.

I DID go to my first professional conference, had a great time and met wonderful people. I will do this again when I can afford it again.

And of course, there are dozens of tasks left undone, opportunities unexplored.

In the coming year I hope to…

  • get the rest of the fruit trees pruned to near-final form.
  • make “baskets” of wire for growing potatoes and tomatoes; we lost between 1/2 and 2/3 of the crop this year to burrowing critters. Baskets will accomplish three things. They will prevent the voles from eating our spuds. I can plant tomatoes out the sides of the baskets and the soil and water will then do double-duty while the tomato plants shade the sides of the baskets to keep them cool. They will allow us to renew the soil for the potatoes/tomatoes every year and not worry about potato blight in particular beds. I can move the baskets around from year to year!
  • move the dahlias from their current locations (part of this will be done as I dig up the dahlias for winter. IF I can do this soon…) and into planters or deer-proof mini cages.
  • get the office organized and cleared out. Part of this will include repurposing Matthew’s old bedroom into long-term storage for a few things and the printer/filing room for the family. Then I can consolidate teaching and gardening literature and materials in the office instead of multiple locations around the house.
  • get at least half of the storage locker emptied out. We got through the pile of materials in the back yard this year, and some of the storage locker. We have accumulated a lot of things in over 20 years of marriage, and it’s time to let a lot of it go.
  • ditto for the closet and dressers in our bedroom — I went through it a couple years ago. It’s time again. Most of the outdated, wrong-size clothes are going out as I notice them now (a big improvement), but it’s good to review the entire wardrobe and make thoughtful adjustments on occasion, too.
  • identify appropriate next steps for my career. Am I likely to actually get a teaching job in the next couple years? If not, then subbing is not my friend as it shortens the time I have to apply for the next step of certification once I have my own classroom. I might need to consider a different job until schools really start hiring again, and keep applying as openings come up.
  • earn enough to help support the kiddos as they live away from home and need help with college expenses. It’s why I went back to school in the first place!

One of my online friends had the idea to write down the nice things that happen in the coming year and keep them in a special container. I am going to do this, too. I have some pretty papers and a few extra small boxes. Then, at the end of the coming year I will be able to review more systematically what the successes have been.

I think that I will try to write down one good thing each day. Even if it’s small.

Years ago, I was struggling to recover from a back injury. I gave myself the goal of doing one thing each day, with the goal of doing something five days in each seven-day period. That way, I could have days “off” without feeling guilty.

So the goal of writing down one good thing that happened each day for five days out of a seven-day period will work for me, too.

I think I’ll try to limit time online, too — a goal of creating more physical art and less power-drain. I have plenty of materials right now to create and craft for months (maybe years). Anything left at the end of next year could be happily and easily let go.

Finally, I want to spend more time cooking with Tom. He is an excellent cook, and we enjoy making nourishing, satisfying food together. We also enjoy going to museums and such, so I hope that we’ll be able to escape a little more when the weather warms up to take a few day trips.

I hope the new year promises good things for you and yours as well.

A month later… Photos of the garden

Posted by on 17 Dec 2012 | Tagged as: fun, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, Green Living, health, hope, rain, seasons, Uncategorized

In the fullness of autumn, we wandered around the yard, putting things more or less in order, getting ready for the long, cool winter. These are pictures from November, when the rains paused long enough to get a bit more done. Pruning the medlar and the biggest fig tree. Running around the yard with a toy in mouth. Looking at (and eating) the last, sun-deprived-sour blackberries. Admiring the shapes of trees being exposed by leaf fall. Waiting for a change in the weather (which, not coincidentally, occurred just this week; today, in fact).

The pics in the gallery can be expanded to full size by clicking on them, use your browser’s “back” button to return to this page.

The next post will be of some December moments…

Rain, Sun, Rain, Fog, Rain (sunbreaks), Drizzle…

Posted by on 20 Oct 2012 | Tagged as: climate, environment, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, Green Living, rain, seasons, Uncategorized, weather

There is a pattern developing in the weather!

Although the forecasters are predicting a drier than normal autumn and winter (which I would rather not have!), for the moment the weather seems mostly to have settled in to a comfortable rhythm. What puzzles me at the moment is that, most years, the bigleaf maples are glowing with bright yellow leaves (unless it has been raining a lot in which case they are rust-colored).
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