RAIN – Pouring Rain in a Golden Morning

It rained yesterday afternoon and is still raining this morning. And after months in California the rain feels luxurious.

Probably an inconvenience to the city people but joyous to us out here in the country. It has not rained since I returned to the farm. The harvest is a few weeks off yet and no hay on the ground.

So rain is good.

Rainy day cat.

All the wild gardens opened their leafy hands to the big gulps of wet rain and just inhaled.

This is me with my professional face on! Tutoring yesterday.

Everything in the garden breathed in and the newly trimmed bushes did not look so sad anymore.

Pumpkin bread from earlier in the week.

The oven is on! Bread and cookies on the way today.

BooBoo hides under the bed from the thunder.

Sunrise was at 7.04 AM. Sunset will be 6.19pm. The high will be 65f a low of 40f and rain off and on all day.

And then the sunrise burst through the rain clouds and everything went golden just for a moment.

🌟Live Simply so the Planet can Live Large.

☀️Maximise Minimalism.

✨Create Resilient Sustainable Spaces.

🌜PreCycle.

Have a wonderful day!

🕰 Want to go back in time? Here is the Farmy on a October 12th, 2011.

2011!!! A different world.

We have been at this sustainable thing a long time, you and I!

I could go on! But I need to get ready for my mornings teaching. Teaching in my socks! 🫢

Cecilia

https://thekitchensgarden.com/2011/10/12/celi-diet-meatballs-on-silverbeet/

The Why

So why am I writing a piece of work (that is presently a spreadsheet) to help our friends and online community and families “maximize minimalism to create resilient sustainable homes”.

It will become a course you see. A pathway for ordinary people like us to live. There will be an email list. A course and a community. Tons of useful tips and facts. And a lot of discussion.

So why am I launching into this?

Well, for a start I have been walking the walk for quite some time now, so it is time I talked the talk!

Maybe it is a guilty conscience – I feel awfully guilty for the years when I did not even think of the environment I lived in. Though we have to get over the guilt. It is not useful. The planet is turning into a rubbish heap: so change it- we need to stop whinging about how bad we feel. Feeling guilty helps no-one. Get over it and get on with it.

Maybe because we have to start now. Here. To make a stand for Simply Living Simply.

Maybe because I feel happier and healthier eating clean food and living lightly and I want to help us all do that too? (yuk that sounds so sanctimonious).

Maybe because we need to combine modern technology with old fashioned norms to enable good happy wholesome lives for our grandchildren’s children. But where is that information?

Maybe because HOME is the most beautiful word and we all need to feel secure in the ability of our homes to shelter and protect us from the elements. Yes, I will be talking about architecture too.

Maybe because we are on the cusp of great changes environmentally, financially, and climatically so we have to thoughtfully design a way of living that can adapt fast to the changes ahead. I will be talking to the money guys too – investing in solar and wind is a thing. Self-powering houses! I love that!

We have become dependent. How I hate being dependent.

I saw a question on LinkedIn the other day asking how often you make a home-cooked meal but the writer had another term for it. I can’t remember what it was. Not ‘from scratch’ – some other term. Oh, I know what it was – prepped. How often do you prep a meal.

But SO MANY of the comments were from people who did not cook!

No one taught them how?

They missed the point?

So many people were saying that home cooking was for the holidays. When they got hungry they got take-out delivered or went to the supermarket to buy a meal. They gave away the power of food.

But the expense! My poor frugal heart! and the packaging! Plastic packaging is not cool. And losing touch with the concept of cooking a meal and serving it hot at a table. We are the next Incas.

Wherever I live there is a home cooked meal every night. (And to be clear I am not the only one cooking). If I am alone (and left to my own devices) I pan fry grated potatoes with bacon and onion into a kind of frittata but in a pan. Then cover it in grated cheese and flip – sometimes that works – so the cheese becomes the base and cooks and sizzles and caramalizes (and nothing makes me happier than fried cheese) then when everything is crunchy I lay it, like a huge potato pancake, on a plate and cover it in vegetables and Greek yoghurt.

When I make pasta I make extra for the freezer. Especially ravioli. That’s prepping. Right?

If I am being clever the fresh vegetables I buy are immediately cut up into serving size pieces and stored together in a covered glass bowl in the fridge. So I can just reach in for a serving of veg every night.

I need to go back and find that LinkedIn post so I can say I prep too!

So why am I writing this piece of work? Why am I creating a three month course?

I want to build a community of like minded individuals and families and companies who can support each other in building resilient sustainable homes and work spaces. So we can move forward with confidence. So our food and supply chains are safe and local. So we can save each other from the flood. Not just pretend the storm is not coming then wait for help.

I can do the heavy lifting. My team and I will do the research – by the way you are on my team. And we will get the info into peoples pockets.

I want to spread the word that we CAN do something. That our actions are viable and respected.

I know that changing from a plastic toothbrush to a compostable one won’t actually overcome plastic pollution but it will change the way we think. It is a chicken step. Scratch Scratch Peck. Remember? And we are a whole flock. Together we can make a difference.

No doom and gloom- I promise.

🌟Live Simply so the Planet can Live Large.

☀️Maximize Minimalism.

✨Create Resilient Sustainable Homes.

🌜PreCycle

PRE-CYCLE! This is my new word. Or (in other words) don’t bring that shit into the house to begin with. I don’t want to have to throw it into an over filled recycling bin with another dubious journey ahead of it.

I still have single use plastic in my sights. Much of this plastic is convenient. Individual punnets of anything are a luxury. And the convenience of easy disposal has made us lazy.

Maybe we need to toughen up and get used to the idea that our lifestyles today can not be as convenient as they were a decade ago.

So – as my Farmy researchers and The Fellowship – what can you and I ban from the house this week.

The latest: Plastic Bin liners. GONE. Small containers of cat food! GONE. Plastic toothbrushes. GONE. (Though all the toothbrushes I have used across my life STILL EXIST somewhere- never gone- aah).

🤔OK – what else?

LEGO is allowed because I have Lego that is forty years old and yet another generation of kids play with it. So Lego is on the good list!! 😂😂 it is reused again and again and again.

See! Not all doom and gloom!

So, what do you think?

Cecilia

PS As usual I seldom edit when writing my blog – because I am amongst friends. So let’s pull this apart and put it back together in the comments.

PSS 🌳The trees come this week!

Farm Daze

Pictures for you!

Today I am going to be outside pruning all the branches that are covering my windows. They are great in the summer for keeping the heat out but I want warm sun shining into the room for the winter to help with the heating.

The growth in the few months I have been away is astronomical. Everything has gone wild. There are some pathways that are totally grown over.

Some pathways are still clear.

Cows.

The ducks are free now. No more locking them up at night. They sleep beside their pond at night. At the front of the house by the bedroom windows. Boo sleeps there, too.

No more duck eggs which is fine as they were impossible to sell.

Organic soybeans. This is a beautiful chemical free field.

Tima is locked up in the back field because she had been out in the fields eating soybeans as fast as she could. So, as usual at this time of year, she has put on way too much weight.

Now I am going go out and start pruning.

I hope you have a great Saturday.

Talk soon.

Cecilia

Yesterday I FLEW Back to The Farmy

I arrived last night, but I arrived without my luggage. Which is kind of annoying. Though the system is pretty well set up and I was notified upon landing that my bags were not on the plane with me. There are apps, codes and tracking numbers and it appears that my belongings are on the way. Hopefully today.

Don’t you just love apps!

I keep a selection of clothes at each of my destinations so it is not dire. Except for the laptop charger. Interesting that chargers become my only problem.

Boo has literally not left my side since I arrived in the night. I kept thinking that the whole farm had a funny smell until I realized that it was Boo – following at my heel with his month old skunk smell. So he will be getting a shower and a good brush out later this afternoon.

Here is Boo giving me the stink eye for being away so long.

In my absence Ton has gone to live with John’s grown children across the creek. Typical of that dog. He has never liked living with BooBoo. So I will catch up with him later on.

In the background is the Fellowship Forest.

Look how big my trees are getting! There has been so much rain out here!

There has been frequent rainfall over this summer and a lot of growth, the fields are heaving with feed and the home barn is loaded with hay. I cannot see out my Goldilocks Windows, the bushes have grown so wild.

The cows are right down the back so I will go to see them later. Evidently there is hay down across the way but there is thick cloud cover hanging over everything like a guilty conscience, so nothing much will dry out today.

It’s chilly.

I might buy a couple more late calves. I will have a ring around this week. There is a ton for them to eat this winter.

Beans in Uncles Field this year. I will talk Our John into baling some soybean straw after this harvest. Winter feed needs to be diverse too.

Lots to do!

Talk soon!

Cecilia

Once for the Seat. Once for the Tree.

By this time next week I will be back on the farm. I am sure everyone will be mad at me for being away so long but every one of my destinations is so far from the other. I have used up way too much of my carbon allotment through flying this year.

We all know that burning jet fuel releases greenhouse gases. I have read reports that one flight from the West to the East coast across the U.S. produces at a minimum 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide. Yikes.

Aunty Google tells me that one full grown hardwood tree can sequester 48 pounds of carbon a year. This means it will sequester approximately 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide by the time it reaches 40 years old. Hmm.

Using simple terms carbon should stay in the soil. When I burned that jet fuel I took a bunch and released it into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. I need to pay that back. Get that carbon locked back into the soil. My way of returning that carbon to the soil is by planting trees. Trees are the magic in my equation.

Which means I pay for every plane ticket twice. Once for the seat. Once for the trees.

In the past I have planted one tree for every flight in whatever country I land in. With the escalation in climate change becoming so clear now, I think I need to up my game. I need to work out how many trees it will take to grab that lost carbon back out of the atmosphere and sink it back into the soil.

Old trees, small trees, young trees, bushes, weeds, wild fairy flowerbeds, fields of organic wheat and fields of grass for cows; all promote carbon capture as a result of the interactions between living plants, fungi, bacteria, and other soil organisms. Ironically those roaming large mammals are part of this chain too – as long as we keep them moving across the land. (Wolves do the moving in the wild. Good farmers do this in the fields). All those fantastic microbes and tiny living organisms in your soil are the key to locking carbon back into the soil.

Live soil is everything on so many levels.

The best time to plant a tree is now. (Or in a week)!!

When I get back to the farm I will show you how the Fellowship Forest is growing. Then we will add to it. Actually there is more than one forest we are growing. I am only planting Illinois native trees, now. And maples! I love maple syrup. And we need 40 years to grow a good maple syrup tree too.

Ava has been my constant companion out here in California. Always someone to miss. It is the way of life.

Talk soon.

Cecilia

🌳And don’t forget – if you want to have a tree planted for YOU out in the Fellowship Forest, please feel free to donate using the PayPal button. In the space for a note write ‘DONATION FOR TREES’.

PS Sorry about the lack of new pictures. This time next week I will have heaps!

The Sustainable Home

Time to crack down.

In light of recent events – like the weather for instance – and our climate for sure – the concept of The Sustainable Home has been rolling around my head.

The whole thing from architecture right through to waste disposal. I think we can take back a lot of the control. Living in the suburbs out here in California has taught me how dependent a family can be. How temporarily we are thinking. And I don’t like it.

I am not particularly interested in high tech, or long life batteries, generators, gizmos, or banks of freezers for buying in bulk or any of that stuff. Or solar power unless it is drying my clothes on a clothesline. I am not a dooms-day prepper. Though if the power does go out it is a good idea to have one solar bank to charge the phone. (and yes I know that is pathetic but chicken steps!!).

Think sustainable. The things we do every day.

I want to design a lifestyle and environment that I follow that is hung on the premise that we need to make permanent sustainable changes to joyfully live in a changing world. Simple routines and methods that allow us to take back some of the power in our home environment.

We are so dependent on power being pumped into our houses. Wi-Fi for everything. Endless runs to the store to stock up. Rolls and rolls and rolls of paper towels and toilet paper. Refrigeration. Air conditioning. Bottled water. Milk in plastic lined disposable cartons. Fabrics made from plastic. Artificial materials cladding our houses. Wine bottles make me nervous. ( Are they really being recycled?). Wet wipes. The subject is almost too big !

These thin walled little cracker box houses we live in are not going to withstand long term heavy weather. The weather here in Visalia is so hot, over 100F almost every day for months, no rain since before Christmas and there are (and should be) pretty major water restrictions, so the vege garden in this bereft city soil (all the top soil has gone here in the suburbs) has dried right up and died. I can grow desert herbs like oregano and rosemary but they are small and speechless from heat exhaustion.

And so many people live in these inhospitable climates. Enabled by cheap housing and cheap electricity for air conditioning. Is it going to stay cheap?

Is there a machine for turning all these cardboard boxes, that our deliveries come in, into something useful. Like pellets for the garden. Or toilet paper. Or writing paper even. Do you know of such a machine for the household?

By the time I left the mill, cardboard boxes were becoming harder to procure so that machine might be outdated fairly fast.

Buying pallets of bottled water is getting harder now. The plastic bottles themselves are caught up in a faltering supply chain (which is a good thing in my opinion – most of our water is fine to drink after it has gone through a filter). But there are a number of regions in the USA and across the world that have polluted water – so what of them?

Yes! It is a convoluted subject. So I am going to bring my spiraling thoughts back into control and begin to design my Sustainable Home – room by room.

I need to focus on the day to day. I need to focus on small things that save money, water and energy. Room to Room.

Where shall we start? I want to start in the bathroom. Keeping in mind that I am doing all this as I travel my gypsy life. So my Sustainable Homes are in a number of countries of the world. I am not fussy. Because this is important.

And yes! The sustainable farm is smaller now but still fills plenty of bellies. Two weeks and I rotate back to the farm.

Cecilia! Focus! The Bathroom! What are your thoughts on washable wet wipes. How shall we set those up in our bathrooms. Maybe the first thing to do is start that old fashioned rag bag again!? What about flushing?

What are your thoughts on the bathroom in our Sustainable Home.

Cecilia

113F Here Today

I am back in Visalia, CA. ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN!!! It has been getting hotter and hotter and drier and drier. We have had only one short shower since March. So, the water council has asked us to use less water because it is so hot that people are using more power to run their air conditioners The water people will use their own generators a couple of days a week so the grid can pull more power to cool off the hot people. Sharing!

Did that make sense?

So basically we need to use less water – yes the Colorado River and all the lakes she feeds is in grave danger – AND now we are to use less power. Less power / less water. My kind of song. Totally doable. Makes sense right?

And because I like things to be measured it is 15% less water and use it at night.

As I write it is 109F/43C. So dog and I are not going outside today. My walk was fast this morning.

In three weeks I am wandering back to Home Base, The Farmy. I am going to focus on planting trees to cover all my travel. My jungle is my personal carbon sink. It’s been a while since I was at the Farmy but this is how my life is now. I am going to keep going round and round all my families so I stay in touch with everyone. The string on my balloon has been cut.

I refuse to conform. I am involved with my families now. Right up to the neck. And they don’t all live down the road so I am back travelling. I am so looking forward to seeing Our John and the farm. Next in the rotation.

I have a new part time job! Working with and tutoring for a new company that is beaming reading tutors into classrooms to address literacy struggles in our young ones. One on One online reading tutoring for 15 minutes every day. Same kid, same tutor, same time, every day.

I can take this job anywhere and teach from anywhere.

This is another job I can get passionate about! Reading fluency in 1st to 3rd graders in 2022 is roughly 30% behind previous years. In the US some of the schools were closed for almost 18 months and I am up for supporting the teachers and these kids any way I can!

As well as the teaching there is a lot of daily paid training, because I naturally create teams, I have collected a group of new tutors into my own team to work on stuff, we zoom daily as well and I feel plugged back in! It is great to be back in the game.

Bio-needs is my new word! “Remember to take care of your bio-needs.” Awesome!

Have a great day!

C

Are All Mountains Blue?

Funny how colours are associated with emotions.

Blue when we are sad and feeling blue.

The mountains from Canmore

Red when we are mad.

This is an old, old photo. With red in it. Did you ever see that series ‘The Peaky Blinders? We were certainly feeling peaky after this fancy dress blinder!

Green when we are jealous. “The green eyed monster.”

A butterfly from the butterfly house at Fresno Zoo

I heard they have pink jail cells for individuals who need to calm down. Though I do not find pink a restful colour.

I have often wondered out loud what the world would be like if our farts were coloured. And this fart colour was different for everyone. Usually this thought surfaces when I am in the supermarket and in the presence of children who will howl with laughter at the naughtiness of such a thought.

I am in Canmore. With eldest son and his working dog.

Leroy

And what about orange or yellow or lilac (my least favourite colour by the way) or brown. Are these colours without emotion?

So what colour describes you today?

I think I would be a deep Jaguar green. Not the envious green, more of a ‘deep in thought’ green. It is thundering in the mountains today.

Cecilia

Flying – the literal kind.

I am flying again. More and more my life is reflecting that girl in the red coat with a string attached to a balloon.

Next is my favorite shot from San Antonio. Do the river walk at midnight!

Today I am off to Calgary. Eldest Son is taking me camping. I told him if I did not see a moose I wanted my money back.

I love flying. I love traveling. I love the beginning, middle and end of every journey. I do! I can write and read and disappear down into smelly humanity. But you all know that. And you probably know I do not particularly like camping but – am well.

I saw a man in the plane today reading a library book. You know the ones with the thick plastic covers. I thought I might have to kiss him. How grounded. To have a library book. For a library book one must have a local library. Which means he has a home. A person with a library must have a home.

On my first flight there were no dogs and no babies. I love dogs and babies but there is room to be grateful for their absence on the plane sometimes.

The food choices in Terminal B in Dallas Fort Worth airport are limited.

So I drank wine! You know when I first came to the US I thought this Friday’s restaurant ( Thank God It’s Friday or TGIF or Fridays – their branding is fluid) .. was only open on Friday!! I just could not get my head around it.

Have a gorgeous day/night! Evening. Morning!

The Fellowship is SO International!

And here is Third Son out fishing! Off the coast of Mexico. Yesterday! Apropos of nothing – except that incredible laughing smile! The Kiwi and the Sea.

It does not matter how long we are inland, when we get to the sea we just HOWL!!

Love Cecilia

Talking Words

I am traveling again. Today I am in Austin, Texas. Hot. Hot. Hot. Like my Dad I am no good in the heat. But I love cities.

Everyone needs variety so this morning we walked a trail through the Barton Creek Green Belt.

This particular trail (I call it a track) runs right under an overpass so it is a curious combination of edgy urban and nature walk. Vehicles roaring overhead as we negotiated the rocky tree lined path added an interesting dimension.

Americans call it hiking and I call it going for a walk. If it is a long walk I call it a tramp. Semantics. Right?

So we walked and chatted. I had read that it is easier to purge the body of toxins through sweat so we discussed sweat and wondered where the moisture has been before it is sweated out. Under our skin? Where under the skin. In the cells? And how did the toxins get there and what really is toxic. Who decided it was toxic. Then I thought about crying. Not because I needed a good cry but when you have a good cry where does all that salty water come from. Is it waiting in some hidden reservoir just in case you give in and indulge in a good sob. Do you mean sob or weep. No, I mean sob. Do tears go off? Oh, you mean off as in stale? Yes. Are your first tears stale? Then we had to dissect the word indulge. If we enjoy an indulgence how can we enjoy crying. And then we wondered about stale again and cycled back to sweat. Maybe the first of the sweat is stinky because it is stale – like stagnant water.

And by then we had wandered totally off the track. We were lost. So I wandered off some more to take photographs while the map was consulted.

We have to be careful when we communicate. Words are not mathematics – words are not pure like numbers, they can mean different things within different contexts and different cultures and are easily mis-interpreted. I say or write things but often my American friends are doing fast translation to make sure they understood me correctly. This morning I said I walk to stay fit. My American friend thought I meant I walked so I stayed looking good.

So, I amended this to “I walk to increase my fitness”.

But now I am wondering what other words or phrases I use that may be misunderstood. It is easy to be misunderstood in this age of tiny word bites. Tiny bites in our words.

Interesting right. I think we need to add a healthy dose of kindness before we interpret each other’s words. Listen with a smile and an open ear then ask questions to begin the conversation. Too often we just judge a word and assume we get it and forget the conversation.

Some words are perfectly clear though.

I hope you are all having a lovely Saturday!

Cecilia