The last day of November was warm with a brisk wind to scurry about the colorful leaves. I walked the streets in Clayton to do some banking and grab a bite to eat on my lunch hour. The wind whipped from the west and changed directions several times that hour. The tell-tale sign of changing seasons. A mild autumn is quickly going into winter-like weather this week. The weekend forecast includes snow flakes, and colder than normal temperatures next week. “Each year is a parable begun in stillness, and chill, of bare ground warmed with spring life returning, then bursting, buzzing, peaking in summer, and issuing a final flare in autumn, to subside in another winter’s seeming nullity,” author Stephanie Mills writes in her book Epicurean Simplicity.
Preparations for the winter season may not be a necessary stack of firewood in my suburban lifestyle. I remember as a child the excitement of my family’s annual New Year’s Eve stay at the one-room cabin my father built on the family farm in Franklin County, Missouri. The simple shingle covered dwelling probably no bigger that 500 square-feet had no bathroom or electricity, but a wood stove for its heat source. My father and Grandpa would cut down old trees on the 100+ -acre farm and split wood throughout the autumn season in preparation for deer hunting trips and these winter weekend visits to the family farm. My current preparations include sweaters and boots being pulled from the depths of the closets as well as my epie pin and antihistamine stowed in my purse for the next 4 months. An allergy to cold air and water is not easy, but is not the worst a person would have to deal with. Thank goodness for gas heat.
And now I focus on my own heart matters for today. Simplicity. “Try to see the beauty in your own backyard to notice the miracles of everyday life,” religious leader Gloria Gaither says. I would say that is great advice. Perennial thoughts and ways, appreciating what you have now, and making do. Simple, thankful, authentic, resourceful. I am intrigued by the choice of voluntary simplicity as I further my research for an enrichment class to teach at my work place. There are authors, activists, and societies devoted to this way of thinking and lifestyle. Choices made such as local community versus global; homegrown versus mass produced; renovate or upcycle versus disgard; a 3-generation home versus having separate homes; public transportation, carpooling, or riding a bicycle versus commuting to work with one’s own vehicle everyday; hand-crafted versus manufacturer made; purchase local versus big brand, slow food versus fast food, and the list goes on. As author and ecological activist Stephanie Mills states“bigger has not turned out to be better.” I like the change back to some old ways and traditions. What does simplicity mean to you? How have you made simplicity a lifestyle choice? I would love to hear.
So how did paper get to be so overkill? All the junk mail even during the electronic era? Before scrolled pen & ink messages,the typewriter, word processors, and computer words were carved in stone and wood for communication. Story-telling, musical lyrics, and fireside chats rather than books, blogs, and online chats. I’d like to reserve my paper adventures to handwritten “thank you” and “thinking of you” notes using recycled or hand-crafted papers, or papiermache or decoupage trinket boxes or other craft projects recycling greeting cards. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner for a paper creation.<
With these wintry days time is on my side. I am not working two or three jobs any longer. No greenhouse chores. No pressing family matters to attend to. My allergy to the cold tells me I cannot play outside in the cold. At home and at work, I have a plethora of papers piled in baskets, boxes, trays, and file cabinets. All of which are in need of my attention. Not one paper is of immediacy. It just requires time to make decisions about what stays and gets filed, and what gets purged. I do not consider myself a hoarder, but I am beginning to wonder about myself as of late. Lack of time would be the culprit. But 2015 is the year for repurpose, recycle, and rejuvenation. How many trees can I save?
At home, the unwanted papers are a part of an annual fire ritual set aside for a wintry late afternoon using the kitchen fireplace. It is the perfect Sunday afternoon to make split-second decisions before throwing the unwanted papers in the blazing fire or set aside for the files. I guarantee there will be another wintry day for filing. Our feline friends find the whistling of the fire fasinating. My work week has been somewhat subdued considering the kind of weeks and months coming out of 2014. Project deadlines and security issues were priority over these damned papers. To the shredder rather than a fire the excess papers go. I now keep most documents on electronic files. During another lull time, I will organize my computer files.
What paper projects do you create or undertake during the winter months?
Some days the pets as well as neighborhood squirrels and birds watch us as if we are their entertainment. Most other days, it is the reverse. The household and outside critters are our entertainment. Our pets, Midnight, Celine, Jonas, and Pennylane will greet us at the front door after a long day at work. The dog with a wagging tail and panting smile, and the feline friends with purrs and nudges to be petted. The birds and squirrels gather at the dogwood tree to feed on seeds at the feeder or underneath where the seed remnants lie on the leaf-mulched earth.
When asked what my new year’s resolution is, the word is “repurpose”. Repurpose items already obtained. Rejuvenate, repair, renovate, recycle, all to mean the same as repurpose. Utilize an item for a purpose or meaning once again. To go with this year’s theme of “repurpose”, this weekend I had purposed to wash all the stuffed animals and characters that have residence in our home. We have quite the collection of teddies, rabbits, chicks, dolls, doggies, and even a Tazmanian devil from my children and grandchildren. These toys provded hours of entertainment and occupied a hammock hung in the back bedroom or sit on the bay window seat. One basket situated in the living room was bed to some favorites, ready at a moment’s notice to be gathered into the arms of a visiting child. Since my daughter moved in, more space is needed in the back bedroom. We placed these critters in plastic bags until after the holiday madness simmered down. To the local laudromat we went with 3 large plastic bags, filled 2 front loading machines. Dean and I watched as the soapy faces plastered against the door windows, as if they muttered “help!” from their foaming mouths. After the wash cycle we dried the freshly washed critters for just a few minutes in a gigantic-sized dryer. We brought home the damp stuffed animals, lined them on the trundle bed to air dry. Dean captured this photo of their greeting smiles. A bath always makes you feel better! Later we turned the critters on their heads, with their backsides up to air dry. We waited for our Labrador, Midnight to land himself atop the stuffed critters as the trundle bed is one of his favorite spots to nap. But the stuffed critters remained undisturbed.
Maybe there were too many of the critters, slightly overwhelming? We think so. Two of these toys date back to 32 years ago, my oldest daughter’s 1st Christmas teddy and 1st birthday Hush Puppy. The Care Bear with a band-aid on his leg was given to my oldest when she recovered from appendicitis at age 5. Another doggy belonged to my other daughter, and a teddy with a blue beret belonged to my artsy son. Others are a handmade rabbit and doll from a special grandmother. So the other purpose for the communal bath and animal reunion was to donate the less familar clean, germ-free critters to Goodwill. Some other children to love on their cuteness, softness. Tote to a tea party, wagon ride, or bedtime. We filled 2 bags to repurpose. And the other special animals and dolls sit in the living room inside the white wicker basket with a pink-gingham cloth lining. These await another child’s love, maybe more grandbabies?
Earlier this year I accomplished a major feat, paying off my debts accumulated from years ago before my divorce. Now my household budget is blooming, looking brighter everyday. I am determined to stay in the black with my green habit. Red blooms only, no budget in the red! Did you follow all those colors and what I am saying? It means I am gardening on a budget, small budget at that. With three grown children getting married this year outside of our town, cuts are made before the flowers bloom. Dean and I need to budget our time and funds with our growing adventures. We chose to not go to the farmers’ markets. We can concentrate on the redesign of Deanna Greens And Garden Art rather than the market. We will continue to grow organically. Dean and I’s health matters too much, so no short-cuts there. The founder of Missouri’s organic Mueller Farm, where our friends at EarthDance are housed has a sign displayed which says, “Health begins in the soil.” BTW: EarthDance has a class they are offering at a nominal fee called “Health Begins In The Soil” for St. Louis locals in May. Checkout their web page: http://www.earthdancefarms.org. Dean and I may see you there as we could use a refresher course. More vegetables and herbs than perennials will grow in our newly constructed raised beds made with 1 part good quality compost, 1 part good quality organic soil, and 1 part sand for proper drainage. The rich soil and the non-treated lumber to make the raised beds are our most expensive investment in 2014. Our hardy red geraniums will continue to bloom in big pots this growing season as they have all winter under our plant lights in our semi-heated garage. Sunny zinnia and marigold blooms will welcome parishioners and guests at the church once again this spring and summer. In about 2 weeks our gourd seedlings will go into the ground underneath recycled metal arches situated near the greenhouse, trusting we will be frost-free by then. If we have a bumper crop of gourds, we may venture to a farmer’s market or two this autumn. Gardeners and weekend farmers, how do you cut cost with your green adventures?
Writes author Doris Janzen Longacre,“Retrofitting is only a new angle on the old virtue: making do.” Same with the words “recycling”, “updo”, “repurpose”, “refurbish”, etc. My current read is Ms. Longacre’s book, Living More With Less written in 1979-1980. This Mennonite could have written this book today, and it’s practical advices still apply even much more so. I recommend this book. It is rethinking purchases, lifestyles, and purpose.
This book follows with Dean and I’s house and greenhouse story. We take something built years ago and make do. The modest house we live in is where I raised my three children most of their childhood. Grandchildren have lived in this house too. I have lived there for 28 years, and it will be paid off in a couple more years. The rooms are filled with memories, good as well as unpleasant. Post-divorce living and marriage to a wonderful man are always steps in the right direction. Dean and I hope to move to a house we can call our own. In the meantime colors and renovations change our current home, and more recently the living room and kitchen painted. A bungalow built in the 1930’s or 40’s is what we hope to find for our future home. There are many styles of bungalows, though the art & craft era are most appealing. Houses were built solid back then. Practical comfort and character the themes.
“Adapting to nature is the oldest human art,” Doris Janzen Longacre writes. This would apply to my health dealing with the severe cold winter as well as our greenhouse, the green project we took on 2-1/2 years ago. “Green” efforts are ours on many accounts. Still no electricity to the structure, though we “make do”. We adapted our farming journey to more annual plants. Our garage houses heating pads and plant lights for our perennials during the colder months. Solar is becoming more affordable. If we wait long enough, we may even use our greenhouse year-round. The current 1,300 square-foot structure provides 7 months of growing space. We hope to have some raised beds with root cellar capabilities that allow veggies to endure an extra 2 or 3 months of Missouri’s colder weather like this most recent winter. Am I safe to say that yet? Are we done with winter?!
Deanna Greens And Garden Art has gourds growing, gourds galore! We started from seed, planted our seedlings in our freshly made rich organic soil from our kitchen and plant scraps and recycled organic soil. Birdhouse, long dipper, tri-color, and hard-shell bowl varieties were planted. But some seedlings did not live more than a week after the transplant in the summer heat, while others have thrived. Survival of the fittest. Growing gourds is new for us, so not sure if the hard-shell variety survived yet. The others are huge, and seem to grow 1 – 2 inches a day along with their broad leaves and vines. These are growing on a teepee shaped trellis behind the greenhouse. The delicate white blossoms of the birdhouse variety attract the bees. An autumn harvest is not too far away. Next year, we are considering this inside
our greenhouse. Colors and textures in contrasting green vines. See the photo below.
If you are new to this blog, welcome! So followers, how do you like the redo of the Deanna Greens And Garden Art blog? I love the color changes and artsy design of this theme with WordPress. The floral-paisley swirls, warm hues, ruffled and rough edges represent well the greenhouse, Dean, and Anna. I have found on my journaling journey how important art is to me. Colors, designs, ambiance, and emotion play important roles in this greenhouse adventure my husband, Dean and I embarked on 21 months ago. Yes, plants and art go together in my world. Yes, a love affair of sorts. Hence, the name of our business and this blog. Oh yes, sound structure and organic science are the foundations. But the unique pots & troughs, antique wooden crates & dressers, solar lights aglow, and this literary expression about the green life evolve into garden art.
So off to the Olde Town Spice Shoppe in 2 short hours. I will rendezvous with 300,000+ locals and visitors in historic St. Charles, Missouri for the Festival of the Little Hills this gorgoeus summer day today and Sunday. Herbs, spices, local honey, and specialty food items such as “Beef Dirt” and “Goose Poop” are some of the items to be sold while at work. Check out their website: http://www.oldtownspices.com. A fun store to visit, and great mail order service as well. The Festival of the Little Hills or as the French say Fête des Petites Côtes has been a St. Charles tradition for many years, drawing crafters in from afar as well as local. The rich culture of the French lives today. For more information take a gander at this link http://www.festivalofthelittlehills.com. I promise to write more about my adventures of the celebration this weekend.
What remodel, redo, repurpose, recycle project are you involved with and/or where will you rendezvous this weekend?
We have at least one pair of Eastern bluebirds who have nested near the fields at Boone Hollow Farm. Wooden bluebird houses are attached to a few nearby fence posts. Natural foliage and virtually undisturbed grounds surround. They fly freely during the day, flitting about gathering bugs to feed their young while singing beautiful songs. Their predators such the night owl and coyote are heard every night. Yet each day is an occasion for song despite the possible dangers that lurk. Wildlife and nature live in the present moment, and celebrate it. This is what my grandchildren remind me with their everyday lives. They find simple joy in drawing with colors on a blank canvas of recycled paper, creating a sweet note to mommy or me, and the innocent truth they speak even in those awkward moments. Living life to its fullness. Children welcome the gift of living in this present moment, which can bring their adults to this same place, if we allow it.
My husband, Dean does this for me as well. I am a planner, and he lives for today. So sociable, affectionate, and thoughtful. Dean brings me back to celebrate this moment. Praying, journaling, and gardening take the cares of yesterday and worries of tomorrow so I can celebrate today. “There are exactly how many special occasions in life as we care to celebrate,” this Robert Brault quote says. Simple joy for the taking, everyday.
Our dill is daintily charming, and so fragrant. Yesterday evening we harvest our 1st crop, and will put in a 2nd crop after the 4th of July holiday. Wild sunflowers and sprigs of dill fill a green vase today. Our chef son-in-law will use this 1st crop of dill to make pickles with his homegrown cucumbers. Maybe a jar or two of Hannahway Farm sun pickles are on our way?! The patriarch spice shoppe owner says in Europe dill is used in just about every dish. I love it with my baked fish and potato salad dishes. The 3rd crop of dill will go in early autumn, with plans to take as show-n-tell farm products to the City of St. Charles preschool classrooms Farmer Dean and I visit in November. Our 1st crop of basil screams pesto! Served with veggies, chicken, bread, and pasta, I cannot wait!
This week’s other farm chores include straightening and cleaning the screenhouse, putting extra pots and trays together in somewhat orderly fashion, and throwing broken items in the recycle pile. One recycled dresser is filled with “tea room” stuff, as well as a recycled tile-top table put aside for our meal and snack times. Another recycled dresser holds pots of blooming geraniums. We are making space in the screenhouse in case we need to move our plants to this cooler side of the greenhouse structure. Last year at this time the heat wave and drought was well underway in Missouri. The extreme heat required us to water two times a day, early morning and early evening. Our plants were housed under the shelter of shade trees in our yard while the greenhouse reconstruction plans were being modified until autumn when the heat subsided. The lack of rain has not been an issue this spring and early summer, thank you God! The growing gourd plants will go into the ground this weekend.
Growers, what are you harvesting now? What are you putting in for an autumn crop?