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?!
We had crisp mornings and evenings during our Minnesota vacation, as usual for the end of July into August. It is like Missouri’s September into October season. Apparently, Missouri has experienced the change in the air while we traveled back from the north country last weekend. The signs of autumn are in the air. Others feel it too. Talk of the “f” word, “frost” was on the 550 AM Farmer Dave’s radio show this week, talking like it may come earlier this year. At the spice shoppe visitors are buying apple butter, mulling spices, teas, chili powder, and soup mixes like autumn is here. I am enjoying a cup of hot tea every morning, my newest sensation is Stash brand chai white tea. I think remnants of the north followed us home.
Our vacation antique finds include a couple boxes full of Mason jars to make non-electric lanterns. $5 for the whole load of them. Love those bargains at the annual Crazy Days Sale in Park Rapids, Minnesota. Dean will repurpose the jars and design into lanterns to use alternative energy, solar and/or battery-operated lights. We will market at the Lake Saint Louis and Chandler Hill Vineyard’s Farmers’ Markets starting in September along with some beautiful perennials baskets. I cannot wait to use these lanterns on our patio and at the greenhouse. I also found a set of four tea cups with tea snack platters in my favorite farm color, leaf green. Included in the price of the Mason jars! These will go to the greenhouse for my tea time while working at Boone Hollow Farm. Just the simple things in life to make my day artsy and colorful.
Our plants are loving the milder temperature, greening up nicely before going dormant in a few short weeks. We just put all the greenhouse plants in the screenhouse a month ago. And I have another crop of herbs to sow before harvest. Our gourd plants need some warmth and sunshine to produce their fruit. I hope they get big enough before frost blankets the Missouri earth. Local weathermen talk like St. Louis may not hit 100 degrees this summer. It would be the first time in many years. Plenty of rain now, with more coming everyday this week. If you remember my blog posts from last year at this time, it was so blazin’ hot and Missouri was in a severe drought. What a difference a year makes! But is summer over?
The storms aftermath. This post continues from my very late night WordPress post My Friday Family Adventures: https://deannagreensandgardenart.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/my-friday-family-adventures. Three days later, and I can still feel the van vibrant, hear the tree limbs scrapping the top of the van with the rain beating and wind screaming. Dean and I were spared what many others in our community were not. Demolished homes, though no deaths. Thank you God for Your protection of life, what matters most. We did not realize at the time, but that tornado blew a kiss towards us. Please view this video taken from Tornado Tim, a storm chaser. This local high school was hit just a few minutes after we saw the black cell carrying the tornado, and we would have been in its path, if the van had not gotten stuck in the mud. Words of advice: Do not do what Tornado Tim does, folks! Dangerous business!
My body has ached for 3 days, finally felt some relief while gardening last evening. Stress and pushing on a multi-ton vehicle will do that. Thankfully, my regular chiropractor appointment is this week. Electric power still out in many neighborhoods. Dean is off work due to no electric. The Mississippi and Missouri Rivers are up. All the rains from the storms caused the St. Charles’ riverfront park to be closed yesterday with the Missouri River expected to crest. Same in St. Louis and Alton with the Mississippi River. Surely not another 1993 flood, please! The emergency alarms went off at 11:00am today while at work in the St. Louis County Police Headquarters building in Clayton. “Just a test of the emergency warning system” the recorded voice states. What warning signs are you paying attention to or ignoring? How are you preparing for survival? What life storms aftermath are you experiencing today? Nature has her ways to teach us. Prayer and faith with everything in life is essential.
The tax year of 2012 Dean and I both did not claim one of our six children as a tax dependent. It has been years for either of us since this has occurred. They are all grown up! According to our accountant, our tax deductions came from our greenhouse business this year, not our children. We took a loss this tax year, as last year. Greenhouse rebuilds are costly and timely. An expensive hobby rather than a business, maybe? I’d rather be playing in the dirt and planting green things for my eye palette or taste palette than gambling at the casino, perusing the neighborhood bars, or loafing on the couch. We have a hefty tax return coming which will in turn be reinvested into Deanna Greens And Garden Art. Electric for our structure is around the corner, with propane and solar heat as the next big investments.
I never viewed our Deanna Greens And Garden Art plants as dependents, but that is what they are. And they depend on us to thrive in this world. Water, food, and light on a regular basis, and Mother Nature does her part. I am so anxious for the weather to warm up enough to get our plants under the shelter of our unheated greenhouse. The plant lights in the garages have done good, but the natural sunlight is what the plants need to get greener, fuller, and growing with such vigor. Rain water (or snow in our case!) catching in the rain barrels will provide more minerals for our plants. After a few weeks in the greenhouse, the plants will be moved to the screenhouse to avoid scorching this summer. That scenario seems so far away. We are still under normal temperatures for March. Come on Spring, we need you!
Planning out the growing and market season, Dean and I will have some annual flowers such as marigolds, zinnias, and wildflower mixes. Marigolds are a great natural insect repellant for your vegetable garden and patio area. Zinnias and wildflowers make beautiful summer bouquets. Organic herbs such as basil, thyme, sage, chives, and nastrium will be sold live in pots of various sizes. We will make some potted herb gardens. Garden spoon signs and homemade lavendar soap will be brought to the farmers’ markets. I will design some relic stepping stones and have them ready for market on Mother’s Day weekend. And then there are houseplants, with succulents as our specialty plant. Currently, we are in search for unique pots to divide and transplant our huge succulents into. We hope to plant some vegetables for our consumption. Any leftovers will be frozen or stored for next winter’s pastas, stews, and soups. The circle of life … Parents provide and care for, grown children provide and care for …
Tune in for local farmers’ market information in my next post or two.
This weekend hibernation has been good for my tummy and soul. Comfort foods made at a slow pace, slow food is the best. Homemade smoky potato soup last night. White lace (sugar) and orange zest dusted over orangy-oat french toast this morning. (We have to do something with all the milk, bread, and eggs we bought with the earlier weather forecast grocery store stops!) Toasted marshmallows and hot chocolate while warming next to the kitchen fire. My soul has been fed sitting at the windows and watching the birds. My vitamin D quotas should be met with the sunrays and my daily glass of milk.
My eyeballs have been on Deanna Greens And Garden Art paperwork each morning of this 3-day weekend. I compiled receipts and sales sheets, and entered onto spreadsheets for our tax preparer. No financial profit in 2012 year, as we anticipated with the greenhouse move, redesign, and reconstruction. The 2013 budget includes the electric installation. Yes, we will finally have electric in the greenhouse. We found a licensed electrician who will install at 1/5 the price the local electric company quoted us. Electric will be used for lighting and circulation fans. Heating may come, depends on the sales this year. If not this year, maybe in 2014. We will incorporate solar and propane to heat the greenhouse. Did I tell you that we have redesigned our structure to be 650 square-foot of greenhouse and other 650 square-foot to be a screenhouse? The greenhouse side will be used to start seedlings, propagate, and grow our perennials. The screenhouse side will be our vegetables and herbs for personal and market purposes.
Body and soul profit is another thing. Hands in the dirt, heart growing along with the green plants. Character and friendships blooming during this journey.
My body and soul has called me to a walk today. I will exercise my leg and arm muscles while walking Midnight, our dog. It will be a brisk walk, as the snow remains with the cold air. This winter hibernation may be ending this afternoon, only for another impending snow storm tomorrow night.
Velvet Shoes by Elinor Wylie
“Let us walk in the white snow
In a soundless space;
With footsteps quiet and slow,
At a tranquil pace,
Under veils of white lace …
We shall walk in velvet shoes.
Wherever we go
Silence will fall like dews
On white silence below.
We shall walk in the snow.”
Green in so many ways … Green plants galore …
Also, Deanna Greens And Garden Art is using green building materials to build the greenhouse where we produce organically grown vegetables, herbs, and flowers at Boone Hollow Farm in Defiance, Missouri. Being good to the earth! Utilizes less electric, seeking alternative energy sources. What ideas can you share about alternative energy sources? Please refer to my previous blog written 2 days ago which includes recent photos of our green greenhouse.
Dean & I are waiting to hear word about our access to electric for the greenhouse. According to the electric co-op, the barn down the hill may not have enough ampage to heat, circulate air, and provide light in the nightime for our 1300+ square foot greenhouse. We have redesigned the greenhouse so half will be a greenhouse (so 650 square feet needs electricity), and the other half will be a lathe or hoop house for raised beds of vegetables to grow 9 months out of the year. I wanted to have those beds made already, with a winter crop of organic spinach, garlic, and root vegetables, but family matters have taken priority. Alternative energy sources will be sought, if need be. In the meantime our plants are sheltered in two different garages with “plant lights” and space heaters to be installed this week to keep them green and alive during this transition. I dislike this in-between time, but did not have the heart to let the hard freeze kill the green life we have cared for this past year. Cannot believe, but it will be 1 year mid-November when we bought the greenhouse and adopted everything in it. Do you have any ideas for alternative energy sources in Missouri? Please share.
… I love the year’s decline, and love
Through rustling yellow shades to range,
O’er stubble land, ’neath willow grove,
To pause upon each varied change …
Now shatter’d shades let me attend,
Reflecting look on their decline,
Where pattering leaves confess their end,
In sighing flutterings hinting mine.
For every leaf, that twirls the breeze,
May useful hints and lessons give;
The falling leaves and fading trees
Will teach and caution us to live…
These verses are from a poem “Autumn” written by John Clare (1821). I walked down the Clayton street to another building on campus for a training class this morning. I felt and heard the autumn winds in my hair and the rustling leaves. In the wind I feel my father’s presence. Autumn was his favorite season. Brain cancer did not win, as my father has eternal life with Jesus. I had to go out again at my lunch break, just so I could feel the winds and know my father is present in my day. Did you know, my Dad, you built so much of my character and personality? That steadfastness, strong, and stubborn characteristic I shared at the ceremony in your honor on Saturday, but tenacity would be another trait I forgot to mention. This greenhouse business, Deanna Greens and Garden Art is requiring tenacity. It is a sunny, warm, and blustery October day, with another cold front meeting with the current 80+ temperatures which will produce storms in a few short hours. I see the clouds coming from the west. A 40+ degree drop in temps is to come this evening. Dean & I moved many plants to safer shelter last night. Up into the wee 1:00am hour. We have been in the process of moving for weeks, and have found homes for many of our tropicals. But my potted geraniums, wandering jews, swedish ivy, and other hanging baskets needed to be someplace warm. The greenhouse rebuild has come to a halt with the question of electricity ampage for heat, fan, and light resources. Dean met with an engineer from the electric company. Our prayer is that the barn down the hill from our greenhouse has 300 amp, so we can connect. Waiting for an answer as we have permission to do so from the landlord. The side walls and plastic liner should be completed this week, delayed a week for more important matters such as my father’s funeral. See the lovely autumn canvas from my parents’ home in Pike County, the photo taken by my cousin during our gathering in Dad’s honor on Saturday.