Friday, May 30, 2008

Tonight's Storm Update

We're OK so far. Word is, a couple funnel clouds / tornadoes were seen in Springfield, one of them several blocks from us. Also, hail up to 1.75 inches. We were huddled under the table in the basement. When the skies cleared up for a minute, a look around our yard showed everything really OK! But more storms are on their way!

Thunder approaches, I better shut off the computer again.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

how do the days go by so fast?

It is nearing May, although it feels like early April most of the time--chilly. It has been a weird spring. We were blessed with a morning prairie thunder storm, just enough noise to be interesting, and an inch of rain for the living souls. Kaleigh and I talked about god and nature, and about how there are a lot of different ways of looking at god, and how one of them is nature. Kaleigh likes to call it nature and not god. I told her I thought how people going to church this morning might be complaining about having to get their good clothes wet, or have to run into church while it was thundering. But we were sitting in the slacker chair, snuggled, with a blanket and the windows open, listening to rain pour, reading the last chapter (the Christmas chapter) of a good funny book. We could appreciate god/nature for the storm, and be happy about it. Yeah, we had a good time.

A neighbor who sells scrap metal came over today to let us know he had a manual hydraulic log splitter. It needs no gas and no juice, but works with it being pumped. He sold it to us for $25, what he had in it. I'm sure it's worth a lot more than that. I'm glad to have such good neighbors. We gave them wood early in the spring, cuz they were cooking on their pot-bellied stove and needed some dry wood. This community stuff is nice. Better than any insurance I could buy!

I came into possession of some smoky fennel, many many plants of it. I'm going to find a place to put it for my friend Patrick, and hopefully it will grow. He loves fennel!

We have harvested the worms in our worm bin. Apparently we were doing the do nothing way with the worms, and it worked, although it worked through sheer luck. It was kind of wet in there, but they still lived. The deeper layers smelled more like old garlic peels than bountiful black soil. Worms are cool, tickly and wriggly. We separated out many buckets full of moist black beautiful worm poopy soil. It is the richest stuff I have ever seen. Even though it is sopping wet, the particles do not cling to each other, but keep plenty of air in there. I spread it around some of our plants and trees before the inch of rain came down. The worms are going to be adopted out by folks attending our FREE vermiculture symposium on Wednesday. I hope we have enough for everyone!

It seems everyone everywhere is talking about gasoline costs (slightly down from the $4.16/gallon price the other day), which leads into talking about all the issues facing americans living the not-cheap-anymore fossil fuel lifestyle. I've talked to so many people about gardening lately!! People are thinking, concerned, evaluating. Our so-called leaders seem very out of touch with anything going on in the real world. The only time I hear politics mentioned by people I talk to face to face is with some sort of disgust. No one it seems, is really eager to vote--and I'm talking about normal people, not just crazy anarchists and other "apathetic" people. Well, anyway, gardening is a lot less mediated and less frustrating than politics.

I wrote a transition primer on car-free living in Springfield. It's a how-to guide on some ideas of living here car-free. It is getting easier for us. I think because shopping is such a pain on the bus, we don't do much of it. And because we don't do much of it, it's getting a lot easier to just not do it, ever. I am amazed, but we still have most of our economic stimulus $ in the bank, because we just hate shopping so much. And yet, I feel compelled to invest it in something tangible--quick!!!!--before the dollars lose any more value. Well, that hydraulic log splitter was something--local, reused (not recycled!), informal transaction. Is it the end of the world as we know it? Hallelujah!


Monday, May 5, 2008

the li'l house gets pimped out

Pimped out by mutha nature that is. Abundance is flowing. We already have more salad than we could ever possibly eat, all made possible by weeds: garlic mustard, lambs quarters, violet leaves and flowers, raspberry leaves, wood sorrel, redbud flowers, lemon balm--it all makes a tasty blend, great with oil and vinegar. All the fruit trees except one made it through the winter.

Hakim has been running the chainsaw fast and furious. We no longer have wood in our neighbor's driveway, and it's almost all out of the future garden. A bed has been started, and we've planted some potatoes, beans, tomatoes, onions, herbs, and rhubarb in it so far. Now it's time to extend the bed, but there are weeds and trees taking over, arghhh! Well, they are mulberry trees and edible weeds, so....

We planted 8 more plum trees, bringing us up to about 23, I think. We have four concord grape vines growing, and several dozen strawberry plants. Hakim made an electrical fencing playhouse for Kaleigh. We have planted the walls and roof. I hope it works out okay. We also have electrical fencing (no juice!) grape arbor. So far so good. It is wonderful planting all this wonderful variety of food. I'm so excited for August!

Hakim and Khalila are up north at his parents' house in the burbs, attending family functions. They are having a good time visiting. I am having a good time chilling by myself. I have been puttering some, and cleaning and gardening.

The Food Not Lawns group is up and going. We met a lot of really awesome people. I am going to learn a lot, I can tell. A seed swap is up next. I got the food not lawns book from the library today, and I am so excited. The author is speaking her mind, and I find myself agreeing with her wholeheartedly. I guess it is preaching to the choir, but sometimes it is nice to have these revival meetings, just to assure ourselves we're not crazy.

We had a fun May Day. It was a beautiful weather day, warm and sunny. The kids had a great time playing outside. The food was good, friends and relations, all having a good time, instead of working or going to school. For real, community.

And finally, some pictures, from here and there and everywhere: fractal dandelions, mutant dandelions, and our ridiculous cat, Cozy.

Friday, May 2, 2008

the death-pledge numbers

As Rob Roy states in his book Mortage Free!, mortgage means literally a death pledge. I recently ran the numbers for our mortgage. We have "owned" our house for eight years, and during this time, we've paid double payments for a year, the minimum payment for most years, and $50 extra for the last year. Here's the numbers breakdown:

Cost of house: $25,900
Payments to date: $27,600

Wow, did we pay off our house, or what?! No. This is America. Here's where the money went:

Principal: $6000
Property taxes: $3200
Insurance and private mortage insurance: $4800
Interest to bank: $13,180

A rip-off? Indeed. However, making the death-pledge payment is far cheaper than renting (half as much as rent), while achieving "equity", whatever that is. If we continue paying $50 extra a month, we should have our house paid off in ten years. I'm looking forward to that.