Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Zomba is blooming. Well, about to, anyway. The onions and tomatoes certainly are blooming. The peas are about done with the intense heat of last week. The picture at left is a pea vine, demonstrating the fractal spiral nature of nature. The tendrils are cute. The other picture here is an onion blossom.

The Springfield in bloom contest is supposed to be judged in a few weeks. I walked around the other day, realizing there was nothing at all in bloom. But now, with the heat and the mad rain, fertility is abundant. The rose of Sharon bush bloomed today, and the mullein rosette is starting to pop out in yellow. There's so much more about to pop.

I transplanted five tomato plants today, and realize I have a ton more to transplant. I am hoping to rework one of the beds to put the volunteer tomatoes in, at least the healthiest and biggest of the bunch. We've been picking raspberries for a couple of weeks now, and I made some wine, with more to make. We've been eating a lot of green beans and onions. The lettuce in zomba has finally started to grow, but it's already bitter with the heat. Still, the bitterness is kind of a nice taste, especially with peas, tamari almonds, green onions, cheese, and raspberries tossed with it. The garlic scapes are taller than me.

The real news around here is that the woodshed is being built. The frame is up, quite sturdy, thanks to our friend Joe and Don. All that's left is findin some more purlins, and hopefully scaring up some metal roofing. The shed is already moved inside and bolted into place. I'll get a picture of it sometime to show the zombans away.

Kaleigh and I are reading the Chronicles of Narnia. It's great! I enjoyed reading them when I was young, but haven't read them for a long time. We're on the 3rd book. I especially enjoyed the 2nd book, as it pretty well sums up the state of the natural world and the human-built world of our own times.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

This Just In

Hello, folks. Kaleigh and I are back from camping with 200 Quakers. We enjoyed ourselves and it was OK, my being back in the company of cap-F Friends for the first time since like 1990 or something (except for a few weddings and funerals).

In my In Search of Simplicity workshop handouts, I listed this blog, so (I hope) a few new readers may come browsing by. Probably, everyone getting home from QuakeCon ("Illinois Yearly Meeting") will need some time to rest, reflect, and recharge, before diving back into everything we experienced and discussed in the past several days. But if/when you click by here, greetings and welcome!

Dear friends and Friends, I normally would prefer to actually write something to post here, but I gotta share this link. One of my favorite bloggers, Ran Prieur, points to this long article that I haven't actually read just yet (but I printed it out). I did scroll down and read all the powerpoint slides in the article, and I loved it so much I had to share. The title sounds intimidating: Definancialisation, Deglobalisation, Relocalisation, but just reading the powerpoints was so fun and insightful that I encourage all y'all to at least do that. It's shifting my paradigm--good thing I'm well lubricated!

peace, and may the Lord bless us and awaken us,


Friday, June 19, 2009

making way for summer

Summer technically begins in a few days, but summer began here yesterday. Although it was only in the low 90's (and central Illinois is a place where you can say "only in the low 90's"), with the humidity the feels like temp was over 100. Fortunately, we had some big windy storms in the early morning that brought some temporarily cool air. I blasted fans in all the windows & was able to cool the house off several degrees to a quite livable 75. By evening, it was 81 in here, and by 10 p.m., it was back to 81 outside, so I could open up the house for some hot non-fossil fueled breezes.

Today is different. It only cooled off to 78 overnight in the house. It's 9 a.m., and already 83 outside, with the feels like temperature at 90. I need to do yardwork, but can't seem to force myself to go outside. I sat on the porch for a while and braided garlic, but that was all the motivation I could muster. Tomorrow it is only going to be 88 for a high, so maybe it will be better tomorrow morning, I hope! As it is, today I am planning on stripping off most of my clothing and staying inside with fans running, drinking ice water.

Don and Kaleigh are camping at an IYM retreat, where Don is presenting a workshop on simplicity. Kaleigh is having a great time running around with the kid pack. If we called it vacation bible school, she'd probably have refused to go, but the Quakers don't seem to care if you believe in God or not. There are crafts in the morning and afternoon, and last night was a bonfire and hay rack rides. She doesn't get to do things like that very much. There won't be much sleeping going on! Don is feeling a bit overwhelmed with talking to people constantly. He's introverted and needs down time.

I have been home cleaning, organizing, getting my brain organized with the tasks I need to do. Don built some wonderful shelves in the kitchen before he left, which I organized. It freed up kitchen space like nothing else. I also moved furniture around in our living room. Since we no longer move every year or so, I am compelled to move my furniture around to give my mind a break from the static stimuli. It's been soooooo hot. It's actually not that hot at all compared to what August will bring, but adjusting to it is difficult, and it's hard for me to maintain my motivation to move.

I have spent some time putting together a map of auction properties. Springfield hires an auction service to sell off its abandoned properties. Starting price is $600, and lots range from a 6 x 30 strip to small acreage in rural Sangamon county, from floodplain to a house on a double lot. Most properties for sale are regular-sized city lots, approximately 1/10 to 1/8 acre in size. There is a lot a few houses down from us that is for sale, one we've been eyeing for a while. There was a decrepit abandoned house there when we bought this place 9 years ago, and the house has been torn down since. It would make a lovely sustainable wood lot, a place to raise corn and potatoes and beans, a fruit orchard--the possibilities are unlimited. I'm not sure we can swing the price, though, as we are trying to get several construction projects done this year. We'll see how it turns out.

I am telling all far and wide about the property tax sale. There are so many vacant lots in our part of town. The ones for sale don't even dent the vacant lot market. The soil here is extremely rich, with many feet of thick black topsoil. Despite the southeast side's reputation as a gang haven, controlled by thugs, with nightly shoot-outs and murders, it is a great place to live, as all these reputed goings-on are false. If only people would give up their negative stereotypes and discard the sensationalism brought to them by local media. I like my house and my neighbors and my neighborhood. People are friendly; it's like a small town. It is soooo quiet here, really. At night we'll sit on the porch sipping wine, with cricket music ringing in our ears, watching the lightning bugs flicker. I feel safe, no problem. Of course, I'm not racist, and I think that makes the biggest difference in my opinion of the place.

So, anyway, if you're interested in being part of the new consensus, moving beyond sustainability, come and join us.


Monday, June 15, 2009


These pictures are all of the lovely Kaleigh. First up is at the Earth Awareness Fair (did you know we live on the Earth?). It was, unfortunately, held inside the convention center, which meant concrete floor and fluorescent lighting, and not much passing by traffic. It was a step down from the park, but we still met a lot of interested and interesting people. Kaleigh had a terrific time hanging out with Lynn Young Buck in the tipi. Lynn taught her the uses of many things in the tipi, and Kaleigh even figured out the low-tech pump drill. Lynn let her dress up in a buckskin dress, and you can see how proud she was. At one point, Kaleigh hid behind a seat in the tipi and asked Lynn to pretend she didn't know where Kaleigh was. Lynn said she shrieked, "Where is my child? Has the white man stole my child?" We laughed our butts off about that one.

The second picture is Kaleigh at the top of the ladder. Don was cleaning out gutters yet again, and installing some kind of gutter guard to prevent the millions of tree seeds from clogging up the gutter. Kaleigh likes to climb ladders. You can't see it in this picture, but her prehensile toes are gripping the ladder rung.

The last picture is of Kaleigh's painted face. This was from the opening day of the library's summer reading program. She didn't wash her face for days after this, but it slowly degenerated into Kaleigh looking like she had a dirty nose.

So, spring is here and almost gone it seems. We have a nice big full garden this year. While we are not nearly close to growing everything we eat, we are getting ever closer. We've been steadily eating onions, peas, and pea pods out of the garden. The mulberries are ripe, and I've already made a carboy of wine. The raspberries are just starting to ripen. I am making feralberry wine today out of the mulberries and raspberries. The small currant bushes also have ripening fruit.

Although the area has seen a lot of rain, our house has not. Even the west side of Springfield has had considerably more rain than we have. I don't like watering for many reasons, primarily because I don't like paying money to put chlorinated water on plants. But water I have. I want my plants to grow before hot and humid summer gets here.

We've had a return of community, it seems. Friends have been stopping by and hanging out in abundance. We've made tentative plans to have a few friends camping out and helping out this summer. I like the idea of collectively working in the yard and on the house, and preparing and preserving food. It's almost a return to the "good old days" when all of our friends were unemployed. I miss it.

In other encouraging news, Springfield is having a tax auction sale in a few weeks. Vacant lots are selling starting at $600. Some lots even have houses. Our neighborhood has many vacant lots, and we're encouraging any and all to come and live and garden here. It would be wonderful to have beautiful gardens all over the place here, entertaining the ideas of community and sharing and caring.