Wednesday 28 May 2014

Start A "Don't Buy It" Club!

I was reading the latest issue of Urban Farm magazine and there was an article titled It Takes An Eco-Village.  "From co housing to cooperative houses, intentional communities provide green-living options that fit many lifestyles and budgets", said the article.  Heck, we've done that in our little village without ever knowing it was a trend.  Yay, us!

Something too heavy to move by yourself?  Call on a neighbour and know they will call on you when they need their house watched or their dogs let out.  Can't move that snow by shovel?  Hang in there until a neighbour comes by with a snowblower.  We help wherever and whenever we can and life gets a little easier for all of us through sharing some of the chores.  We borrow craft supplies, kitchen gadgets, pet food and ladders.  We share dinner leftovers, a party tent and many a bottle of wine.

In the interest of decluttering our homes, some of us started letting the others know what we had too much of.  I said, "Don't buy paper napkins for a back yard event.  I'm overloaded in them".  Then someone said they had too many painter face masks and someone else had dozens of plastic cutlery sets left over from a baby shower.  Pretty soon, we started mentioning anything we had too much of and someone else always needed it.

This year I didn't have to buy a single tomato plant.  A neighbour started organic plants indoors and gifted me with tomato, cauliflower and okra plants.  Starting plants indoors is simply impossible in a house with four cats.  That would just be seedling murder!

In turn, I called around and asked who needed seed packets.  I seem to get carried away with buying certain seeds and wind up with enough to plant 40 acres!

Of course, those of us who garden share our produce with those who don't garden. ~

Someone has to eat all that zucchini!

Try setting up your own Don't Buy It Club on your street or with your friends and family.  We are whittling away at the stuff that was filling up the cupboards.  Garages and sheds are emptying of excess furniture and accessories.  It feels great!

It's just a little thing but it connects us as a caring community and I think it goes a long way toward helping this village embrace a green lifestyle. ~

Plus, it makes you feel good when a neighbour wants to bake with her daughters and realizes she doesn't have any eggs.  

Who ya gonna call? ~

I guess I have to give the girls the credit for that one!

Thursday 22 May 2014

Far Away Friends

This photo that showed up on Facebook really struck a chord with me.  One of the great things about the Internet is that it connects you with people all over the world.  It's a great way to stay in touch with friends that move away.  It also lets us make friends with people that we never actually meet.

I know it seems strange to say, "My friend in England or Australia or Missouri" and then have to explain that we haven't met in person, but we share the things that matter to us and care about each others lives. Sometimes people roll their eyes and laugh about my imaginary friends.  It doesn't bother me a bit.  I know that they are true to my definition of a friend and that's good enough for me!

To get a parcel in the mail from one of these friends is exciting indeed!

The first parcel came from someone I have met in person.  She lives in California and comes to Canada to visit her daughter.  When she was up here, she and her daughter would often stop by my home decor shop and I looked forward to seeing her.  When I closed the shop up for good, we exchanged email addresses and added each other to Facebook.  We talk about our kids and grandkids and share pictures of the things we are doing to our houses.  I posted a thing that was going around where you offer to share a surprise with the first five people who respond.  Sometime over the next year you send each other a little gift or postcard, just something nice to show you are thinking of your Facebook friends.

So, Janet my friend from California, sent me this darling dragonfly windchime and a note saying she hoped I thought of her whenever it rang.  ~

I do think of her and it makes me smile every time I hear it.

A second parcel arrived and it was from Minnesota.  Now, I'm not saying nothing much exciting happens out here in the country, but a parcel in the mail is considered a red letter day! ~

I knew I'd won a giveaway on her blog Bliss Ranch.

Michaela and Clara Jane didn't know about the win so they were extra excited to see what was inside! ~

Be very afraid white kitty on the card.  Be very afraid of my barbarian cats! ~

It's a burlap coffee sack and I know just what I'm going to do with it! ~

It fits perfectly over the ugly cushion of my vintage wicker chair and I didn't have to cut it in case I decide to use it somewhere else later.  A few stitches to tack it in place and I'm good to go.

What do you think of this look on the porch? ~

I'm liking it and it makes me think of my friend in Minnesota every time I see it.

I think of how we talk about our chickens.  Mine don't ride bikes but I'm happy her girls are so clever. ~ 

And, I think about how she makes cool things like this dresser for a teenage son. ~

Stop by and visit Bliss.  You'll like her.  I promise!  To see how she turned an everyday, ugly dresser into a rockin' one click here.

Thanks to both these lovely ladies.  Thanks for being my friend and thank you for the surprises in the mail!

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Are There Gardens In Heaven?

"I hope there'll be gardens in Heaven, Susan ... gardens we can work in, I mean, and help things to grow".
                                                         ~ Ann Shirley in Anne of Ingleside

I so agree with Anne!  I really don't know how to play a harp and sitting around on a cloud gazing down on the earthly folly below is just not my style.  Give me some dirt and a handful of seeds and I'll see a miracle every day.

Just a little over a week ago it was snowing here.  A few days later I took a chance and planted some early vegetables in the rusty, old wheelbarrow. ~

By today, those seemingly lifeless seeds have sprouted and I see the promise of radishes and green onions. ~

Day after day I dig, weed, spread compost, prune and rake.  I read weather reports and watch the sky for signs of frost.

I battle a terribly invasive weed that came with a load of topsoil a few years ago.  I've no idea what it is but it looks like Queen Ann's Lace when it blooms.  Every year I push it a bit further back from the vegetable garden and I'm hopeful I can get all the rest of it out this year.  Gardeners are nothing if not optimistic!

Luckily the chicken coop isn't sided yet and I have a giant mural from Lowe's to inspire me while I dig and tug at this stuff.  It's like having a garden coach giving me a pep talk to "Never stop improving"!

For all that it is hard work and I'm stiff and sore by the end of the day, it's my time for thinking.  It makes me feel close to Mother Nature as I give her a little hand with some of her work.  The chickens scratch in the dirt beside me or fall asleep in the sun as I work.  The old cat dozes on the bench in the arbour, waking occasionally to check that I'm still there.

A woodpecker drums a steady rhythm in the birch tree. ~

Wild birds swoop in and out of the coop to snack on the chicken feed and pick up straw and feathers to line their nests. They are used to me now and I feel a little like Snow White as they flutter around me without any fear.

As dusk falls and the river frogs begin their nightly chorus, storm clouds move in and hover over the little church. ~

Oh yes, Anne, there must be gardens in Heaven because I'm sure it's the closest I come to it here on earth!

Saturday 10 May 2014

The Chickens Are Embarrassing Me!

It's a very late start to the gardening season and I'm putting in long hours cleaning up the mess from winter. I'm focused and determined to get everything ship shape.

A friend gave me this adorable tin mug.  I love the sentiment and that it was made in Bath, England.  What could be better for a die hard Jane Austen fan!

As I'm sitting in the vegetable garden yanking out a troublesome creeping weed, my next door neighbour calls to me and asks if I mind if she takes a pic of the chicken sitting next to me, because it looks so cute.  

I didn't even realise Kay was there but it's not a big surprise.  She likes to be involved in things. ~

I can take a bit of chicken teasing.  Ha ha, silly chicken.

Later in the day, I'm in the front yard wearing the baggiest, dirtiest rags imaginable and concentrating on trimming rose bushes.  Another neighbour is out walking a dog and calls to me to stay right where I am while she takes a pic with her phone.  She says she just has to show people this.

I had no idea the girls had followed me to the front yard.  Now, I'm looking ridiculous and it's going viral! ~

How many people have driven by and howled at Ma Kettle and her chicken helpers?  I shudder at the thought!

But, the most embarrassing moment came today when a florist arrived with Mother's Day flowers.  I answered the door and standing right beside the delivery lady was Kay, proudly looking as if she was helping with a very important task.  I tell you folks, I just didn't know what to say and blathered something about her not paying any attention to my chicken.

The lady said something about it being fine and headed back to her van.  To my horror, Kay followed her! I had to put down the flowers, go after Kay and carry her back to the yard.  ~

All the while I'm telling Kay this is just not cool.  I don't care if she thinks she's found her calling as a delivery chicken, she's to stay in the back yard!

I should have taken her picture beside the flowers, though, because the arrangement came in a sealer jar and a it would have made a cute, country pic. ~

It's too late now.  Do not tell my daughter what Michaela, bad cat that she is, has done to those flowers already!

Saturday 3 May 2014

The Times They Are A Changin'

Not even Bob Dylan could have imagined the changes technology would bring to ordinary households, when he recorded that song.

There was the miracle of the cordless phone. ~

The convenience of being able to take the phone anywhere in the house was only slightly diminished by the kids that never put it back on the cradle to recharge.  Hard wiring was replaced by phone jacks in every room and you could have the base unit wherever you wanted. There were answering machines, then voice mail, caller display and call waiting.  You never missed a call.

The monopoly Ma Bell had on phone service was broken when wireless hubs brought new service providers.  This hub handled my home phone and Internet.  And, I had a cell phone that travelled with me wherever I went! ~

Let me interject a little warning here for folks who will be away from home a few weeks on holiday.  When I switched to wireless, I kept my Bell system for a month in case wireless didn't work out. For four weeks I never used the old phone system, but left it plugged into the wall sockets.

It was the usual transformer type of plug. ~

I noticed  a buzzing sound and pulled the plug out.  What a shock to see scorch marks from where it was about to catch fire! ~

A check of the second unit showed the same thing.  It appears they overcharge and overheat when the phone isn't used.  So, be sure to unplug those things when you are away!

The old cell phone was replaced by a smartphone. ~

Which brings me to last week, when all of this ~


 was replaced by these two, little units.  That's it folks. That's all there is. ~

No wires and no finding a good reception spot in the house.  Those two units and a laptop and I'm never, never out of touch with everyone and everything.

Sometimes I wish we still just had one of these. ~

If it rang when you weren't in the house, you never knew.  No one was offended that you didn't return their call.  The caller just let the phone ring and ring until they got tired of waiting for you to answer and called back later. How would you know they had called you?  It was wired into the wall and you had the perfect excuse for ending the call because you had to go check on dinner, the crying baby or the dog whining to go out.  The world kept right on turning if you missed a call while you sat out in the yard.  There was no need to check it for weather reports, facebook updates or breaking news.  What a time saver that old darling was!

Best of all, when it wasn't working you called the phone company and they sent a man out to fix it. They didn't ask if the problem was inside the house or outside.  You weren't expected to know. You didn't take it to a superstore and try to decipher what someone the age of your grandkids was telling you to do to fix it.

Heck, you could even fix the cord yourself with a little electrical tape. ~

"The present now will soon be the past", Dylan tells us and I really hope the next phase isn't a wireless chip embedded in my ear!