Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It's a good day in the neighborhood

One day a week belongs to me! I don't think that's selfish at all. In fact, I think it is very healthy.
If you have children, a spouse or partner, or other people in your immediate life circle with whom you share a schedule, you understand exactly what I mean. At first I thought that I could not survive on a four day a week salary because I am paid hourly, but I have managed. Living in a small town makes that easier for me because I am not constantly tempted by the malls and the billboards. Now that I am used to the day off, I am so thankful for it. If you have the opportunity to cut back to a four day work week, I encourage you to find a way to do it. There are many ways that many of us can save money in exchange for free time.

I am thinking of starting a coupon exchange at the office. If you're interested in doing this the following article is helpful.
You could do it within your family, among a group of friends, at church, etc.

I have a weakness for buying books. If you do, too, you may be very interested in looking at a book swapping club I have joined and if you end up joining, please use my name as your referral so that I can get book credits. Joining is easy and free.

Another idea that saves me money is taking my drinks to work; specifically, tea. I buy my fav tea bags, brew it at home and pour it into a re-usable container. This saves on money for sodas and is green living. Saves so many plastic bottles, too. I am planning to get a Britta pitcher to purify the water coming out of my faucet instead of buying gallons of water which will result in even more savings and more enviro-friendly.

Small town living can be so satisfying. I am not missing city conveniences so much that I feel deprived. It is a different life, but a purposeful life. I am so glad to have had the experiences of both city and small town living. I do realize that what suits me now might not have been so great twenty years ago, so our preferences change along the way. Current pleasures: little league and t-ball season began this week, the Farmer's Market starts in two weeks, and the garden is growing! Life is good.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Season's Greetings

'Tis the season! I absolutely love Spring. During the past week, nature has exploded like fireworks all around us. This is my first Spring in my new hometown and it is glorious. Everything about it says freshness and love. I can't stop thinking about how spectacular it is.
When I look at the flowers and the trees blooming I am so thrilled with what I see as if I just awakened from sleeping through the seasons of the past fifty years.

Last weekend was the first dry weekend in several. I didn't get out to the country house until late in the afternoon, but D had been working in the garden all day, as is her custom when the sun shines. You may not know that "working in the garden" encompasses gazillions of related activities. When I arrived D was assembling one of two tillers that had been in boxes until now.
Earlier she had driven to the local gas pumps to fill the five gallon, red plastic fuel containers.
One of the included screws, or bolts, or whatever thing it was, didn'd fit a bracket properly, so that required her going to the workshop to rummage for another one. A roll of four foot high, rusty wire fencing covering the baby pea plants for protection against intruding animals had to be unfurled, stretched, and measured to be transported into the garden where it will provide pea vine support. And the list goes on. It makes me aware and appreciative of her labor and planning that is part of having this garden. This is no simple project. If you are thinking about moving to the country and growing food, I want to suggest that you ask someone who has done it before to tell you about the things in addition to the planting and digging. Maybe you could begin with container gardening or co-gardening with a mentor.

With the arrival of Spring brings lawn care! Last Friday I believe that 90% of all residents mowed! The smell of fresh cut grass permeated our town. I've never lived anywhere that the whole town mowed at the same time. I expected to see Andy, Opey, and Aunt Bea waving just around the next corner! The flowers, the grass, people outside visiting with their neighbors, the buzz of the weed-eaters...

My front porch and deck at the apartment needs some sprucing up. Lowes has some pretty hanging flower baskets that I'd like, but I can't believe how expensive they are. I don't know how long it takes for flowers to bloom from seeds, but I need to find out because surely there must be a cheaper way to have beautiful flowering pots. Of course that requires patience, and I really want the splash of color right now, but I am trying to tame my desire for always having instant gratification.

Yesterday I joined a local Freecycle group. Since hearing about it I had been interested in the concept of people giving away things that they don't need so that those items don't end up in a landfill or as trash in puplic places. No strings attached; just post what you have to give away or even what you want that someone else may have. All free. Very envir0-friendly. You can go to and get info. There probably is a place nearby you. It was somewhat of a hassle to register (the groups are through for membership, and it took about 30 minutes, but I think it is worth it.

If you are interested in a human interest story that I have been following, do a search for Susan Boyle. She was (until now) an undiscovered singer who is a contestant on Britian's Got Talent. It's like American Idol. I am completely fascinated by her. There is a link where you can hear her sing that is well worth any time you take to find the link.

To Everything There is A Season. It's true.

I am happy and well,

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring, Gardening, and Family

Eweee; almost another month has passed since I last posted. Glad I am not getting paid for this.

Thought for the day: I have enough even, though I expect more. All of my needs are met. I am grateful.

Spring. I don't remember ever being more aware of the transition of Winter to Spring than I am now that I live in a climate where there are four seasons. There is no way I could appreciate these changes when I lived in Florida where I hardly noticed when a season arrived or ended because the signs were so subtle, or even absent. But now, oh now, it is glorious! Many of our trees are still brown but the ones that have begun to bloom are such a welcome sight. The redbuds have purple blooms and I do love those. The maples have warm red leaves on the treetops only. The ornamental pears are white and so spectacular; they were the first to come into full bloom.

Weeping willows have bright, neon green leaves and some of the weeping cherry trees are showing signs of pink. The dalfodils were the first flowers in our yard to bloom; their simple shape and pure yellow color make me smile. And there is so much more to look forward to. It was miraculous to me that literally the weekend after March 21, the first day of Spring,
there were flowers and colors on trees and weren't there before then. It puts nature in perspective; how it all works together in perfect harmony.

We are preparing a garden at the country house. My experience with gardening as a child was prety much limited to the harvest. I was not in favor of getting up at the crack of dawn on Saturdays in the Summer to pick vegatables. Especially since I knew that I'd be eating them whether or not I helped pick them. I didnt like getting my hands dirty, and didnt want to do child labor. It's too bad that I felt that way, and that my parents couldnt seem to influence me to feel any differently. Thankfully, now I do want to be involved in the whole gardening process, and I have a whole new appreciation for fresh, organic vegatables.

I dont really know the size of the garden, but it's big. Peas, chinese cabbage, and blueberries are sprouting in small containers right now , until the time when they will be planted into the ground. A small area has been tilled, but it has rained too much to plant anything. We even had a 2" snow a week ago; no kidding! Other plants have arrived in the mail, but I dont remember what they are. We will have one upside down tomato planting stand; an experiment. I'll post some photos later. I am so very excited about this garden; the idea of it all, just as much as the actual thing.

My grandfather was a gardener extraordinaire. He took all manner of ridicule from his in-laws about the crazy vegatables that he'd try to grow. Well, you know what, he was successful at growing most of whatever he tried. He grew many varieties of peppers; especially hot peppers. Most people in his town had never heard of the kinds of peppers that he grew. More than not, he was the only one willing to taste them, because others feared the heat factor! He even created charts of how hot each type was compared to the others! Every season he made a fresh batch of "Gandaddy's Pepper Sauce", a vinegar and homegrown pepper secret recipe. I think that we ate the last o it on a holiday three or four years ago. His watermellon patch was second to none. Yellow, red, round, seedless; you name it. He studied ways to grow more, and grow better. I didnt realize until now that his gardening skill was something that I greatly admired. Of course, it took a village to raise a garden like that. An acre or so of land, perfectly prepared, and carefully maintained. My grandparents, my Ganmommy's sister's and in-laws, and all of the associated extended families particpated. But mostly, it was Gandaddy, Ganmommy, Aunt Ruth, Aunt MaryLou, and Uncle Taylor who toiled from sun up to sun down. My mind's eye can see each of them standing there right now, out in the garden, working. What a wonderful memory.

There are still places where families work together growing food, picking the crop, and enjoying a taste that is beyond compare. Maybe the children don't yet get any more pleasure from the experience than the yummy-in-the-tummy of a fresh tomato, but I have to believe that one day they will associate gardening with being part something bigger than themselves; family. And they might even be able to expand that concept to include chosen families and families across the world with whom they are connected by a common experience even though they have never met. I sense that there is a trend toward returning something very basic: valueing experiences over things.