It’s Hard To Believe…

…that this is an improvement to how her house has looked. But it is way improved! (She won’t show you how it looked at its most chaotic).

Lots yet to do

Little Red-Haired Girl is always by her side

She could be ashamed, but she’s not. She’s in the process of making new seat cushion covers and a drape to cover the rest of this raggedy old sofa. She picked it up for free for her sister three years ago and it has ended up back with her. It’s just too comfortable not to find a way to use. Just about everything she has is previously owned.

The carpet that came with the house when she purchased it was one of those off-the-roll-oatmeal-colored popcorn Berbers that quickly packed down and looked worn and awful. She can’t stand carpet for all of the dirt it harbors so yanked it all out early on. Her friend up the street lined his driveway with it for working on his cars. She’s been living with terribly ugly red concrete slabs with black glue from stick-on tiles; but it gets so, so cold in winter and the cold permeates so thoroughly throughout that she just buys cheap area rugs so she can bear to walk around. When they get too ugly and worn, she uses them as weed barriers for solutions while she is planning and implementing the food forest dream all around “The Compound”.

The goal is to create a mosaic tile floor and sew rag rugs that can be washed.

She helped her friend move from one storage to another yesterday and while picking up his rental at U-haul discovered that the furniture pads they sell there for $7.95ea, about 6×7, are the same felt that is used for laying commercial grade carpets; perhaps a little thinner, which is a good thing. She hopes to buy several to stitch scraps to for rugs.

Free sofa she picked up for her sister that ended up back with her. It's too comfortable not to use.

Ms. SpoolTeacher has a little house. There are seven-ish rooms in about 1025 square feet, not including TheGarageThatWantsToBeAWhereWomenCreateStudio/ (TGTWTBAWWCS) space that was converted by a previous owner to accommodate a relative. The main house has two bedrooms, one bath, kitchen, living room (including a little entry) and an extension added somewhere along the way that is divided into a laundry room (off the kitchen) and a mud room (she calls it, off the living room).

The house has lots of issues. It’s like a giant sieve; leaks everywhere, bad windows, poor insulation, ceiling cracks, etc. Too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. The heat pump is ineffective so she never uses it. It was built in 1945 and the “improvements” that were done to ready it for sale just before she purchased it were mostly cosmetic and deceptive. She saw through most of it, but was willing to take on the challenges anyway. It fit her budget.

Trying to continue on her adventure of providing her own “right livelihood”, she is suffering in place until improvements can be made.

The lead image is after a session of complete and utter chaos that she could no longer tolerate.

Throughout her career as an Interior Designer, she has accumulated hoards of fabrics and sample swatches that she intends to use to create one-of-a-kind items to list in her online Etsy shop.

Because TGTWTBAWWCS is so, so cold during winter, she tried to make the living room work as a sewing center for doing client alterations and creative sewing, but it just got to be more than her nerves could bear.

So, out to The Studio went most of the chaos…

Almost all of her sewing resources and implements are out in The Studio now, waiting to be fully organized. She has long been working to reduce the contents there and has made some really good strides toward getting it to where she wants it to be; giving stuff away, offering some of the remaining contents from her now closed Lollipops & Polka Dots Variety Shop to a young friend to sell in her own Etsy shop … donating to local charities, staging collectibles in the carport for posting in the shop as well, etc., etc. …

The Carport Project

The Carport Project

Spring being as near as it is has diverted her attention a little as it is already getting a little late to be starting seedlings, but one step at a time. Her house being the sieve that it is, she needed to build the warming tray using incandescent rope lights she had seen a link to online. That had to be put on the front burner. Next will be to create something from all of the containers she doesn’t throw away to hold the seeds for sprouting .

Seed warming tray with incandescent rope lights

She has a serious spring “bug” and would so much rather be out there with her hands in dirt.

A post about Bealtaine Cottage resurfaced again on Geoff Lawton’s Permaculture Facebook Page lately and she made the mistake of following the link which served to stir up restless inspiration in her to get with her own dreams of creating a “food forest” on her little property.

At this point, food growing is not feeding all of her needs. Doing sewing and alterations for clients is random and unpredictable. Her career working for others in the design business was given up long ago, mostly so that she could pursue creating her own right livelihood; “Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow“. Her soul could no longer bear the part she was playing in the non-sustainable consumption dilemma Corporatocracy insists is the only way to build an economy. Not that she wouldn’t revisit that option if she could sell products that meet certain criteria; but so many of the businesses she utilized once upon a time have changed their structures to more of a DIY model and employ low wage workers to act as counter clerks filling in the blanks of a computer generated ordering system. Of course, the quality of knowledge and service is sorely lacking, and the merchandise is of questionable integrity to her, but people are motivated by the imagined discounts they get this way. Many of the businesses have simply gone away or downsized. And, of course, she has gotten older. Design is one field that age isn’t necessarily seen as a deficit, but competition is fierce for the spots that are still remaining. The main reason is that the market has dwindled. Many people just don’t have the expendable income that they once did. As a matter of fact though, she did recently post a Craigslist ad for her service of using what people already have to create a new look.

So, it’s kind of a Catch 22. She moved out to a little Podunk town to live the life she imagined but it is too far from a big enough city to create an income the old-fashioned way, with a slave wage labor J.O.B.B. (four letter word). Soul bankrupting enterprises.

She continues striving for her dreams…

Some of the madness you might have expected to see if you came calling for a fitting at her house…sorting swatches for projects, thinking of a crazy patchwork cover for the sofa (too chaotic for her anymore), or shifting furniture for the millionth time. She’ll be doing most of this now out in TGTWTBAWWCS. She has finally pared down the furnishings to be just what she needs and wants to make the space practical and comfortable for herself and any visitors. The rest yet to do is improving the pieces that are there, mosiac tiling the floor, making area rugs, slip-covers and such. #WhatYouCanDoIfYouKnowHowToSew!

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So, she will just keep on keeping on with all of the dreams she has for SpoolTeaching classes, up-cycling clothes in to one-of-a-kind items for Etsy, working on the First Do No Harm Front Yard Farmacy, improving her compound, and tending to her little family of acquired, rescued, inherited and beloved pets.

Lucy playing in the sheers

Lucy, tangled up in sheers

$17 vintage thrift store find, Woodmark, crewel fabric wingchair

Vintage Woodmark Crewel-Upholstered Wingback found for $17 at Habitat Store (Sold pair listed on ebay for $1,295!)

The Mud Room

Purple-haired Raggedy Ann made by Ms. SpoolTeacher sitting in the Mud Room waiting for (an) Andy

Apricot tree pruned, ready for spring

At least she got the fruit trees pruned and ready for spring. Now to plant the fig.

It’s A Wonderful Life

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TGTWTBAWWCS

#TheGarageThatWantsToBeAWhereWomenCreateStudio

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While working on the “studio”, a long, long section of beige corduroy surfaced that was just lovely for starting the #ScragglyCouch project. She cut it in two equal length pieces and laid them side by side to decide whether to seam as one or not. She’s heavily sided to the separate piece theory.

The #Studio is making great strides. Lucy is often out there too to offer her candid advice,  “See, if you do that, I’ll be able to jump all the way up to here!”… Kind of “Look Mom, no hands”, happy go la la crazy little kitty.

Lucy approves most everything. She likes all the nooks and crannies and “that they can all be accessed at arms length for mommy to rescue me if I get stuck.”

Everything is out in the open so that it can all be seen, handled, found without an hour’s search.

Several boxes of collectibles went out to be mingled in to the #CarportProject, (for taking pictures to post on Etsy)..

vintage, collectible boxes, #CarportProject, EtsyThese boxes came out to be sorted/mingled. Staging area for collectible vintage to sell

The #CarportProject’s gorilla racks have been improved to make sure the rain is averted from them and that the sun isn’t doing damage.

Vintage Ceramic Animal Vases

Some favorite things (Vintage Ceramic Animal Vases) came inside and are doing much to lift the spirits of Ms. SpoolTeacher. She often goes through a blue phase when summer falls to winter. She loves and misses the long summer, sun-filled days.

It makes her want to make “Crock Pot Kitchen Sink Stew” to at least warm up inside.

Oh, my gosh is it Good, Good

Most gardening is tending to tenders or building soil. Some seeds have been sown; but It’s getting colder than normal it seems.

Nursery for tending the tenders, herbs, avocado trees, fig treeThis area is becoming the “nursery” as it gets some nice sun from am to late afternoon. It’s on the south side of things. She’s going to build a straw bale cold frame for the herbs because she has been moving them around for the right environment and it’s getting to be a big chore. They will go back to the front behind the #ScragglyTree where they will get several kinds of light during the day. She thinks the cold frame will make it possible not to have to move them around.

Straw bale cold frame with old windows

Clicking the picture takes you to the article where this picture is posted.

 

Hugelkultur, soil building, front yard farmingThe #1HugelkulturBed in the First Do No Harm Front Yard Farmacy has a layer of straw on the front that has beets and artichokes growing in the grooves where she added compost to get them started. The back half had sweet potatoes that the vines finally died once the cold came to stay. She left the roots in and just covered it all with straw. She may try to plant the grooves, (if she gets with it). South Forty Triangle Lot, mounds, Hugelkultur

The two new mounds on the #SouthFortyTriangleLot have sprouts all over; lettuces, clover, cilantro, leeks.

She is so excited to have her studio reaching the point where she can do some serious creating. She’s been separating fabrics and in the process, building “ensembles” that she intuits will make nice companions and she imagines what they will become down the road.

ensembles of things, intuition, intuit, projects

Putting them together goes a long way to triggering her memory of what she had in mind. She is so happy that she ordered those clear boxes to sell at her shop. Glad, in some ways, that they didn’t sell.

This is part of her creative process and it is rather grueling as it is truly, “work”, but she feels so happy to have found a way to keep her dream, of working from home, alive.

First Do No Harm Front Yard Farmacy

Clicking picture takes you to First Do No Harm Front Yard Farmacy on Facebook.

going under the straw

The #RaisedBed got covered with straw to help build the soil over the winter. It’s in shade most of the day, so not much would be interested there now.

In between waiting for images to upload and feeding little critters here and there, Ms. SpoolTeacher found another bag of big yardage pieces and started imagining if the cushions on the sofa should be covered individually.

should individual cushions be upholstered?

She really likes the idea of a “mosiac” of fabrics. should individual cushions be upholstered?

But she does ultimately realize that she doesn’t think she’ll love busyness on a piece that big; so they will definitely need a neutral side to reverse to.  fabrics that need to find uses quickly

She has so many fabrics. Sometimes she wants to just do a “truckload” sale of her whole house and go “Glamping” across the USA with the three #WildGirls in tow. That would just be another project of the same kind. “The grass isn’t always greener”, she recalls.

#TheGarageThatWantsToBeAWhereWomenCreateStudio is nearing a reality so might as well see it to fruition and keep moving. Nothing could be done until things were where they could be assessed for their value/best use.

The whole point is to find the closest thing to self-sustaining living as possible. Sewing has always been her “fail-safe” (as her sister would say). Her determination is to not ever feel like she spent her life doing something she was waiting for it to get over. She’s been able to do that for over 19 years now. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been worth it.

TGTWTBAWWC, what it means: Being 60 something, being free to sew for fun/profit but not needing to, having a First Do No Harm Front Yard Farmacy continually progressing and becoming something she can imagine might sustain her, being able to have a “Studio” where she can pool all of her resources and talent to create things, being home to attend all of the tenders and the wonderful little critters that hover her feet following her all around the grounds keeping her company, the #WildGirls. “The grass is plenty green”, she says out loud to herself. Plenty green indeed.

It’s impossible to imagine that the world needs to be hostile while feeling that kind of personal peace. Why can’t everyone have it. Seems so simple.

“Don’t hang around and let your problems surround you…You can always go, Downtown.”

Ms. SpoolTeacher is notorious for dressing up like a bag lady and going “to town” just to get away for a minute.

Ms. SpoolTeacher as a bag lady

She loves to just put on whatever makes her feel warm, comfy and cozy.

Hope you all are farming now. It’s so good for your soul. Sewing too, if you’re sew inclined.

The Good Life

Lately, Ms. SpoolTeacher watched “The Egg and I”:

Screen legends Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray star as newlyweds whose love is put to the test on their wedding day in the classic comedy The Egg and I. Just after she has said “I do,” Betty (Claudette Colbert) learns that her new husband, Bob (Fred MacMurray), has left his white-collar job with plans to raise chickens on a rustic farm located miles away from civilization. Betty tries to make the best of her situation in their ramshackle house but never-ending repairs, a malevolent wood-burning stove, rain, ornery livestock and a seductive neighbor (Louise Allbritton) do not make it easy! There is never a dull moment in this heart-warming comedy that also introduced the beloved characters of Ma and Pa Kettle (Marjorie Main and Percy Killbride).

The Egg and I, Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurrayShe just loves movies like this. 1940’s simplicity.

Claudette Colbert was in her 40’s for this film but played a newlywed. You would never guess her age.

Ma and Pa Kettle were introduced in this movie. Who can resist Ma and Pa.

Ms. SpoolTeacher has farming in her genes. Her grandfather had an apple orchard and provided for his family with livestock and gardens.

She never met him and by the time she met her Grandmother, she was running a rooming house for Canadian students who were studying surveying. So the farming thing was only known to her through all the stories she heard her Aunt and Mother report of their youth; but it was “in her blood”.

Ms. SpoolTeacher has a page on Facebook where she posts all things interesting to her concerning gardening, farming and the such. She calls it First Do No Harm Front Yard Farmacy.

All of her life she has gravitated to all things having to do with digging in the dirt, designing and of course, fabric.

She’s determined to be food (at least semi-) self sufficient. Mostly because it is so hard to find fresh organic produce consistently in her little town and also because it is much more economical to grow your own.

Speaking of economy, she lost several of her paying gigs to do with housekeeping and has yet to replace them. She has been getting more and more sewing though. Perhaps because she is home more and people can expect to find her there.

She much prefers to sew than to housekeep. Of course, she’d much more  prefer to be home 24/7 with all her time devoted to gardening and sewing things to put in her Etsy Shop, Spare Shelf. She’s a year or so away from being able to imagine that. It’s getting close though.

In the mean time, she fits in gardening wherever she can. On her priority list has been to build a Hugelkultur bed. It is basically a mound that is developed by placing organic matter, dry and green over decomposing logs, sticks, twigs and then covering them with dirt.

She has been studying various permaculture gardeners to see how they have done it and to see the successes they have had.

Hugelkultur trench, one dog high

They can either be structured starting with a trench or at ground level. She chose to dig a trench. Actually, she thought that was how they were supposed to be, but after digging the trench, one dog high, (approx. 28W X 18D), she went back to revisit some of the posts and discovered that some start at ground level. Sepp Hozier, famous in the arena, builds them 6 feet high and does recommend digging a trench of about one foot deep. But, it appears it can be equally successful either way. The tall installation adds surface area for planting. The lower ones seem to be better suited for front yard farming where neighbors or the city might intervene. And, unless you have lots of extra dirt somewhere to cover the mounds, the trench gives you the dirt. She really doesn’t have issues as such with neighbor or the city, but thinks she will enjoy the lower profile design.Though she sure likes this one below.

http://inhabitat.com/diy-hugelkultur-how-build-raised-permaculture-garden-beds/

She thought she had a tremendous amount of resources but they got used up quickly. She will do this on her side yard somewhere in the future. It is a much bigger plot and has a slope that would greatly benefit from the contours of this serpentine shape. Now to find more resources. The ones she had were years in accumulating. These are just a sampling of what the years had provided.

hugelkultur resource collage

The premise with Hugelkultur is that, yes, it is lots and lots and lots of hard, hard, hard work at the installation; but they are a permanent bed that sequesters carbon, releases nutrients and stores water. Not to mention that they are a wonderful use of resources that would otherwise go to landfills or up in the atmosphere as smoke. So, they pay for themselves with labor and resources saved down the road.

logs, sticks and twigs in the trench first

Did she say, “A lot of work”? Especially for an old(ish) lady. (60 is the new 40 don’t you know?)

First go in the logs, sticks and twigs.

logs, sticks and twigs in the trench first

Aren’t those sticks pretty?

logs, sticks and twigs in the trench first

Then the composted material, and dry leaves.

Little Red-Haired Girl living on the edge

Little Red-Haired Girl is living on the edge! She just knows there is something in there alive and edible. Grubs she likes.

hugelkultur 040

Summer leaves composted fairly nicely already.

then the composted material and dry leaves

She then watered it in, added some of the excavated trench dirt and watered it some again to level it out. She will continue adding the trench dirt, which should create some kind of mound. There is a slight threat of rain tonight, so she’s waiting for that just in case.

watered in and waiting for possible rain before adding the rest of the dirt

Where did it go! Oh, no!

She has a north facing front yard that the house shadows. Come summer though, it is pretty much full sun most of the day.

In between digging the trench and building the Hugelkultur mound layers, she leveled the landing area at the front gate and installed pavers. She does this by eye and the feel of hand, and right over the dirt, no sand. She likes things a little Wabi-sabi.

front gate landing pavers

While this was all going on, the little Anna Apple tree went into full bloom and had bees swarming.

Apple Tree in full bloom, and full of bees

Shortly thereafter the apricot tree went from bud to bloom. The bees were circling the buds aching for them to open

Apricot tree flower buds

As soon as they did, there were swarms of bees and the prettiest butterflies.

Apricot tree in full bloom and full of bees and butterflies

If you look carefully, there is one visible butterfly in between the wires a little to the left of center, (kind of like Ms. SpoolTeacher’s politics!).

“How do people ever find time to be bored”, she asks.

She’s so happy she got this done just in time to plant for spring. She didn’t think she would.

Her house stays too cold to start plants indoors and she doesn’t have heating mats or such, yet. This bed is supposed to contain more heat to allow for earlier planting. (She wonders if that means seeds as well)

Four sewing jobs accumulated while all this was going on. Now to tackle those.

Ms. SpoolTeacher's Client jobs Ms. SpoolTeacher's Client jobs

Feast or famine.

Ah, The Good Life.

The good life“, a philosophical term for the life that one would like to live, originally associated with Aristotle.

The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing's Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living

Are you living the life you would like to live?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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