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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Little Red-Haired Girls “New” Wheels

Little Red-Haired Girl taking her new wheels out for a try. Gertie taking the lead.

The first time Ms. SpoolTeacher met Little (Old, Senior) Red-Haired Girl, she was just a puppy of about 6 months. She had taken a trip from California to Arizona to visit her sister. This time, she was sharing a ride with her boyfriend, who was continuing on to New Mexico to visit his sister and would come back a week later for them to make the return trip home together.

Ms. SpoolTeacher had a roommate in her big (mansion to her) home in CA; so she left Stevie Weevie at home in good, loving hands. Here roommate was a life-long friend and animal lover extraordinaire, so she felt comfortable doing so.

The trip to AZ took several hours. As they pulled up to the gate in front of Ms. SpoolTeacher’s sister’s house, out ran a herd of doggies. Trailing among them to the rear was the cutest little red-haired puppy she’d ever seen. It was love at first sight. What struck her was how the little red-haired girl’s ears flapped as she darted to the gate. It looked as if she would go airborne at any time. “ar, ar, ar, ar, ar!….ar, ar, ar, ar, ar!” There was a string of about 5 of them. One of which, by then a senior, her sister had had for many years, Princess. Princess had gone to live with Mr. Pits for a time, several years actually because Mr. Pitts loved her so very much. But Mr.Pitts, in his retirement, decided he had to go to Hawaii and didn’t want to put Princess through the plane ordeal and quarantine at her advanced age, so Ms. ST’s sister acquired her back. Ms. SpoolTeacher loved princess with her old tattered nose and missing teeth. Her little growling rumble when she parsed her lips just so, was so very cute. “Awr, awr!” Still part of the pack. Princess had a lot of funny smells but it didn’t matter. She was adored.

So, while Ms. SpoolTeacher was there, she paid a lot of attention to this little red-haired girl whom her sister had named Faith. Faith had little Christmas tree-shaped teeth that she liked to show and if you put your hand anywhere near her such as to pet her….”ar, ar, ar, grrr, arr, grr!” For some reason, Faith liked Ms. SpoolTeacher too and wanted to crawl down into the covers where she slept; but if Ms. ST even dared try to reach down to pet her…”arr, grr!” Out came the Christmas tree-shaped teeth.

Ms. ST noticed Faith sneaking morsels of kibble from the dog food dish and scurrying off to a hiding place to eat it. Back to the dish for one at a time, stealthily, and then back away to eat it. She was skinny, then, but she was just a growing puppy. Later she would be a food hound, as if she couldn’t get enough. Little piggy.

Ms. ST spent a week loving her sister and her sister’s menagerie and then the boyfriend appeared at the gate to pick her up. By that time, Ms. ST had implored her sister to let her have Faith, “I’ve fallen in love with this little dog, Sis. Can I please take her from you?” Her sister said yes, that she had not liked her so much anyway. So they decided that it must have been meant to be for Faith to go to California. The next issue though was to convince Boyfriend to let her take the dog in his truck. He didn’t mind, but no sooner did they get on the road than Faith threw up all over the floor boards. I guess she hadn’t experienced motion like that before. She never did it again, but was never a restful traveler.

Fast forward…Faith turned into Gingersnap, into Mudgie, into Bungee, into Little Red-Haired Girl and has been a light of love in Ms. SpoolTeacher’s life for about 12 years now. Stevie Weevie and LRHG lived with Ms. ST in her big house for a couple more years and then they all went up to Northern CA for a month on a venture to develop a property that didn’t pan. They, and two cats, lived in a two room tent and the back of her truck for the duration and then headed back down to So. CA again to try to pick up where she had left off. She couldn’t make herself content, so decided to join her sissy in AZ to start a new life.

They (several fur people and Ms. SpoolTeacher) bought a little house and started anew. Stevie Weevie went to heaven about 3 years ago. Ms. SpoolTeacher’s sissy followed just a year ago and now Ms. SpoolTeacher has another of her sissy’s doggies, Gertis The Mertis Turtle. They all get along just fine.

Little Red-Haired Girl has gotten quite old and has trouble getting around as well as when she came raring out to the gate all those many long years ago. Stevie, LRHG and Ms. ST used to all trapse around the neighborhood on daily walks. They went quite far. First Stevie started stopping mid way and it wasn’t unusual to see Ms. SpoolTeacher lugging a 36 lb. Queensland Heeler/Beagle in her arms the rest of the way home. Soon, she realized they would have to keep the strolls to a minimum. Sometimes they just went to the park to sniff the grounds for other dogs.

Then, not long ago, LRHG started favoring certain legs and eventually would be quite lame by the time they got home. Ms. SpoolTeacher stopped their walks and just took them to the Park now and then; but Gertie was still frisky and it started grating on Ms. ST that they were all missing something.

Three wheeled throne for Little Red-Haired Girl to ride around the neighborhood on.

No sooner did she think about getting something for Little Red-Haired Girl to ride around the neighborhood on, then did she go to her local thrift store and find this contraption for two measly dollars. $2!! However, the handle clasp broke right away and she put it back together with spit and wire. It isn’t holding well and she will have to rig it up another way somehow. It is the perfect thing for them all to get out with and smell the roses (and a little dog poo too for The Girls).

free at last, free at last

Freedom run at the park…

"Come on you guys!"

“Come on you guys, hurry up, this is where the good stuff is!”

Okay, I'm with ya

Gertis The Mertis Turtle is a reluctant free person dog. She looked up at Ms. SpoolTeacher for permission to venture off. What a good girl. She’s a great walker. Just strides along, peacefully, happily.

So after they get home, Ms. SpoolTeacher checks their garden, plucks something for dinner and then does some more sewing.

how does your garden grow

All is well with the garden. Things are growing good….tomatoes, cucumbers, cantaloupe, beans, squash, cilantro, chard, beets, peppers, zinnias, marigolds and bees.

Happy Hour at the Bee Trough Bar

Happy hour at The Bee Trough Bar.

first beets of the seasn

These beets were the first of the season and were steamed for 15 minutes to so tender they didn’t need their skins removed…num, num! The tops will be sauted tonight with some other chard greens.

two little aprons flying in the breeze Apronology 101

These two little aprons were made for a friend to give as a gift to two little girls.

all is well, all is well with my soul

“All is well, all is well with my soul.”

Girls sleeps outside sometimes on hot hot nights

Little Red-Haired Girl sleeps outside sometimes on hot hot nights. She’s got clover to sleep in too, but she chooses the dirt. Grounding herself, must be. She comes in eventually, she doesn’t like to be very far from her pack for very long.

Gertis The Mertis Turtle

Gertis The Mertis Turtle, “Come on, let’s go for a walk.”

We’ll catch ya on the flip side.

A Thing Called Love

Garden Perfection

image courtesy: Better Homes and Gardens. Click picture for link

It’s not a picket fence, but it’s white and it looks like the perfect garden of her mind’s eye. Images she has deep in her psyche of the ideals set forward in her youth of what it is to be successful and happy. Especially the woman watering by hand. The slow life. The life well lived. Time to smell the roses, so to speak.

In her last post, Canning and Freezing, she posted another image:

Permaculture GardenThis one is of a small dwelling in the midst of what appears to be a permaculture type of gardening style. Ms. SpoolTeacher is trying to accomplish this; and even with a limited property, this is possible.

Little Red-Haired Girl helping

Living in a desert poses some obstacles that are trying at best. She’s trying her best to create what she calls “micro-climates”. In other words, ways of cooling the air so evaporation doesn’t exact its harsh torture any more than she has to let it. She is letting indigenous trees sprout and grow¬† and only removes them when it is clear they will have a negative rather than positive effect. They grow like weeds, offer plenty of leaves as they are deciduous. They don’t release themselves from the ground without a fight and that is why they are so worthwhile if they don’t overtake the strategy she has in mind. They grow without any attention at all and need no additional water. They grow straight up and in stands if you let them. A lot of her neighbors abhor them. She has grown fond of them.weed trees

But there is nothing that is as rewarding in gardening then that something you do makes someone or something else happier than they were.

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IMG_9828

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“Thanks Mom for making me a dirt pillow and a cool place to lay.” Sweet Little Old Red-Haired Girl deserves to have everything exactly the way it makes her happy. She is a senior and we want no regrets.

Happy Little Red-Haired Girl

The birds and the bees, and the flowers and the trees….

birds,bees,flowers trees

And a thing called Love.