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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Throwing a Tarn Bowl

Wabi-sabi Tarn bowl

Ms. SpoolTeacher has never worked on a potter’s wheel; but throughout the process of crocheting her Tarn Bowl, she got a sensation that it was a similar experience.

She started out making what was to be a round rug, but after she got to increasing every 8 stitches, she changed her mind. She has never crocheted with tarn (t-shirt yarn) before and is quite certain that she should have been using a larger needle and one that had more traction, (wasn’t metal). Crocheting is something that only through practice does one pick up on the subtleties that can be manipulated to create variables that are either desirable or not , intended or not, and/or an expression of creative license, i.e., art.

She was quite having fun. She was utilizing her acumen and a very good video to remember even this beginning stage of crocheted creations.


She had previously made some t-shirt yarn, tarn as it is called; and as it turned out, the denier was variable as she had differing weights of t-shirt material and she had cut some a little different width than others.

This is all new to her.

T-shirt yarn. Each ball represents a whole shirt

The ball of t-shirt yarn she started with, a muted green/aqua, was cut after the rolls in the above picture. It had seams but she decided to go ahead and try it.

She’s on a learning curve with this and wants to be able to tell others why to or not to use seamed pieces, etc. She kind of likes imperfections anyway. Wabi-sabi! Serene Melancholy. Spiritual Longing. Doesn’t that evoke the language of Art?

[1] “If an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi.”[2] “[Wabi-sabi] nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”[3]

Wabi-sabi tea bowl, 16th century

Wabi-sabi tea bowl, 16th Century. Image courtesy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wabi-sabi

So as she was sitting on her bed, late at night, watching some thought-provoking recording she’d made (in the days of having TV) of something from Free Speech TV, she decided to quit increasing and make a bowl instead of a rug.

The aqua only lasted long enough to apply about 3 rows, give or take, up the sides before she had to determine which roll of tarn to use next. She chose the gray.

Wabi-sabi Tarn bowl

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, thrown on an “artists” lap

Well, as she got going, she realized that it was quite fatter denier and was making it bulge slightly. She thought about taking it out, but no, she kind of liked that idea and she rolled her fingers around the circumference as she would if she was throwing a clay bowl, seeing if she could pull it up and/or stretch it into aligning with the aqua. She used various tensions with the tarn/yarn in her fingers as she continued on making stitches up the side to see if she could control the bulge. More “imperfections”. All the while, she was thinking it was looking like a bowl some artist had created intentionally that way on her potter’s wheel.

Well, the gray yarn ran out in no time and then what color next? She opted for the white. It had printing on it, so there would be that as a subtle “imperfection” as well. She wasn’t quite sure how tall to make it; but after two rolls of white, both slightly different denier, she decided that it was tall enough.

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, thrown on an "artists" lap

Now for how to finish it off and maybe add handles? (Ms. ST just spent an hour trying to find a tutorial for adding handles to her bowl but all she got was Etsy and Pinterest links without help) After scouring all the images, she thinks she can figure it out on her own.

Oops! Never give up. She thinks she found a tutorial!

But as you can see, it looks rather simple to do.

More rows could be added to make a fatter handle.

She also saw many, many beautiful examples and some interesting ways to finish it off.

She usually likes things rather simple. Why complicate things? Right?

Isn’t this a pretty one? Not made out of t-shirt yarn, but very pretty.

So here are a few more images of her Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st Century …

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, thrown on an "artists" lap Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, thrown on an "artists" lap

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, thrown on an "artists" lap

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, thrown on an "artists" lap

It ain’t particularly purdy, but it’s Wabi-sabi to her.

Serenely melancholy is one of her favorite colors! And now she realizes that she photographed it wrong side out. Wabi-sabi her. Tarn it!

Update! Update!!!

Ms. SpoolTeacher turned the bowl right side out and added handles in purple and white. Everything looks better with a touch of purple. Here is the near complete bowl, (just have to tuck in some tails)… and a preview of the next project, a braided rug.

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, with handles and a touch of purple

Handles!

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, thrown on an "artists" lap

Bottom up!

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, with handles and a touch of purple

Strings yet to weave in…

And the next project upcoming, a braided rug from t-shirt yarn…

Braided rug fom t-shirt yarn.

Additional pictures can be viewed at this link.

Available for sale on Etsy:

Wabi-sabi tarn bowl, 21st century, thrown on an "artists" lap

Also available for sale on Etsy:

Tarn Bowl