Wild blackberries

We have wild blackberries growing all throughout the back portion of the property. They’re growing so thick that it’s like the briar patch in that old Brer Rabbit story.

I made Mollie come with me to pick some blackberries yesterday and she kept trying to run home. So I carried her around to share in nature’s splendor (which was probably lost on her) and crawled through the blackberry thicket carrying a baby Mollie in one arm (she wouldn’t be still long enough for a selfie, that little wiggleworm).

and picked a handful of blackberries.

a handful from 16 may 2017

I could have picked a lot more if I had just let her run home but I’m trying to get her to not be scared of the clearing out back. Sunshine thinks she smells predator cats or some other scary thing out there, which could very well be true.

Tomorrow, I’m going to go out there without her and pick more blackberries. They’re starting to ripen, and if I leave them then the creatures will eat them all up. I don’t mind sharing with them, but I want some too!

Simple living is a lot of work

There’s a lot of work that goes into living simply (or intentionally, or mindfully, or whatever you want to call it). It seems like there’s always something needing the attention of a human being. The cats need to be fed, the chickens need to be locked up in their chicken house at night, the grass needs to be cut, the garden needs to be harvested, the wild game needs to be butchered……

This week has seen a lot of perfectly edible but not pretty looking food go out the back door at work. My boss is like “nobody is going to buy the ugly squash” and tells me to do what I want with it, just make it go away. Which has led to a lot of squash getting blanched and frozen.

Just as an example:

The back door zucchini. It was lumpy and a bit wrinkled, but still firm and edible. But people don’t buy the ugly food. See how much is piled over the top of that giant stainless steel bowl? And that is about 3/4 of it. There was more.

side note: see how fucking tiny my kitchen is? That shit is ridiculous.

So we now have a bunch of frozen zucchini. It was quite the endeavor, cutting and washing and blanching and packaging all that zucchini. It was worth it, though. It’s food security. It’s one less thing we have to spend money on through the winter when Sunshine and I work a lot less. It’s one more thing that we’re doing for ourselves. It’s one less way we are participating in the consumer driven capitalist economy we live in. And I like it that way.

Final note: I ran out of freezer containers. I made a trip to the Dollar Tree when I made my grocery run. I did some damage to their shelves and filled up an entire shopping cart with reusable food storage containers. Yes, it was grossly consumerist. But at least I can reuse them again and again, which makes it feel like a far more intentional purchase

Out of character

We went looking for exterior doors on Saturday. We went to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in the northern part of the DFW Metroplex, because our budget is tight and the ReStore is all eco-friendly repurpose reuse recycle and shit.

We actually did find some doors we liked, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. The doors will get their own post as they came unfinished.

What I’m here to talk about is how I did something completely out of character for me. I found a couch. You might be thinking that finding a couch is a normal thing for any human to do when they have to buy a smaller couch to fit their new home, and you’d be correct. The “out of character” part lies in the couch I picked.

I’m a minimalist. I’m a minimalist almost to the point of brutalism. I like modern, minimal, clean lined things. I like all that Scandinavian modern stuff, I like mid-century modern stuff. I like modern, I like minimal.

However, the couch I picked is anything but modern and minimal. The couch I picked is the most ridiculous thing I can imagine. I shit you not–I picked a fucking ridiculous couch.

Without further ado, I give you the ridiculous couch.

ridiculous couch 2

ridiculous couch

Is this couch not the most ridiculous thing you’ve seen today? Perhaps it’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve seen ever. Except for maybe monkey butlers. I don’t think there’s anything truly more ridiculous than a monkey butler, because who wants a butler that throws poo?

The orange and gold striped cushions didn’t come with the couch. I didn’t want them anyway. I like how the back of the couch is so high, and tilted back a bit. I also like how the arms of the couch curve around a bit. That will help hold the ass cushions in place. It’s also a bit like the couch is reaching around to give you a hug. I’ll find some better back cushions for this couch–cushions that feel like marshmallow hugs or some shit.

final note: yes, it’s too early to be thinking about couches and shit when we don’t even have any walls built or anything. But it was the ReStore, and who knows if it would have been there when we DID get ready for a couch. Also? Yes, I know it needs some serious cleaning. I’ll get to that before we move it into the house.

Plans

Mr B has been on a shopping spree of sorts lately. First, he bought that big orange tractor that specializes in moving dirt around. Then he bought himself a truck and trailer to haul the orange tractor around. Then he took off to parts unknown and bought a thing that chops stuff up. He says we can use it to chop up the compost heap to speed up the process.

chopping-machine

Speaking of compost heaps, ours is growing quickly thanks to the spoiled food I bring home from work.

compost heap 4 march 2017.jpg

Mr B has also purchased a thing that drills water wells. He says we can also use it to drill a vertical geothermal system. I like that idea, especially after the septic system repair debacle.

well-drilling-thing

We have lots of plans in the works out here. I’m hoping that we can get some of them in the works soon, and completed soon after.

final note: it has finally dried up enough for Mr B to get out there and start working at cleaning up the mess of trenches and piles of clay/mud out there. I’m hoping he gets it done before any more rain moves in.

Planting seeds

I spent yesterday morning planting seeds in little sprout cups.

I used the little trays and cups left over from the lettuce sprouts and shit that Mr B bought last week, and some craft sticks to label them so I could remember what was planted in each tray.

I planted yellow and zucchini squash seeds, lima beans, cowpeas, roma tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, and I forget what else. I actually ran out of potting soil and little sprout cups, so Sunshine got me some more while he was in town anyway. He got so much that I actually had some supplies left over, which means that I can plant the seeds I found for things Sunshine had requested but we hadn’t been able to procure yet (radishes, beans and peas that didn’t require shelling). Now, if I could just find some turnip seeds or sprouts, he’d have his wish list fulfilled completely. If I could figure out how to cook a turnip, it might be worth it to plant the damned things.

The weather is pleasant at the moment, so we put the trays in the boat until I can get in the laundry room and make some space on shelves for the trays to stay out of any potential freezing temperatures until it’s time to put them in the ground.

It’s exciting to be working towards growing our own food. I’m just hoping that we don’t screw it up, since none of know quite exactly what we’re doing. Mr B keeps saying that it’s ok if we screw it up because there are grocery stores; but Sunshine and I are thinking of the “what if” and “worst case” and “walking dead” scenarios, and being able to grow our own food means we have a sustainable future here. “Seeds are life” was Sunshine’s response to my confession that I bought more seeds while I was out and about yesterday evening. I think he’s just glad that I’m starting to take him seriously, whatever brought it on.

I’m guessing that my next step will be to break out some of my craft supplies and make some scarecrows and shit to keep critters from eating our food. Any suggestions are very much welcome.

final note: now that I know I’m going to be working at the produce stand again this summer, I know that I’ll be getting to bring home all kinds of stuff that went bad before it sold so that we can throw it in our compost heap. It’s nice knowing that it won’t go to waste, even if it didn’t get eaten.

Weekly Progress Report: Planning a House

We’ve been slowly poking away at the site where we intend to build our small house. Sunshine has set several wheels in motion with septic/sewage planning, electrical service, and etcetera. We’ve been mapping out our floor plan, our electrical, and our plumbing. It’s major progress, even though it looks and feels very minor.

rough-sketch-of-plan

We have a rough sketch of what the floor plan will look like. I’m confident enough that this is the final floor plan that I’m sharing it, which means that there is now a distinct possibility that someone will soon spot a wrinkle significant enough that the floor plan will have to be revisited. That’s just how shit seems to work out here in the buttfuck middle of nowhere.

Sunshine has taken copies of this sketch and started mapping out where all of the water lines and electrical stuff has to go. Those sketches are a hot mess at the moment. Like, I have difficulty understanding them and I helped decide what goes where.

The thing I have come to understand on a very deep and intimate level is this: I am going to have to keep my fingers all up in this pie if I want a house that actually functions for me. I’m not referring to things like finishes, either. I’m referring to things like the actual function within a house, about which Sunshine appears to be completely fucking clueless.

side note: this is not a criticism of Sunshine. It’s just a statement of fact. He has apparently had someone taking care of the minutiae of personal and business life for so long that he really just doesn’t know what is required to make a house function other than his money and physical effort to make house appear on spot of ground. And even if he did have some sort of general clue, he still wouldn’t have any idea how to makeĀ  house function for Cindy, right? Because we can none of us ever truly know the inner workings of another human being’s mind.

That dear sweet man thought that one overhead light fixture in the living room area, one in the kitchen, one in the bedroom, etcetera… was enough lighting for a house. Um, wait….whaaaaat? Now, if we were planning on using giant florescent light fixtures or halogen lights, he might be onto something. We’re not. We’re using LED lights, because efficiency. Now, LED lighting might be some really bright-ass lights; they are not very good for lighting much outside of what is directly beneath them. LED lights are great for things like making pictures on giant screens, they’re great for task lighting… So one LED fixture over the kitchen? Not nearly enough. I need lights in multiple spots in there so I don’t chop off a finger because it’s too fucking dark at the end of the counter away from the light. That far top right corner of the drawing is going to be a fucktonne of built in storage, and all of that will need to be well lit, meaning multiple light fixtures or some sort of ceiling fan or track lighting solution over that corner of the house.

He’s not doing much better than that with the plumbing. He stated that he needed hot water runs to the kitchen sink and the bathroom sink. Yeah, that’s perfect if you want to take cold showers year round, run the dishwasher with nothing but cold water, and never use any hot water in the clothes washer I’ve requested be put in the bathroom. (It’s truly very rare that I use anything other than cold water on our laundry, but sometimes there’s something so greasy/dirty that it is required, so hot water has to be run to the washing machine. Get with the program, Sunshine.)

He was initially very very very resistant to my ideas about a shower enclosure. I truly want a large, fairly open shower area, kind of a wet room sort of thing. However, space is too limited to get what I really want, so we’ve reached a compromise of sorts. I’m getting curb-less and I’m getting my way about either having no freaking door or frame-less. See, I have allergies and COPD, so I have to think ahead to keeping things mold and mildew and crud free so that I don’t get sick as shit. Which is why the kitchen sink will not be on an outside wall with a window over it so that the sink can splash water and greasy gunk all up in the windowsill and wall beneath the window and create mold and mildew and gunk that makes me sick as shit. “Just keep it clean, Cindy” you might be tempted to say; my response to that would be “if you want a window over my kitchen sink then you come clean it with a fucking toothbrush and qtips and whatever else it takes to keep that shit mold and mildew free, and keep in mind that bleach burns the shit out of my already damaged lungs so you can’t use very much of it”. Because I have better shit to do with my time than spend it constantly cleaning my house. I like a clean house, I just don’t want to spend every spare waking moment keeping it clean, so I’m planning a house that won’t require such effort. Which is where Sunshine’s cluelessness becomes obvious. He has no idea how much effort goes into merely keeping our house dust-free when he literally makes dirt every time he walks in the door.

side note: I don’t understand this fascination everybody has with putting the kitchen sink under a window that overlooks the back yard. I don’t want to watch grass grow while I’m washing dishes. I want to watch Netflix, and have an unobstructed view of Sunshine so I can throw a drippy wet dishrag at him when he’s being an ass. The kitchen sink will be in a peninsula.

I will say that I’m grateful he listens. He might not understand some of my requests, yet he listens to them and does his best to accommodate them. If it’s something I need, like more than one HVAC vent (we’re going with geothermal) to heat/cool the entire house (my lungs perform better when the air is rather cool), then he will make it happen (and yes, he thought he was going to get away with one vent somewhere in the center of the house when I definitely need one in the kitchen and one in the bathroom at minimum). He even does his best to accommodate my wants since I don’t want extravagant extraneous shit like Swarovski crystal encrusted cabinet knobs and such.

I’m just going to have to stay very involved in the entire process, or else I’ll wind up with a cold water shower and no outlet in the bathroom for a hair dryer to be plugged into when I need to dry my hair. I’m trying to build a forever house here, and I don’t want to have to go in and change things later because I didn’t plan properly in advance (because that’s pretty wasteful).