Starting Up, a Reblog from Mountain Home Art

My son Jonathan, daughter Tiff and I opened this webshop, Mountain Home Art, for their work and now we are in the promotion phase so people can find it, know where it is, see their photography and the stationery products we’ve made using their photos, and pass the word, so to speak.  Besides Tumblr, we have also built a Facebook page for MHA and we could really use some help.  If you could please, it would help us if you would follow Mountain Home Art, reblog, “like,” “like” the Facebook page and anything else you can think of.  We’re trapped in the “startup” of it all and need all the help we can get!  THANK YOU!!!

Gifts

Simplicity.
Three leaves, three petals.
“See me, I live!”

Father, son;
walking, learning, loving;
Life.

Brothers — Twins.
So close.
See us, We live!

Sea and setting sun.
Beauty in and all around;
Living.

Want to be Self-Sufficient?

(click red for your listening pleasure. The Tullymore Polka-The Witch, from Waking Ned Soundtrack)

The infographic below looks pretty intimidating — even for me and I live on a quarter acre urban lot.

Positives: My house roof is ideally situated for solar panels and I have removed much of the original lawn and replaced with productive gardening space.

Negatives: I haven’t installed the solar panels yet; my garden includes only two fruit trees, both peaches which are vulnerable to late spring freezes; I have been thinking about adding chickens but have yet to do so.

The Plan (in this order):

  1. plant two apple trees
  2. widen garden space in order to produce more vegetables
  3. research solar panels — cost is a factor!
  4. get serious about the chickens!

This will not make me completely self-sufficient, but it will get me closer to that point.

Home Solar Power Discounts – One Block Off the Grid

Silence

“There was a strange stillness. The birds, for example where had they gone? Many people spoke of them, puzzled and disturbed. The feeding stations in the backyards were deserted. The few birds seen anywhere were moribund; they trembled violently and could not fly. It was a spring without voices. On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, jays, wrens, and scores of other bird voices there was now no sound; only silence lay over the fields and woods and marsh.”

—  Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Waiting for peanuts

We put birdfeeders up in our yard a year or two ago.  We waited to do so until we no longer had outdoor cats of our own, and until we had finally been able to grow the yard into a place inviting to us and to birds.  It didn’t take long for the birds to discover the feeders, different kinds of sparrows and finches showed up, doves soon joined them and even western tanagers for a short time in spring put in an appearance.  Not knowing much about bird identification at the time, we still enjoyed watching them sort through the seed for their favorites.

I’m not sure whether the increase in bird population this year is a result of the passing of the news that there are feeders here or whether it is because the trees are big enough to shelter more and more birds, or whether I am finally just seeing the many here, but it has been a lovely year.  While Tiff (my daughter) was an interpretive volunteer at Bryce Canyon she got to know a member of the staff who is a bird expert and learned much from him.  She in turn passed her enthusiasm on to me, we participated in the Audubon Christmas bird count in Bryce Canyon last year, bought some books, and have been trying to learn a bit more about birds– different species that are in our area, characteristics, etc.  It has made me much more aware of birds in general.  When we went to La Push, Washington in May I saw birds that I’d never noticed before.  I’m sure they had always been there, it was simply that my awareness of them was missing.  Now I see and hear so much more than I did before.

We have now seen warblers, orioles, woodpeckers, a pair of cedar waxwings last winter, and even watched young hawks (I had no idea there were hawks in town!).  There is a robin pair that has been teaching their young how to find worms in what I now call “the nursery” (our front yard garden), and four regular scrub jay visitors that take turns testing the peanuts we put on the patio for just the right one, then hide and transfer their nut of choice from one stash to another in the trees, bushes and garden.

My Turn!

Now that I know the birds are there I have reset my sprinklers to come on at three different times during the evening, night and early morning, dividing the total watering time by three so as not to overwater, to keep the neighborhood cats out of the yard.  Every once in awhile we see a cat trying to sneak into the yard and then it is running time — chasing the cat away like a protective parent.  I happen to like cats but I now keep mine indoors to protect the birds and wish others would do the same.  My awareness of my little outdoor environment, my yard, has changed because of the birds.  I see and listen differently, I plant differently, I interact differently than I used to, before noticing the birds.  It makes me wonder what other wonders I am not “seeing.”

My increased awareness has come at a cost.  The yard is not my exclusive ‘domain’ anymore.  I now knowingly and willingly share the space.  This requires that I not put bug and weed killer on the plants and grass,  I look to see what I will disturb by going out, and I am much more still outside than I used to be.  Mine is a different stillness than that Rachel Carson spoke of in the above quote.  Mine is one of appreciation in order to hear the living world around me.  Carson speaks of the absence of life, the absence of song as a result of DDT usage.  There is a consequence to our actions and we must understand that consequence in order to make an informed choice.  We must be aware of and willing to pay the price.  Silence is not a price that I am willing to pay.

Like the Ocean?

A recent email from the Ocean Conservancy shared a nifty idea for helping keep our oceans and beaches clean.  They call it a Tiny Trash Tin and it can be just a small box or canister that you can take with you to the beach and place “tiny trash” inside as you find it.  Of course, not everyone is clamoring to pick up trash when they head for the beach, but this Tiny Trash Tin is nice because it is meant to be small enough to fit in your pocket or purse.  You can pick up cigarette butts, bottle caps, little candy wrappers, and other bits of litter that we don’t typically pick up because they’re obnoxiously small.  Check it out, make one of your own, and remember that little bits add up to a lot!

Sunset highlights waves on First Beach, La Push, WA

The Church Garden

A friend (thanks, Karin!) has been giving me “heads up” on several earth and people (I know, people are part of the earth, too) friendly things going on.  I’m not going to talk about them here and now but will give links:

1.  A six-story vertical garden  on the facade of a children’s library in San Vicente, Spain

2.  Front yard ‘microfarms’ in Boulder, Colorado

3.  Here is an article about a “Back-yard Urban Garden” CSA (community supported agriculture) project in Salt Lake City.

I’ll let you check those links on your own but want to propose an idea that could happen anywhere.  Have you looked around at all the open space in whatever town you live? Here in Orem, UT there is a lot of open space, vacant lots, unused right of way, etc. that could be used for community gardens, and that isn’t even considering back or front yard space!

See all that grass? What real good is it doing?

Here’s another idea: What if all churches –I live in Utah and most of the church properties are LDS (Mormon) — instead of planting, watering and grooming the large spaces of grass that are typical around many meeting structures, use the space instead for gardens. The watering system could easily be converted to a drip system which would decrease water usage, and there would no longer be a need for mowing.  The gardens would be taken care of by those using that building for church services, much as we now do for custodial work.  It could be a place for ward/parish, family, youth, and scout service projects and the produce would be available for those in that particular congregation, with excess available for families in need, Bishop’s Storehouse, cannery, food bank, etc.  In LDS wards, there are emergency preparedness, family history  and compassionate service specialists (callings),  why not gardening or food production specialist?  It wouldn’t work for every ward or stake, especially in some urban settings where there isn’t the grassy area around the building, but in those where it would work, why not?

It seems to me that there are way too many positives that outweigh negatives.  I realize that not everyone enjoys gardening but I think there are enough that do that it would work.  I have had many youth groups ask if they could help me in my yard/garden as a service project so I’m sure they would be available for something like this.  For those who do not like or are not able to help with the garden, as far as I’m concerned, you can still have some tomatoes and zucchini!  The Little Red Hen story has merit in that it’s always good to help if you can, but there are some who just can’t, for whatever reason and just because someone doesn’t like gardening doesn’t mean the food should rot rather than share!

We put strong emphasis on self-sufficiency in our American/western/Utah/Mormon culture, but we also emphasize service, community, congregation and charity.  This type of enterprise serves all those components — at least as I envision it.  Gardening families like to put their own spin on the “A family that [gardens] together, stays together” and I think that it applies to the ward family, the neighborhood family, the human family as well.

I would really be interested in hearing what others think about the possibilities here.

“It’s About the Acorns!”

Forest

A friend recently loaned me her dvd of the beautiful film, The Man Who Planted Trees.  How have I not seen this film before?  It is really lovely and renewed my love for trees, all trees– tall, short, droopy, majestic, ordinary– all of them.  As I happened to be babysitting my twin grandsons (five years old) the evening I brought it home, I decided that perhaps they would like it as well.  We watched, they were transfixed– it was a magical moment and upon reaching the end, I was almost afraid to disturb.  I could only say, “Oh, I do so love the trees,”  to which sweet Ian said, “It’s not about the trees, it’s about the acorns!”  He’s right, you know.  It is about the acorns.  The film is all about sowing seeds, seeds of trees, love, rejuvenation, strength and community.  Unless we have seeds, we’ll never have trees.

Oak tree -- yes, from an acorn

The film was directed by Frédéric Back and based on the book written by  Jean Giono.   A mere thirty minutes long, it was released in 1987 and won the Academy for Best Animated Short Film.  I tried to find a link to the trailer but the film itself seems to be all over the internet.  Here is a link to the film but I suggest you use this link and buy it for yourself.

It's the nut....