It was so hot today. The desire to finish though is greater than reason that creates balance and I think our brains baked a little too long in the heat today. More of the seeds that need to go in for July were planted this morning and the remainder will go in this afternoon. Then the next planting will be for August 1st and before that some succession planting. The RV is now on top of the hill and has provided tremendous relief from the hot sun for us and the dogs. The weather forcasted 85 degrees today and I believe it hit that while I was planting Kale. After I watered the seeds, 3 small solid yellow butterflies and one larger, darker yellow butterfly "fluttered by" and all around us landing on the freshly watered soil. I tried desperately to get photos of them, but they were bashful today. I managed to snap 2 of them together.
We visited several friends lately. There are three families that live very close together, so when we need to see one and there is time, we'll stop to see the rest if they are around. First we stopped by to visit Kathy, Larry and Jeff. They live off grid surrounded by state forest. Their spectacular and enviable gardens are tall, dark, cool greens and lush crumbly chocolate brown dirt under mottled sun and bordered by moss covered rocks and aged wood. It's not the biggest garden I've ever seen, it's the perfect size for them; but it is one of the most beautiful I've seen. It's always a joy to see them. We had an animated conversation about solar, something we are all passionate about, while walking through a tree filled yard full of life, sounds and fragrant smells. They always have projects in various stages of completion and it seems every time we go there's yet another one complete and one newly started to investigate. Then it was off to Cathy's house. Her place is an animal lover's paradise! There are baby goats, friendly turkeys, chickens and much more. All sorts of cuteness abounds! She is one amazing woman and has built so much on her own. I don't know how she does it. She's almost finished with a big shed and just finished building something that was genius! I wont' give it away since some of her other friends read this too, but it was remarkable and I can't wait to build one for myself. Both Cathy and Kathy have a great way to heat water with used green 2 liter bottles they pick up here and there and lay them in the sun. The water is hot and ready to go when you need it. I think it's a great idea. Then we headed to Donna's house. She is a single mom of a teenage daughter and another woman that seems to be able to do it all. She has a horse, milk goats, fiber sheep and rabbits, a garden and works full time! She's taught me so much already and I know I'm going to learn a lot more from her. We are going to work on making soap and I think cheese when I get back from my trip to Houston. Just like the rest of the people that we tend to be drawn to, she's animated and cracks us up on a regular basis. Her daughter's friend and boyfriend have been there helping a lot it seems. They must really appreciate what a wonderful person she is, because most teenagers I know would rather be off doing something else.
I'm off to Houston this week for my parents 40th anniversary. My day-glow white legs saw the sun for the first time today as I dusted off the shorts. If you saw a bright flash of light in the North, that was the unveiling of the legs as I stepped out of the truck this morning and the sun glanced off my skin blinding all around me. Everyone will be in their bathing suits at the party and I don't want to scare the children. So I thought I'd try to get a darker shade of ivory going. My farmer's tan will be quite comical to the kids as it is. My brother Jared, his partner Pam and I have been planning the party for quite a while, although it is going to be very simple. We haven't been able to visit with my other brother Justin for a while because for the last few years, he always seems to get a new job or get promoted the week before we get together. So he can't make it or comes after work right as it's ending and everyone is tired and on the way home. After a phone call last night I learned that it will probably be the same for this gathering. We're happy that he's moving up, but can't wait for the day to come when he'll be able to take a day off just to visit with us. This really is a dream come true for him, so we're happy through our sadness of not getting to see him much. He deserves all the happiness in the world and if this is what he wants and how he wants to go about it; then I support him. With a family, a house and years of taking care of them ahead; he is working as hard as he can now to make up for the bygone lean years when he couldn't do for them like he wanted. If we don't get to see him this time, there's always next time I suppose.
I routinely see a man walking to the post office. We saw him last week on a hot day walking to town and picked him up. He also believes in living simply and told us about the yurt he built himself (not from a kit) and has lived in for many years, maybe 18. He invited us up to see it. He lives very close to us, so the other night we headed up the hill to see his place. He has 6 older solar panels that work just fine and built the support deck for them himself. He has made an ingenious, simple water capturing system out of used sheet metal and built a substantial bracing setup. It looks like a chute coming off the hill. He made walkways and platforms from discarded wood. There is an extra large old bus (I love old buses!) that he has turned into a huge workshop by removing the benches and building shelving down the length of it. The yurt was cozy and warm in the winter, but he said it has been a bit hot with these 80+ degree days we've had lately. There is a breezy, comfortable, shaded sitting area right outside the front door with a bench he made himself and some chairs that were creatively repaired with old blue jeans. He used to teach survival training and seems to be a jack of all trades. I noticed some interesting carvings and wood work all around and asked about it. We found out he's an artist and makes fantastic carved stone jewelry. He showed us his sketch book with dozens of drawings for jewelery. He uses a manual method to tap out stone leaving the design to stand out. The color of the stone was a warm red and I couldn't stop "petting" it. It felt wonderful in the hand and I know if I wore one, I would probably play with it all the time. He doesn't sell on ebay or anywhere else regularly. He carries his jewelry with him while out walking and people that know his work will sometimes stop him to see the latest. One of his friends has offered to put his work on ebay for him when he gets a bigger inventory. It's very time consuming work. He described himself as blessed and told the story of how he came to live rent free on this beautiful hill with spectacular views. We are very glad we decided to give him a lift that day and that our paths have crossed with another like minded individual. He is helping a friend that lives even further up the hill from him build a cabin and having lived in this area for many years knows other homesteading types around here.
On a side note, I've been replacing things as they run out with home made. I used to use store bought packaged taco/burrito seasoning. My Mom found a great recipe and I will not buy it pre-packaged anymore. We're vegetarians and I soak TVP in hot bean juice first, for my pound of "meat". Now that I know it has the right taste, I'm going to make a bunch of the spice mix after I get my chili in bulk. So, per 1lb of meat:
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp parsley flakes (I never have this on hand so used home made dried cilantro instead)
1 tsp onion powder (I also never have this on hand, so skipped it)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano (i tried regular oregano and didn't like it, so I'll try the Mexican next time)
I always fry onion and soaked TVP in a good bit of oil first, then I add the spices and more oil if the TVP has soaked it all up. After the spices and oil have coated the TVP well, then I add a little more bean juice to get the consistency I like.
Here is a picture of 2 of today's butterflies and also a picture of Jeffrey's fly swatter holder. We hate killing the flies, but it's almost impossible to work with these "friendly" flies swarming all over us like an old horror movie. They are swarming in response to the enormous amount of forest tent caterpillars on the trees. Also I've included a photo of Lucille at her post with Dorothy visiting.