Monday, October 13, 2014

Playing Catch Up

If not now, when?
Ever have a task to do that seems too big or difficult to accomplish – so you put it off?  I’ve had a few of those recently: taking a test for re-certification, cleaning my office, rebuilding a rock wall, finding new medical insurance (because I was dumped), and posting an update on this blog. As you all probably know, if you don’t at least start then you will never accomplish the task. Also, you feel so good when you get it done. So just do it, or at least start.

So here we go…

Since last year Jim and I have been very busy having all kinds of fun. 

In early October we were in West Virginia at The Mountain Institute near Spruce Knob for another weekend with Hero's Journey Foundation. I think the more time you spend in nature the more time you think about taking care of the environment and living as green as possible.

Making a camp fire, which we refer to as a spirit fire, is a big part of the Hero's Journey experience. It is a source of warmth in the evenings, heats stones for the sweat lodge, creates the coals for fire walks, is a great place to gather around for good conversation and inner reflection, and most importantly reminds us all of the fire that burns within each of us.

So you might be asking yourself... Isn't "Living Green" and the promotion of camp fires a contradiction? Well, maybe. I will admit that. And also consider that a large group of people gathering around a small fire for a short period of time may benefit the environment. The experience brings each person into a deeper relationship with the environment and may possibly encourage each person to think about their place in nature and be a bit more responsible. Jim and I are certainly not the most "green" people in the world; but we are trying to do our best at creating the smallest impact on mother nature. It is our hope that what we share on this blog will encourage others to make greener decisions.

In mid October of 2013 Chris Royer and Ragan Sheridan visited again. Chris scheduled a nature class on our property which he offered to the public. Of course Jim and I participated - we wouldn't have missed it. The first thing we did was collect some stones from our property and find a space where we could make a medicine wheel.

We had a small counsel then began to explore.
Chris talked a bit about being in and with nature.

One of the ways to do that is blindfolded - because it opens your senses. Ragan set up a path through our woods using a string. We blindfolded ourselves, grabbed the string and set off on an adventure. A few of us did it barefoot! The experience was amazing. 
Jim making his way through the woods.

Near the end of our time together we did some care taking of our property. We chose our creek.

Jim and I have been back to the creek a few times since Chris and Ragan's visit. We are working on creating a path next to the creek and trying to keep up with the branches that fall between visits. Chris recommended taking the sticks and small branches we find across paths and break them into smaller bits so they will break down more quickly. When branches are lying directly on the ground they absorb more moisture and break down faster. Ragan often carries a small cloth bag and collects small and medium size twigs that are not in direct contact with the ground to make twig bundles. She uses them to make camp fires by placing them in the form of a Teepee. It works great every time. 


 I learned from SCUBA diving that heat loss is greatest from your head. It is chilly in the winter so I started making wool hats. Patons carries 100% Pure New Wool, which simply means it comes straight from living sheep. One ball easily makes a cap. These are "slouchy." I like their shape better than the typical designs.

It is rare, but every now and then we see a deer.

North Carolina has a lot of great places to hike. We can see Mount Pisgah from our home and have always wanted to hike the trail. We offered the opportunity to Jim's family when they came for a visit.
From left to right: Tom, Sandy, Cindy and Jim. (Pete and his wife Norma weren't able to make it)

Ernie and Cindy

Stan and Sandy
Tom and Kathy

Relaxing at our home after our hike...what Cindy referred to as the "Death March."  Jim and I leaned a good lesson: Try out hikes before you invite someone to do it.
Driveway project
 We were having problems with drainage in our drive and parking area. Jim put in a concrete gutter and that solved the problem. It was a pretty big job that he was happy with after he finished.

It snowed in November - and in October. This little squirrel and chipmunk were happy to find some seeds on the ground.

In late November I was hiking through our property and came upon this thing someone had erected. Corn was scattered all over the ground. It is a PVC pipe with a old coffee can on top (to prevent rain from getting into the pipe. The pipe had a little corn left in it. I figured out it was for attracting deer - to hunt them. I’m actually not against hunting but I don’t want someone hunting on our property – especially without permission. After I figured out what it was I got a little nervous. I began wondering if a hunter was sitting nearby in a blind, perched in a tree, or under a bush. I called Jim on my cell phone then called a friend and my brother to ask them about hunting laws in NC. I disassembled the contraption and hauled it back to our house. We eventually found out that the person who owns the land next to us has given a friend permission to hunt on her property. Unfortunately, she didn't explain to him the boundaries of her property. We were glad that the mystery was solved.

By the end of November one of my orchids was blooming. It is really awesome to have these sitting in on my windowsill when there is snow on the ground.

Chris and Ragan visited again.
I experimented with making scones. I was trying to do gluten free and use almond flour. They were really good but still need some more experimenting. 

2014 will be in the next blog - stay posted.