Love and light.
These days it is all about solar. Last week, while researching my neighborhood news I came across an article about a community solar farm in our area. I find solar farms hideous, unsightly, and not as good as people claim these to be. For the landowner, it means good rental income for the next 30 years, for the rest of the people, just plain ugly. The article claims that the project will be a small solar farm, concealed by vegetation and remotely operated, no onsite engineers. Let’s hope so. The article claims that Dominion Energy customers will benefit from it, lowering their energy bills. I am not a customer, and we are serviced by a cooperative in the neighborhood, but it might be affiliated somehow. I feel sorry for the neighbors who will have to look at it. It will be located next door to the MVP, another hideous project, halted twice and still in the courts, that will bring no meaningful benefit to our community. I dislike when pretty little towns want to become like big cities, bad fit. Solar farms are popping up all over Virginia. Our little town has approved about 8 or so lately. I saw an interview (on another town) where a poor woman was almost in tears because her home was surrounded in all four sides by acres of solar panels, and she happened to be in the middle, no buffers between her property line and the solar panels, and she demonstrated how she could stretch her hand from her property line and almost touch the panels; these were that close. Once she was surrounded by farmland, and beautiful vegetation, which gave way to this nightmare. Imagine, who would ever want to buy her home? There are many stories of property owners being affected by this. I admit that I did not know much about the topic, so I decided to do a bit of research to educate myself; after all, we will have a small one on almost 57 acres of land nearby. The owners, not local people, but out of state people, who bought the land. Recently, about last week, another 58 acres came up for sale next to it, and these were scooped up right away; I hope not by the same owners.
After researching a bit, it seems to me that solar farms are not as green as these might appear. The panels last about 30 years and during that time, the metals and materials used during manufacturing degrade and end up on the soil or water sources, contaminating these, and posing a risk, if not properly monitored. After 30 years, the solar company is supposed to dispose safely of these panels and clean up the land. Solar panels require a lot of cooling off thus requiring a significant amount of water. We all have wells around here and are very happy with our wells. I hope we do not have to convert to water lines/sewer because we do not welcome the extra expense, and you know how expensive your water bill is. A few weeks ago, I saw a survey company marking utilities in the area. I asked one of the workers, “what are you doing and why?” He truly did not know the answer. He said that he only worked for the survey company and did not know any more information. They were marking utilities as far as route 29, which worries me a bit. As I write this post, I can see the orange and blue markers at a distance, orange is for communication lines… and blue is for water lines.
In addition, the mirrors in the solar panels cause injury to birds, burning their feathers. So much for green energy – soil and water contaminants, which leaves the land not good for future crops, large water requirements to cool down and operate the solar farm, acres of flora destroyed, fauna injuries … In a nearby town, Amazon is planning to set up a Mega Solar Farm, one of the largest. The happy landowners will certainly benefit from it, maybe the next 30 years. Let’s abandon agriculture in the name of solar energy, it surely will taste good in a possible famine. As you might be able to tell, I am not a fan.
Something for you to learn about. I was very happy when the land where this community solar farm will be located changed zoning from R-1 (residential 1) to A-1 (agricultural). For me, it meant more farm use and less dwellings. Little did I know that this change meant that the land use is just one step away now to become industrial zoning. But what do I know? I rather have a stinking cow farm next door than an apartment building, a factory, or a solar farm, so I might not be the best judge or advocate; I’m bias. Well, at least solar farms are quiet, and if properly concealed, I might not even notice it. That is until the future tells a different story on health hazards. Right now, according to WHO – World Health Organization – (and who trust them these days?) there is not sufficient scientific data that solar farms affect health in any way. There is some information on people who suffer from electro sensitivity, which means that the radiation that devices/signals such as Wi-Fi, 5G … emit affect these people severely, even might shorten their lifespan, but nothing concrete.
I even question if it is wise or safe to have a solar farm next to a gas pipeline, but that’s me. Our little town proudly displays a sign that reads “Bird Sanctuary.”
Welcome home solar farms, welcome home.
Everybody needs … places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and cheer and give strength …John Muir
When we purchased this derelict farmhouse, there was no garden, only a morass of overgrown bushes, grass, and weeds, some of them inside the siding, covering the house, and even inside it. Little by little, we uncovered the place, and one step at a time, we set out to create a garden. As we uncovered areas, we found a hidden driveway, some existing plants that we kept and revived, and other areas of interest, such as a sitting area delineated by a cemented circle shape. One area at a time, we set out to clean, separate, and plan what we could do using existing or recycled materials, and some new.
Eventually, it started to feel and look like a garden. We added a few new plants and propagated other existing plants. Today, we are at a point where the place feels manageable, and we plan to create new garden areas. Our goal is to create at least one new area every year or add new plants to an existing area. So far, we have created a garden around the perimeter of the house, a veggie garden, a faerie garden where there is a large section covered with moss, a small front garden at the entrance, which is still in the works, two small areas next to the house, a sitting area, and recently, a small garden next to it. We have added four new trees which we obtained for free (a small $10 donation) through the Arbor Foundation, and these are doing very well. We planted five but one did not make it. Originally, they sent 10 dormant trees (these look like brown sticks); we planted five and gave the rest to my sister.
I’ve loved gardens since I can remember. I especially loved my grandmother’s garden, and as a little girl I enjoyed it. Although it was a small garden, at that age, to me it felt as a huge garden, my own world. Sadly, this garden does not exist anymore. It was replaced by hideous cement. My favorite garden style is an English garden, and I would love to recreate that style on this property. My husband favors more symmetrical and delineated gardens, which I dislike, so we compromise a bit. He also dislikes climbers, which I love. I have a list of dreamy plants that I would like to see growing in the garden. Some are already part of it. The list is in no particular planting or planning order; just what I love.
- Iris – There was an existing light purple variety growing here, which we uncovered and propagated. I brought a deeper shade of purple from my garden in Jersey.
- Gladiolas – My sister gave me some from her garden, and these are doing very well.
- Hen and chicks – These have propagated well, and I brought them from my garden in Jersey.
- Weeping blue spruce – wish list
- Holy tree – We uncovered two existing varieties, one in the new garden area, which we uncovered amongst overgrown bushes, and another one in the wooded area at the back of the house.
- Jasmine – wish list
- Camelia – wish list
- Magnolia – wish list, but it tends to grow very large, so I am not too sure about adding it.
- Snapdragon – planted some from seed.
- Gardenia – wish list
- Clematis – wish list
- Wisteria – wish list
- Butterfly bush – wish list
- Tulips – wish list
- Giant Hosta – We added a few hostas and three blue hostas.
- Sunflowers – We added them from seed, but did not come back, as the birds ate all the seeds.
- Yarrow – Found in property.
- Daphodils – wish list
- Poppy – wish list. Planted seeds but did not grow.
- Black Eye Susan – wish list
- Forget me nots – wish list
- Hyacinth – wish list
- Crocus – wish list
- Roses – Planted a small bush that died. Just bought two mini rose bushes that will go in the front porch area when we redo that area.
- Ferns – found in property along with wild violet and I potted it.
- Clover – Tons of clover grow here. I would rather have Clover than grass.
- Lavender – wish list, have proven hard to grow, but I have a small English Lavender plant in a pot, but it has been a challenge to grow elsewhere.
- English Ivy – I have three plants growing in pots by the faerie garden and side entrance.
- Bleeding heart – wish list
- Daisy – wish list
- Lillies – Existing near the porch, some of which we propagated in the faerie garden. I planted a Tiger Lilly by the side entrance.
- Calla lilies – My sister gave me a few from her garden. We have them in pots for now, and they come up every year; eventually, we will propagate these.
- Zinnias and Foxglove – By seed
- Forsythia – We have a small existing bush that we revived and trimmed. It tends to flower in December for some reason, and by the time Spring arrives, it is done with its flowers.
- Peony – wish list
- Dwarf Boxwood – Existing, and we uncovered and revived these two bushes by the porch steps. At one point, I thought these would not make it because these were in very bad shape.
- Hydrangea – Existing. We have a lovely Blue Hydrangea that we trimmed and is doing beautifully.
- Climbing rose – We uncovered a tiny rose bush, and it has grown beautifully. It was covered by overgrown vegetation, and we almost missed it.
- Morning Glory – Just started growing two + plants (by seed) in pots by the side entrance steps. My goal is for them to climb and wrap themselves around the banister and handrail.
There are many cedars, pine, and oak varieties around here, and some lovely trees that I have no idea what they are. I am sure that I can come up with more dreamy plants, but for now, these are the ones that I would love to see growing in the garden. I enjoyed many of these plants in my previous garden and I truly miss them. I would like to add the plants on this list throughout the years, and at least a small water feature. I will share some of these projects on this blog.
To view some of the before and after pictures of the garden you can visit my posts under Restoring a Garden or Fixing an Old Farmhouse. Here are a few pictures.
From the Ashes
From the ashes Eagle soars
through the fire it has flown.
In its beak, an olive leaf
In its heart
As lion it roars, as lamb its soul
Made anew through the storm
Diamond eyes, beak of gold.
Beacon of light shines to the world
Stronger than ever
its grip has become.
Freedom and hope it found way above
Under God, one nation
Under God, one soul.
There is no “perfect life,” only life surrounded by circumstances and what one makes of it all. A simple life is as simple as one makes it, and as sweet as one wants it to be, despite the ups and downs that living on this imperfect world brings. One can do it alone or approach it simply with faith. It is then that it becomes sweet. As a person of faith, I understand that there is so much I can do on my own, and when my efforts are not enough, I give it all to the one that makes things sweeter and simpler, Jesus Christ.
Realizing my human limitations and weaknesses has made me understand my spiritual strength and power in Jesus. It truly changes perspective and expectations. We are about to enter a new phase for this country and the world. Depending on your stance in faith you will find it a blessing or not. Simple living isn’t devoid of challenges and troubles; it is not perfect, but it can be sweet. The difference is simply faith. The shifting of one’s focus to see the everyday blessings instead of the troubles, and the certainty and knowledge that God is always a prayer away, and that is next to you.
The pursuit of a simple life is what you make of it, and you don’t have to move to the country to find it. It is a knock-knock away, when you answer His call.
I hope you have enjoyed The Simple Life series of posts, and that somehow you have found simple inspiration. I wish for you a blessed life of sweet satisfaction.
Love and light.
As a follow up to the previous post, I thought that this topic would be of some practicality. I’ve met all kinds of people in my lifetime, rich people, poor people, and people in between. Each person views the world/life in a different way. Their life situation determines how they see the most basic things. Some people might consider eating steak daily, or an iPhone, a necessity, while for others it is a luxury. Their views are different according to their experience. For some people, “hard times” might be lacking the luxuries they are accustomed to enjoy, but for other people, it might mean lacking the basic necessities such as food, water, electricity … At the grocery store, I have seen people putting a basic staple back on the shelf, the shopping cart containing only a couple of necessary items. I’ve also seen the frustration in their faces. What would you do if you had to come up with a small grocery list that would give you the most for your very limited budget, last longer, and provide basic nutrients? Would you know what to buy or how to make it last? Would you even know where to start?
When having a very limited budget sale price is important, but also, brands and organic products might have to be passed by if the cost is much more than you can afford at the moment. Price per ounce or servings might become important instead, and knowing shelf life might be necessary, in case you cannot shop in a longer period of time. Knowing how to preserve and make last what you bought might also be important. During hard times, your brain will be rewired differently, and you will start thinking in ways you have never thought before. Words such as ration, preparedness, long-lasting … and other words will become familiar words. Suddenly, your vocabulary has been expanded, and so has your old world.
Once I met a very educated elderly lady who had been very prosperous. Her world change one day when her country became a communist country. She was left with nothing. Her nephews and other family members were shot against a wall, and she had to escape her beloved country in a cargo boat, thanks to a captain she knew and was her friend. She left her country with only the clothes she had on, and her daughter, hidden on that boat. I will never forget the lessons I learned through that lady.
Your world, your situation can change in a short period of time (there is no blame here). When life changes and hard times come, how you respond to change is extremely important. I also met a rich gentleman who once told me that his kids only received one gift for Christmas. He wanted them to appreciate what they had and see the season for what it truly was. I met many people for whom the only source of food was the local food pantry and not the supermarket. All of them beautiful souls in very different circumstances.
What would you do if suddenly, food became an important challenge in your life? You would probably go back to simple basics. Here is an example of a very simple, basic, and long-lasting food and basic essentials list. Although this list is very basic, I know that for some people it might seem a long list (26 items), depending on the circumstances. The list requires for you to know how to cook, combine meals or ingredients, and ration meals. Also, assuming you only can purchase one of each, or what your budget allows.
- milk (any kind). Powder milk is long-lasting. A source for calcium, vitamin D, your dairy.
- butter or oil (your fats, also for cooking.
- flour – for many uses (any kind of flour, and also will last)
- rice or pasta – a little fills you up.
- beans – good source of protein; you need protein to live.
- bread or crackers – fills you up, carbohydrates/sugar give you energy. Can be used for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can also make your own bread or crackers by using flour.
- eggs (liquid or powder too, powder will last you longer). Source of protein. Can use any time as a meal.
- salt – for flavor, cooking, and medicinal. Also supplies iodine which you need to survive.
- pepper – for flavor.
- cheese – (your dairy and protein). Any kind will do in an extreme situation, even powder cheese or Velveeta cheese, which are long-lasting.
- coffee or any powder drink – Although not essentials, (you can drink water if needed) some people need their caffeine, and many powder drinks provide sugars and are enhanced with vitamins or minerals.
- meat, fish, or poultry – for extra protein, but if you cannot afford these, an alternative is canned meat or peanut butter. Peanut butter is long-lasting and does not require refrigeration. It will provide fats, sugars, and protein for your body. It is also affordable in comparison to other items.
- fruit – for vitamins and antioxidants.
- tomato sauce (or canned tomatoes, puree) – for cooking
- sugar or honey – for cooking or if you cannot go without it for flavoring meals.
- canned veggies – if you cannot afford more expensive veggies these will do.
- apple cider vinegar – for cooking, but also aids in digestion, and also for cleaning.
- baking soda – for baking, but can also be used as a toothpaste, for acid and indigestion, or even cleaning your home.
- bar of soap – for bathing, but also cleaning and laundry.
- toilet paper
- pain relief pills/alcohol/hydrogen peroxide/Vaseline – first aid as needed. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used to clean your teeth.
If you can afford a bottle of multi-vitamins that will help provide what is lacking in your diet.
One can make bread, crackers, tortillas, cookies, cakes, pancakes with flour.
Anything in powder form or canned is longer-lasting.
Pets, kids, and people with special diets or medical conditions will require other food items, meds …
When in need, your local food pantry, church, or community action center can be of much help. They can also direct you to other services.
I hope this list is helpful, however, when in need, I will also add a prayer to your Creator. I hope you enjoyed this post.
Love and light.
“I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts.”Psalm 119:45
One important aspect of living a simple life is realizing the blessings that one receives every single day. It leads to gratitude and gratitude leads to abundance. When one realizes how abundant life is (abundance doesn’t equal money) the natural response is the desire to give, to bless others. A blessing comes in many forms like helping someone in their hour of need, monetary or not, materially or not, or giving of yourself in whatever capacity you can do so. Whether you help someone cut their grass, share the fruits, veggies, or flowers of your garden with a neighbor, lend a hand or console someone, donate food, money, or a service … it is all giving.
These days are calling for people to bless others. Inflation in every area of daily life puts households in a very tight spot and many people are having to cut basics such as food, heating, cooling … One way in which anyone can benefit is with the gift of food or basic staples. If you don’t have much but want to bless someone, having a blessing box with basic supplies on hand is something you can do. You never know when you will meet or hear of someone who is in need. A blessing box is simple and not necessarily large or expensive. It is filled with a few items that a person can use. It can be any size. Here’s an example of a simple blessing box.
A can of milk
A box of crackers
A jar of peanut butter
A package of rice
A can of beans or veggies
A jar of jelly or cheese
A can of meat or tuna (spam, chicken …)
A can of soup
A box of pasta
A can of sauce
A package of flour
A package of sugar
Tea or coffee or powder drink
These are staples anyone can use, and last long in storage. Whether your blessing box contains four items or more, it will be appreciated by the person who needs it. Having one at hand facilitates a blessing for someone. This is just a simple example on how one can be a blessing to someone else. A blessing box can contain anything useable (school supplies, paper goods…) but food is important and always welcomed.
Sometimes, we hold back blessings because we think that we have to be rich, prosperous, or have it all together to be able to start blessing other people. An act as simple as putting a can of soup in your town or church’s food bin is a blessing to another. We are conditioned to think that bigger is better, instead of thinking that blessings come in all sizes and for all people. Living simply is understanding that you can be a blessing in many ways, in unlimited ways. When you give of yourself you are blessing someone, but also blessing yourself.
Love and light.
One practice that I did not think I would take on was keeping a journal for gardening. I did not think I needed to keep track of plants or make notations about it. The practice started out of necessity. The first year I started a veggie garden, many things did not take or survive. I was puzzled because I never had a problem growing flowers and had a healthy garden in Jersey near the beach, a challenging soil. I assumed growing veggies from seed was challenging, but also found out that the crazy changing on and off weather here in Southern Virginia had a lot to do with it. I decided to start a journal to track what I did, and the results. By doing this I identified many things I could do differently and others that did not work, but also, things I could improve on. The second year was much better. I was pleased and decided to keep the practice for a few more years.
This little garden journal has evolved quite a bit from where it started. Today it serves more than one purpose. It helps me plan the next year garden, holds sketches for garden projects, and other things garden related. I carry checklists that represent garden goals for the year, materials needed, and the goals that were not accomplished by the end of the gardening season will go on next year’s list. Something so simple ended up being an important resource for me. It has also become a very enjoyable pastime.
The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.Isaiah 58:11
I wish I could say that living a simpler life is simply easy, but I’ve found that there was (and is) a lot of work involved, dedication as well. For us, it meant to tackle a huge list of things to do as well as learning the other things we needed to learn to do those things efficiently and economically in a limited amount of time. To read more on that you can visit Fixing an Old Farmhouse series of posts. It also meant leaving some things behind, some we didn’t want to leave, and some we did. We also had to deal with the pressures that come with all of that, but most important, we had to work as a team, be on the same page, and define what good work and accomplishment meant for us. We had to realize that each day brought new challenges, and every day was different. The cookie-cut routine was over, and there was no room for costly mistakes. We had to reach a new level of trust as a couple, and trust that “I got your back” was enough. Enough to get the job done and keep on going with the blessing of the Lord.
Hard days behind gave way to plans and possibilities, and a sense of balance, and with it, a feeling of good work and accomplishment, the sweet satisfaction of the challenge. There will always be good days and less than perfect days, and a list of to-dos; however, as long as “got your back” remains our motto, simple living becomes sweet living. Living the simple life entails realizing that each day brings challenges and blessings of its own along with sweet satisfaction.
New challenges are about to test people in this country and worldwide. Our faith, values, and belief systems will be tested in ways we are not accustomed to. As a people, as a nation, we might have to learn to “get each other’s backs” and come together as one.
Love and light.
Sometimes, the desire to live a simpler life leads to the pathway less traveled, and it may require stepping away from the herd a little bit or completely. Sometimes, it means a change in lifestyle, leaving things behind or relationships that might not understand your vision. Stepping away from it might not be the most popular or celebrated decision, but it might be the smart thing to do. It might seem like swimming against the current, and not only will you have to deal with your feelings, but the feelings of other people that are in your close circle. In the end, stepping away will mean doing what’s best for you/family.
Stepping away from a lifetime is never easy, no matter how strong a conviction or how eager for change one might be. Sometimes, the ties that bind you are the ones that must be loosen up, not necessarily broken. Whether the barn is too big or the stall too tight, it is not the right fit anymore.