This is the story of our adventures -- every day and extraordinary; our dreams -- tiny and grand; our gardens -- ornamental and sustaining; this is the story of our journey.  We are a family of four living a mindful, simple life here in Los Angeles County.  We are green, conscious, and forward thinking.  We keep an eye on the past because some of the best things have already been done and bear repeating.  Walk and talk with us, have a glass of wine, taste a peach or a tomato, blow some bubbles and watch them drift up over the canyon ridge.  Enjoy!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The bright and shiny side of hoarding

The mental disorder of compulsive hoarding has recently (relatively, more so in this TV-free home) come into the spotlight.  The A&E show, a CSI episode, and the entertainment community chatter that comes from this type of exposure.  My reaction to my first cognizance of this condition was a sort of horror -- certainly to the extreme versions depicted in television programming, but also to the idea that even in lesser forms people would crowd their private spaces with things that, well, should just be thrown OUT.   A crowded private space makes me twitchy, itchy, unhappy.  I struggle to keep the stuff that we NEED tucked appropriately away; I could never allow the collecting of useless, worn out, depleted items.

But then, I also struggle with waste.  Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.  In that order.  I have made great strides over the last couple years to Reduce.  I have always Recycled.  Lately I've been focused on Reuse.  Before anything is composted (already a reuse), recycled, or ugh, trashed, I think, does it have any life left in it?  Could it BE something else?  I used to save yogurt cups and repurpose them as paint containers for the girls craft projects.  Eventually we had plenty of paint containers and while those cups stack conveniently enough I realized enough was Enough -- time to switch to exclusively homemade yogurt.  And of course the side benefit of no more waste (or stacks) is the taste.  Then there was the milk. Until about a year ago (I'm not sure exactly when) I drank mostly this fine un-homogenized, pasteurized (as opposed to ULTRA pasteurized), glass bottled milk.  I enjoyed the milk.  Loved to eat the cream off the top.  Really loved the returnable glass bottles.  But I'm growing.  Learning.  Evolving.  And I now believe we should only, or at least mostly, drink raw milk.  So I gave up those lovely glass bottles and switched to this wonderful raw milk.  Which I adore - YUMMY!  But, it comes in a (BPA-free) plastic jug.  Jug UGH.  For a while I clenched my jaw and closed my eyes and put the jug in the recycle bin.  And then one day I said, "Hmm... these could be something else for sure.  Something HERE.  Not something that requires shredding or melting or re-processing.  Something that does not require a factory to make it.  I was sure there was SOMETHING.  So I saved them.  And I saved them.  And the cupboard that had first made room for them became dedicated to them.  And then they overflowed that cupboard.  And I said to myself, "You will not end up on some lame ass second rate cable channel's version of Hoarders (because by now the REAL show must have run its course and let's face it my compulsion wasn't THAT bad) just because you can't RECYCLE!  Purge."  I took armloads of jugs to the blue bin.  Ahh....  And then the twitching, a different one than I get in crowded spaces, started again.  And I started again.  First I decided they could be bird feeders.  I let the girls paint a few, cut some feeding holes, strung them up.

But, fact is, I drink milk faster than birds were eating the seed out of these not-so-perfect feeders. And let's face it, how many painted plastic jugs, um, I mean feeders, do you want hanging about?  They were stacking up again (outside now - the cabinet thing was bugging me -- okay, so I clearly will never be a true hoarder).  And it was March...

Time to start seeds.  Tomato, pepper, tomatillo, eggplant, cucumber, melon.... yeah, lots of seeds.  I checked the supply of left over coco fiber pots and scrounged around the saved pots from plants purchased and put into the ground and found I was short. And as I glanced around I saw the pile of milk jugs.  Eureka!

Yes, cut them in half!  Make a pot and sprout protecter out of each one!  Brilliant!

Somehow, I still didn't have enough (partly because the Bubbles insisted on making more bird feeders as soon as they saw me cutting the jugs) and I was Reduced to trying an egg carton.  We'll see....
And I put the egg carton in the upside down tadpole habitat since that experiment failed...

Oh, and remember those glass bottles?  Yeah they all came with a plastic cap -- any thoughts?  I was thinking wind chimes....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Flash Flood

The post below shows some pictures of the aftermath of Sunday's incredible storm here in Topanga but those pictures don't really convey just how intense it was.  Rain was falling at rates approaching 2 inches an hour at the heaviest.  I'm not sure how much rain we got in total from the storm but our rain gauge showed a rolling 24-hour total of 6.5 inches at several points in time.   The roads around us became rivers as seasonal streams and creeks jumped banks and found new routes as a result of the sheer volume of water and the tremendous amount of debris washing down the hillsides.

This video on Youtube was taken right at the intersection of Highvale (our ingress/egress road) and Topanga Canyon Boulevard.  It DOES capture the intensity.  My friend who lives up the street and who had visited me on Sunday before the storm got crazy blogged about her experience here.  Check out her story and pictures.

As I type this the blue skies of the last two days are giving way to grey and the rain is supposed to start again.  We are only slated for a 2" total -- fingers crossed on that!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Washed fresh and clean...

...just in time for Spring!

This afternoon we saw blue and felt sunshine -- a welcome relief after the intense rain of the weekend.
Under dry skies I went out to explore the gardens, see the damage, warm my bones.  My poor little lettuce sprouts got beat down
but this Japanese maple glistened in the sunshine.
The onions took a hit.
but the garlic stood tall.
The peas have grown since I last checked on them
and the cat approved.
In the lower beds I found pumpkins sprouting in my morel habitat
and steam rising (tho I'm not sure you can see it here).
The untamed yard breathed green.

This poor ceanothus got so heavy with water droplets it fell in the path.

I headed out of our yard to see what had happened outside our gate.  More steam was rising in the warm sun, off my neighbor's car port.
The neighborhood stood shiny and fresh
 but told the tale of last night.
It was a scary night, and some of the results are not pretty but others are: