Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Fourth of July Report

Via a  recent Common Dreams email we saw a Bill Moyers report recommending a new Alfre Woodard video rendition of this Langston Hughes poem (see the February 5 "guest post"). Seems an appropriate Fourth of July send-up in lieu of fireworks! Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDsbRDHU7qg

I also want to recommend, if you're interested, the essay I published as the very first post on this blog, on the Fourth of July, 2013 – sub-titled "Was this nation founded on Christian principles?" Which still seems to me to provide an importantly relevant context for any thinking about The Fourth.

For the rest of this post, I'm sticking in a bunch of photos taken recently here at the Vine & Fig Tree, evidencing our fondness for the founding principles – and our attempts to live simply and nonviolently below taxable income, not paying for "bombs bursting in air" and contributing as little as possible to global harming.

Item in evidence – the Declaration hanging above Judy's piano; and above the Laughing Buddha waving a red white & blue peace symbol. 

More evidence – If you could zoom into the Blue Planet, you would see lots of American flags, way too many not even on American soil, but flying above our over 700 US military bases sited in over 70 of the 94 countries belonging to the United Nations. Not healthy for our only home, the Earth. You may not be able to make out the wording on the plaque below the file, it's "The Vine & Fig Tree,"proclaiming the hope that "every one 'neath their vine and fig tree, shall live in peace and unafraid." Beating their swords into plowshares, etc. It's in Micah 4.  And in Isaiah. (Plaque lovingly hand-crafted by Jim's son Andy!)

A recent morning harvest from the garden. The pink plastic pail at top right is for putting vegetable scraps in to go to the compost pile in the garden. 
Our squash plants, now expired, gave us bountiful harvests up until last week. This is the second batch of our Vine & Fig Tree squash pickles. 
Six quarts and one pint of spaghetti sauce made from our tomatoes. 
This was our first garlic harvest, a bit more to come. 
Blueberries! We put them (without any processing) into the freezer like this overnight, then scoop them out into freezer bags for keepoing. We're getting enough also for breakfast most mornings. 
Amaranth is a prolific edible week in the garden. Here you might be able to see it's shading our okra. A pioneer and native American staple food, it's a highly nutritions green. 
Lamb's Quarter is our favorite edible weed, another highly nutritious green. 
Little green apples coming along. This is the only one of our (surviving) apple trees currently bearing. That spell of Arctic weather we had back in March after a summery winter killed too many blooms. (Or was it lack of bees?)
Our "Illinois ever-bearing mulberry" tree beginning to bear fruit. 
Like the apple trees, our figs were hurt by that killer frost. And this on top of last winter's hard freeze that almost did them in entirely. But now some of the fig trees have started fruiting again. 
Who needs fireworks when you have "canna-fire?" (NOT cannon-fire.)
We don't use it often enough. But the solar oven is a wonderful invention. This one was cooking black beans for us day before yesterday. 
Not quite 2 kilowatts of solar electric power. 
Solar inverter and charge controller take PV from the panels, routing through the battery bank (in box) to power two house branch circuits, feeding a chest freezer, lights and outlets on the carport, the kitchen over head light & fan, and the west bathreoom, master bedroom, and north side of living room lighting and outlets. 
We just recently bought new batteries for the solar system. We had started back in 2008(?) with 16 batteries, but decided to downgrade a bit. The system still provides one or two days when the sun doesn't shine, and provides on average three to four kilowatt-hours of power every day. Which saves us about $15 per month on the utility bill. And keeps at least that much electric power from being produced on the grid by burning coal.  
This is what we mean when we say we are "getting clothes online."
And on rainy days, this is the alternative to coal-burning clothes drying. 
If you have followed this blog at all you will know we heat with firewood. Well, day before yesterday we woke up to "a surprise gift of excellent pecan firewood!" Of course we would have preferred getting it without having the big limb smash the 10 ft x 20 ft equipment shelter in front of our tool shed. Luckily with little to no damage to the equipment. 

We look forward later today to swimming, picknicking, pickin' and communing with Locavore and UU friends at Green Bowery. A happy Interdependence Day to you and yours (human and otherwise).