Sunday, April 17, 2011

Here's to the O.G. homesteader!

That would be old Grandma Hazel who was born April 24 1913 and died April 14 2011. I haven't had a real conversation with my grandma since I was a little girl. I always thought she was a little weird. She was always pleasant, typically self-deprecating, and usually said goofy things to lighten people up. Her world in Sauk Centre, MN seemed very small town to me and I figured she wouldn't really get me or the things I was up to. I sent cards with pictures of my house and my life and a refrigerator magnet with my face on it that seemed to make her really happy. She loved to brag to her friends about her kids and grand kids so apparently those items gave her bragging rights. I didn't realize just how arrogant I'd been with my Grandma until a few days ago. I was suddenly overwhelmed with grief and guilt and felt like I'd really missed out on knowing her. It hurt. Some of what I've come to see about Hazel Anderson is that she was born before refrigerators were around, way before tv, before cars even. She was born in a whole different world. and many of the skills I am acquiring and pride myself in (for how innovative and cutting edge I am with my homesteading style house and stuff) are all things my Grandma did before I was even born.
I'd forgotten that my Grandma kept a pantry in the basement full of canned fruits and vegetables. I remember going down there when I was little and having to choose between apple sauce and cherries to put on our dessert. And what kind of desserts? Grandma made everything from scratch. She made cracker jack from scratch and the worlds best caramel rolls and Sallie Anne cookies and old Scandinavian favorites like krumkaka (delicate lacy crisp "pancake" with powdered sugar on it that looks like a snowflake cut out in 3-d).
And those are just some of the things I remember. She would spend weeks baking before we came to visit. My Grandma's kitchen was a wonder to behold. I hope I can get a piece of it when I go to her funeral. What I wouldn't give for Grandma's canning supplies! I think she probably got rid of that years ago as she used it less and less. I'll find something wonderful and strange and perfect for the job it's designed for and invite it back home with me.
My Grandma was widowed when my Dad was 8. She had two sons and had to get a job to support her family. I can't imagine what a challenge that must have been in those days.
She was very proud of all the jobs she had. She used to take my brother and I to the Elks Club where she managed the kitchen and show us off to all the old folks. It never occurred to me that my Grandma was a pioneer working like she did.
I don't remember Grandmas garden but where else would she have gotten all that stuff to can? Shows you what selective memories kids have.
If I ever have grandchildren (and I'm still hoping) they will remember my garden. They'll probably think I'm weird and old fashioned and out of touch with the world. They might even make jokes about me when I'm not around. and I'll just love them. Because that's the lesson my Grandma Hazel keeps giving me. No matter what she loved me and all her kids and grand kids to the end of the earth. She was surrounded by friends when she passed because she had invested in the social capital of her community her entire life.
I wish I had realized how inspiring and awesome she was when she was still around. Maybe she can still teach me how to make krumkaka or lefse when I use the fancy tools she had for those delicate jobs. It will be nice to go celebrate her life with family this week. and I'm incredibly inspired to meet the people who kept vigil at her side and held her hand - that's the kind of community I want to build around me. I'm glad I can finally see what props I have for my O.G. Homesteader! Rest in deep great peace Grandma Hazel!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

DIY day: Basic plumbing and how to tunnel under a sidewalk

Two days ago I was under my kitchen sink wimpering and crying. My frustration came from trying to fix the shut-off valve from my hot water line for my kitchen sink. A friend told me it would be easy (same friend who broke it attempting to shut off the water to help me install a new filter) and I had assembled all the parts I needed. All I was trying to do was screw the line from the faucet to the shut off valve and nothing was working. The threads wouldn't connect. I was all twisted trying to fit as much of my body under the sink as I could. I was getting schmuck in my eyes when I'd lie on my back but lying on my belly I couldn't get my arms high enough to reach it. I looked online and in several home repair books I have here and all of them said, "and then screw the onto the threads" and that was where the whole problem was. I prayed and cursed and couldn't get it to work. and it was supposed to be easy. My head started sending me down into the depths of glum. Felt very alone and without support and imagined that it would always be that way (cue the sad image of a decrepit old woman in a nursing home from "The Economics of Happiness" documentary I saw last week).
Then T showed up and wondered what was happening (everything from under my sink spewed all over the kitchen floor and the front walk - me sobbing with my head under the sink). He went to fix it and ended up breaking the entire supply line to the sink!

So today I finally got the new supply line from the hardware store. They guy looked at the one in my hand and laughed. "No wonder you were having so much trouble." The new lines are made from woven metal and are much more flexible and friendly. and he was right. and after screwing it on and finding a tiny drop of water I undid the whole thing, screwed it on again and now have hot water in my kitchen! Hooray! and I learned a valuable lesson. 1) Plumbing sucks and it's liable to make me cry and 2) better to replace the whole thing (or at least have all the parts to do so) rather than tinker with the tiny bits when it comes to plumbing.
Valuable lessons!

My other diy triumph today had to do with irrigation (which explains the pictures I above). I've got to connect my front yard irrigation line to the hose bib. This requires placing the line underneath my front walk so people won't trip over it. After getting some assistance from an incredibly awesome and helpful guy at JH Mitchell Irrigation and researching on google, and being bouyed up by my plumbing success, I took it on.

First I dug out a large part of the dirt around where I was going to tunnel. I needed a lot of space so the pvc wouldn't bend and arc too low. (you can sort of see this in the first picture)

Second, I assembled the piece my irrigation angel instructed me to. He had me get a pressure washer, a length of pvc (the width of my sidewalk plus) and two fittings - one that screwed into the pressure washer on one end and connected to the pvc on the other end and another with a hose thread on one side and pvc connection on the other side. I have a picture of what this amazing tool looks like (second and third picture above). I vacillated about whether I really needed to go to this much effort to make this tunnel but I had no idea how else it would work.

I connected the hose and turned on the water. First attempt I got soaked by each leaky fitting but it seemed to work until I got about 2 feet away from the other side and hit something hard.

Second attempt same thing happened but this time from a slight angle. I was about to throw in the towel but opted to try something different.

For my "third times the charm" try, I went from the other side of the sidewalk to try and meet the second tunnel. I pushed with all my weight wiggled and worked the pvc pressure washer fire hose thingie and finally got the pvc all the way in and under the sidewalk! So now I have a length of pvc under my sidewalk that I can thread the irrigation line through! Only little hiccough is that I still haven't figured out where it is on the exit side. I can see the water come out but I can't find the damn hose. That seems like a minor problem (fingers crossed) and much better tackled tomorrow when the water recedes and I feel like I could use another feeling of triumph.

What's really nice about this method is the pvc is part of the tunneling tool so as soon as you're done with the tunnel you just cut off or unscrew the connectors and your pvc is right where you need it. I'm hoping that as soon as I find the damn thing all I need to do is run the irrigation line right through it, punch a couple connector fittings together, thread it to the hose bib, and TaDa! I'll be able to water my front beds!

All in all both tasks were daunting and I ran into multiple PITA obstacles but still fulfilled my mission! Hooray!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Jury Duty? This will not work for a single girl homesteader!

Today I got called in to report for jury duty. I know it's my duty as a citizen but it also happens to be spring break. As a single girl homesteader this puts a serious dent in my grand plans for this week. On my planned agenda for the week:
  • fix the plumbing in my kitchen sink (a surprise task that I'm not pleased about having to deal with),
  • connect the irrigation in my front yard garden (requires putting tubing underneath a brick planter and a sidewalk - no small task!),
  • consult with my landscaping friend ( Camille about the irrigation in the backyard,
  • chainsaw a couple more trees (got two down already) and chop for mulch or put in the greenwaste bin,
  • chainsaw/pole prune limbs down on the tall Pittosporum to allow more light for the future citrus orchard,
  • Plan and plant future citrus orchard under pruned Pittosporum,
  • spread the 5 cu yds of mulch that's currently in a pile at the top of my driveway,
  • get rid of the enormous pile of grass stolon filled dirt that's all along the slope of my driveway,
  • add stones to Swan Song (front yard) beds to level the walls,
  • add stones to planter beds throughout garden where necessary,
  • paint bottom board and plan bottom board replacement strategy (and ant-proofing) for bee hives (choose if I want to try and capture a swarm and, if so, find location and set up new hive boxes),
  • sheet mulch newly solarized beds in the backyard and prepare for planting,
  • plant blueberries and strawberries in the pine mulch zone,
  • figure out I can keep chickens and start planning for a chicken coop,
  • plant seeds of corn, carrots, sunflowers in vegetable beds, and dianthus, chives, and other edible flowers in Swan Song walls
And that doesn't include any of the non-homesteading things on the list like sweeping my floors and re-organizing my garage. Sorry to bore you with my to-do list. The point of that (besides helping me get clear on what I intend to accomplish) is just to show that homesteading takes a fair amount of time. It's a way of life - not a trademark :) If all I have are weekends (and many of those get filled up with other tasks) then it takes that much longer to get homestead projects happily on their way. What I'm ultimately aiming for is a set of interconnected systems that feed into each other with only moderate tweaking now and again by me. This is likely at least a few years down the road. Bill Mollison (co-articulator with David Holmgren of the concept of permaculture) talks about the stage "When the designer becomes the recliner" after all the systems the permaculture designer sets up start to function independently and produce on their own with minimal outside input. I'm not there yet.
and that being the case, it feels like such a frustrating waste of time to be sitting here on the 11th floor of the Clara Foltz courthouse when it's a beautiful overcast day perfect for planting.
I'm often good at making the best out of any situation. I know that it's not such a big deal to give up a day of "work" to do my part for the justice system.
I just had so much I wanted to get done today at home. And I'm feeling glum anyway as recent matters of the heart have not gone my way (boo hoo) and it feels like I'll probably end up with no family or children and nobody who gives a shit about me when I get old. (When I start to downward spiral it goes there pretty fast) and at least nobody to help tackle my urban homesteading to-do list with. So here I sit when I ought to be planning for chickens to supply my neighborhood with fresh eggs (Check these out for more info on how easy it is to keep chickens in the city: and

News update: Enough of my whining. Biking rules! I got selected for jury pool selection for a case involving a kid who was riding a bike and got hit by a car. In the questioning I shared that I wish everybody rode bikes in LA and that our city would be a much more pleasant and clean place and that, though I aspire to objectivity, I definitely have a bias in favor of bikes where bike/car interactions occur. I hope the case goes well for both parties and I'm very happy my jury duty for this year was just one day.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Worms are hermaphrodites and other sexy things

I just got in from a great gardening session. I love my newly landscaped front yard. It's kind of overwhelming how in love I am with it. It's colorful, it feeds bees, I can eat it, it's playful.... Honestly, I can't keep my hands off it. I'm completely smitten. I leaned over and took a nibble of a violet petal. It was as good as it sounds. Better even. Velvet violet petal. sweet.

But what inspired me to write was not swooning over violet petals but rather my love of worms. Every thing I moved that had been sitting still for the last week had loads of worms underneath. Most were red wigglers but there were a few meatier gray worms too. I scooped them all up and added them under the mulch in the front beds. I am a big fan of worms but they get kind of a bad rap in our culture. There are many misconceptions about worms that I feel compelled to clarify.
1) Worms are gross.
Get over it. STFU. Don't be inane. Worms build soil so you (and geological time) don't have to. They work their little tails off and ask for nothing except your kitchen scraps and a little cover from the sun. I'm happy to feed them my "trash"! Makes me feel great that less trash heads to the landfill. Makes them happy to fill their bellies with slime and poop out crumbly rich humic acid soil. They are soil building factories. Even the slime that coats them (their own personal lubricant so they can navigate the underground world without damaging tender tissues - cause nothing that soft likes a lot of friction!) is worthy of accolades. It helps hold soil together. They are awesome. and sexy (more on that later).
2) Worms can be cut in half and regenerate their missing half.
Please review your 7th grade taxonomy lessons! Worms are annelids. Annelids don't regenerate. (any taxonomists out there to set me straight if I'm wrong? Cool. Figured as much.) There are lots of other things called worms that can do that. Earthworms can't! All you will potentially get is one shorter worm and one piece of decomposing worm tail. Yuck. Leave them alone.
3) Worms are dirty.
Really they aren't. If you, with all your messy hairs, lived in soil you'd be a mess. Worms are pink or gray or whatever color they are. You are the one that gets dirty when you go after them. and they don't carry any diseases and they certainly can't hurt you.

4) Worms aren't interesting.
That's silly. Let me tell you how they make more worms. First off, worm anatomy is pretty cool. When they become teenagers (60-90 days) they grow a clittelum. Already it's starting to sound sexy. The clittelum is a swelling towards the anterior (head) end of the worm that makes a ring around it's body. This swelling contains sex organs. I say "it" because worms have genitalia of both males and females. There are some juicy tidbits on reproduction in the wikipedia article on Earthworms. Essentially they glide their clittelums together and exchange sperm with each other. They embrace in this way for quite a while if I remember correctly. Reproduction happens later when the worm is by itself. It makes a cocoon around itself and then slides out of the cocoon leaving its own eggs and former partners sperm. It sounds very "modern relationship saga" but is just what makes evolutionary sense for these critters.
I just like getting to say clittelum a whole bunch.

The beauty of decomposition aka "Compost Happens"

There are so many ways to compost - vermiculture in which worms eat your kitchen scraps, hot compost, cold compost, humanure and on and on. I'll share some of the ways I've composted in the past and what I'm currently doing.
I teach my high school students that about 30% of our MSW (municipal solid waste) is organic matter that could be composted. To me it is among the worst sins to send organic matter to the landfill. I have had roommates who thought I was heading towards bag-ladyness because I would pull their food scraps (and recycling) out of the trash. The landfill is like hell for organics. They don't decompose on any real time scale because there's not enough oxygen or friction. Heaven for organics is your compost pile, compost pit, stuffed under a bush or anywhere else they can decompose and get added to soil again.

Compost can become a bit of an obsession but I'm all for obsessions like this. No one gets hurt, it doesn't cost any money and it does a lot of good for the planet. You might feel a little kooky taking scraps home from your non-composting friends and family but you'll get over it.

For most of us urban dwellers the waste we generate in the greatest quantity are kitchen scraps. A great way to deal with kitchen scraps is via a worm bin. Kitchen scraps decompose into slimy, stinky, wet, nitrogen-rich goo after a short while. This goo is manna for worms. NOTE: Not all worms are created equally! Some worms (night crawlers come to mind) need to be in the dirt and eat things that aren't readily available in compost. Red wigglers (Eisenia fetida) are the ones you want. You can get them at bait shops, buy them online, or (my favorite) throw a bunch of straw or rich organic matter on the ground and then scoop them up a couple weeks later. They are small and deep reddish pink. I could be off about this but my understanding is they aren't actually eating the food you put out for them but rather they live on the decomposers that are breaking that food down. Who cares?! They turn that goo into crumbly worm castings that make your plants very very happy.
There a gazillion different kinds of worm composting systems. I've tried plastic boxes, wooden boxes, and a few different purchased plastic products. My vote goes to the can '0 worms or any of the other plastic worm composters with multiple levels you can add. It makes the job super easy to harvest and maintain your worm bin. There's a lot of information online about how to do worm composting. JUST DO IT!

If you have a yard a compost bin or a compost pile is definitely in order. You can use this for kitchen scraps and yard waste and ideally would have all of this in the perfect ratio for composting 25-30:1 carbon to nitrogen. All that means is you need a whole lot of "brown" stuff (dried leaves, small twigs, sawdust, straw, or any other source of carbon) to whatever "green" stuff you have (can include manure, kitchen scraps, or any other rich gooey, funk smelling nitrogen loaded waste). The nitrogen rich material gets the microbes the energy boost they need to tackle the much harder to break down carboniferous (love that word!) material. Ideally you have a way to mix these components together in your pile too so the little bacteria divas don't have to travel far to get from one type of nutrient to the other.

There are people who get PhDs (pile higher and deeper) in compost and who have thermometers and data sheets and really get into this process. More power to them! For me it's just a means to an end. I LOVE decomposition. When I was a kid instead of running away from dead animals we'd find I'd poke them with a stick (can you say "tom boy"?!). It's fascinating to me and I appreciate all the players involved in keeping beauty and abundance on this planet! Yeah decomposers and detrivores! BUT, with limited time I'm a pile it and forget about it kind of composter. and that works just fine too. If you're like me you probably don't get that steamy hot pile of compost that could heat your water pipes and you don't kill weed seeds (best to keep them out of the pile then) or pathogens (please don't be pooping in your cold compost pile either! What would the neighbors think?). But it works fine and I get rich crumbly compost after a while and add it to my garden soil. If you want to go the hot compost route use google to get more info and then share your secrets with the rest of us! Also there are a huge range of fancy and unfancy composters you can buy. My compost is in a wooden bin that the previous homeowners built. My ideal composter I built at a rental two houses ago. It consisted of two large bins next to each other with cinderblock walls. One side was for "cooking" and the other side was for adding. I'd keep both sided moderately wet and covered with a tarp. It worked pretty well. If you want you can spend $1000 on a fancy composter from Germany that has a pretty handle to spin your compost and takes up more room than your shed. But why would you?

A word of warning: Once you open the Pandora's box of decomposition all manner of strange interests and strange sites will greet you. My first window fly larva (on my pillow of all places) had me racing to the internet to figure out what this odd segmented thing with no discernable head was). I still have no idea how it got on my pillow but now I know that those creepy (makes me shudder honestly) little things are just window fly larvae and they actually help break food down so the worms have an easier time of digesting it. Be willing to open to the magic! It's sort of a Kali-esque embrace of death really. There's no greater mystery to explore and you don't even need to die to do it!

and I couldn't talk about compost without mentioning something I recently learned a great deal about. Humanure! Something even hard core Greenies are afraid to talk about! Last month the folks at Homegrown Evolution (amazing folks) hosted Nancy Klehm who shared about her experience composting human waste with the Humble Pile project. It was pretty incredible and when they finally passed around some the contents of the humble pile from the house - 1 year old composted toilet stuff it was unbelievable. Looked just like crumbly rich compost out of the bag from the garden store. I have yet to set up my 5 gallon bucket toilet seat system at my homestead but I'm no longer afraid of it and eager to stop wasting all that good nitrogen by sending it into the city sewage system. Now, if I happen to travel to a developing nation or if a plague sweeps through LA I may feel differently about composting my poo for a year (two if necessary) but based on what was shared at the Poo Salon, I feel like I can do it safely.

Once you start composting you will wonder how you ever used to throw stuff in the trash can. It seems like such a waste!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Water water everywhere and not a drop....

saved via my non-existent roof catchment system. So much for the wise old strategy of sourcing your water first then doing all the garden stuff. I can't help myself though it's the garden I make time for. I was wise about installing the irrigation lines before I start planting. I've done it the other way around before and it's a pain. and when will I ever have this gorgeous blank slate of front garden to lay out lines on again? I expect it will be a riotous burst of color and form for many years to come.
So, in the short break between days of torrential downpours I went outside and laid down the netafim irrigation line. Netafim is a straight tube with embedded emitters that are self flushing. It is SO MUCH easier than dealing with ugly black poly line and the confusing tangle of spaghetti tubing and emitters and mess. I got a little perplexed on their website with how to make a grid over my super curvilinear multi tiered landscape. They show these really neat looking lines of netafim with piping on either side to form a layer of lines over your yard. Was not having any fun trying to wrap my head around how to interpret that for my front garden. I went to JHM Irrigation (LOVE THEM!) with some questions based on the netafim websites info.
The website mentioned one product Netafim EZ that was designed for curvier landscapes and sharper turns and could easily be snaked around in a big circle. That seems more up my alley.
Turns out I was right! (love it when that happens :)
The guy at JHM was a gem. Stayed with me helping even after their official closing time. We pretty much returned the entire box of stuff I'd picked up from them on Saturday at a different location with much less helpful staff present. He set me up with a variety of little tubes and small plastic things that actually made sense. I got home and laid the line out. The hardest part was trying to figure out whether to turn to the right or the left to take the twist out of the hose. Got the garden lines laid out, will cut everything to fit and attach it to the hose bib soon (not necessary now as we've got more rain on the way and I don't even have any plants in the ground yet). I am delighted it went so quick and eager to test it out. but before that I'm WAY more eager to start planting! So happy that is on my agenda for very very soon. I LOVE my front yard and I can't wait to eat it :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Is it any wonder I'm staying in on a Saturday night?

As much as I wish I was filling this space with tales of my exploits it seems that I will be staying home again both evenings this weekend. There are parties galore and all kinds of things to go out and do but I spent the day up to my ankles in fish goo. My hands feel like sandpaper, my back hurts from hauling buckets of muck for hours today and I've got fish poop in my hair. I've also got a huge amount of work to do helping to organize the upcoming Southern California Permaculture Convergence (which is going to be incredible BTW) and when else am I going to do it?
Kinda makes me wonder if there's any nookie in my future until summer with the schedule I'm facing. That's no good.
How's a busy girl supposed to hook up?
and that's not even the real question I'm trying to answer. It's not just a hook up - that's much easier. How is someone who spends her days happily mulching rabbit litter box contents and beaming about her seed order supposed to find love and partnership in this super superficial and so fast moving city?
It seems my urban homesteading habit might interfere with my romantic endeavors. Not many men will find rabbits who live under my bed to be a turn on. Maybe I can woo him with the magical home grown produce from my garden? Or the home brew kombucha or saurkraut I made? Not likely.
My best bet would probably be to attend the free lecture tonight at the Arboretum on bees, wasps and ants and I would LOVE to be there but I'm tired and dirty from working all day and it starts in ten minutes. sigh...
no exciting news on the romance front to report for the time being.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Pond muckabout on the horizon

Tomorrow I am cleaning out the pond outside my classroom. The pond was built with grant money from the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District several years ago. It was a one day project and my students and I were amazed at what we created together (with the help of some pro pond builders). Now, several years later, the bottom is filling up with goo and the poor fishies hide outs are submerged in it. I think they feel very vulnerable and I feel for them. I'm also eager to get that goo for my new front yard garden (and all the other places I plant and tend). It will be my first foray into using a sump pump and doing anything of this magnitude. We'll be removing all the water, fish, and plants and power washing the rocks until they are clean. Then refilling and dechlorinating and carefully replacing everything back into the pond. If you have a pond and are wondering how to do it I found lots of resources on google. Here's one:
One super important thing that I learned today (trying out my $175 super fancy sump pump that is supposed to absolutely not clog up and ruin the day tomorrow) is I need to put the pump into a container. A short bucket or plastic box (short sided) or the pump will suck up rocks and whatever else it is close to. I think the pump is okay but don't want that to happen again! One website suggested putting it in a milk crate but that still seemed like too big of holes and lots of potential for small rocks to go through.
It's also supposed to rain tomorrow. First time I scheduled this event it got cancelled because of rain and then it didn't even rain.
I'm praying for rain for my garden but I wish it would hold off until tomorrow evening so this project can get done.
If the sun is shining on the East side of Los Angeles county wish me luck!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Seeds! Just can't get enough...

If you don't know about Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog you are in for a treat!
I practically drool when I open the pages. True vegetable porn. The are all organic and all heirloom. What's not to like? A little kitschy and old fashioned (charming or annoying depending on how much traffic I had to sit through on my way home from work) and loaded with the most amazing things.
If you've never tried Gajo De Melon tomato I have to say 1) I'm a little sad I shared it because it's going to be harder to find seeds now and 2) who needs candy when you have this lovely little cherry around? It's beautiful and far and away the most delicious tomato I've ever had. Beautiful little pinky yellow fruits pop out all over the robust vines and it keeps on producing. Mine was in a 5 gallon pot and when my friend gifted it to me it was already covered in fruit. It kept producing all summer long and I just couldn't seem to get enough of it!
About the picture - I tried to find a shot of my tomato plant but no luck. Guess I was too busy eating to take a photo. Instead I took a picture of one of the yummy salads I make with produce from my garden and my favorite CSA - Tierra Miguel Biodynamic Farm. If you're in Southern California they are incredible (best strawberries you've ever had and they keep for ages!)
If you have a favorite organic heirloom seed catalog (they can't all have gone the way of Seeds of Change and Seed Savers Exchange I hope). Please share it!

Thanks for reading,

Welcome to my world!

I finally decided to start blogging about what's happening in my life and in my yard. This whole trademark thing has been an epiphany for me. I never realized how much I identified with the term "Urban Homesteading" before my friends the Dervaes apparently trademarked it. It is such a depictor of how I live and what I enjoy that I can't not use it! and the term was around long before either the Dervaes or I used it. It's really a movement and I am a part of this movement. I've been holding the candle of this movement trying to keep the flame from dying out for many years and I'm finally able to hold up my light and proudly share it with others.
I AM AN URBAN HOMESTEADER! and more so now since last weekend I hosted a "Swan Song for my Lawn" workshop with Larry Santoyo of Earthflow Design ( He designed and the class and I build the most beautiful spiral bed terraces where my front yard used to be. I'm dazzled, the neighbors are mostly supportive (the kids are CRAZY about the strawberries!), and I can no longer hide my urban homesteaderness.

Why I think I have something to add to the glut of info about urban homesteading is that I do not have a family that tends the garden, monitors the gray water system, or maintains my livestock. It's all me all the time. I am single. Not so much by choice - although I'm sure on a spiritual blah blah blah level that if I wasn't choosing it it wouldn't be so or some claptrap like that. I'm happy to share my story so that other people realize that although it takes a village to raise a child, it only takes one dedicated person to raise five rabbits, a tribe of (recently spayed and neutered) feral cats, a healthy hive of bees, gazillions of worms, dozens of fruit trees, and loads of vegetables. If I can do it with my CRAZY schedule anybody can do it!

as for the allusion to "Sex and the Single Girl" that's no accident either. I happen to be someone who very much enjoys life on the sensual side (how can you harvest a ripe peach and not be turned on?) so expect to hear snippets of that side of my life time and again too.

I'm happy to share my adventures and misadventures so stay tuned for more dirt!