Stephie and I went for a long walk this morning beside the salt marshes, just a short walk from our house.
Stephie has just got back from hospital having been in for a couple of nights with concussion, she was still struggling with her balance and not very confident, by the end of the 3 mile walk though she was much better.
I decided to take some snaps to give her a break and this old tree caught my eye, I have often seen Herons wading just beyond the tree, but unfortunately not today.
I even managed to get a picture of Steph sitting in the sand dunes and smiling, which is quite unusual as she is pretty camera shy!
I would love to grow more of my own food, but I need a larger greenhouse and a lot more time. Still for now at least I can content myself with a bowl of strawberries every night throughout the summer!
On the theme of houses that I started yesterday this is another low impact innovative house design:
The log cabin of the 21st century? A spacious, 3000 sq.ft. home that generates its own heating and air-conditioning? A structural envelope that can maintain an even, comfortable interior – cool in summer and warm in winter, even in a rugged climate like Kansas – without either furnace or air-conditioner?
yesterday I was talking to Debbie about the sort of house we would like in the future and we concluded that we would like a house that was largely independent of external power and ideally water. This would obviously have low running costs, but would also isolate us from changes in the world that we could not predict which will be important as our income declines. I have been very keen on conservation and self sufficiency for years so this sort of approach sits very well with me. Graham Gladwell describes (on Malcolm’s blog) how he has installed a heat pump in his house to warm and cool his house, taking advantage of the fact that soil temperatures 5-6ft underground stay relatively constant, I was aware of this for heating but not some of the other advantages:
Geothermal heating and cooling is based on one simple fact: that 6 feet down in the ground the temperature is the same—between 50˚F and 60˚F- the whole year round. This means that it is relatively cool in the summer, and relatively warm in the winter. Geothermal heating is thus quite different from solar heating: solar heating works worst when you most need it–in the cold, cloudy, snowy conditions of winter; the source for geothermal heating and cooling is not affected by the weather.
For geothermal cooling, all one needs to do is to circulate water in a pipe through the ground to cool it, and use this cool water to cool the air pumped through the house in the heating ducts.
The blog post is definitely checking out, not for the original content, but because of the excellent comments which provide a lot more insight!
I have been meditating twice a day now for just over 3 years and it now plays a major part in my life, initialy I started to meditate just to help me manage the constant pain I am in, but as the years went by I realised that it has had a much broader effect. There is no doubt that pain management has improved significantly, but I am also much more tolerant, easy going, mindful, and generally happier. I also think it has helped me to focus more on enjoying everything that I do and to accept the parts of my life that are difficult/impossible to change and have the energy to change the rest.
For 2 years I used probably the most simple technique:
- I sit cross legged – in a quiet place
- close my eyes
- count my first 30 breaths
- from 30 onwards I just focus my attention on the air as it flows through my nose
- I do this for roughly 10 minutes, if my thoughts wander, I just bring them back to my breath and carry on
Recently I realised that I could also meditate very successfully in a constantly noisy place, which is really useful when I am waiting for a plane, or if the kids are off playing somewhere. My latest refinement is only a week old and it’s to meditate with background music.
I came across the perfect music while out walking at Bolton Abbey, Debbie and I went into the Priory Church and there was a beautiful background chanting music playing, as soon as I heard it I felt myself being drawn into the meditative state. Unfortunately there was no one there to buy a copy from so I dragged Debbie back the next day and managed to get a CD, wonderful! As luck would have it, when I got home I found a pair of noise isolating headphones – that I had bought off eBay a few weeks ago – had arrived from America and these are perfect for creating a completely quiet environment to listen in.
So that I don’t get in a rut I try and read a little about meditation each day and I have found Ezine articles to be the perfect way to do this, I have subscribed to the meditation category using RSS and so at least one new article appears in my reading list every day.
When I was 18 I weighed about 10 Stone and had a 28 inch waist, over the years the weight crept up to 12 Stone. 3 years ago I lost about a stone in hospital and took the opportunity to get down to 10 Stone 7 but I have recently crept up to just over 11 Stone again. I was feeling quite relaxed about this but I just measured my waist and was shocked to find it was 35”. I think I need to stop watching my weight and start watching my waist instead.
The kids are on holiday for 6 weeks so this seems like the perfect opportunity to cut back and exercise more, so by the time the kids go back to school I am hoping to be back to at worst a 32” waist. This should provide the added motivation to get me back into swimming, we have health club membership and the pool is only 5 minutes walk so I really have no excuse and I have noticed that my shoulders and elbows are getting increasingly painful so I really need to get back in the water. So I have committed to swimming 5 days a week and am adding 2 lengths a day for 4 weeks as well as walking at least 6 miles a day and drinking plenty of water.
Wish me luck!
Although I missed the TV series I was lucky enough to get the book of the series and read it over the last couple of days whilst I have been ill. I loved it, not just for the great advice but also for the inspirational attitude of the Strawbridge family and also the great sense of community that they describe. I found the community aspects very appealing and similar to the experience that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall describes in his River Cottage TV series and books, although I guess the availability of TV researchers and cameras helps things along.
I finished the book a few minutes ago and it left me with the following conclusions:
- I would love to live sustainably
- I would like to do it in a house that was designed for the job
- I would need a mix of indoor and outdoor space for growing, as I don’t like tending the garden in the rain
- Wind, Solar and Heat pumps are my preferred sources of power
- I would like a lot of land, so that I could zone it
- The only animals I would have would be Chickens and maybe Goats
- It would have to be in an area that provided plenty of opportunity for walks and cycling
- It would have to be within cycling distance of a good community and a library
My interest in self sufficiency started about 30 years ago when I first read John Seymour’s Complete Guide to Self Sufficiency, although it was only last year that I remembered the authors name and managed to buy myself a copy!