I followed along with Sharon Astyk’s now-completed “Independence Days” project, which ran for 10 weeks, from 17 June to 26 August, and was an “exercise [to build] community, accountability and solidarity” as we worked “to make our lives better now and for the future.” It offered a framework for recognising what we’re already doing and to perhaps motivate or inspire us to do more things to build resilience, community, hope, a better world.

Each Friday, Sharon posted what she’d done in each of the categories below. I did the same, but posted mine on Sunday or Monday. Although Sharon’s finished with this project (publickly, at least), I’m continuing the practice for now.

Many of the items are (or could be) related to gardening, so it seems to fit here. (Equally, none of them has to do with gardening. They’re all multifaceted.)

  • Plant something: plant, start something

Nothing planted — this coming week, perhaps.

Started participating in a 10-day Numerical Equinox Creativity Challenge on Facebook; my theme is “Thirteen Ways of Looking at an Abstracted World” (after Wallace Stevens), and I’m making photo collages of thirteen digitally enhanced photos around a nature pattern, texture, or other attribute. I’ve done Swirl, Droplet, Shine, Fringed, and Fuzzy so far.

“Shine” – 23 Sept
  • Harvest something: harvest, forage or glean

I’ve harvested nothing. It’s been chilly, rainy, and windy here most of the week and I’ve barely been out to look at the veg garden; I wore a winter coat on a walk in town on Friday (the “feels like” temp was 42F). I was given a bunch of Roma pole beans by a friend from her garden on Friday, which I cooked as side dishes Friday night and tonight. We foraged a few Concord grapes from a shrub near the elementary school on a walk.

Roma beans – 23 Sept
grapes – 23 Sept
  • Preserve something: food or local community resources.

Preserved no food. Husband made two loaves of honey wheat bread on Monday. Preserved community resources by eating lunch out with a friend at a local restaurant on Wednesday, on their front porch, and yesterday we met friends at a local beer garden for the afternoon (with BYO pizza from a local pizza place). Today we had pastry and coffee/tea outside at a local bakery. Preserved sanity with a walk at The Fells (trails and gardens) in Newbury NH on Wednesday afternoon (plus three other walks in town).

butternut squash bisque at local restaurant – 21 Sept
  • Waste Not: reduce waste, reuse, salvage, repair, give away to an actual person

I opened a can of dried fruits and nuts from 2019 today and they seem fine!

eaten almost three years after purchase in Dec 2019 in Savannah, GA – 25 Sept

Husband repaired our 30-year-old Kenmore vacuum’s handle on Thursday and figured out what was wrong with our robot vacuum (awaiting part). He sealed a crack in the woodstove firebox after the chimney cleaners noticed it on Tuesday. And he sewed up more holes in my favourite PJ tee shirt. I watered the garden with dehumidifier water and rain water collected in buckets and barrel.

will probably live another 30 years – fixed again on 22 Sept
  • Want Not: food and emergency supplies, increase economic security, reorganize to use/waste less

Cancelled long-standing $28/mo NYT subscription and started a trial one ($6/mo for a year). (Have two other trial newspaper subscriptions and pay full-freight for the Washington Post.) Looking at ways to reduce our Verizon cell bill significantly. Using canned beans, condiments, rice, teas, and other pantry items in order of “best by” dates.

  • Eating The Food: shop the pantry, new recipes, creative use of leftovers, help feed others

Used tuna, canned mackerel and sardines, bottled artichokes, artichoke dip, canned olives, canned tomatoes, canned beans, dry milk, pasta, rice, tea, rather old and tough but still viable vegan marshmallows, and other pantry items of long-standing. Not much creative use of leftovers, but the seafood casserole (based on Amy Dacyczyn’s and which I’ve made for 30 years and made again for the first time this season on Tuesday) lasted us four nights, with raw local veggies, cooked local fresh spinach, a friend’s green beans, and local broccoli as sides. Husband took one of his homemade loaves of bread to neighbours on Tuesday.

  • Caregiving/Mutual Aid: contribute to community support systems, volunteer, mutual aid, advocate

Husband volunteered two mornings at local car museum. Sent a card to friends whose beloved dog died. Checked in by text and email with friends with Covid, cancer, and other illnesses and infirmities.

  • Skill up: particularly if they help us get along, grow, make our new reality better

I practiced my pruning skills a bit today, clearing an area of rhododendrons and other overgrown things near the peonies to bring in more sun and air circulation. More to do but it’s a start.

The Creativity Challenge is helping inspire me. We’ve gotten quite adept at finding stinkhorn mushrooms, for all the good that will do us (but it’s fun). I attended an online Washington Post webinar on breast cancer risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment innovations on Wednesday, and a Zoom presentation on meadow gardens from Longwood Gardens on Thursday.

WaPo on breast cancer (with Joan Lunden) – 21 Sept
Longwood Gardens ‘Meadow Gardens’ webinar – 22 Sept
  • Tend & Maintain: cleaning stuff, replacing supplies, car or bike maintenance, stuff to prevent failure/breaking/hassle down the line

Husband cleaned some window blinds when he removed the air conditioner from the window. He also continued mouse-proofing the garage and possible outside entryways before the weather makes that impossible, and he ordered a few ultrasonic mouse repellent devices to try (to see if they are effective and whether they bother the cat’s ears). I worked out three times (an hour each) this week.

  • Winter is coming: making our relationships, family life, home, community, immediate surroundings, jobs better for a long and hard upcoming year or few years.

Husband removed the A/C from the window on Thursday or Friday and stored it. We met friends we hadn’t seen for a while yesterday afternoon for a couple of hours to catch up. I had lunch with a friend on Wednesday. Sent a friend a birthday card on Monday. I hosted our permaculture group (7 of us) online on Thursday, and I hosted my weekly salon conversation group here in person on Friday (after taking a Covid rapid test, and with an air purifier running and a window partially open) — two (in Mass. and Oregon) joined us by Zoom, and five of us met in person, almost the whole group, so we caught up on lots of news. The chimney sweep, who wasn’t scheduled for a few more weeks, called on Tuesday afternoon because they had a free slot, so that’s been done. I started the project of moving the peonies (too shaded) by clearing the overgrown area around them today for a few hours, including pruning the rhododendrons, leucothoe, and other shrubs to create more space, and doing a lot of weeding of vines, saplings, grass, and weedy groundcovers and annuals. Taking advantage of mild fall days, in the high 50s and low 60s F, to eat outside, because soon that won’t be an option.

Featured image: the maples are getting ready for something

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