I followed along with Sharon Astyk’s now-completed “Independence Days” project, which ran for 10 weeks, from June through August 2022 as an “exercise [to build] community, accountability and solidarity” with a focus on making “our lives better now and for the future.” It offered a framework for recognising what we’re already doing and to inspire us to do more to build resilience, community, hope, a better world.

Each week, Sharon posted what she’d accomplished in each of the categories below, and so did others of us. Although Sharon’s finished with this project, I’m continuing the practice for now.

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

  • Plant something: plant, start something

Nothing planted or started. I did order some flowers to be delivered to a few people (out of area) for Thanksgiving.

  • Harvest something: harvest, forage or glean

Nothing harvested, foraged, or gleaned. Unlikely to occur before next May or later.

  • Preserve something: food or local community resources

Preserved local resources: bought food from local bakery on Thursday and Saturday.

Preserved sanity: one woods walk on Friday; town walks on Monday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.

  • Waste Not: reduce waste, reuse, salvage, repair, give away to an actual person

Husband snagged a Christmas tree stand and metal Christmas tree surround at the dump on Tuesday. He hemmed a dishtowel that was fraying and sewed up holes in another one on Saturday. Also on Saturday, he scattered used kitty litter around the house foundation to repel rodents.

  • Want Not: food and emergency supplies, increase economic security, reorganize to use/waste less

Stocked up on artichoke hearts (which I use a lot), some hair products at a 40% discount, and more cat litter and treats. Husband spent much longer than should have been necessary (not his fault) on the phone several days this week getting access to a credit union account so we could renew an IRA CD at a better term/rate (fingers crossed on that one still).

look at the extremely effective packaging for these 16 jars of artichokes, from Cucina & Amore – 17 Nov
  • Eating The Food: shop the pantry, new recipes, creative use of leftovers, help feed others

We hosted a small dinner party on Wednesday and every dinner since has featured leftover food. I tried a few new recipes, including one for grilled (or roasted) veggie kebobs, another for a remoulade sauce to accompany shrimp and veggies, and a rosemary-maple roasted almond recipe. I’ll be trying two new recipes this week, for crab bisque and roasted Brussels sprouts for Thanksgiving. And I plan to make my mocha pecan pie.

making chocolate-raspberry pavlova, folding chocolate into whipped eggs whites, sugar, balsamic vinegar – 15 Nov

Re the dinner party, I could have done better shopping the pantry, instead of buying four items (sauces and dressings) from which I needed only a quarter-cup or less of their contents, but it felt too complex and time-consuming to make those things from scratch or decide whether what we had would work. Now I want to find someone(s) who would like those opened but barely used items so they don’t go to waste here. (Does anyone local reading this want a Brianna’s cilantro-lime dressing, Brianna’s saucy ginger mandarin dressing, or Boar’s Head pub-style prepared horseradish? We also have tahini, unopened, which we could use eventually but happy to have it go to a good home.)

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

The Wed. dinner we hosted falls partially in the category of caregiving, for a friend whose wife died very recently, though it was overall just a nice, connecting neighbours’ get-together. (I forgot to take photos.)

Happily, I received a good update on Saturday from a friend who’s been going through a tough time since March; I’ve been checking in with her every week or two but didn’t want to add the necessity of replying to me to her to-do tasks, though I was getting concerned at the recent silence. So it was great to hear from her.

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

I feel like I’m getting better at hosting dinners (again; and we’re keeping them small, with vaccinated invitees) and I’m also cooking some more elaborate things than usual lately (e.g., a pavlova for the dinner party). I seem to be whipping cream a lot, which I enjoy.

I learned more and refreshed my memory about ferns during a $12 fern webinar — “Ferns: Ecology, Cultivation, and Design,” with Michael Sundue — hosted online by Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens on Tuesday afternoon. And husband learned some practical information from an online tree webinar (“What Every Homeowner Should Know About Their Trees,” with two arborists), hosted by Lexington (MA) Living Landscapes and Cary Memorial Library on Monday evening.

We both have climbed a steep learning curve vis-à-vis how our credit union operates (or doesn’t).

  • Tend & Maintain: cleaning stuff, replacing supplies, car or bike maintenance, stuff to prevent failure/breaking/hassle down the line

Husband is cleaning out the garage for winter. He put snow tires on my car on Friday — we had a couple inches of snow on Tuesday and Thursday. He turned off all the outside spigots, put snowplow stakes in the ground, removed the window screens, and took the whole-house fan out of the window this weekend. He also got a flu shot on Tuesday and went to a (regular) medical appt on Monday. I participated virtually in a 2-hour hybrid version of Dharma Sunday yesterday, with the topic “Witnessing the Wild” (tending to my spiritual life).

Dharma Sunday on Zoom (or in person) – 20 Nov
  • Winter is coming: making our relationships, family life, home, community, immediate surroundings, jobs better for a long and hard upcoming year or few years

The winter lights are on two of the three trees outside (and the inside twinkle lights have been up for a week or two). I’ll probably get a wreath next week. Maybe a Christmas tree, too. As mentioned above, some chores to prepare the house, garage, yard, and cars for winter were done this week.

Also as mentioned, we hosted a (three-hour) dinner party for four others, all neighbours or former neighbours (who are also friends), on Wednesday evening. A lot of my energy this week went into that event, which I think was worth it. The permaculture group met on Zoom on Thursday (four of us for the whole hour, with brief check-in from two others), still discussing Margaret Roach’s Backyard Parable. I had afternoon snacks with a friend on Saturday for a couple hours at her house, a good catch-up. Walked for a half-hour yesterday in the bitter cold with a neighbour whom I’ve gotten to know better this year thanks to, believe it or not, Instagram. The salon group didn’t meet on Friday but we texted and emailed throughout the week. My sister and I caught up for an hour by phone on Saturday evening. All in all, a nicely balanced week here.

delicious snacks at a friend’s; we ate some of these before I took the photo – 19 Nov

featured image: cat honing observation skills (feat. mourning dove on heated birdbath)

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