My continuation of Sharon Astyk’s now-completed “Independence Days” project (June-Aug 2022), which offered a framework for recognising how we’re building resiliency, community, and accountability that will make our lives better now and in the future. Many of Sharon’s categories 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

I started making Christmas cookies, breads, and nuts on Tuesday, and have almost finished. In all, over two days (13 hours), I made 30 ginger drop cookies, 40 peppermint sugar cookies, 26 chocolate-almond coconut macaroons, 56 Neapolitans, 130 chocolate sambuca cookies, two orange-sour cream tea loaves, 8 cups of spiced pecans, and 6 cups of citrus sweet walnuts. I hope to make a few loaves of stollen this week.

cookies, nuts, tea breads in 40F sunroom – 14 Dec
spiced pecans cooling – 14 Dec

On Friday evening, I started writing, addressing, and stamping Christmas cards (mailed on Saturday), so far about 65, with a few more to come. (Love a self-sealing envelope!)

We put up the birdfeeders for the season on Thursday, ahead of two feet of snow that fell on Friday.

  • Harvest something: harvest, forage or glean

Not quite gleaning, not quite free, but husband picked up three great snowglobes for $12 at the NH state surplus warehouse on Monday.

  • Preserve something: food or local community resources

Preserved local resources by buying from the co-op on Monday, local hardware stores on Monday and Thursday, the farmstand on Wednesday, and the bakery on Thursday.

Preserved sanity with a walk around town on Monday and a snowshoe in the woods today.

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

We involuntarily reduced electricity use from Friday at midnight until the wee hours (3 a.m.) of Sunday morning when the power went out due to a 2-foot snowstorm on Friday. We ran a portable (propane) generator an hour or two every 5 or 6 hours, heated with wood, and cooked on a gas stove.

I reused, for probably the 5th time, a sweet golden Christmas bow on a wreath we bought and placed on a friend’s headstone today.

cemetery wreath – 18 Dec

Husband did a sewing repair on his PJs today. The snap for my KUHL pants arrived today so that repair will be made soon, too.

Glass company finally came to the house and replaced two window panes on Thursday. That’s been in the works for almost exactly three months and I’m glad it’s done.

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

Fortunately, we had some emergency supplies for the power outage: rechargeable lanterns, flashlights, tea kettle for the gas stove instead of electrical teapot we usually use and French press for coffee instead of Krups, the portable generator and lots of propane (though we used very little), firewood, a fully charged Jackery charger for the phone, bottled water if we’d needed it, etc. I used my phone as a hotspot for my computer so I could connect to the internet briefly with the wireless down.

I ordered a batch of Covid-19 rapid tests from the government on Thursday when they were made available again this week.

I also ordered and received more Maine Medicinals elderberry syrup on a 20%-off sale.

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

We delivered Christmas goody bags of cookies and nuts to neighbours yesterday.

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

Checked in by text with several friends undergoing medical tests, struggling with illnesses, etc.

Local friends really stepped up to support us when we had the 27-hour power outage yesterday, including offering a very nice and temporarily vacant apartment within walking distance of our house, offering a temporarily vacant house on our street (that, though they also lost power, has a whole-house generator and solar panels, so it was fully electric and heated), offering showers, laundry facilities, food, charging outlets, etc. We didn’t need to use any but it was so nice to know they were available. Other friends offered support on social media and texts.

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

Due to the power outage, husband had a golden opportunity to practice his portable generator skills — there’s a somewhat complicated process for attaching the propane tank and switching power from the house to the generator and hooking it up to the circuit board areas we’ve chosen (including septic pump, fridge and some of the kitchen, some family room lights and outlets, and both bathrooms, mainly for the lights).

This is what it looked like when husband wired the generator from the circuit board originally (Sept. 2020):

I, for my part, practiced my batting-heavy-snow-off-trees-and-shrubbery skills yesterday morning for a couple of hours. We lost a major limb of an apple tree to the storm Friday night (the weight of the snow) …

apple tree with broken limb facing camera (more limbs resting on house roof) – 17 Dec

… but I was able to save some others.

Making all those cookies also improved or reinforced my baking skills and instincts.

We both were able to practice our snowblowing and snow shoveling skills for a couple of hours yesterday. And our snowshoeing skills today. It was a big week in skills.

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

Husband replaced the battery in my 1998 Civic on Tuesday. I got a (masked) haircut on Tuesday.

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

Winter is HERE!

backyard trees – 17 Dec

I texted with multiple friends throughout the week, met on Zoom with permaculture group on Thursday (6 of us) and on Zoom (due to snow) on Friday with Salon group (5 of us).

I chatted briefly with five sets of neighbours on Saturday while delivering cookies and husband with one set.

We put the birdfeeders out Thursday for the season. Hope they find them soon.

plus some bird seed in a metal sculpture

We’re keeping the heated birdbath full (except during power outages). I bought another fleece throw for $12 on sale at Lands End. We need to order more wood.

A good friend sent this gorgeous Christmas arrangement (with an amaryllis that’s opening) on Saturday.

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