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.

I’ve modified Sharon’s categories to match my own life and community; I may continue to tinker with the framework as time goes on.

  • Plant something: plant, start something

Saw my first monarch on Monday, though I’ve only seen one more since then. Not a lot of insects about.

Planted two of three back-up basils I bought a month ago when the slugs ate the A-team. I kept one inside to grow in case the slugs or snails return.

  • Harvest something: harvest, forage, glean, or bring to fruition

Harvested a pint or so of raspberries on Monday. Harvested 25 or so blueberries on Sunday (our first blueberry harvest ever in 10 years, as usually some other animal gets them first) and several Sungold tomatoes.

Harvested 6 or 7 cherries on a scrawny dwarf ‘Crimson Passion’ cherry tree sucker which my husband replanted in the raspberries last year (he planted two there last year and both have survived). The main tree, on the other side of the house, was planted in 2014 and looks healthy in terms of growth and foliage but it has never given us any flowers or fruit, though they are supposed to be self-pollinating and hardy to zone 3.

Crimson Passion cherries
  • Preserve something: food, local community resources

We ate outside at a local bakery on both Thursday morning and Sunday noonish. I bought veg at the local farmstand on Tuesday and shopped at regional co-op on Wednesday.

local bakery – 20 July

Next week might be garlic harvest week, which will mean drying them for a few weeks and then storing them to use throughout the coming year.

  • Waste Not: reduce waste, reuse, salvage & repair, give away

Husband repaired a pair of his jeans on Friday in a new way, using backing, with a quilting stitch. (It’s weird to write “repaired a pair.”)

  • Keep Stocked Up: with food and emergency supplies, financial resources, and experiences that make life worth living

Ordered more KN95 masks and Covid tests from WellBefore on Monday, “well before” my planned Aug/Sept trip. Also got an inexpensive pill splitter as we have had some pills that just don’t want to split using other methods, which wastes half a now-crumbled pill.

Got a subscribe & save shipment this week with CeraVe AM SPF 30 lotion, antiseptic mouthwash with CPC, 8 cans of solid white albacore tuna in water, Annie’s bulk mac & cheese, a box of Traditional Medicinals organic Nighty Night w/ Valerian relaxation tea, some Wellness Kittles cat snacks, two bags of Halls Defense vitamin C citrus drops (I sure miss the bags with only grapefruit flavour), a couple cans of Planters deluxe salted mixed nuts. Also, the Refresh Optive advanced lubricant eye drops (30 single-use containers) ordered on 12 July (on sale on Prime Day) finally arrived this weekend.

Kept stocked up on happy things by walking around the lake on Monday and Saturday.

Also walked to my poetry group on Tuesday (and the poetry group itself was hilarious and relaxing), to Salon and back on Friday, and took an hour-long evening walk on my own — stopping to get an ice cream cone — on Sunday after dinner.

And we took other town walks on Thursday morning and evening.

I went on a two-hour fun local farm tour with a friend on Wed. evening and enjoyed their great snacks, good humour, and the behind-the-scenes look.

Our permaculture group met on Zoom on Thursday, 7 of us, which was an unexpected number of people and really fun. So was Salon; there were only 3 of us but we talked for 2.5 hours — through quite a rainstorm — about topics important to each of us.

permaculture group (cartooned) – 20 July

My husband and I re-watched “The In-Laws” with Alan Arkin and Peter on Friday night. Always makes me laugh. Serpentine, serpentine!

I finished a couple of interesting books this week, including William Styron’s Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (1990) and Anita Brookner’s novel Hotel Du Lac (1984).

I gardened on Monday, Thursday, and Sunday for a total of about 3 hours.

On Sunday I participated in Dharma Sunday (hybrid, some people in person and about 75 of us, including me, on Zoom), which was helpful. Again the topic was rewilding the soul, Wonderwell’s yearlong study. We did a sky meditation, exactly what I needed.

  • Food Stuff: learn new food skills, try new recipes, use what’s available in the pantry, use what’s grown/made locally and what’s seasonal

My husband made crêpes for us on Monday so we could use them with the harvested raspberries and whipped cream for dessert and breakfast.

We had leftovers for dinner on Monday, then bought three Chinese meals (chicken with ginger and scallions for husband, and shrimp lo mein and garlic broccoli for me), rice, and spring rolls on Tuesday (about $50 total) which took us through Saturday’s dinner! Sunday’s dinner was soy cheeseburgers (with heaps of arugula), corn, mac & cheese, and local cucumbers. Not the least bit inspired or inspiring but it was cheap and tasty, and it was enough during a hard week when the last thing I wanted to do every afternoon was decide on dinner and make it.

  • Be Neighbourly: contribute to community support systems, look for ways to help neighbours

Lent friends/neighbours some pillows on Wednesday for their visiting family.

Our neighbours took our brush to the brush dump with theirs in their pickup truck on Tuesday.

Husband volunteered at local car museum on Tues and Thurs for a total of about 10 hours.

  • Skill up: learn new things, especially skills or knowledge that remind us of and connect us to our place in the natural world and within the social fabric

On Tuesday, I watched a webinar on the plight of North Atlantic Right Whales, hosted by the Wells Reserve in Maine. There are fewer than 350 right whales left, with about 100 of them breeding females, and they’re often killed collaterally and tragically by humans fishing, lobstering, and boating.

I got several plants and insects identified on iNaturalist this week, including various goldenrods (not shown), chokecherry, a variable dancer damselfly, a silver-spotted skipper, a dun skipper, a red admiral, and a crescent butterfly (maybe pearl, maybe not).

  • Tend & Maintain: maintain our bodies, minds, and relationships to keep us resilient; and do what’s needed in the house, yard, and elsewhere to prevent failure/breaking/hassle down the line

My husband had a dental cleaning on Monday. He also changed the fan direction in the sunroom for warmer days and re-aimed the light canisters in that room to help us read better in there in the evenings. I did the usual cleaning, laundry, bill paying, grocery shopping, etc.

  • Winter is coming: notice Earth’s seasons and our own seasons of life and daily rhythms, and look ahead to what’s needed now to make life better in the future

Two big things happened this week. One was the death of a good friend (the third death of a good friend in nine months) on Wednesday, a few hours before I arrived at the hospice to see her. Her memorial service was Sunday afternoon, which a number of our other friends attended as well, including almost all of the poetry group she was (and her surviving husband is) an integral part of. I made a photo album of my photos that include her and realised again how intertwined she’s been these last 12 yrs with our lives. She will really be missed.

the hospice where she died – 19 July
Natalie and Dan at La Luncheonette, NYC, March 2013

The other major thing this week was that my sister continued to struggle with debilitating and unexplained symptoms, leading her to the emergency room on Monday and again on Friday, where she remained until today (Wed., 26 July, when I am actually writing this retrospectively). She had a lot of blood tests and scans done, and the cause of her symptoms is still unknown but they’ve ruled out some serious illnesses and given her medications that relieve her pain and allow her to function again. She will be following up with several specialists. We’ve spent a lot of time on the phone and texting with each other as well as researching various symptoms, illnesses, and doctors independently, and writing up her symptoms and health history concisely to share with referrals.

my sister’s hangout for 5 days

It’s been a week.

The weather, though has been wonderful, finally summery without so much rain, only about 2.5 inches on Thursday and a trace a couple of other days. High temps were in the low 80°Fs except one day topping out at 68°F, which was also kind of nice.

The hummingbirds have been around a bit lately, often when the light is low.

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