“Oh, the weather outside is frightful…”

Blowing snow…

We have snow and ice on the ground. The roads were worked on for a couple of days in our neighborhood, making it possible for me to drive them in my car. Prior to that, the dips and potholes made it impossible in my low-riding grandma car. But my husband’s 4WD truck could make it, although it was interesting! And this morning we woke to the winds. And the clouds. And the forecast for 3″ of snow this weekend, most of it landing on Saturday. Oh fun!

There comes a time, living in the far north, where you long for spring. The dripping of the melting snow is a welcome sound. Actually seeing sunshine is a treat and we all get excited to wear just a sweater and sunglasses. And you can see the buds on the trees, just waiting to pop into green leaves. And then nature says, “Not so fast! We have more in store for you!” A friend in Oregon gets excited when it rains for days because her well is filling up and she knows she will be able to water her garden! Up here, snow pack is good because the melt goes straight into the ground and the soil is that much richer for it. In Alaska, our dirt is amazing. We have not over-farmed and leeched the soil of its richness. In this climate, we also have glacier run-off, filled with mineral rich waters that further enhance our soil. I was surprised the first time I saw a glacial river – it looked like greenish milk!!

Kenai River, Alaska

Even though we are in for another bout of ugly weather, we are planning ahead. I am organizing what I hope is a good garden plan. Most of it is in my head, but I will be translating that to paper. This situation with Russia/Ukraine is causing ripple effects downstream, so to speak. The exporting of 40% of the world’s supply of wheat and corn has been blocked by this situation. Two of the largest fertilizer plants in the world were burned to the ground. (Coincidence? I leave that up to you). Fertilizer is crucial to food production. Worldwide food production. These political skirmishes have wide ripple effects. Food prices, and gas/oil prices, as well. With this trucker convoy taking its place worldwide as well, getting what we do have to where it needs to go, becomes problematic. I am not against what they stand for, not in the least. However, living at the literal last stop on the supply train makes me far more sensitive to the issue than someone who lives where goods are in abundance and the local grocery shelves are always full. Up here, if the barges don’t make it, we will literally not have a single pat of butter – anywhere. It is no joke. Planning your garden gives you insurance and peace of mind. We will be able to eat right from the garden and preserve our extras. We will be able to share with our neighbors and help our community. Gardening with others in mind is a healthy thing to do.

What we harvest out of our garden.

When we organize our garden this year, we are going to focus on the things we love to eat, that are easy to grow, and grow well in our climate. We have a short, but intense, growing period. There are months when the sun barely sets in 24 hours, so the plants have lots of time to soak it all up, growing far larger than their southern counterparts. This year, there will be far less cabbage, more leeks and onions, as well as more herbs. An herb garden can grow year-round in your house. We have shelves by our southern window in the dining room, and plan to institute a year-round garden this year, especially since there are grow lights hanging over them all!

This world is in chaos. So much is on the cusp of change. And some of that change may be hard to deal with. Russia is returning to the gold standard. Perhaps the US is planning that, too. What will that mean? The plandemic is proving to have far-reaching implications for those who supported it. This week, with Pfizer publishing their documentation, showing 8 pages of side effects they KNEW prior to using their jabs, should cause indictments. The documentation shows mRNA and DNA effects – forever altered in those who took their shots. The fallout of this plandemic is going to be felt for decades. Infertility – will my grandchildren be sterile? Will their lifespans be affected? My heart aches at the thought. However, I can simplify all this information by focusing on what I can do. I can share knowledge with others. Skills I may have that others many not know about. I can plant food. I can help to encourage others to do the same. Victory gardens! Entire neighborhoods getting rid of lawns and planting food! Just imagine the bounty. We could feed each other, without bothering to go to the store, but for the bare necessities you cannot grow or make yourself.

Homemade Soap

There is very little you need from the store. You can make your own soap – and once you experience handmade soap, you will not want to go back to store-bought. You can make your own butter. Ice cream. Bread. Potato chips. On and on the list goes. We can live without much of what has become easier to purchase. Yes, it is a lot more work. Think “Little House on the Prairie” life! It is beyond satisfying, though. I was so excited when I was able to make a meal with everything I used being sourced locally. I buy grains (to grind myself) locally. I buy my meat from local farmers. We have saved boxes of potatoes out of the garden. I have cabbage, leeks, onions, rhubarb, and much more, all vacuum-sealed and frozen. I have pints upon pints of tomatoes processed into a plain sauce, as well as quarts and pints of salmon. We have two freezers we try to keep full. We have cases of water. We have gas cans full. We bought freeze-dried foods in bulk. I bake bread (when I am in the mood, because I found an outlet for fresh bread – not gonna lie) and I have the grains to make the bread stored in 5 gallon drums in my pantry and the garage. Sacks of rice. Lots of dried beans. The list goes on and on. I do not want to be caught unprepared. I go to our local store, Three Bears, which buys in bulk for the people in the bush areas of Alaska from Costco, to purchase things like toilet paper in bulk. Lots of what I have stored is locally sourced. I hate supporting big box stores and Amazon, if I can help it. A friend recently said they were buying up coffee…because who can survive a crisis without caffeine?! Great idea!! My next bulk purchase, for sure! LOL!

Well-stocked pantry

So even though we are experiencing a longer winter than I would like, we are looking towards Spring – the sights, sounds, and pleasures of gardening – as well as just being outside without coats! Ha-Ha! There is something priceless about walking barefooted through your garden, wiggling your toes in the soft earth. Even 5 years ago, I would never walk barefoot in the dirt. I just wasn’t raised like that. This past summer, I spent hours upon hours in my garden, bareheaded and bare-footed. It was glorious. And it went deeply into my soul. I was never a gardener before last summer – not a serious, food growing, gardener. Oh I planted my dahlias and beautiful ferns (I love ferns), and other flowers – and they were gorgeous. But there is nothing like walking among your carrots and leeks and tomatoes, and smelling the aroma of growing foods. And the flip side? Eating all that glorious goodness throughout the next year.

So even if the storm clouds are literal or figurative, there’s a way through them. Definitely pray. Put your trust in God. But plan ahead, too. Storms do not last. Life settles into its routine. But just think of a bountiful table, feeding your family and more. Don’t let the current of politics and posturing delineate your life’s details. Be proactive. Pray – plan – plant.

Raised Bed Gardening
Pray – plan – plant!
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Spring cleaning, cleansing, planting….eternity

Spring

Today I read an article about Vitto Mortensen, the actor. (He was in The Lord of the Rings). He said that every morning, he wakes up thinking about death. He buried his mom last year (she had dementia) and he is at home, sitting with his dad as he prepares to pass away (and he also suffers from dementia). His vocabulary is peppered with lots of expletives, but one of the most interesting things about him is that he has pretty much not changed since he was a kid. He carries a flip-phone. He lives pretty isolated in Madrid most of the time. He goes home and eats at the local diner and no one bothers him. He drives a Ford rental car most of the time. He smokes like a chimney, and is planning to attend his 40-something high school reunion. And he carries a worn, leather journal with him wherever he goes, because he doesn’t want to miss anything. In the article the writer shared how he pulled over on the side of the road because he saw a gorgeous waterfall and wanted to stop and look at it. He’s a normal guy, and yet he is not. But I was drawn to his comments about aging and dying. He said, when he was a kid and realized he would die one day, “Who thought that up?” He does not want to die…ever. I don’t think any of us really want to die.

emojis
I took a class recently on emotional healing and our health. How our bodies are affected by our emotions. And I was given a health scan. It showed interesting results. Results I poo-poo’d until this week, when what I scanned for (an infection) showed up. In my stomach. And I have been giving myself gastric rest. What is that you may ask? Well, if you suffer from ulcers or gastritis, or even pancreatitis (which I have – twice), you learn that once in awhile our digestive process gets interrupted by bacteria and it attacks us. It has been proven that most ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection. And I know my emotions heap the acidic environment with lots more activity as I worry over things, or react to things that have happened in my life. I am a woman – we take things in. We put our arms around people and we love them. We mother them. (Those of us who tend to be motherly). To combat this, I give my stomach/digestive system a rest. I don’t eat. Anything. I drink water. For days at a time. For the past three days I have eaten 2 bowls of rice, several liters of water, and I shared a banana today with my two dogs (they love bananas!). All to give my digestion time to slow down, to ease off, to help fight this bacteria invading my body. But the pain and the hunger make me a little cranky, not to mention I have not had coffee the past 3 days (the headache was gone day #1). So basically I am doing a cleanse but without feeding myself much besides a little starch and some water.

Leaveswater

I have been introduced to essential oils. A lot of poo-pooing is going on about them and I am fine with that. But our lives have dramatically changed since we started using them. We have incorporated the philosophy of using little to no chemicals in our home, on our bodies, or in our bodies. We have a long way to go. But, I can honestly say I have removed cleaners and detergents from my home and I am way happier about it. I have been feeling like a huge weight follows me around (sometimes I know it is just my rather robust backside) and through clearing out the junk in our lives, we are feeling better. And it really started with essential oils. We use them rather than other choices, for many things. Each morning I start my day by diffusing a wonderful scent into the house, inspiring me to get up and move. I add oils to my water for a nice change and to assist my digestive system to keep moving. I cook with them, using a drop or two at the most to flavor our foods. In the evenings, I diffuse with lavender for a restful sleep. I wash my clothes with essential oil soaps. I use 100% wool dryer balls, scented with lavender or perhaps the blend, “Purification,” if the load is really stinky (fishing, gardening, teenage workout clothes). I have stopped using bleach because the soap I use is so good, my whites are still knock-out white. I wash my home with natural cleaners I make up myself, using essential oils. I made my own deodorant and face/body scrub, and face lotion using essential oils. I brush my teeth with essential oil toothpaste; I wash my hair with essential oil-based products containing no chemicals. It has been a long journey, to be rid of the chemicals in our home. And purging takes its toll.

So now I’ve been ill over a week with this stomach thing. But I am persevering through it, because I know I am moving in the right direction. I am cleaning up my act. I am getting closer to the dirt, as they say. An article I read about PTSD the other day noted that most of our culture is far removed from what it takes to run this society. We do not interact with those who provide our basics – farmers, electricians, trash collectors, fishermen – we shop at stores and we use the internet. We don’t realize what goes into keeping our world turning, and how at times, people actually sacrifice their lives to ensure our little worlds in our quiet neighborhoods goes on, uninterrupted. Part of our using these oils and products made from them, helps us to get down to a more natural, closer-to-the-dirt existence. We simplify a lot when we eat organic and grow our own veggies. In the long run, I would rather skip that $5 latte and buy $5 organic eggs. I buy organic coffee beans, grind them myself, and make my own lattes. It just makes more sense. And life grinds down to the simpler components, which makes breathing so much easier, and stress far less.

seedling
This year, for our garden, we are planting seeds cultivated to grow in this climate. They are heirloom seeds. We already brought in nutrients to the soil in our raised beds. We started our seeds in the house, in biodegradable pods. It was so fun to plant them with our grandchildren. My grandson (4) walked over to the table about an hour afterwards, leaned on his elbows, and stared at the dirt. He then proclaimed, “I think they’re growing, grandma.”  What joy that gave me. We face-timed a few days later and he saw the little seedlings popping up and then told me he would come over with his shovel to help grandpa in the garden! We love that we can share this natural and simple way of growing our food, and eating it directly from our garden, with our grandchildren. We love that we can grow what we want to eat, and nurture it along until harvest. It feels good.

Bug Spray

Last night I made my own bug spray using essential oils, witch hazel, and water. Around here, the joke is that the mosquito is the state bird. And they have hatched! To work in the garden means we will get bitten…they seem to love me. So I am using my oils to combat a pest. I am doing it naturally. And that feels good (oh, and it works, too! Bonus!).

All of this goes to the beginning thoughts of dying. I am dying. We all are dying. As our birthdays climb, and the years pass us by, dying is much more of a reality. It gets closer with each day. Am I ready? Am I spring-cleaned? Cleansed? Have I planted seeds for my eternity? Am I getting closer to the dirt? All of these thoughts have assailed me this year, through getting healthier, developing better health habits both for my body, and for my soul. I have read some amazing books, participated in some incredible “Bible Studies” that have moved me, and have met some wonderful people. Have things gone well? Not particularly. I have had “bugs” assail me, trying to knock me off my course. “Bugs” come at us all the time. What natural repellent are we using? Prayer? Silence? Fasting? Cleansing?

God up to something

I think that the more we try to get to the nano-cellular-level in life, to get down to what we called the “nitty-gritty,” then the evil one assails us. Mightily. We fight on so many fronts. But our God has given us the power to vanquish these assaults. He tells us to “rejoice at all times. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.…” (1Thess 5:16-18). God’s will is that we are victorious. That we stand with Him for eternity. Pesky things like illnesses, which cleaner to use, what food to eat, who to share our lives with, all play a part in our eternity. Listening to a periscope talk the other day, a woman said she had never just “given.” That she had helped people, was a good Christian woman, but that she had never just “given.” She tithed, she helped in her community, but she always took. She made sure she got what she needed, too. She never just shared Christ just to share. She felt blessed to have found Christ in her life, but she had never just shared, never just given, without expectation. And that struck me and stuck with me for the past couple of days. I realized that it is part of our personal Spring Cleaning, of cleansing ourselves, and planting for our eternity. We need to just give – of ourselves, of our God, of our time. We need to be present. We need to be simple. Get closer to the dirt of life. At least for me, it is essential to my bodily health, my emotional health, and my spiritual health to be simpler. To ease off the stressful, complicated part of life and get back to quiet, humble, simple. Make some sun tea on my back deck. Take time to plant. To play in the garden with my grandkids. To go fishing with my husband. To just sit in the sun and share my time with those I love. To spring clean my home, body, life, and soul. It is time.

Spiritual Spring Cleaning