Fish Lake

I recently found an old piece of writing of mine, scribbled on the inside of the front cover of a book that I carried with me everywhere during the summer of 2013. The book is The Intellectual Devotional and is a book of lessons in history, religion, visual arts, and other topics. For awhile, I was consistent in reading its pages. But then I put it away, and forgot about it. Here’s the inscription: a description of a place and day that apparently I really wanted to save.

7-17-13 Fish Lake

Tall, lush reeds created a barrier near the shore of the entire lake. A bright, lively green, they stood stiff and strong, partnered with wide, flat-open lily pads that were accompanied by white or yellow flowers. Trees of every color, in the shades of green only summer can provide, protected the cool, clean lake on almost all sides. To the Northeast the trees thinned to reveal softly rolling hills. Phone lines stretched between the crests of these and the sky was a heated, pale blue. Thick, happy clouds floated gently by, above a healthy cornfield hugging one of the far off slopes. A lone dead tree, which was sun-bleached and bare like a bone, stretched its boughs over the water. It sang the land a silent song of ancient wisdom, long forgotten by the buzzing horseflies and oblivious sunfish. Silver-backed leaves rustled loudly when a dainty, playful breeze skipped through the forest.

We had been fishing in a small boat on a still lake, the sun beating over us. I had tired of fishing and reclined to write this description of what I was seeing.

Have you ever done the same? How does it feel to look back on your own writing?

A Haul of Books

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This past weekend was an especially relaxing time for me. I visited with family that I have not seen in years. We talked about old memories and did a lot of Saturday Things. Before parting, we exchanged gifts that we had been saving for each other. I was given some books that were sent to me by my younger sister from Minnesota (unfortunately, she stayed behind in the land of lakes).

Everyone that knows me knows that I am a writer. As a writer, I read. I read everything, from every source, good or bad. It hones my craft and I do enjoy it. My dear sister knows just what I like.

If you would like to follow along with me (we don’t actually have to read together, but each of these books are on interesting topics and might interest you as well) try Audible or pick up a hard copy from Amazon.

The book that I am most excited to peruse is The Green Witch. It contains chapters such as “Embrace Your Own Power”, “Attune Yourself to Nature”, and “Become a Natural Healer.” Make what you will of the “Witch” part; I can’t wait to practice.

You can find this hardcover here on Amazon. It’s quite a beautiful book and includes many “exercises” and “blessings.” I hope to share what I learn from this and the other books pictured above. I will have to carve out some time. If I can get a break from playing with the kids, weeding in the garden, putting books away, serving lunch and dinner, catching a TV show, listening to stories from my mother and grandmother, writing a few thoughts….

P.S. If you read, or have read, any of the above, let me know what you think! I get tired of talking to myself. 🙂

Rain, Rain, Come and Stay

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small amount from qualifying purchases. I try to only recommend items that I personally own or have used, and hope that they serve you well also, if you do decide to buy.

If you have a garden, or even a few flower pots, you understand the importance of water. You also understand that it can get quite expensive to run the hose for a few hours each day: what many plants and gardens require. To save a few dollars, I created a rain collection system.

With some trial and error over the last two and a half years, we now have three barrels (left over from construction sites that my husband works on) full of rain water, oxygenating plants, and a dozen guppies (my goldfish never survive for several reasons).

A few months ago, I spray painted each barrel a dark green (they used to be a bright blue). It is really much more pleasing to the eye. A rain gutter empties into the top barrel, which sits on a stand that my husband made. I am still learning the basics of woodworking so don’t ask me any particulars on that design (it’s pretty simple anyway). Some plastic piping feeds the next barrels.

Only the top barrel has a nozzle; I use the other two barrels as wells and make sure to leave plenty of water for the fish. The fish are necessary for eating mosquito larvae and do not require much attention. The fish do much better with plants in the barrels because they need some source of oxygen. Hornroot is what is currently floating in my barrels.

To keep the water from stagnating, I purchased a small fountain that operates on solar power. It is completely submersible and helps keep the water crystal clear.

This water is not clear because the fountain was “missing” (thank you Sergio) for a few days. However, it’s chock full of fish fertilizer.

The water is not treated because it comes from the sky. The fish add nutrients to the water and everything goes right back into the ground. I always have plenty of free water on hand, as long as the rains are favorable. There is work involved, however, and I have a few quick tips.

  • Get a long hose, and try to use it on a slope. The water that exits the top barrel is not pressurized, so gravity is your best friend when transporting the water via a hose.
  • Use a watering can, or recycle big plastic containers like the one above (it’s an old Cheese Puff container) to carry water.
  • Empty your barrels often if you don’t have fish or a fountain yet; mosquitoes go crazy for these barrels when there are no predators to snatch them up.
  • Cover the tops with grates. Fortuna once leaped right into one, and had to be pulled out before she drowned (I was right there so no time was lost). Children also love to look into them (it is cool to see the fish!) so use supervision or make it impossible to fall in.
  • Make ’em pretty by placing pots around the bases, floating bog plants on top, hanging vines above. The barrels often overflow so any nearby plants will get water also. This year, I have been adding rocks (large, small, pretty, ugly) to the area. Invent a place around your barrels: an oasis, if you will.
  • Save lots of money by upcycling. There are wood barrels on the market that are quite expensive. If you use a little paint and some flower staging, any plastic barrel can be just as pretty. An old garbage can could work too.
  • Downspouts can be shortened or lengthened depending on your desired height of barrel. Take a look around your house and decide which downspout you would like to modify. Make sure your barrels will be in an easily-accessible place. Make sure they’re not too far from your garden; carrying water across the yard can really wear on your shoulders and back.

Collecting water is a great way to save money and give your plants some extra nutrients. If it doesn’t rain much where you are rain barrels are even more helpful. Check your city’s rules and regulations first (I have heard of laws against them so do some research in your area and especially if you live in the Southwest) and don’t start without a plan: mosquitoes are a serious problem if you don’t care for the water correctly.

However you decide to collect water will save you some money and help your plants in the end. There are so many ways to save in the garden and this is only one of them. Happy rain collecting!

This post had to be updated to fix grammatical errors and such so many times later in the day. That brings me to another tip: drink lots of water while you are bringing it to everyone else.

Washcloths Are Worth It

So, everyone is talking about replacing paper towels. I like paper towels, but use linen dishcloths more often. It’s surprising how much we have been trained to rely on paper towels. But there’s something else you should stop buying: loofahs. I am not talking about sponges that come from luffa gourds; if you can grow those, go ahead! I am referring to the balls of plastic netting that we buy every few months to use in the shower. Have you ever seen one come apart? Don’t use them. Just use washcloths. They last (some of my washcloths have been in my linen closet for years), they work (you can also use them for teething babies), and they are not made from plastic, recycled or otherwise. I use simple white washcloths, and when they become worn or particularly discolored, I switch them to the kitchen’s basket of linens. Washcloths instead of louffas is a simple change, and keeps plastic out of our oceans and landfills.