Roofing the Dome (Oct – Dec 2013 & Jan 2014)

The picture on the cover shows Richard, Eveleigh, and myself on the roof of our new dome. Eveleigh, a volunteer, is holding the heat gun that is used to seal the thermo-plastic roofing membrane. The last seam was sealed in place just as some heavy rain started, near the beginning of September. Measuring and cutting the 75 triangles was easy and reminded me of the days when I cut quilt patterns. When Don Lee suggested the idea four years ago, Richard jumped at the chance to learn more about building and has put his heart and soul into completing the dome. Next are the back porch, doors, windows, insulation and finishing off the dome inside. We hope to have it ready for next season as a second workshop space.

I am glad that the marathon roofing project is complete and I have time to get Issues to print. Still, whenever I get a few moments to contemplate what I am doing, I get a sense that my angels are steering me in a new direction, with less computer work and more gardening. Yeah! For my part, I prefer hands-on experiences to reading, though I can do both well.

Last fall, my angels told me to print just three times a year and when I mentioned it to a few people, they discouraged that from happening. The reasons they gave made good sense, so I gave in and said I would print four times a year. When it came time to actually go into print mode this July, I could feel my resistance, resistance I have felt many times over the last few years as I struggle with allowing the garden to absorb my time when I have computer work to do. When I awoke at 3 am, I could feel my mind reminding me of my dilemma. I asked my angels for a solution and heard, “Don’t print.” “Great idea,” I thought to myself and went back to sleep.

In the morning, I sent emails to my advertisers letting them know about the change of plans and hoped that you, my readers, would understand. There is now lots of alternative information available as The New Agora and Common Ground are being distributed around the Okanagan Valley. Common Ground’s byline asks you to Get the Big Picture and Agora’s byline is Elect to Govern Yourself. Both are excellent publications that have interesting articles and ads. The Internet also has many sites and videos that make connecting with like-minded folks easy. Plus, there are many retreat-like places and festivals that encourage sharing of ideas, waking us up to the fact that “We are all One” and that what we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves.

I am glad to be learning more about farming and spending less time on the computer. In June, I took a two-week Permaculture Design Certificate Course with Sarah Orlowski from Grand Forks, and since it happened on our property, I now have more ideas about what can be done with the land. On August 25, three of our volunteers and myself learned about seed saving from Patrick of Stellar Farms, an organic seed company across the road from us.

I have been vermi-composting for three years and enjoy looking after worms, red-wrigglers to be precise. It does take a bit of time each day to dig in the table scraps and add wet, shredded newspaper as mulch. Once the worm bins are full, I dig about half of the worms and their castings into the garden. This October I will move the three large bins back into the basement, where they will live for the winter. Worms create the best soil for plants to thrive in. I made a video the last time I added more bedding in the bin and hope to get it posted on YouTube this winter.

In July, one of the bee hives swarmed while Richard was away, so I got out the book on bees and started reading. I soon realized how little I know and how much I prefer looking after my worms. When the second hive swarmed, Richard said it was all mine as he does not like it when I comment about his use of commercial bee-keeping chemicals to kill the mites. Now I get to see first-hand if the bees can survive and even thrive when chemicals are not used. Will let you know next summer how I did. Soon it will be time to see how much extra honey can be taken out of the hives. They are like the canary in the coal mine: too much pesticide spraying and they die. Once the crops can’t be pollinated and food is no longer produced, prices will rise, so please get involved in protecting them.

Recently, we acquired ten laying hens, with baby chicks planned for the spring. Right now, the hens are enjoying the upper garden, and two of them have taken to sleeping in the bean trellis. Next spring, we plan to build a proper hen house in the lower garden where the fruit trees are. Since we are vegetarians, the chickens will live a long, happy life.

I just finished re-reading The Secret Life of Plants, printed in the 1970’s, that proves from extensive research that plants are little miracles unto themselves. It was good to be reminded that plants are intelligent and it is I who needs to understand them so they may prosper, and so will I.

Overall people seem to be losing touch with what ‘real’ food is. Instead of spending time in their gardens, they watch TV or surf the net. If more people grew food instead of lawns, I believe we would have a healthier population. I wonder why gardening, canning and life-skills are not taught in public schools? Instead of teaching these skills to the next generation, we allow corporations and ‘experts’ to control our food production. If ‘we’ as a nation don’t wake up and help others to do the same, there is little hope that we will survive in a healthy fashion.

If you would like to learn these basic skills, sign up for the Living on the Earth course, Center Life or become a volunteer at the Center. Richard and I both wear many hats and have lots of life experience and skills. It seems we are destined to share them with those who come for the summer, for a retreat or to be part of the community. This is our tenth years of being a couple, so once the garden is tucked in and the land freezes we will be taking a holiday.

The last pages of this edition features the Johnson’s Landing Retreat Center as we will not be printing a full brochure next season. Instead, we will focus on alternative ways of getting people to our website. By February, you will find the details online as I develop my social media skills. We will still feature many excellent meditation and personal development retreats as well as the annual Tai Chi Camp in August and Intuitive Painting with Ted.

On the other side of this issue, please enjoy the many pictures of what happened this summer at the Retreat Center. See you in February when the next Issues is published.

Until then, wishing you
a delightful winter
and a memorable solstice.