Who is Romanian?

I am not sure I agree completely with the thesis in Sam’s recent post (I would need to invest more time then I care to right now to reflect on it). I also don’t know who is currently the minority and who the majority but I know who I want the majority to be:

Because believe me, there are lots of good people here, from all nationalities and ethnicities and speaking all languages because I know them and I meet more every single week. We’re only in the minority because someone played a cruel trick on Romania long ago and convinced most of the population to include useless fools as being part of what makes up “we” when in reality they are the minority and so they are not us, they do not speak for us, they do not represent us and in no way have they ever demonstrated that they deserve to be included in our group.

Sorin Apostu and his ilk might speak Romanian, might have been born in Romania, might carry a Romanian passport but he isn’t one of us. And that’s why I don’t just say it but know that I am more Romanian than he is, because we, the positive, good, honest, moral people, we are Romania and he and all the corrupt, evil assholes can go fuck off. We are the ones who make this country a good place to live and so it is ours, not his. I don’t care what his papers say – he hasn’t earned the right to call himself a Romanian.

Honestly, I think this is true of many places in the world … I just happen to be more sensitive and affilated with Romania now then with other places 🙂

Saturday - October 13, 2012

Today started grey and wet … a nice fall rain … light and long 🙂 I did not feel like going out at all … and so I didn’t … unti I felt like going out and so I went out … and the weather cleared and the sun came out and even some blue skies later in the day 🙂

I started in the workshop … I buit a platform on wheels … which is actually a part of the second rocket stove project. Before I can buid the new rocket stove I first have to move out the old metal stove which is very heavy (takes an effort for three strong guys to lift). So my idea is to leg by leg lift it onto the platform and then roll out it out … so that is done.

I then went on to chop some more firewood … filled and stored another wheel-barrow … and then went out to clean up and mulch another of the raised beds. I was happy to find yet another small batch of small tomatoes … perfect for the solar dehydrator … shoud we get a decent day of sun 🙂

And another day gone by:)

Friday - October 12, 2012

I am sitting happily warm after firing up the rocket stove for the first time this season. The past few nights have been cold here and I’ve had to do an imitation of Andreea (layers of clothes and a blanket) … well no more. I modified the rocket a bit and we have not applied finishing yet. I was worried that without the finishing some unwelcome gasses would be released into the room. So I fired it up today in the middle of the day when the house was still open and there was natural ventillation … and all is good … and I am warm … which is VERY good 🙂

Over the past few days I’ve watched as neighbors coppiced some very old willows. I have to admit I was a bit jealous because (a) of the amount of easy to cut down wood they took away and (b) because we hope that in the next few years to acquire that land and we kind of already view it as ours … and so … you get it 🙂

Anyways they left lots of willow cuttings … some quite large … and with their permission I took some of those cuttings and today planted a few on our property … a small boulevard 🙂 I gave it priority because the weather forecast includes rain in the coming days … and I wanted them to benefit from the rain. I still hope to go back and collect all of the cuttings left on the ground. That wood is negligent if you have a regular wood stove, but if you have a rocket stove (as we do) it’s great burning material.

I’ve also started work on the second rocket stove … the one that will hopefully heat our living room this winter (last year we spent most of the winter in one room). Yesterday I cut open the barrel and burned off the paint and the remains of whatever was in the barrel. Today I sanded it clean and it is ready to go. This rocket is going to a bit more complicated as it will include said radiating barrel and an additional “firebrick barrel” as a heat-battery that will also have a baking stove in it. I am also considering installing a water heating coil inside the rocket (though we will hook it up the water boiler only next year … long story).

I cut  to cut more firewood everyday and we have quite a good winter-store ready to go.

Now dinner and a movie in a warm bedroom 🙂

Tuesday - October 9, 2012

I am finding space again to do some short daily updates … that signifies a good thing for me 🙂

Andreea is still away attending to another home-birth in Bucharest. There are signs that birth is nearing … so hopefully she’ll be home again in a few days (before heading out to another birth … and then another).

Today I finished assembly and finishing of our new winter door. It’s an outer door in addition to the existing door. Currently in its place we have a light summer-door – which is a framed net to keep flying things out during the summer. The new winter door is essentially a wooden box (though with a few neat, for me, tricks) which houses a 5cm thick layer of insulation. Maybe this year out kitchen won’t kitchen/hall won’t freeze like it did last year.

I’ve almost finished insulating the water pipes inside the house. It has turned to be a mean project. I had to take apart quite a bit (almost everything) to get the insulation on properly. This seemed to lead to a leak from the main water supply into the house (the whole thing was already fragile from freezing last winter) from both the main connection and from the flow-splitter attached to it. I’ve assembled a replacement assembly for this … now waiting for someone to be here with me so that I can disconnect the old assembly and put in the new one without pushing the water supply hose outside.

A couple weeks ago I finished insulation the grey-water line existing the house. Today I built an ad-hoc cover (from scrap wood) to our “hole-in-the-ground” grey water treatment facility. Next it will be covered by straw-bales and plastic to keep the rain off … so hopefully that doesn’t freeze either.

There is still some insulation work to do on the concrete man-hole boxes (one with the pump next to the well, the other where there the supply is splite to numerous destinations).  A guy was supposed to come here today to help me do that (in exchange for some work I let him do in my workshop) …. he didn’t show up 🙁 Except for a few small touches that should keep us with running water through the freezing winter … I hope!

In the coming days I hope to resume the last big project for this year … the second rocket stove for our day-room (last year we spent almost the entire winter in the bedroom). I have almost all the materials … but I need to get back into the “rocket zone” to do this properly.

And all the time cutting more wood … some of it for this winter, some of it for future winters (unlike typical Romanians we prefer to feed our rocket stoves with dry wood).

Also collected another batch of dried apples from our solar driers … great stuff … if the sun comes out tomorrow I hope to get another batch in 🙂

Flock is fed and watered, dog are fed … I am hungry … so off to whip something up for dinner and take a load off.

How Not to Change Romania

This morning I came across this video via BucharestLife – it’s in Romanian so you may want to turn on captions (a “cc” button appears after play begins):

I happened to come across this because I live in Romania and a bit more attentive to it then other places in the world … but I imagine this is a scene that repeats itself many times all over the world … which just makes it all the more powerful. The behavior of the police was most disquieting.

It’s already quite obvious to most people that economic patterns we have taken for granted all of our lives don’t quite work for us. But I believe the problem goes much deeper then economics. Here we can see that the legal patterns we think protect and uphold society us are also collapsing.

I feel privileged to be witnessing intense evolutionary changes happening on so many fronts. And with that in mind I return again to Robert Pirsig’s insight on this subject:

If you don’t like our present social system or intellectual system the best thing you can do … is stay out of their way.

Permaculture Reality Check

I am undecided about Paul Wheaton’s podcasts. Many (most?) times I feel like I need to patiently wait through annoying chitter-chatter … however I do occasionally come across ones that are interesting and valuable. I just finished listening to one of my all time favorites The Realities of Practical Permaculture – Dell Artemis Farm.

Very few things in real life are as they seem to be in the books (this is true for Permaculture and almost anything else I can think of). Theoretical knowledge is one thing and practical application a whole other thing. I think a warning about this gap should be placed in large bold type-face on every permaculture publication … kind of like the warnings they have on cigarette boxes. But this isn’t the case and as a result learning about permaculture and sustainability creates illusions … and those illusions come crashing down when you hit the ground … and that pain can be avoided or the fall softened. This podcast does just that. If you are thinking of embarking on a permactulrue-esque life … listen to this podcast.

Nothing is ever as easy as it seems to be in the books or articles or even classes. Circumstances (soil, climate, culture, finances, skills, resources …) trump theories every time. If you are not prepared to experiment and fail and experiment and fail … again and again … a lot … then don’t head out on this road.

I completely agree with the notion that self-sustainability is a bullshit notion which is more likely to lead to misdirection and frustration than to inspiration. There is practically no such thing as self-sustainability. You can move towards a more self-sustainable life but true sustainability can only be achieved within circles of community. Community is one of the most complex and mysterious concepts I have come across … don’t take it for granted.

For example: we built our hugelkultur beds in the spring. It was too late for them to absorb water and get us through the summer drought. Yet we did a few experiments and lost most of our produce … we learned a lot but produced very little food. We were able to do this by purchasing the food we needed from neighbors. Those neighbors are growing food in traditional farming with a lot of work and risks and depletion of natural resources. They are supporting our research efforts. Those research efforts will hopefully come up with alternatives methods of growing food which they will be able to learn from and adapt to their needs. That is community.

Infrastructures first. Every time. Andreea is dying to bring a couple of goats on the farm and I am constantly the bad guy (and also the one who shoulders most of the regular tasks that need to be done around here) by refusing to even consider it before we have the necessary infrastructures in place (pasture and paddocks, yearly food cycle and supply, water, winter sheltering …). Those infrastructures will take years to build (once we have the money to get some of them started). Infrastructures make the difference between a life of pleasant work and a life of slavery. I did not come here to become a slave.

 

Crafts

This is one direction I’d love to see develop in Romania and become a key local and national resource:

Via Grant Blakeman

Joy & Jam

Joy

Twice a week we purchase fresh milk from a family in a neighboring village. It can be a pleasant walk if weather is nice, but I usually drive there. This brings with it an odd joy. I say odd because (1) I don’t experience much happiness (not because it isn’t there but rather something about me) and (2) for the ife of me I cannot understand why this, of all things, does, actually make me happy. I usually forget to bring my camera with me, but this morning, as I was stepping out, I remembered to take it.

The dogs usually come running after the car. Indy is always there and goes the longest distance. Rex will usually come along for the run but won’t go as far as Indy. Ricky will sometimes come out and if she goes far enough I stop and take her into the car so that she doesn’t get into trouble with other dogs on the way (she is a small dog). This morning all three joined me.

This is Ricky running alongside the car on the way there (just before I stopped and took her into the car):

This is Rex heading in the same direction:

This is Indy on the way back. This is my precious moment of joy. I just love watching her run trying to lead the way and then diving into the corn field. The images don’t quite work … she was ahead of me and I was trying to catchup with her to shoot her through the window … so I was driving faster then I should on an downhill dirt path through a field looking in the wrong direction 🙂

I never grow bored of watching Indy race me home through a field of corn. It keeps making me … inexplicably happy 🙂

Jam

This morning came with an extra bonus. The older generation of the family we get our milk from were busy making prune jam and I got to witness some cool village-tech – and thanks to the dogs I had my camera with me. They have this super contraption setup where an electric engine is used to drive a mixing paddle in a giant metal pot sitting on a fire in which they are cooking their prune jam (from prunes harvested from the yard directly behind them).

Last week Levente came by and I helped him fix a similar wooden mixing paddle that broke off at the end. The paddle itself is + shaped and is contoured to fit snugly to the bottom of the pot. Levente’s version was a manually operated one with a lever that swings from side to side. We are still amateurs and use a big wooden spoon 🙂

 

 

Thursday - September 6, 2012

It’s been a while since I’ve written anthing here … that is mostly due to me slowing down a bit … my breathing told me I reached a point of over-doing … so much so that I couldn’t ignore it anymore and decided to slow down and due less. I’m still doing quite a lot but I am leaving aside anything that doesn’t feel highly important … and that included writing.

Still much has been happening … and I am still not inclined to do a recollection … however I do want to make a note of this day.

We are already well into our winter-food-preservation efforts. Yesterday we went to purchase from Ildi & Levente tomatoes for making tomato-sauce (some of which we use for making other preservatives – namely Zakuska – and most of which we keep as is). We purchased “second-rate” tomatoes that are not “presentable” enough to be sold to customers … they were not visually pleasing and over-ripe and some of them were stained on the bottom due to a calcium deficiency due to lack of water) … perfect for tomato sauce.

This morning we set out to  make the sauce. This is our second time doing this so we already have some kind of routine. The freshly squeezed tomato sauce was absolutely delicious … very sweet … and because the tomatoes were very ripe … they were loaded with juices … so we realized we were going to get much more sauce out of every kilogram of tomatoes. We quickly realized that the pots we had would not be sufficient … so we borrowed their large iron pot. When I went to pick it up, Ildi greeted me with another carton+ of tomatoes she wanted us to have (she was uncomfortable selling us the lower-grade tomatoes, had just collected these tomatoes and had no time to process them) … so now we had even more tomato sauce heading our way.

The pot worked amazingly well on the rocket-stove. At one point we realized we could use some help if we wanted to get this done today so we asked Maria (our neighbor) if she can spare us some time. She gladly came to help and sped things up. We wanted to make ~25 liters of tomato sauce. About two hours after Maria joined us we were looking at a 69 liter pot that was almost filled. This was my first time this close to a 69 liter pot … and seeing it full … is well … a site to see 🙂

We ended up bottling 45 liters and the rest (~10 liters) we gave to Maria. It was a long day – 12 hours of physical work. The weather was a blessing. It was cloudy which meant we could work through the whole day (our work space gets direct sun for 3 or 4 hours during the middle of the day – making it uncomfortable to work in when its hot out). It even started to drizzle … so we asked the clouds to wait a little longer … and the drizzling stopped. At the end of the day the clouds parted and let in beautiful golden end-of-the-day light.

Our flock had a wonderful time feeding on the leftovers … they love to help on such days 🙂 This time of year is probably their favorite 🙂 The color of their poop changes according to what we are making … on a day like today … it gets reddish 🙂 Much of the “waste” is still sitting outside … tomorrow our flock will have another go at it and the rest will go to Maria’s pig.

We are very tired and very content. This is a kind of day that leaves us immersed in a feeling of simple and powefful abundance – a blessed existence.

Walking Away From the King

I’ve donated to a Kickstarter  project called Money & Life. You can read more about why I donated to it on my personal blog. I am continuing to take in any existing video content I can find and I arrived at this too-short video … which touches precisely on the movitation for Cutia Taranului. I invite you to watch it and head over to the Kickstarter project page and make a donation. I really want to see this film and I want it to be available for many others to see.

 

This is the video that introduces the project: