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Springing into Spring

I have fallen behind reporting on our most recent happeningΒ  … not because there haven’t been any but because there have been sooooo many.

We were blessed with a local gypsy worker who was all around excellent. He has helped us quite a bit over recent days. At first he helped us to clean out the area in front of the house. This included more destruction, cleaning and organizing. We now have a large open space and a huge and fairly organized pile of scrap wood.

Then we asked him to stay another day and help us clean out the large prune orchard behind the house. It was overgrown and overpopulated. We took down many unhealthy trees and provided better space for the remaining trees. Meanwhile I used the tree cuttings to build large Sepp Holzer style Hugelkultur raised beds of which there are 5 … with plenty of wood still hanging around (more on this project in a separate post).

Then we had him help us fix the rear (north wall of the house). It was in bad shape and we decided not to deal with it last year. Then a few weeks ago Andreea noticed a cool draft of air coming in through the wall above her head. So the wall has been fixed and hopefully will hold out for a long time (more on this in a separate pose).

Amidst all this work we finally launched Cutia Taranului. It has been amazingly well recieved. Waves of goodness are spreading out and coming back to us. Ildi & Levente‘s boxes have almost sold out. We have had requests for boxes from people all over Romania. We have also been contacted by other peasants who wish to join the project to sell their produce. We are overwhelmed by the waves of good-will this project has stirred. Andreea has spent many hours responding to emails and speaking to people. Next week, while I’ll be away in Israel, Andreea together with Ildi and Levente will be interviewed for both newspaper and TV. Fantastic energy.

During the weekend, right after the launch of Cutia Taranului, we were visited by some friends from the city together with some really nice people from organizations that are working to support peasants in Romania.

Cutia Taranului is another loud and clear confirmation that we are finally on our correct path. We are catching up with our Dharma and where there was once bitter friction there is now sweet flow. A true blessing.

Today I started out with some wood chopping but realized that I am physically tired. So I went back inside and got back to doing some coding – something I haven’t done since SweetClarity. I’ve begun designing and building a web-application that will enable us to better manage and organize the information that is rapidly accumulating around Cutia Taranului.

I am beat but very content πŸ™‚

Monday I am flying to Israel to visit my family (for the Jewish Passover holiday) in what is an almost historic family reunion. I’ll try to see some friends … but otherwise intend to rest. We have many things we want to do when I get back. This year is very different from last year. Last year we were in a race to finish preparations for winter. This year there is no race. Ahead of us is a vast space of exploration that we can now travel through and enjoy at our own pace. We are heading into a nice life πŸ™‚

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strange day of soft doings … really warm weather … we hired a local to clean out the front yard (may take 2 weeks) … took some photographs of/at Ildi and Levent, I saw bees in hives incuding eggs and a queen … and … well … feeling calm and tired – strange mix πŸ™‚

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Another sunny and even warmer day … bare arms were spotted in the fields πŸ™‚

I started with (finally) installing a light at the entry to the house. I couldn’t detect a current in the existing -lamp wires and we prefer to avoid playing with any existing wires so it doesn’t crumble and fail the entire house. So I installed new cable running through a broken part of a window into the bedroom – and to turn on the light we need to plug the cable in. Clumsy … bet there is light πŸ™‚

As I was doing this I saw that our neigbhors were pruning their trees and they had piled together a bunch of cut branches and were preparing to torch them. I sent Andreea to them and she stopped them and we got two nice piles of tree trimmings. We carried to our property the trimming that had already been cut and they were kind enough to carry the additional trimmings close and onto our property. They couldn’t understand (a) why we were collecting their garbage and (b) how come we really weren’t turning the land in our fields. Hint – the two are connected – raised beds πŸ™‚ We’ve already started piling up bits of trees for our first raised bed … and they made a nice donation to that effortΒ  … more to come on that soon.

Then we got on with our main project for today – getting started with the temporary green-house for getting our seeds started early. We hacked together a slightly raised frame (all scrap wood) in the field next to the well (so watering should be easy). Andreea filled it with cuttings (see above mentioned neighbors pile) so there to we would enjoy some water retention capabilities (and be less dependent on watering).

In the cuttings we found two that looked like willows – so we planted them too … potentially two new trees πŸ™‚

And to bring the work-day to its end I hauled up 4 wheelbarrows of horse-manure – also a gift from our neighbors (who’s son hauled up the 5th and last batch). That was a difficult (uphill) task … pooped (some pun intended) me out πŸ™‚

Next up is putting in arches from willow cuttings, filling it with dirt mixed together with the horse-manure, buying a plastic cover and setting up a fence around it to keep the chickens out (hopefully in a few months the chickens will be fenced in … making gardening life easier for us).

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Today was a special day. The sun came out, there was no wind (the two previous days were very windy and we didn’t feel welcome outside to work), snow has almost disappeared (except for a few patches here and there) … and we had a lovely day of work. At first we both dressed in our thermal layers but we both quickly came back inside to take them off. It was really warm.

Our project for the day was organizing the half of the barn in which the flock lives. We are getting plenty of eggs and even the ducks have begun laying. Brooding season is just around the corner and we prepared nesting and brooding boxes (which we can completely isolate when necessary) for the flock to get used to. We converted two old crates that were lying around into “duplex nests”. I got the tops detached and built separators in each box while Andreea cleaned them out and painted with with lime. We also built an improvised space that can be closed off for two more nests for the ducks. So we are pretty much good to go. We have started setting aside eggs … so … now we wait πŸ™‚

And …. drum roll … we spoke to the internet guy again … and he apologized, said he had no more excuses and will come next week to get everything going. That would be soooo great πŸ™‚

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2nd 1st Shower

The day before yesterday I managed to get running water into the house again. Yesterday morning I was relieved to see the infrastructure survived the still freezing night temperatures. It was flowing just fine. Yesterday evening we showered again .. for the 2nd 1st time … and it was just as wonderful as the 1st 1st shower.

Warning – true story ahead. Some years ago (while still living in a city in Israel) I needed to make a large batch of tea (I don’t remember why). I remember standing in the kitchen wondering how to go about it. In my mind I saw a bunch of cups on the counter with a tea bag in each. It felt too complicated. Andreea caught me pondering and suggested I simply put the tea bags in a large pot with hot water. At the time it seemed like a genius solution … and no I am not really that stupid I was however “programmed” to doing these a certain way. One things “programs” fail to do is deal with things for which they aren’t programmed.

Living here in Bhudeva has drastically changed the way I do things. Not only am I required to learn lots of new things (right now there are more new and unknowns in my life then there old knowns) but I am required to change how I learn. What does all this have to do with a shower?

Well showering is a program like any other. When we first arrived here we didn’t have running water. My “shower programming” went haywire. Fortunately Andreea knew of an alternative “village bathing” program. It’s pretty simple: All you need is a small plastic tub (large enough for you to sit in), some heated water mixed together with cold water and a small rag. You start with your face when the water is cleanest and soap-less. You can sit in or over the tub for washing your genitals. Then you use the rag to wash your body part by part. If you happen to be a couple then a “village bath” can be a wonderful gift of grooming … and beyond πŸ™‚

I was fascinated to learn that it is possible to bathe without electricity or running water. I was also amazed at how little water is needed for it (talk about sustainability). But more importantly I learned (yet again) to be adaptive and flexible. I felt empowered by it.

If you live in a city and depend on electricity and running water and they fail (which they occassionally do) there is nothing you can about it. You are helpless. When we purchased our pump I remember thinking what we would it should if fail? should we get a spare pump? what it if fails in winter and we are snowed in and we can’t get to the city to get a new pump? Well those questions have been answered … and the answers are simple and peaceful. When we were without running water for a few weeks we still had waterΒ  – of course we had to schlepp buckets from the well … but we had a well with water for shlepping. Our rocket stove (which requires schlepping of wood) continues to generate heat without electricity. Our practiced ability to live and function independently is empowering and liberating – it is a core skill in moving towards a sustainable life.

However it was fantastic to stand in our home-made shower with running hot water again πŸ™‚

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We have been going through another period of freezing temperatures in the night, some days warm up others do not.

In the last few days I have renewed my effort to restore our running water. It was quite an obstacle course. First getting the pump working indicated a pressure problem which led me to check the pipe going into the well only to find it was ruptured due to freezing. So we had to go to the city to get a new pipe, got the wrong size (long story – take nothing for granted is all I would say at this point … got pissed off. Tried to make use of the wrong sized pipe. Failed. We drove to the city again (this time also to check up on an opportunity to buy a second hand polytunnel – which turned out to be not that good of a deal) … got new pipe.

Today I got back to work. Almost everything had frozen again … and after a long day of work I am happy to say that it looks like we have running water again. I honestly do not know if it will survive a freezing night … but at this point all I can do is hope for the best. Everything is better protected but still not fool-proof. Tomorrow I will take care of the plumbing leading water out the house and maybe we’ll be able goΒ  shower at home again πŸ™‚

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We’ve been silent because 1) not too much has been happening and 2) Andreea was ill after which 3) I was shortly ill. We’re both much better now … though both bodies are still slowly recuperating.

We had a really nice today – March 1st is considered the official beginning of spring in Romania … and it really came off as such. After two freezing days, today was sunny and relatively warm. It’s a new sensational experience for me – white still being the dominant color in our south-facing hill across from the house … yet warm. The mud is a giveaway – white is slowly giving way to brown. I am not yet at peace with mud … especially ours which is clay-rich … so really slimy and extra muddy. It’s amazing (for me) to see puddles on exposed earth – indicating that the soil is saturated with water.

We went out to the village center for a small celebretory cake and coffee. We got before the guy who brings our milk (he usually leaves it there and we pick it up later in the day) and so we met with him too, paid him for the February milk and collected the fresh bottle. We spoke to my parents to let them know we are both well, picked up a couple of things in the hardware store, postoffice … and headed home. Andreea took in some sun while I changed to work clothes and got to work.

Yesteday Levente was here and helped me work on getting our water flow restored. I won’t bore you with the details … we made great progress (though still no running water) … and we had to protect everything from freezing again (as we may still get frosts during the night). That included covering the well itself with a temporary plastic cover – the well acts as a cold sink … and the pipe running down into the water can freeze. So today I headed into the workshop and got to work on a proper well-cover. I had a great time … hacked together a cover that is partly anchored and partly opening. Got it done and assembled and all went well. It was a f first “all nail” project … except for drilling the concrete (I really hate working with concrete) of the well-casing.

Meanwhile Andreea got to work on our deteriorating kitchen space and cleaned stuff up there. We are now indoors, the rocket is warming up the room, water is heating for a “Romanian village bath” … and evening is upon us.

It’s nice to be gradually coming out of winter hibernation. This will be out first spring here (we first saw the place in winter and moved here in the following summer). We’ve got a current list of projects to get started on … and as weather permits we are heading into another round of creation πŸ™‚