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Repurposing

Recycled Raised Beds

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Recycled Raised Beds

Several months ago my bonus son (son-in-law, his name is Abe) and my daughter, Genette, made a gate for me out of wood pallets. They still need to come and help with building another gate for the other side of the house.

In the meantime, I have a pile of pallets sitting in my driveway, and it is more than will be needed for the gate, so I am using some for other projects. I wanted some raised beds for my vegetables, and there the pallets sat, so an idea flashed. I could make raised beds out of the pallets in a matter of minutes! The result was good.

To make the pallets sit flush on the ground, I took off the bottom slats and used the wood and nails to close in the sides. I had some black plastic to put on the ground to help with weed control. I put the pallets down on the plastic, filled them with good, rich dirt and planted my cucumbers and swiss chard.

I wanted a protective dome over the plants to keep the birds and bunnies away (hopefully), so I checked my “stash” to see what I could use. My “stash” is discarded items I’ve saved that I use in my garden instead of purchasing new ones. Last fall a friend moved into a different home and there was fencing and chicken wire left there by the previous owner, so she asked me if I wanted it. Of course, I said yes, knowing that I would use it in my garden, though I didn’t know how at the time. I added it to my “stash.” I also had a metal grate (that I kept from an outdoor wood grill) along with some metal display baskets (from a shelving unit in a large store). These things combined became my protective dome.

In a nutshell, I paid nearly nothing for my raised beds, and in a few weeks, I’ll have vegetables on my table! I’ve got one finished now, and two more ready for the dirt. One will have lettuce and the other will have, probably, some herbs. I’ll post some more pictures later as my vegetables grow and I fill up the other two pallets.

From discarded into useful. Tell me your own stories about recycling and reusing.

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Laugh about what you don't like!

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Laugh about what you don't like!

I have been doing a residency every Thursday for three weeks at a local school. It is one that I love to do. The students are making origami books, and in it they write a bit of an autobiography. I give the students prompts to spark their ideas and help make good use of their time. One of the things I asked them to include in their narrative is something that they don’t like. Many of those pages just made me laugh: “ I don’t like how my father’s feet smell.” “I don’t like elevators.” “I really don’t like wearing socks.”

I got to thinking — what if we all just laughed about the things we don’t like? It might not make those things more appealing, but a good belly laugh is really good for your health. It relaxes you, reduces stress hormones, helps you to connect with other people, burns calories, and makes you feel good. So, next time you are faced with something you don’t like, laugh instead… you might live longer, which means you can spend more time on the things you do like!

This song from Mary Poppins always makes me laugh: 

 
 

If you would like to learn even more about laughter, follow the links below!

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Stress Relief from Laughter? It’s no joke

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A Christmas Un-Tree

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A Christmas Un-Tree

This year my husband and I decided not to have a Christmas tree. It's not that we don't like Christmas trees, on the contrary, we love them. However, this year we decided to be much more simplistic in our decor. I had surgery on November 19 on my right hand for carpal tunnel syndrome; it was quite severe in that hand. Next week I will have the left hand done too. At this moment my right hand is sore but healing very well. It will be lovely to be able to go through life without my hands falling asleep when I write, sew, sleep, or any other activity. I am thankful. Steven and I have about 10 boxes of decorations, this year we took 2 out of the attic and used only about 1 box worth of decorations.

I most certainly wanted to do something decorative in the house to acknowledge the season, so I went into my craft room and gathered up some white branches I had that were leftover from our daughter's, Genette, wedding. From my garden, I brought in a tower I use for my morning glories to climb and cleaned the dirt from it. From the boxes brought down from the attic, I used some of the artificial poinsettias and tree ornaments. I came up with my Christmas Un-tree. I also took out some fabric and ribbon and wrapped the pillows on my sofa to look like packages. I like it. It will be easy to take down after the season as I continue to heal from my hand surgeries.

Genette and her husband Abe will be coming in the weekend before Christmas. Our youngest, Carmen, will be here too and we will skype in our son, Bryon, and his fiance, Amber. We will open gifts from one another then. On Christmas day our youngest will host Steven and I at her house. Genette and Abe will be with his parents. A couple of weeks later I will take down our Christmas Un-tree and put everything away. Then I will store the memory and will tell the story of, One year we had a Christmas Un-tree.

May you have the most joyous of celebrations with your family and friends throughout the season.

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Eva Marie, a Gr-Animal Story

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Eva Marie, a Gr-Animal Story

We have a “Gr-Animal”. Our daughter Genette, and her husband Abe have adopted a dog. Her name is Eva Marie. Eva ended up with a middle name because Genette got annoyed with her one day and when she called her inside “Eva Marie” just slipped out. So now Eva has a middle name. Eva is a rescue and a mutt, sweet as can be, and is now being taught to come when called.  

Genette and Abe live in Virginia and when they come to visit they, of course, stay for a couple of days. Abe asked me if they could bring Eva with them when they came to visit. I told them it was fine but she would need to be kept on a leash when outside. We live in Charlotte and there is not only a leash law but the roads are quite busy here. Abe remembered that our backyard is fenced in on 3 sides, so he asked if it would be ok to fence in the 4th side so Eva could run around in the backyard. I told him that was fine but I wasn’t sure that we had much in the budget for that right now. He then offered a thought of building one out of recycled wood pallets. Well, I love to recycle and reuse so that was a perfect suggestion. Steven and I began to collect wood pallets.

This past weekend Genette, Abe, and Eva all came to the house and the building began. Under the fine direction of our son-in-law, a stack of wood pallets, some recycled hinges, a latch from a friend’s backyard, and less than $100 for additional supplies and tools; a fence with a double gate has been added to our landscape. I like it!! 

Sometime this Fall they will all be back and the second half of the fence, on the other side of the house will be built. One day I might even put it all together into a stage story!

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Dreaming About Tomatoes

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Dreaming About Tomatoes

I was dreaming about ripe tomatoes growing in my back yard last night. It really is not so far-fetched, because I have tomato plants growing in my raised beds. The beds are unique because I made them out of an old travel car topper. I disconnected the top from the bottom, drilled some big holes for drainage and to give the worms access (don't cringe, you need the worms), filled it with dirt from the "giant's grave" (you'll have to go back to my earlier blog post about that), and my tomatoes are thriving.

Last year, my tomatoes did great but something got at them before I had a chance to harvest them. This year, my daughter's in-laws gave me four plants for an Illinois tomato (thanks Diane and Chuck) . The plants are growing well in my raised bed and have produced several green tomatoes. One day this week I am going to put some chicken wire around them in an effort to protect them from the birds and creatures that want to keep them for themselves.

The tomatoes I planted last year were heirlooms (Cherokee purple, yellow tomatoes, beefsteak) and some of the half-eaten fruit fell back into the bed and left seeds which have now started to germinate. I have loads and loads of baby tomato plants now, but I don't know what kind they are. I have to wait for them to grow and produce fruit before I know... but I do know for sure they are tomatoes.

That is how my stories work, too — there are all sorts of seeds of thought that I write down on paper and I have to wait for those seeds to germinate and grow to know what I've got. Sometimes I know what I have, but I still have to let it grow and produce fruit before it is ready to go on stage and be shared. Once the story is shared, there is potential for others to grab some of the seeds and they can grow their own stories.

I dreamed about tomatoes last night. What seeds of story are you growing?

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