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Mid-March: Community Dinner with special, unexpected guest!

Way back when I moved to Bloomington, and to this house, I wondered if the house was located in a neighborhood. I soon found out: Green Acres! I discovered that just as Georgia Schaich, a neighbor whom I hadn’t met, had decided to revitalize the Green Acres Neighborhood Association. So she and I teamed up, determined “To Create a Culture of Creativity Rather Than A Culture of Complaint.” For a number of years, the two of us, plus a rotating cast of four or five others (remember, this is primarily a student rental neighborhood, in close proximity to Indiana University), tried to get communiy spirit going, but the fact that Green Acres is huge (440 houses), and with 65% rentals, occupants flowing through year by year, made that a daunting proposition, and indeed, doomed to fail.

So instead, thanks to one young woman’s advice who lived with me at the time, we decided to begin here, at home, to build community spirit. The result now, our intergenerational Green Acres Permaculture Village, with three connected homes, permacultured grounds, and lots of social capital built up through weekly Community Dinners for neighbors and friends alike.

Meanwhile, Georgia, who had initiated a lot of projects during her four decades in Bloomington, had begun to suffer from Parkinson’s Disease. That was about eight years ago. And she has only been over here one or two times since. I visit her regularly; puppy Shadow knows the way to her house. But more and more, she is confined to a chair.

So, you can imagine my thrill when she arrived unexpectedly last Thursday night, with her patient and devoted retired physics professor husband Bill and her daughter Amy, here visiting from I  North Carolina. It wasn’t an easy job, getting dear Georgia up the steps, but once inside, she enjoyed herself, despite the fact that her body’s capacity has deteriorated to the point where it’s hard for her to say what she is thinking.

Very few of the people present at this gathering— which included six people whom we’ve never seen before, plus one, Jenny, who had returned from six months in California — had ever met Georgia. Nor did they know the backstory to what we are doing now. So I stood behind Georgia’s wheelchair for a few minutes, and told the tale of Green Acres Neighborhood Association and how it had spawned Green Acres Permaculture Village.

Here’s Bill helping Georgia. Luckily, someone found a straw so she could drink.

This dinner was particularly energized, and included, thanks to Annie’s request (she’s in the photo with Bill and Georgia, to the left) the song we’ve adopted for our own, with its lyrics:

How could anyone ever tell you

That you’re anything less than beautiful —

How could anyone ever tell you

You are less than whole?

How could anyone fail to notice

That your loving is a miracle,

How deeply you’re connected — to my soul.

We had only barely enough food, though the chocolate pie and lots of ice cream were over the top fabulous.

Here’s Andreas, Solan and Daisy, in line for the pie.

Amy, Georgia’s daughter, in pink shirt. Jenny’s daughter, a newcomer, to the right.

Wanda, Sam (also new), Gabrielle, Roberto, Jelene.

What’s this cell phone business? No idea. Me, Wanda, and Roberto.

An hour or so later, Andreas again approached the piano. He and Daisy, an IU trained opera singer, then proceeded to present an impromptu concert. Can’t remember the titles of the songs she sang, but they were truly beautiful.

If only Georgia had been able to stay for the concert!

Mid-March: Apple Cider Making

Dan and visitor (and ex-podmate) Duncan, and friends Brin and Eliot took over the Overhill house kitchen one afternoon recently, and made a massive amount of apple cider.

I asked Brin, where did that juicer come from? Downstairs, they all chimed in. Huh? It must have been left here by a former housemate. Terrific for us!

Afterwards, Brin and Duncan cleaned up well, but left no cider! Hopefully some of it will return when it’s ready to drink.



Mid-March: Work, mostly in greenhouse, with seedlings

Though it’s still spitting winter/spring/winter/spring, with the seedlings needing to be protected at night (fire in greenhouse, coverings for peas) they are growing anyhow, most of them. However, the poor peas . . . Not sure how many will make it. Here’s Justin, watering them cheerfully, while they only barely manage to breathe hello.

The other seedlings, however, are doing very well in the greenhouse.

We’ve held two work parties since last I posted, first with Dan and Solan —

— then with a larger crew, including Solan, Gabby, Dan, and Eliot, a visitor.Notice the grey skies. That’s been the situation. Amazing the seedlings still get (enough?) sunlight through the clouds.

Work Parties, February: clean-up, plus plantings, compost — and one “oops”!

Let’s do the “oops” first. On February 10, during that extremely cold spell, Solan noticed that the person whom he had told to put the tomato trays on a shelf in the sunlight the day before had NOT put them back on the heat pad that night. HIs fault, he said. He should have checked, and actually, he didn’t tell the person to do it, so he should have done it. Plus, Andreas was supposed to build a fire in the greenhouse for overnight, but since he had never built a fire before, and so would need supervision, Rebecca told him to forget it, the seedlings would be fine so long as they were on the heat pad. Well . . . Yep. That’s the oops! Because of numerous people not going in the greenhouse that evening  for various reasons and inattention, the sweet delicate little seedling tomatoes all died. . . But then, Dan and his friend Emily stepped up to the plate and planted them again that very same day. Luckily, it’s not too late. Live and learn!

Actually, ever since Rebecca left, a few weeks ago, except for morning and evening watering of seedlings and regular caring for chickens, our work parties have been slacking off . . . Rebecca is also slacking off, deliberately, having driven all the way to Nevada, where she is glamping for a month or so in a glorious new Queen of Sheba tent with her two dogs in a desert campground near Las Vegas, where she can go work as a Uber driver, when she needs money. Unfortunately, I can’t find a pic of the tent.

But today, work parties resumed with gusto, four of us, plus Camden, who has been coming to dinner and wanted to join work parties too. The goals: to clean up the chicken yard, plant the peas, and make a new compost pile. All done!

Clean up chicken yard

Justin with chicken wire, lots of it, which we rolled and stacked. The pile beyond on the right is actually the beginnings of a new hugelkultur bed, however, so we didn’t touch it. Notice the new fence!

Plant the Peas

Here they are, on the right front, next to the beets at the end, ready to go out.


Solan, director of this work party, plants.


Camden overlooks Andreas and Justin planting, his water bucket full and ready.


Done! And notice the sticks inserted on the left for the peas to climb. The other side has wire for that same purpose. The peas will have to be covered, with both ground cover and tarp, every time it goes below freezing at night. We found those and stacked them next to the bed.

Making a New Compost Bed

I didn’t stay for this operation, and Justin had to go to class, leaving Solan, Justin and Camden to do it. I did go out to check on their progress mid-way through. It took about an hour altogether, layering leaves, food scraps, chicken poop infested hay, and spent grains which we get from a brewery. No manure for this bed, unfortunately, so it won’t compost quite as fast. Our three houses, with nine people total, all contribute food scraps, so we have lots of buckets. Half way through the operation, these had already been emptied.

And these awaited emptying.

Here we go.

Adding the leaves . . .

The pile slowly grows, layer by layer.

It’s 4:30, time to do my daily yoga, chi kung, and tai chi, then get ready for this week’s Community Dinner, to be held in our regular rotation, at the second DeKist house this evening. Tomorrow I will do a blogpost on that dinner, plus two other dinners from February. Tomorrow we march into March! YES!