We got mail!

We received a very thoughtful surprise and “thank you” note in the mail yesterday. What a pleasant gesture of appreciation receiving a copy of the now out-of-printThe Integral Urban House: Self Reliant Living in the City’ ( First published in 1974).

The Integral Urban House {Mother Earth 1976}

For all the current talk about getting “back to the land” and becoming self-sufficient, darn few folks have taken the lead in showing urban residents—apartment dwellers and city homeowners—how they too can enjoy a more self-reliant way of life. One organization that is doing encouraging work in this area is the Farallones Institute of Berkeley, California. Here’s a report on just one of the Institute’s project: the conversion of a Victorian mansion into an urban homestead
read article
[ I wonder what became of this early model of urban homesteading? ]

Thank you so much ( J & K) for your kind and thoughtful note and generous gift. This 480 pg book is the ultimate sourcebook for urban living that will give us many hours of educational reading which we will definitely share with others. What a blessing it is to share this path with all of you and what a wonderful way to start the week on such a positive note!

Rock pile


Monday morning we received a load of mixed rocks – red and the typical grey/white. The red rocks we used to make a raised bed around the cob oven and the white/greys will be used to build a grey water reclamation system sometime this year (once the roof is done)
Jules also bought a few bags of medium and large oval colored “pebbles” that we’ll use to fill in the gaps around the two concrete flowers that we made when we jack hammered out the huge slab of concrete last Thanksgiving.

We spent most of the day working on the “red rock bed” that was finished in just an afternoon. What a different feel this bed gives to the backyard and in a few months we should be harvesting all sorts of fresh herbs and veggies like cilantro, parsley, oregano, basil, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and for color we threw in a few marigolds and hollyhocks.

To finish the bed off with a bit of whimsy, towards the back of the bed we put up one of the bike wheel trellises the guys made a few years back.   With the three clay pots in place, this bed should be nice and moist come hot summer days.

As for the grey water reclamation area, we just stacked the rocks for when we get around to designing that section of the yard. Today, will be putting in the small pebbles around the concrete flower.

Pictures are coming…

Not only do we love planting, we like plantings to look “pretty” and our landscaping/decorating genes take over and boy they are deep rooted and strong. If it were up to us we’d landscape everyone’s yard! The scary thing that landscaping/gardening genes are so intense, one of my uncles also has this insatiable urge to take over his neighbor’s yard and he’s done just that. His plants are “spilling over” into the neighbor’s yard.   Just like our plantings have spilled over into our neighbor’s yard.  

Besides our urge to expand the borders of our garden, we have another trait where we have to plant every open space available, even planting on the space in between the sidewalk and road. Being a city dweller, my grandfather planted that area too, as well as my father and now, most recently, our uncle.

There’s lots to do. We still have to re-plaster the cob oven now that we are over any possible chances of freezing night time temps. I learned the hard way that you can’t plaster cob in the dead of winter – it’s just too cold.   Also, the sun oven needs a few repairs of its own before summer.   Fortunately, while it’s waiting to be repaired, the sun hasn’t come out early enough these days for us to use it, so it isn’t on the top on our list of things to do — yet!

It’s yet another day of AM clouds and hazy afternoon sun and looking at the forecast it’s not supposed to change anytime soon.
Goin’ Back to Cali

Half of California’s processed tomato exports go to Canada, which ships $36 million worth of processed tomatoes to the U.S. annually. In 2003, New York shipped $1.1 million worth of California almonds to Italy, while importing $1.1 million worth of almonds from Italy. California sells $18 million worth of asparagus abroad. $39 million worth of asparagus comes into the state from other countries. International strawberry imports to California peak during the state’s strawberry season. 20% of California’s table grapes go to China, the world’s largest producer of table grapes.
read article

Global Warming Speeds Up Arrival of Spring

The following indicators show average changes as noted: * Growing season: 8 days longer (1874 – 2001) * Spring bloom: 4 – 8 days earlier (1965 – 2005) * High-volume spring river flow: 7 – 14 days earlier (1936 – 2000) * Lake ice-out: 9 – 16 days earlier (1807 – 2000) * Days with snow on the ground: 16 fewer days (1970 – 2001)
read article

No Comments

  1. Nancy Kelly says:

    Reading that article made me sad – what if that house were commonplace now – what a different world it would be.


  2. gerry medland says:

    A truly excellent article!How prophetic!’Nothing new under the sun’It is a shot in the arm for us to know we are travelling the ‘path’today,for as we so do,we will tread the path tomorrow by our efforts both individually and collectively!

  3. cherilyn says:

    It would be fantastic if the urban homestead concept had taken hold 30-odd years ago!

    Just wanted to let you know, in case others ask, that I found a used copy of this book on Amazon. While I’d love to buy a copy locally, it is out of print, so I looked for a used book dealer that was closest to my location so I knew that the least amount of fossil fuels were burned to get it to me.