Putting Down Roots, Tornadoes, Hobbit Houses, Arizona, (and a mini-rant)


The Garden got planted by mid-May, in a 20’x26’ section of the community garden across from the house. The dirt is a rich ash-colored black, and full of earthworms!
I didn't quite empty out the big boot box seed box (that has been storing seeds in the fridge for the past 2 years)- as we aren't doing any corn (we have 3 kinds), and I'm not wasting space on anything hubby won't eat (turnips, various greens, beets, eggplant, etc.) But there are a lot of things we do find agreeable!

*pencil-straight ‘Calima’ green beans (bush) supposedly can start harvesting in only 55 days! (One that is 3 weeks old now is about 6" high. It better hurry up and grow!)
*10' row of sugar pod peas (sweet edible pods that are fat, not flat) 
*a few kinds of radishes (will be sowing these every 2 weeks for continual harvesting and seed-saving if they bolt)
* 3 each: yellow-scallop and lemon-shaped summer squash (bush), bush zucchini
*1‘Black Mountain’ (small round) watermelon
*large blue Hubbard squash (I have little hope in this one- I planted 4 seeds, none up yet)
*butternut & spaghetti squash (one hill each, and only one of the two has come up-but I don't know which one!)
*green onions (the ones I raised in coffee cans all winter & harvested each month)
*1 head of garlic cloves (2 kinds- I hope one is 'MUSIC' - huge cloves, less peeling!!)
*red and yellow onions (a handful of each)
*1 cucumber
*5 white potatoes, 1 sm. red potato (as these produced eyes and sprouts in a paper bag on top of the fridge all winter)
*red bell pepper
*a jalapeno, (maybe a poblano chili too?)
*a few random Turkish purple carrots (we just liberally sprinkled seed around the boundary), *5 kinds of tomatoes—two different cherries, a buttery-smooth orange heirloom beefsteak (saved from a special store-bought assortment I got back in Durango), a round red ‘Abe Lincoln’, and a pink beefsteak (also from the special heirloom section of the store). 

*sweet potato slips are just getting started now at 3", with strawberries, lettuces, and rosemary under lights in the basement. Some are growing in in dirt, some in ‘Kratke’ coffee cans, some in rail hydroponics. (The sweet potato slips are between 2" and 4" high but I clipped them and set them into water along with the mint. (Sprinkled a little bit of rooting hormone in there. And it's 6" underneath the growing lights).
The 5 tiny slips will go into the ground on Friday - so they can finally get heat! Wish them luck! 

Hopefully the one leaf of ‘apple mint’ will develop substantial roots and take off – it’s setting out baby leaves now -on a one inch stem
I collected that from the landscape near the farm supply store.  

My purple morning glories waited thru weeks of cool spring rains to come up. Now they will have to grow without direct sunlight, but at least it's warming up.

We got 3 hazelnut trees last fall – supposed to be named after  B.B. King (though I couldn't find any online, they do serve special ales at B.B. King's “Blues Club” in L. A – one made with hazelnuts & cinnamon and one with chocolate & hazelnuts (brewed by River Horse Brewing Co.)  
One tree was dead already, and after hibernating in a bucket in the garage (where the sunlight might hit it on sunny days, even thru the frost)... they started budding in April and then suddenly one just up and disappeared! 

I suspect the naughty squirrels, but I can’t be sure.  
There are bunnies hiding everywhere...

But even so, I'm always surprised when plants 'make it' under my watch... 
If it's not me breaking the 'gardening rules', then it's mystery maladies. 

I once told my son I thought it was fine to pour watered down cola into his bamboo plant. A little sugar shouldn't hurt it, right? It came to a very rotten end fairly soon. (You'd think I'd learn a thing or two.)

The way I am forcing the sweet potatoes...makes me feel like a Medieval Torture Chamber Dude (whatever they were called). But every day I see more new leaves poking up thru the dirt, so my fingers are crossed, and I will faithfully water and weed, just in case.
I admire all the plants that make it thru the torture chamber of my gardening practices and the Colorado Potato Beetles. 

The seedlings are now being well-watered by Nature. I planted a lot of things on little 'hills' because of this (If they are surrounded by a circle of a water then the roots get an advantage and this also to avoid having the actual plants drowned  -  at least to my logic). 

Spring storms and overcast days are the norm, but I'm learning to take storms seriously... each one has potential of being more than just a good soak!

Every day I geek the weather (courtesy of weather.gov), looking for the first sign of threats:

    "THUNDERSTORMS ARE LIKELY ACROSS THE OUTLOOK AREA TODAY AND EARLY
TONIGHT. A FEW STORMS MAY BE SEVERE THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING
FROM SOUTH CENTRAL MINNESOTA THROUGH WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN. 
THE MAIN...
...SEVERE THREATS ARE LARGE HAIL AND DAMAGING WINDS BUT AN
ISOLATED TORNADO CANNOT BE RULED OUT...
...LOCALLY HEAVY RAINFALL IS
ALSO POSSIBLE WHICH COULD LEAD TO MINOR FLOODING."

Wow, a lot of potential outcomes.
Know the signs of a tornado, and what to do! 

Here's a good page for research; it includes many slides (some animated) on tornado damages and stuff - like slide #8 that discusses the Moore tornado (everyone knows about that one!). 
It covers what people did WRONG when trying to situate themselves for tornado impact (even when some had the opportunity of 10 minutes to drive away from it)... and the injuries sustained by making the wrong decisions.

Highway Overpasses as Tornado Shelters: Fallout From the 3 May 1999 Oklahoma/Kansas Violent Tornado Outbreak (click link for slides and info).

Quote from NOAA (Norman, OK)
"The most important point is this: seeking shelter under the overpass resulted in the highway becoming blocked, trapping people in the path of a violent tornado with no options other than a ditch, an overpass, or their vehicle - 
all terrible options. In effect, those who sought shelter under the overpass made a bad decision that put many more people than themselves into a life-threatening situation, unnecessarily."


NOAA has a lot of info, but was hard to find.  noaa.gov : tornado safety - WHAT TO DO

I have collected a lot of weather info since I came with a huge learning curve on this part of the country. I needed to understand about snowfall history and tornado history (for state, county, town), all about tornadoes in general, then on personal safety and storm preps. 

I found basement shelter design intriguing... this room as a "safe place" is actually a misnomer, as houses often collapse INTO the basement, crushing you, or are completely lifted OFF the basement, exposing you

So, there is NO SAFE PLACE in case of a tornado- it's just the luck of the draw.

While horrifying, viewing pictures of the devastating effects of a tornadoes is helpful. That basement above is just like OUR basement - it's only partially underground, there is no under-stair space, and there are windows on 3 of the walls, too. 

The safest place is a small enclosed and reinforced 'safe room' INSIDE the basement. But of course many of us are renters, and most of us can't afford that- especially retro-fitting one in an established home. 
A lot of people make up for that by reinforcing the small area under the basement stairs. 
Of course not all stairs have an 'under'... it's just a cement 'block'... so people must do what they have to do at the time. Hopefully that has been somewhat thought out beforehand. 

On that note....
If you have nothing better to do, this is meant to be a kind of funny story with a lesson in it (at least for me), and I'm sharing the entertainment factor with you, if you don't need the lessons. 

First, we get 'test' sirens at 1pm  every first Wed. of the month. (Of course I found that out the hard way).

Second... we are between two different sirens, and both go off with their different intensities like an eerie train whistle getting closer and farther away and closer again.

Re: the tornado threat... 
It is important to have a safety plan in place and know what to do in case the tornado siren goes off (again)... 
...and NOT to run around cussing and looking outside at the sky for signs of it, and then looking for info online... like what direction it may be coming from. 

After hearing the sirens, I found out about it by looking up the city police dept's facebook page! (They said 3 or 4 tornadoes were sighted at 2 different locations, neither of which I knew the direction of... so MORE time spent looking around to determine the threat level...)


... Oh, and just because the siren quits sounding off does NOT mean the threat is gone.

(Here, as in many other towns, they ONLY sound the siren if a tornado is SIGHTED ON THE GROUND and/or by radar. Some towns blow it for "watches" as well, so you have to know that difference where you are.) 

So, this video includes all the panicked screaming and hyperventilating and running around one does when they are UNPREPARED (which is JUST exactly what I did - except I didn't use the "F" word - I used the "S" word)... 

I share it so you will understand panic because of a lack of a 'plan of action', (and my reaction, if you just watch the first 15 minutes). 
Go ahead an laugh at me. 
But note how eerie the siren is... 
And how hard it is to hear from inside!!!!

Everyone ends up safe... but the process is a hoot (when seen from the point of afterwards)



Things I learned in situ:
1)  it would be nice to have a little stool to sit upon while waiting for the storm to pass by. 
2) Without a little NOAA radio (on the wish list), the minutes will go by very quietly and slowly. 
3) Our city doesn't have an "all clear" siren. [If you don't have a way to hear reports, you might come out of safety too soon. You have to judge for yourself.]
4) One important prep is to get your shelter prepped BEFORE there's an actual warning. Depending on lines of sight, trees, buildings, you may not be able to see one coming in time, and running around looking for things is not the smartest reaction.

I now keep an emergency Rubbermaid tote in the basement - our tornado shelter, such as it is. It is similar to a BOB (bug-out-bag/backpack, but because it's always damp in the basement those wouldn't work). I keep the basics (radio, flashlight and a headlamp, batteries) as well as water, bandages, and a pair of shoes in case we run downstairs in the middle of the night and have to walk back out in debris. 

Per my plan, the rest of the space will hold the laptop, the ipad, the PC backup unit, charger cords and my purse! 
Plus a little container of dog food. And a mascara. You know that is a necessity.

For seating, I decided on a 5-gallon bucket with a lid (free from some grocery deli's), which can hold a lot of emergency supplies, and keep them dry (which is imperative here!) and you can roll a blanket/jacket up and store it on top, wrapped in plastic, held in place by the bucket handles. 

This gives you something to wrap up in, in case glass shards or other debris makes it into your basement - the less you are exposed, the better. (Nothing I can do about all the items stored in there becoming missiles, or the walls crashing in or other incoming projectiles). 
After the tornado hits & passes by, it may still be raining, or there may be injuries, so the blanket/jacket is good to have on hand.

I recommend keeping a headlamp and a book to read in the bucket, so you can remain calm and be hands-free while distracted with some measure of comfort - and therefore encouraged to stay as long as you need to. 
Our basement has a nickname: "The Dungeon". 

For the 5 minutes I made myself remain down there last time, I thought a lot about Hobbit Houses- built into hills (a great idea - after all, the safest place to be is underground!) 
And I thought about Arizona... yeah, I know, it gets hot there - but that's what pools, misters, shade tree courtyards, lounge chairs, iced tea, ice cream, and long books are for, right? 


If you live in the SOUTH, I hear the remedy for the oppressive humid heat is "Magnolia Milk": a sort of 'punch' made of Bourbon poured over vanilla ice cream, with a dash of nutmeg.
It's legit all right- there in all the bartender manuals! 
Source: lover.ly/posts

I really do sympathize with Southerners... humidity is it's own special kind of hell. shower. In fact, you can do your laundry by just wearing the clothes. 

Sadly humidity doesn't seem to do anything GOOD or necessary (there is no pro vs con, there is only con). It doesn't clear your pores, it isn't wrinkle-fighting, and it does NOT moisturize your hair! 
Maybe it was good in the Dinosaur days, when plants grew to be ginormous enough to fill those bellies, and the dragonflies were 4 feet across... but it doesn't do anything for us now but breed hordes of the Minnesota State Bird (the Mosquito)!

I suppose mushrooms do well and like it. Anything else worthy? (I know, even that's questionable).


Meantime we’re starting a new business adventure! 
It’s a dream come true to have another opportunity as we seek a way forward in this uncertain economy. 

Food security is my obsession, (I do not ever wish to see a hungry child! And, it's my plan to never be reliant on a feed store for my next chickens...). But rather than hoard cans of food, we are working toward resiliency in many areas, so we may be able to keep up with the inevitable decline (of the petro-dollar/fiat money system/empire... whatever may come), to have back-up ways of production - both inside and outside.

Our farming efforts are born of the desire, in fact are the main part, of an “intentional family back up plan”. 
When next financial crisis hits (because it's just a matter of when), and our standards of living go down by half as much or more, family members would have a place to live and the means of breaking into the market garden business with their own creative/entrepreneurial vision, passion and energies (sweat equity). 
We will be a producer of foods, selling from our own store-front and at farmers markets, taking on the management of several growing systems and locations, while encouraging even more growers (by helping them to sell their produce), which should make a positive impact in building up some resilience to hard times.

But getting it off the ground (including initial demolition and building projects) will take the main part of summer. And then we have to grow as fast as possible, while we gain experience and expand. We're in it for the long haul, so no big rush, but obviously the sooner it's off the ground the better. 
This is a head of lettuce growing in the "Kratke" method - in this case a coffee can with nutrient water. It takes 35-45 days to grow to full size from seed, and you never have weeds, pests, or have to water it...just give it light. 

This is our first strawberry blossom, growing in a 'tower' - hydroponically. (Nutrient-rich water cascades down thru the tube from the top). We got our first strawberry a week ago.
It was Sweet - and not hard like the ones in the store!

The business is not something I intend to blog about here, but just so you know why some things are important, and why I might dwell on them... 
Obstacles and uncertainty abound, and I try very, very hard, not to rely on 'hope'.
I have reasons to believe my/our efforts will pay off, it's not the same as relying on hope alone.
Hope is not a good or reliable strategy. And relying on something you 'hope' will happen, or 'hope' will work out in your favor... well, hope can entrap you. 
You do nothing (because you are waiting on hopeful resolution of your circumstances)... but while you are waiting on hopes, with your fingers crossed, reality bites down, just like a bear trap. This is hard-earned wisdom I speak.

Remember how the last 2 elections were pinned on 'hopes'? ... 
You know how President Snow in 'The Hunger Games' said,
"Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. A spark is fine, as long as it's contained."
It's like that. 
Call me cynical, color me skeptical, accuse me of being biased and jaded... but twice burned, lessons learned! 

And if you've read my blog for a while, you know how we lost our home and the struggle that ensued along with that (based on our ignorance of how the insidious financial system works). Mortgage lenders called it "dual tracking," but homeowners called it by another name: "the double-cross". 
                                                   
That was just the beginning eye-opener. The existing economy is based upon government-allowed frauds by private banks. It's bad enough they are counting debt as an asset, debt as money... but on a ruinous level, allowing predatory lending-  to become exponentially more fraudulent, as personal debt levels now reach a crecendo. 
Learn a little about what happens behind the scenes here... The Dept of Justice Confirms Holders-of-Securitized-Loans Cannot Be Traced/Tracked/Held Accountable
Although the Big Banks have paid billions in fines for their frauds against us, it's all tax deductible for them. And mostly the fines get regurgitated between gov't agencies anyway. 
OMG, stop me now, so I will not rant.
If you'll read the right-hand bar on that website, you'll begin to get a gist of the gargantuan properties of all these property improprieties...
I dare you to say that 5 times fast.

Basically at this point, a little piece of me expects we are headed the same direction, and into circumstances just as dire as what Venezuela faces today. 
Venezuela's middle class is dumpster-diving for food, and eating their dogs and cats!!

It's my opinion that things will get that bad here, but it is opinion based on the experience of collapsing economies around the globe.
This video will enlighten you on what food scarcity does...
"Civilization Is Only Nine Meals Away From Anarchy"

And here it is being considered in the light of reality on the ground in a 1st-World country... when the first financial crisis hit (Daily Mail, UK -June 2008):
 "'nine meals from anarchy' no longer a distant or improbable threat." 

I could spend a lot of time illustrating this, but I just want to reiterate - one of the worst things in life, is just going about your life not being aware that they are about to yank the run out from under you. 
And then when they do- no one will be held accountable, for whatever reason, no matter what damage it causes you. 
In fact, as you see in evidence above... it will take 10 years for them to investigate before they come up with that answer. 

Because you weren't savvy enough to understand that there WAS a game being played, never mind HOW the game was played, and really, really, never mind how to outsmart them at their own game. 
It can't be done.
Study: America is an Oligarchy not a Democracy or Republic...

So. Here we are. But, hey, it's not where we are that counts - it's all about where we're going. 
I am forging a pathway, planting my boot prints in the deep, rich, dirt of Minnesota! 
(And I hope I smash some of these mosquitoes while I'm at it).
Now, after that epic post, I'm headed out in my favorite picture, to absorb the sounds and sights of life among the greenery... and just breathe. I highly recommend it!













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