Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Do the first thing

"Do the first thing, and let the first thing be to just love and care for the people in your life.
If cares or extra commitments or certain relationships are hindering you from doing so, cast them (the cares) aside, or set them (extra commitments or certain relationships) aside, until things are running smoothly and you feel able to reach out a bit further.
If you have to face a difficulty today (and you may and will at times) breathe deeply, send your simplest prayer of childlike trust-- with all its fears and/or concerns of inadequacies and possibilities--up to the Lord, and then go in, or out, to face --knowing that He is not surprised by or afraid of, anything."
- Eyes of Wonder

Monday, September 7, 2015

The wishes of my heart

I would crave wealth, not riches as I live:
The wealth of learning with a quiet heart.
An open mind with leisure time to give
To poetry, to music, and to art;
The time for children's laughter, time to learn
The wisdom of the sages of the past;
The time to watch the stars--a candle burn
In sacrificial fire to the last.

I would speak gently though the din be loud,
I would move softly without hurried haste,
I would be inconspicuous in a crowd,
I would conserve the energies we waste;
I would see beauty in each common task,
Each bird, each tree, the clouds that light shines through.
This is my heart's desire--the thing I ask:
To daily grow as God would have me do.

~Grace Noll Crowell

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Simple Art

Simple art on a simple day - pen/pencil containers out of empty Pringles cans, decorated with the help of some glittering ribbon, scissors and glue:

Followed by a quote from my all-time favorite blog, Eyes of Wonder (now, sadly, discontinued and gone private):

"I sure do find that the children are happiest when they're creating something. It makes a bit of a mess, that's for sure, but the peace and joy that fills the house is so much more than worth it.  A nice breakfast, a pot of soup set to cook on the stove, some music while all the morning chores are being done, all the supplies made ready, makes for merry little hearts (and big ones, too :o) and the fun begins!  

My childlike heart loves to be busy creating, too, and finds so much pleasure in doing so alongside my precious children. The days pass all too quickly, and I want to be able to look back knowing I gave them the gift of my time, not just as a mother meeting their physical needs, but as a friend, that walked with them and talked with them, laughed with them, knew them through and through, and thoroughly enjoyed them along life's way.  How I do so desire to seize each moment I am blessed with, to love and delight in the gift of my children."

Friday, September 4, 2015

Living with irregular electricity supply

Following my last post about living with irregular water supply: Last winter, we've had more than a few days around here with irregular electricity supply. Here is how we managed.

1. Gas heater. We bought a used gas heater, in very good condition, quite cheaply, and used that when the electricity couldn't be counted on. Many people around here use wood burning, but we aren't that fond of chopping wood.

2. Candles and oil burners - even when the electricity was on, I'd always light a candle, just in case, in the bathroom before stepping into the shower. I started doing it after the time when I started a shower and then got stuck in the dark when all went black. You don't want that to happen when you're bathing the baby, either.

3. Good insulation - it really pays off to insulate your house, both for when it's cold in the winter and when it's extremely hot in the summer. Also, good insulation for your fridge helps the food last longer, saves electricity, and prevents spoilage when the electricity is off for a few hours.

4. Invest in UPS units - for your more expensive appliances. We have them for the computer, the washing machine and the fridge. This way, we ensure our appliances don't get damaged by sudden fluctuations in the power flow.

5. Have plenty of clothes for little ones - Israel was born in January, and you know how many outfits a small baby can get through! First these are diaper blowouts, then it's mashed bananas all over the place, not to mention all the dust from crawling around the house. Toddlers have a tendency to get good and dirty, too. So you don't want to get stuck with no clean clothes because you can't operate your washer for a few days. Of course, you can wash some things by hand in a real emergency, but it's very time-consuming and I didn't want to do that with a new baby.

Here are more suggestions from the Down To Earth Forum:

"We had been warned about power cuts here too - the winter before we moved there were huge storms in this area of and many people were without power for a week or so. We considered this when we we doing our house, although we haven't had anything other than momentary cuts since we moved in a year ago. Our hot water heater is gas and uses batteries to fire up, so works with no power. Our stovetop is also gas and can be lit with matches and we have a wood burner with an oven compartment. We have a stovetop kettle to use instead of the electric one when necessary and have a number of candles dotted around, mainly ornamental but useful too. We have a tin with extra candles and matches that we have moved out of storage and into our living room in light of the stormy weather this week, we both know where it is and should be able to find it easily in the dark. Finally, on stormy nights, we light a couple of candles even if the electricity is on - that way, if it goes off we still have some light to sort everything out by. And finally, we have some of our appliances plugged into power surge arresters to protect them if there is a spike."

"I would think it is worth spending your first winter with emergency back up before investing in expensive things like generators and solar panels. You might find that you only lose electricity for a few hours/a day at a time, which is easier to cope with even if it happens regularly. Emergency food/water rations, gas heating & emergency lighting (probably battery/solar powered camping lanterns rather than candles with young kids) will see you through, and it is probably worth having a good stock of disposable nappies (especially if you usually use cloth) for when you can't do laundry. It is all about deciding what you need to survive for a day or two."

"I'd echo what has been said by others, and add that investing in one of those counter top double gas rings might be useful for a back up. They run off gas bottles, so at least you are able to cook something. When we first moved into this house we had no electricity at all for 2 months (in the winter). We used a generator to run the fridge and one other item at a time and cooked on the double gas ring and an assortment of camping gas stoves/lanterns - I shouldn't say this, probably, but the tops of the lanterns get hot enough to cook on, though you need to be very, very careful! I was ready to kidnap the man who finally came to connect us - two months of heating water in saucepans so that we could have anything approaching a bath was resulting in serious sense of humour failure! I even cooked Christmas dinner on the 2 gas ring thing, so anything good to eat is possible with one of those. A small gas heater (again with a gas bottle) will throw out a good amount of heat in one room, too - just make sure you keep that room ventilated!"

"we keep a good supply of candles in as well - there are intermittent power cuts here (normally not for more than a couple of hours) for mainenance - all the power goes via overhead cables rather than underground, but there are times in bad weather that lines can come down and then we can be without power for up to 48 hours (in the worst cases). You really need to invest in a UPS unit for things like computers - they give you a chance to power down correctly. Fit a surge protector as well. If you get "brownouts" - ie weak supply rather than complete cuts - make sure you turn OFF anything with a motor (like the fridge) as they can be damaged."

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Living with irregular water supply

We currently live in a very beautiful place; however, some of the utility systems there have their imperfections. Among other things, water supply can sometimes be unreliable. It doesn't happen every day, but for example, yesterday we spent almost the entire day without running water; we had one hour of running water in the evening - we only just managed showers, and it was gone again. This morning, we've had no running water either. Perhaps some of you, living in the remoter spots, are facing the same challenges. Here are some ways to manage:

1. Home cistern - that one is pretty obvious, but it is an expense we still aren't sure we are prepared to venture into. It does work well for some families here, though. They have cisterns which get filled when the water is running, and if the water supply is cut off, their cistern can last them for days (depending on the size of their family and how they manage showers and laundry).

2. Do not delay - if I have a load of washing to do, I do it; if I have dishes in the sink, I do them. There are few things more frustrating than leaving a sinkful of dishes "until later" and then being unable to do them because your tap stops running.

3. Collect dew - there is a lot of talk online about collecting rainwater, but in Israel, we generally have no (and I mean no) rain from May till October. You would be surprised, however, to know how much dew we manage to collect by placing buckets in strategic places beneath our front door awning. We get around two buckets a day, which we give to our chickens and, in some cases, use to flush the toilet.

4. Save what you can - for me, this usually means water from the baby's bath. It can be used for washing the floor and, again, flushing the toilet if there's no water left in the tank.

5. Keep some bottled water on hand - we always do that, so that at least we aren't stuck without drinking water. Yesterday we gave away some water bottles to a neighbor of ours who was at home with a very small baby and no water for drinking. You don't want that to happen to you.

Here are some more lovely suggestions from members of the Down To Earth Simple Living Forum:

"We have a slightly erratic water supply and will often (maybe a couple of times a month) have a day with no mains water. We have rainwater tanks in the garden and, when it rains heavily, we make sure we fill other water containers from the overflow. We use these containers for flushing the toilet - the water isn't clean enough for other uses so we always have bottled drinking water on hand too."

" if you can invest in a tank of some kind then I would do so, with a pump to get the water from the tank into the house - assuming you are not without power & water at the same time! Is there a spring anywhere near for drinking water? If so this is a better/cheaper option than buying bottled water for drinking all the time."

"I have not lived under the conditions you describe however my mother inlaw did when she lived in SriLanka.
her motto used to be " what do I absolutely have to have to survive" 
she kept bottled water for drinking as it was not always safe for her to walk out of her compound to go fetch water. She felt she could live without a shower short term , at least until it was daylight and she had an escort. 
For longer term water shortages she just washed underclothes by hand with fresh water from the toilet cistern that she then used for flushing the toilet ( only once a day )"