Posts Tagged ‘Off Grid Heating’

All Is Well in the Land of Goshen

Several people have already contacted me, very concerned about how we’re doing in Goshen after 60 tornadoes plowed through Illinois and Indiana today. Thanks for your concern. We’re doing well here. I always tell people I cut deals with the Nature Spirits, and I’m really not kidding. Thor is the God of Thunder, associated with the THORN Rune of protection. I mentally draw that Rune all over our property every time I hear of or sense any sort of major storm. Synchronously, just as I sat down to post this announcement, Yahoo news flashed some story across my screen about THOR the movie. Yes, thunder and lightning and wind were very active today! But not so much right here.

I talk to the Nature Spirits like I talk to the bees who get mad at me for interrupting their meal while watering my bee friendly flowers: “Hey, don’t sting me. I planted these flowers, and I’m keeping them alive for you. Don’t sting the hand that feeds you. C’mon, live in harmony, eh?” and the bees let me do my thing without stinging me, just like the wasps when I remind them who planted the plants that house the insects the wasps eat. When storms come, I always request that the Nature Spirits protect our property, especially our home and gardens. I remind them that I can much more easily advocate for Nature if I have adequate living quarters and food. So far, so good. Although much of Goshen was tucked away in basements, I felt fine wandering around upstairs figuring what to wear for tonight’s outing. I just knew no storm would hit our house.

Tonight we had our Inner Transitions book group meeting scheduled in Three Rivers, Michigan, and we received an email saying they were on if we were. Driving there, we saw some pretty intense damage — the roof of a silo ripped off and insulation strewn all over the road; closed roads; miles and miles of downed power lines; a tower toppled over; branches and entire trees scattered across lawns and in ditches; pitch blackness all around. The house hosting the meeting did not have power, but they did have a wood stove and hurricane lanterns. They ran their generator so we could flush the toilet, since there were a dozen or so of us visiting from various locations. We had a lovely, lovely time! Somehow, having fluorescent lights replaced by the warm glow of a fire and oil lamps was just perfect. The people hosting expressed gratitude because they had consciously designed their home to be able to host such gatherings even in the event of a long term grid-down scenario.

I won’t discuss our Inner Transition processing, because that’s private, but tonight’s meeting underscored for me the sense of joy and return to soulful community that life without electricity has the potential to cultivate. The massive power outages, likely to stay out for weeks, also affirmed my own urge to get some extra preps in place last weekend. It was weird, because even while posting about the GridEx II drill, I didn’t really feel like that was it. I just felt like we ought to have some alternative heat and extra food and water available for us and for David’s parents. Unlike so many in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan, we didn’t end up needing those preps today; however, we sure would be happy to have them if we did. David’s parents’ garage window got smashed by a flying canopy, but they, too, are fine and have power. We are all grateful, and my heart goes out to those who lost their homes or who will need to survive without the grid at least for the near future.

Many people have spoken today about the Philippines, since the unexpected storms reminded them of how suddenly life can shift. People have asked me how to process such large scale devastation, and I have a bit of a different take on it. When such a large group of people pass unexpectedly, I truly believe they carry on in a different collective reality. They are on a different timeline, because their collective sense of reality hasn’t really had time to separate. When something that massive and that sudden takes 10K people at once, I really believe it’s like Avalon fading into the mists. That’s why I’ve never been afraid of dying in an “Earth destroying catastrophe.”

First of all, I’m not afraid to die. I’ve spoken to the dead since I was a child, and the dead speak back. It’s a transition, not the end.

Secondly, I have faced my own death on multiple occasions. The day after my brain injury, I awoke in my old bed at my parents’ house, feeling so cognitively different and not remembering how I got there that I actually thought I was dead. I wandered around the house and, finding no one there, really thought I might be dead. My parents have a graveyard behind their house, so I wandered outside to see if I could locate my grave. I figured if I were dead, I would remember where it was, or at least I’d find some fresh dirt that would lead me to my headstone. As I wandered, I saw no one but a deer, and the deer stared at me. “Hmmm, so the deer sees me, but animals often see the dead, so that proves nothing.” I finally got the idea to return to my parents’ house and call them each at work. I figured since they don’t talk to the dead that if I were dead, they wouldn’t be able to hear me. They both picked up and assured me that I was still alive and that I very much needed to go to the doctor. Immediately.

The doctor ordered an initial two weeks off work, and I was bored. Very, very, exceedingly bored. I kept trying to read, but everything spun around. The letters seemed to float like bubbles and gnats around the room. I finally focused all my attention to clear the print and read “The Sun Also Rises” in one day. I had read it many times before, so I didn’t notice that I couldn’t actually follow the plot. I already knew the plot. When I stopped reading and looked up, the room began to spin. It spun and spun and spun until I finally passed out. The next morning, I awoke to the most massive migraine imaginable. I had never had a migraine before, and this, supposedly, was not a normal one. I thought I was hemorrhaging. I called my dad and told him I’d leave the sliding glass door open in case he needed to collect my body. I made peace with the Great Spirit in a moment of wonder, “Oh!!! You exist!” And that was that.

I didn’t die, at least not physically, but everything I thought I knew about myself and my life, all the external definitions died. And yet something remained. That something is the reason I don’t fear death. I see that something in every client, every friend and every stranger. While others fear a collapse of the familiar or a collapse of civilization or the grid, I relish the possibilities. Yes, I want systems in place to be able to handle sewage, food, clean water and some form of heating … you know, the basics … because I don’t like unpleasant smells or desperation. I know we can prepare our communities with backup systems that treat the Earth better and protect us from ourselves.

But I do look forward to people turning inward, as they inevitably do when “tragedy” looms or strikes. I look forward to how real people become when suddenly faced with their own mortality. I have helped so many people die, walked with them as they prepared to transition from this life into whatever lives beyond. I’ve relayed so many messages from passed animals, parents and children — messages with such affirmations and synchronicities that “prove” (to the Soul at least) that life continues. All is well.

As Julian of Norwich said, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” We have agency. And life. We continue to co-create beyond the familiar. Who’s to say that won’t be our very greatest creation?

Sweet Potato Salads and Other Joyful Things

Well, we still have power, and the irs.gov website still indicates its advanced warning of many pages’ inaccessibility due to “a power outage” from 4:00 p.m. November 9 – 7:00 a.m. November 12. Although some areas did go down yesterday, we’re still wired in today in Goshen. Who knows what’s up and when? According to an increasing number of folks, “It Is Not a Matter of If, but When the Lights Go Out.” Maybe so, maybe not. Meanwhile, I’m feeling mighty joyful due to some of the silliest and simplest things: sweet potatoes, flower pot heaters and coolers, and a brand new thermos, among other things.

Let’s start with the sweet potato salads, because they’re just pretty. And delicious. Here are two different batches I made recently — the first was last night (hummus, mixed greens, leftover sweet potato ‘fries’ and microgreens) and the next two photos were from a few weeks ago when I made hummus-sweet-potato-nasturtium-calendula salads on a bed of greens. I do love edible flowers! Plus, the sweet potato complements the slightly spicy, savory hummus so well, and fresh greens make everything yummy:

Sweet Potato Hummus and Microgreens

Sweet Potato and Flower Salad

Sweet Potato and Flower Salad 4

Moving on to the flower pot heaters and coolers. I’d heard of these before, but was reminded of them again last night. Although we have kerosene heaters for emergencies — along with lemon essential oil to make them smell better — I’d much rather make some of these. In fact, I shared the idea with David’s sister, and she’s going to make a few for their lovely back porch that normally gets closed up in the winter due to no heating vents. Simple, cozy, and full of candlelight:

You can also make a flower pot fridge:

Oh, how the faery in me loves off-grid flower pot fun!

And now for the most unexpectedly joyful part of yesterday. I bought two Stanley thermos bottles, because I had heard that you could cook rice in them, and I also thought it would be a great way to keep water hot or warm for an extended period of time with only one boiling. For some reason, I am over the moon with these thermos bottles! David thinks it’s because I never really had a thermos as a kid, except the cheapo lunchbox variety. I suspect it’s residual from reading The Vegan Lunchbox blog from 2005-2006. I think everyone who followed that blog secretly wanted to be little Schmoo with his goodie-filled bento box and thermos of homemade soup!

More recently, I’ve seen some Amish men riding their bikes with a big Stanley tied to the back. “What’s in there,” I wonder! I am continually fascinated by the Amish, and I love trading recipes, tips and gardening ideas with our Amish friends. (444 word count right then. As Doreen Virtue explains, “444 — Thousands of angels surround you at this moment, loving and supporting you. You have a very strong and clear connection with the angelic realm, and are an Earth angel yourself. You have nothing to fear—all is well.”)

Anyway, yesterday, I decided to buy two Stanley thermos bottles — one’s a 2-quart stainless steel thermos that keeps things hot for 24 hours; the other, plastic one was about 1/4 the cost and keeps 1.5 quarts hot for 12 hours. I tested the larger one by filling it with half a gallon of boiling water early yesterday afternoon, and it was still piping hot over 16 hours later.

We don’t eat many grains, but I love the idea of soaking my brown rice overnight — which I do with leftover “starter” from the soak water of previous rice, in order to remove as much phytic acid as possible — and then, instead of spending 45-minutes worried about bubbling over pots, just pouring boiling water over soaked rice in a thermos and letting it sit for 6-12 hours. Yes, that takes more planning, but it takes almost no electricity, and no fussing over the stove. It’s a perfect solution for grid-down scenarios, everyday energy conservation, and those hot summer nights when you want rice, but really don’t want to heat up your kitchen.

Apparently, you can make all sorts of things in a Stanley thermos, including split pea soup from dried peas! I would modify the linked recipe without the ham, but yum! In fact, this Boat Galley site offers some really cool ideas for cooking (and living) with minimal energy, space, water and options. I never thought about it, because I’m not a boater, but living on a boat requires hauling in your own water and propane, minimal electrical options, and that results in some creative energy efficiency ideas.

Given how much I love this planet, I always enjoy finding ways to walk a little lighter, consume a bit less, require less transportation … . Growing much of my own food and supporting local farmers not only tastes amazingly fresh and saves money and transportation resources … it’s also beautiful and deeply satisfying, especially the edible flowers! 😉 And the flower pot appliances? I don’t know, but it makes me giddy to know all the amazing things one can do with flower pots in addition to growing herbs and flowers. The stainless steel Stanley thermos takes the cake, though. I’ve been on cloud nine ever since I bought that thing. Just sharing the joy, bizarre though it may seem.

Thermoses