Archive for April, 2015

That time I was a hair model


Yesterday I had the opportunity to get a free haircut as a hair model at a local salon. A few days ago I had found a request online for people with curly hair who wouldn’t mind going short as part of a training program. I answered right away! My former hair stylist stopped returning phone calls a while ago and getting in touch with her was so difficult that I had started cutting my own hair. This was fine, but not great, so I jumped at the chance to get a new cut and possibly find a new stylist.

There was great potential for this to go wrong, but I was very lucky — my stylist in training, Mel, not only had plenty of experience at other salons, but she had also learned from someone who had special training with curly hair. As you can see, my cut turned out fantastic! I look forward to visiting Mel again in the future after she passes her training program with what are sure to be flying colors.


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Chop & Drop

Happy New Year! Ok, I know it is the end of April already, but since this is the first time I’m posting here since the end of last year you get my holiday greetings anyway. Yes, we are still schooling the children at home. No, I am no longer cooking through the vegetable cookbook. I don’t know that I have given it up completely, but I certainly don’t think about it much. Maybe I’ll get back to it one day. Was I doing any other projects here? I don’t remember.

Lately I have been getting very interested in permaculture. Permaculture is a way of looking at the Earth (and life, and community, and many things) that emphasizes working with natural systems instead of fighting against them. It is the only thing I have found that makes sense of gardening on my unruly half acre, so I have been trying to learn as much about it as I can. For example, permaculture teaches that all of the leaves and sticks we have on our wooded lot are a resource and not a liability. I have been building new raised beds with them (in the shade, which is what we’ve got) and trusting our abundant soil critters to turn them into dirt.

Today I have been feeling particularly empowered by a gardening method called chop & drop. My unruly half acre is mostly that way because it is overrun with many different types of invasive vine. The front yard is mostly English ivy, the back yard is mostly vinca major (huge periwinkle). Pulling it all out is an overwhelming amount of work, but it is a task that I have set to for three springs in a row. A few days ago, however, while I was pulling up the vinca and its runners from under the leaf litter, I suddenly noticed the positive role the vine was playing: it was holding down leaves and building soil. The worms loved it. (It also blooms early in the season and attracts pollinators.)

This observation made me stop and think. I have been trying to encourage the building of new soil in an easy and natural way. The vinca is doing that for me.  What is it I really object to about it? It’s the fact that it looks messy. Thankfully, there is an easy way to fix that. All I need to do is cut down the part that sticks up above the runners and everything looks less weedy. I can drop the chopped stuff as mulch to compost in place and that helps the soil even more. 

Suddenly, tidying up my huge yard isn’t so intimidating. I can take care of a swath of vinca, trumpet vine, ash and redbud saplings, and everything else that makes my half acre so unruly in much less time with just a pair of clippers.  Once I get an old fashioned hand sickle (a land-working peasant tool, according to my husband) it will go even faster. I used to chastise myself for letting the place get so weedy, now I can praise myself for having the foresight to grow so much mulch. Permaculture for the win!

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