Greenhouse

Greenhouse

We have a greenhouse.  It came in about a thousand pieces with only pictures as guidance to put it together.  The instructions said, two people could put it up in a day!  It took about a week and we had to keep propping it up so the wind didn’t take it away.  We had planned on putting up a poly-tunnel, but thought this might last longer.

We’re  going to try heating it with tea-lights under terracotta pots.

Natural coconut milk shampoo

I’ve been working to get as many chemicals out of our lives as possible.  Every other day a report comes out about cancer-causing chemicals in shampoo, toxic ingredients in the laundry detergent or asthma and allergies triggered by common household cleaners. We’ve been programmed to think that these synthetic products do a better, more thorough job than their natural equivalents.  Is this true?  No, it isn’t, but there are so many ‘natural’ options that it helps to know what actually works.

Shampoo is an issue if you’ve been used to the sleek, glossy, full-volume, untangled hype of the chemical stuff, especially if you have long hair.  But it’s not worth dying for!  Most commercial, non-organic shampoos contain SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE (SLS) & SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE (SLES) and they are probably the most dangerous of all personal care products.  Just because there is no immediate noticeable effect doesn’t mean that it isn’t harmful in the long-term.  Why take the risk?  In animal tests ( and why have that on your conscience for a shampoo?) they have been found to cause eye damage, depression, breathing difficulties, diarrhoea, severe skin irritation, immune system damage, corrosion and death. According to the American College of Toxicology states both SLS and SLES can cause malformation in children’s eyes.

DEA (diethanolamine) MEA (momoethanolamine) TEA (triethanolamine) are also in most main brand shampoos, often appearing as Cocamide DEA or MEA, Lauramide DEA, etc. These are hormone disrupting chemicals and research has shown that they are implicated in the increase in liver and kidney cancers.

I’ve been mostly underwhelmed with the organic shampoo options.  They are comparatively expensive and tend to leave my hair feeling life-less and just not that clean.  And it’s even harder to find organic shampoo here, so I decided to try my own!

This is simple and works brilliantly.  My hair has suffered severe sun-damage over the summer, it hasn’t been conditioned and was tangled, life-less, dull and straw-like.  (I know, it’s only hair, not important, but allow me this vanity.)  In just one shampoo, it was bouncing back and has become stronger and shinier by the day.  And here’s the big bonus: at least half of my grey hair has reverted back to brown.  It is so obvious that my husband thought I’d coloured it!  I don’t know whether this is because I’m no longer poisoning my scalp with commercial shampoo or the nourishing effect of the coconut oil, but it has happened within a few weeks.

Here’s the recipe:

  • one can of organic coconut milk
  • 500ml liquid castille soap
  • 50ml organic aloe vera
  • a few drops of essential oils of your choice ( I used chamomile and lavender)

Mix the ingredients and pour into a used shampoo bottle.  This makes quite a bit, so I’ve put the rest in the freezer.  You only need to use a small amount and don’t be put off by the fact that it’s quite runny.  It lathers really well and smells gorgeous.  You might want to vary the amounts, or add something like almond or jojoba oil for dry hair.  I didn’t use aloe vera in the first version I made, but it improves the texture of the shampoo and neutralises the pH somewhat.

I use an apple cider vinegar rinse after the shampoo, as hair is acid and the alkaline soap leaves a build-up unless its neutralised.  I also found that I had a ‘detox’ period of a couple of weeks, for my hair to adjust to the loss of fake-feelgood chemicals.  It’s worth it though.  We’re only at the beginning of discovering the real harm caused by chemicals we take for granted and use everyday.  Do you really want these absorbed through your scalp if there is an easy, cheap and healthy option available?

Castille soap is made from olive oil and caustic soda.  Dr Bronner’s is the most well-known brand, but there are others.  You can make your own, and I’ve tried this, but it makes it a lot more work and the result has been inconsistent for me so far.

Rosehip syrup

This week I made rosehip syrup.  Our hedgerows have masses of wild roses and at this time of year the hips are bright red.  Rosehips are an excellent, natural and local source of vitamin C through the winter, much of which is retained in the syrup if the hips are prepared immediately after picking.

It’s been raining here for the past week, so I picked the hips in the rain and quickly stopped being too selective and just picked bunches on the stem to sort out inside, out of the rain.  I don’t have any scales, so son’t know how much I picked. It took around an hour and it is not as easy as it looks.  These little berries hide amongst the thorns very well.  Maybe a kilo?

IMG_1094

It took at least another hour to cut off all the stems and top and tail each one with kitchen scissors.  Then I ended up with about half as much by volume, but that filled the blender so was just the right amount!

Topped and tailed rosehips

 

I’ve never made rosehip syrup before, so I looked up a few recipes on the internet.  Many suggest chopping the hips by hand or in a food processor.  I haven’t got a food processor, but I’ve got a blender so I used that and it worked fine.  I just added a bit more water as the pulp mushed down.

Blended rosehips

It’s OK to guess at amounts for recipes if you are making something relatively simple and you can taste it as you go along – I thoroughly recommend this approach as this helps develop your intuition.  So I put the pulp in a large saucepan, added about half as much raw cane sugar as pulp and topped the pan up with water and brought it to the boil.  I then simmered it for around 15 minutes, until the flesh began to break down.

Simmering rosehip syrup

 

The next stage is straining the syrup.  All the recipes talk about using a jelly bag, I have no idea what that is and doubt whether I’d be able to find one here, so I used a piece of clean white cotton from a pillowcase.  (I save the IKEA pillowcases that come in a set with a duvet cover just for something like this, as the pillowcases don’t fit our pillows.)

Straining rosehip syrup

 

The strained pulp then goes back into the saucepan with a bit more water and a bit more sugar and is brought to the boil, simmered again and strained again, through a fresh piece of cotton.

That’s it.  I then bottled it in bottles and jars that I’d kept and sterilised by boiling them for about 20 minutes in salt water.  I ended up with about a litre of delicious syrup.  It tastes sweet, fruity and slightly exotic.  Well worth the effort!

Bottled rosehip syrup

 

Lessons from water

In the developed world we take water for granted; we don’t appreciate it and we brutalise it, alternately contaminated it and then treating it with harmful chemicals.  We barely stop to think that without it we would not exist, many of us don’t even like to drink it.  This is the result of our deep disconnection from nature, from life and from ourselves – we are after all at least 70% water, just like our planet.  This disconnection has allowed us to pollute the oceans and poison our fresh water supplies with toxic chemicals, while we pretend that somehow this is not causing any harm.  I’m writing this a few days after the news about the continued and escalating emergency at Fukushima and the commencement of fracking at Balcombe in the UK.  The water systems of the world need our help.

Water has been communicating with me for several years.  She (water is a feminine being) first came into my consciousness through the work of Dr Masaru Emoto who showed how water formed different shaped crystals according to the intention underlying specific words, thoughts or music.  Then I began dreaming about water and this led me to meditate on water.  I became more aware of water. In the shower I found myself saying, “Thank you beautiful water.  I love you.”  Often before drinking a glass of water I’d hold it to my heart chakra and simply breathe in and out.  In the technocratic disconnected world of illusion, this is pure looney tunes, but Dr Masaru has shown that water forms the most beautiful crystals of all in response to love and gratitude.

Love and Gratitude

Water crystal after receiving Love and Gratitude

In London I began lasering our drinking water with the Quantumwave laser.  I used kinesiology to test what was best for our water at the time (Thames Water) and found that it needed 4 minutes on the Unwind setting followed by 4 minutes on Quantum.  Unwind dissolves cellular memory and the new biological sciences are discovering more and more amazing properties of water, memory being just one of them.  Quantum setting is for de-stressing.  I found that the water tasted softer and had the slippery, silky feel of softened water, so it was easier to drink.  Clients who had not previously liked to drink water sucked it down.  I felt more hydrated, like my thirst was being quenched for the first time.  When we moved to Spain I continued to laser our water, but our water came from a well and it only needed the 4 minute Unwind.

I still had lots more to learn about water though.  Learning about things isn’t enough these days.  It’s a good start, but real learning has to be coupled with physical action; it has to be learned in the body.  So in the midst of the rainiest winter in 40 or 70 years (depending on the age of the person telling us) our well ran dry.  At the same time the roof leaked, directly onto our bed.  Yet we were having to buy bottled water to drink and had a hose pipe from the neighbours for household uses.  When we bought our land and moved here we were determined to get the water issue under control.

We moved here in the rainiest spring in living memory.  The access road was like a river.  It was impossible to get the cabin down here for a week.  Eventually we managed it with 14 loads on a trailer with a neighbour’s tractor. There were two wells already on the property and we were told that this is a good area for water – it certainly looked as though it was.  We rigged up a pipe to the well that was in the field, so that we could have a gravity feed to the cabin; no electricity and kinder to the water.  For three weeks we just had a stand pipe outside; more learning on the importance of water.  Luckily the weather was warm.

The first shower inside with water from our well was glorious, just like warm gentle rain.  However, we’d lost quite a bit of water from the well in putting in the pipe and as summer rolled on the level was dropping and we knew we wouldn’t have enough water to last until the next rains.  We decided that we needed a new well as we weren’t sure how deep the other existing well was and it was also contaminated with bacteria.  So we have had a new well drilled, but the pump hasn’t arrived yet and we are on water rations again as the other well is nearly dry.  How many times do we need to learn this lesson?

The new well is deep and we need a pump to bring up the water, so it’s not quite as ‘natural’.  I decided to ask the water what it needed, so I went out and laid in the field next to the well with my question and waited.  The answer came quickly and clearly.  We’ve bought a tensor ring from The Energy Garden to go around the well head and I will be making three triskelions out of granite to go next to the well and where the pipe joins the cabin.  The triskelion is an ancient symbol with the ability to raise the vibration of water and neutralise harmful energies.  I didn’t know this before, but the water communicated with me so clearly that I was able to Google the spiral shape with connection to water.

 

Triskelion anticlockwise

I then downloaded and read Dancing with Water.  This is probably the most important book I’ve read in the past 10 years.  It honours water as sacred and life-giving and provides references to the hard science that provide evidence of its extraordinary properties.  It is also very practical and reviews the wide range of devices that are available to help restructure water back to its full, living, spectrum.  Full spectrum, living water is not just more hydrating, it is actually healing.

The last step in this stage of my learning about water was from a documentary:  Water: The Great Mystery  This is a wonderful film, well-made and wee-researched and both informative and enjoyable.

We are still waiting for a pump and our well to be connected, so perhaps we still have more lessons to learn.  Only time will tell!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freedom

I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.

Robert. A. Heinlein

Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.

Jean-Jaques Rousseau

 

I woke up this morning with these quotes lurking in my mind.  My second thought was about goals and the two thoughts are inextricably linked.  The idea of ‘working towards a world in which we are all free’ is a worthy goal, but the actual freedom is in the process because that is where we live.  A goal is an idea and it should be a great one.  Ideas are the product of imagination; they should be great, lofty, imaginative, far-reaching and never limited by what we consider to be possible now.  The goal of freedom for one and all inspires me to be free moment-to-moment.

How many times have you had this conversation,

“Wouldn’t it be great if we were all free to live the lives we want?”

“That will never work, because nobody would want to do the shit jobs and society would collapse in no time.”

Well, society is already collapsing and ensuring that more undesirable jobs get done won’t prevent its collapse.  The collapse of society as we know it is a forgone conclusion, which we make real through every thought and action of our day-today lives.  It often seems like people use a forgone conclusion as an excuse for inaction, but there is never inaction in this context.  What seems like inaction is just doing more of the same.

But what comes next?  What do we want our society to look like and feel like?  I want it to be freer and more equitable, so that’s how I try to live my life.   From my perspective, we always have freedom of choice, within whatever circumstances our lives offer.  Sometimes we might not like the choices we think are available to us and we often confuse the idea with the physical action and end up doing nothing. It’s good to have big ideas, but they only become reality if we align goals with action.

My ultimate freedom is to give and receive love in as many different ways as serve my immediate priorities.

 

Free Finca Philosophy

Life isn’t to be studied, it is to be lived!

The other night I dreamt I was at a wedding and some one said to me, very clearly, “It’s just like Plato’s cave.”  I can’t remember much about the rest of the dream, but that remark stuck with me.  So much of our experience is performance that we can’t even recognise what is real anymore and, just like the people chained up in Plato’s cave, we resist it when it’s forced on us.

When I lived in London it felt a bit like the allegorical cave.  The shadows on the wall seemed real, and the majority of people around me ‘knew’ they were real, but I always felt something lacking.  I thought it was me; I changed career, made new friends and worked on myself.  As my awareness grew I realised that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in a cave watching shadows on the wall, or talking about shadows, admiring them and even wanting to be them! Ditching the TV was never going to be enough.

It’s hard to escape the illusion in a place like London when you have a mortgage and bills to pay.  We had to work to pay for these things and as soon as you enter the world of paid work and employment, you participate in the illusion.  How many unnecessary and meaningless meetings have you sat through?  How many hours have you spent form-filling for worthless bureaucracy?  How much of your life do you spend doing something that is utterly meaningless and unsatisfying?  We decided that we had to leave London to create the lives we want to live.

We are experimenting with creating our experience and making our lives joyous and meaningful by being conscious and aware as much as possible.  We are exploring reality through awareness of our feelings, our doing and being and what shows up in our lives – philosophy-in-action, perhaps.  It’s very difficult to have joy and meaning in your life if you spend most of your time doing and thinking about things that are ultimately meaningless and do not offer any satisfaction and therefore can’t make you happy.

Are you here?

You are here

For this?

To do this

 

So ,what is real?  What reality are we creating?  What do we want to create?  What do we want to be experiencing more of in our lives?Taking care of our physical needs is real; building a cabin, making a vegetable garden, putting in a new water supply and dealing with our own shit (literally) is very real.  If I had known that this is what we would be doing before we left London, I might have had second thoughts.  It seems like a step backwards if your aim in life is to have more leisure time, but why do you need leisure time?  How much leisure time do you need and what do you do with it?  How does it make you feel?

We have significantly less so-called leisure time here.  We haven’t got a TV, we don’t go to the movies, the theatre or shopping for anything but food. We don’t make any distinction between week days and week-end. There’s always the dogs to be taken care of, wood to be cut, gardening or housework to be done and we haven’t even begun the renovation work yet.  However, it feels very different to be doing these things as the mainstay of our lives, rather than as activities that need to be squeezed in around a job.  We are not financially wealthy.  We have just enough to cover the basics, but we have much more freedom.

We use this freedom to make conscious choices regarding the situations life offers.  It is one great experiment and we are always facing unknowns and challenges.  Every time we need to do something new, we ask around and we can ask six different people and get 10 different answers!   For example, we bought this property with two wells.  One is contaminated with bacteria and the other clean, but with not enough water.  We started with the clean well and ran a pipe to the cabin and the water is lovely, but it is running out.  If we had more storage we would be OK with the clean well, but we need more water now before the summer is out.  We could clean out the other well, which one of the neighbours says has always been good (but that was 40 years ago) and we don’t want to use chlorine to clean it.  Another said we should connect to the mains, but we prefer to have our own water supply. No one here uses an ozone generator and the plumber said that we would be better off digging a new well with guaranteed clean water.  So where do we put the new well?  The neighbour said one place and the well-digger another…..and so it goes on.  We don’t know what is the best course of action; we have no previous knowledge of these issues, but does anyone really?

All we can do is set our intention to trust that it will all work out in the end and make the best choices we can in the spirit of playfulness and experimentation.  This is our philosophy-in-action.

Chamomile/manzanilla

Chamomile/manzanilla grows wild around here and I’ve been picking and drying it.  It smells beautiful and fresh and tastes much nicer than any of the commercial versions.  Only a few heads are needed for a cup, which I sweeten slightly with local honey.  I also use it when it’s cooled down as a compress for tired or irritated eyes – especially for the dogs.

 

Chamomile/manzanilla

Low impact laundry

We’ve got a bit of a water shortage at the moment until we put in a new well, so we have to be careful about how much water we use.  I’ve been experimenting with the laundry and found that the quick wash at a low temperature, 25 minutes on 30 degrees, gets our white sheets clean if I put white vinegar in the rinse.  Our sheets get dirty as the dogs sleep on the bed and outside is all clay and dirt and this means I can wash then without worrying that we will run out of water.

Washing line

Pepino and the storks

Hay making

We’ve got a push along petrol mower and several fields that needed mowing and we were wondering how this would get done.  Or perhaps we would just let the fields grow for a while.  Then a neighbour showed up.  Actually the nephew of the person we bought the land from.  Apparently he has mowed the fields for the past 15 years and used the hay for his cows.  He offered us money for the hay, but we didn’t know where to start in terms of putting a value on it.  So we agreed that he would give us honey and potatoes and the use of his digger in exchange.

We’re all happy with that, including the storks who followed the tractor around looking for things to eat!

Pepino and the storks