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Welcome to my blog, a quasi-weekly column on topics and issues that have my attention, or that are intended to inform or inspire--including the following reminder:

"Realize why you're here, and be about it!"

Simplified joys for a small, precious planet

For the last five weeks, my husband and I have been camping out in our unfinished house in rural Washington. By “camping out,” I mean we have power, phone, satellite Internet, and a camp stove (thereby living well above the means of perhaps half the world’s population), but no walls, finished floors or floor coverings, indoor plumbing, air conditioning, or refrigeration. We sleep on cots, wash our dishes and faces outdoors at the well, and keep our perishable food in an ice chest, which we replenish with ice every couple of days. If the temperature drops, we stoke the wood stove.

Somehow, the limitations enrich the possibilities.

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Back to the garden

September is not only back-to-school month; for those of us in warmer climes it can also be back-to-the- garden month. With the concern about high food prices as a result of this summer’s drought, there’s never been a better time to consider converting a lawn, a planter, or even a roof to the production of fruits and vegetables.

What to plant now?

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An Afghan lesson in overcoming hardship

Like a lot of people, my husband and I have had a rough few years. Ran out of work, couldn’t complete our home in Washington, couldn’t get a farm loan, lost the property to our creditor, depleted our savings and retirement accounts, sold what we could sell.  For the past few weeks we’ve been back on the property, cutting the weeds away from the house and trying to maintain “our” investment, hoping for the ways and means to buy it back.  Meanwhile, we’ve had a string of mechanical difficulties: a packrat in my Prius’ engine compartment; nonworking voice mail, despite three weeks of effort to restore it; and yesterday I downloaded a virus that within minutes wiped out my hard drive. I spent the rest of yesterday on the phone with technical support, and am now waiting for a call back from Advanced Technical Support.  I’ve been waiting for three hours.

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