Cleaning Air

I’ve been interested in cleaning the air in our house for some time. Years in fact. During the renovation I was particularly concerned with the possibilities of off-gassing from the building materials. Where possible we tried to reduce or eliminate these. For example, with our choice of floor finish (natural oils and wax) instead of polyeurethane seal.

There are numerous plants that do well indoors and have been scientifically proven to cleanse the air and produce oxygen. Sometimes despite the presence of daylight. I had three that were easily propagated and that we already had in our garden. Before our move I began the process of increasing their numbers with the intent of having them indoors to increase the inside air quality.

Now that the renovation is nearing a satisfying end it is time to bring in the armies of plants that we’ve been propagating with the intentional purpose to clear the air of any off-gassing from paint, building materials, oils, varnishes etc etc.

petitparadis aloe

 Aloe Vera – Aloe barbadensis

petitparadis spider plant

Spider Plant – Chlorophytum comosum

petit paradis snake plant

Mother In Law’s Tongue Snake Plants Sansevieria

Green Laundry

soapnuts pp

I’ve been updating our Changes to Lifestyle post and have been focusing on the laundry side of things which has many options available for making some wiser, greener changes. So much so I thought a post of its own would be worthwhile.

  • Wooden Pegs : we’ve had a mix of pegs in our peg basket for years. Plastic pegs, wooden pegs and other odd ones. The wooden pegs have actually outlasted the plastic pegs because of their ability to withstand degradation from UV light. The other benefit is that when they fall apart, as they eventually do, they just get put in the compost or buried into the garden soil. Easy. There are some fancy set-ups in the marketplace for hanging clothes up to dry, but wooden pegs do the job.
  • Clothes Horse : Following on from wooden pegs, we also use two clothes horses to simply hang washing on under our deck. It doesn’t require pegs and is handy to place indoors or out. We are holding off from a clothesline until the paving is done to find a suitable location. If it is required.
  • Laundry Balls : also in the laundry – we use good quality Laundry Balls containing small ceramic balls that soften the water in the washing machine to allow the clothes fibres to open and release dirt. Does many hundreds of washes and reduces the need for laundry powders or liquids.
  • Soap Nuts: These are a classic substitute for soap if the wash is remarkably dirty and needs a little something extra. Soap nuts have natural soapanin and leave a very delicate fragrance to the clothes. They also do a really good job on little boy clothes.
  • Wash times: This has mainly applied to living with the solar pv system. We now wash clothes during peak sunlight times, using the timer on the machine if we know it will be a sunny day. This way we are using electricity we are generating. Sometimes we will run the electric dryer during this time too.
  • Greywater: It is satisfying to know that the laundry water goes out into the garden and continues the water cycle on our block. This is not really a change as such, but an improvement with the introduction of the greywater system.

The Garden & The Muse

cropped-apple-box1.pngIt’s 5 am and its dark. Really dark. Inside and out.

Gran, with little regard for the silence that embalms the house (because she’s losing her hearing), bursts from her bedroom door and wheels herself into the bathroom with an urgency we won’t see for the rest of the day. The noise echoes through the floorboards. The Little Fellas are restless. I can sense it.

I’m already awake anyway, sitting in the office. Planning the day ahead. Thinking. Making notes. Being aware. Practising my ‘Dad Radar’.  I have a few minutes before I anticipate hearing little feet across a big floor. The Muse shifts about listlessly in the house also. She’s been away so long now I can’t remember what she looks like. She has a habit of changing regularly anyway.

One of the Little Fellas comes in and joins me. He’s the first half. The Muse has fled by now, as he perches on the seat and begins the inquisition of questions and furtive, curious investigating of objects and pieces that litter the top of the desk.

My thoughts are with the garden. After putting it to the side for so long now I am feeling compelled to get it up and running. But there is much work to do still – and the other house needs finishing in order to put it on  the market. It’s closer. I’ve been working on it.

Autumn came so soon, and now it’s nearly gone. I implore for the Muse to return. We can consolidate our ideas over chilly winter nights and make plans for the Masterpiece that lies sleeping in the coming Spring.

 

The Professionally Engineered Leaf Trap

 

petit paradis leaf trap

This was one of those “Mate – you’re different.” moments.

There was no friend present when I first lay my eyes on the above scene, but I’m sure that would have been the response to my reaction of “Awesome!” and my spontaneous enthusiasm to immediately begin gathering as many handfuls of leaves I could, shoving them into a bucket for swift relocation to the compost bin.

I grew even more ecstatic when it dawned on me that by having inset the stairway entry to the house, we had inadvertently engineered ourselves a perfect leaf trap from which to harvest the bountiful autumn leaves that blow over to our house from the park.

I expected the leaves to gather in the drive-way.

They did this before the renovation. The wind hand picks them as though on fishing line invisible to the eye and carries them in an almost deliberate dance to gently place them on our drive-way, where the distraction of playing amongst the roses and the sloping corrugated fence-line means the wind loses interest and forgets about the leaves. They lie there for days. As they build in number they appear to accumulate at a faster rate.

I am also aware that this would be an abhorrent mess to any regular gardener. There would be cursing, the revving of the leaf blower.

It would be regarded as an abomination to the order of things. I am aware of this. It’s what I like about permaculture. The problem is the solution. It means I can slacken off from trips across the road to the park to fill a bag of leaves for the compost bin or worm farm. They are instead conveniently placed – at the front steps!

It gets better. I have assistance. The Little Fellas also take it upon themselves (dare I say, sometimes with financial incentive) to harvest the leaves and put them in the compost bin. It’s cooking up a storm that compost bin. It’s going to be a great bit of vintage dirt. The crap we’ve put into it! Amazing.

 

 

Take what the day gives

chaos pp

No pretty blog pics here. Raw chaos. Photoshop not included.

From time to time I briefly observe the remarkable sights of other peoples blogs and websites. It’s both an experience of awe and total disenchantment to me. Awe at others endeavours and successes. Disenchantment on reflection of our own current state of utter chaos and the relentlessness of working through the mundane list of chores that line the path to the flicker of hope, the glimmer of the shiny vision of what could be – if we keep going. It’s a grand vision. It has to be. I would have stopped years ago otherwise.

Will it be worth it?

Probably not. Not unless we remain committed to sticking to the plan.

With each day, I know I have to take what the day gives. To continue to work through the new distractions, the fatigue, the days I get up early and go to my day job. There is often so much more happening in and around our home life that I joke to people that I go to work in my spare time. I take inspiration from such blogs as The New Good Life, Growing with Plants, the realness and down-to-earth postings at Much More Mulch.

The day to day observations and captured images of Tony Tomeo take me beyond our own little emerging paradise and remind me of my travels. Of the world that lies out there beyond our little forming paradise.

I realise that much of the disenchantment I feel stems from seeking order and organisation. Natural beauty. All the while being surrounded by visions to the contrary. A seemingly ever-increasing list of jobs to do. To work through. I’ve been through this landscape of lists before and I’ve overcome them. I was however, never prepared for the magnitude of what it would take for this current endeavour or the time it would take. Let alone navigating through it while raising two young boys and in contrast, managing the requirements of my Mother-in-law.

At any rate, when the days work is done I reflect on what has gone before. I wouldn’t say it feels rewarding. It’s just the subtlest feeling of moving closer that mildly satisfies for now. Scattered through the day are moments when the notebook is taken from my pocket and scribbled with ideas, dreams, sketches and reminders of goals being worked towards.

The Notebook is proof that something other than present circumstances are at work. The ideas captured within are reminders that I’m in for the long haul.