Just Three Things

It’s that time again when I’ve got a few things I want to share with you, none of which are enough to write a whole post about. But here’s proof that good news comes in three’s:

Our one year old hot water tank quit working recently. I wanted a tankless, on- demand water heater to replace it. The good news is, the company that made the old heater is a LOCAL MANUFACTURER!¬† American Water Heaters are made right here in good old Johnson City and are sold nationwide at places like Lowe’s and Sears. They agreed that it must be their defect so they replaced it. With the exact same model. They don’t make tankless heaters ūüė¶¬†¬† That was also the ‘bad’ news, because they wouldn’t give us a credit or refund, only an even exchange. So, we installed the next.best.thing. to a tankless -a $42 water heater timer. We set it to come on at 8 AM and go off at 8 PM but of course,¬† you’d set yours for whatever works best for your lifestyle, since there are 14 possible settings on them. It’s a well-known fact that water heating is the single largest energy user in American homes, and installing the timer has reduced our electric bill quite a bit. Even though it goes off at 8 PM there’s always plenty of pretty hot water at 8 AM the next morning too! That tells me none of us need to be heating our water 24 hours a day, it’s merely a convenience we’ve all come to rely on as a result of decades of cheap energy. A timer like this is a completely painless way to reduce your household energy needs and make your life a lee-ttle bit more resilient in the process. Now granted, it’s no solar panel, but then again, it didn’t require a second mortgage either. I also found out that if we’d had to trash the old heater, the metal in it had some monetary value and could’ve been recycled; we had 4 people stop by and ask for it in the couple of days it laid in the yard waiting to be picked up by the company! Just sayin’…


If you have an adult bicycle you no longer use, I know of three places that could use it. First is the local Family Promise organization; they help homeless families transition to homes of their own. Sometimes those families have no transportation and a bike can certainly make their lives easier. They can be reached Mon-Fri by calling Aaron at 202-7805. Next is the ETSU Yellow Bike program that fixes up donated bikes, paints ’em red yellow, then¬† ‘rents’ bikes to students for free to help them get around campus more easily. Contact them about your donation at bucbikes@mail.etsu.edu.

yellow bike

And last, but not least, if your old bike is in pieces, those pieces can all be used by the nonprofit Little City Bike Collective, which rebuilds and repairs bicycles for FREE. Their shop is located at 209 E Unaka Ave in JC.¬† Here’s the link to their Facebook page. Make some space in¬† your garage this spring, and make someone’s life easier by donating to one of these fine causes. And if you’re reading this and don’t live in Johnson City, I bet these same types of organizations in your community could use your old bikes too.¬† Just sayin’…

After recently experiencing ‘Blackberry Winter’ here in Appalachia,we’re finally moving into a season of daily gardening now, and I hope to share tips with you over the summer that will help make your food growing more successful. I sure hope you’ll do the same and share any tips you’ve found that work for you in the comments section below. We started long ago saving our eggshells all year long, drying them, then grinding them in a little mini food processor-a mortar and pestle works well too, as long as the shells are good and dry. Then we add a handful to the planting holes of peppers and tomatoes which provides them with calcium and prevents blossom end rot, something we rarely experience any more. We also add a Tablespoon of Epsom Salts to those holes to provide magnesium as well. What better way to use your egg shells, eh? We finish by adding some compost to the hole, then fertilize with some ‘worm tea’ and stand back! Just sayin’…


Blackberry Winter


According to Wikipedia, “In the South,¬† Blackberry Winter is referred to as a period of cold weather as low as 20¬†¬įF in late spring when the blackberries are in bloom. Prior to technological advances in meteorology, farmers would use such terms to know when to plant certain crops.” According to the wild blackberries that are blooming all around the edges of the woods that surround our cabin, and according to our outdoor thermostat, I’d say “we’re there”.

Sometimes it amazes me how reliable some of the weather terms are in this part of the country! ‘Dogwood Winter’ is another uncannily accurate occurrence, as is “Full Moon, Frost Soon”. I love learning about our region’s sayings, folklore and wive’s tales (or, as a young friend of mine calls them “Wise tales” which is often closer to a truism than the standard ‘wive’s’ tales.) Regardless, it was cold enough to have a farewell¬† fire in the wood stove today. Tomorrow I’ll¬† apply a good coat of stove black to it and clean the glass window so it will be ready for fall’s first frost next October. I decided to take advantage of the unexpected¬† free heat this morning and baked some foil-wrapped potatoes in the coals to go with our supper and simmered 2 gallons of homemade vegetable stock on top of it.

After the broth simmered for hours and hours, I strained and canned it, then fed the warm, soft veggies to the worms and the chickens. ‘The girls’ loved the special treat, and I loved not having any waste!

This unexpected ‘winter’ day offered us plenty of bread labor, as well as personal time-Michael went to the library and the feed store, then made a crock pot of oatmeal and transplanted all the tomato seedlings to larger pots -freebies that a friend that is downsizing her garden gave to us. The tomatoes will go into the main garden around Mother’s Day. I did my canning, wrote some thank you letters and caught up on some other correspondence, mixed up a fresh batch of laundry detergent, and finished the book I’ve been enjoying: “See You In A Hundred Years”- the true story of a modern-day couple and their young son that decided to spend a year living as one would in 1900. The author writes for National Geographic’s “Adventure” magazine, and decided to have an adventure all his own to write about. And boy, did he! It’s in the library if you’re interested. I can honestly say today was busy, but precious. Hope you’re enjoying your Blackberry Winter too!

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