Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Ideas, busyness and astonishing virtue

I thought you might like to see some of the domestic chores I’ve been occupied with since (hooray hooray) I finished my book and sent it in to the publisher. Ooh! Today is when they will have the first meeting to decide whether or not to accept it! It has to leap several hurdles before the final yea or nay is given.

So, something that has bothered me for a long time is the modern bathroom’s dislocation from Earth-friendliness. Not only do I want the bathwater I’ve washed in to go to the plants not the drain, I also want it to be at least in part our own harvested rainwater (free) rather than tapwater (bought) in the first place. Rainwater is supposedly soft and very good for washing your hair.

Having neither plumbing skills to effect a system converting our bathroom to accommodate this ambition, nor the money to pay someone else, I puzzled for a while what I could do.

Then I thought, plasterers have baths, don’t they? I googled, and it turns out – yes, they do. So I thought, well if I have a bath in the garden, it’ll be easy to use rainwater; and I can use the watering cans to fill it up and empty it onto the plants. I do like a nice warm bath, so that would be hot water from the tap half-and-half with rainwater from the roof.

There is one place in our yard where this can be done modestly, screened from view.  So I have turned it into what I think of as a Japanese bathroom – because some bathrooms in Japan have this rather rugged, outdoorsy, Zen-like aesthetic. And I like it a lot. Works well. It will be too cold in the winter of course, but handily, seeing the bath is entirely portable, I can take it inside by the fire then, can’t I?

I’m sorry the bath comes up as a white blank in the photo. No adjustment I can make improves its ontological recusion.

The same is true of this photo of my towel, which I have pegged out on the lemon verbena bush to dry. This is how they dried laundry in the Middle Ages, and it works jolly well. It scents the fabric more beautifully that any fabric conditioner, and sunlight bleaches and disinfects. Shame the towel looks like I’d sat down with a pair or scissors and cut it out of the picture.

The bath looks more believably existent in this shot of how it stands in between baths.

Now then, here’s the other thing I did – oh man, I am so proud of this!
Under our deck we had several years’ worth of accumulated wood, hard to reach, slowly rotting, a gathering ground for spiders, beetles and mahoosive slugs. Readers, I CLEARED IT OUT!!!! Took off my dress so I had just my leggings and top, and crawled underneath with a dustpan and brush and swept away all the compost the beetles and worms had been turning it into underneath.

I stacked it all in our woodstore, which is empty just now waiting for the new delivery of winter logs coming next month. So now we have to deal with it, and either cut it up for the fire or take it to be recycled at the dump – some and some, I expect.

This is not terribly innovative or exciting, I know, but I am so wildly pleased with myself I wanted to show you.


Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

Goodness, you have been busy indeed! I don't have the fortitude to bathe alfresco and would probably offend public decency if I did, as our whole garden is overlooked on both sides.

Isn't it ridiculously hard to photograph things sometimes?

Rapunzel said...

Goodness Pen, if I'd been this ambitious I'd be crowing about it from the rooftops.
I love your bath idea---one thing I'll miss about living in the forest is the privacy and the lovely baths I used to take in a huge wash tub on the back deck. In time I hope to build an outdoor shower with a hose to run the water to the gardens if the city doesn't have some daft regulation against it. Your experiments and adventures are a continual inspiration, always nudging me to look to what else I can do for the earth, my spirit and my offspring's future on our lovely home planet.

Pen Wilcock said...

Elizabeth - Yes, we live in a row of Victorian semi-detached houses, and you know how they are kind of L-shaped, making a little yard at the back? Well, because our garden is walled (I always wished for a walled garden too), if I set the bath right by the wall, then the garden wall on one side and the house on the other just shield it from view. One neighbour has a tall climbing frame where their children play occasionally, and that has a lookout at the top from which you could see my bath, so I wouldn't take a bath if the children were playing there. It did occur to me, failing all else, I could always bathe after dark! xx

Rapunzel - Back in the day we used to have a big galvanised zinc tub to bathe in, and do our washing. It accompanied us on many house moves, but got left behind somewhere along the way. I liked that one. A deck is the ideal place for a bath, I think. xx

gretchen said...

who else but you would use the words 'ontological recusion' in their blog? you made me laugh - apparently the towel also suffers from this malady. as for your efforts, WELL DONE! your buttons should be bursting with pride.

Rebecca said...

I find your solutions fascinating (and inspiring)!
Spending a couple of days at a lake cottage with friends, the conversation at one point included outdoor showers I would REALLY like one....You've set me to wondering how to incorporate solar-heated water, etc

Pen Wilcock said...

Gretchen ~


Oh, they are. I thought it was pudding, but you reckon pride?


Pen Wilcock said...

Rebecca ~ Ah, outdoor showers; apparently you just run the water supply hose through the centre of a compost heap. Video here ~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Jm-c9B2_ew



Julie B. said...

In my very quiet, hermit-like days, I am able to experience a little bit of excitement (vicariously) by reading your blog. You do things I would not/could not ever do... bathe outside within feet of a neighbor's house (no matter how high the wall!), clean out wormy areas beneath decks, write books, allow mice in the house to live, sleep on the floor (I'd never get up), make good use of your...ahem. I'm always impressed! xoxo

Pen Wilcock said...

Ah yes. When I think about it, my life has been one long 'ahem' of one kind or another! Glad you're impressed!! Peace to you my friend xxx

Nearly Martha said...

I will have to look up ontological recusion as I am not sure what it means. Except it sounds like a great name for a rock band.

Pen Wilcock said...

Ah. To recuse oneself is to withdraw from participation because of some disqualifying characteristic ( I think you might not find 'recision' in a dictionary). Something ontological is something to do with the nature of being or existence). Hence, ontological recession (a daft and made-up phrase attributable to me sense of humour) means something like withdrawal from existence).