Summary – So lucky | Feng Shui
In this last part of my little „Feng Shui 101“ it is time for the big reveal. At least it’s big for me. However, I am going to begin with a summary of what I find to be the most important points. So, be patient – or scroll to the end of this article.
With all these personal Kua numbers, lucky and unlucky directions, and houses with back doors things can get pretty complicated: you and your partner/family members/room-mates very likely have different personal Kua numbers, plus the house has lucky and unlucky areas, which in turn might not match your personal areas of benefit/disadvantage.
And that’s not even considering that you might be living in a western house that was not built according to these Feng Shui principles, the toilet might be located in the wealth area, or the only physically possible way to have your bed facing is death … And how could knowing this be of any help?! Isn’t it just making you aware of that you’re doomed? Maybe ignorance is bliss …
Well, that’s not how I read it. From what I understand, it is important to remember that these „lucky“ and „unlucky“ areas/directions by no means equal „destiny“. With the knowledge about these directions, and the knowledge of the Feng Shui teachings, you can optimize the benefit from the „lucky“ areas – and there always seems to be a way to minimize the harm in the „unlucky“ areas.
If your personal beneficial and detrimental directions do not match the ones of your house, the personal ones seem to be more important.
And, maybe most importantly for the „worrier“ in you (that includes me, too): if your place of residence is constructed in a very un-Feng Shui manner, do not get hung up on the fact that your toilet happens to be in the wealth area. Focus on the things that you can do and let the rest go. Again, this is not determining your fate.
Now for the big reveal (for real now): Not only do Peter and I have the same Kua number (7), no – the lucky and unlucky directions of this number are also identical with those of the house (Tui)!!! Once again, I feel like the universe is waving it’s big foamy pointed finger …
At first I didn’t even realize the match between us and the house, I was too busy drawing the floor plan. Then, when I did see it, I thought that it had to be one of those math problems where it turns out that no matter which numbers you fill in, you always end up with the same result. Then I realized that, nope, if the house had been facing a different direction, we would indeed have a different result. So much for not questioning luck.
And just for fun (I really don’t know if this is interesting to anyone but me but anyway): here’s a list of the different rooms and their areas/directions in „our“ house (can’t wait for the day when i can drop the „“):
- Entry hall – death: Better than it sounds, since you don’t really use this room for anything, I’ll just put in a bunch of plants, that seems to be a good remedy for most things unlucky. As are toilets, by the way, but I putting in a toilet in each of the four respective unlucky areas doesn’t seem very practical to me …
- Staircase/closet – loss & scandal: Also cool with that, for the same reasons. We’ll just keep the closet shut.
- Medium bedroom – obstacles, health, harmony: One of our office/guest rooms. Looking good, face desk away from obstacles, towards harmony. Too bad that the window is facing obstacles, I always want my desk by a window, not facing a wall. We’ll see.
- Bathroom – harmony: Some might say that’s a waste but, hey.
- Living room – harmony, wealth, misfortune, long life (and maybe some death): I think we can work with that.
- Front porch (don’t know if it counts) – loss & scandal, death, long life: plants, plants, plants
- Staircase – loss & scandal: see above
- Hall – death: see above
- Master bedroom – obstacles, health, harmony. We should be able to have the head of the bed towards harmony, so I think we’ll be good.
- Kitchen – (a little bit of) death, long life, misfortune; with a pantry towards wealth: Well, let’s keep the glass half-full and focus on the pantry in the wealth corner. Long life is where the dining table is placed, so I guess that’s pretty good, too.
- Mini-bedroom – harmony: Our second office/guest room. I guess deciding who’s going to want which room will be tough – the harmonious but tiny one or the big one with the obstacle area?
Lucky and unlucky compass points | Feng Shui
Before I go into the different kinds of houses and their respective beneficial and detrimental areas (according to the compass tradition of Feng Shui), here’s a brief overview over those lucky and unlucky directions/areas:
Lucky directions – and their main benefits
Sheng Chi (Breath Of Life) – wealth/prosperity
Tien Yi (Heavenly Doctor) – health
Nien Yen – long life, also in the sense of many descendants
Fu Wei – complete harmony
Unlucky directions – and their main problems
Ho Hai – bad luck and misfortune
Wu Kwei (Five Ghosts) – obstacles
Lui Sha (Six Killings) – loss and scandal
Chueh Ming (Disaster) – death
Here’s an article, that’s great for a brief overview, if you want to know a little more about these directions: Eight Mansions in Feng Shui.
This page about the Kua number has charts for each of the nine numbers with the respective lucky and unlucky compass points, and how to optimize the benefits and how to do „damage control“ in the harmful areas.
The importance of back doors | Feng Shui
Now for the houses and their lucky and unlucky areas. According to the compass school of Feng Shui, there are eight different types of houses, depending on which compass point the back door is facing. (It doesn’t seem to matter, whether your house actually has a back door, it’s automatically the side opposite the side with the front door.)
The eight kinds of houses and their beneficial/detrimental directions are:
Kan (back door facing north)
- most important direction/direction for harmony – north
- direction for health – east
- direction for long life – south
- direction for wealth – south-east
- direction for difficulties – west
- direction for loss and scandal – north-west
- direction for obstacles – north-east
- direction for death – south-west
Ken (back: north-east)
- most important direction/direction for harmony – north-east
- direction for health – north-west
- direction for long life – west
- direction for wealth – south-west
- direction for difficulties – south
- direction for loss and scandal – east
- direction for obstacles – north
- direction for death – south-east
Chen (back: east)
- most important direction/direction for harmony – east
- direction for health – north
- direction for long life – south-east
- direction for wealth – south
- direction for difficulties – south-west
- direction for loss and scandal – north-east
- direction for obstacles – north-west
- direction for death – west
Sun (back: south-east)
- most important direction/direction for harmony – south-east
- direction for health – south
- direction for long life – east
- direction for wealth – north
- direction for difficulties – north-west
- direction for loss and scandal – west
- direction for obstacles – south-west
- direction for death – north-east
Li (back: south)
- most important direction/direction for harmony – south
- direction for health – south-east
- direction for long life – north
- direction for wealth – east
- direction for difficulties – north-east
- direction for loss and scandal – south-west
- direction for obstacles – west
- direction for death – north-west
Kun (back: south-west)
- most important direction/direction for harmony – south-west
- direction for health – west
- direction for long life – north-west
- direction for wealth – north-east
- direction for difficulties – east
- direction for loss and scandal – south
- direction for obstacles – south-east
- direction for death – north
Tui (back: west)
- most important direction/direction for harmony – west
- direction for health – south-west
- direction for long life – north-east
- direction for wealth – north-west
- direction for difficulties – north
- direction for loss and scandal – south-east
- direction for obstacles – south
- direction for death – east
Chien (back: north-west)
- most important direction/direction for harmony – north-west
- direction for health – north-east
- direction for long life – south-west
- direction for wealth – west
- direction for difficulties – south-east
- direction for loss and scandal – north
- direction for obstacles – east
- direction for death – south
Those of you who are as crazy about Miranda July as I am – you can probably skip this. Those of you who don’t know who that is – here is the newsletter I (along with everybody else who signed up for it) received. I am sharing it here hoping it will make you as crazy about MJ as I am:
You are getting this email because you signed up for my mailing list at mirandajuly.com. You might have signed up a long time ago and now you are finally getting something, years later. Or you might have just signed up like four seconds ago and, boom, here I am writing you already and you’re thinking I’ll probably be writing you all the time — not the case! I almost never do this. Only when there is something I think you’ll really like. And when I remember that the mailing list exists.
I think you’ll really like this: wethinkalone.com
You go there and sign up (yet again!) and then for the next twenty weeks you will get something pretty extravagant in your inbox every Monday.
As for the rest of life, things are going well (it just occurred to me maybe I should write some more newslettery type things to make this a real newsletter.) I’m writing a novel, I just got a haircut, a tad too short. I’m doing a reading at The University of Tampa on Saturday, you can go if you live there. I just visited my family in Berkeley over the weekend. Who exactly am I writing to here? It’s hard to know how specific or vague to be. Have had a little trouble sleeping. Been going heavy on the almond butter. Like to bathe. Can’t sing. Getting older.
give my love to the family,
Needless to say I signed up for that one, too. And oh yeah: Looks like a trip to Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall is in order …
Straw bale house
Time flies by as always. I have an intense week at work coming up. My boss is participating in a conference, and I’m one of the two P. A.s accompanying her. We’re heading to exotic Sigtuna tomorrow, back Friday night if all goes well.
Before I leave (still undecided whether to take my laptop with me or not), I want to share some pix with you I took this week when Peter and I visited a Charlotte and Jan-Olav and their kids, who have built a straw bale house. I want one!!! Plus they had super-cute kittens. I want those, too!!!
Recipes | Pesto fest
I am going to skip the part where I comment on the lack of postage around here … and go straight to the wonderful pesto I have made from the herbs we gathered at Törnagården.
I looked up recipes online but I ended up playing it by ear for the most part. Basically, for pesto you just mix the herb of your choice (basil being the classic one) with olive oil, pine nuts and grated Parmesan cheese. I used sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts this time since pine nuts are pretty expensive here, and I needed a lot.
I found the recipe for the mint pesto on Martha Stewart’s, the one for the nettle pesto on chiliconkarin (in Swedish), and the dandelion pesto on a German page on healing herbs (so, yeah, this one’s in German, duh).
- Always rinse whatever herbs you’re using first (I don’t know, maybe I am stating the obvious here but just in case).
- In the recipe for the nettle pesto it said to boil the nettle leaves for 2 minutes in salt water before processing, which I did, although I can’t say that I have any idea why.
- I roasted the sunflower seeds after rinsing them (not the raw food way to go, I know!). I don’t know, I just somehow got the idea that it would be better to have as little water as possible in the pesto, so that it wouldn’t go bad so fast. I don’t even know if that’s true or not, I guess I was just acting on some sort of instinct here.
- Something I do know helps to make pesto last longer: make sure that there is a layer of oil on top.
I think that’s it. I can’t wait for the basil I am growing on my kitchen window sill to be big enough for some classic pesto. The simple things are really the best. I also want to try this cilantro pesto recipe I found on ByzantineFlowers … so I guess the pesto fest isn’t over yet.
WWOOF | Törnagården
I’m back. It feels weird being in our apartment again after wwoofing a week on the country-side. At least it’s finally green around here, too.
This past week was amazing and inspiring in so many ways. Initially we had planned on staying with two, maybe three different wwoof hosts. We ended up staying at Törnagården with Vanessa and Marcus the whole time. The perfect place for us.
I was pretty lousy at taking pictures. Sometimes it feels as if taking a photograph takes away something from the moment. Like you become aware that „this is a moment“ instead of just enjoying it’s existence. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but I don’t have a better excuse for why I didn’t take more pictures of some of the amazing things I saw these past days. Like Törnagården itself. Like the awesome house on wheels that Marcus designed himself, and which he has been building petty much entirely from trees he himself cut down. Like the adorable baby clothes Vanessa has been knitting for the little bean that is due any day now. Like the great food she prepared for us every day. Like … you get the picture. Well, I guess you actually don’t in this case. Maybe some.
So, what have I been doing then instead of taking pictures (as I am putting together this post, I realize that I did take more pictures than I thought), and without internet for a week?
When we arrived on Wednesday, we could tell we had come to the right place by the house on wheels that was standing on the lawn in front of the house. We were greeted by two excited little bears who seemed like they could hardly pace themselves behind the fence (another proof of Marcuses‘ craftsmanship). They turned out to be Sophie and Lotte, the family dogs. A highly pregnant Vanessa pointed us to the front door, where she welcomed us warmly. After talking for a while, and Vanessa showing us around, Marcus showed up, too. He had been at his workshop (he is a finsnickare, a carpenter), where he had been – and where he would be for most of the days we were staying at Törnagården – working on a bed for the baby. With the due date rapidly approaching, this was obviously pretty high on the priority list.
They showed us around some more – the green houses, which Marcus had built from parts he found on the property, and which were featured in an åter-article; Vätte, the cow, and her calf Edgar, and the two goats, Bogart and … I forgot the other one’s name. And they obviously gave us a tour of the house on wheels.
After lunch we started getting down to business. The business of shoveling
shitmanure namely. There was a big pile of it by the hen house, and it had to be moved in order to compost. After a while, we accompanied Marcus to his workshop. After we got a tour, we started cleaning up my the saw mill till dinner.
In the evening, Marcus and Vanessa tried to separate Edgar from Vätte over night, so that we would be able to get some milk in the morning. No success, though, or at least not for us. Edgar won this one.
On Thursday we all started the day by walking the dogs by a little pond in the woods nearby, Kvarndammen („kvarn“ means mill, and there was a little water mill).
Then it was back to the workshop, more cleaning. We had lunch at Törnagården, outside in the backyard. It was windy, so the salad had to be eaten fast, but still – we were eating outside, surrounded by nature. Sitting on our balcony here in town just doesn’t measure up to that.
All four of us went to the workshop in the afternoon. Peter and I cleaned some more, Vanessa was preparing the bars of the baby bed for sanding, Marcus kept building the bed. Later Vanessa, Peter and I sat outside in the sun and sanded the bars under Marcuses‘ (justifiedly) critical supervision. We ended up sitting there until after 8 pm. That was one of the most beautiful things for me during these past days: not having a watch with me – and no clocks on the walls. Just going with the flow, letting the daylight be my guide.
After we returned to Törnagården, Marcus went straight back to the workshop, the remaining three of us went to the neighboring farm to get some milk (how cool is that?!). Vanessa made pancakes for dinner, after which we sat and talked for a while. I was very tired, and the first to go to bed.
On Friday Marcus has to attend to a project for a customer, so Peter and I stay at Törnagården and finish of moving the manure from the hen house. We also clean the hen house a little, and I have to admit that the sight of maggots in the hen poo was quite the challenge for me. But the day wasn’t all work: I lay on the trampoline in the sun for quite some time, and in the afternoon Vanessa took Peter and me to a beautiful lake. I took my first „swim“ for the year (not sure if the few seconds I could make myself stay in the coldcoldcold water count).
Saturday Marcus had to finish up Friday’s project (sadly but not unsurprisingly that ate up quite a bit more time than planned). The rest of us went to Falköping. The thrift store Vanessa was going to show us was closed but we discovered one that she hadn’t been to, either, so it was a win for all three of us. Peter bought a beautiful old alarm clock, which ticks very loudly, and which has an alarm sound that I am not too crazy about, but which I hopefully will get used to.
In the evening the four of us went over to some friends of Vanessa’s and Marcuses‘ – Tonie, who was celebrating her 30th birthday, and Fabian. It was a beautiful evening, the first barbecue of the year, lots of interesting people with interesting stories; most of them wwoof hosts and wwoofers. Peter and I felt really welcome, and not like the tags-along (is that even a word?) we actually were.
Inspired by herbal savvy Vanessa, Peter and I went to gather some herbs to take with us to Gothenburg – dandelion, lady’s mantle, nettle, raspberry leaves. Peter wants to make wine from the dandelion blossoms, I have been browsing the net this morning for all kinds of recipes, and now it looks like there is going to be a pesto fest coming up (and thus probably some recipe posts, too).
In the afternoon, Peter and I went to Bossgården, a farm we had also considered wwoofing at, and which is actually the place where Vanessa and Marcus first were wwoofers themselves. At this point, we are trying to get into as many heads as possible of people who are doing what we hopefully will be doing ourselves some day in the not too distant future. Jonas, who runs Bossgården with his wife, Sanna, was kind enough to let us pick his brains over delicious homemade sour dough bread.
On Monday, Peter and I prepared two of the green houses by weeding and fertilizing them. I think I actually enjoyed this activity the most out of all our little wwoof-projects. Who knew that digging around in the dirt with my hands might turn out to be my thing?
My pleasure of digging around in the dirt however was surpassed by the joy of meeting someone else who has been doing that on a whole different scale – and for years: In the afternoon, Vanessa Peter and I went to see a guy that had been much talked about the previous evening. He was said to be building an earthship, and that was just way too interesting not to check out. The earthship turned out much more amazing than what I had imagined (and thanks to Vanessa, I remembered to take at least some pix this time). Kevin and the story of his earth ship were also really interesting, so if you ever happen to be in the Tidaholm area, I can only recommend that you stop by. We showed up unannounced (which we had been told was ok but somehow it still felt a little weird for me anyway), one of the kids had the stomach-flue – and we were still welcomed with open arms both by Sandra and Kevin. There is so much to be said about this earth ship, and the journey Kevin and his family have been on since they started building it. I am actually thinking that it is deserving of its own post, so for now we will have to make do with some pix.
Yesterday (Tuesday), we left – after one last look at the crib.
On the way home, we stopped by Hjo, one of the three cities in Sweden that have made it their goal to preserve as many of the old buildings as possible. It was beautiful, and – again – I took way too few pictures.
I felt really lucky when I found a little brochure at the tourist information about a place that sells locally grown white asparagus just outside Hjo. That has definitely been one of the things I miss about Germany, the measly little overpriced bundles you get at the grocery store here just don’t cut it. So I got to buy expensive but hopefully delicious „real“ asparagus for once. And whaddaya know, the guy running the place turned out to be from Germany originally. Driving by the fields, and seeing the workers (from Poland judging from the license plates of the cars parked at the farm), I couldn’t help but wonder about their wages, and I started thinking about Two Caravans and It’s a Free World … And then I started to think about my own hypocrisy, for after all: what about all the people involved in the process of producing my food that I buy at the grocery store, whose faces I don’t happen to see right in front of me? …
Sternenkind Creations on Etsy
I just opened my etsy-store! Finally, one loose end tied up! Yay!
Recipe – Fig smoothie
OK, there’s no dancing around this: this one may look healthy but calling it tasty-looking would be a stretch.
How to (makes about four servings):
- Soak about a cup of figs over night (it’s a raw food thing: soaking everything – to get rid of toxins (seeds and nuts), or in this case just to make it more digestible).
- About half an hour or so before you want to prepare the smoothie, soak some powdered nettle, hip and blueberry (of course you can use the real thing, too, but we happen to have tons of this powdered stuff, it’s supposed to be rich in vitamins and stuff – gosh, this sounds like I don’t even know why I am doing half the stuff I am doing … which is completely untrue! … er … well). At Peter’s request, I added some spirulina, too (algi, also … um, healthy)
- Put the figs in the blender – with the water they were soaking in! Blend. Duh.
- Add the powder that should have turned into a creamy goo by now.
- Add a banana (or more, if you like), even some agave syrup if you like it REALLY sweet.
- Add water depending on what kind of texture you like
At our friend’s we ate this with berries (picked by her in the woods behind her house, of course). We were out so we had to go without. What I like best about this smoothie/cream is how the fig seeds crackle in my mouth.
Oh yeah: and how it makes it possible to take in all these vitamin supplements that I couldn’t force down before when I tried to just drink the stuff. I guess you can come a long way with sugar.
Recipe – Almond milk
Like I said, this trip inspired me. A lot. Our friend eats raw food and while we were there, so did Peter and I. I found eating raw food surprisingly diversified, digestible and filling. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel like I had to eat a lot to feel full – but for me that’s kind of a mental thing I need to get over. I am probably not going to go Green for Life, although I did find the book very interesting and sensible in a lot of ways. For now, however, I do feel like trying out some of the nutritious deliciousness our friend introduced us to.
My favorite – which I had tried and failed at before – was her almond milk.
Here’s how it goes:
- Take about two cups of almonds (makes about five cups of almond milk, less if you like it creamier), and let them soak in water over night.
- The next day, pour the water out, and pour boiling water over the almonds. Only let them sit for about a minute, this is just so that you can peel them more easily.
- Rinse the almonds.
- Put the almonds into a blender, add a little bit of water at first, blend.
- Gradually add more water until you’re satisfied with the texture.
- I added nothing else when I made this this morning. Our friend usually put in a banana (both for sweetness and texture), sometimes some agave syrup.
As for the health benefits and more detailed information, I unsurprisingly found something on my favorite health/food/diy blog.