Archive for May, 2011

If you know me at all, you know that I love to be in my garden… and that I strive to provide for my family, through what I grow. I am new at this… but I seem to be getting better and better… at least I think so =D

I must confess, that in the past I allowed a lot of things to go to waste… feeding my compost pile, instead of my family. So this year, I intent to preserve more than I compost…

I had passed by my herb patch and noticed that the parsley was doing very well… a little too well for the benefit of the other herbs. I cut out a third of the plant. I wasn’t in the mood for tabouleh, so I had to come up with something else. Then I remembered the container of the store-bought dried parsley I had emptied a few weeks earlier. I was planning on buying more, but now I saw another way. I remembered reading about drying herbs in your oven… using the lowest heat and leaving the oven door cracked open to allow for moisture to escape. I warmed the oven and filled a cookie sheet with the parsley and placed it inside. It didn’t take long… less than an hour. And it filled the whole house with a wonderful aroma… it surprised me. I will definitely do this again.

If you recall a previous post, I also have an over abundance of dandelions (who doesn’t?). I was planning on making dandelion fritters, but haven’t gotten around to buying the oil I would need. Instead I decided to harvest some dandelion roots and make a tincture. I pulled several dandelions. I chose the best looking roots and cleaned them. Those were tossed in the food processor and chopped. I filled 2/3 of a mason jar with the roots and then covered it with apple cider vinegar… making sure the roots were completely covered. I put plastic wrap between the jar and the lid to prevent the vinegar from rusting the lid. I placed the jar in a cupboard with the others – I had several tinctures in process – Echinacea in vodka, burdock root in vodka and in apple cider vinegar, and dandelion in vodka. For the next 5 weeks I shook the jars every day… making sure that the roots weren’t clumping together and that they were still covered in liquid. Yesterday I separated the roots from the vinegar (or vodka). That created a whole different kind of smell in the house… I actually like it, Jeff not so much.

Now I have to figure out how I will store these tinctures… and how to incorporate them in my daily life. Especially the dandelion root tincture, that assists in clearing kidney stone obstructions… and we know about my experience with kidney stones. It also helps with metabolism and liver function – the list goes on… who would have thought that a weed could be so beneficial? What I have cursed for years may be the solution to health ailments I have struggled with for years… oh the irony…

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It is the little things that bring me the most delight… sunlight coming through a window, rain falling (I know that seems odd after the first one =D), buds opening, garden growing, bees buzzing, chickens clucking, cats purring, Lindt balls melting in my mouth, text messages for no reason, dinner cooking, washed dishes, lemony shortbread squares, people smiling, children giggling, German magazines, anything little, unexpected boxes in the mail…

… especially boxes from my Mom… and especially when she has been in Graz, Austria for a few weeks. You see, I have a thing for gnomes… particularly gnomes made in Germany/Austria. I also have a thing for pairs of big and little. So imagine my delight as I opened an unexpected box from Mom and found a mother and child mushroom-gnome pair made in Koeln, Germany… I actually did a happy-dance when I unwrapped them. I have tucked them in among some plants, near a sunny window. Each time I pass them, I smile… knowing that Mom had thought of me, while out and about in Graz… the city I grew up in – where I first learned to delight in the little things =D

Thanks for thinking of me, Mom…and for teaching me to delight in the little things! Hab’ Dich furchtbar lieb!!

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It has been a long couple of days… Thursday night I felt an all-too-familiar twinge on my right side. It was the deep pinching pain of a kidney stone. I have had them in the past… so I knew what was coming… at least I thought I did. In the past, it was all over within 48 hours… I had endured the grogginess of narcotics and the embarrassment of pulling over and puking in the neighbors bushes… and later puking at work and having to ask for help to clean it up. The pain had eased, but never ceased… allowing me to continue working. Five days later I was still feeling that deep pinching sensation… at Urgent Care it was confirmed that kidney stones were still present… four to be exact. Suddenly plans for my two days off changed…

I had planned to be in my garden, for hours, over the next two days… so many seeds to plant and seedlings to transplant. Between my pain and the effects of my meds I was not able to be where I wanted to be… on my hands and knees digging in the soil of my garden. Instead, during moments of occasional lucidity, I made plans for the garden… digging thru pages of the work of others… hoping to glean something of the time they spent in their gardens… We shall see what effects the meds had on my mental state… I will wait to put my plans into action when I am no longer under the influence of narcotics… perhaps I should do the same for this post =D

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I know I have mentioned this over and over… but I love to wander my garden. As I walked out my backdoor this afternoon, the first thing that caught my attention was the smell of lilacs. I don’t know how old my lilac is, but I’m guessing at least 25 years… it is more like a tree… the base is pretty thick. I love to think about who planted it… and why… Wish you could smell them!

Then there are the Columbines that have been scattered thru out the garden. There are pink, purple and yellow ones that are not native… have to keep them separate from the native one I added last year… she apparently doesn’t play nice with the other colors… takes on their color instead of keeping her own lovely blend of red and yellow.

A walk through my garden wouldn’t be complete without coming across a critter of some sort or another… today they were beneficials… a ladybug and a bee. Always delighted to find them! I don’t know which one delights me more… the ladybug, because I have a huge infestation of aphids on one of my roses; or the bee, because I have seen so few… I’m just glad they are here!!

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It was a gorgeous day here in the Pacific Northwest… I had the afternoon off and Jeff had a flex day. We grabbed a couple of things, hopped in the car and headed to the beach. There is something about the feel of the sand, the sound of the waves and the rush of the wind…

It was windy today… so, no hours of sitting on the beach and reading. Instead, it was hours of walking the beach… witnessing the shifting sands.

It was like a miniature sculpture installation… with the artist doing little touch-ups as you passed by. I loved seeing what the she took away…

and what she left behind… revealing things to the observer that might never have been seen… providing an unexpected perspective and a moment of delight.

There is something magical about a place that is constantly changing and shifting… and yet remains the same at its core. Perhaps, because it reminds me that we are constantly changing… adapting and adjusting to our surroundings… often without even thinking about it… choosing what will go and what will stay… and if we are lucky, offering a new perspective or simply being a source of delight!

Ocean Shores, WA

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May 15th is the official last frost date for Olympia… meaning it is “safe” to put out my starts/seedlings… no more cold nights. I find myself wondering if Mother Nature has looked at the calendar lately. Does she know that May 15th has come and gone? Spring has been a cold (and wet) one this year… the last time it was this cold, was before I was born – 1955. So, you will forgive me if I am not ready to risk my little seedlings… to walk out to my garden, and find them chilled and lifeless, due to an unexpected frosty night. I have invested too much time and effort…

I planned this time around… I had to. I had limited heating mats –  enough for four flats… and just about all of my seeds needed heat for successful germination. I had more than four flats of seedlings in mind… I had to have a plan. I learned last year, that not all seeds need to be started at the same time. So I poured over a handful of books and determined when each seed needed to be started. I took into account the length of germination, which allowed me to determine at what time I could move them from the mats… freeing them up for the next set. I mapped it all out on a calendar. I knew when each needed to be planted, moved from the heating mat, up-potted, fertilized, transplanted and how many hours of light. It ran pretty close to plan… there will be some adjustments for next year. Now I am waiting for Mother Nature to follow the plan =D

Until I see proof of her cooperation, my starts will be in the cold-frame I made of the old chicken coop and some thick frosted plastic… am I ever glad that I took the time to actually finish that project – okay, it’s not completely finished, but it is functional. Bringing all those flats out every morning, and putting them in every night, would have gotten old, real fast. Now my seedlings can acclimate to temperature fluctuation and daylight hours, without the fear of frost. I just have to remember to water them, because the rain can’t reach them. Soon enough they will be in the garden… and then I will be able to reap what I have sown… at least that is my plan =D

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Do you recognize her? Can you bring to your mind’s eye what she looked like in her younger days… just seven days ago?

I haven’t looked in on her all week. I was surprised to see her so aged, when I came across her today. I removed the flower, to allow her to put her energy into vegetatively reproducing… it is reported, that this is more effective than allowing all her energy to go into forming a seed pod. But I couldn’t bring myself to just toss it into the compost pile. I found myself captivated by the details of her aging… I saw an unexpected beauty that could not be ignored or tossed aside.

I love the curls and ringlets… the delicacy of the petals. I love that she seems to have found a beauty of her own… a beauty that is often overlooked… at least by humans. Aging is not something we celebrate past a certain age. How many of us have celebrated our 29th birthday more than once? How many of us spend time worrying about the ever-increasing wrinkles on our faces or grey hairs on our heads, rather than celebrating the life experiences that put them there? I know I have been guilty of it… and I have a face that causes most people to guess me to be much younger than I am… they somehow don’t see the grey hairs I see every morning =D We spend time (and money) trying to recapture our youth and we miss out on the beauty of the here and now. I, for one, intend to follow the fawn lily’s example… and age gracefully!

Erythronium oregonum – in my garden

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