Posted in Seasonal Sunday

The reliable messengers of spring

It’s that time of year when we dream of new life. Tulips breaking the ground, their faces to the sun. Seeds bursting open with tender roots and delicate shoots. Tiny blades of grass finding their way through last year’s thatch.

Ah, the lawn.

That bane of man’s existence. That symbol of status or flag of defeat.

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This picture undoubtedly elicits one of two reactions in you:

  1. “Look at the pretty little purple flowers!”
  2. “Sweet Mother of God!  That’s Creeping Charlie!”

If you are in the first group, bless your little heart.  Although pervasive, they are pretty.

If you are in the second group, I’m guessing you’re stocking up on herbicides as we speak. I’ve stopped buying herbicides and fertilizers. I buy compost and grass seed.  I rarely water.  I’m gradually planting the yard with flowers and shrubs that need little care, and adding raised gardens. Fresh vegetables eaten right out of the garden?  Now there’s a symbol of status for you. Ideally, I’d like to have just enough grass to sink my toes into while I sip a glass of wine.

As for Creeping Charlie and dandelions, those reliable messengers of spring, they’ll feed the bees until everything else catches up.

Posted in Tiny Awesome Tuesday

I Envy the Trees

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I envy the trees. Their mindful growth. No worry of the future, no regret of the past. Only reach. Grow. Endure winter. Expect spring.

I envy the flowers. Bloom authentically. Attract bees. And butterflies. And buggy bugs. Smell delicious. Scatter seeds.

I envy the path. Cares not where its going; nor where its been. Not burdened by guests; insects, mammals, humans. Not lonely with the lack thereof. Here for those who seek.

I envy the sky. Stormy anger. Bitter rain. Peaceful blue. Quietly watches. Patiently listens. Trustworthy secret-keeper.

I envy the soil. Cool, earthy, deep. Receives the trees, the flowers, the path. Consumes the sky. Provides.

 

Posted in Lore

Lay no flowers where I die

It is not uncommon to see, as one travels, monuments of crosses and flowers where loved ones have met their death.  They stand as a solemn reminder to slow down, stay wary, and buckle up.  Perhaps placed there in hopes the dead were still near.  They are displays of love lost, shackled memories, grief.

 

English: Wild Flowers in the Rape Field, near ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With all due respect to the dead and their grieving, when I am gone, please lay no flowers where I die.  I don’t want silk or plastic flowers, or cut flowers that die and only remind you that I, too, am dead.  Place flowers where I lived.  Scatter seeds along the bike trail, at the dog park.  Plant a perennial in your garden to remind you and make you smile.  Plant a tree that will outlive us all!

 

Throw seeds out a window and let them grow like Jack’s mother with their beanstalk in the clouds.  Instead of memorial pamphlets that get saved in a box or recycled at the curb, pass out seed packets.  Let the world grow after I cease to do so.

 

Please don’t remember the date of my death.  Remember the days I lived.  Remember the date I came into this world as a screaming, writhing newborn, desperate to clench life in my tiny fists.  Remember the things that brought meaning to me — laughter, beauty, kindness.

 

English: Cut Flowers - Eden Project Pretty sha...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

See me in the tiny things around you.  I’ll not be in the place that I died — the hospital bed, the roadside — I’ll be there inside you.  In the things that make you smile — a laughing baby, a bumblebee , the sun on your face.

 

And you’ll find me in your darkest hour.  When you need comfort, solitude, a hug, wait for me quietly.  I’ll be there as sure as those who left before me are there when I need them.

 

When you find these places, scatter seeds.  Plant them in remembrance, in honor, in joy, but never in sadness.

 

Peace . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Fun, Great Outdoors

Wee Folk in the Woodlands, Part III

(Continued from Wee Folk in the Woodlands, Part II  which happens to be continued from Wee Folk in the Woodlands, Part I)

. . . Quite recently, I was enjoying a ramble around an oblong lake not far from home.  It was a grey lake, reflecting the grey sky of autumn on one of the last days before winter clasps its icy grip.  It was not the type of day one would expect to see delightful artifacts, and yet I could not deny my eyes.

08.2012.34.pThere, among the grasses were ruffled lavender petticoats, garnished at the hems with beads of gold.  How amusing was this to me, that I nearly forgot to snap a photograph before continuing my recreation.  I puzzled over why several lavender petticoats would be hanging in a group amongst the grasses, but relinquished my query to that of the elfin customs of which I would never be privy.

Along the way, there were birds that called, and rustlings in the leaves and other things that caught my ear.  Inasmuch as I would love to have heard a whisper or a miniature giggle, I did not.

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What I heard was a long, low groaning sigh.  My feet solidified in place.  My own beating heart pummeled against my chest.  I turned ever so slowly and thought perhaps I had distinguished a movement, a shifting, yet perhaps it was altogether nothing.  Crooking my head to the left, and then slowly to the right, in disbelief I realized a face, interrupted mid-yawn.  The old oak had a long nose and a toothless grin.  I had, undoubtedly surprised him the moment he surprised me.  I came to realize the woodlands were filled with all sizes of creatures, both hidden and obvious, if only to the eager eye.

There are other indications of the magical world, if you are open to receiving them; a washbasin of rainwater for a tiny sprite, made from a brilliantly colored fungus; an opening in the side of a tree for looking out of, or escaping into.

08.2012.69.pOne of my favorite finds was a landmark beneath my feet, in the middle of the path.  A marker.  A monument.  Perhaps of a great victory of battle.  Or a memorial of a considerable tragedy.  Perhaps a beacon, a proclamation of love won or lost.

As I draw to the close of my admission, believe or don’t believe, but know this about your narrator.  Of that which I have not seen nor heard with my own senses, there is little in which I regard as true.  Reader, I council you to keep a keen awareness of your faculties at all times.  This is, of course, wise advice for those interested in safekeeping one’s self from trauma.  It is, however, a requirement for those of us who wish to keep our heart open to the possibilities that surround us all.

The end.

Or the beginning, as it may be . . .

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Peace . . .

Posted in Great Outdoors

Misadventures in Straw-Bale Gardening

Have you heard of straw bale gardening?  Are you considering giving it a try?  This has been my great agricultural experiment of the summer!  I will definitely try it again next year even though it hasn’t been all I had hoped.  It all started with a couple of pictures I ran across on the the internet.

They looked something like this:

My curiosity was piqued.  Then at the 2012 Great Minnesota Get-Together, otherwise known as the State Fair, I notice that Joel Karsten was scheduled for a demonstration.  Joel is the author of Straw Bale Gardens.  Positioned just inside the shelter of the agricultural building, his talk included an interesting Power Point and a mini-bale visual aid.  I was hooked.  Within weeks I was shopping for bales.  09.2012.8.pGetting your straw bales in the fall, I am told, gives you the best chance of finding what you need.  Having no previous desire to purchase a bale of straw left me with no sense of where to start.  So I threw a couple blankets in the back of my car, found the nearest garden supply, and procured as many as would fit it my Dodge Neon (four).  They were low-grade bales, but they seemed better than none, which is how many I was afraid of ending up with.

One month later, at an upscale gardening center, I bought a couple of the quality bales for which I had been hoping. This time I lined the back of my car with plastic, making cleanup much easier!

The six bales of straw were covered from the elements and stored for the planting while we waited for spring.

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And waited . . .

poor little seedlings

The seedlings were patient while we waited some more.

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Yet, back in August, Joel had assured the audience that we could start conditioning the straw bales for planting weeks before the gardeners were considering nestling their seeds into the earth.  So I positioned the hay bales and started the conditioning process.

For ten days the bales receive a rigid schedule of fertilizer and water.  On the twelfth day the straw bales should be ready to plant.

Except on the sixth day, I realized I was not using water soluble fertilizer.  There was no turning back, so I let the bales rest for a couple days, found the correct fertilizer and started over on day one.  Again.

05.2013.5 - strawAnd on the twelfth day I planted.  The weather was cooperative and rained . . . and rained . . . and rained!

DSCN1259On May 20th, the telltale mushrooms appeared in one of the quality straw bales I had purchased from the upscale gardening center.  Mushrooms indicate the material is breaking down and becoming rich growing matter.

By June 11th, tomatoes growing in this area were the strongest plants in my little experimental garden.  In other areas, mushrooms and mold spores were occasionally showing up, yet this first area continued to show more plant growth.  Something went right in this straw bale, but what?

Everything else in the garden looked weak.  The transplants all looked yellow and weak.  The seeds were slow to germinate.  I watered with a fertilizer thinking the plants were just “hungry.”  Not much helped.

Click images to enlarge.

Then one day I went to work and left the soaker hose running.  It ran for eight hours straight.  Joel’s statement, “You really can’t overwater straw bale gardens” kept running through my head.  Indeed, nothing had been sitting in puddles of water, as they would have in a traditional garden.

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Two days later my pole bean put out a runner twice it’s height.  I wondered if the plants had just been thirsty.

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Today the marigolds that I bought on clearance and were near dead when I got them home, have perked up and are blooming; good evidence that the bales will support life!

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I decided to run dirt over the top of the two weakest bales, the preferred method for planting seeds.  I will be planting a late summer crop of leaf lettuces in one, and kale in the other.  I left the peppers alone, still wanting to see if the leaves will green up by the end of the growing season.

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Between the odd weather we’ve had this year, and this being my first straw bale garden ever, I really have nothing to compare.  There will at least be a few tomatoes, provided mother nature lets them ripen.

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The advantages of this type of garden are clear.  There were almost no weeds other than the few straw seeds that germinated.  I have had no pests . . . including dogs.  In addition, the gardens are raised and easy on my back, which isn’t getting any younger!

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
–Thomas A. Edison 

In other words, there is always next year . . .

Peace . . .  or in this case . . .

Peas . . .

Posted in Weekly Photo Challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour

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“Once in a golden hour, I cast to earth a seed, And up there grew a flower, That others called a weed.”

-Alfred Lord Tennyson –

 

Be part of the Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post

. . . and check out these remarkable interpretations!

retireediary
skpfoto
Flickr Comments
The Wish Factor
Writing the Girl
One Day At A Time
Yoolie’s
Afternoon Tea
Too Mutch For Words
The Engledow Chronicles
Traveloye
Heather’s Photography

I had a lot of fun playing with the light of The Golden Hour, the first or last hour of the day.  Click to enlarge images.  If you want to, I mean . . .

Peace . . .

Posted in Weekly Photo Challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above

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Be part of the Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post

. . . and check out these exceptional interpretations!

pavement stories
moderndayruth
Scribbling Gizmos  (I’d like to see a video of this one!)
SLR – See Love Remember
All in an album
k-hem
searavensailing (this first shot made me gasp!)
i play camera
pica cordoba
Love in the Spaces  (a lovely post that may make you a bit weepy)

Posted in Great Outdoors

In the Midst of Beige

Speaking of color . . . we were, weren’t we?  I am a highly visual person with a brain hard-wired for color association.  I dream in vivid technicolor.  The colors often symbolize feelings.  I once had a very passionate dream about someone I should not be dreaming passionately about.  The walls were a deep cranberry red, the flush of lust.  Outside the window, there was a light illuminating the innocence of pure white snow.  It was a calm, quiet, flurry of snow, but I was content to stay inside.  I woke up just as the kiss touched my lips, my heart pounding against my rib cage!

As a mother of young children, it was not uncommon for me to hear people remark how cute it was that I dressed us all in the same color, something I would never intentionally do!  Clearly, it had been a red day (or blue, or green, etc.) and the clothes I chose for each of us reflected the color that fit my mood.

When I see a color that catches my eye, I will instantly see other items in the room that match it.  I will say, “Ooh!  I like the color of your blouse.”  Then, “Oh look how it matches the straw in your drink and the book on that shelf!”  I notice immediately if two co-workers are wearing the same color.

It should come as no surprise, then, that this is my least favorite time of the year.  The hues drain from the trees and flowers, leaving behind the browns, tans and grays of death.  I’ve noticed my mood spiraling downward, weighted by the bleak of winter.

Walking with the dogs today, I forgot my camera at home, but did have my phone with me.  Setting up a scavenger hunt for myself, I went to work searching for signs of color in the drab landscape.

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A fiery twig announced its presence along the trail near the fence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sumac and red berries (nightshade?) light my way along this desolate scene.
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Raspberry vines in subtle violet bow to winter’s cold.
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The patient pine dons her dress of evergreen, having watched the other girls in their crimson frills and gowns of gold. Finally she is the belle of the ball . . .

 

 

Posted in Fun, Room and Board

A Fruit That Needs Some Genetic Modification

My significant other, who will henceforth be referred to as Bubba, and I bought our first Pomegranate today.  They are a pretty fruit which produce edible little pearls.  We’ve had them on salads, and love the juice, but have never purchased one for home.  Checking out the produce section, Bubba asked, “Should we get a pomegranate?”

The pomegranate has symbolized many things throughout history including good luck, fertility, eternity, and good tidings.  These days, people are looking to pomegranates for treatment of everything from heart disease and high cholesterol to aging and erectile disfunction.  Neither of us were looking for any magic cures.  We just wanted to try something different.  And so the rosy sphere found its way into our cart.

Once home, our pomegranate waited patiently on the counter for lunch to arrive.  Groceries were stashed with the exception of a few left out for the meal.  Bubba concocted a couple sandwiches on toasted buns.  Sides of chips, pickles and a can of Coke for each of us were set out lovingly on t.v. trays.  Classy, I know.  That’s how we roll.

Meanwhile, I took on the pomegranate.  Prior to lunch there was no time for Googling.  Had there been, I surely would have run a search on how to open a pomegranate.  Left to my own devices, I hacked into the thing and started pulling it apart.

dscn0841Bubba turned to see how the process was coming and exclaimed, “Eeeeewww! What are those?”  At first glance, they did look a little alien, but after peeling a couple off, I was already over the eeeewww factor.  So I merely told him those were the membranes that separated the sections of seeds, as if that’s exactly what I expected to find in there.  The rind was more like a shell, and the seeds clung desperately inside.  Upon breaking the fruit, seeds exploded and skittered across the counter.

Since then, I have Googled pomegranate.  What did we do before Google?  Mostly, I tell my kids, we just sat around and wondered.  I learned that pomegranate, like the fig and grape, is one of the oldest known fruit.  The name pomegranate comes from the word pomme which means apple, and granate which refers to the seeds.  I also found the pomegranate blossom.  That is one messed up flower.  It looks like something one might find in the Little Shop of Horrors, and avoid at all costs.

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The pomegranate seeds were pretty when placed in bowl.  We couldn’t wait to try a few.  The ruby gems popped between the teeth.  Tart sweetness pleasantly surprised our tongues.  Then I bit down on the tiny pips.  They were too big to ignore and too small to spit out.  Thankfully the annoying little buggers weren’t as bitter as grape seeds.

As I was noshing the fruit along with my chips and sammy, I couldn’t help wondering if a little genetic modification couldn’t help the pomegranate.  After all, look how far the fig and grape have come.  Grapes now come in green, red, black, and both seeded and seedless.  And just look what we’ve done with the fig!

Fig Newtons

Pomegranates are beautiful in the store, the seeds look like jewels, and the juice is sweet and flavorful, not to mention healthy.  However, they could use a friendlier looking flower, an easy-open package, and those pips need to disappear.  I know this isn’t going to be a popular suggestion, but in my opinion, we have a little genetic modifying to do on the pomegranate.