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 Fun

My Week of PTO, Part 4

Thursday, Day 4:

DSCN1192_2My travels proved to me, once again,
that serendipity is anywhere one cares to find it . . .

..~~*~~..

Lists, laptop, latte and a lemon muffin began my day.  One does not embark on a journey like this without a certain amount of planning.  There was also a fair bit of bill-paying and catching up on work email (ug).

a local coffee shop
a local coffee shop

Trader Joe’s is always a great place to lighten your mood while picking up a few things for dinner.  Smiling while grocery shopping?  Who knew?

Trader Joe's
Trader Joe’s

Whole Foods — another one of my favorite field trips!  This place is a feast for the eyes AND the tummy!

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While I was there, I picked up a salad for lunch, and this AMAZING cookie.  If you take all my favorite cookie ingredients and moosh them into a cookie dough, you would have this cookie.  There were chocolate chips, at least two different nuts, dried fruits, brown sugar and oatmeal.  I’m not sure what they called it, but I call it YUM.

YUM.
YUM.

The next stop was at a little shop called the Bicycle Chain.  I test rode two different bikes, and oh my, they were the difference between driving a nice sedan and a sports car.  So were the prices!  I bought a pair of riding gloves.  They had something called lobster gloves, which I had never heard of before.  I bought human gloves.

Lobster Gloves
Lobster Gloves

On my test ride, I happened upon a collection, the likes of which I had never seen before.  It was a garden of carousel figures and dolls — like something from a nightmare.  Yet, I couldn’t help but smile.  What feeling does it evoke in you?

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You have to hand it to Menards.  They make a trip to the hardware store look like a day at at Six Flags.  Except there’s only Four Flags.  That should be your first clue.

Get your tickets!
Get your tickets!

Reduce, reuse, recycle!  I feel lighter when I can remove clutter from my home.

Half Price Books
Half Price Books

With the cash I pocketed, I headed up to the mountains!

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WAIT . . . are there really mountains in Minnesota?

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Finally, I picked up some cloth napkins at Target in an effort to cut down on my use of paper.  These are much prettier, too!

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The little curiosities of life abound.  Some are noticed, most go overlooked.  The rhythm of life keeps me at a steady pace; my paths are worn bare.  If wonders exist, they have long since been discovered, and turned mundane.  I took a different route Thursday and found some things and learned some things, and challenged my perspective on others.

 

Posted in Room and Board

Totally Non-Judgmental Happy Foodie

Last week I added a new category to my blog.  Rants.  I questioned whether to add it, as it draws attention to the fact that my pendulum sometimes swings farther than I would like it to.  My goal here is to seek all things peaceful, balanced, whole and precious.  Then again, my blog is titled WholeyJeans. (Someday I will blog about the misspelling, but I digress).  While ranting may not be considered peaceful or precious, it is a part of me on my road to balance, and as such, a part of the whole me.  And so the category was created.

The comment by insearchofitall, in which she concluded, “My sister has become a food fanatic and we can no longer share a meal. So sad. I’ll take the Buddhist path. All things in moderation. Pass the French rolls please” really got me thinking.  My pendulum began to swing back, and I felt the need to post a response to my own blog.

I am fascinated by diets of all sorts.  Food documentaries captivate me.  Nutrition arguments entice me.  Everyone has the answer, and in my quest for balance, I want to hear it and judge for myself.  Please note that I use the word ‘diet’ in both senses of the word; weight-loss system and way of eating.

Here are are some of my findings:

  • waterEvery diet says that water is good.  It doesn’t matter if you’re detoxing, fasting, gorging on protein, or cutting fat.  Water is good.  Drink it.  It is the stuff of life.  It is the fountain of youth.  It is also the easiest way to fit in a few extra steps daily.  Drinking water = trips to the bathroom.  Nice, right?
  • The other thing that every diet tells you to eat is vegetables.  There are different levels of vegetables depending on sugars, fiber, and nutrient density.  Everyone agrees green leafy veggies are a go.  Add a rainbow of vegetables to that, and you’re going to find a pot of gold at the end.
  • Most diet programs include fruit.  Some encourage it more than others.  Again, there is that sugar/fiber/nutrient thing.  Fruits, like vegetables, are plants, but tend to contain more sugars.  Sugar is a four-letter word.  Okay, it’s five, but you know what I mean.  This is why some opinions begin to part at this juncture.  However, everyone seems to agree berries are the most virtuous of fruits.
  • Let me back up the sugar truck a few meters.  We have a sugar for everyone!  There are slow sugars, fast sugars, artificial sugars, processed sugars, refined sugars, and natural sugars.  There are sugar crashes, sugar rushes, sugar addictions, sugar cravings, and sugar daddies.  Did I say sugar is a four-letter word?  It is also an eleven-letter word.  Unavoidable.  Carbohydrates are sugar, and they are found in vegetables and fruit.  Oh!  So sugar is good?  See what I mean?  How is the average nosher supposed to decipher all this stuff?

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  • The problem with vegetables is that everyone wants to doctor them up with butter, margarine, oils, cheeses, dressings and gravies.  If you can eat your vegetables naked, you will reap their full benefit and flavor.  I mean go ahead and wear clothes if you want, but don’t put anything on your vegetables.
  • Legumes are good, right?  Opinions are mixed.  Legumes are a plant, so vegans love their protein content.  How could you possibly feel guilty eating a bowl of lentil soup?  Well, legumes are full of carbohydrates, and low-carb eaters aren’t a fan.  Please note that cocoa beans are not legumes.  I know.  Bummer.
  • Is dairy the dreaded animal secretion, or a vital food for healthy bones?  It depends on who you’re listening to.  There are different beliefs on this, and many options for those who decide against dairy.
  • But if you can stand the heat, head into the kitchen to talk about meat.  People are passionate about their animal protein.  Arguments range from protecting the planet to regaining your health, restoring the food chain, and compassion for life.  Both sides of any discussion have points for each of these values, and will fight, seemingly to the death, to defend them.

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All of the diet plans I have ever read say that you have finally found the last diet you will ever need.  Search ‘last diet’ and Google will find no less than 233,000,000 results for you.  Using this as a guide, you should have no problem eating healthy until the day you die.  And in the end, you will die, and I guess whatever diet you are eating that day will be your last.

Look, I’m just an average girl trying to eat reasonably well.  I try to know what is behind what I put in my body, and make my choices from there.  Of course I want to do better.  I want to do a lot of things better.  Cheers to that, eh?  Recently our temperatures have dipped, with the windchill bringing dangerously cold weather.  I am craving refined carbs like there is no tomorrow, and since I guess there might not be, I go ahead and indulge a bit without guilt.

Unless you are a food priest of this or that nutritional following, you do not have all the answers.  I like to live my life like that; not having all the answers.  When you live without all the answers, you are always questioning, always learning.  I don’t want to find the last diet I will ever need.  I want to taste new things and try new combinations, dining with family, drinking with friends.  I want to live, love and laugh with all my other *totally non-judgmental happy foodie friends.

Bon Appetit!

*Thanks for the title idea, Mary!

Posted in Room and Board

Holier Than Chow

Diet and nutrition have been elevated to a passion equal to that of religion.  People don’t just share recipes for fun anymore.  They share recipes the way they pass out propaganda listing the benefits of a virtuous life.  The recipes include organic, locally grown ingredients, with instructions for storing it in an environmentally friendly method.  Cooking anything else for your family will guilt you down to a loathsome, uncaring, gluttonous scum of the earth.

lunch bagBack when Mom packed my lunch she bought white bread, spread on Miracle Whip, slapped a piece of bologna in it, then packed it up with Fritos and a pop.  (Read “soda” if you live outside Minnesota.)

That’s right.  My bread was not whole grain, my sandwich spread had lots of ingredients she couldn’t pronounce, and the lunchmeat — well, we don’t want to know.  The sandwich sat in a brown paper bag until it’s internal temperature was 87 degrees.  But boy, was it good with those Fritos tucked between the doughy-white slabs of Wonderbread!  To top it off, the packaging all got tossed in the trash because there was no such thing as recycling.

I’m not saying I want to go back to that, but eating food was fun.  You had to go to church if you wanted to feel guilty.  Not anymore.  There are food priests among us, folks.  These are people with deep-rooted beliefs who feel that if you are not eating what they are eating, you are doing yourself — NAY! The WORLD a grave disservice.

It is the food priest’s mission in life to save your nutritional soul, and lead you (kicking and screaming) to health.  But wait!  There is no eternal life, here.  We’re all dying in the end.  The goal is to die as healthily as possible — perhaps biking to Whole Foods.

saladThe rite of worship is the meal.  It is in the planning, buying, preparation and consumption.  Oblivious to other shoppers, meditation of labels takes place smack in the center of each isle.  Children are indoctrinated in front of the bananas, blocking all access from other food clergy and heathen alike.  Trips to organic farms are carried out like pilgrimages to the holy land.  The meal is consumed in solemn reverence of the plants that sacrificed their life.

Yummm . . . animal secretions . . .
Yummm . . . animal secretions . . .

The food priest also hears confession.  They use scary phrases such as “animal secretions” as euphemisms for wholesome sounding ingredients like eggs, milk, and honey.  “Refined sugar” equals cookies and muffins.

MMmmm . . . FLESH!
MMmmm . . . FLESH!

“Flesh” is the definition for roast beef or turkey breast.  The cuisine of our mothers is smugly called “Comfort Food” like a poisonous secret.  Sins are encouraged to be confessed using these terms, the worst of which is pink slime, and punishable by up to a full month of liquid detox diet.

Unsought counseling is very often the first indication that you have encountered a food priest.  You may experience unwelcome scrutiny over your cheeseburger with grilled onions and fries.  The evangelist may laughingly toss out the nickname of “foodie” as if adding an “e” to a word makes it harmless.  Druggy.  Achey breaky.  Owie.

In severe cases, you may be required to refrain from eating food prepared in certain establishments.  If it is suggested that you discard of kitchen utensils that have ever touched prohibited edibles, it is very possible you have encountered an actual nutritional cult.  This is dangerous, as you may never enjoy eating again, leading to any of a multitude of eating disorders.

Ellen

Look, I’m glad we all have our religion, democracy, and plenty of nutritional models to choose from.  I’m not picking on anyone.  Personally, I tend to be nutritionally non-denominational.  I love my congregation, as we welcome vegans, ovo-lacto vegetarians, omnivores, Aktins followers, and anything in between.  We “pin” recipes, listen to each other rave about menus, and share samples.  When faced with a meal, we EAT it, ENJOY it, and share in each other’s company.  No one is moping, or preaching, or judging.

I try to do what I think is right for the world, my family, and my body . . . most of the time.  Admittedly, I sometimes feed my disposition (which is often a pepperoni pizza with chocolate chip cookies for dessert).  pepperoni pizzaHow very lucky for me that I have that choice.  You may choose to indulge in pomegranate.  Some people can only choose from rice or beans.  Some can choose from thirst or unclean water.  I’m pretty sure some would choose GM corn over starvation.

Which brings me to corn, and anyone who knows me well has heard me say, “Don’t get me started on corn!”  So yes, I know the sermon.  You’re preaching to the choir.  And sometimes the choir is fed up (literally).  I’m just asking the food priests to please stop trying to shove their communion down my throat.  If I want it, I know where to find it.

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.

Posted in Room and Board

Scandalous Black Bean Soup

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In my search to find the perfect black bean soup recipe, I ended up creating my own.  I have at least ten in my collection, but nothing was . . . quite right.  So it was a little less like this recipe, more like that one, OH! let’s add that . . and the next thing you know I had exactly what I was looking for.  Just in time for Autumn!  The weather channel is talking possible frost in St. Paul this week, but I’ll be warm and toasty, and yes — a little spicy with my black bean soup.

The next task, after creating a recipe, is coming up with a name.  Would you listen to me?  Suddenly I’m a how-to expert on creating recipes!  If you do a search on black bean soup you’re going to find a million options.  Try narrowing your search with spicy black bean soup.  You’re now down to half a million.  Ok, I didn’t really count.  The point is, I needed something to set it apart from the crowd.  Enter the thesaurus!  Synonyms for spicy came up as zesty, tasty, seasoned, blah, blah, blah . . . boring!  Working further down the list I found the word scandalous!  Perfect!

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For starters, I use the crock-pot to cook my beans, as touted in The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester.  The beans are rinsed, covered with water by a few inches, and cooked on low until they are done.  Kathy also mentions that beans can be frozen in 1-1/2 cup portions to use later in recipes that call for a can of beans.  Am I the only one who didn’t know all this?  This book has changed my life!

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1 T. Olive Oil
2 Stalk Celery, diced
1 large Onion, chopped
2 Carrot, diced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Jalepeno Pepper, finely chopped
1/2 t. Chili Powder
1/4 t. Paprika
1/2 t. Cumin
1-1/2 t. Salt
3/4 t. Pepper
1 pound dry, cooked Black Beans
or 4 cans rinsed and drained Black Beans
1 can diced Tomatoes with Mild Green Chilies
2 c. Vegetable Broth
2 c. Whole Kernel Corn
2 Bay Leaves
2 T. Lime Juice
1/4 t. Cayenne
1 c. chopped Cilantro

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Heat olive oil in a stock pot.  Saute celery, onion, and carrot in the oil for 1 minute.  Add garlic, jalapeno pepper, chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper.  Stir until well blended and heated through.

Add beans, tomatoes, vegetable broth, corn, and bay leaf.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove soup from heat, discard bay leaves.  Stir in lime juice, cayenne and cilantro.

If desired, serve with tortilla chips, sour cream, or fresh cilantro.  Of course you can lower the intensity by decreasing the amount of spices you add, but then you are serving up Spirited Black Bean Soup, or Lively Black Bean Soup.

dscn0559Serves 8

Calories 222, Fat 3 g, Carbs 39 g, Fiber 13 g, Pro 13 g

Posted in Room and Board

Seitan. The Other Non-Meat.

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Seitan

This was bound to happen.  Hang around me long enough and eventually I talk about food.  I made seitan (pronounced SAY-tahn) last weekend.  Prepared primarily from wheat flour, it really has little in common with bread.  Traditionally, the wheat dough is rinsed repeatedly until only the gluten is remaining.  It is a good source of protein and low in fat.  Like everything else, if you make it at home you have more control over what goes into it.

bookThe recipe I used is from The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester which calls for vital wheat gluten, and no rinsing is required.  The little dough patties are thrown into a broth and slow-cooked for a few hours.  Simple!  If you are looking for something similar, check out this post by Cathe’s Kitchen.

Because everyone seems to need a label these days, some call people like me flexitarians.  The seitan was made not out of a necessity for a meat alternative, but out of curiosity.  Generally speaking, I really don’t go for fake foods.  I never order chicken “nuggets.”  I don’t like “mock” crab.  I’m not keen on anything “I Can’t Believe It’s Not.”  When I go without meat for a meal it’s because I really prefer the taste of meatless menus.  In my opinion, stir fry doesn’t need meat.  Sandwiches or salads don’t need meat.  Chili doesn’t need meat.  Even burgers don’t need meat.  But if I want a real hamburger, I certainly will eat one.  And if I want crab, by golly I will eat crab and dunk it in real butter!

7888564968_ce51e7acdd1Last night I made nachos with my homemade “Chick’N Seitan.  I pulled out the little patty.  It looked eerily like a real cooked chicken breast.  I sliced it.  It sliced so much like a real chicken breast, that I almost forgot it wasn’t!

I sauteed the seitan with cayenne, cumin, chili powder and paprika and layered it with cheese on some really great tortilla chips.  All the other fixin’s were added, like peppers, onions, and jalapenos before melting the cheese in the microwave.  Lastly, I added shredded red lettuce leaves.7888563478_458a2372161

If I hadn’t been so hungry, I would have remembered to add black beans, corn and salsa.  It was all I could do to take these quick pictures before devouring it all!  I would have added tomatoes and avocados too, but I was fresh out.  I take my nachos seriously.

The verdict?  All in all, the nachos were tasty.  The seitan texture was curiously like chicken.  I still say nachos don’t need meat.  If I happen to want chicken nachos, I will probably make real chicken nachos in the future.

7888562498_f159b453e61Seitan might just be one of those things I have to get used to.  Like tofu.  I used to think of tofu as a meat substitute, and I’ve told you how I feel about substitute food.  But now I think of tofu as . . . TOFU!  I even crave it.  Maybe someday I will say, “You know I could really go for a nice big juicy piece of seitan right now!”

Posted in Great Outdoors

In Lawns as in Life

Maybe I ought to take a minute to explain my situation.  I realize that my declaration of seeking peace, balance, wholeness, etc., sounds like I eat local, attend a power-yoga class, and wear sustainable clothing.  I am sorry if I have misled anyone.  I live in a meager home supported by a meager salary.  I like to grow vegetables because they are so good for me and taste better than anything I have EVER bought anywhere, but also to supplement my grocery bill.  My garden this year is disappointing.  Last spring I lacked the funds to buy new seed and replenish spent soil.  So I’m not heading out to Whole Foods in my hybrid each week.  Please understand, this quest is all about doing what I can with what I have.  I am simply your average Joe . . . er . . . Jean.

Just over four years ago I moved into my current residence.  I bought it as a small, four-bedroom rambler, which is now a two-bedroom rambler due to the addition of an office/craft room and a dining room.  There is a nice fenced-in back for Barney and Sabbath.  In the front is a yard with a pretty brick planter.  For the first time ever, I am the proud owner of my very own lawn!

There was a lawn at my marriage home, but aside from my occasional watering and mowing, it belonged to my husband.  It was also the envy of the neighborhood.  So, I thought, how hard can it be?  I know all the terms:  fertilizer, de-thatch, water, aerate, over-seed, pre-emergent weed killer.  Oh yeah.  I’ve got this covered. That first summer, I had nice green grass.  I followed the lawn-care calendar.  The following spring, the bottom third of the lawn was yellow and crispy.  I watered.  I watered some more.  But it was dead!

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Watering the Weeds

Since then, I’ve worked out that I had probably over-fertilized the first fall.  The dead grass left the ground unprotected.  The slight slope began to erode and now has lumpy divots.  Where grass failed to take root, weeds had no problem whatsoever.  The best advice I can get from friends and family is to hire a lawn service.  My checkbook says no.

Let me just say this.  I really don’t even agree with having a lawn at all.  Pouring clean water on grass when a large part of our global population has none to drink or bath in is terribly irresponsible.  Sprinkling chemicals that wash into waterways is criminal.  Polluting the air with the petrol-run mower and disturbing the silence of a Sunday afternoon ought to be considered the height of social rejection.

Yet here I am lamenting over my front yard for the sole purpose of fitting in.  What is wrong with this picture?  I have succumbed to the pressure of society in suburbia.  I rate my curb appeal against other plots, and find myself at the bottom of the competition.  I do not run the risk of having Bob up the street stopping by to ask, “You trying to make us look bad with that lawn?”  (I have heard envious neighbor dudes say that to one another.)

Here is my crossroad — I’m not just talking grass here anymore — for lawns and for life.

  • I can continue to water, keep things green and see what comes up, hoping for more grass than weeds.
  • I can dig the whole thing under and start new.
  • I can just spread some new dirt of the top, level it out, then sprinkle grass seed on top and water it well.
  • Or maybe I could rethink the whole thing and begin to plant native plants and ground cover that need less water, minimize the need for fertilizer, and require less mowing.

Why is it the option that excites me is the one that ignites such self-doubt?  Of course, I’m speaking about the last option.  There is so much to learn and a whole new way to think about my front yard.  It’s the area that is right out there for the whole world to see. I run the risk of Neighbor Bob walking down asking, “Sooo . . what have you got going on over here?”  Reading between the lines I would know he was thinking, “There goes the neighborhood.  Damn hippies.”

Seeking peace, balance, wholeness and all things precious in lawns as in life.  Wishing I didn’t worry so much about what everyone else thinks. Doing what I can with what I have.  Working on my own corner of the world because it’s already as much as I can handle. Trying to do the right thing.

Posted in Lore

Desperately . . No . . Persistently Seeking . . .

Well, here we are. I’m blogging. You’re reading it. It’s frightening, really. What scares me about it? . . .

You!

Yes, you — out there — wherever you are. I’m afraid you might . . . READ it!

My tag line declares that I am “Seeking all things peaceful, balanced, whole, and precious.” I am surprised how easily I came up with this, and how fully it describes me. I considered “Desperately Seeking . . ” But desperation implies a sense of immediacy. Persistently might have been a better adverb. This is a long road.

Peace: It comes to me when I’m in the present. It might happen on a long woodland walk, or it might happen in the middle of chaos. But when I’m there, the past isn’t weighing me down, the future doesn’t worry me. I’m quite sure the present is where the peace resides.  The trouble is that the present is so elusive.

Balance: I imagine my life as a big yellow exercise ball, and I’m on top. The ball shifts. I react. The ball rolls underneath me in another direction. Every reaction is greater than the last. Inevitably, each attempt lands me ass over teakettle. I’ve been to the Cirque Du Soleil. I want THAT kind of balance!

Whole: I believe in whole food, whole earth, whole people, whole hearts. Most everything I can think of has been dissected, broken, processed, and damaged, until it is unrecognizable. I seek wholeness.

Precious: Family, True Friends, Love, Laughter, Comfort, Healing, Passion, Memories, Reason.

As I said, this is a long road.  Like the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and Dorothy, I may find that the things I seek have been with me all along. I am definitely open to that possibility! But even Dorothy would never have found her way home if she hadn’t started out on the yellow brick road. So I guess we’re off!

Oh yeah, and like Dorothy and her Toto, I will be bringing along Barney and Sabbath. More about them later.

Barney & Sabbie
Dorothy had Toto.