Garden Report for 7/24/17

Image courtesy Old Design Shop

Around the time of the sun transiting from Cancer into Leo as it did last weekend, the ancients and those who follow their religion celebrate Litha, the first harvest festival. The veggies and fruits have started coming in, some not quite at their peak, but definitely on their way there.

Oakley and I have added weeding and watering to our morning routine. He walks around the bed, giving it a good sniff, then finds a sunny patch where he lies down curled in a half-circle, tilting his nose to the sky. I pull weeds, give the plants a pep talk. Some mornings I do standing yoga poses; others I take my coffee outside and watch the veggies grow.

I’m pleased with the results to date, considering that the last garden I planted was seven years ago, the horrible summer after Orion crossed the Rainbow Bridge. I just dug holes and threw things in the ground between sobs while smearing mud and snot across my upper lip as I tried to dry my tears. We ended up with some herbs, a few tomatoes, and several zucchini worthy of concealed carry permits.

This year is going much better, but as with any other literal or figurative growth experience, there are lessons at hand. For example, next radish planting, thin them out after they sprout. Otherwise the radishes will be long skinny roots and not the intended globes of rosy, spicy goodness. Still work in salads and you don’t have to chop them, just trim off the leaves and the taproot. The greens work best as sprouts in sandwiches. The mature greens work best in tandem with less assertive colleagues like spinach. Otherwise, the flavor is overwhelmingly spicy.

Green beans have morphed from blossoms to actual beans. Not ready just yet, but after the storms of last week, heartening to see them. I like them steamed and drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil or butter. The fresher, the less fussing they need.

Cherry tomatoes…I don’t know what to say about them. Some blossoms had appeared last week. Then came several days of storms with the type of winds that make a person wonder when the siren will begin its wail. I didn’t see any blossoms today.  Time will tell if they the wind ripped them off the stems or if they just dropped their petals in preparation for becoming tomatoes. It’s been and will be hot enough for another round of blossoms to emerge.

Broccoli: I don’t know what’s going on with that. Lots of foliage, but no signs of buds just yet. It’s really pretty, though.

Carrots: their lovely fernlike tops have emerged, but no signs of their readiness. Like potatoes, they push themselves up to the surface. Likely next month.

Basil: oh, yeah…basil. In scrambled eggs. Pesto with walnuts is a possibility. And insalata caprese, made with fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil. Drizzle with balsamic and your taste buds will bless you.

Lettuce: the plain lettuce is just fine. We’ve had a couple of salads. Delicious. But the mesclun mix? I have stared at it and cannot tell what came up. Another note to self: buy next year’s seeds at a garden supply house, not a supermarket end cap. I’ve checked whatever that is against the picture on the seed package and can’t tell what it is.

Maybe next year will be the year I’ll have enough produce to freeze for the winter, but for now, I’m having too much fun to care.







Random Monday Thoughts

Two new goals have popped up in the last week or so: to create a firmer schedule for my days and to start doing meal prep and plan once a week.

The schedule is to give the sails of the day some structure the way masts and riggings would on a ship. Otherwise the day just kind of flops around and I embody the stereotype of the writer who watches TV  or goofs on social media all day and wonders what happened. Today I’m on track. I did yoga, walked Oakley, and am writing this entry before checking in with my buddies in cyberspace. Yes, I will still have fun and yes I will still have time to watch TV, but filling the day with meaningful activities pushes me to be more selective about what and how much I watch.

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of blog entries and watching videos by Tonya Leigh, a life coach who made significant, lasting changes for herself by studying French culture and applying the the lessons to her own life. Anyone who tells you to throw out all the self help books that make you feel broken is someone you need to listen to.

The meal prep and plan is an act of self nurturing and self defense. Otherwise it’s just too easy to look at what’s in the fridge and nibble on leftovers instead of sitting down with a portioned-out meal. This goes double after yoga class. Or to succumb to pizza’s siren song. I’ll likely do that on Wednesday and shop Tuesday en route home from dropping Oakley at day care.

In the garden, the beans have blossomed. I have a pretty decent crop of basil and lettuce.  Some of the veggies look so different in their natural state that I can’t tell what they are, but there are a lot of them.  However, I have a lot of stray grass and other things I didn’t sow that need to be pulled. Oakley and I will do that tonight. Well, I’ll do the pulling while he stands guard. He’s good at that.

Attempts to relearn crochet unfold. I can create a semi-decent granny square in about a half hour. I’m not in it for glory or cash; I’m just in it to keep myself out of the snacks. It calms my mind for the most part, except for the times when I can’t get the tension right or I have to repeatedly rip out stitches due to a multitude of errors. Then I put it aside.

And find something else to occupy my hands and head to keep myself out of the snacks.


Our beloved Bristol Renaissance Faire opened this weekend. Of course Hubby and I  went. As usual, we had a splendid time in our happy place beneath the oaks. We saw acts new and familiar, indulged in ice cream, and people watched. It’s always a little surprising to see a fellow faire-goer in a Federation uniform, but no judgement from us. OK, a couple of giggles. But no judgement. OK, maybe a little. You caught us.

Anyway, we had a good time. I made some purchases: two books, one about the history of the spice trade and the other about the history of jewels; the obligatory pair of earrings; and a badly needed new purse.

I was way overdue for one. Now that sunglasses are no longer an option due to light sensitivity and cataracts running in the family, I need a bigger purse to accommodate the case. The old purse fell apart, lining and outer layers of fabric parting company here and threadbare patches there. The new one is bigger with plenty of space for my phone, keys, glasses case, canine cleanup bags, and other items that fall into the black hole that every purse I own becomes. It’s handmade of corduroy with an up-cycled belt for a strap. The flap’s embellishments set it apart from mass produced bags. There’s a small strip of cotton eyelet, a small patch of green fabric, and an embossed leather patch.

The purse kept calling to me. In the shadows of the tent, the patch looked like an owl.

Owls are symbols of wisdom, of the crone goddesses who stand in their power by right of time and experience. My transition into that phase grows closer. Yes, I’ll take this one, please, as a reminder of what is to come.

The next morning I transferred the essentials from the old purse into the new one before picking up Oakley from his happy place, sleepover camp at Ms. Lanette’s. I brought him home, then dropped my purse on the dinette table as I usually do.

Over lunch, Hubby stared at it. “It’s spooky,” he said. I had to get something from the fridge, and en route I stood behind him to see what he saw. From his angle and due to the lighting, the patch resembled a skull not unlike a the ones found on pirate flags or the others decorating Halloween and Dia de los Muertos celebrations.

I paused.  I conceded that from that angle it looked a little spooky, but reminded him that it looked like an owl from other angles. He continued to eat lunch so it couldn’t have been that unsettling to him.

To me, it was.

Owl=cronehood. Wisdom.

Skull=death, passages, rebirth.

Perhaps it came down to a question in perspective. Not only from the point of view and lay of the light, but from life experience and one’s unique life lenses. Hubby is, was, and always will be an engineer, retirement be damned. He embodies the phrase “it is what it is.” No hidden meanings, no symbolism.  I am, was, and always will be a mythical, metaphorical student of Carl Jung. Everything is a metaphor, a symbol of some aspect of the human psyche, of the soul and spirit.

Was the innocuous leather patch a sign of some kind? Perhaps a reminder that I’m being birthed into the next stage of my life, that my middle years are limited and that I have no more time time to let the grass grow under my feet, to get busy taking steps towards the multitude of projects planned in my head. A message that I move into the autumn years? That I have fewer days ahead than behind me?

Yes, that.

A small chill ran through me.

How can I put my wisdom to work? I let that simmer in the back of my mind as I started on the spice trade book that afternoon.

Maybe sitting down, creating a new life list and vision board is in order.

Or maybe putting Oakley on his tie out line so I can freely putter in the garden, waking up a little earlier to do yoga and meditate, staying off social media to honor my creative voice, those are in order.

Perhaps it’s a combination of both, a meeting in the middle.

In any event, the patch on the purse serves as a daily reminder.




A Song for Canada…I Think

(Many thanks to Sandra and Helen  for the inspiration)


Today is July 4. We are keeping it quiet, low key, and close to home to avoid the ones let out of the homes for the rude and the lacking in common sense today. Hubby’s doing yard work. Oakley’s dozing in front of the fan. I’m planning on grilling chicken for dinner.

This last weekend  July 1 brought the birthdays of my sister, a dear friend, and Canada’s 150th. Two awesome humans and an awesome country all on the same day lead to much reveling. I went to the friend’s party. My sister went for a lovely lunch with her husband. Cities large and towns small celebrated Canada’s 150th without untoward incidents. Everyone looked as if they were having a great time in the pictures on the CBC website.

In honor of the sesquicentennial (type that without autocorrect flipping you off), Ontario’s government released a video with the provincial song updated for 2017 to reflect the growth and change  of the population since the centennial in 1967. Pretty awesome.

The 1967 version of the song was pretty awesome, too. Until recently when a couple of my comrades in social media who live in Ontario posted it a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t know that it was a song. I thought that the “On-tar-i-ar-i-ar-ohhHHHH” part was a jingle for a tourism commercial released in my home state of Michigan.

And a beautiful ad it was: the image of a honey colored setting sun transforming a lake into a pond of gold with a soprano singing the province’s name as the image faded out.

As with many things of beauty, it became dangerous when it fell into the wrong hands. Or vocal chords in this case.

Such as the ones of lower elementary and preschool children. Mine, and Laurie’s and her little sister Becky’s, and Janie’s. We lived within a few doors of each other. On a slow summer morning, we circled ourselves on a lush lawn; I can’t recall whose. It was one of those childhood things that just happened. I don’t remember how. It just did.  At first everyone took a turn singing “On-tar-i-ar-i-ohhhh,” and then that went up the scale to the point where we plugged our own ears.

“ON-tar-i-AR-i-AR-i-O-OHHH!” Giggles. Up a few more notches.


Becky was the youngest. I think her ability to hit that note at age four that made the neighbors think a murder was in progress. Dogs in a two-block radius started going berserk barking back at us. Had car alarms been the norm, we might have set off a few of them as well.

On cue, all our moms flew onto their respective front porches and as one shouted “FRANCESLEIGHLAURAJEANREBECCALEEJANEMARIE! Will you PLEASE stop screeching?”

We all mumbled a short apology, then as Janie’s mom closed their front door, we looked at one another.

Very quietly, but at the high end of her range,  Becky sang “on-tar-i-ar-i-ar-i-o-ohhhh….”