Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Finding The Place of Ease
In my life I work at finding the ease of the day.
It is a deliberate, mindful, life we have. I try to give enough time to each activity so I am not rushed and still have time for creativity. I want to notice the way life unfolds each day. The awareness of beauty all about reminds me life is a prayer in action, if I allow it to be so.
I ask myself, "How can I make this easier?" Whatever it is. Usually the answer is, "Just enjoy".
I relax into my pose, still holding my muscles onto the bones and I breathe into my back ribs. I keep my arms firmly in the shoulder and let my head rest on the arms of the universe. Than I lead with my heart. Legs are straight as I trust the body. I find my place of ease.
I reflect, relax and refine.
May has been a fine month.
The rains have refreshed me.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
End Of Month
I keep a journal for each month. In it I write our comings and goings, ideas and plans. We have a program of living. With 68 different categories we have full lives.
We have some sort of event every day.
Usually a quick fun thing.
Today is one of my friend's birthday.
I sent a card and a morning blessing. In her honor we will eat Strawberry-Rhubarb pie. My husband enjoys the daily events!
Each month has a theme. May was all about butterflies. I had butterfly things all over the house. My new book was a butterfly field guide. I began a butterfly host garden. I have all sorts of ideas on how we can learn more about
butterflies and will continue to work up my butterfly things all year.
The end of month for me is a time to see what worked and what I can do next year to make our month even more enjoyable. I look to see what did not work out too. I build year to year so the months are always evolving. I decorate each room of the house each month. I write down what I did so next year I can open the journal read what went where and do that again or decide on a different arrangement. At least I have a beginning. I like to have all the decorating done by the first of each month. Not always can this happen. Sometimes I have to wait and decorate after the 31st!
Usually something will come my way each month that is truly spectacular. This May it was the May Pole. All month I was entertained by the ribbons.
The May Day baskets were a great idea. I want to do these again. Not only did they line the front walk and looked charming but also I had a nice gift to give to my visitors. I did 25 of them so I had some left over for graves on Memorial Day. Next year I want to do 30 baskets. We decorate 25 different graves and every year I am trying to make sure I have flowers from the garden.
Since the peonies were finished and the lilies just budding I did not have many flowers to decorate with.
The baskets were in bloom and pretty.
Many of the graves we visited do not have vases so the baskets worked out nicely.
I also want to do the wheat again next year. I did up sheaves of wheat for the graves of the men folk.
Adding more types of feeders to the feeding station made for hours of fun bird watching. The heat and dryness was the hardest part of the month with watering taking lots of time and resources. Glad I tucked some lettuce under the peonies. The spinach was trying to bolt (go to seed). I was pinching out the tops in hopes the temperatures would cool down a bit and the entire crop would not be lost. We decided next year to plant the spinach and lettuce earlier, in late March rather than late April. We will plant again in September for an autumn harvest. I need to be sure and save some seed for that. So if the spinach does set seed early at least I will have seed for September. We have had a few spinach salads with fresh strawberries. I made a note to plant more strawberries too. This means I will want to enlarge the strawberry bed in the Fall.
Once I am ready the monthly bins come up and I begin packing things up. I clean each room and decorate for my next month.
We call this, "switch-a-roo".
Today was switch-a-roo! May is packed up and back in the storage room. House is all clean and June is up and running! It took me ten straight hours but now I am ready. I still have the May scrapbook to do up and June cards to make. I have a small pile of paper to organize and June's Daily Events to plan. Tomorrow I will celebrate the last day of the month.
I will write in the June journal
any changes I did this year.
I have some adjustments to make here and there, the flowers to cut for the vases, some linens to iron and the photos to bring up. I am almost ready for June.
June is all about
Dragonflies and Damsels!
It shall be fun.
Monday, May 29, 2006
From Memorial Day until Labor Day we put a hopscotch board out on the front sidewalk. It is for anyone who would like to have a bit of fun while they walk.
Our chalk art is just for fun. When the rains come and wash it away we will put another one out. It is one of our summertime fun activities.
The Parade of Flags
The cemetery across the street remembers over 2600 service men and women with flags.
This year the Young Marines are posting the flags.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
I am not a bicycle endurance rider.
I am a slow, enjoy the ride, sort of rider.
On the Katy Trail there is so much to see if you slow down and relax. Even with a high of 90 degrees in the shade, enjoyment can be found with a bit of pre-planning. We packed our bags the night before; sunscreen, sun hat, lots of water, camera, binoculars, field guides, muffins, bicycling shorts (these are padded!), bike gloves. We checked the bikes, tires and brakes were in good working order.
We left early for our drive to visit my Grandparents graves and to the trail.
Right away the show began. We took over a hundred photos. I still have to get them organized. After riding 13.4 miles I am tired.
I will update and tell the story later.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
No photos. Firefly never did come into my view finder. It could be I am over reaching my camera. Maybe I am over reaching my ability. Maybe fireflies do not like to be photographed with their lights on. I do not know. Maybe it is enough that I saw them at dusk tonight.
I will keep trying to get a picture.
Summertime and the Living is Easy
90 degrees today. It is hot; humidity is high. "Hello Summer, welcome to my corner of the world. "
So far this month it has been dry, only 2 inches of rain for me. I was graced by one-fourth of an inch last week. I keep a rain log on my calendar.
I water the seedlings and freshly sowed seed. The container gardening I do, also needs to be watered, sometimes twice a day. The Heathers will need to be watered until they are established.
For the most part I fill my watering can and hand water.
I use the water from the rain barrels when there is some. The doughnut sprinkler comes on for when I need to put down an inch of water at a time. When it is dry like this I use it about once a week. I set the timer so I can do other things while watering. I keep the water pressure low so the water goes down on the ground rather than evaporate into the air. We have enough humidity.
The robins love the doughtnut sprinkler. Like small children they run in and out of the spray. Once I move onto another spot the robins find worms in the freshly watered ground.
We do not water the lawn. We grow a multi-cultural lawn so the early, cool weather, grasses give way to the clover and more drought tolerant species that make up our lawn. The spring grasses will go dormant until cooler temperatures and rains return.
It is summer.
Some years we have wet summers. Some years it is dry.
This looks to be a dry one.
The spring flowers are fading and some are setting seeds. I begin checking the plants I want seed from so I can Winter Sow them come December. Last year I saved seed for beginning gardeners and friends who would enjoy something different in their gardens. These made nice gifts. These pink bleeding hearts are easy to Winter Sow.
Often my gardens look "messy" as the flowers fade and turn to seed. I do remove the spent blooms of bulbs and other plants I am not saving seed from. The poppies are almost over. The seed pods are forming. I will gather the seed for poppy seed on muffins and for sowing. The pods will be used in Fall flower arrangements. The daffodil greens are ripe now so I can remove them.
As the spring flowers fade
the summer flowers begin to bloom.
The parade of flowers continue all year, now that the December blooming Heathers are here. I work to have continuous bloom in every bed. Some plants are tucked under other plants. Some will outgrow their neighbors and be the star for a month. These Asiatic Lillies are brillant. They will stay in bloom for about a month.
Other plants will go dormant
or die back until next year. These Sweet William were winter sowed three years ago. I save the seed and do a batch every year. They are bi-annuals. They come back for a couple of years than die off.
I planted the new seedlings around the daffodil's after blooming.
I stagger the sowing time of some seed so that I have flowers when I need them for the house. I am waiting until the middle of June to plant zinnias. I like them in August bouquets.
Some plants I grow for winter bird food.
I do not gather their seed. The finches like the cone flower seed and we enjoy watching them in January take seed from the flower heads.
We also have our vegetables. I am working on growing at least one food for us in every bed. This project will take a few years to find the right food for each type of growing condition I have.
The miniature eggplant arrived yesterday.
I am hoping for a cloudy,
cool morning to plant them out.
Since these will stay small
I can plant them in the front yard
near my miniature herbs, my Fairy Garden.
As I learn how the eggplant grows I will try to save seed and winter sow. I hope they taste good.
The Winter Sowed tomatoes are blooming. My plan is to have fresh red tomatoes for the Fourth Of July.
Caring for the plants is easier when we have rain. Once again I need rain.
Friday, May 26, 2006
Back home I was on a quest to find the coffee maker. I did and from 1991 to today we enjoy a delicious iced coffee refreshment from May until October.
My recipe has changed as our eating has changed.
Q's Iced coffee
One Toddy coffee maker
One pound ground coffee (I use a dark roast organic coffee as finely ground as I can find)
Steep 24 hours
2 cups coffee concentrate
6 cups soy milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
Stir and serve over crushed ice.
I have made our iced coffees with stevia and find it is wonderful. We often will have iced coffee- vanilla ice cream floats. Yummy!
Sparrows-Snakes and Peas
We planted the pea seeds on April 12th. They sprouted and began growing just fine. They have a small trellis to wind up on. The lettuce seed went in around the border of the peas on the north side, spinach to the south. Marigold seed around the edge of the bed. This style of gardening is called, "Square Foot Gardening". All should grow just fine.
I do encourage the pea vines to cling to the trellis. Every couple of days I take the tendrils and wrap them around a support. Why the vines will not stay on the trellis is so very strange. I have done this for years. The peas grow on the pea trellis. While having supper we heard a ruckus in the back yard. We got up from the table to check. At least 30 if not 50 sparrows were on the pea trellis pulling on the vines and leaves. They were not eating the leaves just having fun pulling on pea leaves. We chased them away and continued our supper.
This annoyed me. Peas are our food, not bird toys. The wild life may have their way with me, but only up to a point.
While shopping at the Dollar Store for grave decorations I found a wooden snake. I had this great idea. A wooden snake in the pea garden might keep the sparrows away.
It worked, the sparrows stay away now.
I have added, "move the snake" to my list of morning and afternoon chores.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Maybe because we have a small house or maybe because we are practical people. I am not sure but I do know he does not like gadgets.
Every year I cut lettuce from the garden for supper. I take my copper colander out into the garden and my kitchen sizzors and cut what we need for our dinner. I grow romaine lettuce. It is known as cut and grow.
After a leaf is cut it will regrow.
In the past, I brought my lettuce in to wash and laid the leaves out on a tea towel and patted dry. It was the easiest way I knew.
When salad spinners came out onto the market I looked at them. I thought how handy for garden lettuce. He deemed them, "Gadgets". Still I looked at them.
I thought, "Handy." A few years have gone by.
Last year I looked at them again. Still looked "handy" to me.
Last time I was at the market I looked at them again.
I removed one from the box,
looked practical and handy.
I bought it.
So practical, so handy. I highly recommend the Zyllis Salad Spinner.
Not a gadget. It's a tool.
Easy to use,
easy to clean up,
keeps greens fresh in the spinner,
a nice addition in my kitchen.
Our salads are delicious!
We choose Saturday or Sunday for our adventure. It is a fun outing. We used to rent a tandem. Together we would ride and look at the birds and enjoy the scenic views. Now we take our own bicycles. This way I can stop whenever I want to. I pack a picnic lunch and water bottles. We must look a fright with binoculars hanging around our necks and the camera flung over one shoulder. I wear my sun hat and lots of sunscreen. It usually is hot. I always get tired. Yet I want to go.
I want to see, up close, the scenery. The portion of the trail we ride is on the banks of the Missouri River. Birds, butterflies, wildflowers and the river makes this adventure worth the sweat and sore muscles.
Once the weather is nice, in April, I always think I am going to get my bicycle legs in shape so the ride will be easier. Yet the lettuce and peas need to be planted and the tomatoes need to be mulched and I just do not get to the bicycle.
This year is different. We started training.
After supper we go for a bike ride at our "park".
We live across the street from a large cemetery. It is where I took the children for their stroller rides. They learned to ride their two wheelers on the paved roads. Mom and Dad's "drivers education" was conducted across the street. When we walked to get an ice cream we took the short cut, though the cemetery. It is a lovely, quiet, place to get the bicycle legs strong again.
Nice that yoga practice has been on connecting to our legs, these past two weeks. I have learned how to hug the muscles on to the bone so my knees are protected. I am stronger than ever before.
Oh, last night, at dusk, while rounding a bend in the cemetery we saw Blue Bird! He was sitting on a flag pole. We watched for a long time. We could hear baby blue birds in the nest. We watched as Blue Bird flew into the tree and the babies were quiet. Next time I am bringing the camera with the zoom!
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Lembas- Elven Cakes
It is 89 degrees out and I am baking.
I absolutely must. We are out of muffins.
My Husband calls them, "Lembas- elven cakes".
He says two can keep a man in good health all day.
Before we were married I asked him what would he like from me in our marriage? He asked me to "please pack my lunch." Willingly and joyfully , I have done so for over 30 years. He always thanks me and says his lunch was good. Once he told me his lunch was his," little piece of home he took with him every day.". After that I tried to make even better lunches.
He leaves before dawn while I am still asleep. Over the years I have tried different types of breakfast foods for him; protein shakes in the blender, Roman Meal waffles with honey and wheat germ, cookies, all failed at some point. On August 3rd, 2003, (according to a note our daughter wrote in the recipe book) the breakfast muffin was born.
It is an old recipe I use from my husband's Grandmother. It is her Zucchini Bread recipe. I have changed lots of it over the years to reflect our way of eating. Our daughter's note continues, "over 100 zucchini from the garden!"
Granny's Zucchini Bread
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs beaten
2 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup chopped raisins
Grease 2 loaf pans
Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl
Stir oil and eggs and vanilla together in another bowl.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid ingredients. Stir until blended.
Blend in zucchini and nuts.
Bake in 350 degree oven for 55 minutes
It was a good year for zukes. My garden journal says, "the squash bugs left the crop alone this year." I had peeled and shredded many zucchini and had baked bread. A few loaves were in the freezer for December eating, when the taste of the garden would be so appriciated. I still had lots of zucchini to figure out what to do with. Muffins were a natural remedy for my harvest. I did not have to bake them all at once. I could shred up the zukes and freeze 2 cups in a zipper freezer bag for baking later.
I thought of ways to make these as high in nutrition as possible.
Q's Zucchini Muffins
2 cups organic unbleached sugar
3 cups whole wheat flour
3 tps cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup olive oil
2 tsp vanilla
3 organic eggs beaten
2 cups shredded un-peeled zucchini
2 cups chopped pecans
2 cups organic flame raisins
In a large mixing bowl add dry ingredients. Stir to mix.
Place all liquid ingredients in another mixing bowl. Stir to mix.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the liquid ingredients into the well. Stir to mix.
Stir in zucchini
Stir in nuts and raisins. ( At our house these are known as "the goodie")
Using large muffin pans and large unbleached muffin papers, place two heaping tablespoons of batter into the papers.
Bake at 375 degrees for 22 minutes.
yield 32 muffins.
Lots of variations have developed over the past three years. When a huge supply of pumpkins came to me last October, I baked the pumpkins and blended them up and used the pumpkin instead of the zucchini.
If I want to be fancy I will sprinkle wheat germ on the tops of the muffins before baking. When I have flax seed I will add a 1/2 cup of flax seed to the mixture. Sometimes I will put dried cranberries instead of raisins. A cup of apple sauce has replaced the olive oil when I have been out. I have used almond oil too.
The entire process takes me an hour. I put two baked muffins, after they have cooled, in a sandwich sized, zip lock bag and place them in the freezer. Before bed, when I pack lunch, I get out a bag and put it in the lunch box. Breakfast is served.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
A Storm is on the Way
The air feels thick, the breeze is from the east.
I expect rain.
I long for rain.
We are cloud watchers.
We watch the birds and the bugs.
What are the spiders doing?
Will we get rain?
We watch the fish in the ponds.
We need rain..
The storm could go around us. I have work to do. The sunflowers need to be weeded and thinned and mulched.
The sun is hot and the air so humid.
We just need rain.
The Brown Thrashers are not paying any attention to the approaching storm. They want to nest.
I need rain.
Just out of the nest.
Drama on the deck.
He is too scared to fly again.
Mom and Dad keep watch and bring food.
The wind shifted back to the south.
The storm went around us.
Sunbeams at sunset.
Maybe tomorrow we will get rain.