Saturday, December 26, 2009

Family Love

In trying to think of the right words to describe our incredible Christmas holiday, I came to the conclusion that photos were better. Just feel the warmth, hear the laughter, see the lights, and smell the great food as you view the photos.











Tuesday, December 15, 2009

...and so do thoughts of Spring.

Amidst all the hubbub of the Holidays - to be or not to be - have come whiffs of Spring.

1. 2010 Seed Catalogs sit on my bedside stand.

2. Plans of enlarging our garden keep flying through my brain.

3. Yesterday at work a coworker brought a flyer to show me a Four-Shelved Mini Greenhouse on sale for $20. I don't know why she thought I needed to see it. Certainly not a gift-giving idea. Hubby and I just bought two!!

4. And now sitting out on the porch in the afternoon sunshine flipping through a gift issue of Better Homes and Gardens (January 2010 issue page 72), the only article I notice is Growth Fun, A Guide to Super-Simple Seed Starting. Ah, inspiration to disspell the gloom of cold, gray days waiting for Spring to arrive. Be still my heart!

The following is taken from this article:


How to Create Seed-Starting Pots From Newspapers -- powered by eHow.com

When selecting seeds, order heirloom seeds from a reputable place like Seed Savers Exchange, Bountiful Gardens, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Fedco Seeds, Seeds of Change, or High Mowing Organic Seeds.

Read what's been happening with Monsanto and the whole world of genetically modified commercial seed development and control here.

LESSON: The Parable of the Mustard seed.
"With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade."

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Winter Begins

A crust of snow covered the ground this morning but it wasn't the first snow of this season. In October, large snow flakes fell for an hour or more.


video


November was so balmy our red raspberries just kept growing and growing. Grace and Violet delighted to keep the ripe berries ingested.


I won a turkey from the hospital where I work so we enjoyed it for Thanksgiving. Dave and I went to see "2012" at the theatre. Great special effects, sad subject, and irritating ending.

For one month I've been pain free thanks to a cortisone injection into my spine. What a difference in my mobility and attitude. I'm feeling my age again instead for twenty years older!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
                                               Matthew 1:28-30

Thank You for Peace and Rest.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Strength for the Weak

"Have you not known?  Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
The Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary,
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint."

                Isaiah 40:28-31

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hardening the Heart to Change

"...if one refuses to be corrected, divine power does not interpose to counteract the tendency of his own action.  He finds it more easy to repeat the same course.  He is hardening the heart against the influence of the Holy Spirit.  A further rejection of light places him where a far stronger influence will be ineffectual to make an abiding impression...  Every seed of indulgence sown will bear fruit.  God works no miracle to prevent the harvest."  Patriarchs and Prophets

"Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."    Galatians 6:7


Monday, November 2, 2009

Making a Change - How Hard Can It Be?

"...to tell the truth – that the only choices out there for us are not “easy and familiar vs. terrible and unfamiliar” but two versions of unfamiliar – one in which we change ourselves..." taken from Sharon Astyk's Why Not Change? post.

By nature man hates change; seldom will he quit his old home till it has actually fallen around his ears.

Thomas Carlyle
1795-1881, Scottish Philosopher, Author
more famous quotes

Christians are supposed not merely to endure change, nor even to profit by it, but to cause it.

Harry Emerson Fosdick
1878-1969, American Minister

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

John F. Kennedy
1917-1963, Thirty-fifth President of the USA
more famous quotes

Change is the end result of all true learning. Change involves three things: First, a dissatisfaction with self -- a felt void or need; second, a decision to change to fill the void or need; and third, a conscious dedication to the process of growth and change -- the willful act of making the change, doing something.

Leo Buscaglia
American Expert on Love, Lecturer, Author
more famous quotes

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Facing Pandemic - Definition

Following the progress of H1N1 swine flu

"President Obama declared the swine flu a national emergency", Yahoo.com news reports,  "The goal is to remove bureaucratic roadblocks and make it easier for sick people to seek treatment and medical providers to provide it immediately. That could mean fewer hurdles involving Medicare, Medicaid or health privacy regulations."

Over 400 photos on Yahoo.com published along with this report show people receiving or lined up to receive the flu vaccine, not people who are sick.

What is the definition of a pandemic?  A new virus that spreads around the world.  H1N1 swine flu has spread to many different countries but the large numbers of cases are estimated, not confirmed. 

LESSON:  Pandemics are inevitable.  Learn now the best practices to keep you and your family healthy.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Story Continues...

Another ark to build, PART TWO here...see excerpts below.  Thank you to Sharon Astyk.

"The ark was not politically feasible, it was merely necessary. Had Noah had something less than the voice of G-d to order him, or had he required the aid and consent of his neighbors, what are the odds that the ark would have been built? Even had Noah been the driving force alone, it is hard to imagine the completion of the ark – how does an agrarian farmer otherwise find the time to build so vast a creation, to begin, as we are told, from the planting of the cedar trees that would make the boat possible, and go forward. In the face of uncertainty, he must have faltered. The ark could only be possible because it is so very necessary."

"The reality is the same, and we are choosing, even if we choose to pretend there is no choice. No matter how little we like the choices we are given, they are our choices - ark or drowning. The rain falls whether we choose to believe it will fall or not. The consequences of our actions exist whether they are politically feasible or not. The deaths of human beings, alive, beloved of G-d are on our hands whether we choose to acknowledge them or not. We betray G-d in our rejection of his material realities, and in our rejection of G-d’s moral realities.


In a basic sense all of the first portion of the Torah can be said to say this – we are a creation of G-d. We are part and parcel of creation, bound by the same laws – physical and moral – as the rest of it. We owe a share and a responsibility to others – to other human beings, to the birds of the air and the fish of the sea and all of the creatures that G-d pronounced “tov.” Neither our moral responsibility – to save lives, rather than take them, to protect animals rather than destroy them, to love one another as G-d loves us, to preserve the land rather than rape it – nor the laws of physics are up for discussion.

The story of Noah and Isaiah 54 promise us that G-d will never again turn his face from us – no matter how angry at the destruction we wreak. No matter how sorrowful, at the harm we do to ourselves and our children. No matter how much pain we give G-d, G-d will watch, and his face will be turned towards us, like a father to angry teenagers, like a mother to children that no longer want her.

Now is our chance – perhaps our very last chance to live in a world that bears any resemblance at all to the one in which human beings learned their first and most profound lessons. We too have to choose – will we keep our faces turned to G-d, and live with our material realities, pay any price, do whatever is needed to preserve our future and fulfill our responsibilities? Or will we turn away finally, and entirely from G-d, leaving ourselves with an empty faith, divorced from the world into which we were created, and so far distant from G-d that we cannot see if G-d weeps, for the rain that is coming down."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

That's It Exactly

Eloquence of expression doesn't pour out of me as with some others so thankfully I can point to their expression and say "yes" that's it exactly!!

Another ark to build...in word...

"– this weekend Jews all over the world will read Parshat Noah, the story of Noah, and International Jewish Groups have come together to focus this weekend on the impact of climate change through the lens of the Noah story. My shul, among thousands of others will be participating. I had two different rabbis email me, however, and ask if I’d give them my thoughts on Noah. I’ve found myself struggling with this topic in ways I’ve never struggled with more obscure texts, because it is NOAH – we all know the story so well that it is hard not to bang too firmly on the obvious parallels. So I thought I’d start by playing with the story, and writing a little fiction."  Find the story here.  PART ONE.

Another ark to build...in music...
.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Facing Pandemic - Know the Symptoms

Want to know if you have the H1N1 flu?  Check out this website for a symptom check list.

FYI:  Today a co-worker whose off-spring has a position of responsibility in a very large, vaccine-producing pharmaceutical company, announced that her grandchildren, ages 7 and 5, will not be vaccinated.  This is the parents decision.

FYI:  Last week we mailed in our income tax check.  When we received the return postcard notification of receipt, it was signed "Bank of America, Windsor, CT, Agent for the Internal Revenue Service"!!!
See, I was right!  We do own our home now.

Even the Camels Are Dying

The New York Times oped blog, Dot Earth, by Andrew C. Revkin adds some current information in Even the Camels Are Dying by Jeffrey Gettleman about drought in Africa.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Facing Pandemic - The Possibility

Megan, writer and editor of Simple Kids, posted a blog article entitled, Five Things Parents Should Know About the H1N1 VaccinationIt is valuable information simply written.

Malcolm Gladwell, in his bestseller entitled The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, uses a flu outbreak to illustrate how a seasonal illness can become an epidemic.

"The best way to understand the Tipping Point is to imagine a hypothetical outbreak of the flu.  Suppose, for example, that one summer 1,000 tourists come to Manhattan from Canada carrying an untreatable strain of twenty-four-hour virus.  This strain of flu has a 2 percent infection rate, which is to say that one out of every 50 people who come into close contact with someone carrying it catches the bug himself.  Let's say that 50 is also exactly the number of people the average Manhattanite - in the course of riding the subways and mingling with colleagues at work - comes into contact with every day.  What we have, then, is a disease in equilibrium.  Those 1,000 Canadian tourists pass on the virus to 1,000 new people on the day they arrive.  And the next day those 1,000 newly infected people pass on the virus to another 1,000 people, just as the original 1,000 tourists who started the epidemic are returning to health.  With those getting sick and those getting well so perfectly in balance, the flu chugs along at a steady but unspectacular clip though the rest of the summer and the fall.

But then comes the Christmas season.  The subways and buses get more crowded with tourists and shoppers, and instead of running into an even 50 people a day, the average Manhattanite now has close contact with, say, 55 people a day.  All of a sudden, the equilibrium is disrupted.  The 1,000 flu carriers now run into 55,000 people a day, and at a 2 percent infection rate, that translates into 1,100 cases the following day.  Those 1,100, in turn, are now passing on their virus ... as well, so that by day three there are 1,210 Manhattanites with the flu and by day four 1,331 and by the end of the week there are nearly 2,000, and so on up, in an exponential spiral, until Manhattan has a full-blown flu epidemic on its hands by Christmas Day.  That moment when the average flu carrier went from running into 50 people a day to running into 55 people was the Tipping Point.  It was the point at which an ordinary and stable phenomenon - a low-level flu outbreak - turned into a public health crisis."

What can I do in the face of possible pandemic?  More to follow.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Worldwide Drought...

"Despite the rosy picture of an economy improving, the fact is that "famine and pestilence" so familiar in the writings of the classical prophets are again impending. "Pestilence" or disease, is the result of famine, of a lack of nutrition. It is going to take the form of pandemics, as Revelation 16 says, and the rapidly-developing world-state will act just as it is now, trying to play "savior" to the populace, assuring all that God's judgments can be safely withstood. Such an attitude will invite further, more severe judgments."    John McCall, spiritual advisor

See this article entitled, Food Collapse of 2009, by Eric deCarbonnel for a description of current conditions and data regarding worldwide food production.


LESSON:  Definitely time is now to chose LIFE with the Life Giver, eternal life in Him.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Feelin' Lucky

We were feelin' lucky and bought a Mega Millions lottery ticket yesterday for our twentieth wedding anniversary.  Yep, you're right.  Not a single number picked.  The jackpot is now 145 million.  And today that little entertainment is forgotten. 

Thankfulness remains.  Being married to someone who comes at issues from the opposite point of view and yet respectfully perseveres until both have expressed themselves and are understood is an amazing experience.  Not painless, but amazing.  The effort put into learning to live well together has a Big Payoff.

I love you, David.

LESSON:  Finding your self worth in God, not in your partner, can produce a life of amazement. 

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Space in Which to Change

Sharon Astyk eloquently describes a view of coming days that I believe we all can take part in.  Here is an excerpt from her post In the Space of the Days of Awe:

 "...a space in which to change is the greatest gift anyone can ever have."

"It is easy to imagine that the only tools and things that matter are the ones that save the world, that save the day, that fix everything.
But we may be past that point. And now the things that merely help, that simply make things better begin to come into their own. The things that allow us to work and cope in a place where there may be nothing more we can do, or where we are constrained, enable us to pick up the tools we have, regardless of circumstances and use them as we can, for the best we can.
These things are small, mostly, and far less shiny and impressive than the tools of world saving, of resolution. They require we get grubby, both metaphorically and literally down and dirty with the world around us, and that we accept limited results - not enough potatoes to eat all year, but enough for a week. Not enough money to have what we want, but maybe most of what we need. Not enough time to fix it all, but to save some, and soften the hurt for many. Not one single solution, but something close to a whole answer in the actions of thousands and millions and billions, each softening and easing the pain of another a little more."

LESSON:  "...love one another as I have loved you."  See John 15:1-17

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What Goes Around Comes Around

This morning my husband and I, while discussing the current real estate climate, discovered that we own our home.

Countrywide (our original mortgage holder) sold to Bank of America
Federal Gov bails out Bank of America
Tax payers (us) bail out Federal Gov
We own our home now

With this information I think we'll craft a type of reverse mortgage so we can pay ourselves back.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The World of Finance

This little excerpt posted by automaticearth and was guest written by J.S. Kim.

"And finally, the greatest irony of all is that the anger that brews inside those that have been tragically hurt by this crisis can coexist with the failure to recognize that it matters not in America if the President has the last name Clinton, Bush or Obama – that monetary and fiscal agenda inside the US for the last 17 years has not wavered nor changed one iota during this period of time because it was not these men that have been in charge of the economy but the men that manufactured these men’s rise to power and that control the US Federal Reserve and the world’s Central Banks, and thus the global monetary policy."

Grade One Begins With Grace

Mom asked Grace about her first day in first grade, "What did you learn today?"

"I hope it is better tomorrow."  Grace answered.  "We learned about boundaries today."




Denninger on Market Ticker has a little comment on our grandkids' future.  Perhaps learning about boundaries is better late than never.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Time for School to Begin

Janis, Grace, Violet, Nana and Papa went shopping for school supplies a few days ago.  Grace begins FIRST GRADE tomorrow!  To prepare for first grade she wanted a hair cut...those fantastic curls cut right off. 
Violet had hers cut also.  What could be cuter?
Only two weeks ago the doctor announced that Grace's immune system was now responding.  He had no explanation why.  Some of us who have prayed for Grace call her the multiple miracle child.
LESSON:  The Creator not only is able to heal but wants to.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

August Already!?!

Oh, boy! Our few beautiful days of summer are flying by. The gardens are loving the warmth and sunshine after weeks of rain. My tomatoes look like a jungle. The bumble bees have multiplied, even saw a honey bee the other day. A friend gave me a magenta butterfly bush last spring. Large feathery blooms have indeed attracted butterflies including a large black swallow tail. Red raspberries and black currants are in the freezer along with chives, blanched kale and local corn. Still have some frozen wild blueberries from last year. My blueberry bushes won't produce for a couple years. Cucumbers are soon to be done producing. Ten pounds of cukes wait in the kitchen to become bread and butter pickles. We snack on sweet peas right off the vine. Green beans made it to the table yesterday for their first meal along with a salad of tomatoes, green pepper, onion, and cucumber - all freshly harvested. The slug population is diminishing but still takes the summer squash and zucchini. They can't stay away from those large yellow blossoms. Peaches, pears, plums, and apples will soon be ready at the local orchard for canning. Bought my first pressure canner last week and will use it to preserve something this season.

Seed selection, planting location, soil preparation, planting, cultivating, fertilizing, pollinating, insect and pest control, water management, harvesting, EATING, and storage...all take concentration and diligence, especially when avoiding chemicals in the process. But all this seems like play compared to figuring out how to feed your family year round from your own garden produce and the locally grown food you are able to preserve.

Start the process of learning to feed your family now.

Years ago I planted a purple coneflower in my back yard. It struggled along then finally disappeared. Last year three coneflower plants grew up near my raised bed - about one hundred feet from their original location. This year they are wonderful. Must learn how to preserve Echinacea (coneflower). As an herb, it has properties that help boost the immune system. Grace is currently in a doctor's care because her immune system seems to be deficient.

LESSON: Trust in The Creator and effort to cooperate with His design brings Blessing beyond your trust and effort alone.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Of Two Minds

Charles Hugh Smith writes a blog entitled Of Two Minds. For July 21, 2009 he and his contributors write:

"Frequent contributor Harun I. made these observations about self-delusion, greed and responsibility:
From the Mayans to the Romans, from Asia to Europe and now the U.S., all empires seem to experience a series of psychotic episodes that lead to their decline. It seems as if it is a necessary ingredient. What military might cannot bring down, self-delusion will.

However, I cannot accept that the idea that because we responded as encouraged, anger is now justifiable. What ever happened to that pithy adage, "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink"? This represented choice. After all the history (which can be easily "googled" today) of bubbles and manias, how did we fall for it again?

I can think of nothing more potentially damaging to the psychological well-being of an individual than telling him/her, "its not your fault, you had no choice." I'd like to think that humankind is smarter than horses and do not involuntarily salivate when they hear a dinner bell.

I told my seven-year-old daughter to hold her breath and that it was okay because I would be breathing. She looked at me quizzically but complied (she innately understood the absurdity of the proposition). After she could no longer hold her breath, she blew it out and did the obligatory gasping. I asked her why she let out her breath. She yelled at me angrily, "DADDY, YOU CAN'T BREATHE FOR ME. I HAD TO BREATHE OR I WOULD DIE!" I smiled and quietly told her, "Just as breathing is essential to life and can be done only by you for you, so is thinking. Do not ever believe that you can let someone else do your thinking."

What was this so called dream? Regardless of the different forms in which it is presented, the "dream" has been and will always be simply getting something for nothing. Personal greed is and always will be the lever. Greed resides within us all but not all of us interact with it.

What was the encouragement? It was, is and always will be nothing more than someone validating what we already believe.

A democractic republic cannot survive without self-responsibility in the majority of its citizens; the crumbling of our society and those before it should be proof enough. No society/empire fails because of money problems. They failed because the collective citizenry began to believe absurdities.

As Voltaire warned us: "Those who can get you to believe absurdities can get you to commit atrocities." Believe is the operative word. It requires that a choice be made. What is the absurdity we have chosen to believe since 1913? To what atrocity has it led?

If, instead of passively accepting bailouts and government enforced charity, every voting age adult wrote or called his representatives and made it clear that the representative would lose his/her vote if they supported any legislation of this sort, and that he/she would actively organize and support tax revolts in their community, the outcome we are facing today would be different. Better yet, if every working age person had refused the debt trap, things would be radically different.

It is widely known that legislation is passed without being read, that our representatives often do not know on what they are voting but are told how they are going to vote. Let's face it, government is now combat ineffective. What is our response?

Yes, we have a right to be angry but only at ourselves. Every citizenry gets the government it deserves."

"Well said, Harun. Pondering that, I am not angry, but I am afraid for the citizenry and the Republic; for we have the government we deserve, and it is heading off the cliff of insolvency. The citizenry is still in denial, holding fast to the fantasy that their government can magically print trillions of dollars to fund their private entitlements, as well squander additional trillions backstopping $13 trillion in evaporated bad bets and pay for a global empire to boot.

Denial, fear and anger will not take us forward, of that we can be sure."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Man vs. Beast

Rented a 2009 movie this evening entitled The International with Clive Owen and Naomi Watts. The plot is built around a privately owned world-class bank dealing in power by controlling the debt of countries and the agencies who tried to stop it. Entertaining in a serious, disturbing way. Worth watching in light of the current financial fiasco.
LESSON: Above all else do not sell or give away your power to choose.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Gardening Progress Report

This is a short description of what is our long list of vegetables harvested so far in 2009:
zucchini, black currant, red raspberry, black raspberry (wild), strawberry (local, not our own), kale, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, green pepper, chives.

Planted in 2009 but not yet harvested: tomatoes, onions, garlic, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplant, summer squash, chard, peas, green beans.

Planted in 2008 or 2009 but will harvest next year: asparagus, rhubarb, blueberries.

Plan to add to garden in 2010: strawberries and an herb garden

Learning this year: continue amending soil, continue expanding the grow area, growing food is much more work than growing shrubs or flowers, need to calculate how much of each veggie to plant for our consumption, home grown produce spoils much faster than the grocery store produce - could it be all those chemicals? (Heard from a friend who recently travelled to Costa Rica that the locals will not eat the bananas ready for export to the U.S. because of all the chemicals used to keep them "fresh".)

The most graphic lesson this year: the slug is NOT the farmer's friend.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

CRUTCH THERAPY

Several years ago it was necessary for me to walk with crutches for weeks.
Perhaps others have learned the love/hate relationship one can have with crutches.

CRUTCH THERAPY
by
Susan Bruso, 2000

Firm calluses on the palms of both hands
Colorful rashes in the pits of both arms
Amazing development of your biceps and pecs
And finally alignment of those thoracic discs
Carrying newspaper and mail upstairs to the kitchen
Dropping both while clinging to railing and crutches
Bathrobe with thermos-sized pockets for coffee
Basket sledding down stairs full of family laundry
A spiral staircase leads to your doctor appointment
And a handicap bathroom with a door you can't open
Slippery soda is splashed on the floor in the mall
And escalators beg for a "911" call
Frustrated at your present condition?
Depressed by the nasty affliction?
Break or sprain, stitch or strain,
Try crutch therapy to ease the pain
"Short Toss" or "Slam Down" depending on muscle
As the crutch hits the ground so will the hassle
"Car Scratch and Dent" is especially soothing
(If it's someone else's car you are using)
The "Long Hurl" takes courage and pride
It's always best done alone and outside
Remember when using this mode of relief
You have to crawl over to pick up the bleep.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Home Garden, Small Farm, Commercial Food Production

Sharon Astyk posted a great piece on the small farm vs. the federal government.

A while ago I found myself out of work. The first time out of a job since I turned sixteen. What a relief! A paid vacation! When signing up for unemployment benefits, I read a notice on the bulletin board describing an Entrepreneurial Training class still taking applicants. OK, I'll do that. Now what business should I choose to start, really start?

For years I sold homemade pies to co-workers and friends for holidays or special occasions. I canned a wild blueberry pie filling. Perhaps that could go commercial...WILDBLUESbysus was born...on paper anyway. Completed the whole business plan, five-year projected financials, even a verbal presentation to classmates and state representatives.
Then I found a job at the hospital.

The regulations were so costly that startup of a "baby" food processing business was out of the question for me. Food prep seminars, rental of a commercial kitchen, food ingredient analysis, proper labelling and packaging, art work, marketing, Bioterriorism Act registration, etc.
Read Sharon's post to see how regulation effects the small farm.

Friday, June 19, 2009

100th Post

The largest question on my mind today...how many slugs will a nine inch pie tin full of cheap beer hold? I used to think all worms (except the earthworm) claimed The Most Disgusting Living Thing title. Slugs oozed to the bottom of the loathsome list this spring. With rain, and cool, and wood mulch, the slug samples every leaf, flower, and fruit in my garden. This morning as I picked slugs off plants with my two-stick tweezers, I held back the urge to gag. The slime and goo proved too much for me when I plopped great-great grandpa/grandma into the beer bowl. Time to wash my hands...with detergent, possibly bleach...ugh.
Dave now calls me, "Slugger".

June 19th -- on my mind

Mom's birthday. She would have been 85 this year but died of breast cancer at 57.
MRI this morning. Checking my lower back for source of pain in knees and legs. After removal of a tumor from my left thigh along with a couple hamstring muscles a few years ago, there are several possibilities for source of pain.
Dave's quartet. They sing for one of their largest audiences tonight. The guys look so pretty with their new ties.


Jennifer driving down from Maine. I'm waiting for the phone call asking us to pick her up somewhere between here and there with broken down vehicle...
Bing cherries. Possibly the most satisfying food ever created is now here in the markets. Sweet Bing cherries and tree ripened mangos what more could anyone want?
New Steps. The process goes on...nice, huh?




Sun finally broke through the rain clouds. What a glorious day!




Saturday, June 6, 2009

Bumbles

Earlier this spring we spotted a lone bumblebee cruising our yard. She disappeared into a hole in the ground. We were pleased she was at home with us. We'd see her off and on making her rounds. Of course we weren't sure if every sighting was the same bumblebee. When the rhododendrons bloomed we found out. Three bumbles on the same bush!!

One afternoon while sitting on our little porch discussing the several wasp hives that were under construction overhead, a giant bumblebee with a totally black abdomen flew in and challenged the wasps. Quite impressive. A few days later I found a little sawdust on the porch steps. Not a big deal. We have been cutting a lot of wood lately. But this was fresh and reappeared each time I swept it away. Then the huge bumble flew in and entered a hole just her size in the edge of the board over the steps! And....and the wasps are gone!!

Most of my life I've considered all insects as pests except the honey bee, oh, and the occasional spider that ate their insect neighbors. For the past couple years the lack of insects has caught my attention. At first, pleasantly. Then I feared spiders were taking over the world. Now the incredible variety of these specialized tiny creatures fascinates me. My house is still off limits to ants, mosquitos, and biting flies. And I will escort spiders to the door. But the amazing color, complexity, variety, and specification of the insect population has me in awe, again, of Our Creator.

Check out this website to see Bumblebees in your neighborhood

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ideas...Thoughts...Plans...Activities...

Joined the brand new Massachusetts Local Food coop...First pick up tomorrow...Goat milk laundry soap...Echinacea plant

Dave's quartet in town to sing...Prepare dinner for all...Fresh strawberry pie with whipped cream...Mac and cheese made with sharp cheddar and sweet onions...Tossed green salad...Lightly sauted broccoli...Dinner rolls and butter
Hands dirty from digging in the dirt...planting sweet potatoes...Distributing mulch to diminish the pile and reopen alternate access to our yard...Mulch new rhubarb and asparagus...Moving rocks away from planting border in front yard...Demolition of front steps (chipmunk condo)...New front door
Dave and Peter cut down another tree...Hung up on power lines...Now a huge brush pile...Avalanche of stacked wood...More talk of getting our own wood chipper
Painful knees...Xrays...Ice...Pressure points...Rest...Exercise bike

Bumble Bees...Baby Bumble Bees...Big Black Bumble Bees


Work...Laugh...Read...Sudoku...Pray...Thankful for family and friends and HOPE

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

So much to say, so little time...

Just writing to journal what we've done in the yard so far this spring 2009.

*Learned that stacking wood higher than four feet is taking a risk. We've had to add support to our new stack of firewood. As it settles, it tends to lean.

* In early May planted one Bristol Ruby Weigelia (red flowering shrub), one butterfly bush, four three-year blueberry bushes. The two Bluegold Blueberry are closest to the house, the two Elliott Blueberry are further away. All are leafing out. The Elliott's each have a couple blossoms. We acidified the soil, fertilized and mulched with the sawdust from the chain saw. (Just checked the photos still in my camera, wow, things have grown just since last week.)

* Stacked enough brush that we are considering buying our own wood chipper. Last year it cost $500 per day to rent one! We have days worth of brush to mulch now and plenty of places to use the mulch.

*Started hardening our vegetable plants to cool weather on the porch in April. Transplanted plants outside on May 21st. Six Earth Boxes planted with tomatoes (2 Roma cherry, 2 Amish paste, 2 Cherokee Purple), peppers (variety of 5 sweet), cucumbers (small for pickles), broccoli (1), cauliflower (1), Brussels sprouts (1). My sister, "Hi, Barb", sent a Topsy Turvy and it is now hanging with two Cherokee Purple tomatoes. Hint for the Topsy Turvy - gets heavy when filled with soil and water. Make sure your support is strong enough.

* Earlier in May planted garlic cloves and sprouting yellow onions in order to save seed this year. The garlic should have been planted last fall but... We purchased 25 lbs. of yellow onions this past winter. Some of them started to sprout in the bag so I planted them outside. My Saving Seeds guide by Marc Rogers suggests that onion is a good place for a beginner to start saving seeds.

* The rhubarb and asparagus that I threw in the ground last year survived!! They are planted in the front yard near each other. Both require high soil nitrogen for leaf development so I purchased some dried blood. Working in a hospital as I do, just had to use universal precautions when handling this. Perhaps the kale and chard in the raised bed would benefit from the nitrogen also.

*Raised bed - so far contains zucchini, summer squash, cucumber - to vine out one end of the bed - onions, two larger tomato plants purchased from a nursery, lettuce. Today will plant some seeds perhaps peas (late, I know), spinach, Swiss chard, and cantaloupe. We do have one large flowering eggplant in a pot.

*This month we've had sightings of our resident bumble bee. Then it happened. Three bumble bees on the same bush at the same time!! Yeah. A Red-Bellied Ladderback Woodpecker visited our suet feeder and brought his family. The neighbor's four cats keep the rodent population under control even though they are a bit miffed at the vegetables and mulch in their "sand box".

*Other improvements are in the works. Dave has taken apart on old tent trailer to make a fold-down outdoor workbench attached to our metal shed. The wooden shed is being emptied, opened up, and repaired so we can stack some firewood out of the weather. We've had the chimney repaired with new flashing and paint, the front door and threshold replaced, and stucco cracks filled. Dave found a hand water pump, Made in Maine, that we purchased and will attach to our well setup. This should enable us to have running water without hauling bucketsful up from the basement. The generator electrical connection to the house is complete.

My granddaughters sitting on the hickory stump just outside the house. We counted 96 rings!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Vegetable Gardening Basics

Found this website when looking for info on asparagus and rhubarb. The site is simple and user friendly with all the basics.

Watch Your Garden Grow from the University of Illinois.

Monday, May 4, 2009

God Talk

On May 3, 2009 Stanley Fish, an op. ed. of the New York Times posted an interesting review entitled, GOD TALK. Mr. Fish begins:

"In the opening sentence of the last chapter of his new book, Reason, Faith, and Revolution, the British critic Terry Eagleton asks, 'Why are the most unlikely people, including myself, suddenly talking about God?"

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Inground Container Gardening

That's what I'm calling it...Inground Container Gardening. If the soil in your yard is like mine - clay and rock - then you understand. When you manage to dig a hole big enough to plant something, you find the hole itself could double for a clay pot or plastic bucket. Ugh!
Soooo...I abandoned the trench idea for the blueberry plants. (I'd still be digging) And went for the container gardening method. For the blueberries we dug holes larger than required, filled the holes with acidified potting soil, put in the plant, watered well, and mulched with sawdust left behind by the chainsaw. Photos to follow.

Boy, do I need a bath.

Putting in my First Blueberry Plants

On Tuesday the temperature reached 93 degrees, a new record in our area for April 28th. By Wednesday evening a frost warning circulated! Ah, New England. This morning it is 40 degrees, no frost, but I had brought my little tomato plants back in the house just in case.
A few days ago four blueberry (not wild blues) plants arrived. Yesterday, after digging the first hole, I poured water into it just to check the drainage. That hole held water like a pail! Nice. So today I'll be digging a trench rather than four separate holes for the blueberry plants. That way I can fill the trench with organic material and better soil. Good luck to me.

The nursery that sent the blueberry plants included a booklet of how-to instructions. Listed below are their -

RULES FOR CONTAINER GROWING
1. Containers may be plastic, wood, metal, or clay. Your container must provide drainage. You cannot have water sitting in the bottom so the root system lies in a pool of water all the time. To provide drainage, drill or punch holes in the container, then put a couple of inches of broken crockery, gravel, marble chips or comparable material in the bottom.
2. Use a container big enough not to crowd roots. Trees require containers about 24 inches across, whether round, square, or rectangular, and as deep as your knee. For grapes and berries, use a container to one-half the tree size. A good mixture of soil for container growing is 1/3 sand, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 loose planting soil.
3. Feed your plant(s) with a liquid fertilizer once a month. Water them during growing seasons frequently enough to keep the soil slightly damp, not moist, to the touch.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Begin Easy

Here's a short, easy, information video about container gardening. Spring is the time to begin. Go ahead, jump in.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ah, gardening...

On a Claire Day

Yesterday my husband found an article about me on the internet. I just had to post it here. Click on the pictures to see the whole message.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Innocent for the Guilty


Chapters 4 and 5 of Revelation describe in symbol the throne room of The Creator. Today we commemorate this portion of the scene.

Then I looked and I heard, around the throne and the living creatures and the elders, the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, "To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!"

Peace and Love.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Spring 2009

Finally Virus #OMG, the dreaded virus from hell, has drained all the mucous out of New England - again. Last year it stormed the area in January, oozed cross country to the Northwest, bumped into the moist Pacific air, sneezed itself around, engaged in nose to nose combat back through the Midwest, and coughed up a surprise attack here in March this year. Who knew those little bits of RNA could or would organize into mighty armies attacking young, old, and all ages in between?

Yesterday I took a two-tissue, no-cough drive to NH. Weeks have passed since I've seen my little girls. While Mom and Dad went out on a dinner date, they twirled in dresses I'd brought from a local consignment shop, went swinging in the back yard, played with Summer their black lab, ate supper, and colored eggs. We talked about planting while they tried on their new Dora gardening gloves. Already single pumpkin and watermelon seedlings are waiting to be transplanted.

Meanwhile when possible we've been cutting, splitting, hauling, and stacking wood. Check this out...nice, huh?




Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Wizard of ID

Wizard of Id

Click on the cartoon to enlarge the pictures so you can view the whole message.
Busy here fighting viruses and cleaning up many downed limbs and trees. We should have fire wood for several winters.
Happy Spring.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Shack

Last Christmas my sister sent a 2007 novel by William P. Young entitled, The Shack. Fabulous book. Here are a few statements that God makes in his conversations with the main character Mack.

"Creation has been taken down a very different path than we desired. In your world the value of the individual is constantly weighed against the survival of the system, whether political, economic, social, or religious--any system actually. First one person, and then a few, and finally even many are easily sacrificed for the good and ongoing existence of the system. In one form or another this lies behind every struggle for power, every prejudice, every war, and every abuse of relationship. The 'will to power and independence' has become so ubiquitous that it is now considered normal."

"You humans, so little in your our eyes. You are truly blind to your own place in the Creation. Having chosen the ravaged path of independence, you don't even comprehend that you are dragging the entire Creation along with you." "So very sad, but it won't be this way forever."

"Nobody knows what horrors I have saved the world from 'cuz people can't see what never happened. All evil flows from independence, and independence is your choice. If I were to simply revoke all the choices of independence, the world as you know it would cease to exist and love would have no meaning. This world is not a playground where I keep all my children free from evil. Evil is the chaos of this age that you brought to me, but it will not have the final say. Now it touches everyone that I love, those who follow me and those who don't. If I take away the consequences of people's choices, I destroy the possibility of love. Love that is forced is no love at all."

"My purposes are always and only an expression of love. I purpose to work life out of death, to bring freedom out of brokenness and turn darkness into light. What you see is chaos, I see as a fractal. All things must unfold, even though it puts all those I love in the midst of a world of horrible tragedies--even the one closest to me." "Everything's about him, you know. One day you folk will understand what he gave up. There are just no words."

"You see broken humans center their lives around things that seem good to them, but that will neither fill them nor free them. They are addicted to power, or the illusion of security that power offers. When a disaster happens, those same people will turn against the false powers they trusted. In their disappointment, they either become softened toward me or they become bolder in their independence. If you could only see how all of this ends and what we will achieve without the violation of one human will--then you would understand. One day you will."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Food for you

Hungry? What shall we eat?

A Nation of Farmers

Now prepare to plant what and where you have space.
Try an Earth Box. Try something.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Thinking Positive

Spring will not be stopped no matter how hard winter dominates. Sixty degrees today and the ground is still well covered with snow. Did manage to sit out in the sun reading for a few minutes this morning until Janis arrived with the girls. Haven't seen them since their sleep over a couple weeks ago when we painted for the first time.



Today filled quickly with shopping, coloring, undressing and dressing tiny princesses, shampooing Marshmellow and Sheepy-Sheepy in the washing machine with a blow-dry and style in the dryer, planting pumpkin and watermelon seeds to take home, and collective composing at the piano.


Winter has dragged on some this year. Some with sickness, not in this house, but a couple friends fighting cancer, a couple more with serious surgeries, and many in need of encouragement. Even I finally gave into taking pain medication for a bad knee that knocks me off my feet by the end of an eight hour work day.

The tree and limb clean up from last December's ice storm will take all year. We plan to grow vegetables in a series of Earth Boxes this season. Hopefully by fall raised beds will take the place of downed trees and be readied for 2010 planting. My order is out for blueberry bushes (not wild blues) and a couple other flowering bushes to attract pollinating insects.

The time changes tonight so it's back to driving to work in the dark, but not for long.
Spring will arrive soon. No doubt. Bring it on.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Self-Sufficient

Just a little humor floating around in email...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What's Your Plan?

"It was a clear day when the non-instrument rated commercial pilot named Mark left Billings, Montana, in his Beechcraft Debonair. However, the weather along his route through the mountains was not good and was forecast to get worse. When the briefer says twice that VFR flight is not recommended, Mark's response is that the sooner he leaves the better, and that he can 'get a long way down there and then take another look.'"

Jay Hopkins, in an article entitled Responding to Reality published in the March 2009 issue of FLYING magazine, quotes and comments on Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why written by Laurence Gonzales.

"Gonzales says that one of the biggest problems that get people into trouble in survival situations is that they do not face reality. They want to believe they can still proceed according to their plan, and this blocks an accurate assessment of their real situation."

"Gonzales points out that in our complex, technological world we have come to depend on a problem-solving strategy that 'often gives us a illusory sense of control that fails us in moments of crisis.'"

LESSON: "Plan the flight and fly the plan. But don't fall in love with the plan. Be open to a changing world and let go of the plan when necessary so that you can make a new plan." Laurence Gonzales

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The He/She Other

Merging into traffic requires cooperation with that unknown driver element. You know, does the he/she driving the other vehicle appreciate the smooth rhythmic flow of traffic, or, will the he/she anticipate your intention to change lanes and block your every effort? As I exited the interstate into the left lane, other vehicles were entering the exit into the right lane. About a quarter mile ahead on the right was the Mall entrance. Apparently ALL the traffic needed to make that right turn including me. Today's he/she other driver realized before I did that my merging into the right lane would be difficult unless someone let me in. So the he/she other stuck to my right rear blind spot like super-glue. Frustrated, knowing that I needed to be in the right lane and that the he/she other wouldn't let me in, I looked straight ahead to find myself alone in the left lane. Well, I stepped on the gas. Passed every car (about 15 cars) in the right lane. Changed lanes. Turned right into the Mall entrance. And asked myself, "What just happened?"

The path everyone was travelling, the path I thought I needed to take, turned out to be unnecessary. By not pressing to conform to the known path, I discovered another - the one that opened before me - like an open door.

LESSON: Don't insist on your own understanding. You may miss the open door right in front of you.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Who Do You Trust?

This post contains a portion of an article reviewing, How the Rich Are Destroying the Planet, by Herve Kempf (available in English on Amazon.com) followed by comments from my spiritual advisor.

How the Rich Are Destroying the Planet: A Review
By Leslie Thatcher
Truthout Review, Mar 15, 2007 http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_4533.cfm

"The first stage in Kempf's argument is to adduce the irrefutable evidence of an accelerating ecological catastrophe as humanity's use of the planet's resources overshoots the Earth's carrying capacity:

While, according to one researcher Kempf cites, humanity's resource use was at 50 percent of the Earth's biocapacity in 1950, by 2003, it had reached 120 percent - consuming resources faster than the Earth can reproduce them.

Foretastes of the ultimate catastrophe are suggested by avian flu worries, the destruction of New Orleans by the combined impact of Hurricane Katrina and infrastructure failures before and after the storm, and by increased mortality associated with the 2003 heat wave in Europe.

Each environmental "problem" is linked to all the others; their synergy and imbrication propel us "in the direction of unstoppable destruction" and preclude any idea of separate crises, "solvable independently of one another." Why, Kempf asks, when the situation is so clear and alarming, does it remain so stubbornly intractable to change? He concludes that "if nothing happens even though we're entering an ecological crisis of historic gravity, it's because those who have power in the world want it to be this way."

....

"In spite of a distinct coolness of tone and a controlled reliance on statistics and citation, Kempf's depiction of "The Powerful of This World" echoes Old Testament prophetic outrage.

He quotes Peter Drucker on the destructiveness of unbridled executive compensation, St. Augustine on government ("If there is no justice, what are kingdoms, but vast systems of robbery?"), "Forbes, "The Economist,' and the "Financial Times" to create a portrait of a predatory, self-perpetuating elite that has become wealthy "not through success in production, but through constant redistribution of collective wealth" (think Halliburton or Blackwater senior executives and shareholders) and that lives "... separated from the plebians.

They are not aware of how the poor and wage-earners live; they don't know and don't want to know." No sense of the public good or civic virtue moves "this predatory and greedy controlling class, wasting its rents, misusing its power, (it) congeals as an obstacle on the way. It bears no proposal, is animated by no ideal, delivers no promise ... is blind to the explosive power of obvious injustice. And blind to the poisoning of the biosphere that growth in material wealth provokes, a poisoning that means a degradation of the conditions for human life...."

....

Since the collapse of the former USSR, it appears that capitalism no longer needs democracy - so antithetical to the oligarchy's objectives. Terrorism is the latest alibi to tighten security, criminalize dissent, expand surveillance and imprison the poor. "The hyper-rich will attempt to maintain their excessive advantages by force as they did after Hurricane Katrina, when armed forces were sent - not to help the drowning poor - but to hunt down looters. "An ironic twist of history could even be an authoritarian government's use of ecological necessity as a pretext to persuade the people to accept a restriction of freedoms - without, however, touching [socioeconomic] inequality."
-----------------------------------------

The following are the accompanying comments from our spiritual advisor received in the email dated April 1, 2007:

"Those of you who have been following what I have written on this subject will remember that I have said, very explicitly, that from the light given to us by the Holy Spirit, that this is exactly the course that will be followed. The collapse of the earth, (witness the destruction of the honey bees), its inability to support life, the loss of drinking water, the death of the oceans, the increasingly wild weather as a result of Global Warming, and the desperate confrontation between China and its allies with the American Empire will all lead to the rise from the oligarchy of a Strong Man.

A desperate race will look for salvation in the power of the oligarchy and its great central figure, the coming Antichrist. This new savior will indeed be "anti" or "in place of" the Christ who has already saved mankind, if indeed the salvation would be seized upon.

You will remember that the rise from among the oligarchy of a Strong Man was the process that completed the destruction of the Roman Republic, and led to its complete imperialization and absolute power in the hands of emperors who wished and claimed to be God.

This will all happen again now in The Final Cycle. Let the reader understand.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the power of the Heavenly Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you."

LESSON: Choose to trust "the Christ who has already saved mankind, if indeed the salvation would be seized upon."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What you hear about finances make you angry?

The following is quoted from Feb. 4, 2009 posting on THE MARKET TICKER by Karl Denniger in an article entitled TO OBAMA: Confidence Levels Critical.
"We have no real way to know because "the truth" keeps changing.
That's the root of the problem when you get down to it, and now this has gone beyond "Wall Street"
and speculators who are either shorting or buying these stocks - it is seeping into the consciousness of Americans, who apparently are deciding they'd like some physical cash in their hands - whether that's rational or not.
See, we have a problem in this country. We want to keep believing that it was all a mistake that led us into this mess. That there really wasn't systemic fraud and intentional, willful blindness up and down the line."

One of my coworkers attended a funeral recently for an elderly man she had met through her church. About a year ago the man's wife died. Sad and alone the new widower welcomed a young stranger into his life. The younger man told his hard luck story to the older man who was sympathetic. Having no children of his own, the older loaned the younger money. Offered him a place to live. Eventually lost most of his money. And died alone. The young man moved on and could not be prosecuted because the older man had willingly "shared" what he had.

LESSON: Trust is meant for the trustworthy. Be trustworthy. It is a gift to those who depend on you.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Winter Inspires the Poets

As the snow makes itself at home and the birds and squirrels gather 'round our front yard feeders, a couple friends shared emails with me. Now I share with you.

A WINTER POEM

It's winter in New England
And the gentle breezes blow
Seventy miles an hour
At thirty-five below.

Oh, how I love New England
When the snow's up to your butt
You take a breath of winter
And your nose gets frozen shut.

Yes, the weather here is wonderful
So I guess I'll hang around
I could never leave New England
I'm frozen to the ground!

Speaking of Minnesota (Minnesota gets its cold air from Canada and New England gets its cold air from Minnesota), a group of young guys from south of Brainerd came to my door offering to cut down the tree hanging onto my roof. "Minnesota you say? Yes, I'll hire you." They worked like crazy and ended up at the neighbor's house also cutting up a huge White Pine that scraped the siding off the end of his home as it crashed to the ground. All this was a result of the ice storm in December. Following is an ice storm poem written by an unknown emailist. Thanks Carol.


Our Nightmare Before Christmas

Twas two weeks before Christmas and all through the town
it rained and it froze and the trees all fell down.
The wires that were strung on utility poles
snapped like a twig and the houses all froze.

We got our selves nestled all snug in our bed
while visions of warmer days danced in our head,
and me in my thermals and Pa in his cap
stayed huddled together for a bone chilling nap.

The moon on the ice made a crystalline glow
and we thought to ourselves, just how long can this go?
When what to our wondering eyes did appear
but our son with some coffee and donuts and cheer.

We could see our white breath in the darkness above
and deep under the covers I searched for my love.
His feet, they were frozen and so was his head ---
made me think to myself that he just might be dead.

The days passed so slowly, we must be insane
as we waited and wondered and called out by name
"On Thursday, on Friday, on Saturday (s !)
on Sunday, on Monday, on Tuesday (please quit!)
on Wednesday, and Thursday and Friday (oh dread!)
the kerosene fumes must have gone to our head.

To add to the pleasure of winter's delight
two snowstorms came by - 18 inches of white.
The snowing and blowing made things bad to worse
and we prayed to the heavens our pipes wouldn't burst.

Pa's eyes now were sunken, his expression --- not merry,
his cheeks had a pallor, his nose like a cherry.
The odd little smile on his face wasn't fun
and he often was mumbling "go get my gun".

Then a rap on the door, and the fireman said,
"Are you sick, are you sane, and is anyone dead?
There's a shelter, there's warmth, you can come if you're able,
we have showers and kindness and food on the table" ---
and we looked at each other and thought --- "what the heck?"
yeah ... eleven days later you FINALLY check!

On night number twelve we heard the faint roar
of a convoy of trucks and we ran to the door.
To the top of the poles, to the stretch of the cable ---
please bring us your power just as fast as you' re able!

They spoke not a word, but went straight to their work
and the power came on with a hum and a jerk.
They heard us exclaim, as they drove out of sight ---
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!
WE HAVE HEAT! WE HAVE LIGHT!