30 June 2008

let's pause for a moment

There are eight weeks to September...that's 56 days left of what I have always thought of as summer. Plenty of time for picnics, camping, hikes, and beach combing. Oh, and yes, for finishing up the front terrace, completing the sprinkler system, and tearing down a non-load-bearing wall to open up living space. All these activities accompanied with a great deal of photography to test and play with my new Nikon camera and her capabilities.

Fifty. Six. Days. Right then, let's not dilly-dally and waste time. Here we go!

27 June 2008


I pause a moment to witness a passing, an ending.

My faithful Apple Powerbook G4 choked, wheezed, and gallantly tried to show me by happy, lovely Tuscany hillside of orange flowers on her screen yesterday, but could muster up nothing past the blue-grey screen and Apple logo. Quite sad. She was true to her designers name--a powerbook quite capable to handle any task assigned her.

There's a bit of irony in having my mom come into the modern age as I am relegated back to our {shudder} desktop HP. It's old, slow, and just a beast to work with (it's not an Apple, need I say more?). I can't roam about the house. I can't work on a whim. I have to negotiate an operating system that is not friendly.
I must
to work.

It's been less than twenty-four hours. How do people live like this, shackled to a mammoth sloth system, unable to be free?!

I'll be fine. I'll breathe, meditate, focus. I'll get through this. It's temporary. {whimper...withdrawals are such a nasty affair}.

25 June 2008

i celebrate your day

To my husband, my best friend:

Now you are another year older, yet I still see the man I first fell in love with all those many years ago. I know you are not one to loudly celebrate these things, choosing to be quiet and introspective about birthdays instead. That's the engineer, contained, sensitive side of you.

I know about the wild, elemental side of you few people ever see.

I love and celebrate the many facets that make you who you are. The little boy inside who still loves to "whoo" out across a rocky outcrop in wait of an echo or response. The young man inside who takes great joy in skinny dipping in a lake or stream. The man who loves watching romantic movies with me. The man who can wield a chef's knife and herbs like nobody's business in the kitchen to come up with the most amazing dishes. The papa who read "The Ransom of Red Chief" by O. Henry to our yet-unborn daughter, and who sang our daughter songs on bike rides in the deep cold winter months of Colorado.

I celebrate your birth.

24 June 2008

fire and brimstone

In the past few days there have been over 500 fires in northern California (read here and here). A drier than normal winter and a hotter than normal spring/early summer have made the grasses and trees more vulnerable.

Sunlight, which is usually bright and clear, is now hazy and casting an alien orange hue onto everything.

I won't be biking or walking until this clears up. My husband's office shut down their air conditioning to keep out the heavy smoke (he is a only a few miles from many of the fires). Keep good thoughts for the hundreds of fire fighters working the fast-burning fires in air temperatures of 90 to 100 (F) degrees.

23 June 2008

"fruitful" weekend

Whew! What a weekend! Our house was buzzing with house guests, shopping (which, if you know me, you would know I don't without protest--shopping is so not my "thing", but for others I will gladly be a chauffeur and sherpa, all the while being pleased at their excitement), learning, and eating plenty of fresh, local produce.

My mom has come into the twenty-first century in a big way. See the blue-tooth ear piece? She absolutely delights in the control of answering the phone anywhere, anytime without having to fish in her cavernous purse before the ringing stops. She wears it all the time. In her good ear. You would think that this would cause problems with conversations but she still hears quite well. Notice the pretty, sleek computer on her lap? This is her first computer (no, really...read that again with emphasis on each word). The line "an apple a day" comes to mind: she has embraced the basic workings of the computer itself and online surfing--next week I will introduce her to email and on-line chatting. Baby steps. I must say, she has picked up trolling websites rather well. I sing great praises to the Apple.

20 June 2008

i don't think ants are a vegetable or fruit

The rich bounty of our garden is more than enough to sustain us. We invariably grow more than we can eat and end up giving some away to friends as well as neighbors --isn't that part of the joy of having a garden? Yet, it seems we are always looking for more. Like the bear who crossed the road just to see what was on the other side, I am always looking to see what is being grown locally that I don't have in my garden. I try to pacify this fancy by growing something new or different each year, as well as haunting farmer's markets on occasion. Okra is this year's big experiment in my garden. It's a vegetable I'm not familiar with, but what-the-hay. Hopefully they won't get quite the size of the tomatillo plants I grew a few seasons ago (they grew into small bushes).

There are some vegetables that, no matter the deep-green color of my thumbs, I can't seem to get good results. And as far as fruit goes, I have space in my yard for my lemons, limes, and blackberries (although I am thinking about some other berry canes--but that's another story). Thus enters the CSA, "Farm Fresh to You". I have found an organic, local CSA that is flexible enough for our needs! We can choose to get all fruit one week, a mix of fruit and vegetable the next, weekly delivery or every other week, and have the ability to make requests of small changes within the box. This is flexible enough to be able to make adjustments to match and balance our garden's production over the growing season as well as our personal needs.

Our first box was delivered yesterday, at o'dark-thirty in the morning. It was waiting on our doorstep when we got up at 5:00am. As if the box were a specially wrapped present, I asked W. to quickly bring it inside. He set it on the counter and promptly started pulling items out. Along with the organically grown collard greens (another first for me), romaine lettuce, yellow squash, heirloom tomatoes, baby red potatoes, nantes carrots, yellow nectarines, and lavender, we also had organically grown little tiny ants (as a bonus--oh, yippee). We couldn't get the box outside fast enough. Organic, "free-range" anst are strong, fast, and hungry for new territory. Three hours later I was still smashing those little bugs as they continued to appear like magic on the counter, the floor, and in the sink. All the veggies got rinsed--thoroughly, outside, in a bucket--and are now put away.

With the box came a couple recipes on using lavender in cooking. We aren't sure if that flavor is in our future--maybe a little in some sugar to compliment hot tea come this winter--, but it looks nice as an arrangement on the table outside (again, remember...the ants). Oh, and the intense fragrance of fresh lavender...mmm.

Recipes and cooking techniques are still being bantered about to maximize the best flavor of these garden delights (minus the ants, of course). Any ideas on collard greens?

19 June 2008

in peter rabbit's dreams

We have a garden...we have always had a garden, even when we lived in family housing on campus in Fort Collins. Good times are in my memory of pulling B. in her little red wagon the couple of blocks to our university community garden plot to water, weed, and harvest our vegetables. I still squeal (yes, even at my age!) when new plants begin to emerge from the ground, when I see the first blossoms and "fruits" pop out, and when I gather produce for our meals. Each year I am filled with such great joy at watching the magic of plants grow and provide.

Some years I have been known to go a wee bit crazy with my planting. One year we grew enough beets to fill two gunny sacks (oh, yes, I mean the big, brown, scratchy ones, like what you see on old western movies being tossed into the back of buck-wagons). Pickled beets are wonderful, but I have to say after canning so many jars of pickled beets that summer, it was quite a while before I went crazy with beets again. Another year I was gifted over two dozen baby tomato plants which had been started in a greenhouse. Not wanting to waste the precious plants, I planted them all. Then to help them grow, I feed them with a generous helping of fish emulsion (not once, not twice, but several times over the summer). Oh, yes, we had tomatoes! I canned sauces and whole tomatoes until I was ready to scream. We ate them with almost every meal. We gave baskets of them away. At the end of the growing season, the monster plants were still producing at a strong pace. I had one rogue cherry tomato plant nestled between the driveway and side of the house that stretched eight feet high (past the rain gutters) and was quite the manufacturer of tiny red delights.

I am limited in my garden space these days, by design (not mine, but my husband's). I have a raised bed forty feet long and four feet wide, watered by drip irrigation set on a timer (the best invention ever). We grow the usual suspects (for us): squash (of various varieties), tomatoes (at least six different varieties), spinach, peas, beans (green and dried), swiss chard, lettuce, herbs, radishes, green onions, carrots, and beets. This year I added okra and daikon. Popping up among the vegetables are various flowers: to add extra punches of color, bring in the bees for pollination, deter harmful insects (we grow organically) , and (for some edibles like nasturtiums) add a unique twist to our meals. The garden space is intensely maximized and is at capacity. I'm not worried. I have room at the end of the garden length for a small green house. It's in the plans.

15 June 2008

papa's day

I love this picture of my husband and our five-week-old daughter, so many years ago now (oh my). I see her ease while listening to a Papa's strong heart beat, his peacefulness blanketing them both. My two favorite red-heads.

My man of patience, calmness, and understanding. He is an enigma who sees the world with both the logic of an engineer as well as the sensitivity of an artist.

My man of steel and copper wire--even when much of his "copper wire", much to his dismay, has changed in color to the hue of platinum. He is my base, my rock, my love.

04 June 2008

turnstiles into the extraordinary

(Click on this picture and look at the details of this gate...the handle, the scroll work at the top and bottom, the medallion...exquisite and dreamy.)

I have always been drawn to garden gates. I have fond memories of a great aunt's white-washed picket garden gate and the bursting beds of irises and roses just beyond. It just seemed to beckon like a siren to the walking traveler: come over, become lost in my loveliness. If I could, I would forever be stopping to look, ponder, and take photographs of gates. These marvels are designed and used to keep something in or out, but I see beyond this practicality. A message is imbued in these gates: what lies beyond is magical, entry is upon invitation only.

They are likely portals to little wonderlands exploding with green life and sprinkled liberally with shots of purples, scarlets, whites, pinks, and yellows. Secret places, sacred places. The gates represent a threshold. Entering, one leaves the busy world and is transported to a site where bees hold conventions, fairies have dances, spiders practice their art of design, and beetles have parades.

In a corner of my garden rests a bundle of branches from a now long-gone locust tree, patiently waiting for me to transform them into a garden gate, to make amends for the frailness they once were, to become a guardian to a secret garden. There is a design for these branches which hovers just beyond my reach.

03 June 2008

tuesday market finds

This week a local farmer's market opened for the season. And such treasures I found! Yes, I have my own raised bed garden, a fairly substantial-in-size garden, but I am always on the look for items I prefer not to grow, or have trouble growing, or just too lazy to grow.

Many of the items were what I expected to find this early in the season--raspberries, strawberries, cherries, lettuces, herbs, tomatoes...all fresh, ripe, and flavorful. Walking by each booth sent a mingling of sweet and savory smells to the senses. What captivated my attention (and appetite)? I picked up some outstanding tomatoes and fresh basil, a few thorn-less (!) artichokes, and (a fantastic surprise) some peaches. These peaches are from a test crop of a new variety designed to produce very early in the year. With the heat wave we had a couple weeks ago, these pretty babies are sweet and juicy.

And just like that... I have the makings of dinner, if I can keep my hands off the merchandise until then!

02 June 2008

at home

How often do you stop to enjoy the simple, everyday pleasures? Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, we let go of being-in-the-moment. Walk with a toddler or small child. A single black beetle crossing the pathway, the smoothness of wet green moss on a rock, a spider web tying two branches of a bush together--these are the things which a wee one would stop and take notice, enjoying the moment, the sheer pleasure of the moment for itself.

This spring has been a busy one, full of the responsibilities and whackiness an adult world demands of us. I feel stretched out like a piece of silly putty, ready to snap. I find myself missing that oneness with the current moment--just being in that now-moment, savoring. I have been spending too much time trying to balance and juggle other's issues and have lost myself (the curse and bane of a Libra, I suppose).

Feeling the need to come back to basics for grounding, to meditate on the moment, to enjoy the small pleasures and treasures one can find while in the now-moment, I found a bit of inspiration through Shutter Sisters. The challenge is to find a hidden message. A message in our adult too-busy-to-stop-and-notice-the-beauty-around-us world.

Home is grounding. Home is safe and comfortable. "X" marks the spot.

01 June 2008

warmer temperatures mean...

...lessons in melting ice cream and learning to lick the ice cream on the cone.

...retirement of cold-weather gloves and wool hats,
and assessing the cache of gardening and work gloves as well as sun hats.

...opening windows to fresh spring air blowing out the mustiness of winter.

Hello June, with your many long days of sunlight!