Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
I’ve never seemed to hear the music that most other people hear. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually felt the presence of God (whoever or however you define “God”) inside the walls of a human built sanctuary. My spiritual search sometimes feels like I’m hiking towards that glow on the horizon with a herkin’ great pebble in my shoe and no matter how many times I shake out that shoe the pebble won’t come out. The darn thing moves around. Its size and shape seems to change with every step. So I keep marching along; stopping every now and then to shake out the pebble that magically finds its way back before I have time to take the next step.
I have a shelf of books on various flavors of Christianity, neo-paganism, pagan reconstructionism, Wicca, shamanism…..you name it; I’ve at least looked it up on the internet. There will be one or two pieces that speak to me and the rest leaves me cold.
And then I find this:
My Lord God
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really understand myself.
And the fact that I think I am following
Your will does not mean I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
Does in fact please you.
And I hope I have the desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the
right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may
seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear for you are ever with me and
you will never leave me to face my troubles alone.
by Thomas Merton
And then I think that maybe someone else heard the music I hear.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
For those who may have wandered in recently. My original journal can be found here. I just had to blow off some steam this morning and the results fit better over in Pixels.
I got into journaling writing about politics. But, I haven't been writing much about it lately. Frankly, I got tired of repeating myself. There's only so much you can say about the current (and future) crop of elected hired help: very little of it good. Outside of voting, there's not much I can do to change things at the national level. So, I've been sticking closer to home with my writing.
My head's been full of garden stuff. When you're just learning the cycle of the season you spend a lot of time trying to get your head around a load of new information. Sometimes I think I need earplugs to keep all the new info in where it belongs. I was sort of familiar with the very simple basics. This summer has been a whole new world.
Gardening and canning could be considered radical actions the way things are going. Who'd a thunk it?
So, the gardening stuff will stay here. And the politics and just about to blow the pressure gauge off the canner entries will be in Pixels.
Monday, July 14, 2008
It’s finally summer in the southern Willamette Valley. Boy, is it summer. The couple of years we get to oh, say the middle to end of June and the universe flips a switch. After a long, cloudy spring where we were lucky to hit seventy degrees we can’t get below eighty.
The garden is going absolutely freakin’ crazy. One day the radishes were great, two days later it was “fire in the hole.” Bye, bye radishes, hello compost. The lettuce, spinach, and chard are all growing together in one great, green square. The onions are past the little green onion stage and well onto the “take me to your leader size.” By the way, spinach, chard onions and mushrooms are really good steamed together.
The bean vines have grown three feet in two weeks. Well, maybe not that much, but it sure looks that way when the vines reach the top of the strings and start waving at you. We should have beans before the end of the month.
At least with our own beans we won’t be faced with canning twenty five pounds at once. Having them on the shelf is great. But, trying to do them all at once is a real stretch. It’s not the canning; it’s the processing. Wash, put in jars, add a little salt, add hot water, put on the lids, repeat. That’s fairly easy if a little messy in a small kitchen. It’s the processing after they’re in the jars that takes time. Beans take one half hour at ten pounds pressure and the canner holds nine pints at a time.
Twenty five pounds will yield about forty to forty five pints and you can figure about an hour per batch. Because when you’re done timing them you can’t just open the lid. Youcan do other things, just don’t leave home and keep an eye on the pressure gauge. Chick flicks are probably out, catching up with the laundry is in. Working on that carefully researched journal entry probably won’t be a good idea; organizing your e-mail for future reference should be safe.
Half an hour at a temp that’s just a hair too high can yield “impressive” pressure results before that thirty minutes is up. And when the thirty minutes is up you have to let them cool to below two pounds of pressure before you pull them out. It sounds worse than it is, really. I’ve been doing this What you have when you’re done is so much better than the commercially processed beans that it’s well worth the trouble.
I know it sounds messy, sweaty and a little complicated. The thing is I don’t remember learning these things. I suspect I absorbed it by osmosis before I was old enough to really realize what was going on. I don’t remember learning how to snip beans. Note: unless you’re really into arty canning and keep the bean whole; you have to snip off the stem end, the pointy end and break them into three or four pieces so it’s easy to put them in the jars.
I suspect that for mom it ran along the lines of: small child (me) is curious about what you’re doing? Let her pull a few beans out of the bowl with her slightly grubby little hands. With luck she’ll copy what you’re doing and more beans will end up in the bowl than in the kid. And don’t worry about kid germs; they get washed before they go in the jars and ten pounds of pressure will take care of just about anything.
We have a mutant strawberry tomato bush that I swear is trying to take over the south end of the garden. Frankenvine was less than a foot tall and one stem when mom planted it. It’s now two by four……feet. We trimmed back some of the vines yesterday and it was like “ok, where do I start?” We’ll probably get far more thanwe can eat fresh and I’m thinking “bring on the mason jars.” It least we won’t have to chop them before they go in the jars. The three Roma vines are doing very well, if they can just be rescued from their over enthusiastic neighbor. And most of the Romas will probably end up as diced tomatoes too. If we get that kind again it’ll probably be given it’s very own corner of the garden. And it’ll probably die of loneliness. Hmm, I may have to rethink that.
For what you can’t grow. A side trip of say twenty minutes north of town with get you this.
Six of the twelve quarts of dark cherries we put up. And we use everything but the pits. Save the juice when you serve the fruit next winter, add unflavored gelatin and you get something that doesn't taste anything like "black cherry jello."
If we’d had the time we could have knocked about thirty cents a pound by picking our own. Even with the full price I suspect the end result is about the same for cost. And I know what went into these and where they came from. The fruit was in the jars before five and the cherries were still damp and cool from early morning when I stemmed them out.
And I didn’t take pictures but there’s about fifteen pints of blueberries in the freezer from the same trip. We have blueberry bushes but they don’t yield enough to keep up with us. We’ll freeze what we don’t eat from our own bushes, but between baking and just plain eating them we’ll probably be out by the time the new season rolls around.
Ithink I went back to work this morning to get some rest. LOL
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Here I thought these were flowers and they're really a hotel of sorts. Not that anyone is paying for their "rooms" except by just being who they are.
I honestly thought these purple cone flowers didn't make it through the winter. None of the others we planted last summer did. Note: we've had this one for several years and it's been moved more than once. So, either I forgot exactly where this one was, or it did the natural division process and the new half came back like gang busters. There are at least three dozen blossoms on this plant ranging from almost full bloom to a gleam in Mother Nature's eye.
Warning: spider alert.
Granted, it's not much of a spider. It looks like a good stiff wind would blow it away. I was out early this morning. The sun was just starting to move into the yard and the "neighbors" hadn't started to wake up yet.
Including this little yellow lady bug type visitor. I love coneflowers as much for the "cones" as the petals. Get me in the right mood and I could stare at the patterns in the center until I'm almost hypnotized. Granted I wasn't quite awake yet. It was just a little after six when the did it's famous boot imitation. LOL Now that I think about it, it was six on the dot. Arrrrgh!
Monday, July 7, 2008
Well sixty/forty for the holiday weekend. Didn’t get out of Dodge, but did get a lot done in the garden. Didn’t get out of Dodge because we had unexpected company. Sis and her family came over from Umatilla for the last couple days of the track and field trials. That is, the guys came over for the track meet, sis came over to do some connecting. Honestly, I think she was checking for sure that mom was doing ok. And yes, mom is doing really well. At this point about all she can’t do is sign her name on a check and use a can opener We don’t get to see any of them nearly as often as we would like and any excuse to get them over here is a blessing.
Made to two trips for new plants. Partly because my bright ideas needed some fine tuning. Got home with what we'd bought and well, they just didn't work with what I had. And then when I went back I fell in love with something else too. At least this time I got enough the first time around.
I didn't think to take a picture when I started. There used to be a couple of very homely nandinas in that empty space.
I know, I know they look pretty small right now. The one in the back is purple fountain grass. It could get as tall as five feet tall plumes included. The littler guys are a smaller grass known at golden toupee. The should get about a foot tall, plumes included. It should look a lot lighter and more interesting than the extremely boring nandinas I took out.
Two very nice lavenders, you can almost tell the difference between the two. The shades of the two bueshes are just about three shades apart. The yellow shrub in from goes well with the light purple lavender.
More work on the front side. The grass is called Elijah Blue. It's about as big it's going to get. There will be plumes later. The lighter clumps are a rock cress with variegated leaves. There will be flowers in the spring, but to be honest I'm not sure what color they will be. It'll be a surprise.
A close up of the little pink one in the corner. The latin name is Rhodohypoxis. Damned if I know what it means. But the plant originates from South Africa and is very popular in Europe. The are a lovely little plant and I hope they do well in their new home. I just fell in love with them at the nursery. They were totally unplanned, but they sure are pretty.
I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to go north to see a good friend, so the weekend was about eighty percent successful. But, the summer ain't over yet.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
This is Misty of the many names. Depending on her mood......and mine she may be Misty the Beady Eyed sister pouncer. In this case Bandit is just out of the picture on the receiving end of the "stare."
She has also been called Velcro and Misty the Magnificent. Velcro because there are days when that's what she does. She's follows you around and claims a piece of your lap as often as possible. Misty the Magnificent because she has the greatest set of whiskers and eyebrows I've ever seen. She's also the hardest to cat to get a picture of. I guess I can add "Greta 'I want to be alone' Garbo" to the name list.
Sometimes when I'm sitting down she likes to get on my shoulder like a little kid. Unlike most toddlers she can be totally relaxed and then she literally launches into space. And she isn't too careful what part of me she uses for a launching pad sometimes.
And she's another one we basically got for the cost of getting her fixed and her shots. Sara, the kitty we had before Misty joined the crew, came down with a severe repiratory infection and just couldn't shake it so we had to let her go. Since these things always happen on the weekends this involved a trip to emergency vet. My question about how the local Humane Society was as a place to adopt a new kitty was answered with "we have kitties too."
The little furball of a Siamese kitten was already spoken for. As for the just out of kittenhood gray tabby who'd already had her first litter? She tucked her head under my chin and held on for dear life. It took a few days and the "I swear on a stack of holy books she'll be spayed" to get her home, ut she settled right in and has been harrassing Lucky ever since. It took her awhile, she's learned that if she can back Bandit into a corner, the Bandit will give way, even though she's helf again as big as Misty.
As for the name, her coat reminds me of the fogs and mists we get in the fall and winter at this end of the valley. So she bacame Misty.