Sunday, June 29, 2008

Alternative Lifesyles

Dirty hands, iced tea, garden fragrances thick in the air anda blanket of color before me, who could ask for more?- Bev Adams, Mountain Gardening by the Gardening Gal
I had the cable TV downgraded to basic cable (four major networks only). Last week when it was raining a lot, #2 daughter asked me to watch a movie with her. The only thing on TV at that time of day were the soaps or shows giving prime examples of how not to live your life (tested 19 men to be the father). I told her to go pick a VHS/DVD out, she picked the Wilderness Family.
A quick synopsis is a family leaves the city hassle behind to go to the mountains and live off the land. It’s entertaining but not a very realistic set of movies - outrun a grizzly, tangle with a cougar and only get a scratch. But what I have liked about these movies is the idea that it can be done. I also like their enthusiasm, to awake each morning and find something new and amazing. Some people move to the country and try changing it to be what they left instead of trying to immerse themselves in their new enviroment.

So after having watched these movies, I was on the internet and saw on a blog “what ten things you would not be able to give up to go green.” And with my mind still thinking about the Wilderness Family, I wondered what I would not give up to go live off the land…indoor plumbing, computer, digital camera, Tylenol, possibly a washing machine of some sort, maybe the
greenhouse and then I couldn’t think of anything else. Now the man could not downgrade more than we already have, take away his power tools and remotes and he would be lost.

The Wilderness Family makes it look so easy. In reality, there are days now with all the modern conveniences and tools that it gets discouraging looking at the to do list to survive. The price of grain and hay has skyrocketed. Sometimes I think it would be easier to just get rid of all the animals/gardens, move to the city and buy from the store-sort of doing a reverse Wilderness Family. It would give us hours of extra time-no barns to be cleaned, fence repairs, feed runs, hay baling, weeds to pull, canning/freezing, public transportation instead of a garage/gas bill. The kids could go to museums, plays and go to the zoo for an animal fix. The downside being, I would be on drugs or in therapy to deal with all the people and noise, the kids would be afraid to leave the apartment, and the man would be a couch potato. We would not be happy.
So after a week of playing chauffer with a gas bill to match Trailways, I awoke yesterday to eat a breakfast of wild black raspberries picked on the way to the garden. I may end up giving the paycheck to the animals and garage/gas station but those raspberries go hand in hand with this lifestyle and I think it even tips the scale in its favor. I may not give up things to live off the land but I can’t give up the land to go live in the city.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Then followed that beautiful season... Summer....
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Temperature-wise it feels more like Spring (71 degrees) but I am not complaining as it is much better than the 90's we had a short time ago. So much more gets done when you are able to work the whole day thru in the garden.

I got most of the greenhouse garden weeded on Wednesday before the downpours and pea size hail came. It quickly turned the driveway into a streambed.
Since I was unable to go into the garden yesterday after such a drenching. I worked around the yard. Unfortunately I worked in the yard when it was getting dark. I had weeded the beds on the outside of the garden fence early in the day. I decided to weedwack around the rock border. I was using my left arm as my right couldn't handle it anymore. I went to wack one weed with roots to China that I was unable to pull out earlier and it grabbed it and pulled the weed wacker into my Nanking Cherries. I stopped the machine and walked away. In the light of day it looks as bad as I thought it was.
This morning I was able to go into the garden. I finished all the weeding and mulched everything. I finally planted the sweet potato slips and put some turnip seeds in. While I was moving some pots to mulch under them I found a snake. I hate snakes! My rule is the snakes can be in my garden when I am not. I took a 3 foot row marker and flicked him over the garden fence so I could continue working and not worry about where he was. I didn't realize the rooster was outside the fence. He quickly grabbed the snake and shook him. I thought he was a goner as he just layed there but when I went to flick him up into the woods he rolled over and made his way on his own. #2 Daughter came inside to find that he was a Red Bellied Racer.
Maybe the temps are what made him slow today.
Entering back into the garden I found that my garden huckleberries have flower buds on them.I can not wait to try these so it was a great find on the first day of summer. I have to go check the large garden because I think I might even have a head of broccoli down there! Actually I now that the greenhouse garden is completely planted and under control, I have to turn my attention to the large garden, weeding, mulching and hilling.
And tomorrow seems like it will be a good day to start as right now I am going to go spin some more. Actually I am going to let Spin-Off know that I still did not get my magazine, then I am going to spin. And I offer up proof that I have actually been spinning. The most adorable puppy ate the tip off one of my needles....the same set that the children broke two of I have no spare to finish the second sock hence my knitting time has become my spinning time. I may even take the wheel outside and enjoy the day.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


“When things mean a very great deal to you, exciting anticipation just isn't safe.” ~ Dodie Smith

On June 6th, I went to our local spinning group and everyone had their newest edition of Spin-Off magazine. I had already received my mail for that day so assumed I would get it on Saturday. I waited and nothing. I was certain I would get it on Monday since our mail usually runs a day or two behind, the price of living where I live.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday....nothing! Everyday I expected today would be the day. Everyone else had theirs, it was being discussed on Yahoo groups I belong to but it was not to be.

Friday I decided to check and see if something was wrong with my account....there wasn't. So I emailed them to ask if they had sent it and if there was a problem. Being optimistic I figured I would get the magazine before I heard from them in "two business days". But Saturday and Monday did not bring the new edition to me. I did however receive an email yesterday afternoon and I quote..."The Summer 08 issue has a deadline of June 20th. If you do not receive it by then, please contact us again and we will be happy to resend that issue to you as soon as possible."

Now I admit I was slightly pissed. They started sending the magazines out on June 2. It is available on newstands by June 17 but I have to wait until the 20th before they will do anything. Also the "as soon as possible" phrase pissed me off, what happened to customer service "immediately". I realize I am one in a million but I want to live in the fantasy land that I matter as a customer. I have never complained so I don't expect to be treated like I am robbing them by asking for my magazine. They could have believed I didn't receive it and mailed me one out immediately. It would have cost them a couple of bucks but they would have had a happy customer. But they are the only spinning mag in town so....

As fate would have it I did receive something from Spin-Off in the mail today but it wasn't my magazine. To say the timing of this was a little off is an understatement! It was an Early Renewal here is the good part and plays right into my fantasy of being a customer whose business matters. It states "Want to know a secret?...this offer is just for our loyal subscribers." That makes my heart go pitter patter I am loyal to them but I have to wait. But it goes on to say how renewing now will save me money for more fiber! I feel so much better I am gonna let them know a little secret too. I am not renewing. Why would I pay for delivery when I get it later than I can get it in the store where I have the option of viewing it to see if it is even worth paying for? Am I being unreasonable and asking too much? Maybe... but I won't be waiting at the mailbox and I will be a happy ex-customer with even more money to spend on fiber.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Explore. Dream. Discover.

Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ~ Mark Twain

Who am I not to listen to Mark Twain? Exactly, nobody. So we have been very busy exploring, dreaming and discovering.
Friday, the kids had their last day of school. They came home and helped weed the garden and then we all went swimming. We spent a couple of hours each day this weekend swimming. It takes me a couple of minutes to work up the nerve to get in as it is still cold but then I don't want to get out.

#2 son spent even more time in the water. He went on a raft trip with his Boy Scout troop....6 miles/4hours. He had a blast but even with sunblock on received a sunburn from his shorts to his knee. This did not deter him from fishing Saturday evening. #1 Daughter and her boyfriend (for blog purposes we will call him Sir T ) came to visit and wish the man a Happy Father's Day. Sir T is a fisherman like the man so we had a picnic by the river while they fished. The man showed Sir T how to do some hookup with a hellgramite and Sir T caught one of the first cast! #2 daughters friends were put to work locating hellgramites! Isn't that what you would want to do when you go to a sleepover?! Well they did it because they thought Sir T was cute. So far as Sir T, the man has lots of fishing holes to show him, if he can keep up!
It was not all play and no work. I was trying to finish getting the last of the seeds and plants in. I am happy to report it has been done! I may plant some things closer to the fall but for right now, it is weeding and harvesting. I did get one bonus while working in the garden. I saw a movement in the field between the garden and the woods. At first I thought it was a neighbors dog but it turned out to be a fawn. A much better companion to have watching you than say this...
The white-tailed hornet lives in a balloon
That floats against the ceiling of the woodshed. ~ Robert Frost
And indeed it does look like a hotair balloon. If it had been on the ceiling of the woodshed it could have stayed but it was on the garage door. We thought it best to get rid of it now before anyone got stung. We waited until the hornet left and then the man knocked it down. I wish getting rid of another insect was just as easy. I am talking about the gypsy moth.
DCNR says it "completed aerial spraying to suppress gypsy moth, targeting 221,221 acres in 27 counties." Our county was one of them but I don't think it did much good. This is my apple tree. The sound of cicadias and crickets are welcome. The sound of gypsy mothes munching away at the woods around you is not. It has been years since we have had them this bad....they were not missed.
We are hoping that this week will be slow paced as June 23-27 is going to be hectic. There are no appointments planned, the garden is planted and most of the weeding is done. It looks like it might happen!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

In the RED

Frosty: Is there a thermometer around here?
Karen: Over there in the wall.
Frosty: I was afraid of that. The thermometer is turning reddish. I hate red thermometers.
Karen: Why is that?
Frosty: Because when the thermometer gets red, the temperature goes up, and when the temperature goes up, I start to melt, and when I melt, I get all wishy-washy.

And the thermometer was red again today and although I didn't melt, I was all wishy-washy. After the chores I went down into the large garden, hoed around the peppers and some tomatoes, planted more cucumbers and got weed block down around most of the broccoli. Then I had to stop, it was 11 am and 92 degrees. So the thermometer was red, my face was red and even some of my shoulders were red.

I came up and took a shower and sat down to finish the socks... Red socks for my daughters friend. When they were done, I washed them and took them outside to dry. I look up and there is my rose bush blooming.
The high temps were good for one thing...drying laundry. I was able to get everything done. I got them in just in time because the storms came fast. After the thunderstorm I took the puppy out to check on everything. Isn't he cute? I have to keep reminding myself that he is just a cute puppy. Why, you ask. Because after getting bored when the chicks wouldn't play with him, he decided to leave. And by leave I mean take off. I was back in the red because when I called him he stopped, looked at me and when I called him second time he went running away. I got the leash and went after him. He either didn't remember how to walk on a leash or decided he didn't want to because it was a fight every inch of the way back home.... He starts obedience classes next week. It better be a quick week because he needs to start listening before he grows into those paws.

Monday, June 09, 2008


Family life is full of major and minor crises -- the ups and downs of health, success and failure in career, marriage, and divorce -- and all kinds of characters. It is tied to places and events and histories. With all of these felt details, life etches itself into memory and personality. It's difficult to imagine anything more nourishing to the soul.~Thomas Moore
My mom is one of nine children, of which only three still survive. One uncle lives local but the other lives in Florida. Various health problems have kept the brothers and sister apart for years. This past week my uncle from Florida came to visit. For my mom it was an awesome week, tiring but definitely nourishing to her soul. All the old stories were told, fingers were still pointed at who did what to who and even after having heard them many times before you still learn new things.
Florida uncle stayed several days with mom, went fishing a couple of times with local uncle and then went to NJ to visit his daughter, her husband and his grandkids. Early yesterday morning they all came back for a BBQ. The kids all went swimming in the river between thunderstorms and the adults talked and moved food in and out of the house between the same thunderstorms. It was an exhilerating, exhausting, and HOT day. They left about 8 PM so the kids would all have time to take showers and get ready for school tomorrow. NJ cousins have school until the 20th whereas we get out this week so there was some ribbing going on there!
Saturday had been a pretty good day also. We went to get feed, put a/c units in for a friend and stopped at the farmers market. We picked up some really great goat cheese, a Jaune Flamme tomato plant and a Black Futsu squash plant. I hope they end up as good as they sounded.And Friday after having gone to Grace's for spinning (I knit) I came home, took out the wheel and spun! Definitely needed that. Then as we were going to get the pizza we saw a great wheel. The man told me to buy it but I maintained. I will however keep an eye on it as Idon't think she will get what she wants for it and will be more receptive to bargaining later! So yesterday was a great day, a perfect end to really good weekend. Nothing got accomplished but sometimes you need those down days especially when it is tapping 100 degrees.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Miracle inside the seed

When I see that first, minuscule, curled, pale green wisp of a sprout poking up between a couple of grains of vermiculite, I hear God speaking.
- June Santon, "Miracle in a Dixie Cup," Greenprints #44

Planting seeds in the greenhouse and having them grow is one thing. Usually there is still snow and you are enthralled by any sign of green. But in the greenhouse, everything is controlled for the best results from these seeds. Planting a seed directly into the garden has a whole other appeal. There is this poor little seed fighting for it’s life against the elements, the birds and the gardener who thinks she knows best.

Of all the wonderful things in the wonderful universe of God, nothing seems to me more surprising that the planting of a seedin the blank earth and the result thereof.
- Celia Thaxter

These are Hidatsa Red Beans.
Spaghetti squash
Burgess Butternut squash

It is such a simple thing but something I find infinetly enjoyable.

First the farmer sows the seed,
Then he stands and takes his ease,
Stamps his foot and claps his hands
And turns him round to view the land.
- 15th Century Song

And what is in this farmer's view at this time of year? Well the beauty bush is blooming,
the Mollis azaela, clematis, and the blackberries are just starting to bloom. We will be making jam from those in no time. There is one thing growing that I am not happy about and that would be the gypsy moths. Look at my poor apple tree. Last year we didn't have a big problem with them but I think this year is going to be bad.
And inside that is what this farmer would be seeing. Two more batches of strawberry rhubarb jamand a batch of strawberry jam because #1 daughter's BF wanted some and we aim to please. By the time we finished that we needed a break so we cut up the rest of the rhubarb and froze it. If sister is lucky there might be some left when she visits in August...if not she can take back a jar of jam! Maybe we can bribe some weeding out of her!!!!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Time Living

Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend. ~Theophrastus

This weekend with the proverb "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" ringing in our head we took sometime to do things we enjoyed. The man went fishing and caught a tagged trout (4.5 lbs and 21.5 inches long). So he caught us dinner and won a $25 gift from a local company. #2 son walked in the Relay for Life on Saturday and nursed his blistered feet in front of the TV on Sunday. #2 Daughter had a friend stay over and I got some fiber work done. I ripped out the neck of the poncho and reknit it, then gifted it to my daughter's friend. I also started crocheting a doily pattern with worsted weight yarn for a small lapghan.

Time is always on my mind - time to do this, time to do that, not enough time or a waste of time. Yesterday, I checked on Cyndy’s blog and she was tagged with a meme. One of the questions she was asked was “What were you doing 10 years ago?” I commented that time seems to have flown by since #2 son was potty training then and now he is in 6th grade! There have been so many changes in my life in the past ten years yet so much has stayed the same. Things that seemed important then don’t even rate a blink of the eye now. Thankfully, things have gotten better with each passing year.

Oddly, I find it incredulous that I graduated 26 years ago but not that I have a 24 year old daughter. I know my younger brother is married with two kids but can’t believe he is going to be 40 this year. How can that be? I think of him as late teens, early 20’s, which is probably where he wants to be!

Time continued to be on my mind while working in the garden. The dates I started the cabbage were written on their tags. Audrey (huge Thank You) gave me lots of tomatoes plants which were bigger than what I had so I was wondering when she started them. I planted 20 lbs of potatoes, will there be enough time to harvest them since I got such a late start. Where is the time going to come from to weed, mulch and process all this if the garden grows well? Then it dawned on me, time seems to be like money at Christmas time. You don’t know where you find it but find it you do.

To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.- Emily Dickinson