Thursday, May 31, 2012


Glistening Delphinium ready to pop

They are ready to burst open!  And I'm watching.  It's like a slow-motion fireworks display with the intensity of color and vibrance and life building and building until it explodes in glory.  Oh, my!

Single Peony gifted from a friend

Loving this time of year is on my Things I get to do today--everyday--spending time in the yard and garden in a state of open gratitude, appreciation and observation while drinking in the glorious being of each plant's structure and flowers.  The variety is beyond comprehension, and the display is breath-taking.

Honeysuckle--a ruby challis

Find your own place to sit with something that grows outside under the Divine canopy and allow its elegance and magnificence to soothe and feed your soul.

Clary Sage.  I've never seen its flowers before.  So eager am I!

Blessings for your day.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Our Daily Cloth

You know it's time to put it through the wash:  when only a glance at the middle where the dishes were set reveals last week's menu, when the daily smudges from the newspaper that we still read at breakfast each morning are dark enough that with a little focus the top story of the week comes into view, when a committee meeting is scheduled for tomorrow evening with just ordinary folks you don't care about impressing, but you don't want them to put their things on the floor because it looks cleaner.

Smooth like a garden bed
I love my table and its cloth.  I love it clean.  I love it smooth.  Probably not often enough the Things I get to do today say, "wash the table cloth." Which brings us to the "smooth" quality.  I've found a way to have absolutely no wrinkles with absolutely no ironing though the table cloth is 100% cotton.  This tip doesn't work as well with poly-type fabrics (which I'm not fond of anyway).

Got your pencil and paper ready?  And answer is: watch what your mother-in-law, Evelyn, does.  Don't have an Evelyn? Ok, ok, I'll give you a straight scoop:  After running it through the wash, toss it into the dryer with the rest of the load.  BUT take it out after 10-15 minutes, when it is still damp/dry. Spread it on the table (I have a table pad and a water-proof cloth to protect the wood surface) to dry, smoothing it with your hands and pulling the hemmed edges straight. That's it. It's all about having the right mother-in-law connection, really.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lupin from Finish to Start

Kitten toes is what they look like.  That's how lupin ends.  Individual pussy digits complete with a gentle hook on the tip. That's where the similarity stops, I believe. Real cats do not have gentle claws.  They are real.

The top of the stalk is still full-flowered and vibrant.  This pretty must have been planted by Mother Nature herself, or perhaps a passing bird dropped something that planned to glory in this location.

Spike of a maturing flower--beginning of a cat claw

My father-in-law, Merlyn, had a whole row of different lupins--all different colors--one of his favorites.   They are a fascinating flower with all their complex development.

Colors grow more intense with time

Shaped like brilliant fortune cookies, these individual flowers have called me from the Things I get to do today to take special note.

Full spectrum of tight, baby green to vibrant, mature purples

Lupins come from the pea family, and the little beans in the pods are actually edible.  In some countries with colder climates, a type of Lupin tofu is made, since soy beans don't grow well in the cold.  But that is way more than any of us wanted to know about this gorgeous flower.  Merlyn was not a fan of tofu.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Strowing the Garden

"Where do you get your strow?" Reva asked over the phone.  Strow.  I was speechless with absolutely no clue what she was talking about.  Context of the question implied, however,  that not only did I know what strow was, but I had also procured some.  "You know, the strow you put around your strowberries."

"Strow" in the "strowberries"

So every year when Things I get to do today include putting straw around  my strawberries, I remember Reva, from Knoxville, TN, my neighbor in times past.  Warm affection is mixed well with this mulch that keep the berries clean and the earth damp.

I now "strow" most of my garden.  And I think of Reva nearly every time I see it glisten in the garden light.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

For Merlyn

He mowed the lawn the day his wife died.  My father-in-law loved to garden.  Being outside with the green grass was a way to cope and a way to heal.  Before he retired he was a building contractor, so working with wood jostled around with the earth for first place in his attention.

When the Things I get to do today include any sort of wood project, I often feel like he is still with me, giving a nod or a smile, usually pleased as a papa that I'm doing what he loved to do.  Our sharing of interests meant that he understood what I would enjoy for a gift:  for Christmas one year it was a Makita cordless drill.  Before that he put together and gifted me a compost sifter!

"Fine" soil clods

Let me tell you about compost sifters. They, along with our physical effort, take lumpy, clumpy compost and turn it into fine, lovely 1/2" minus material to sprinkle around plants.

narrow clod bed

They do the same thing with clods of dirt, which is what is usually available to me when the seed packet say "plant 1/8" deep and cover with fine soil." That happened again the other day.

Compost sifter over wheelbarrow.  Ready to sift.
Just use the back side of a rake to work
 the earth through the grid.

And since my sifter is nearly 30 years old and beginning to lose its corners, I'm going to make a new one one of these days.

Finished and fine!

I know you'll join me, Mer, for the process.  Happy Father's Day in a couple of weeks, and thanks for making planting such a sweet process.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Angel Boas

The tree was supposed to be eight feet tall at the most. It's a Baby Curly Black Locust.  It had other plans.  Over the years the slender trunk reached up and up--15 feet, 20 feet, 25 feet, 30 feet.  It takes virtually no space on the ground, and yet its dappled canopy of leaves create blessed shade about 2:30 every afternoon that it is needed.

And in the Spring, oh the spenders of it all, in the Spring it piles mounds of fragrant, pea-type blossoms along its slender arms.

If Angels dressed up, they would wear these around their shoulders.

When I was finished with all the Things I get to do today, I looked up and understood.  The tree is reaching to the Angels--eight feet won't do for a moment--extending it luscious flower boas to drape the Angels.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Buzzing Berries

They're good fresh. They're even better in cobbler.  I've made a deal with my neighbor's honeybee colony:  they make the marionberries, and I'll make the dessert.

Honeybee berry builder

My little heart skipped and danced thinking about Things I get to do today that will soon include picking marionberries.  These glorious, winged, buzzing sweethearts reminded me that the process was well underway.  Big bumble bees of some sort were assisting. Interesting to see how they shared duties:  the bumbles worked only the barely-open blossoms, while the honeys liked the extended-petal versions.  They've got it covered.

Sweet assistance

I'll make sure I have my vanilla ice cream recipe chilled for along side the steaming, golden, berry-bubbling dessert.  We're inviting guests.  Sign up now.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Slowly a Swift

Words don't teach.  Life experience teaches.  And I'm learning.  Several months back my post was about one of the simplest and most clear devices I'd come across in a long time: an Amish-style swift.  A swift holds the yarn so that a person winding a ball of it can do it by themselves without growing another full set of full-length arms.  Brilliant contraption!

My first Swift

When I saw one and then bought one, I knew I could make this thing called "swift."  I bought the wood, enough for four it turns out, and cut it to dimensions.  Then I shaped it--all four of them.  Sanding and smoothing came next. The Things I get to do today will see me finishing the first one.

Which brings me to a quote from Confucius adapted for woodworkers, "By three methods we may learn wisdom (woodworking): First by reflection (seeing the process completely before beginning), which is noblest; Second, by imitation (watch Hubby demonstrate), which is easiest; and Third, by experience (learn as you go), which is the bitterest."

Somehow as I drilled the holes in all the parts of this swift that needed holes, I thought of my comment to Hubby last night that I would have him show me how to use his mini drill press device so I could learn by imitation.  But today I moved directly to experience which, though it was not really bitter, was a bit disappointing.

Whoopee!  I have three more that will benefit from what I've learned so far.  And as you can well see, this one looks pretty darn good regardless of its being my lesson book.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Chicken Turnovers

Part way through the Things I get to do today, I'm taking a break to cook up a little fun.

Recipe for lively spring chicken dish:
  • Start with 5 whole chickens, still live and feathered.   Breed and temperament do not matter.
  • Place them gently in 1 spacious hen yard.
  • Sprinkle them with average hen intelligence. 
  • Add 1 spring storm, being careful to not wet the chickens excessively.
  • Turn chickens away from each strong gust of wind
  • Add element of surprise with especially strong gusts
  • Watch carefully as hens lose balance and tumble over in the wind
  • Add 1 generous scoop of good-hearted laughter
  • Carefully gather befuddled hens to sheltered, dry space.
  • Warm slightly if needed
  • Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Singing in the Rain

I neglect them.  It's the truth, sadly.  When I can be outside basking in the beauty-of-all-that-is, I do not think about the plants indoors very much.  Truthfully, they get a "lick and a promise" from time to time, but even the promise is broken more than I'd like to admit.

Choir of the Indoor Plant Kingdom
And, yes, on the left is a Thanksgiving Cactus bloom just finishing.

But today as I'm streaming through all the Things I get to do today to bring myself back home from Victoria, and as it's raining steadily, but gently, I can hear the collective call of my house plants to join their outdoor cousins for a most-lovely, fully-naked day of cleansing, joyous renewal, and energetic retreat with all the devas of the garden.  They have a choir going with four-part harmony. Sweet music!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Victoria Day

The parade started at 9 AM.  But we were already gone.  I've been off to Victoria, B. C., on Vancouver Island for a meditation retreat.  We were headed back to Oregon this morning and found ourselves a bit tangled in the staging for the Victoria Day Parade as we were driving to catch the ferry to the U. S.

Getting on the ferry and driving home were the main Things I get to do today.  Before we boarded the ferry we walked past the Empress Hotel searching for a little shop that might offer breakfast items.  The Empress Hotel:  lodging for our honeymoon 43 years ago in June.  She still looks great.  And so do we.  And one of these days we'll be there for the parade.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Fresh-Air High

Picture is slightly more pink than my eye sees it on the bush

My soul expanded so fast I nearly lost consciousness.  That's what a breath of 60 degree, exquisitely-fresh air on a spring, pure-blue-sky morning does to me.  Add to it the intoxicating fragrance of these lilac blossoms, and I'm high on life for the next two days.

Do you know the type of lilac?  Leaves are about 2 1/4" long.

What is bringing me back to earth (occasionally) is wondering what type of lilac this is.  The flowers are small--the trumpet part is 5/8" long, four petals that extend 1/4" across with a hint of pinkish purple before the flower opens.  After it opens, the flower is off-white with only the slightest suggestion of the pink/purple of its youth and with the most dazzling fragrance in the garden.  One tiny spray of this lilac will soon sweeten a good size room and slowly love the whole house into heaven.

I don't need to know its name to love it with all my heart.

There are other Things I get to do today besides breathe and be carried away by bliss, so I touch earth from time to time. I'm certain that on a scale of one to ten, however,  today I'm a 12. Find yourself a flower to smell.  Dance with it to heaven.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Bouquets to you!  "I like you just the way you are." Fred Rogers

I get one of them everyday. They are like a best friend: kind, helpful, encouraging and never, never judgmental. Reading it on line is part of the Things I get to do today--usually one of the first.

We often look at situations and rate them--on a scale of one to ten, with one being not so good and ten being the best.  A recent awareness broke open the lid on this scale for me:  it doesn't have to peak out at a mere ten.  The quote for today:

"Let your dominant intent be to feel good which means be playful, have fun, laugh often, look for reasons to appreciate and practice the art of appreciation. And as you practice it, the Universe, who has been watching you practice, will give you constant opportunities to express it. So that your life just gets better and better and better." 
--Abraham (

Get out there and play, have fun, laugh and appreciate.   There's a 15, a 20 and certainly a 100. Thanks for stopping by.  "May your day be blessing with good health, abundance and great, great joy."  I said that.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Clean-Out-the-Crisper, Full-Circle Salad

Tired mushrooms, softening pepper, yellow carrots and
 half a beet found this spring over-wintered in the garden,
broccoli stalks, arugula gleaned  when one of the garden beds
was cleaned up  and fresh eggs from the girls.   Left over chicken (not shown)

I'm not a cook.  But I do cook. Most of the time it's fun.  And it's always part of the Things I get to do today, so I look for ways to be creative--most of the time. Sometimes I just look for ways to get my husband and myself fed. Not to be overlooked are those moments when the great cycles of life all converge:  "no food" in the house, meal time, fridge needs cleaning out.  Ever happen at your house?

Full-Meal Deal

This galactic converging slammed into my kitchen the other night.  We had Clean-Out-the-Crisper, Full-Circle Salad.  You immediately get emptying the fridge drawer onto the kitchen counter.  The salad also included bits of chicken and hard-boiled eggs. Not knowing which came first, I included the full circle.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

For Evelyn

Rhodies--magnificent, exquisite, luscious
My mother-in-law, Evelyn,  loved flowers.  Mother's Day was her favorite time of spring--a son was born May 10th which often falls on that special day--partly because the rhododendrons are in full bloom.  We always hope that a few will still be fresh on Memorial Day.  We know she gets a special zing from having several lush blooms on her grave.

Tuesday's Things I get to do today usually includes a letter with pictures to my elderly Aunt Freda. She'll love these flowers from Portland.  While I'm at it, let's just toss this picture out to the whole world--for Evelyn as well.  All souls love beauty--and this one is a beauty, indeed.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Potato Pro, Raspberry Pro

I'm not tooting my own horn here.  I'm not a professional anything.  This is all about keeping things safe.  We've talked about garden pro not that long ago when the girls were still on the loose in the yard and when the squirrels were digging me an opportunity to plant onions twice.

Keeping busy feet at bay

Big-hearted chicken lover that I am, I suffer a twinge (is it guilt?) when the hens do not have full free range of all our property.  Well, not the front yard--there's no fence there.  So recently my extra tomato cages became potato pro(tection).   Two by two lumber from an old bean trellis found itself in the Things I get to do today to hinder the frenzied feet of the girls at the base of my raspberry rows.

Cages just laid on the bed--spaces too open and vulnerable

But back to the tomato cages.  I'm very opinionated on this subject, I'll warn you up front.  The round wire funnel cages, in my opinion, are nothing short of a nuisance, especially in the off season.  My preference is the kind that are about three and a half feet tall and 14 inches square.  At the end of the season, they fold flat.  15 of them take not space at all, it seems.  But even this kind can be worthless if they are made cheaply with light-weight wire.  A good wind will take them and your tomatoes right over like a pile of angry coat hangers in a wrestling match.

Cages opened, linked and offset with 6-7" openings.

Somehow I acquired half a dozen or so of this cheapo kind.  And when the potatoes needed help these worthless wires were shanghaied into service.  I unlinked the hooks that made them square, creating a flat open mesh, then linked half of them all together to cover the long bed.  Did the same with the rest and laid them offset so that the "mesh" has about 6" openings in instead of 12".

There's a use for everything if you let your creativity ramble about in the vicinity of an idea that's looking for an answer.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Finally, It Fits

The lid rusted long ago.  I've been making my own yogurt for about three years.  The jar is a plump one that holds two quarts--just the right size.  All was perfect in yogurtville for about the first year. But then the acidic nature of the concoction took its toll on the lid, not having been designed to hold the likes of yogurt.

I thought of going back to the store to see if they would sell me a new lid, but in the mean time I set a plastic lid from a regular quart yogurt tub on the jar to keep good things in and bad things out.   I wasn't happy with it.  When our giant jar of mixed nuts was down the hatch, that lid was commandeered for the jar.  It was royal blue.  Certainly better than the flat lid just sitting, but the threads didn't quite match.  Not good enough, not yet.

Old jar.  New lid.  Perfect fit.

But then the peanut butter jar with its brittle bottom went empty, and before my hands and all the Things I get to do today could throw it out, my brain said "STOP.  Save the lid."  It fits perfectly.  It's green.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bath House

Every hen needs a bath house.  In the rainy season the bath house is protected and dry, a place to get out of the coop and out of the weather all at the same time.  And just about any problem can be solved with a good bath--all of us girls know that.  For the chickens, that's a dust bath we're talking about here.

One day, a month ago, "build a bath house" was blinking in neon on the list of Things I get to do today.  It could not wait.  But creative inspiration was not sparking very high that week on the subject of hen resort accommodations.  I just couldn't see it.

Turns out that the creativity and effort had already been expended nearly three years earlier when I built a chicken coop/tractor for my first hens.  This lovely structure has been empty of partying poultry for a good two years with the second story now serving as storage space for various chicken related paraphernalia.


With a fair bit of shifting, juggling, hefting, digging, lifting and adjusting, the Ladies of Leisure (and major egg production) have a place to lounge in their off hours, on cold, rainy days and on hot, sunny days and pretty much every day in between.

Settling in for well-deserved rest

Lady of Leisure--Lena Horne Hen
Tidying up before heading out
This deluxe resort lacks only a good name.   While the girls are excellent at laying eggs, skilled at flup-fluping in the dust, and dynamite bug eaters, they aren't worth squat at coming up with a name for their bath house.  But they think they could select their favorite from your suggestions.  We're keeping the lines open. . .

Winner will be announced in a future posting along with a photo of the coop and its new sign.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Literary Chickens

Lying down on the job (not laying)

I think the hens use this hot weather as excuse.  They're supposed to scratching and laying eggs and eat bugs.  That's just what they always do.  But today--no!  Maybe they sneaked off behind the bathhouse to read Shakespeare. Finding where they hide the book will be first of the Things I get to do today.

There was fussing and cackling and clucking.   We thought all the gals must have laid their eggs at once. And then all was quite still.  Only one egg from five hens and hardly enough scratching in the whole day to settle a mild itch amongst the whole flock.  Indeed, it was "much ado about nothing."

Saturday, May 12, 2012


I love to stack wood.  It was my special reward and privilege to stack the wood in my woodshed when it was finished.  I enjoyed every stick of it.

My neighbor, on the other hand, does not like to "work" on his wood piles.  He's been collecting them for years and has about four of them covered with slowly-deteriorating, woven, blue tarps.  But yesterday he was inspired to remove the tarps, survey the situation, and begin making order of it all. He stacked wood.  I'm not an expert on this, and I've had to restack (several times) various wood rows around the property before I built the wood shed, so I took particular notice of his supports for the row and its ends.  That it held up at all was a small miracle.   By evening a strong gust of wind took his efforts to the ground.  I shook my head, smug in my stacking know-how, amazed that it lasted even three hours.

Not so smug as I viewed my own stacking project!

And now this afternoon I'm adding "stack wood" to my list of Things I get to do today--soon.  For some reason (karmic, perhaps?) my own wood refused to stay stacked--even in its tidy, little, custom-made shed.  Room for thought here.

Did I mention that I love to stack wood?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Jack Frost First Aid

Tomato plant after a frosty night!

This is not a healthy tomato plant.  This little Green Grape Cherry Tomato just spent its first night out in the ground without covers on.  I  thought it was cold last evening but did not realize that frost was predicted in some areas.  I did not cover any of the new plants that were planted in my own yard yesterday during the Big Give-Away.

This morning all the house roofs on our street were white.  The cars were white.  It was 30 F.  Frost was on everything.  I felt sick.  First aid measures suggested on the internet were to spray off the frost before the sun hit.  It was not helpful for most of the affected tomatoes and cucumbers.  About ten plants bit the ice (or were fatally bitten by it).

Fortunately, no one yet had laid claim to the remains I crowed about in yesterday's blog,  and as I was walking home from Tai Chi, I saw that moms from our local elementary school were selling plants for the PTA.  They had Black Cherry, Green Zebra, Valencia and Japanese Black Trifle tomatoes.  So the most delightful of Things I get to do today is buy four of these big, healthy plants.  One of the recipients in yesterday's Big Give-Away had given me a bit of cash.  It went to the PTA for tomatoes.    All's well that ends well.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Big Give-Away

Today was the day.  You missed it.  Sorry.  I gave away at least 70 tomato and cucumber plants to neighbors who took the trouble to stop by and to random folks just walking by our fence on the public path.

Super Lakota Tomato
Peacevine Cherry Tomatoes
One of the Things I get to do today is pass on the excitement and enthusiasm that was showered on every single plant.  They were blessed with love, with joy, with peace.  And now those plants are all over the neighborhood.  People will eat the produce, and those attributes will be incorporated into their systems.  They'll have more of those qualities that will go out to everyone they come in contact with.  Wow.  That's a thought.

If you live close by, read this, and want to come sweep up the remains, there are a dozen or so plants still waiting for homes.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Peanut Brittle

The bottom of the bucket is always like this.  Hard.  Brittle.  Peanut butter is supposed to be like "butter." That's the point of it--spread the peanuts like butter.  

Old-fashioned, chunky peanut butter

I buy the old-fashioned kind that separates out and arrives in the kitchen with an inch of peanut oil flowing across the top.  My gut (and other parts of my body as well) tells me that's more fat than needed to make a buttery consistency.  I usually pour off all that is visible and stir in the rest.  Sometimes I even remove all the peanut butter from the jar so it can be mixed well.  As the peanut butter is used, it is stirred often, deeply, to keep that last layer engaged with the whole.

This little rock does not spread

Yet, today, when I went to scoop out the last from the jar, it was brittle--tear-up-your-bread brittle.

Much more compliant after a few drops of added oil

My replacement jar was sitting on the counter when the bells went off in my head. Solve the brittle butter was on my list--Things I get to do today--and I knew the answer.  Use just a tiny drip or two of the oil from the new jar to soften this rocky lump.  A moment later the bread was spread with nary a tear.

Reserved oil for maladies of "old age"

This time instead of pouring the oil down the drain, I saved a few tablespoons in a bottle for use when the jar is nearly empty and the remaining peanut butter is showing the stiffness of old age.