Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pardon Our Dust

This Thursday is the last day.  My husband is retiring, selling his engineering business after a full career and 29 years of being in charge.  It leaves us both wondering and excited.

And it means it's time to really get serious about finishing the ceilings/walls in the house.  Christmas pretty much stopped everything.  It didn't hurt my feelings particularly to take a break.  Now, however, the guest room, formerly our daughter's room, will also serve as an interim engineering office for those times when hubby does consulting.

Past time for this to go.
Remove the plant propagation shelf with all the grow lights.   Paint the ceiling and then the walls.  Make room for more book shelves. Getting a move on it sits right up there in the Things I get to do today.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Old Country

It was her lunch box. I don't know if she actually used it.* But it came from Norway via my Auntie Ann in 1957. My great grandmother's name was Gurianna Skorgen.

The box is made of a wrap of wood creating an oval. The lid is carved to fit and has a branch looped to make a handle. The box may have had different decorations when Gurianna used it. Though its current colors look fresh, they are at least 60 years old. Sitting on the shelf it gets no wear.

My grandmother, Bertha, came to this country when she was 18. She never returned. She was up in years by the time this keepsake of her mother's arrived here. I'm sure she would have found some comfort from this treasure had she had it with her through all those years to remind her of family and of home and of the Old Country.

Reflection is mixed in with the Things I get to do today, and I'm seeing Gurianna as a young mother filling the box with lunch items to take with her children as they walked into the town one spring day. It feels somehow familiar being back in the Old Country.

* No sooner than the post hit the "press" and my mother said quite sternly: That lunch box carried food five times a day to the men working in the fields. It was filled with cheese and bread to feed the hungry men during the hay harvesting. . . .     My reflections should have told me.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Saved By the Scissors

No nonsense is my approach. If something doesn't work, just cut it off. Well, admittedly that doesn't work for everything, but for food storage lids it was slick.

These glass dishes with the side snap lids were the hottest item several years ago. I bought a set for my elderly mother. When they were new, the lids popped on and off easily. After a few years, even I could not make them fasten. The side flaps were a total nuisance, filling the cupboard and crowding the fridge.

Scissors were the tool for this one of the Things I get to do today: quick, easy, no nonsense.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rearrange the Furniture

Cozy, cozy
I wasn't expecting this.  Christmas always brings gifts.  Some are in unusual packages.  This one certainly couldn't be wrapped.

Every year we rearrange the furniture to accommodate the tree, the dinners and the extra lovely people. The resulting configuration is more than pleasant, and I always ask that we leave it when the tree has gone out to rest in the arms of the Persimmon--sofa and occasional chairs in the dining room and dining table in the larger living room.

This year I didn't ask.  Little reasons for returning objects to their old pattern were shifted slightly until they were no longer a problem.  This year, for the first time, we are keeping the cozy sitting area and enjoying the larger dining space. And here is where the unexpected gift arrived.

Perfect lunch location

A snuggly, comfortable chair is now in the sunshine in the early afternoon.  I ate my lunch in that chair, in the sunshine, warm and pleasant though it was winter outside--best of the various Things I get to do today.

Any of you who are going crazy with the cold and the winter, consider rearranging your furniture.  Create an oasis of sunshine available sometime during your day. Snuggle and bask in the delicious warmth of this gift to yourself and your soul.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

This Salt Lamp Thing

Solid Salt.  Soothing, cleansing, calming.
The light shines through it.  It is one big chunk that looks like a rock--about a foot high including the stand .  It is, indeed, pure, solid salt.

But why?  Well, it makes a pretty night light.  Salt is used to preserve in the food world and to cleanse in the medical world. When you walk on the beach or shore of the ocean, it relaxes and heals.  That what salt does.  That's why.

A salt lamp in your house keeps the stress energy low, can make it easier to sleep (I would have it on during the day in the bedroom and off at night), and helps promote harmony by clearing away cranky energy.  In a pinch, it can be used as a consistent heat source to germinate seeds.  Come to think of it, since the pineapple seeds have been on the salt lamp, the mold stopped!

My two lamps were gifts, so, once on my Things I get to do today, all I did was plug them in.  Bet you could find one on line.  Shipping could be an item since they're heavy (as a rock).  Check your local alternative book store.  They can help you find this salt lamp thing.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Why Is Everything So Easy?

Welcome to "Farm Girl,"  to "chenningsen," and to "Sarah"--all new followers of this blog about Things I get to do today.  If you read often, you know that the contents are from the far corners of my experience, that I write about what inspires me, and that sometimes you'll be able to feel what I feel--you'll be inspired, too.

This magnificent Sequoia doesn't struggle.  Ease. Flow.

Remember:  don't do anything you don't really love to do!  If you have to do a particular thing that you are dreading in some way or feel obligated to do, find another way to look at the task, find a way to love it before you move forward to do it.  You'll be excited every morning with the myriad of ways you get to play and soon you might find yourself asking, "Why is everything so easy?"

Grow Your Own Pineapples the Easy Way

Pineapple incubator!

Trumpets!  Fanfare!  The impossible has happened from something that I didn't know existed.  Admittedly not knowing about pineapple seeds is my fault.  Under different circumstances, I could have known about these little black specks. See post "Pineapples Have What?" from 10/20/12.

I had collected a half teaspoon of the seeds, determined to make them sprout.  Personal determination has nothing to do with the will of the life in a seed.  It sets its own timetable which said three or four months. Sources on line gave several suggested ways to help the life in the seed explode into a plant.  I chose the "damp paper towel in a baggy" method.

Cutest Babies you've ever seen, right?
The seeds are about 1/8" long.

The baggy went on top the refrigerator, which in the old days was a warm place.  That's different now.  After six weeks I moved the baggy incubator to a warmer, more consistent heat source, the top of a salt lamp.

And today, while chatting on the phone with my sister, I casually inspected the baggy to check for any signs of mold (the only thing yet to grow in there).  Her ear is probably still ringing from my wild squeals, "Wait! Wait!  You are not going to believe this!  They are sprouting!"

After settling enough to explain "what" was sprouting, I realized that there is a new item for Things I get to do today:  set up a plant nursery for a dozen baby pineapples plants.  And this is just the beginning.  Who said it would be easy?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Smith Rock Green

It was glowing. Sometimes the "life" in a thing just grabs you. That's what these rocks did, the green in these rocks, that is.

Over the years I've paid some attention to color, so I'm sure I've seen this shade of green before. But as we first caught sight of the frozen stone faces of Smith Rock (Central Oregon), it sprang forth and grabbed me by the heart.

I'm letting myself melt into the wonder of this sacred place knowing that all other Things I get to do today are now insignificant.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Old Wood

This wood tells a story. If Things I get to do today included being a tree,  I know I would be quiet.  Trees don't get hysterical, run about and lose their senses. And they don't talk, at least outloud.
Wild storms come, and the wood might bend, twist and sway.  The roots could even fail and let go with the trunk crashing to the ground.  But the essence of the tree remains--solid and quiet.
Trees submitted to the saw and ax and became a split-rail fence after years of growing up, growing branches, swaying in the wind. Now they provide a safety guard along a steep cliff by Smith Rocks. 
The old timbers remain, still solid, still quiet with tiny words of its life inscribed in the wood.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Dog Knows

There is do doubt. When a lusciously warm day crops up in January, a dog knows what to do with it. It helps to have a table--to get closer to the sun. Then stretch way out for a generous sunbath, do a little personal maintenance, give a yawn and prepare for an exquisite nap. If my list of Things I get to do today were as smart as Bailey Dog's, I'd be well cared for, stress free and nearly in heaven.

One thing for certain, the dog knows how to live. Just give him a green table.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

And the Clouds Parted

Well, I scratched the sky. Few are able to document in their version of Things I get to do today that the clouds just open up and reveal the most intense blue seen in days and that it happens in a little community called Brightwood as I drive over the mountains to Central Oregon.

But I brought good reading and my knitting just in case.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Scratch the Sky

And maybe the clouds will part.  A concrete parking garage would be almost as hospitable. Everything outside is cold, solid, grim, gray.

Portland must not be the only place like this.  Bloggers everywhere, even the foodies who cook their way through winter, seem to be yearning for spring, if you can imagine.  Here we are not yet a month into the season, and folks are clambering for the end of it already.  Seed catalogs.  Sunshine. Warmth!

Ruby shoots of a Red Canna

While scurrying about outdoors to finish the Things I get to do today, I saw little squirts of Nature herself making ready for the burst out of winter's sleep.

White, fragrant flowers of the Mexican Orange waiting. . .

These sweeties don't care what the season is called.  

Maybe it's not just bloggers. Maybe it's not just us.

Perhaps we're taking our cues from Nature.  Please note: she's willing to wait.

These quiet months are available for  snuggly, warming occupations of the hearth. Find something to knit. Grab a good book.  Light a couple of candles if you don't have a hearth. The sky will take care of itself.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Short of a Pine Box

The remains of M. Cactus

The day is gray and bone-chilled.  Perfect day for a funeral.  Since I have no pine box for M. Cactus, he's going into the ground in a paper bag.  The bag is made from wood of some sort.  It will do.

I said a few words over my sister's cat when we put her into the ground a few years back, but have never had a service for a cactus.  After sorting through all the Things I get to do today for a proper ending for Monsieur Cactus, somehow the compost pile doesn't seem appropriate.

So bag in one hand and shovel in the other and with no words except "Thank You," I've invited my garden to accept what's left of this spiny plant.  RIP.

But wait!  The story writes itself another paragraph!  My shovel tipped up three good-sized potatoes from the garden bed, volunteers from emptying my compost pail into the ground a year or so ago.  A tiny miracle warms the cold, bleak day.

Monday, January 14, 2013

When a Cactus Leans

I intend to be observant.  Apparently I've been missing something.  The cactus is leaning.  If something thin and tall tilts a bit to one side, it's no big deal.  But an orb shaped plant listing drunkenly spells trouble.

Headed toward the northwest

This cactus lives in the bathroom to help dispel (difficult) energy.  Occasionally the pot is dipped in water for a minute, drained, and returned to its perch on the back of the toilet.  The details are fuzzy in my mind, but perhaps it drank too much, or sat too long in water.

Bloated and squishy

Lifting the plant to inspect the reason for the lean revealed that it was heavy, not dry and light as usual.  The poor thing hung awkwardly toward the rim of its pot.  It was bloated.  A touch of a finger to its top caused the flesh to give way like soft Jello.

It must be time for Monsieur Cactus to go.  Several Things I get to do today:  settle on a way to respectfully dispose of M. Cactus, procure another spiny plant for the bathroom, and be more observant.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Secret No More

Green Tea nearly finished

I'm done, and tonight Christmas was finally over.  The last stitch was knit on the last gift scarf.  It's not a secret anymore--I've been knitting scarves since the first part of December.  Six of them.

Knit on the bias, the scarf is grafted together to
form a loop.

The house work suffered.  The chickens were slightly neglected.  The wall/ceiling painting in  my house stopped. My "get to" blog experienced severe lapses of stillness.  Meals were quick or eaten out.  I was knitting. "Mom's on a mission" was the word in the street.

Bliss on the fingers
Bliss for the neck

Shibui makes a extra fine mohair and silk yarn called "Silk Cloud."  I fell in love, bought one each of Raspberry, Blush, Watermelon, Fjord, Camel, and Green Tea to match the women in the family, and after completing the first bias loop scarf, knew some would be coming off the needles well into the new year.  So be it.

Every stitch was a delight; every touch of the yarn a thrill.  I've been in heaven for over 110 hours during the last six weeks while creating these cuddles for the neck.  So tonight I'm wrapping it up as the last of the Things I get to do today and tomorrow my niece who's flying back to school in Belgium in a few days will have her Christmas present.

Camel for my daughter

PS.  I have yarn for one for myself in Bordeaux, and Valentine's Day is coming: a scarf in Raspberry for my mother.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Herbal Snow Art

Oregano Snow

Most of the Things I get to do today are indoor tasks.

Rosemary Snow

Two involved going out in the snow, and I nearly missed the first one of those.

Thyme Snow

When the snow has melted, there's no bringing it back to sit pretty and still for a long moment while I stroll admiringly by with the camera.

Greek Green Tea Snow

The chickens don't melt and will certainly be there after the snow is gone.  They can wait.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Double Duty, Beauty Forever

Can't throw away a beautiful picture.  It seems a sacrilege somehow.  Once captured, a scene is forever.  But if these scenes are on a calendar that a few days ago became obsolete, then what?  What to do with the calendar?

Julie Furber Photography: recycled!
All these earth shaking questions baubled about in my head while I fingered the exquisite but useless 2012 calendar.  From a drawer of old stationery, I unearthed 20-year-old notecards designed for a previous business venture.  Things I get to do today with great enthusiasm are trim off the calendars and double-stick tape the photos to the top quality cards, covering the business logo.  

Two of the cards are already in the mail--on their way to starting their own "forever."

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Deep in the Heart of It

Checked the weather:  best day of the week to plark in the park (yard).  The general disarray and ragged, frost-browned plants had made me twinge since the cold had done'm all in a week or so ago. Cleaning up in the yard is definitely one of the Things I get to do today.

The clump with the ruby heart
To be honest here, I wasn't very excited about this "get to."  To make it more do-able, clearing one corner was my goal.  That's how it works:  pick one small, relatively easy section and do it well.  The encouraging energy from success in one area will provide fuel to move to the next area, and so forth.


I wasn't prepared for what happened first. A spindly clump of tall, decorative grass needed to be cut down.  When I bent over and broke off a stalk, I was stunned.  The ruby-hearted grass sent shivers through the whole of me, and I stared for a long while.  Whatever plant deva created that show and that sign touched the stalk with a bit of heaven.  None of the other grass stalks were anything but grey or green.

Well, the whole yard was slicked up before you knew it, and that's not important.  Just wanted you to look deep into the heart of the plark in the park.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Waste Not, Want Not

The adage smacks of frugality.  Pinch it in often enough, and there'll always be enough to pinch. Of all the Things I get to do today, I'm taking a long moment to see another aspect.

Here's my go at it.  If I use what I have, honor where it came from, am respectful of its presence, then it can be abundant in my world.  It is safe for it to show up in my space.

Not fit to eat like this
That's how I've come to save the last of the persimmons.  These late-to-ripen orbs were barely golden when we snipped them from the tree just after Thanksgiving.  The brilliant orange ones were gifts to my mother.  A whole wheel barrow load were sorted out, given away, eaten, eaten, eaten.  By Christmas all the really good ones were gone.  Those that had not ripened enough on the tree were pale and softening.  They make good pickens for the chickens, but lover of persimmons that I am, I do not eat them in this state.

Four shelves full for the food dryer

From a true desire to honor the life in this fruit sprang the idea to try drying them rather than pitching the remaining box of soggy globs into the compost.

Good for all winter!

It was magic.  Bland mush became sweet-like-a-date chips to snack on during the winter--a delicious gift.  I am abundantly fed.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Good Stiff One

It came with the wind.  Not long after the grey weather shifted to clear and cold, the wind began.  It never rattled the house, but the trees swirled, and it blew the girls' bloomers up toward their red-combed heads.
Frozen and "broken" by the wind

I may have fretted over a few frozen plants and the comfort of my chickens, but Handy Andy is a Practical Pat if nothing else.  I saw (felt, smelled) line-dried sheets.

Whipped silly by a stiff one

As soon as I came to my senses, the sheets were washed.  They steamed only briefly on the line in the wind before they stiffened,  frozen by the cold.  Good stiff gusts and good stiff sheets worked together to be dry in no time.

Dry, smooth, at rest.  Picked up a tip from the hotels we
stayed at in December:  a sheet over the down comforter
is a very easy cover and make it much warmer!

The most fabulous of Things I get to do today is bring in the perfectly smooth, so-fresh-they-knock-my-socks-off sheets an hour or so later and make my bed.  I'm heady drunk with the pleasure--so sublime and cheaper than any "stiff" drink!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Ashes, Ashes

"New seed is faithful.  It roots deepest
in the places that are most empty."  C. P. Estes

We all fall down.  The ashes were spread in the garden with care.  They are the remaining essence of our Christmas Tree.

A week or so ago on Christmas Day our family visited around the fireplace with a bright and cozy fire. The blaze was fed by the trunk of our tree from one year ago.

In its vibrant, green state it was magnificent, tall and stately.  After the holiday season, it provided shelter and perching for birds as it snuggled into the arms of the bare persimmon tree that lives just off the dining room window. By April the regal life had drained away, and it was time for its next incarnation: limbs to protect the creek bank and the trunk cut to dry for firewood for next Christmas Day.

Sweet memories drifted up with the smoke of the family fire, and there was space to honor the source and fuel for the heat--a sacred life completed.  Things I get to do today will embrace the full circle as I spread the ashes to mix with soil and become new life, new beginnings rooted deeply in this emptiness.