If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. ~ William Morris

05 October, 2019

The Garden in October

There is a hush going over the yard and garden.  Plant and insect life are quieting down while the animal life is scurrying about like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland.  I got one, rare day in the garden undisturbed today.  I began at 6:30 a.m., as soon as it was light enough to see outdoors.  It was 38 degrees and it couldn't have felt any better, to be out in the smell and feel of wet, cold, earthy nature, without thought or sound, and only with what was in front of me.  The sun had yet to rise enough to lighten the backyard.  It was bliss.  With full-time classes, home schooling and a home and family, these hours are the golden hours that I cherish. 

I'm very much in love with the unique toad lily
and her orchid like appearance, without the orchid like temperament. 

Sunny Calendula

A blue beauty whose name I've lost

And another flower whose name is buried in past records but whose fiery orange fall show is much appreciated.

Never one to disappoint, the foxgloves have reseeded astoundingly well this year.  Because it is a bi-annual, letting it seed is absolutely necessary to seeing it again.

And my favorite, alien looking flower, Monkshood.  This is pre-flowering.  Soon there will be an impressive purple show. 

Lastly, rosa rugosa rose hips.  They were on the list to dry but went rather quickly before I could get to the them.  I did manage to get some horehound in for cough syrup however. 

18 August, 2019

Hope ~ Mother Nature Prevails

However strong one's need for tidiness in the garden, nothing should outweigh the importance of supporting your local ecosystems.  Due to pesticide use and loss of its critical and only food source, the milkweed plant, the monarch butterfly has been experiencing shocking declines in the last decades.  Where once millions made their annual migration to Mexico, those numbers have reduced enough to cause scientists some alarm.  So every year, any milkweed plants that sprout in my yard or garden stay exactly where they are, and they are left to go to seed each fall. 

Every year since my boys were toddlers (they are now 13 and 16) we have sought out and hoped to find one monarch caterpillar which we bring in, supply with daily fresh milkweed leaves, and then watch the most magical and wonder-filled transformation from striped caterpillar to a chrysalis that rivals the crown jewels, and then the grand finale, a beautiful butterfly.  

The transformation really is amazing and we happily and joyfully release the butterfly the day he or she emerges and wings are dry. 

This year, we found not one, but four and one came inside quite by accident!  He was so tiny I didn't see him.  I also found one empty chrysalis which means one happy butterfly is already on his or her way to start the cycle anew. 

The increased numbers this year give me hope.  

I'll never forget the first time as a child I found one of these chrysalis creations.

Monarch Butterfly Chrysalis
Chrysalis Photo Credit: Joyful Butterfly 

To say I was awestruck is an understatement.  I had never seen anything quite so beautiful.  As an adult it creates just as much of a sense of wonder in me today as it did then, and only cements my belief in the magic of God's creation.  After all, the gold specs are hardly necessary and not part of the butterfly's finished form.  It seems to me pure delight and whimsy on the part of our creator. 

We have four assorted size caterpillars this year and I couldn't be happier.  A fitting way to end a busy summer and welcome the oncoming autumn.

28 June, 2019

Early Summer Blooms

The showiest among them have peaked already, and as the solstice clock now begins winding downward toward darker days, I can't believe we're already half-way through the year.  Gone are the peonies, irises, daffodils, tulips, lily-of-the-valley, the hyacinths and the early roses.  There are things to be pruned back, and a few remaining new plants to go in, where I've focused on native plants and hopefully, hardy perennials that in the future won't require too much attention from me. 

An apothecary rose, the last to bloom and the slowest to grow.  Its rosa rugosa mates are more than triple its size.






Spiky sea holly (ouch!)


19 June, 2019

The Illusion of the Simple Life

Although not truly 'vintage,' (although some might disagree, 1978 was awhile ago,) this is one of my all time favorite articles from Family Life Magazine, an Amish and Mennonite publication by Pathway Publishers that I used to subscribe to.  This was reprinted in the January of 2013 issue. 

While living on and working a small family farm with an Amish made wood stove, a fireplace insert, more than a dozen sheep, half a dozen goats, geese, ducks and chickens, home schooling, gardening, knitting, sewing and gluten free baking, I could relate. 

I still think of this article with every, single change of season and it always warms my heart. 

Always especially timely about now as Summer begins, because things are just growing enough to become over bearing, and time consuming, and there are moments when I wonder why I didn't just settle for astro turf throughout the yard instead of an endless array of plants, herbs, fruit trees, nut and berry plants, rose bushes, clematis, and a host of other growing things.

16 May, 2019

How to Do it All and Not Lose Your Sanity

Step number one:  Realize you cannot possibly do it all. 

The lack of a post since January can give you an idea of the grueling semester I underwent this past Spring, and just finished yesterday.  Despite some classes being on-line, I have news for those who think on-line classes are easier.  They are not.  At least not if you're doing the work.  They usually have far more reading and writing requirements, discussion posts in which you must be active and papers to write.  I also had my last in-person class for the next three semesters and it was my second semester of my four credit Anatomy and Physiology class that met every Saturday.  Every Saturday since last September, bright and early at 8 a.m. I've been in class.  It was unusually challenging for me as I had no Biology or Chemistry background.  But I passed the final semester with an 86.  Lest you think me an outlier, out of 16 original students in September, only two of us finished the class this spring.  Out of about 8 students starting this Spring, only one finished, and he was taking it a second time, so there you go.

I also had an introductory statistics class that was rather challenging, and a psychology class.  I have a brief, ecstatic two weeks off before my summer classes begin and then only three remaining semesters until completing my Bachelor's. 

In the meantime, I have been itching like crazy to get out in the garden, to do a monumental spring cleaning (which is normally done in March), and settle into a somewhat normal routine.  At least for a little while.  In the next two weeks I should have some garden pictures to share and some more appropriately themed posts related to the original intent of this blog. 

However, here is a little cross-over post I shared on my Facebook page, that pretty sums up my concerns for the upcoming summer:

"So, I once read somewhere on the Interweb that in order to make dry and unexciting reading material more interesting, simply add 'Harry Potter and ...' at the beginning of your texts. So, for your enjoyment, my summer reading list:
Harry Potter and the Principles of Sociological Inquiry, Harry Potter and Research Methods in Psychology and last but not least, the cliff-hanger ending of the trilogy: Harry Potter and Cognitive Psychology: Connecting Mind, Research and Everyday Experience.
I will then continue the series with my own ad hoc novels: Harry Potter and My Overgrown Garden, Harry Potter and The Sentient Dust Bunnies, and last but not least Harry Potter and Dumbledore Tackle the Filing Pile Cyclops. Gonna be a great summer, jam packed with unexpected thrills and excitement. "

11 January, 2019

January Brings the Snow ...

For the first time in quite awhile, I've had a bit of a break and some time to get a few to-do items off my list.  Things I had been putting off for months, nay, even years. Not important things mind you, but creative indulgences.

Being back in school full-time again on January 20th gave me a new and revived appreciation for "down time," at least as much down time as an adult parent gets. So I did and am doing some things for me, and started checking off some long awaited unfinished projects, and put a small project of a favorite cowl on the knitting needles.

Next, was getting the heddles cleaned and re-arranged (many were twisted) on a new-to-me loom I bought two years ago and getting a dry run warp on it.  It gave me a chance to see what was missing, what needed purchasing or replacing and how it all went together.  It was my first time dressing a loom unsupervised.  It was quite a few years ago that I took classes at my local weaver's guild, so thank goodness for Interweave Press, a big holiday sale, and Tom Knisely's videos. 

For experienced weavers looking at this, please, do not panic.  It is awaiting installation of a second steel rod on the apron bar and cording to allow for closer tying off of the threads.  Not to worry.  Also this warp was made primarily of what was on hand just to get a feel for things, and for my funding to increase enough to order some nice Harrisville worsted weight yarns. 

Next I am working on finally getting the replacement heads for my great wheel (that I ordered also about two years ago or so but that arrived unfinished) waxed and ready to go.  The great wheel itself needs its annual cleaning and protective waxing.  I still haven't taught myself to spin on it yet, but I had wanted one for YEARS, and was finally able to find an affordable and solid one at a local antiques store a couple of years ago but it needed some pieces.  The body however, and the great wheel itself, was pristine. I also decided to entertain myself watching Norm Kennedy again, who is just so darned entertaining, as well as being a wonderful instructor.

Lastly, I have my eldest son turning 16 today and one of my finches decided to take ill with a swollen foot which I've diagnosed as a genetic gout. She is feeling much better and the swelling has greatly reduced since I pulled her out yesterday and she is using her foot again.  So I'm thinking by tomorrow she may be ready to re-join her friends. In the meantime she gets her own private room, bath and meals served on the antique dolls china. For those interested, I treated her mostly with homeopathic medicines and an excellent propolis salve.  She instinctively soaked in the water and was much improved only a few hours later. Mother nature is a wonder.

(*Update*, after close examination under the magnifying task light, which I'm sure she did not enjoy, I found she had gotten some threads from the cage cover tangled around her foot. I promptly removed the cage cover (it was a three sided piece of fabric that helps keep seed scatter down (which is terrible for finches and they seem to poop sideways!) and replaced it with one that could not shed.  Using my husband as a surgical assistant I was able to remove the threads from her foot and she healed just fine, but she did lose one toe, on it's own, quite naturally, as the circulation must have been cut off too long.  She is now completely back to normal and with her three mates.) 

I was wise enough to get all the holiday decorations down and the house thoroughly cleaned before the first of the year.  After this birthday, my holiday baking is complete until Valentines Day.  My full-time class load resumes officially the 23rd but my on-line classes open the 20th allowing me to formulate my plan of attack which is a good thing before my Saturday in-person class starts again. 

I am saving my big project for summer break from classes, a new doll's house built from a kit, The Vermont Farmhouse Jr., with an addition.  Currently the dolls reside in a painted Melissa and Doug house.  I've had the kit now for almost a decade.  Time to make time.  If you look at the picture of the spinning wheels above, to your left you see a  reproduction settle back chair.  One of my prized possessions.  I ordered it from Seth Tudor (Tasha Tudor's son) more than a few moons ago, and it is signed.  This past November, I wrote him and asked if he would indulge me and make a 1/12th scale version for the doll's house as an upcoming 50th birthday present to myself.  He was kind and gracious enough to produce an exact replica (also signed) and I couldn't have been more delighted.  So far the New Year isn't starting off too bad.

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