Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A story of some of the Dogs in my Life

I wrote a story celebrating the various dogs I've had in my life over the years. Surf on over and take a look:

Etsy For Animals: Dog Memoirs

I'm a cat lady by circumstance, not by choice. I love all animals, and to be honest, if I had the room and the resources, I'd have fewer cats and more of a variety of animals. I've been tempted to take on all kinds of pets, but it just wouldn't work out right now.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Gossip and Venting Hurt. They Don't Help.

I want to take a few minutes this afternoon to talk about another aspect of simplifying:  Simplifying our thoughts and speech.  Without getting into specifics, I want to share that I am going through a very rough time in one aspect of my life at the moment.  This part of my life has been a source of intense pain for many, many years.  I have been trying to resolve it, but so far have not had much luck.  I've picked up some helpful tips along the way, and I largely am accepting What Is and giving thanks for my blessings.  (Gift horses, and all that.)  The fact remains that this situation eats away at me daily and has diminished the quality of my life.  It's very frustrating, and I'm having a hard time not becoming bitter about it, but I'm plugging away at resolving the issue.

Needless to say, there have been times when I've needed to vent, and vent I did!  Oh, boy!  All someone had to do was mention the problem, and I'd be off like a rocket, just spewing venom and barbs. For a while, it was nice to get out with friends and just let fly.  Sure, a little venting is good. You get that angst out of your system, and then you move on, hopefully with more focus on the tasks before you.  Unfortunately, I got caught up in the rush of sharing my negative feelings for a while with anyone who would listen. After a while, though, I found that this venting did not actually help me much at all.  It made me feel worse

Once I figured this out, I made a firm decision to focus on what is positive in my life right now and in particular on what I am doing to try and solve my current problem.  I immediately felt better, and my whole attitude around this issue shifted.  It's still a horrible situation, and I still want to change it, but what has happened is that I am less stressed out, I have more energy, and I am accomplishing more.  This does not mean that I don't still vent once in a while--I definitely do!

Recently, I found out that an acquaintance is in a very similar situation. We have a mutual friend to whom this person also talks. It would be very easy for me and the friend to get together and discuss X's situation, but I don't.  Why?  For one thing, it's rude.  X has not given us permission to discuss their situation.  Also, as I am a believer in the idea that thoughts are things and that we have real power to effect outcomes for ourselves and others in life, I feel that to discuss X when X is not around could possibly compromise X's outcomes.  It's not my job or the mutual friend's job to fix X's situation any more than it is to fix each other's.  Instead, I make myself available to X, and if the three of us are together and X wants to talk (and I about my situation,) then I remain open. I have also expressed to X that if they need to talk, I am here for them.

The truth of the matter is that I really hate gossip, and I really try not to involve myself in it. Does it happen?  Sure, but once I become aware, I tend to step back from it and not participate.  Am I nosey or curious about others?  Sure I am, but I prefer to let others come to me and share in their due time and as they want.  It's more important to me that I be available to help the people I care about than it is to know what's going on with everyone all the time.

I guess I wanted to share this, partially because things are very intense right now for both X and myself, and I relate to them really strongly regarding this issue.  It's tempting to vent and discuss the situation, but I am trying to help X, and I have also shared my strategy of shifting focus to solving problems and ideal outcomes, rather than spending so much time venting.

Please keep your fingers crossed for me.  I've been working hard for several years to overcome my issue, and I'm not giving up now!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Adventures of a Thrifty Mama on a Trailer Park Homestead: You Want Me to Get Rid of My Garden By WHEN?--an E...

Adventures of a Thrifty Mama on a Trailer Park Homestead: You Want Me to Get Rid of My Garden By WHEN?--an E...: " As my followers on Twitter and Facebook already know, I received a notice this morning to 'please remove garden & restore grass area' ..."

This is wrong! It has got to stop! People need to have the right to grow their own food. Prices are going up, and incomes are stagnating or declining. Each family deserves the right to cultivate food on its own property.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Late Summer Garden Update.

I just wanted to share a late summer update on our garden.  We've learned a lot in the past year, and the garden is now completely different from what we did last year.

We no longer have a yard.  My boyfriend has dug up the yard and made it a walking garden--a series of beds with only stepping stones for us to use to access the HVAC unit, the fence, the compost and rain buckets, and the clotheslines.  We no longer have the yard to use as a work space.  Since our yard is tiny, we want to maximize our use of the space. 

I admit it currently looks a little wild and out of order, because things are growing at different paces, and he moves things around a lot, as we learn more about what likes growing where.  We are also allowing some plants to go to seed, so that we can continue growing our favorites.

Here is a photo tour of our garden as it looks right now. Some of the pictures are a little blurry, because I took them in low light.  I'm not a fan of using flash, so some of these are not my best.  Regardless of how it all looks, our little garden is one of my favorite places.  When I am stressed, I like to go and sit outside and just soak it all up!

 This nifty little plant is kohlrabi.  I tasted this for the first time just a couple of years ago, and it's yummy.  It looks like an alien or like someone took a tennis ball and stuck some leaves into it, but trust me:  It's good eating!  It tastes kind of like a cross between broccoli stems and radish, or like a very sweet radish with no bite.  The greens are also edible and taste a lot like broccoli greens.

I cut them up and eat them raw as a finger food most often, but we also steam them.  I have not tried any recipes with it yet, but I intend to.

Cherry tomatoes.  This plant and the (I think) one other cherry tomato we have have been producing really well for us this year.  The tomatoes--both the cherries and the larger varieties--have a healthy, thick skin and are sweet but very full-bodied in flavor.  I think they taste even better than they did last year!

 This is one of our Swiss chard plants.  We had a couple that bolted, so we are down to just a few chard plants, but they are producing well (without bolting.)  These are really hearty plants, and they are so pretty!

Collards.  This thing is like a palm plant!  the leaves are HUGE!  It only takes one or two of the (fronds) leaves to make a meal for the two of us.  I believe this plant is in its second year.  It lived right through the winter.  Lucky us!

 Peppers.  We have three pepper plants.  One of them is more than two years old and is still producing!  I don't remember which one.  I think it's the baby bell, pictured here in the background.  The chilies are HOT!

We have not used the baby bells in the background yet.  I remember them being very tasty last year, though.

Parsley.  The parsley is taking over and has just about become a "weed" in our yard, along with the sage. I'm not sure yet what we are going to do about it.  We use a lot of parsley in our cooking and in salads (I love the stuff,) but we definitely have more than we can use, and I don't want to get it out of control!  As always, I defer to the resident gardener.

Radish.  They have not done that well this year, and I don't think he was happy with them last year.  For my part, I think they are fine.  The greens have been good, and though not all of the roots have developed into good radishes, we have had some decent ones this year.  Last year, we had more than we knew what to do with.  He says he wants to try a different variety next year.

It's been very hot this year, and he thinks they may not be happy with the soil;  however, I read something today that makes me think it has to do with their neighbors, the kohlrabi.  I was reading about companion planting.  Apparently, radishes and kohlrabi don't grow well together.  I may suggest we simply distance their beds better next year.  I definitely want to keep growing them, because I love them, and so do my parents.

Tomatoes.  Sadly, these have been claimed by my boyfriend for  a dish he wants to make this week, so I will have to wait a bit longer to have my favorite tomato sandwiches!
Sage.  It's exploding, along with the parsley and wild carrot.  Like the parsley, we use a lot of it;  however, two shrubs are more than we can handle.  I have a dry bundle in the house that I'm using for bath salts, and he has another drying as I write this.

It is my intention to learn to make smudging wands, which will use a lot of it up, so I think for now, we will continue to let it grow.  Sage is a sacred herb, so having it around makes me feel positive.  Our only issue is space.

A view of the garden.  The white rock is Persephone.  It's a chunk of quartz an old friend found in a park in Virginia and then passed on to me.  Why?  Because I asked for it.  Aren't friends great?   Persephone has stories, but I will save them for another time.   For the most part, it acts as a focal piece.

 Another view of the garden.  The ghosting effect is from a streetlight. 

Another garden view.  Clockwise from the bottom left:  Dandelion, beets, stack of tires serving as our potato box, chard.  In the center is one of the stepping stones.

We are giving up on potatoes.  Whether because of the heat this year or the stack of tires being too narrow (or too toxic) for the potatoes, to say we have had a poor yield this year would be a severe understatement.  The stack of tires will instead house our mulch heap.

My boyfriend commented today that, rather than give up on the radishes, he wants to try a different variety next year, so we'll see.

Not pictured here is our mint.  We still have a good bit.  There are two large pots of it on our fence, and we have some drying in the house.  It's great as a tea or as a fresh sprig in a glass of iced tea.

That's a tour of our garden as it stands now.  I hope you've enjoyed it!  My next post, to be written over the next week or so, is going to be a lot less "pretty," so just soak up the loveliness!