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I'm never bored. If I'm not knitting or spinning, I'm gardening or reading. There's so much to learn and never enough time. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Getting Happy in my Fall Garden

I really thought a vegetable garden this year was hopeless. We've been having a heat wave with virtually no rain all summer. I can only think of two rainy days since last Spring. One will be burned into my memory forever. Looking out my kitchen window at our local wild bunny hunkering down under a patio table that had been left out on the lawn. I don't know if she had ever seen the rain. (Okay, now that song's in my head...) It's been that bad.
I'm still taking strong medication for the colitis but I've felt good enough to put in some young veg plants and protect them with my life. The bunny got one young broccoli plant but it seems to be recovering. She also got one of the little kale plants. I've tented the baby lettuce with lawn chairs and beach towels to keep it from burning in the hot sun. I've covered the broccoli with laundry baskets at night protect it from marauding bunnies. Nobody seems interested in the swiss chard. Probably not even my family but that's another story.
Little sprouts of sugar snap peas are wending their way toward the tee pee left over from the pole beans last year. They don't like the heat so that's probably all I'll get - sprouts. But the figs are getting larger, the parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme are singing along. The cherry tomatoes are offering enough for a salad every night. Butterfly weed started from last year's pods are big enough to transplant but we're expecting another few days of intense heat next week so they'll have to wait a bit.. I was pulling weeds and recognized the lovely fragrance of Sweet Annie herself, so I plunked a couple in the back of the patch. Yes, I'm getting pretty happy in my fall garden. What's making you happy? Leave a comment - I'd love to know!

Butterfly Weed in the Spring

Butterfly Weed ready for planting
Shading the lettuce on a hot day
My wee garden - mostly blackberries

Sugar Snap Peas really trying to grow

Okay, even that crazy rabbit makes me happy....

Monday, August 10, 2015

Getting Happy in My Garden


I didn't get my garden cleaned up enough to plant this year. I missed spring planting time because I was dealing with a very nasty case of colitis. Without details, I couldn't get far enough from the house to do much of anything - my MS makes running out of the question. I'm now on some strong prescriptions to keep everything under control, hoping I can eventually taper off and use natural anti-inflammatory supplements in the future. So, I was listing to Margaret Roach's podcast "Away to Garden" and the topic was vegetable planting in the fall - starting now! And "Natureworks" just blogged about having fresh veggie seedlings on their benches. Maybe it's not too late for me, after all. With a lot of help from #2 son, the garden is mulched with straw and getting drenched with the sprinkler to cool down the soil for planting. As I was working this morning and pulling a few stray weeds out from under the bean teepee, who should land right at eye level but this guy? I said hello and started talking to him. I'm not crazy, he was looking right at me. As I talked to him he tilted his head back and forth as if he was listening. After a while, I left him to get the camera. When I returned, he came right back as if to pose for pictures. My camera battery was half dead or I would have taken more pictures of this beautiful blue-eyed visitor. Wait - dragonflies are territorial. Maybe I was the visitor!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Get Happy Eating Healthy

I was just thinking about happiness. Whether young or old(er), working, disabled or retired, one of the things that has always made me happy was knowing I was feeding myself and my family as well as I could. The largest portion of our monthly budget is food. It's not easy to prepare healthy meals when you're working full-time or not feeling especially well.  And eating well is expensive. Eating well should include wild-caught fish as part of a good diet. Especially for those of us struggling with poor health or age-related issues and the little ones in our lives that are growing healthy bodies. I've always been aware that I should eat fish but I really have never enjoyed it - until recently. I buy only wild-caught- in- the- U.S. salmon. There are many reasons not to eat farm-raised fish and I'll let you google that. Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is expensive. My local supermarket frequently has specials on frozen Alaskan salmon so that's when I buy it. If I grill it and serve it with a side of rice, vegetable and salad, I prepare it this way:  I put defrosted fillets in a shallow dish with even amounts of soy sauce, brown sugar, water, and olive oil (I use about a half cup of everything except the oil for which I use 1/4 cup.  Shake on some lemon pepper. Leave this overnight or all day. When you're ready to grill (or broil), discard the marinade and grill or broil in the oven, skin side down until it flakes easily with a fork and has lost its raw appearance. It completely loses its fish taste and my family loves it. Now if you're looking to use wild-caught salmon and want to stretch it for a larger family (or just save some money), poach the defrosted salmon in a shallow pan in an inch of water which you've salted lightly and added some cut-up onion to flavor the fish. Again, when it's fork-flaky, remove the fish and cool it covered in the fridge. Boil up some pasta (I like elbows), gluten-free or not and chill those also. Make this part the night before and dinner is easy-peasy. Shred the salmon, removing any little pin bones. Add the fish to the pasta with whatever mayo you use. Cut up some celery, a bit of onion or scallions, salt and pepper. Now you can get creative with whatever you have in the fridge. You can add sweet pickle relish if you like that, a little mustard if you want some kick. Get creative and serve it on a bed of lettuce and other veggies with a bit of oil and vinegar or your favorite dressing on the greens. I hope you try these recipes and they make you feel happy about eating healthy.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Birthday Wishes

The day after tomorrow I will turn 63. Yikes. Thirty years ago I couldn't have imagined my life as it is now.  At that point I had poor health and little hope. Living with my young family in a small apartment on a tight budget, I had suffered illness after illness before being diagnosed with MS. I had a baby with year-round asthma and a young daughter dealing daily with a teacher who should not have been around children at all - ever. My health ebbed and flowed. I took a full-time job with the knowledge that I would have to come clean or lie about my health. I came clean and my first job led to two more before I stopped working full-time at the age of 52.  Pre-existing conditions prevented me from seeing a doctor for the MS for my first year of full-time employment. It didn't matter much. There wasn't anything they could do for me anyway. I was on a lottery list for Betaseron with no coverage for injectables. Scroll forward. Things worked out for the children as they tend to do. The baby outgrew the asthma and into size 12 shoes, a good job, a pretty little house and a nice family.  It wasn't that easy but it all worked out. My daughter blossomed into a capable, bright young woman who traveled to The Hague this past year to make a professional presentation. And she also has a nice family and a home of her own.  The husband I had 30 years ago passed away from cancer at the start of 2002. Sometimes I can hardly believe the life I've lived. It seems like there were two. I married my wonderful new husband 10 years ago and then there were three children as he came with one of his own. The youngest has just finished college and soon he'll be off into his own adventures. I've been off MS meds for years. I take numerous supplements. I have a new auto-immune disease, micoscopic lymphocytic colitis. But I will deal with that as I've dealt with MS. Nobody believes I'm as old as my license says I am. I have to prove that I'm eligible for my senior discount. Yesterday I celebrated my birthday with my family around me. The kids and grandkids splashed around in the pool for a while and then gathered around to help me blow out my candles. "Wait!" somebody said, "You didn't make a wish yet." I didn't have to. I have everything I could ever wish for.

gathered around

Monday, July 6, 2015

Spirit of Gardening

Figs forming
Cheyenne Spirit Coneflowers

Lace cap hydrangea tree in the shade garden
Japanese painted fern in the shade garden
Eye searing Hosta
Little bee alone and appears to be sleeping
Lady in Red Hydrangea looks very blue this year

When you look around, how does your garden make you feel? I don't mean the weeds popping up - or your tomatoes wilting with blight. I was rearranging some plants in the shade garden and realized there's very little color, other than the eye-searing green of the Hostas. My daughter and I came around the corner of the house and she hadn't seen the cool little spot, tucked away from the rest of the house. I want to put a chair there so I can sit and meditate but it's not a great place for a solitude with cars and walkers going by. It calls me to be quiet and alone. The bright, bold reds and oranges of the coneflowers are lined up in the herb garden and most visable from the pool and patio. They look like summer fun and excitement waiting to happen in the bright, blazing sun. My fig tree is setting tiny figs which will be ready when summer ends. I don't know if it's a myth that figs grow best when they're snuggled up against a home. My little tree was ready and producing its first crop when it was still in the garage where it lives during the winter. If it could speak, it would have certainly be asking to go outside.