Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Empty Nest Gardening

Tomatoes, peppers, and herbs potted on the deck.

Fish pond, turtle island and the cistern.

The fish tower being utilized.


Drying peppers.

The beginning of habanero salsa.

Roasted cherry tomatoes.

The original garden plot.

Now that fall is here, and this last heatwave of the summer has broken, I thought I would share how our garden made out this summer.  

In truth, we've been empty nesters now for over ten years.  The year before we tried something new and we grew some of our vegetables in pots on the deck, while keeping the original large garden we planted in 1985 and its perennials intact.  But this year when winter began to wane and we got the urge to start getting our hands dirty, we made a bold decision.  We tilled under our garden.  When spring finally did arrive the old garden plot was gorgeous.  The grape hyacinths took hold and spread and the grass filled in.

This year, our only planting was done on the deck, four tomato plants, four pepper plants, and two basil and rosemary plants.  (I have a small herb garden just outside the front door where thyme, oregano, lavender and mint come back every year and Italian parsley is planted each year.)

My husband came up with a way several years ago for us to catch and store rain water.  A fish pond, (stock tank) was put on the small patio below the deck.  The gutters feed into it and it, when it's overfull, feeds into the under ground cistern left from the original farm house that was on our property.  We then have a pump on a line we can lower into the fish pond from the deck above and water from the pond.  It's works beautifully.  It's also made for the easiest gardening I've ever done.  To make it pretty, we add floating plants, fish and a fish tower every year.  The oblong tank pictured behind the fish pond is turtle island, where my husband's turtles summer.  But that is his story to tell. :)

Anyway, as far as production goes, it was an amazing year; so many tomatoes and peppers!  I think we've found our happy gardening niche.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Welcoming Boredom

Living in the rural countryside the past 32 years I have to admit that for years I didn't understand why others, who lived surrounded by wilderness like me, wanted to spend their weekends camping.  After all, if I want to soak up nature all I have to do is step out onto my deck.

Then we became empty nesters and I began to look at RVs as a way for us to do some travelling.  So we did some shopping around and bought one.  And I have to say, it's my all-time favorite way to travel. But it wasn't until we took our camper out to the local lake that I understood fully what having an RV would truly mean to me.

This weekend we spent three days at the lake.  While we were there my daughter asked me, "what do you do all day out here?"  And I replied, "nothing, and that's the beauty of it."  

Because when you're at the lake, there's no laundry calling, no dust guilting you into taking care of it, no gardens begging to be weeded.  What little housekeeping that might need your attention is so small it takes no time to accomplish.  There's no Netflix or Amazon Fire or Tivo to steal your time.  Your calendar has been cleared. 

What there is is endless hours for reading, hours for sketching, old movies on antenna TV, board games, tiny jigsaw puzzles, and new recipes to try on a campfire, (grilled ginger peach chicken and steaks with avocado butter).

Best of all, there's mornings for staring at the lake, and afternoons, and evenings.

When Monday comes around I find I am so much more rested than on a Monday following a weekend that wasn't spent at the lake.  And I start looking ahead for the next weekend available to go again.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A Brief Encounter

On Sunday I was unloading groceries from the car when I heard, and felt, something running towards me.  When I turned around I saw this little one.  My first thought, where's mom?  He/she, practically ran right into me.

Obviously frightened, she kept trying to find places in the shade to rest.  Several times she would try to get close to me but at the last minute would startle and run.  After a while it was evident mom was no longer around.  I wanted to help.  My husband questioned whether it would be the right thing to do.  I didn't know about that but I did know the little thing wasn't going to survive long without someone looking after it.

Unfortunately she arrived only a short time before our Labor Day BBQ was to begin and our property filled with our children and grandchildren. 

Oh, how I wanted to keep her and help her!  My mom had a fawn when she was a girl, so did Audrey Hepburn.  I'm sure our rather overactive company probably drove her away.  I've been keeping my eye out for her ever since but I'm afraid she's probably gone for good.  I was really hoping for a storybook ending.

Monday, August 28, 2017

A Rabbit's Tale

Of my four children only one, my youngest, had an attachment to a favorite cuddle.  My daughter's little blue rabbit, pictured with her here, was originally a gift to her older sister.  By the time Hali came along the little rabbit had already been through two previous babyhoods, her sister and brother both loved him for a time and eventually tossed him aside.  But for Hali, Gaga (her name for him) became her constant companion.  

And as her constant companion, Gaga experienced some wear and tear.  In the beginning Gaga had a wind up key music box on his backside that played Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.   Eventually I had to remove it and patch it with a calico heart.

Fast forward to present day and my little girl has a little girl of her own.  One day not long ago she asked if I thought I could possibly knit a body cover for Gaga so that Sophie could play with him.  I made no promises but agreed to give it a try.  When she brought me the rabbit I had forgotten what a sad condition he was in.  Over time Hali had loved the fur right off of him in several spots!  

I decided to just start knitting over the top of him, figuring out how to fit him as I went along.  

During the week I spent with Gaga I started reliving Hali's childhood.  I had so many treasured memories of her and her rabbit. There was the time when Hali was younger than she is in the above picture, that he was lost and we left notes on bulletin boards all over town;  the library, dance studio, grocery story, rec-center, only to be found later in a hardly used cabinet. 

I think it was some time in the third grade when she finally stopped carrying him to school every day and leaving him with me at my desk down the hall.  At the end of her day she would collect him and wait for me to finish mine.  When she was just a little older than that her brother kidnapped him and left a clever note cut from magazine pages.  

By the time Gaga went to college he had been loved into a frightening condition.  So much so, her sorority sisters would throw a pillow or blanket over him to cover his creepiness.  After graduation and getting her own place and a new puppy Hannah, Gaga was removed from his spot on the bed to a much safer place, a box in a chest.

As I sat there knitting along I remembered not only what Gaga meant to Hali, but what he meant to me as well.  I had to preserve as much of him as I could.  I decided to knit the body cover to the neck.  I went through my embroidery threads and found one that came close to matching his fur and stitched in his bald spots.  I carefully bleached the whites of his ears and strengthened his seams.  

He was finished in time for Sophie's first birthday party.  I addressed the package to both Mommy and Sophie.  The moment Hali opened him is a moment I will always treasure.  Both of us were in tears.

And now Gaga is fit for another generation of play, with maybe just a little bit of extra care from mom.

Friday, August 25, 2017

This Week Noted

Traveling 3 hours to experience eclipse totality. (See earlier post)

One dress finished, one dress started, and one more dress planned for the 3 smallest granddaughters.

This book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, for giving glimpses into their lives.

The Honorable Woman, on Netflix, for being the perfect binge show for knitting.

And this article, help for when you find yourself on anxiety's carousel.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


Unlike many who planned for weeks, months, or even years, we had always planned to leave our eclipse plans to the last few days.  From our rural home we would have 98.2 % totality.  But then I read an article where an astronomer said even if you have that degree of the moon's coverage, and you don't travel to see full totality, it would be like driving within 15 minutes of the ocean and never driving the rest of the way to see it; nuff said.

Thus ensued the countless hours scouring totality maps of Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.  St Joseph, MO, being in the direct center of totality's path, would have been a logical choice for us.  But news reports said the city was expecting crowds that would rival the Royal's World Series parade two years ago.  We were caught in that traffic jam and were forced to turn back without ever making it to the parade and rally.  I was worried.

We wanted a spot away from light pollution so we made the decision to travel to Indian Cave State Park, NE, a two and half hour drive.  We began checking the weather daily, comparing the park against our weather at home.  And much discussion was given to our route as well.  Our choices being the interstate, which took us right through St. Joe with possible traffic jams, and two other state highways.  Also, who in the family would be able to join our family trek? The night before, our route still wasn't decided. 

We left our home at 7:30 a.m., met up with other family, and decided to drive the interstate.  To our surprise, traffic was normal.  But we were driving through a lot of cloud cover and sporadic rain showers.  When we pulled off the interstate we still had another hour's drive to the park.  But the clouds were starting to thin.  We were seeing patches of blue sky and our hearts were hopeful.

Driving those winding roads through NE we saw so many people who had claimed their spots on pull-offs along the roadside.  How could I not think of all those science fiction movies I've watched with Paul and the kids through the years!  All these people hoping to see the same thing we were hoping to see.

Once in the park and settled, the clouds were thin enough for us to watch the  beginning of the moon's journey.  As we ate our picnic and the grandchildren played, thicker clouds started moving in.  Seeing intermittent glimpses we were still hopeful to see the moment of totality.  

Well those clouds hung tight.  The seconds before totality we knew we would not be able to see the sun's corona.  And yet still, there was no doubt totality was happening.  Complete darkness fell.  Dad scooped up the running children into his arms and we sat there and watched, listened.  In that moment I felt what I read others had reported feeling, awe, small, and a connection to all the other human beings sharing the experience.  Then moment's afterwards secretly happy that none of those science fiction movie plots had panned out.  No zombies that I could see.  As soon as totality passed and the moon began to move away, so did the clouds.  We were able to watch the rest of the event without any cloud cover.

We drove back in bumper to bumper traffic, finally arriving home at 7:00 p.m.  We knew whatever plans we made for the day it was always going to be a gamble.  We did our best to make the most of our once in a life time experience.  I view it as a success.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Sophie's Birthday Book

Book number thirteen is for Sophia.  
After 11 books for eight grandchildren it's hard to come up with a different birthday poem for each book.  I've resorted to rewriting songs for the narrative of the books, Quinn's being the easiest, Quinn the Eskimo.  Amelia's Here Comes the Sun was a logical choice as well.  But Paul was not a fan of my using Cecilia (Simon and Garfunkel) for Sophie.  But what can I say?  It was stuck in my head.