July 29, 2008

In My Garden

I've loved gardening for as long as I can remember. Although it can be quite tiring at times, the benefits far outweigh the minor aches. For in my garden, I find peace and solitude. I feel connected to the earth. While I work, I often think of my ancestors who gardened out of necessity, and not just for pleasure. Gardening seems to fulfill my desire to nurture. It allows me to focus on something outside of myself. To give, asking nothing much in return. My garden blesses me with fruit, vegetables, and an array of flowers. These gifts in turn help feed and protect the wildlife I cherish. I have had the benefit of gardening in the same location for over 2 decades. I have planted tiny saplings that have grown to be huge trees. I watch the garden continually change and shift as plants and trees grow and shade my sunny beds. It is a place of renewal. Many of my favorite memories throughout the years are those of my children. The yard was a wonderful place for them to play and explore nature. Their laughter still echoes through my mind.

There was a gentle breeze this morning as I was watering. I stopped and listened to the finches at the feeder and took a deep breath of fresh air. Suddenly this phrase came to mind, "It is well with my soul." From somewhere deep within my memory came the chorus of an old hymn and it felt so appropriate. Yes, when I am working in my garden, "It is well with my soul!"

* This hymn was written by Horatio Spafford after much heartbreak. It is an amazing story!

July 28, 2008

Lessons from a Rabbit

I noticed that yesterday was the anniversary of Beatrix Potter's birth. Although I am enchanted with all of her stories and illustrations, The Tale of Peter Rabbit is the story that immediately comes to mind when I think of her.

'Now, my dears,' said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, 'you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don't go into Mr. McGregor's garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.'

With that said, where was the first place Peter ran off to? Yes, Mr. McGregor's garden. I read this story many times when I was younger. I remember marveling at his courage and gasping at his disobedience. Right after he was told not to, he went into the very garden where his father had perished. Peter's curious and mischievous nature nearly cost him his life. Fortunately the story has a good ending. Even though I was young, I understood that there are consequences to our actions, and sometimes they aren't very pleasant.

How many times have I found myself in Peter's situation? Faced with multiple choices, I have allowed my curious and mischievous nature to be my guide. I have gone 'under the fence' instead of to 'the fields or down the lane.' I have chosen the path that has led to unhappy and painful consequences.

The story ends with Peter barely making it home alive and dropping to the floor in pure exhaustion. We never learn if that was the last of his misadventures. Hopefully he learned his lesson, for I know I have.

July 23, 2008

Kudos to the Travel Channel

About 5 years ago, the Travel Channel aired a neat show called, "Top 10 Wonders of the West." Listed at #9 was the Columbia River Gorge. Although it looked beautiful, I was immediately captivated by the footage of the Multnomah Falls. Until then, I had no idea they even existed. I decided that someday I would venture up that way. Well, a few years ago my "someday" became a reality. To say that the falls looked spectacular would be an understatement! They were like nothing I had ever seen before. The beauty, the sound, the mist..... it was so breathtaking. I must admit that the hike to the top was not an easy one, but it was well worth it! The view was amazing. The entire Columbia River Gorge area is beautiful as well. There are a variety of smaller waterfalls to be seen and explored. If you haven't had the opportunity to travel there, you might want to add that to your "someday" list. There are many other memorable places that I visited throughout California and Oregon which I will be sharing from time to time.

I didn't have a digital camera while on my trip, so my photos are in albums. (lucky for you) These pictures showing the Columbia River and Multnomah Falls are from the Internet. I just wanted to give you a tiny glimpse of what I saw. Obviously, these pictures don't do this area much justice. I do however have these wonderful albums..... oh sorry. :-)

July 22, 2008

A Loving "Forever" Home

Thanks to the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), numerous animals have found compassion, love, and freedom from abuse. Many of the animals once lived in chains. Others were rescued from the exotic animal trade industry. Some were forced to perform then abandoned when they no longer seemed "useful" to their owners. Living in California, I'm fortunate enough to have visited the original sanctuary on a couple occasions. My father has volunteered for PAWS and had the opportunity to see these beautiful and majestic animals up close.

This link http://www.pawsweb.org/index.html will lead you to their wonderfully informative site. You can read about PAWS history and see the fascinating animals who now call the sanctuary home. There are virtual tours and a list of times when the sanctuaries are open to the public. I watched the video "Maggie's migration to PAWS" with tears. After 20 years of being the only elephant in a small Alaska zoo, she was free to roam about the sanctuary and be with other elephants for the very first time. They welcomed her with "trunk kisses." Well, perhaps that is not the official term, but it appeared that way to me.

I have nothing but admiration for Pat and Ed, the founders of PAWS. For over 20 years they have selflessly dedicated themselves to providing a safe haven to these beautiful animals.

July 19, 2008

Precious People

Granddaughter, Daughter, Niece, Sister, Sister-in-Law,
Mother, Mother-in-Law, Grandmother, Aunt, Cousin
Each one of my titles represents a unique connection to a treasured family member. Their love, encouragement, and friendship are truly what makes life worth living.
I am blessed beyond measure!

From Tree to Table

My "crop" of plums was wonderful this year. There are plums for the fruit bowl, plums for sharing, plums for baking, and plums for the squirrels and birds that frequent the yard. In the past, I have made plum jam. I decided to try something MUCH easier this year. I found this cobbler recipe on the internet. It was very easy to make. You could substitute the plums with other fruit. Peaches or apricots would be wonderful. Please e-mail me if you are interested in the recipe link. 

My cobbler isn't going to win any blue ribbons for appearance, (I was a bit embarrassed posting it, ) but my taste testers gave me the thumbs up. I know taste is what's most important. Before I bake my next one, I'll be sure to have some vanilla ice-cream on hand for a yummy a la mode treat. :-)

July 17, 2008

Fuzzy Pollinators

Being a gardener has so many perks. One of them is bees. Yes, bees. Those little creatures that send people running for cover in a matter of seconds. Fortunately, I've never really been afraid of them. In fact, I am fascinated by them, and find myself grateful for their work as pollinators. The fuzzy little insect in the photo is a bumble bee I spotted in my garden. A closer look at the photo shows how fuzzy she is. I'm assuming it's a she since all the worker bees are female. Hey...... ALL the workers are female? Hmmm..... :-)

I was an apiarist (beekeeper) for a couple years. It was fun watching those busy little bees make all that honey. Once Issac (my grandson) was able to run all around the yard, I felt it might be better to sell my hive, rather than worry about him getting stung. Perhaps someday, when Issac is older, he and “Grammy” can raise bees together.

July 16, 2008

Sleepover at TerBear's House!

Thanks to Laura and her wonderful creative abilities, the adorable little fellow on the right, and his cute sleepsack, will be arriving soon for a permanent sleepover! I am anxiously awaiting his arrival. To learn more about his home in Pogo Forest, and his many friends..... check out this link.

July 15, 2008

What is Etsy?

Remember those wonderful days when we felt free to create and explore? We let our imaginations run wild. We often stifle that creative freedom as we grow older. Perhaps that is why crafting and the creative process has such a powerful draw for me. It allows me to revisit a time when clouds could be painted purple, if that is how I saw them. :-)

Etsy is a unique marketplace and online community for all things handmade. To see a short informative video, visit the link above. There are many great interviews, beginning with the founder. I really enjoyed hearing his inspiration for the site and his vision for the future. Whether you are buying, selling, or just gathering inspiration, you will find it at Etsy!

July 13, 2008

My Little Green Visitor - with Spectacular Vision!

This daylily is unlike any of the others in my yard. It has a triple layer of petals. I headed outside ready to take a few pictures when I spotted this little Praying Mantis. (to see it a little better, click on the picture) As I moved around the flower to get a good shot, it moved to the opposite side. Our cat and mouse game was rather comical. We did this "little dance" a few times before I finally took the picture. I was pretty surprised by its visual skills and became curious...... so I did a bit of research. According to National Geographic, "The Praying Mantis' excellent eyesight allows them to see movement up to 60 feet." No wonder I wasn't able to take a close-up!

July 9, 2008

Beauty in Simplicity

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things. Robert Brault

July 8, 2008

Kathy's Flowers

My good friend and neighbor, Kathy, loves gardening as much as I do. We often chat over this fence while working in our gardens. Thanks to her green thumb, I have these beautiful Morning Glories to brighten my rustic little fence. Year after year they faithfully return, gently spilling a sea of lavender blossoms over anything near. I look forward to seeing them appear each spring, and feel a twinge of sadness when their blossoms disappear in the late fall. When the weather becomes colder, Kathy and I might go awhile without seeing one another. I know that she is near, and when the warmth of spring arrives, so too does her familiar voice from over my little rustic fence. These are the "simple" things that bring joy to our lives!

July 3, 2008

Natural Beauty

These photos were taken last year while hiking the creek near Horsetail Falls. Just looking at them brings back some wonderful memories. The sights and sounds were awesome. I love the sound of water spilling over the rocks. There were also various types of birds nearby - serenading us. I took the bottom photo because I was fascinated by the feathery looking plant in the water. I initially thought it was some type of fern, but on closer inspection, I found it to be roots from a nearby tree. This picture doesn't do it justice, but I hope you will get a glimpse of its beauty. "Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts." Rachel Carson

Watermelon in the fall?

Well........ let's just say that I got my seeds in a bit late this spring. Right now the stores and fruit stands are beginning to sell huge, delicious watermelon. This little fella' is the largest of my crop. :-) I just noticed it yesterday, and I'm thrilled, as only a gardener can be. There are lots of flowers on the vines, so I'm hoping for a bumper crop. Will anyone be up for a fall picnic?

July 2, 2008

"A bucket of Bermuda per day."

I was pretty bummed that my newly tilled garden was sprouting Bermuda. I knew if I didn't stay on top of it, I would soon have lawn where I want a vegetable garden. With the hot weather I felt that tackling the entire area at once would prove to be a bit exhausting. Plus, I have other things I'd rather be doing besides pulling weeds. A few years ago the almond industry had a successful commercial which stated, "A can a week. That's all we ask." My new slogan: A bucket of Bermuda per day. That's all I ask of myself." That's definitely feasible!

Painted Pots

The view from my bedroom window was a pile of old bricks. Once I stacked them, I decided that a few potted plants would look nice. Being a bit frugal, I passed on the fancy pots and decided that I could just buy plain terra cotta and paint them. With just a few coats of paint and a some pretty petunias I turned my boring view to a much brighter one. Now I love opening the window blinds!