August 31, 2008

Sunday Morning Harvest

This post could also be titled, "A little of this and a little of that." This mini harvest consists of Asian cucumbers, sweet peppers, tomatoes, Swiss chard, figs, and pears. The harvest may be small, but my joy is plentiful!

August 30, 2008

The Cotton Cloth Dilemma

I recently found a cotton dishcloth pattern that sounded interesting, so I dusted off my knitting needles. I made a couple changes as I went along. Just saying that makes me sound like such a creative, experienced knitter! "Yeah, I threw in a purl stitch here and a few knit stitches there." In actuality, I made a mistake and knitted the same row twice on one end, so I decided to match my "mistake" when I got to the opposite end.

Now that I'm finished knitting my cute dishcloth, you'd think I would immediately begin using it. I enjoy wearing the scarves I have knitted and I've always worn the clothing I've sewn, but this is different. None of those items have been used to wipe up spills. After hours, (yes ~ hours to make this little cloth) I can't stand the thought of grape juice stains all over it. I guess I could limit its use to water spills, but that would be silly. So...... just as candles are made to be burned, cotton cloths are made to be used. Its off to the sink.
P.S. I don't think there's any harm in switching to white grape juice, do you? ;-)

August 24, 2008

Say What?

A few years ago when and I was returning from the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, I came upon the small town of Umpqua. I went into the general store to purchase some snacks. Before leaving, I had the clerk to tell me the proper way to pronounce the town's name. He said, "Oh, just think of the sound that you would make if somebody punched you in the gut.... Ump-kwa." Fortunately I made it out of the store before bursting into laughter. Luckily I don't have any personal experience with being punched in the gut, but if I did, I really doubt that I would yell Ump-kwa!
There are now Umpqua Banks in my area and I laugh each time I see one, but for some strange reason, I always feel as if I just had the wind knocked out of me. :-)


Starry Night Over The Rhone by Vincent van Gogh

"She was amazed by the number of people who managed to float through their entire lives on emotional autopilot. It's as if they were surrounded by an invisible shield. One which even the fiercest of weaponry could never penetrate.

She had always been proud, almost to the point of arrogance, that she sat in the pilot's seat of her life. Feeling the depth of every emotion. Strange that she would find herself envying them....... the oblivious and nonchalant."

August 17, 2008

Watermelon Update

On July 3rd I wrote about my baby watermelon. Well, the baby has grown! This is what it looked like as of yesterday, August 16th. It's pretty amazing what a little water and lots of sunshine will do. There are others on the vines as well. They should all be ripe just in time for that fall picnic. :-)

August 10, 2008

A Time of Renewal

My summer break is quickly nearing an end. I have had a wonderful time. I must admit that I wish it would continue indefinitely. It's not that I don't enjoy my job; it's just that working full-time tends to interfere with my hobbies. :-) 

I have had time to visit with family and friends, work in the garden for hours, take a few tap dancing classes, try some new recipes, do a bit of sewing, enjoy nature, and take some peaceful naps. Each one of those things has been wonderfully refreshing! I have also had time to quiet my thoughts and think about my life. Time to focus on being spiritual, kind, and authentic. I am letting go of behaviors that no longer serve me, and gradually replacing them with healthier thoughts and actions. I am learning to love myself, just as I am. Fortunately, self-acceptance comes easier with age. I am putting the days of wishing I were someone else behind me. When those old thoughts creep up, I remind myself that I am exactly who I am meant to be at this moment in time. I look forward to continuing on this journey of self-acceptance and inner growth.

So…. if you catch me whimpering in the next few weeks about getting up at the crack of dawn, give me a little kick in the tush and remind me of how fortunate I am to have had this time of rest and renewal.

August 8, 2008

"Dinner's Ready!"

Vegetarian bean tostadas are one of my favorite entrees! Ahh.... crisp corn tortillas, beans, salsa, sour cream, and a little lettuce. Yum! As I was frying my tortilla yesterday, I set off the smoke alarm. The tortilla didn't actually burn, but the oil was so hot it began to smoke. When the alarm sounded I immediately began to laugh. Not something you usually do when there is smoke in the house, but it triggered a funny memory. Years ago, our neighbor was notorious for burning their meals. Since we often had our windows open, we could hear their smoke alarm go off. She was a good sport about it and it became a fun joke. She once told me that when the smoke alarm would sound, her family knew that dinner was ready. Funny, after all those years, that was my first thought. Dinner's ready! They moved away long ago, but many happy memories of their friendship remain, and burnt dinners are one of them.

August 7, 2008

Mid-life Journey

Painting by John William Waterhouse "Lady of Shalott"

A few months ago a co-worker and I were discussing her upcoming birthday. She announced with a bit of sadness that she was going to be 30. A parent who was standing nearby stated that she had turned the big "Three O" the previous year. I laughed and shared that I had recently turned 46. The woman looked at me and said, "Oh, I bet you wish you were our age instead." Without giving it much thought I replied, "No, actually I'm really happy where I'm at." As I walked away I was filled with such a strong sense of contentment.

Until that moment, I really hadn't realized that I was truly okay with mid-life. Perhaps that's because my "crisis" came at 41 with my adjustment to an empty nest and the end of a 22 year marriage. My "crisis" enveloped me with such a deep sadness; at times I felt as if I literally couldn't breathe, let alone function from day to day. Thanks to my faith and the support and kindness of family and friends, little by little the healing took place. I'd like to say that it happened quickly, but complete healing has taken a few years. The only negative elements that remain are guilt and regret. Guilt that my plans of a forever marriage failed. Guilt that I let my children down. Regret that perhaps there was something he or I could have done differently. But as I've learned during this mid-life journey; guilt and regret won't change the past. If allowed, they will cast a dark shadow on the future. So, as the final step in the healing process, I'm working on self-forgiveness. I'm focusing on the "now" and the blessings that surround me. I'm giving thanks for the friendship that I have with the man I shared half my life with. And most of all, I'm basking in the joy that comes from seeing the amazing adults my children have grown up to be!

No one promised us that life would be easy. Compared to many my "crisis" was minor. My thoughts and prayers go out to all who are hurting. May you find both physical and emotional healing. May you see rays of sunshine on the cloudiest of days. May you too be blessed with the love and compassion of family and friends.

August 2, 2008

Creating a Wildlife Habitat

Would you like to encourage birds, butterflies, frogs, and other fascinating creatures to your yard? It is actually pretty simple. Listed below are the four main elements for an effective habitat:

1. Food - This might be berries and fruit for birds, nuts for squirrels, and nectar for butterflies. By choosing native plants you allow nature to provide for the insects and animals. Your local nursery will be more than happy to help you choose specific plants that will attract birds, butterflies, and a variety of insects. You can also provide seed and nectar at feeders.

2. Water - If space allows, a pond is a great water source. Not only will wildlife drink from it, they will bathe in it as well. If creating a pond is not feasible, a birdbath or a few shallow dishes will do the trick. Just remember to keep them filled with fresh water, especially during hot weather. You will find some birdbath ideas on this site.

3. Cover - By planting a variety of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs, you will give your animal friends many places to find shelter from predators and extreme weather conditions. Dead trees and logs also provide cover. Try planting foliage of varying heights for different animals’ needs

4. Places To Raise Young - By having a variety of cover plants you encourage the raising of offspring. You might want to put up a birdhouse or nesting box. Check to see which sizes your local birds prefer. Native flowers and host plants for caterpillars will encourage butterflies to lay their eggs. If you are interested in attracting frogs and dragonflies, a pond is ideal.

If you would like to have your wildlife habitat certified, just follow the steps listed on the National Wildlife Federation site. The NWF site also provides some colorful and informative tip sheets.

You don't need to be "officially certified" to provide these necessary habitat elements. All you need is a little planning and some patience. You will find that the benefits are numerous! Don’t forget our future generation. If you have children or grandchildren, allow them to share in the process. A love and respect for our world and its animals is a precious thing to instill. I find it fascinating viewing nature through the eyes of a child. May we never lose that sense of wonder!