Protection, comfortable gardening and success in growing vegetables is the 3-item goal of this excellent quality gardening gift set for women. The gloves, made from spun bamboo fiber, are naturally silky soft, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and odor-inhibiting because they actually wick away moisture. The glove’s palms are coated with natural foam latex that provides extra grip. The gloves come in VERY stretchy medium size, equivalent to a Size 7 or 8 women’s glove. The foam garden kneeling pad is firm but offers comfortable support and excellent protection for your knees, where cushioning really matters! This pad is larger than standard. It is lightweight, water resistant, is designed with a built-in foam handle. It will protect your knees from gravel, concrete, sod and other hard surfaces. The final item in this bundle is a 72-page, detailed and colorfully illustrated booklet chock full of useful, easy-to-read information on garden techniques that insure your success as a gardener. It includes info on garden site preparation, inter-planting, succession planting, tool choice, cultivation, freezing, drying, curing and more; and how-to tips for growing over 42 common vegetables, annual and perennial herbs. Comes shrink wrapped as one unit and is a terrific gift for anyone interested in gardening.
Here on Whoopie (Whidbey) Island, I have no garden space. It’s the first year in 25 years I haven’t actively lived and breathed through my garden. I finally decided I HAD to have something, so I planted about 10 containers, with just the right (researched) soil mix, planted and waited through the weirdest summer weather I can remember in my adult life. Finally, after way too long, it produced…beans, sunchokes, leafy chard, peas, herbs, and the tomatoes were hanging off the vines…and all of this was on my deck, not 3 feet from my front door.
Went to work one Thursday morning and visited all the plants on my way out the door. They were lookin’ good — full, lush. I was finally going to get a harvest! Came home that evening and everything, and I mean everything (except the sage, rosemary and parsley) was eaten down to about 3 inches of stem. All the beans, chard, peas, tomatoes and plants, chokes…the whole shebang…chewed off by a mamma doe and her two frisky fawns who’ve been hanging around, and who I NEVER thought would come within 3 ft. of the front door to steal the garden goodies. Sigh.
With nice summer weather being so sporadic and fall already beginning, and no harvest, I feel like I’m in some kind of time warp. Leaves are already turning on the maple outside my window.
“…here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)”
— e.e. cummings
Today is All Saint’s Day.Tomorrow is All Soul’s Day. It is also a Full Moon, cycle of completion and fruition.
I woke last night to a bright light in my face, Grandmother Moon.It was All Hallow’s Eve, the night the veil is lifted between this world and the next.My Dead Loved Ones were closer and we whispered through the night, delighted to be together, consoling one another that on this side we’re doing OK, and on that side we’re doing OK.I’ll see you again some day, I’ll see you again some day.
I went outside in the deep fog and said prayers with Grandmother Moon.I greeted my recently departed and asked they take special care of some friends who just got there, and others who will be arriving soon.They will.The air was damp and cool in the night. My dog was by my side, wagging her tail, and I cried because I don’t want to say goodbye to her, someday soon.
This edge between the living and the dead is razor sharp.Life without our Loved One is living with a carved out space in our hearts that nothing can fill in.It feels like falling, like in those dreams where you are falling – but you don’t wake up and you keep on falling.It feels like nothing can help or save you and that you will never again find peace in your heart. My slim advice: cry and remember your Love to whomever will listen, as long as you need to do that. It will soften and shift.
It is a sharp edge also because of our own terror of our own death, of saying goodbye to family, kisses, strawberries, butterflies, babies, wind, water, dogs.We are afraid, most of us.And these days, because we are so separated from Mother Earth and our place in all things, because we have tangled and reduced our connections, we feel even more lost.
It will be OK.It will all work out, on both sides.
Remembering and honoring our Dead weaves new connections between the worlds, and roots us deeper to The Mother.When it is our time to die and to leave – and we will, like it or not – we may die in terror or in another more peaceful way. I pray we each die with a sense of connection to this side and to the next.
What helps me stand at the sharpest edge:
- Spending these days when the curtains part to visit and praise my Dead, along with millions of others around the world, connects me.You could make a special place to remember your ancestors and loved ones, put out a photo, light a candle, bring a bit of candy (we have lots of that hanging around today!) and a pretty leaf. And then remember Them with sweetness and honor as you go about your day.
- Stories and thoughts from other people: Fresh Air from WHYY: Terry Gross interviews poet Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno about her collection of poems, Slamming Open the Door.
- Being proactive and getting information: Funeral Consumers Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting a consumer’s right to choose a meaningful, dignified, affordable funeral.
- Really good books: You Only Die Once and who doesn’t love Gary Larson! This is a good one for kids: There’s a Hair in My Dirt
Molly wouldn’t get out of the car. Hannah and I were in eastern Washington visiting Tara at 3-Bells Ranch and Molly, The Courageous Snake Finder, decided she would very much like a vacation to the Land of Somewhere Else.
As we were packing to leave, Hannah, who’d been praising Molly all weekend for her bright spirit, teasing that we’d like to take her home, found Molly waiting in the car. Molly pretended that she didn’t hear us tell her that she had to get out; that although we’d love to take her, Tara needed her. She was, after all, a Very Brave Animal, highly prized and valued on the ranch. Molly sighed. She needed a vacation…really she did.
Connecting With Each Other
Pondering the events of our excursion, it became clear to me that in order to survive in this rapidly changing world, we need to consider each other in more ways than ever before. As Tara turns her property into production growing hay and raising beef and rabbit I’m reminded that rising expenses, prohibitive fuel costs, and erratic consumer spending conspire to challenge us in ways that force both connection and creativity.
It’s the very thing that inspired this blog.
Buying close to home or from one another is a key principle of sustainability. When you click through from one of the ads on these pages, Hannah and I make a small commission on the sale that helps support us and this blog. It’s just that direct.
Rural people understand what it takes. Patronizing and hiring friends and community members is a no-brainer. Not necessarily so in the cities, where selection is vast and people are used to sussing out ‘the best for the least.’ Sustaining those you care about, those you know, those you trust is the nucleus of community.
I bought and cooked some of Tara’s rabbit meat, knowing how the rabbits were raised and butchered; knowing that ultimately, they served to help her survive. I prepared that rabbit in a totally different spirit than I do the meat I buy in the store. Although I buy organic and give thanks for the life that nourishes mine, I knew intimately the source of this food. I could make conscious connection to all the elements, all the effort, that went into getting it to my table.
Rabbit Coq Au Vin ala Libby
One 3-4 pound domestic rabbit
2 large onions, chopped
3 cloves crushed garlic
Mushrooms, as many as you want
Flour for dredging (I used a gluten free mixture)
1 tsp salt
Pepper (as much as you like)
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 c. sake (Japanese white wine)
Olive Oil for browning, maybe 3 tablespoons
1 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut rabbit as you would a chicken; wash well and pat dry. Mix flour, salt, pepper and paprika together and dredge rabbit in flour mixture. Heat cast iron dutch oven; add olive oil (don’t let it get too hot); brown rabbit pieces; turning once. (If the pot isn’t big enough, brown what it will hold and remove to platter until all pieces are browned and ready).
When all pieces are browned, return to cast iron pot, add garlic, chopped onion and sake. Cover and bake for 1.5 – 2 hours, checking occasionally to add more moisture (water, sake or chicken broth if you like). You should maintain 2 – 3 inches of liquid in the pot.
When rabbit is fork tender, remove from pot with slotted spoon. Make a gravy by adding sour cream to pan drippings and whisk until smooth, adding a little of the dredging flour if you like thicker gravy. Season to taste. Add rabbit pieces back to the sour cream gravy and serve the whole thing over rice or noodles. If you want a fancier presentation, spoon cooked rice or noodles onto a serving platter, top with rabbit pieces, pour sour cream gravy over the whole thing, sprinkle with shredded fresh parsley and a little paprika. Delicious!
This Changing World
We all need to face the possibility that things are not going to return to ‘normal’ in this country, maybe even the world. By ‘normal’ I mean before 9/11. That event, whatever you may think or know about it, was a turning point that woke us up to facts and fictions that are still unfolding. The economic collapse that we’re in was predicted; the events of the last decade follow a well-worn pattern, and although we don’t have all the pieces, we all sense that ‘something wicked this way comes.’
Sounds spooky, doesn’t it? I waffle between fear and the thrill of possibility. I know that all births are preceded by transition, and that transition is a touch and go time that can last moments or millenniums. I sense that we’re in a big one and that’s really all I need to know.
Replacing fear thoughts with hope isn’t enough though. Action is what matters on the ground. Connecting to each other, forming community, supporting one another’s endeavors, talking over the dimensions of change we see (or think we see), being open to new ways and willing to prune the dead weight…these are the steps that help midwife change.
Those of us that operate on the edge may not know what the next footfall will bring, but we are all pathfinding. We are leaving footprints for others who might pass this way and need to find their way.
Ya know there’s something to Old Wives Tales. Sometimes they’re just myths, sometimes yarns, sometimes true and sometimes ridiculous; but in my experience, they’re based around something or the ‘old wives’ wouldn’t have passed them along. This page is dedicated to all the Old Wives and their wonderful Tales. If you have one, leave it as a Comment on this blog and if it has merit, we’ll post it!
Here’s one for you. It came from my mother…
You can get rid of skin tags by tying them off at the root with a silk thread. Only a silk thread; nothing else will do. Have I done it? Yes, once. And it worked but it took awhile.
In February, before I said final goodbyes to my partner and my daughter, I bought a packet of heirloom tomato seeds. They didn’t have a name, but promised to have loads of beta carotene that held up under canning. Extra vitamins in the long dark months of winter in the Pacific Northwest.
My little seeds grew to tiny plants in the dining room. They grew as my attachment to the man I had hoped to marry broke and I began the long season of missing him without reaching to him. I sat on the floor and watched the wee plants unfold, thinking of a happier summer ahead.
In April, strong enough for a short journey, I gave 10 away, transplanted 20 into pots filled with the soil mixture recommended in
All New Square Foot Gardening, and set them on the front patio to grow.
They looked small and cold, buffeted by the Northwest marine breezes. So I covered them with pint canning jars -the same ones, turns out, I canned them in five months later.
I got the guest room ready. My daughter was coming in early June after her last hectic days of college. It would be our final summer ‘just us, like it always was.’ She, off to England to her vocation and her man there. Me, proud of her accomplishments and honored that she would spend a final summer with me.
At the feed and garden store, I tried not to compare my frail starts to the tough and burly adolescents for sale there. I hovered over mine, eventually changing the pint jars to quart ones – a good sign. Suddenly, in June, they took off, tough and strong.
My daughter arrived thin and weary and our summer began. In this glory place of water, mountains, osprey, eagles, horsetail, cedar, salt and wind, I cooked for her, while she longed for the partner she would soon be with. She tended to me, who would not be with mine. She cried easily. I cried easily. We knitted and read and talked. We watched seven seasons of All Creatures Great and Small: The Complete Collection. We did not sleep well.
Out front, looking east to Mt. Pilchuck, nineteen tomatoes grew strong. One stayed small and frail, trembling in the warm breezes. That one, I spent extra time chatting up, based on a study that they grow better if talked to by a woman. By July, I was glad there was no man to contend with. I wanted them all for us.
They grew and flowered and thirsted. My daughter tended them, too, watering deeply and well morning and afternoon. In July, she counted 92 tomatoes on the largest plant. The smallest, my avid listener, had produced one. Hurray for her!
And then the tomatoes ripened the way popcorn pops: slowly, then faster, then in an explosive rush. The first one we picked reverently, with gratitude to The Mother. We praised it, sliced it in half holding our breath, then breathed in the juicy scent of coral-red. It tasted like sun, like our island, salty and loamy.
My little seeds grew to lusty mothers, who spilled their bounty and shared easily. When the fruit was red and ripe, they let go.
It was not so easy for me, but I prayed each day for the will to release my child gracefully. She got stronger and calmer. I let go of my man some more. We finished up our knitting, and she left for good.
She left before the time to put them by, before the height of the harvest. I picked them by myself. She lives now in her heart’s home, far away across the sea, and I live in mine, here, facing east to the Cascades, alone and content.
When next we meet, I’ll take her a jar of salsa, and she can share our summer tomatoes with her man, and remember our tending that brings nourishment in the long stretch of winter ahead.
Island Summer Salsa
|7 cups||Chopped cored peeled tomatoes||NOTE: If you are new to canning, please carefully learn
how. There are endless sources!
Here’s one: Ball Blue Book of Preserving
1. Prepare 6 pint jars
(but you probably will only use 5)
2. Combine all ingredients in a stainless steel pot.
3. Bring to a boil and stir frequently.
4. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently,
until slightly thickened.
5. Put hot salsa into hot jars, leaving 1 cm headspace.
6. Carefully remove bubbles, wipe rim, center lid and screw band down tightly.
7. Completely cover jars with water and process for 15 minutes in boiling water.2 cupsChopped peeled cucumbers2 cupsChopped sweet yellow peppers1 cupChopped green onions1 cupChopped peeled roastedAnaheim pepper1 cupChopped seeded jalapeno peppers Zest of 1 lime1/2 cupCider vinegar1/4 cupHoney1/2 cupLoosely packed finely chopped cilantro1 tbspFinely chopped fresh marjoram1 tspSalt2 tbspLime juice
Bumper crop of plums? Me too. Made jam and sauce and didn’t know what to do with the rest. Found a recipe in an ancient old cookbook for brandied plums, using cherry brandy. Sounded great! But no cherry brandy on hand. However, way back in the cupboard I found orange brandy so I’m soaking a load of sugar plums (otherwise known as Italian prunes) in that. Will serve them over ice cream or make jam out of them for Christmas if they’re good. Oh, and I added a few whole allspice and a stick of cinnamon to the mix.
Hannah gave me some heirloom tomato seed this spring and I have 4 robust plants in the garden now. But there was some other seed mixed in and it took me awhile to figure it out. It’s tomatillo! I love tomatillos and grew them a couple years ago. They produced huge amounts of fruit which I chopped fine with peppers, cilantro, lots of garlic and onion. Then added lime juice, salt, cumin and vinegar for an wonderful raw salsa.