Thursday, March 6, 2014
One of my 'teaching friends' once told me he thought teachers should either change grades, schools or subjects every 5 years. His thoughts were that change wakes up our minds, our creativity, and we are better teachers for it. He may have been correct. I do know that anytime we have to adjust to changes, however small, we are forced to become more aware and attentive in order to override the existing curbs of habitual thought and activity. It is said that something as small as moving your trash can has the effect of waking up your mind in the middle of the day. It's good to step out of our comfort zones.
Comfort zones are just that, places, skill sets, ways of doing things with which we are very familiar and therefore comfortable. However, there is often very little growth that occurs in a well established zone of comfort. We tend toward ruts, inflexibility and sometimes even a little ugly self-righteousness, which are not particularly attractive things. The picture that comes to mind is of a garden that has been left unattended, unweeded for too long. Weeds do tend to show up and, left to themselves, can and will take over the plot. Gardens need to be managed so that the plants compliment and support each other to the best advantage and business/professional offices are no different. What is our goal? How can we best work together, respecting each and every person involved, so that together we can best attain that goal?
There are many different ways to do most things; some are better than others, true, but some are simply different, not necessarily better. Patience is required on the part of everyone involved and, most importantly, open, honest communication without fear of adverse consequences. (Yes, in a perfect workplace, in a perfect world, I know, believe me, I know, but we must work toward that. Work and read and talk and listen and want it to happen in order to make any progress toward that end.) All the voices need to be heard so that seeds of bitterness do not take root and do their damage.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
I spent quite a bit of the afternoon absorbed in a book, living in pre-civil war days in Charleston. The book is The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd. This book addresses several issues of the early 1800s: the unbelievable cruelty shown to slaves by their owners, the expectations and severe restrictions placed upon white women in the South, the supreme power of the leaders of the church and the consequences to any who strayed outside the fold, the intolerance of those in the southern states toward the Quakers. Ms. Kidd weaves all of these and more into a seamless narrative which speaks to these things not as unusual at all but rather the accepted and strictly enforced ways of life in the southern states. The story is told from the alternating viewpoints of a young slave girl and the young white woman she serves.
I know I should keep the curtains closed in the winter to conserve heat but when I do that I feel like I'm trapped inside a semi somewhere on the interstate, eventually become claustrophobic, and rush to the windows to 'tear open the shutters' so to speak. I leave the curtains open most of the time. Today's windless snowfall was so surreptitious in its beginnings that several times I chanced to glance up from the pages of my book and was surprised into smiles by heavy, wet flakes, drifting earthward on the slant. I think I laughed out loud more than once. (I'm easily entertained, as you can see.) You would have thought that such a thing could not have surprised me more than once in an afternoon, but you have been wrong. Remember, when I am reading I am no longer in the room where I sit, no longer in the present time.
This is such a strange time in my life. I can not get used to it however hard I try. Perhaps I will, later, after more time has passed. There is so much family around and doing, when I am in the City...busy, busy, busy, always someone or several someones to be and do with, and then I come back to the farm and there is not a soul here but me. Well, there are the cats and the chickens and all the wildlife in the space around, but you know what I mean. People. I have much time to read and think and plan but not a note of conversation. It's just....odd..not sad, just different. I did have a great conversation with the Terminex guy this morning. I like him. He's a good man and I don't have bugs and spiders trying to take over the joint anymore, thanks to his efforts.
I did go to town for awhile today, between the snow and the rain, and bought some seed for filling in bare spots at the cemetery and in Maggie's Wood. It's a blend of 8 native grasses so it should be perfect. I also checked out a couple of movies and had the opportunity to listen to the spiel on the girl in the movie rental store. I am always very patient and appreciative to these folks now that I myself have a spiel that I rattle off at the spice shop. I try to maintain good eye contact and ask intelligent questions. She did a great job. I also got a haircut, finally, so I don't look so much like Jeremiah Johnson anymore.
Early this morning I spent some time perusing the seed catalogues and listening to the little voice in my head reminding me to only plant those things I really like to eat, no matter how wonderful the pictures of everything else look. I also believe we are now in region 8, not 7 like the map says. It's safer to go into the heat of summer with that mindset...less chance of disastrous disappointment that way. Actually, I don't order seed anymore but I do enjoy looking at the catalogues. I go to the Plant Patch or TLC and get plants already up and strong. The lazy gardener's path for me now since I am between places so much.
There you go. Not a lot to share today but a fairly normal day here on the home place where Blakleys have been stomping around, digging in the dirt, gazing at beautiful snowfall or the blue and glorious sky for the past hundred and twenty years or so. Same song, third or fourth verse. You picked a good spot, George.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
1. The heater is on and the pipes did finally thaw this afternoon; all good things. Those were balanced by the fact the the cats successfully ripped another screen off one of the front windows, broke the metal frame and left it lying in a heap on the porch. Those guys are scaring me now. They look so innocent too, strange birds, crazy cats. I was sitting outside today, wearing a thick hoodie, and one of the cats climbed up my back and sat on the top of my head. That's just weird. Who does that?
2. I am reading a wonderful book about gardening: Week-by-week vegetable Gardener's Handbook by Ron Kujawski and Jennifer Kujawski. This book is full of very sensible, useful tips for getting ready to put out your garden as well as what to do, when, during the gardening season. It is broken down into weeks and you align it with the last frost date in your area. All good advice and nicely organized in a semi-spiral, slick cover, user friendly format. Whether you have been gardening for years or are just getting your hands dirty for the first time, this book will help you keep things moving along and up to date out in the gardens. To everything there is a season.
3. There are times, not often, when I desperately need the use of a pickup and a small trailer. What does one do about that? My mower needs to go see the doctor. I'm flummoxed.
4. Did you know that there won't be any new Doctor Who shows until next Fall? Have I mentioned that? I'm a teeny bit miffed about it. (Thanks for the new Doctor Who and the Minions t-shirt, Korenaks. Love it!)
What were they thinking? I don't know.
Waiting for months, through sun and snow
To see where the Doctor and Clara will go.
5. I miss River Song. (Spoilers.)
6. Popcorn and peanuts and candy corn,
Hark! There's the rooster a'crying the morn,
The choir's in the treetops,
the worm's in the ground,
yonder's the man who sells joy by the pound.
7. My Abbey (our first born; the love child) is thirty five. Happy Birthday Abbeydoodle!
How is that possible, her being 35, when I am all of 42....at the outside?
Time does not move in a straight line, that is as obvious as the nose on your face.
I am having trouble wrapping my mind around all my kids being in their 30s now.
When did time begin to fly by at such am amazing speed?
I must have had my back turned or was not paying attention and
accidentally hit the 'fast forward' button with my hip. Stop!!!
8. Let's see....St. Paddy's Day is coming up fairly soon. Yep, if you're thinking of making some corned beef it's time to get crackin'. Ah, Ireland. I miss the greenness that is Ireland, especially during these bleached, pale days at the end of Winter. I know, some of you have crocuses and daffodils blooming already, but here on the farm not even the brave little Blooming Quince has dared to open a single pink blossom. Blah.
9. Mardi Gras today: Throw me something, Mister!
10. A Yawn and a stretch and a scratch of the head,
empty the tea-cup it's time for bed.
Close up the books full of stories you've read,
kick off those slippers, it's time for bed.
I'm full of cheap rhymes this evening.
Hope tomorrow is a bright, sunny day and that you can get out into the sunshine for a bit.
Monday, March 3, 2014
This was the day I thought I would get up and head back to the farm. When I woke up I noticed that it had snowed more during the night and the streets and yards were a pristine white. Perfect for sledding or looking for animal tracks. (Apparently one small bird had been walking patrol outside my sliding glass door, judging by the tracks.)
Able called and his voice sounded horrible. I said I would open the shop and run it for awhile so he could go to the doctor for antibiotics. Since I didn't have a snow shovel I tried sweeping the snow off the walk in front of the shop and, while trying to break up the under-snow I managed to break the shop broom. Not a great start to the day but there was a certain camaraderie in being out there shoveling (sweeping) with all the people from every shop on the street. Small business basics. We were all yelling greetings back and forth across the snowy street.
After working until two o'clock I was ready to head homeward but Zane had called and asked me to stop by to play for a bit on my way out of town. When I pulled into their driveway I realized I had forgotten my purse a the shop, which meant I would have to drive back south before heading north. Oh, never mind. We played and made oatmeal cookies, kissed and hugged and then I went back to the shop, helped Able finish jarring the Saffron, took the bills to the post office (so last minute that I handed them to the postman who was emptying the outside boxes!) and started north once more.
I really wanted to stop by Abbey's too, to see the kids and Abb and give E some special hugs because he's been under the weather for a couple of days. But I knew if I stopped I probably wouldn't get home before dark and something was urging me on.
I sped up the highway and drove into my driveway just as the sun was setting. Perfect timing....so I thought.
When I stepped inside the door I smelled propane and noticed that it was absolutely freezing in the house. The thermometer on the wall said fifty degrees. I tried a burner: nothing. I traipsed out to the propane tank and checked the gauge: zilch. Oh my stars and garters, I was slap out of propane and it was 9 degrees outside. My first thought was "did I forget to pay the bill?". No, I hadn't forgotten and my propane guy would never let me go cold in the winter whether or not I had paid on time. He's that good of a guy and I am very grateful to have him.
I called and he said he had run out of propane in his truck the other day when he was filling the tank across the road and had just never made it back. So sorry. He had to meet with a family about a funeral he was preaching on Wednesday (yes, he is also a minister) but would bring me some fuel after. In the mean time I turned on a space heater, kept my coat and scarf on and snuggled under a quilt and the fleece panda blanket. Brrrrrr! I set the faucets to dripping in the hopes that nothing would freeze.
Jimmy (the propane guy) finally made it out, put some fuel in the tank and relit all the pilot lights for me. It took two more hours to get the house warmed back up to the point that I could take off the blankets, time I spent watching an old WWII submarine movie in black and white.
I'm glad I heeded the urging, earlier in the afternoon, to get on up the highway. I am pretty sure pipes would have frozen over night if I hadn't come home in time to get hold of someone to bring out some heating fuel. It pays to follow those nudges. I'm trying to do a better job of going where the current leads. I'm nice and warm now, full of Sleepytime herbal tea and I have warmed up the electric blanket in preparation for crawling into bed.
It's always good to be in the city, sharing parts of the days with my children and their children but it's also good to be back at the farm, basking in the beauty of creation. I have it trimmed to a nice balance now and I enjoy both places. I find I enjoy working at the shop so much more when I can be there for part of the day instead of the entire day. My feet are happier. Ta Ta For Now. Take care and stay warm on these frosty nights.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
What an interesting night and day I have had. After almost a week of spring-like weather a snowy winter storm has swept across the plains to cover streets, trees and houses with slippery ice and a white blanket of snow. Nature playing the trickster yet again. No, I did not really think Dame Winter had left the stage so early, but I did think she might be distracted and in the midst of packing her bags for an uneventful exit. No such luck.
I happened to be spending the night at Audra's because her husband was out of town. At three in the morning I was jerked out of ghastly, horrible war dreams to the realization that the temperatures had been forecast to be in the single digits and the heaters at the spice store had been turned off earlier in the evening. Ah, the old reliable subconscious mind, keeping track of things for me, as always.
I quickly rose, dressed and began the slippery drive from north Edmond to the spice store on Western, south of I-44. Thank goodness there were so few cars on the road! Those of us who were dumb enough to be out and driving were traveling at about 25 mph, gliding through intersections, regardless of the the light color, easing around corners and slowly edging our way toward our destinations. Hwy 77 (Broadway extension) was closed due to more than one semi having flipped over on both sides of that multilane road so I gingerly exited and made my way west onto Hefner, hoping not to meet the train at the crossing. I could just see myself not being able to stop and sliding right into the thing. Not a pretty way to go. I happen to have known two people who died that way, so that picture haunts me, I'll be honest.
Wouldn't you know it, the timing was perfect and the guardrails came down when I was about a block away. I eased to a stop quite a ways back, leaving myself room to inch forward in case someone came up behind me and was unable to stop. It happened, of course, so the planning was a good thing. We both finally came to a stop and once the train was passed I found that I could not move forward at all. I was on an incline and whenever I tried to drive forward I only succeeded in sliding sideways or backward. Well, well....a pretty pickle indeed.
A car managed to get passed me on the right and the car behind me wisely drove right as well and left the lane behind my car open. I drove in reverse for fifty feet or so until I was on flat ground and was then able to move forward again without any problems. Thank goodness there were no other cars on that road at the time. I tell you, I have people watching over me. It's very comforting.
I arrived at the shop and sure enough, it was freezing cold inside AND the bench was sitting outside for some reason, so I cranked up the heat and set the faucets to dripping. I thought I might just slide over to my apartment for the remainder of the night but decided, for various reasons, to head back north. In an interesting turn of events, I found that the drive northward was much, much drier and more easily accomplished than coming the other way, for what ever reason.
I slipped back into Audra's house and snuggled up in my warm bed for a few more hours of blissful sleep. Audie, the boys and I spent the morning together playing, dancing, learning about the letter T and watching the beautiful snow falling outside. I thought for awhile that conditions might be worsening but when I ventured out to check the roads I found that they were far better than in the middle of the night, so I headed to the store at noon to man our own small ship of commerce.
There is always work to be done at the spice shop since we do all our own packaging of product, and cleaning to be done as well. I did have a few customers stop by for things but mostly it was a catch up day, back stocking, price checking, taking inventory and the like.
As a wonderful bonus to the day, we experienced some Thunder Sleet and Thunder Snow, something I had heard referred to but had never experienced. Thunder boomed and rolled followed by a storm of snow and sleet, clicking on the windows and bouncing off the tops of cars. There was even lightning one time, very strange, let me tell you. I listened to oldies and sang along while filling jars with Greek Oregano and bags with Ginger, cleaning and rearranging the display tables or sweeping and mopping. I enjoyed the day and visiting with the few people who stopped by.
At closing time Able and Kari stopped by and took me out to supper! Hooray and Alleluia, a happy surprise indeed. Many thanks to the both of them. The city is incredibly quiet under this snowy muffle, strange and quaintly surreal. We shall see what tomorrow brings as this chilly winter continues to growl and grumble its way across the prairie.
I'm glad I refrained from planting anything last weekend, as it turns out. In great gardening news, however, my friend Ty, who works with me at the shop sometimes (another of my many 'adopted sons') brought me a couple pounds each of lovely Yukon Gold and Pontiac Red seed potatoes, my first gifts for the new gardening year. What could possibly be better? I can not wait to tuck some potato pieces into the good earth with pats and prayers.
In other good news, I was sharing my plans for the new 'quiet place/meditation circle' (aka: out of the wind) in the garden with my dad and he volunteered his stack of used redwood boards for the building of the fence. Perfect on so many levels. I will order some posts and gather the work crew one weekend in the not too distant future. I can hardly wait to get this place pulled together so, when TBW is out and roaring, I can still have somewhere to be outside without being slapped around by the wind. I know, the sound will still be there, but it will be oh, so much better. At any rate, that is the hope.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Don't worry, this shot is from last year, it is still way too early for such things this year. I am looking forward to this day, however, and it won't be too long now. You know the day I'm talking about, when you go into the garden store to just 'see what they have' and end up spending way too much money because you got caught up in the moment. You've been there, you know you have.
I have a circular garden patch that has been lying fallow for the past three years, maybe more. I am not sure why. In all honesty I can't seem to figure out what it wants to be anymore. It used to be rectangular vegetable beds and before that it was sort of jelly bean shaped spaces that tried, but failed, to create a beautifully curved series of beds. Yesterday I tried imagining it as a labyrinth but it kept bulging out in places and the turns wouldn't work. Scratch that idea. I tried drawing it out on paper....maybe just a simple spiral would work, plenty of room for that and you can't go wrong with spirals, right?
It did not want to be a spiral. I know this because I finally walked out there and stood for awhile, listening. It wants to be a circle walkway with paths that meet in the middle at some sort of water something, available for blessing. It wants to be the place where you stand and face each of the four directions and connect with the power that flows from them into open space and from there, into you and me. That's what it wants to be. I believe in getting input from those who are actually going to be affected by whatever you're planning.
So I laid the walkways out today with string, a measuring tape and a can of spray paint and then I started digging right away so I wouldn't change my mind again or let the days, and therefore another year, slip by. The soil needs some compost. (When did I stop adding bags and bags of clean grass clippings to my gardens all summer long?) It needs a little TLC and possibly some bonemeal and a scoop of the really good stuff from 'the top lot', which is where we feed any cattle who happen to need to be in a lot during the winter or any other time. Think alfalfa and native grass hay stomped into a nice thick layer of cow poop and left to age for a year or so. Oh yeah, I believe that is exactly what this poor soil needs...and maybe a little water to fall from the sky now and then during the summer months. Regular rains would help, no doubt about it. There seems to be an unsettling dearth of earthworms in that area. Hmmm...compost.
I also turned the soil in the third and final raised bed in preparation for early planting: chard, onions, spinach, shallots, carrots, beets, peas and then potatoes. That's the first shift of food to go in around these parts. The strawberries are already in from last year and, believe it or not, survived the zero degree weather we had for two weeks. They were snuggled down beneath their layer of hay and came out of it looking like a bunch of movie stars. The herbs are looking good overall. They're a tough lot, the herbs. Well, Thyme struggles but the other guys seem to be fine. I'm okay with replanting Thyme every now and again until I find the spot where it can thrive.
There is a rumor that the grandkids are headed this way one week-end in March. I'm circling that date in red because I love to plant spring things with little kids. So much fun! I hope the weather cooperates. The earlier plants will have to go in before then but there will be plenty for us to do on those two days as well. I say the earlier plants will be in but some folks are saying we are in for another snow and ice storm this week-end. Ridiculous. I'll believe it when I see it.