Eat, drink, (garden, knit, quilt, think, fix, read) & be merry

Heavens, I’ve brought home too many plants lately!  That’s the “problem” with running on plant sale, volunteering at another, working on a farm, and having friends with perennials!  I’ve been busy in the garden and here’s a little peek at what’s been going on:

A few volunteer Forget-Me-Nots have been blooming.  How I love these sweet little flowers.

Blue fescue

Garcia the (tiny) cherry tree

The lilacs are blooming heavily after a good prune last year.

Lungwort – one my favorite new foliage perennials.  Look at those lovely sliver splotches!  It reminds me “splatter painting” which I loved when I was a kid.

Asiatic or oriental lily?  I can never remember the difference.

I have hopes we’re going to have a nice strawberry harvest this year!

I picked up this rhododendron on a whim, not realizing how big they would get!  Heavens, where am I going to put it??

Pardon the interruption, but this is the enormous log mess in the middle of the yard!  The log pieces are so big it’s going to take the better part of the summer to break them down into stackable pieces.

This is the witchhazel that promptly defoliated after I planted it last year.  It looked dead this spring so I bought another.  And then, of course, the old one sprung back into action!  Now I need to find a home for both of them since I didn’t realize they’d get to be more than 20×20′.  Yikes!

One of the many hostas I’ve collected this spring.

Ok, I know I say this about a lot of plants but Lamb’s Ears are one of my very favorite plants.  I can’t wait until this little guy is big enough that I can pick leaves and carry them around with me.  They’re so fuzzy!

One of my teeny apple trees that I started from scion wood and rootstock last year.  Doesn’t it look healthy and happy?

I have a “thing” with starting lavender from seed.  This little guy was started a few months ago and is now 1.5″ tall.  It’s a silly thing to do here in the north where lavender doesn’t reliably winter.  But still, I’ve twice wintered lavender I’ve started from seed but have never had much success with lavender from commercial transplants.  I have big dreams of someday having a robust, perennial lavender patch! 

The few beds the previous owners left were weedy and out of control.  I’ve slowly been trying to remake them.  Here’s the front (full shade) garden.  I wish I had a before shot!

All three of our blueberries made the winter and one is flowering quite heavily.  I’m looking forward to a few of these lovely treats!

The peas were slow this spring because it was so cold.  They’re finally getting a move on.

I’m hoping this funny little plant will be the star of this year’s garden.  It’s an artichoke!  I’ve got five of them and, with the cold spring, I’m hoping they’re properly “vernalized” so they’ll flower the first year.  Here’s to hoping!

I love zone four hardy succulents. 

Ellen (named after my grandma) the peach tree is flowering!  I realize some might find it strange to name plants, but I’ve always named most things in my life so it feels perfectly logical to me.

“Banana cream” shasta daisies.  I’m not sure if I like these yet but they were free so I’m trying them out.  (Side note: Daisies are one of my favorite flowers, but I’m a little ambivalent about yellow ones.)

Last but not least, last year’s shittake logs are fruiting!  The mushrooms are so much better than the store varieties.  I’ve been enjoying them with pasta and in omelette.  Delicious!

Whew!  That does it for the garden tour this time around.  Hope you all are enjoying the warm(er) weather.

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Being Gentle

I can’t count the number of counselors’ offices I’ve seen over the years.  Some I’ve walked into willing, others not.  Most of them have been bad.  I’ve been threatened (You’d better tell me about this or I’ll tell your parents you won’t talk!), pitied, ignored (the coffeemaker was in this counselor’s office and she’d chat with anyone who walked in), yelled at (he was deaf in one ear, but no one told me that initially), and given tapes (yes, tapes!) with subliminal messages to raise my self-esteem.  I’ve learned to enter new offices guarded, to hold my own hopes at bay.

Perhaps that’s why I love M so very much.  She introduced herself promptly and kindly (one counselor simply said, “so you’re Meg?  Tell me what happened.  She never told me her name.)  M is patient and kind, but there is no hint of pity.  She believes in me, takes me seriously, and doesn’t make me prove I was abused.  She’s no-nonsense and challenges my ways of seeing the world, of seeing myself.  She doesn’t just let me talk, but she shows me how my thoughts and feelings are both normal and counterproductive to my healing.  I can ask her pointed and difficult questions, even challenge her opinions, and she doesn’t get defensive.  She offers me thoughtful explanations without over-simplifying.  She gives me “homework” that is empowering.  It’s so helpful.

And painful.  In the past month we’ve delved more deeply into systems of beliefs that I’ve never really understood myself, not to mention let anyone else see.  I’ve been a wreck.  Add in 17 credits of tough classes, a demanding directed study, unpaid spring work for the farm, a paper to write for a conference this summer, involvement as VP of the horti*culture club and planning the spring plant sale, working on a research project with a faculty member, trying to figure out grad school, plus a house, a husband, and life in general I’ve barely been keeping my head above water.  I’ve been dropping a lot of balls, which is not something I do.  It’s been humbling and frustrating and I can’t imagine how I’m going to make all this work.

Yesterday M told me that I’m in the thick of the “healing process.”  I’m examining and throwing away unhelpful thoughts, feelings, and defenses, while simultaneously building up new, healthier systems.  I’m working on breaking down the walls I’ve erected to protect myself, and that’s hard work.  She’s encouraged me to “be gentle with myself”, “be patient with myself”, and “take care of myself.”  She emphasized, over and over, it’s important to take care of that little kid in me that wasn’t taken care of when I was a child.  It’s essential that I not judge that little kid, not judge her feelings no matter how immature and unfair those feelings seem.  That is something I’ve routinely heard from almost all counselors, good and bad.  It puts me on edge.  I don’t like any talk of the “inner child.”  I’m an adult, god damn it.

But I trust M, she’s not a touchy-feely earth-mama kind of counselor.  She’s practical and down to earth.  If she says this will be helpful than I’ll try it.  But it makes me edgy and suspicious.  And I am struggling to find a balance between “being kind and gentle” and “sitting on the couch all day in my PJs not doing anything.”  That may seem like an exaggeration, and maybe it is, but I’ve barely gotten anything done except un-intimidating things like playing my fiddle, cuddling with the cat, hanging out on FB, and knitting.  While meanwhile feeling guilty about all the things I’m not doing.  Truth is, I’ve got to get to work on some other projects, projects that require concentration and brain power.  But when I break down sobbing at any particular point, sobbing that I should honor and experience, not just cover up, it’s hard to engage in real life.  Even routine things cooking.  And you all know how much I love food.

So I’ve been gentle as I can muster, giving myself lots of space to sleep, to craft, to think.  God, I hope this pays off.  It’s hard on me and all those around me, P included.  He’s been a saint through all this, but it’s hard for him.  He needs a partner, not an over-grown child.  Here’s to hoping.

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Oyster Mushrooms!

I just stepped outside and saw this









Our oyster logs, inoculated waaaaay back in March, are fruiting!  We’ll be having homegrown mushrooms for dinner.  Awesome!

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Garden Beginnings 2010

The first seed order is in. Seed potatoes are reserved, so are sets for sweet potatoes, and a boatload of asparagus crowns.

I picked up a packet of seeds for California poppies since they’re one of my very favorite flowers.

I’ve got a special place picked out for these – growing right in the front over a retaining wall.  I think they’ll be delightful.

I’ve picked out a number of drought-resistant prairie plants to live on the boulevard where conditions are rather harsh.  These plants will help to build the soils, attract beneficial insects, and make the walk and view more pleasant for our neighbors.  I’m grateful to live in a city that encourages residents to plant public spaces.

little bluestem

butterfly weed

downy sunflower

purple prairie clover


Since we had our tree cut down, I’ve been gathering information to cultivate edible mushrooms on the logs.  I’ll be putting in an oyster, shittake, and wine-cap spawn order from here.

Finally, we’ve learned we can tap the Norway Maple and Boxelder in our yard.  We’re now on the lookout for a propane burner to boil down the sap when we “sugar” next month.  It’ll be a bit of an investment, but we’ve wanted one anyway for whole-grain brewing and outdoor canning.

I’ll just say it’s hard to get any homework done when there is so much planning to do!  Oh well.  To the accounting homework…


There has been a lot of good lately here on the homestead.  The BPO (broker price opinion) has been done on one house offer.  Nothing gets done until the BPO is done so, three months after we put in that offer, we might just start moving forward.  

The garden is looking awesome.  We’ve eaten some radishes, nibbled a little lettuce, and fried up a handful of collards.   The only real loss so far is the arugula which was planted from dicey seeds, so my expectations weren’t high.  Most everything else is in the ground – the beans, okra and continual lettuce sowings are almost all that remain.  Today I packed up leftover seed-starting mix and plant trays.  I packed most of the seeds into the depths of the refrigerator and noted with a small degree of sadness that a big chunk – seed starting – of the growing season is already done for the year.

Morel season has not proved very fruitful for us this year.  Once again, rain is eluding us and the mushrooms – and a great deal else – are suffering mightily for it.  

The weather is warm and I feel like a caterpillar breaking from the cocoon as I take out my ghostly limbs and bare them to the heat of the sun.  I feel relief, happiness along with a little bit of sheepishness, baring all that skin.

But I’m still feeling dizzy, restless, discontent.  With all the growing and greenery and the heavy scent of lilacs in the air, I still can’t believe all that remains of mi papa is packed, powdered, in a box in my aunt’s house.  I can’t find my bearings, my direction, any sense of grounding.  I am spinning internally, like a top going and going and going.  My brain whirring and whistling and churning.  I long for a sense of stillness and calm, to find the eye of my own storm.  I suspect part of the problem is my own endless curiosity, my unending appetite for discovery.  I cannot find time to calm myself because every uncommitted moment is filled with questions needing answers, repetition needing repeating.  There is too much I want to do, so very much I want to learn, so many processes to understand.  I think part of what I need to do is take a heavy-handled ax to the list of hobbies.  But the thought of cutting off my creative outlets is unbearable.  It’s painful, but probably beneficial like a solid pruning to redirect energy where I want it to go.  But I can’t.  I just don’t know where to start.  Quitting my job feels like the most logical thing, but I can’t exactly do that.  

I need more time, more energy, more organization, more focus.  I need less negativity, less stress, less complication.  I am starting to understand why people read enlightenment and self-help books.

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What I’ve Been Up To

This week’s Sunday Scribbling’s prompt was “Healing.”  I couldn’t go there.  I have had enough of The Sad.  It’s time to move on to Other Stuff.  Here we go.


Info about cordials has been popping into my radar everywhere I look.  I thought it was time I made a little of my own.  Here is some peach, strawberry, and blackberry.  It will be ready about July 1st.  Just in time for heat of the summer.  Yum, yum.

First Morel Find, Mpls, 2009

The morels are right on time this year.  This was our Mother’s Day find (also known as Mushroom Day our household).  Nearly one pound.  All delicious.


Cinnamon Rolls Gone Wild

Last weekend I was feeling a little sad and decided to make cinnamon rolls.  This was the result of the first fermentation.  The next two didn’t go so bad, but then we burnt them in the oven.  And ruined a pan.  It was very sad and didn’t help my mood much.  The picture is kind of funny, though.  

First asparagus spear

Ah, this picture is sideways and I don’t think wordpress will let me rotate it.  But can you find the asparagus?  I can’t wait to eat them in, like, three years.

Rage against the Squirrels

This was P’s ingenious solution to keep the squirrels from tearing up our veggie starts.  It works, but it won’t work for much longer as they’re getting too tall.  I hope the soil warms up already so we can plant the rest of this in the ground!

That’s all I’ve got for tonight.  I’ve promised P a game of Sequen*ce, so I’d better hop to it.

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