Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Birth and death comes every spring



Magnolia blossoms...

Weeping cherry trees...

And daffodils, a flower I didn't pay much attention to until 1979, when my best friend died in the spring, on April 7. They were her favorite flower, and the service had daffodils everywhere, as I recall it, anyway.

The funeral home, along with a mention of Tracey's death, is featured prominently in the book written by one of our classmates, Driving with Dead People. And I blogged more about that here.

Tracey introduced me to make-up, alcohol, and Clair de Lune. Clair de Lune stuck; the others, not so much.

I'm pretty sure we would still be having great adventures together if she were alive.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Foraging marsh marigolds



The girls love foraging in our backyard for greens and grubs (and they also quickly discovered that our new bird bath is a giant watering hole...it's so like Sarah to jump up on top of it.)

Me, I've taken to foraging in our backyard too, but just for greens. Last year, I identified the flower you see below as a creeping buttercup.

Actually, I mis-identified it, which I realized after seeing a page on Michael Warren Thomas' site which identified a whole field of similar looking flowers as marsh marigolds.

Remembering from my copy of Euell Gibbons Stalking the Healthful Herbs that marsh marigolds are edible, I did some research to make sure that they truly are marsh marigolds. After all, if I can dig them up and eat them, it feels so much more satisfying than digging them up and throwing them in the compost.

In case you're ever asked, marsh marigolds have heart shaped leaves, and creeping buttercups have leaves divided into three sections (there's a much more botanically correct way to describe that, but that's what I got after decoding the botany speak).



It took 3 changes of water to get the greens clean, and then 3 doses of pouring boiling water over them to get out the bitterness, but it was worth it. I also foraged some chives from a walk in Oatka Creek Park. They had tons of marsh marigolds as well, in case you don't happen to have any growing in your improperly drained back yard, like I do. Gibbons recommends that you just cut off the leaves, if you're foraging them in the wild.




After consulting Euell Gibbons and Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, I made a fresh spring greens tart from the marigold leaves and the chives, with chevre from Lively Run, our girls' eggs, and some other random cheeses I had around.



It tasted great!

Zoe enjoyed the foraging at the park as well...jumping in the water to cool off.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Missing person

The sister of a fellow knitter is missing and was last seen in Florida. She had just left a domestic violence shelter and has a substance abuse problem. Am trying to help get out the word...it's the least I can do...


Photobucket

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Urban orchard


On Easter Sunday, T. and I took a ride out to Miller Nurseries. A good friend had been the previous day and brought us some dwarf fruit trees, which only whet our appetite for more. We decided we must add a mini fruit orchard to our urban homestead.

So, in addition to the four-varieties-in-one multi-grafted apple tree that we bought a couple of years ago, we now have Brown Turkey figs, Moongold and Chinese dwarf apricots, an X-tra dwarfed Bing cherry tree, and Garden Gold peaches (that's the peach tree below and its bud above).



It doesn't look like much now, and it will take a year or two, but I can't wait to harvest my own fruit!



And if any of my readers, have fruit growing tips, please pass them along...this is new territory.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A shawl for the girls

In case your chicken doesn't like handknit sweaters, there is always the ever popular chicken shawl.

(via the phenomenon that is Mason Dixon Knitting)

I wonder how our girls would feel about a little shawl to combat that springtime chill in the air?

And I love it when I can tag the same post with both "chickens" and "knitting"!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Nice day for a bike ride

Nice Day for a Bike Ride
(In 4 parts)


Ride to work
First day in the seat since my whiplash injury.
A few aches, but I'm feeling okay.



Ride home
Three teenage guys are blocking the path.
Two move, but one stays square in the middle and looks me right in the eyes.
I know a challenge when I see one,
and I'm not in the mood for it.
There's room for me to pass, but barely.
As I pass, I sarcastically say, "thanks for moving."
Not really smart.
But ignoring men who harass me gets old.
The guy mocks me, "thanks for moving."
On a good day, I figure I can out-bike someone who's bikeless.
But my first day in the seat, with an achy back, is not really my best day.
I'm a little concerned they'll take chase.
I look in my rear view mirror. No sign of them.
I hear "Fuck you!" yelled at my back.
I want to flip them off, but I refrain.

I start to fume, reflecting on every rude act I've experienced or heard about over the past few weeks.
I'm pretty sure that the phrase, "Kids these days," pops in my head.

As I near my home, I see a boy on his bike, meandering along the sidewalk.
He cheerfully yells out, "Hello!"
I say hello, though not so cheerfully.
Undaunted, he says, "Nice day for a bike ride!"
Smiling now, I say, "Yes, it is!"

Ride to yoga class
Feeling stronger now.
I come upon a couple of young boys on their bikes.
One says hello.
The other rides up alongside me.
I say, "are you gonna race me?"
He smiles and starts pedaling.
I shift my gears and start to pull ahead.
He says, "Oh, you've got gears, that's why you're faster."
I smile and keep moving.

Ride home
Twilight.
Sounds of the neighborhood as I pass by.

Yep, nice day for a bike ride.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Practicing resurrection, part 2


(Taughannock Falls State Park, April 5, 2009)

A couple of days ago, I wrote about my hope for new beginnings.

I urge you to read or listen to the sermon from the Unitarian Universalist minister, Kaaren Anderson, who reminded me of that hope. Click here.

(Edited to add what I meant to put in the first time: scroll to the bottom and click on the sermon for April 12 titled "Practicing Resurrection." Thanks, Jody!)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Gardening in a small space

A friend asked about those garden beds in my previous post. They are made of recycled black plastic, available here.

I live in an urban area, and the only sunny area is on my driveway. I tried to convince T. that we should get rid of it and plant grass, but she was NOT having that. So, this is our compromise. Seriously, they work great. You can see from my sidebar how much I harvested last year. I expect to do even better this year, as I've gotten an earlier start, plus every year I learn a little more.

In a couple of weeks I will interplant more veggies in those same beds. I garden very intensively, which means that the plants are very close together. Our compost, enriched with chicken manure, should provide more than enough nutrients. In addition to being able to plant more stuff, planting closely together means I don't have to mulch. I just pick out the occasional weed. Weeding is minimal once the plants are established.

The circular thing is a strawberry pyramid (although I can’t remember where I initially bought it). My berries did very well last year, and once they are done producing, I usually plant some small pepper plants, beneficial flowers, etc...whatever is left over from my spring garden shopping splurge.

Speaking of which...boy, did I splurge yesterday...pictures and more to come, once they're actually planted. Let's just say that in a couple of years I hope to have a miniature fruit orchard to add to our urban homestead!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Practicing resurrection


(I wrote this post yesterday, the day before Easter, but wasn't sure whether to post it. Then I went to church today. I've taken the title of today's post from the title of Kaaren Anderson's sermon. I'll post the link to that sermon when it's up. Meanwhile, here's my practice of resurrection for today.)

While some people are celebrating Passover, and others Easter, me...I'm celebrating the return of Spring and the belief in new beginnings.



Today I prepared this year's garden beds, and I planted peas, lettuce, radishes, dill, Swiss chard, and spinach.

I also learned about a tragedy that has happened to a former friend of mine. Now, I don't have many "former friends." There are people I've lost touch with out of neglect, but whenever we reconnect, each is wholeheartedly welcomed back into the other's life.

But this person...I still can't really make sense of what happened. Although I don't imagine we could be friends again, in many ways I miss her deeply. When I learned of her tragedy, one with which I can deeply empathize, I felt such sadness.

For all of us who are mending the holes patched over from disappointment, betrayal, loss, I wish for the belief in new beginnings.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Spring trio



Daffodils from my garden, pussy willows, Swiss chard, and ramps all from the Rochester Public Market.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mending

More posts soon on handcrafting a life...lately I feel more like I've been mending rather than crafting anything new. I know that's part of the deal, but it can be unnerving to have a reminder of how fragile life truly is. I was in a minor car accident, and I've been totally caught off guard by how this has affected my body. I've just been trying to keep my head above water while coping with the whiplash.

So, in lieu of a more substantial and thoughtful post, for today, here's the update on other happenings...



The girls grew (a lot!) They are now all laying, although Bessie (the black and white one, who is younger) just started and seems to be rather inconsistent. On sunny days they love to settle down in the dirt for a nice dust bath. You can tell the pecking order...Sarah (the Rhode Island Red) gets to pick her spot first. Then Ella, who is very placid and our most reliable layer of eggs, which are a beautiful shade of blue, and finally the baby, Billie. Once they settle in, they will lie there for a half hour or more.



I got to help celebrate the 40th birthday of a dear friend! (This is the look on her face when we all yelled, "Surprise!") The longer I live, the more I realize that long-time connections are so important. Even though I don't see most of my friends nearly enough, or say it nearly often enough, it feels so important and wonderful to have a community of people whose lives intersect with mine in so many different ways throughout our lifetimes.



I got to see the mountains of Reno from my hotel room. Beautiful view (except for all the concrete at the bottom...I don't understand the human compulsion to put ugly concrete boxes and tacky neon signs near beautiful sites of nature...even been to Niagara Falls?).



One of my favorite bakeries ever went out of business without any warning! So sad...



And I got to go to DS' sophomore recital. He's the one with the cello! He received a standing ovation (and I wasn't even the one who started it!)

I will keep mending, with the motivation of cycling season already well underway!

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