Stepping Stones

This week has been one filled with  many stepping-stones for my family and myself.

We have celebrated two graduations and endured a few personal challenges along the way. Changes in life are an essential part of the process. The process of bettering oneself, the process of growth (physically, emotionally, and spiritually), and the process of learning to accept these changes whether good or bad and recognizing  them as part of your process. Change can be difficult or enlightening depending on your perspective.  Finding the correct perspective is the key.

With the graduations of my children to the next phase of their journey, my heart is wide open and joyful for them. I feel my Inner Mother wanting to feel anxious (or sad?) that they are growing so quickly but I instantly flick her off of my shoulder. There is absolutely no need to feel any semblance of loss that my children are no longer babies. There are those that wish they could keep their offspring as infants or toddlers forever…not me. Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed each and every phase my children have grown through. I make sure I revel in the little things with them. Celebrate the small stepping-stones just as much as the large ones. I don’t feel as though I have missed a moment because I have enjoyed each and every second I’ve spent playing, laughing. storytelling, and witnessing their “light-bulb” moments, to name a few.  Whether it be the first time my son rode his bike without his training wheels or when I watched as my daughter kicked and punched the bejeebies out of a heavy bag while practicing Mauy Thai combinations. These moments don’t need to be relived if we are present (not just physically)  the first time.  These are the stepping-stones of life. There is no need to cling to days in the past, wishing for more…I am living in the present, hoping my kids are too. With experiences and joy in each day, I hope they are learning the ability to be appreciative of the moments that shape them and find fulfillment on their life journey.

Moving forward with their education, my children do not hesitate or long for more time within the walls of their past schools. They are looking forward to new adventures in learning and a change of scenery. I am excited for them. They are experiencing life as it is meant to be experienced…as they want to live it. I will never force my children to participate in things they have no interest in; other than school, of course. Such as take music lessons or playing sports for me or any one else. I give them the choice to make their decisions about how they want to spend their extracurricular time. Kids need time to just be  kids, not have to perform to some unwritten standard that creates unnecessary stress or resentment into their forming minds. They also need to learn the essential tool of decision-making. Yes, obligations are a fact of life and those are not optional. Things such as helping around the house, cleaning up after yourself and not just lying around doing nothing constantly. I love to see my kids laughing and just being silly with their friends, experiencing intense hilarity in things that really aren’t that funny. Laughter is definitely the best medicine for so many things, and the craziness of life makes it essential in my mind.

As my loving and amazing children move forward on their path, I find myself smiling from ear to ear. I feel no need for blind pride, thinking my children are better than anyone else (although I love them more than anyone else). I feel intense, crazy love knowing that I have been blessed with them being a part of my life.

So, not only am I celebrating my son and daughter’s personal stepping-stones but my own as well. These experiences shape our life paths, making us richer in spirit.

“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”    -C.S.Lewis
Advertisements

Happiness is Coffee, Croissants and Friendship

This  morning started perfectly. I slept in late (for me) than lazily slid out of bed with the intention of heading outside. Although, a detour to the kitchen to make coffee was at the top of my priority list.

I was waiting for today to break in  my new bistro coffee cups that I received for my birthday via courier.  The mystery package appeared at my door yesterday and after wrestling with the plastic envelope-bag thingy it was packaged in I found, lovingly packaged within, a beautiful bistro cup and saucer set that is a perfect match to all my dishes.  It was sent by two women that I have an incredibly strong bond with. These dear friends I think of more as sisters than friends. We have become an incredible force; a triangle. We are bound together by some invisible force that is much stronger than each of us individually. The friendship between women that respect and truly love each other is a miraculous thing.  There are no catty words…ever. Only the desire to watch each other  succeed and be the absolute best that we can be. I thought of them with each sip of my morning coffee.

I have to say that this is my all-time favourite breakfast. Fresh fruit, a warmed croissant and a hot cup of coffee with lots of soy milk… mmm… it certainly isn’t a picture of perfection in terms of health promoting breakfast choices but I treat myself every so often this way. We all need to enjoy life and moderation is essential. Besides, a treat isn’t a treat if you eat it regularly. Lingering over my favourite breakfast on a beautiful summer morning made it taste even better.

As I slowly sipped my coffee I watched the cedar trees blow in the breeze. I enjoyed the soft, coolness of air on my skin. After so many days of scorching heat and humidity, the comfortable temperature this morning was very welcome. The birds were singing happily and the squirrels were going berserk as usual, jumping from tree to tree. It was intriguing to watch life go on around me, knowing that I was in no way involved other than to be a bystander to their existence.

Suddenly, out of nowhere appeared a visitor that I haven’t seen in a few weeks. The rabbit. I have been noticing that someone has been munching on my onions, bush beans and carrots but haven’t caught anyone in the act. The rabbit was very wily this morning. He (I’m assuming it is a he) made his way carefully around the lawn stopping to nibble on clover in the grass periodically, never once setting foot within the garden. Although, I thought I caught him looking at me from the corner of his eye a few times to see if he was still under surveillance. He scooted off under the neighbour’s fence after a few minutes, thank goodness. I didn’t want to have to set down my coffee to chase him away!

After breakfast I made my way into the garden to weed. I found it therapeutic today. Thinking of nothing but plucking the crabgrass from the soil and tossing it in the bucket. Nobody interrupting me or my thoughts of  nothingness. It was lovely. I got sidetracked a few times and never did finish weeding but I am getting there.  Tomorrow is another day.

Today started with warm thoughts of  cherished friends that has shaped my day into one bursting with appreciation for camaraderie , love and laughter. Thank you ladies.

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.  – Marcel Proust 

Schlop

I love the word schlop. If  it’s even a real word. If  it isn’t, I care not…I still like it.

I am using the word schlop to describe the concoction I have brewed in  my backyard. It consists of air-dried dulse, used unbleached coffee filters, and the coffee grounds that were stuck to the filters that wouldn’t shake off into my garden. I threw them all in a bucket and filled it with water. I will add a small amount of Basic H to the brew before using the help with penetration into the soil.  I have been collecting my used coffee filters and grounds (or is it grinds?) and putting them on the soil prior to watering. My neighbourhood Starbuck’s has been very helpful pumping up the volume of my collection rate. My tomatoes seem to be loving, and I mean loving, the special treatment. I haven’t been lavishing my beans with the same treatment since I read somewhere  that legumes don’t like coffee grounds in the surrounding soil. Anyone have any tips on this subject?

I refuse to use chemical fertilizers on my gardens and am constantly searching for alternatives. I haven’t been able to locate any organic or veganic fertilizers in my travels. I did some online research and kept coming back to compost teas, special organic fertilizers suitable for tomatoes but not beans or the other way around , and seaweed fertilizers. I  used fish emulsion fertilizer years ago but recalling the odour makes me gag involuntarily, so I refuse to subject my neighbourhood to the stench. The thought of putting fish bits into my soil freaks me out tremendously…shiver.

So I have come to the conclusion that I will be amending the soil without assistance from store bought products. Sounds daunting but I’m certain that with my horticulture background I can figure it out. Now all I need is to dig out all my old soil science textbooks. Sigh.

You may be asking why I am not using my compost that I had mentioned in previous postings. Well, I can’t hide the truth any longer from you. I am seriously avoiding the task of removing the side of my compost “bin” to get to the good stuff. I have convinced myself that a skunk family has taken up residence within. I don’t know this to be fact, I’ve merely repeated this so many times to myself that I now believe it. I did dig some compost out from the perimeter of the pile but to get right in  makes me want to turn on my heel and split. Which is exactly what I keep doing. I have started a new compost bin that is far smaller which I do not leave open or pile yard waste and sticks into. I think my problem with the large compost pile is that over the last few years many larger sticks have found their way into it which has created a lot of air space. I guess I need to just get over my fear and get to work. Alright, alright, I’ve talked myself into being brave.  Soon.

My neighbour  that has recently become a supporter of my eccentric ways (or is it simply my cheerful nature that is infectious?) caught me as I was running from my car to my house earlier today to comment about my garden. He questioned what I was doing to my tomatoes because they are so robust (compared to his plants, I guess).  I revealed my not-so-secret coffee strategy and  proudly pointed out my brewing schlop. He was intrigued and has plans to pop into Starbucks to build up his used coffee stash as well. Not if I get there first!

Blue Skies Smiling At Me

…nothing but blue skies do I see!

The sky is so incredibly blue today. It has inspired me to surround myself in the healing, relaxing shade.

I started my day with a strong cup of coffee out on the deck and a pedicure.

I have been barefoot all day, soaking in the earth’s energy and warmth. Delicious.

I highly recommend gardening barefoot. There is nothing quite like the feel of  the soil under your feet. When I walk or lean forward, my toes meld into the earth.

Go ahead, get dirty! You are washable!

The Stuff of Nightmares

I think I am being just a tad dramatic, but just try for a moment to put yourself in my shoes.

 

Let me first say that I absolutely love my job as a gardener. This is in no way meant to complain about the tasks that are needed to be done. However, there is one part of this job that makes me groan. Yup, I think I’ve even groaned audibly for my co-workers to hear. I imagine they all inwardly groan as well. Perhaps this is the reason I always seem to find myself alone doing this chore. They are all too smart from previous years. They usually come to my rescue  just as I am  about to break and curl up into fetal position though. The task I refer to is hand-picking Maple keys out of garden stones. Ugh. I guess this evil task is simply a matter of geography in a way, since Maple trees only grow in certain countries. Here in Canada we glorify the Maple, our national tree. Heck, even our flag has the Maple leaf emblazoned on it. I secretly curse the samaras that fall into the rocky gardens. If I didn’t know any better, I would think that they aimed to wedge themselves in between the rocks simply to inconvenience humans. It seems as though there are never any maple keys on the grass, only crammed deep within the rocks making the need to pluck them the only form of removal. Within minutes, my hands transform into claws that loose the ability to grip more than a couple of samaras at a time, making the job even less enjoyable. I never knew human hands could do this until “the keys” were a regular part of my life. Very interesting phenomena. It is not painful, just annoying.

 

Maple keys. or samaras, are an ingenious form of self-propagation. Nature is brilliant in so many ways, carrying forth a species by dropping seeds is only one of many miracles. Although, the miracle of the birth of a Maple is rather lost on me while picking keys out of stone. After a few weeks of this task, I have come to the conclusion that I will never put rocks instead of mulch in my own gardens. I have always dreamed of installing a Japanese-inspired garden with river rock throughout but I have been sent a clear sign by Reality that this is not going to work for me. Not right now, anyway. Perhaps when I reach a point in my life where Maple key collection rates high on my fun scale. Hmmm…not going to happen.

 

Collecting keys has become the stuff of my nightmares lately. In my slumber I see rocks with dried and sprouting samara that need to be collected. Just like in “real life” I shift the stones to pluck the keys out only to look around where I’m working to see millions more. I stir from sleep with my hands immobile, fingers in a gripping position and my jaw sore from clenching. Thank goodness the Maples are almost finished dropping their keys. I could really use a Maple-free rest.

 

If I enjoyed tinkering and inventing things, I would definitely try to come up with a vacuum that could identify and suck up only Maple keys. Just strong enough to pull them free of their moorings among the rocks while leaving the rocks in place. I’m sure this invention would be a gold mine. If anyone figures out how to construct one of these miracle machines, I  want one!

 

 

“Except during the nine months before he draws his first breath, no man manages his affairs as well as a tree does.”
– George Bernard Shaw  
 

Monday, Monday…La-La-la,la,la,la!

Ah, I am so very thankful that today is Monday. I love Mondays but today in particular.

It has been an exhausting week with an over-flowing schedule. I did my best to stay focused and Zen-like in the face of adversity. I pat myself on the back for a job well done.

I discovered a few things this week that I was either re-learning  or that I was denying.

1. I am a coffee snob. Yes, I am. I knew this about myself but I was trying to not let it control my coffee consumption. I do love me a great cup of coffee but not all coffees are created equally. I love my coffee strong (not like coffee-flavoured water) and hot. Freshly ground is best in my opinion and organic, fair trade coffee always tastes better. I like knowing that my coffee habit is not a totally destructive force.

2. Trees, rocks and natural bodies of water are grounding. The overall energy in the north country is totally different from the wine region where I live. It was a wonderful experience to immerse myself in this environment for the weekend.

3. When my head is so painful from the barometric pressure that it feels as though it will explode, I can keep things in check with alfalfa and extra B-complex throughout the day.

4. Beet sprouts are quite resilient and can withstand a weekend of downpours and become stronger in the face of  adverse weather conditions.

5. People are incredibly interesting. Sometimes the most scowly-faced being can turn out to be one of the nicest people you ever have the pleasure of meeting. Sometimes not. It is enlightening to come into contact with new people and find a connection. Especially when the link is in regards to environmental care and protection. A passion for environmental stewardship is an exceptional quality in a human being.

6. I have an amazing circle of friends in my life. I feel truly blessed.

7. The love I felt upon returning home after being away for the weekend was heart-warming. “Home is where the heart is” and “there’s no place like home” really do mean something.

8. I am a strong woman. I can accomplish things I never would have thought possible. I love who I have evolved into over time and am proud that I have convictions that are not up for discussion.

9. It is wonderful to live in and maintain a toxin-free home. I can breathe easily at home and feel as though I am not inhaling poison with every breath from air fresheners, febreeze, laundry detergents and smoke.

10. I prefer eating home cooked meals than eating out or on the run.

Today, I shall recuperate from a weekend filled with travel, being a trade show vendor extraordinaire, and fun. Yes, I have lots to do today but it won’t feel like work.  I have a spring in my step and joy in my heart.

“As each day comes to us refreshed and anew, so does my gratitude renew itself daily. The breaking of the sun over the horizon is my grateful heart dawning upon a blessed world.” ~Terri Guillemets

Garden Magic

We have lift off!

The garden is growing at full throttle and I couldn’t be happier. I almost suspect that if I was able to sit still long enough I would be able to watch it growing. It always amazes me how plants just know exactly what to do. Fascinating, really. So here is an update on the goings-on taking place in my garden over the past few days.

The tomato plants seem to have at least doubled, if not tripled in size since they were planted. They look healthy and vigorous. As you can probably see in the photo, we have not had any rain lately. The weather network is promising rain all weekend so fingers crossed for at least one day of rain. I feel as though the water police are going to jump out of the bushes and fine me whenever I use the hose to water!

 

Above:  Hooray! The seeds are sprouting! I am so relieved and clicking my heels that the seeds have all started sprouting. Here we have the pole beans about 6 inches tall.

Here are the beet sprouts. Teensy-tiny little sprouts that appear to be quite fragile when they blow in the breeze.

I am so impressed how quickly all the seeds started growing. This whole direct seeding thing is like a giant science experiment. I love it!

Here is where my mind was officially blown. Yup,  my jaw hit the soil. The onions just magically appeared the other day. I was outside a few evenings ago watering (or should I say, guiltily spraying water on the garden) when I thought I detected some grass shoots in the garden. I figured that procrastinating for a few days wouldn’t hurt anyone so I carried on with other things. The next morning I went out back and “poof!”  There, magically growing were four onions!  I can’t stop myself from repeatedly going outside and checking on them. Silly, I know, but they are so impressive.

Yesterday a neighbour knocked on my door with an armful of tomato and pepper plants. The poor things looked like they already had one foot in the grave. He stated that they needed a mother and he knew that I would step up and take the job. You betcha! I think these babies will be living on the rooftop though instead of the garden. No need to crowd together, there is loads of room for everyone. Plus, I’m certain that these are not heirloom veggies and I made a pact with myself about what does and does not get to join the in-crowd of my garden.

“In every gardener there is a child who believes in The Seed Fairy.”  ~Robert Brault