Winter Wandering…in my Mind

This post is going to be several short bits to bring you up to date and hopefully get me back on track with blogging.

Life Gets in the Way of Living…No More

Sometimes life gets in the way of living….like the job I love becoming so stressful that I was going to work, coming home, just making it through dinner and then going to bed feeling exhausted night after night.

Or it might be that the weekend’s chores…you know running errands, running kids here or there; planning, shopping and prepping for the week’s meals; laundry, cleaning, etc…can seriously get in the way of gardening, working on my online Herbal Immersion Course, playing the piano, knitting, walking in the woods, making soaps-lotions-and potions. Or just cozying up with a good book or a jigsaw puzzle.

Some one may have become so obsessed with the election, post-election trauma and news that sheforgot to take time to read the good news sites, to write a note to a friend, to take a walk with her husband and/or the dog.

Trying so hard to ensure everyone else is happy, healthy and having a good time can sometimes just make it impossible to have a good time oneself.

But NO MORE!

I’ve begun the process of making some changes so that Living takes precedence. Future posts will surely include possible career changes, my 2017 motto of Simplify, my progress in the Herbal Immersion Course, etc. Photos of accomplished projects and beautiful things seen on my walks and of having fun living will be heavily featured.

Holiday’s are Holy Days

As my favorite season, which runs from Thanksgiving Break-AKA Deer  Season through Jan 6th Epiphany/Twelfth Night, is drawing to a close, I can say that it has been a Holly Jolly, Holy and Blessed Time for me and I believe for those I love.

As always it’s my family that make these days so wonder-full!

The Hunter was home for the entire Thanksgiving week and the Dancer and the Weaver were also off from school as was I. All were here for much of the Christmas Holiday with a short 4 days in CT to spend time with their Dad and his family.

When they are here an added bonus is that other really delightful young folks including our grandson come to hang out. The Tuesday before Thanksgiving I had 8 additional young adults for dinner. All the leaves were in the table and it was loaded with good food and we laughed until our sides hurt at their stories and wisecracks.

Highlights included Hunting with the Hunter on a couple different occasions during Deer Season. Emphasis was on hunting not finding on the days we went out, yet it was so beautiful to be in the woods…remembering that just a year ago I was only a few days post mastectomy and didn’t get out at all. He had some much better days with his younger, more agile buddies and now our freezer is well stocked with heart healthy and delicious vennison.

Having a few days with just my husband and I here while kids were away was a real chance for us to reconnect and talk about the section above and how we can keep Life from getting in the way of Living. We also got to decorate our tree with just dried apples, dried oranges, cranberry & popcorn wreathes and some pretty red ribbon. Of course we put our traditional Santa on top for the finishing touch. (That’s a story for another post as well.)

We enjoyed lots of relaxed time with our immediate and extended family and friends. Using all the leaves in the table again on New Year’s Eve. It was a blast ringing in 2017 –literally ringing as we have this huge bell that is mounted on our house roof…it came with the house so we must ring it on special occiaions.

A New Year with New Priorities

I spent a good bit of time over the holidays reviewing my values, goals, hopes, dreams, fears and decided my 2017 motto is “Simplify.” Already, I have cleaned and purged several areas around the house to make life easier. We have established some new rituals and routines to ensure that every person living at Green Grove gets some “me time” -time alone for hobbies, passions and rest and rejuvination, some “we time”-1 to 1 with others as needed to keep relationships strong, and some “us time” -all of us together for most suppers, weekly strategy sessions to figure out how to continue simplifying and working together to see that no one is overwhelmed with the Life that can interfere with Living issues. We are working to help each other think twice before turning to TV as an escape. So far, it’s been a very peaceful week and everyone seems much more relaxed and the sky hasn’t fallen because I asked for help at times.

Another priority is to savor the rituals and routines of daily life and the ever-turning wheel of the seasons. One evening with the Dancer literally dancing around the table as she set it, the Hunter carrying things from kitchen to table as they were ready, the Weaver making sure the animals had their supper, and Warren and I Finishing up the cooking, I realized that we do this nearly every evening. It’s our ritual and it is special and so now as I light the candles on the table just before we sit down I take a breath, say a silent prayer of gratitude for this time together, for the food, the light, the love of those gathering, whatever is in my mind and heart. I’ve begun finding these sacred moments, appreciating them, and looking for ways to create them in our days.

The many traditions or rituals of Yuletide from advent wreath and calendars, through putting out milk and cookies for Santa, through taking our natural tree decorations out for the birds and other wildlife after epiphany made me think about celebrating seasons rather than days. Be watching this blogfor how this will be carried out here at Green Grove as Imboc/Candlemas approaches.

Enough of my wandering thoughts, as I look out on the new fallen snow I wish you each well this winter and may your 2017 be Simply Wonder-full!

Football, Family, and Fall Gardening

Finally, the heat and humidity have broken and just in time for a three day weekend. It’s been a great weekend so far.

Friday night we went to our first home football game of the season. I love that it’s a community event. From tiny babies wrapped up in blankets to octogenarians shaking green and gold milk jugs filled with gravel. The children and tweens are safe to go wandering and visiting. A group of younger kids play their own game of touch football on the grassy hill around the scoreboard. The band performs. Some folks actually watch the game, others swap fishing stories or recipes. Burgers, dogs, and chili-cheese-fries serve as dinner. And, a good time is had by all….we won 47-25.

Then yesterday my BFF(aka husband), the Dancer and our grandson the Soccer Player took a beautiful drive to see the Hunter at his University. He greeted us all with the best hugs….I do miss those hugs! He had his room all tidied and was so pleased with all the items in his care package. I think our house coffee, dark Italian roast from a small roasting company that uses ethically grown, fair trade beans, was his favorite item- along with the large mossy oak camo mug to drink it from. He is truly my son.

He gave us a great tour of campus, even showing us his class rooms and describing his professors teaching styles. Now I can truly imagine him going about his days. The Soccer Player’s jaw nearly bounced off the floor when he saw the campus center with its swimming pool, two gymnasiums, floating track, and the biggest collection of exercise machines in one place he’d ever seen. I think he’s quite motivated to get good marks so he too can go where this sort of facility is available every day.

The Dancer noticed the art work everywhere and enjoyed getting some big brother time. She sighed as we left saying how much she misses their late night heart to heart talks….and how it’s too bad there’s not a dance major offered there.

We visited the Hunter’s favorite coffee spot downtown. “Joe and Throw” where the coffee is excellent and it doubles as a pottery shop/studio. Since I really like pottery and coffee, this was a really great combo. It’s the kind of place you can rearrange the furniture and visit for as long as you want without feeling like you’re being moved along. He has matured so in just the few weeks he’s been there. It’s just obviously his place and his time to grow into full adulthood.

After treating him to dinner out, we drove home with 360 degrees of gorgeous sunset skies for most of the trip.

Today is going to be a gardening day. The weeds are out of control and there are herbs and peppers to harvest. Tomorrow may be more gardening and/or we may help one of the new teachers from school move into her new home.  It’s amazing how much a three day weekend allows for so much more than the usual two day version.

Sitting on the deck listening to the birds, noticing the many signs that fall is nearly here, sipping my coffee and just so filled with gratitude to be living and growing here at Green Grove.

image

Feeling the Forest

I have been really enjoying being well again. One benefit is my connection to nature has been fully restored, and I feel the trees, animals, rocks, birds and …everything. When I am connected to the spirits of all of nature, I feel all that life around me, constantly. Sometimes I feel so much life under my feet that they tingle. Sometimes I feel the forest spirits welcome me as I step out to greet the new day…like a hug from a loved one. Sometimes I hear whispers or feel gentle touches on my skin as I brush against a leaf. I breathe it in, deep, centered, life and spirit filled breaths.

Usually this is a great thing. There are places along the way where great damage has and is occurring. These places are like scars. It’s like an old vinyl record skipping and because they were mostly there before us there’s no pain, just these blank spots or dead zones.

Since there is so much damage happening in the world outside our little cove, I have learned to shield myself as I drive our road to and from work each day-moving out of my most Magickal place- through the woods to the main road. I gradually separate so I can focus on my work and function in a world full of pain and dis-ease. Then, when I return it’s like all that life energy is wriggling back into the core of my being, so that I arrive home fully connected and ready to enter fully into living and growing at Green Grove. After a long exhale, letting go of the stress of the work day, I again drop my guard and breathe deeply.

A few years ago someone decided to cut some roads to make two potential building sites more sellable. They didn’t do a very good job and to this day the properties haven’t sold and the roads are muddy, rocky eroded messes. The leftover brush was never cleared, so at least some animals have made new homes in it. I certainly wouldn’t be attracted to these properties the way they look now, even though I’d considered buying them if I could scrape together the needed money, before the damage was done.

I knew before I drove by and saw the where and what,  that somewhere something was wrong. The forest around our home was sad, no,  it was grieving and angry. I felt this building over a day or two, so I was not totally surprised to see the devastation when I went out. I stopped, and with tears streaming, I sent out apologies on behalf of the human species, healing energy for the wounded parts and love for what was not damaged or destroyed. As it has been left to heal, it is like a scar….another blank unconnected area when I go by.

Now a neighbor down the way is doing some timbering and making a playground for city folk -who can’t seem to come to our valley and just love it as it is. They feel the need to change it to suit them. I felt it before I knew where or what was happening, and now I have another painful place on my daily commute. I feel it as clearly as I felt the trauma of my mastectomy. I am beginning to have to shield myself before heading out or back on our road. Not as pleasant as that gradual loosening then reestablishing of the connections I had enjoyed. And, when I drop my guard back home, I still have to feel the pain, panic, anger and frustration of the rest of the forest. Again I find myself apologizing to the land on behalf of my species. Sadly it is a step back to the life we hoped to leave behind.

I know over time this place too will just go numb and be another blank spot, a scar in the Earths dermis. But, as it is happening, each time I forget to shield up,  I feel the pain and the panic; I hear the cries and moans as the damage is done. I sense the panic of the mammals, birds, reptiles, plants, insects, as their homes are destroyed. The mycorrhizal network is breaking up and it will take decades for new communication networks to be established. Like when cell towers go down and we can’t check on loved ones during or after a disaster. The forest spirits are now in a state of dis-ease and dis-trust.

Now I know to “do no harm” is not a real or possible thing. Even as one takes a walk  insects and plants can be destroyed, ground mammals tunnel homes can be collapsed. The car I drive emits toxins from the fossil fuel it burns. We use electricity that is still largely dependent on coal. I just find it hard when it’s a big, new, fresh assault. We drove past a logging site not far from a good friend’s farm last weekend, and it hurt. We drove past a strip mine on the way to our Hunter’s college, and it hurt. Friends opted for till, rather than no till, for their market garden and it hurt. (More sighs and moans) Is there a better way?

Perhaps there is.  I know that when we had to take some trees down, we sat with them and explained that we needed the sunlight for a garden to feed our family or that their branches were a danger to our home. They seemed to understand. Just as I came to understand and accept the need for my surgery. We asked any birds, mammals or insects living there to seek new homes and assured them the rest of the trees on our property would welcome them. We sat with each one until we felt a sense of acceptance and then we said goodbye. Afterwards, we sat and sent healing energy to the area. We cried and grieved and moved on. We will do this every time we have to take a tree or dig up a large area. When we’ve had large, mature trees come down in storms, we’ve gone and sat and mourned with its neighbors, and again waited until it felt right to cut it up for firewood. Thanking it for warming our home and planting new trees to replace those lost. We use no til methods for our gardens as much as we can, and when we do till we again sit with the space and work out an understanding. This feels more right to me.

I will be glad when the destruction phase of our neighbors’ project is complete and instead of cries and moans and pain, I can begin sharing healing energy until it becomes merely another numb, blank spot. Then perhaps my commute will again become a time of gradual separation and of joyfull return.

Yet , sometime, somewhere  there will likely be another natural area nearby destroyed for fun and/or profit because everyone has the right to do what they wish with their land.  Feeling the forest is both a blessing and a curse.

Nearly Fall

My goodness time flies here at Green Grove. It’s been a hot humid summer with lots of rain. Some very invasive weeds are thriving, but many of my garden plants have struggled even more than I have with this. They can’t spend the worst of it in the AC doing other things. Insects, however are thriving too.

One of my most successful garden achievements was putting insect repelling plants around the lower patio. I filled the no till,  slightly raised beds with lemon grass, citronella scented geranium, lemon balm and a few nicotiana for evening fragrance. They’ve done well as its a partially shady area. I plan to add some tansy, marigolds and mums next year. For more on insect repelling plants check out this article.

We’ve been able to have several lovely dinners with friends and family and the area remained pretty well insect free. I’ve only gotten a few bites and only on the upper deck. I will try pots of these plants up there next year as well. In this photo you can just see the edge of one of the new beds. I’ll get better pictures soon.

image

Another success has been the fly spray I made for the horses. It’s justApple Cider Vinegar and essential oils of rosemary, peppermint, and lemon eucalyptus, a dash of olive oil and a little Liquid Castile soap. I adapted it from The Prairie Homestead Blog. One of my go to places for ideas.

Life is full of growing and not only in the garden. Our Weaver is attending the community and technical college, the Hunter has moved nearly 3 hours away to start his college life, and the Dancer is a freshman in high school. They are all thriving as we begin a whole new phase of living and growing for our family.

I’m hopeful the heat will break this week. We still have lots of canning to do and it’s brutal when it’s so darned humid. As I teacher I’ve noticed that the tomatoes always come on just when school starts. Speaking of which, I’d better stop blogging and get back to lesson plans. Happy growing from Green Grove to you all!

 

Summer is Nearly Here

It has been quite a few weeks since I posted. I had a bit of a setback when I developed lymphedema in my arm….a very challenging condition that is often the result of the brutal treatments for breast cancer. Learn more here- What is lymphedema?

In addition to this new challenge, we’ve celebrated some birthdays, my husband’s, mine and our lovely daughter’s. We celebrated the Hunter’s high school graduation, and the Dancer performed beautifully in another pair of dance concerts. We’ve gotten the gardens nearly planted, added a new raised bed built by our Grandson- with a little help from his Grandpa. I finished my 30th  school year as a teacher. We added some supports for the wisteria. Also, my BFF (aka husband) added two small cupboards to my workspace and put doors on the tall shelves to make proper storage for the herbs, flower essences and tinctures I’m accumulating as I take a two year course in herbalism.  Check it out here.

I’ve been adding many herbs and flowers to food. Birthday cakes with lemon balm, lemon verbena, calendula petals and decorated with Violets and Pansies. Herbed goat cheese spread, adding more wild greens to salads. It’s such fun to make things healthier and more beautiful. Food for the soul as well as the body. I’m really developing an affinity for calendula which is awesome since this sunny, happy making, flower-food is a lymphagogue, which means it’s helping my lymphedema.

imageWe’ve had a lot, I mean LOT of rain, so I haven’t gotten new photos to share. When the sun does shine, I’m too busy planting, weeding, harvesting, drying, and making essences to even think of taking photos. I will do better for future posts.

Peace and love from Green Grove, a beautiful place to grow.

 

Spring at Last

Today was an amazing day. Possibly the best day since my breast cancer diagnosis last June. Spring has finally come after several weeks of blustery, cold, snow flurries, and a last gasp of winter. The Holly King did not want the Green Man to win this year, though as always the Green Man triumphed.

I planted 5 types of herb seeds, marshmallow, borage, calendula, wood betony, and chamomile. We are beginning to under plant our little orchard and we’re also working with blueberries and marshmallow to make use of a soggy spot on the property.

4-17-2016

I also made my first foray into making flower essences. Tonight I have Mother Essences in my apothecary cabinet for violet, pansy, dandelion, bluet, and spring beauty. Just before I took the photo below, a honey bee came and visited each bowl in turn. I think essences with a bee blessing will be extra special.

image

Yesterday I watered the two veg beds that had been planted with peas, radishes, beets, onions, and chard before winter’s return. Things are popping up like crazy now that sprin is back. This morning I walked out to check what was up today and there were about 30 butterfly’s on the wet ground. See photo and video below. So I set up a butterfly feeder in the herb garden, and we had few stop by, along with some bees.

image

The boy’s began clearing up some branches and brambles for our next woodland garden spot. We will add some native Mtn laurels and other woodland beauties to the existing spice bush and ferns.

image

It was wonderful to spend a day doing things that I love to do.

 

Another Good Week

Hello everyone. It was a good week. We had no school Monday and Tuesday and a 2 hour delay Wednesday due to snow and ice. Thursday, after learning that my colleagues had made me our school’s nominee for county teacher of the year(a vey humbling experience), and having my surgeon give me the all clear to resume normal activities(including splitting wood and shifting hay bales), my amazing husband(aka BFF) took me to dinner. After that, we purchased my dream stove. It’s a gas range with an extra large convection oven. It has a 5th burner that can be used for the griddle or the large canner. I’m feeling terrible spoiled and photos will be posted after it arrives on March 2nd.

 

imageYesterday I helped with our middle school regional cheer competition. It’s fun as the folks who come to judge etc.,  are a really nice group of women and I only see them once a year. The dancer serves as runner, bringing judges sheets to scorers, so it’s a nice mother daughter thing.  Afterwards, my BFF and I took a walk as it was a very warm springlike afternoon. Then, we had the best dinner, local pork chops(meat from happy pigs sure is better then factory farmed!), and a warm beet and kale salad with balsamic dressing. Mmmmmm. It was so pretty with the red and green that I may add it to our Christmas/Yule menu next winter.

 

Today, I’m making a vegetarian black bean chili for Sunday Dinner. One of the new imagetraditions with our extended family is that we alternate hosting Sunday Dinner each week. Sometimes we go all out with a roast and sometimes we keep it simple with soup, or chili. Since my BFF is working as a supply priest at a little church nearly 2 hrs away, I opted for simple. It’s so nice to all sit down together and catch up on the weeks happenings, work out any plans for the coming week and just be family. I’m really glad we do this!