Sunday

Roses

Is it just me, or do the roses seem especially beautiful this year? I took pictures earlier and need to take some more. I have several rose bushes and all of them are blooming right now. The one I showed before that started blooming almost a month early:

Another from a very old rose bush, my favorite:

Another one caught my attention today but I didn't have my camera with me and by the time I got back to the house, I'd forgotten about it.

Anyway, the beans are planted, the corn is coming up, the okra is popping up, some of the squash is up but I'm still waiting on the pumpkin. I want it to completely take over the area, but it won't if it doesn't sprout!

Thursday

It used to be that I could put together a meal for four people for two or three dollars. Now I see articles that promise to show you how to make meals for less than $10. Less than ten bucks?? Have times changed that much, or have our eating habits changed?

After reading through several of these articles and recipes, it seems to me that our eating habits have changed. With a plentiful food supply, we think nothing of exchanging our money for feta cheese, tomatoes out of season, expensive nuts and seeds and so on. The world is our grocery store and we partake, hardly thinking that our bodies are products of our local environment.

I love good food, don't get me wrong. I grew up on beans and potatoes, wild greens and homemade cottage cheese and I grew up healthy... so here's my take on cheap meals. Cut the imported food, the exotic and the plain old expensive. Of course you love them, who doesn't? If you save them for a treat or a special meal, you'll enjoy them even more.

Too much of anything makes us unappreciative, like a child in a room full of toys. Abundance is one thing, overabundance is something else. An ice cream now and then is good for the soul and even if you're on a diet, you can indulge as a special treat. If you eat ice cream every day or whenever the thought strikes you, it becomes less of a soul experience and more of an ordinary food.

Who wants ordinary?

Monday

Growing Stevia

I bought a stevia plant last year and managed to overwinter it in the house. It's a little bedraggled for the stay, but I think it will live. (The picture is of last year's growth.)

I didn't get a good harvest last year because I was afraid of it! Not the plant itself, but I was afraid that if I cut too much of it, it would die. Wrong. I was supposed to cut it back a lot more than I did. I have to remember to read up on these different plants before trying to actually grow them.

Anyway, I did dry some of it and found that in its "raw" stage, it's a lot different from the white stevia powder bought from the store. For one thing, it's not as strong and for another, it works best if you steep it the same as you would tea. As I like it in hot tea, I finally figured out that I can steep it in the tea at the same time.

It takes some getting used to because, while it's very sweet, it doesn't taste like sugar. It's kind of funny that I never noticed that sugar has a taste until I tried stevia, but if you try a soft drink that's sweetened with sugar and then one with HFCS, the difference is obvious. It's like that with stevia - a lot lighter than sugar and a whole lot better than HFCS. Better for us, too, by far.

I might have to get another plant because this year I want to really harvest it!

Friday

How to Make it Work

People who pull together survive. Those who are in it for themselves, don't. That's the way it's always been. Helping each other out, trading work for work or food for food, people know instinctively how to "make it work." Bad economy? Getting better? Getting worse? Who knows. The only thing we have to measure it with is our personal experience and that of those around us. We don't have the numbers or the reports, but that's okay. They don't make any difference anyway. They don't change anything. When most people still lived on farms or at least in the country, work trade offs were common. Neighbors helped each other because that's the way it was. It's sad to say "that's the way it was." Oh, I'm sure it's still like that in some places. Some communities, whether in the country or city, still share and help each other. I'm not saying it never happens. I'm just saying that it may not happen often enough for survival if things get really tough. Just sayin'.

Tuesday

Bees? Yes, Bees.

Seasonal Illusions Photography
Used by permission
Do you know what commercial beekeepers do to their bees? They take the queen bee after a few egg laying cycles and they pinch off her head. Then they take another queen bee and they artificially inseminate her and put her in the hive. They take all of the honey from the hives and they feed the bees cheap sugar water through the winter.

And our bees are disappearing. Not dying, disappearing. No one knows where they're going. I have a theory that the foreign queen eats them. They probably refuse to bring her food since she's not their queen and she has to survive. Being the strongest and biggest, she cannibalizes the colony.

Will anyone believe me? Probably not. But my theory is as good as anyone else's.

When there are no more bees, our diets will be restricted to those foods that don't need much help in pollination, or we will very high prices for food that's been hand pollinated. Can you imagine a field of squash with a dozen workers bent over the blossoms wielding artist's brushes?

It could happen. Then squash will cost as much as asparagus out of season. THEN your kids will like it.

Saturday

Happy Mother's Day, Mom

Not quite four years ago Mom passed on. She had lived a long and full life, but lives have a way of turning sad when one becomes old. It happens to us all. We can't do the things we'd like. People don't act the same around us. Kids find other things to do and we wonder if it's our fault.

Oh, but this isn't a sad post, for all that. Mom taught us so many things that we would never have known. She took us for walks along the river where the old trees had fallen and in their dignified way, had given life to the soil and the insects. She would say "shhh..." and if we shushed the way we were told, we'd hear baby birds chirping or we'd hear something scuttling under the leaves on the ground. If she said "look up" we would see a nest or a hawk or a cloud with a real silver lining.

She saw and heard it all and she taught us that if we wanted to see and hear it all, we had to be quiet and we had to look. Not just at where we were going or where we were, but at the things around where we were. At the ground and the sky and everything in between.

She taught us much more, but if those two things had been the only two things, her memory would have endured many tellings and retellings. When my grandkids ask about Grandma, I tell them. And I hope that, if I'm not here to do it, they will tell their children. Grandma said "hush" and "look up."

Try it. You might be amazed at what you've been missing.

Monday

It rained!

It really rained. After weeks and months with only traces of moisture, we got a good, soaking rain that lasted for hours, the way it used to. It misted most of the day after, then slowly cleared up. I can almost watch the grass grow. The lettuce jumped an inch overnight. We'll have radishes now, for sure!

No matter how much we water with treated water, it just isn't the same as a good rain. Rain brings nitrogen to the soil and there is no chlorine or flouride in it. No drugs or cysts or bacteria. Just water. Life giving water.

The new clothesline holds the rain the way I'd like to. I hate to let it go, even though the ground is saturated and things need the sunshine to grow, too. I'd like to hold on to it just a little bit longer.

Friday

Thirty Days Ahead...

These are June blooming climbing roses out front of the kitchen. I just took the picture a few moments ago - May 5, 2012. They have never bloomed before June first in the eleven years I've lived here.An early spring, indeed! I almost forgot to take a picture... so many things are growing and happening all at the same time.

And these... are amazing plants. Dandelions in a dry year. Notice how tall the flower stems are and how flat and efficient the leaves are. Nature is pretty smart.

And the new, "improved" blogger makes it difficult to align pictures or do much of anything else. At least until I have the time and patience to sit down and work with it. Meantime, ignore the open spaces and the strange alignment! :)

I finally got some manure (store bought, sterile kind) to help things along. I want to build another small raised bed just outside the back door... did I say that already? Got the soil, the compost, the mulch and now the manure. Just have to get a piece of wood for the front. I'll post a picture if when I get it done.

Oh, look! I rambled on so much that the blank space disappeared!