Friday, 30 December 2011

Knitting inside the lines.

The conventional wisdom these days is that children are inherently creative, and will go nuts with crayons if only given the opportunity. 

Dear reader, I have a confession to make: I used to love colouring inside the lines. Not only that, my favorite kind of colouring book had the same illustration on two sides: the left side was coloured, the right side was for imitating the model. The more accurately my rendition would approach the example, the happier I'd be. 

For my ninth birthday I received 18 Caran d'Ache colouring pencils, the Rolls Royce of crayons. The metal box they came in included a little paintbrush. You could wet it and go over your coloured surfaces to get an aquarel effect. I got a huge new colouring book too. It kept me busy for many happy hours. The other present for that birthday was a thick hardcover, linen-bound book with short fiction written for children and youth by many well-known Dutch writers of the day. "Omnibus voor de jeugd." was read and re-read and I still remember many of the stories. My brother still has it. I might reclaim it one of these days. We digress. It's my blog and I'll ramble if I want to.

Now what does this have to do with knitting? Just this: I am utterly incapable of improvising. In order to create anything I have to have an exact pattern, designed for the wool in question. 
Once I got over the initial confusion described earlier I rather enjoyed knitting. My favorite creations were Cowichan-style sweaters made with white Buffalo wool. They not only went fast because the yarn is so thick, the patterns were designed exactly for that wool. I even mastered the Fair Isle technique, albeit only with two colours.

There was also an ambitious tweedy oatmeal-coloured cardigan that I made for my husband while pregnant with our son. It had a V neck and buttons in front that never came out exactly right. He wore it around the house, but it had been meant as a classy piece of apparel. The last successfully finished item was a beautiful teal green sweater for moi, with a mock turtleneck and a beautiful pattern of fake cables and lacey holes. It was a wee bit shorter than I had intended but I wore it for years.

That was all a while ago. How long ago? Let's look at the tragic history of the final endeavor. It was a fisherman-style kid's sweater in burgundy coloured acrylic. Cheap yarn, because I wanted to practice the cables. I was smart enough to start it a few sizes too big because I knew it would take me a while. Made it size 6. Alex, then known as Sander, was 2 at the time. He is now 32. By the time the darn thing got finished it would have been too small even for the grandson who had appeared in the meantime. I got as far as having a front and a back and two sleeves. Once I started putting it together it was clear that something was wrong with the proportions. The panels were much too narrow. A more inventive person might have salvaged the piece by knitting strips to insert between the front and back panel and inside the sleeves. Alas, the reality of such clever engineering is beyond me.

The failure turned me off knitting for years. But lately the urge has been growing. So I am investigating knitting sites. And came across this clever girl who recycles thrift shop sweaters by unraveling the yarn and selling it. You gotta love it!

How our Dutch family got into English Christmas carols, way back when.

In terms of religious practice, my family of origin was a mixed bag. Mom was a devout member of the Dutch equivalent of the United Church, a liberal protestant. Dad labeled himself a humanist. His childhood  home had been dominated by devotion to the improvement of humanity's fate here on Earth. At his funeral the music included the socialist hymn "Morgenrood". 

The fear of WW 2 was still strong in the air and especially in my mother's mind. I was in my early teens before I found out that Dad's mother was Jewish. Mom swore me to secrecy, in case there was ever another war and some bad people would take Dad away. I am not making this up.
As far as I know Dad's childhood had been secular and dreidel-free, though he once mentioned that his grandparents, who lived above them, had a Mezuzah on their door. And at his mother's funeral he said Kaddish. We wish we had asked more questions.

When Mom and Dad married Dad agreed to send future kids to Christian elementary schools, in order to compensate for the lack of church going at home. I was a devout little Christian girl till age 14 when critical thinking kicked in. Dad was mainly silent on the topic, but made no bones about his objections to fear-filled forms of religion that suck the joy out of here-and-now life.

Christmas was a rare time when Dad would set his normal cynicism aside and pretend. He'd read the Christmas story from the Bible, and join in singing carols around the Christmas tree, which was small but real and lit with real candles. 
Once in a great while he would even deign to accompany Mom to church, a sweet little chapel hidden inside the block of flats where we lived.

In 1954 Mom befriended the wife of the organist of the Anglican church in Amsterdam. They lived around the corner and had children of similar ages. For a while a friendship actually flourished between the couples. And somehow, our family got into Christmas Carols. Dad liked them because he was a total Anglophile, and because the songs were cheerful. We even attended a Christmas service in the ancient English church in Begijnhof, a truly magical place hidden in a busy part of downtown.

I still love the traditional carols. The childhood memories make them all the more special. 

I find deep meaning in simply celebrating Earth's turnings. I take my Gaia plain, but deities of choice can be inserted if desired.  The huge fires on Solstice felt so right! But meaningful traditions have to grow organically. The process can't be forced. I would have loved to belt out some hearty Herald Angels and other traditional carols as we stood in the circle.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Yule again!

Well, if the Sun is not on its way back to our hemisphere it won't be for lack of us honouring it. Our sort-of neighbors Mickey and Brenda Lee hosted an incredible party. They have been keeping Solstice since they came here a few years ago, but I was never sure if this was one of those happenings that are open to everyone who happens to hear about it, or by invitation only. It turns out to be the former, but I ran into Brenda Lee and got personally invited, for which I am truly grateful. 

I love marking the Earth's turnings. 

For many years a Solstice celebration at the home of our friend Magda at Summit Lake was the highlight of our festive season. As the name implies, Summit Lake is at a higher altitude from us. Winter wonderland was guaranteed, even if it was slushy around town.

This was Maggie's big social event of the year, and the family always pulled out all the stops. The trail from the road to the house was lit with coloured lights and there was a fire pit in front of the house with benches around it. The potluck supper usually featured Maggie's succulent chickens, raised on sprouted wheat and kale. 

Oko, the gentle giant Rhodesian Ridge-back, would wind around people's legs and allow himself to be petted. Apparently he could be terrifying when his ruff was up, but in all his 11 years we never once saw that. 

Our children were friends with each other, and having a good time doing snowy slidey things. There might be drumming and guitar playing around the fire, fooling around with sparklers, and at some point a display of real fire works.

Oko has long since gone to the great lion hunt in the sky. The children are grown and gone to the city. Some of the good friends who were with us around those fires have died. Beth, Marilyn, here is a toast to you!
Four years ago Magda and her partner moved North so they could have more land. Solstice has not been the same.

Until last night. Holy Moses, those people know how to create a party space. 
I didn't take any pictures inside. Let's just say the place was crammed with people and great food. Potlucks are always the best.

Above: lights and prayer flags between the house and the fire pit.  I tweaked the picture, the reality was darker. Below: This fire had been lit and nurtured for hours. A big bed of coals made the whole area really toasty.
Below: Music around the fire. 
More music. This town can drum!
Brenda Lee must have been High Priestess of Stonehenge or something like it in a past life. She invited us to a little ceremony: write something on a piece of paper that you would like to leave behind in the old year. We'll ceremoniously burn it later.
Everyone was handed a lighted lantern thingy to carry through the woods. We were supposed to chant something, but that came out a bit thin and mumbly. We are an inhibited lot in some respects.
If you really look you can to see the string of people carrying their little lights. It was rather neat.
And at the end of the trail there was.........another fire laid out!
This one was for ceremonial purposes. Our host Mickey came out of the woods with a dramatic home-made torch and let her rip.
 This fire had not just been laid, it had been designed.
Once it was going, we threw in our pieces of paper with undesirable whatever. 
Then we were asked to form a circle, hold hands and do some light-inviting chanting. This time people were more inclined to participate. 
Like I said, if the Sun isn't on its way back it won't be for lack of us doing our bit.
I got a bit teary with nostalgia for times past and people lost, but in a good soulful way. This event was less intimate and more orchestrated than our Summit Lake gatherings. Besides, in those times we were socially at the heart of things, instead of on the edge.
But I was very happy to be there and celebrate a real Solstice again. 

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Memories of 1961, and filling gaps in my musical education.

I have never been much of a music person. It just wasn't part of my early life, and I was not drawn to it either. Books, yes. Music, not so much. I do love to sing, even though I cannot hold a tune, or so I am told. 

If someone turns on music I may well enjoy it, but left to my own devices  I tend to forget about it. An exception was the first two years after I left home, before I moved in with my future husband. 

A music loving girlfriend was a huge influence that first year. Yoka came from an interestingly broken family on the edge of Bohemia, and was infinitely more world wise than I was. She in turn was fascinated by the sight of my parents singing together while doing the dishes, after 20 years of marriage. 

Inspired by Yoka's influence I allowed myself to discover sex. This was quite a daring thing to do in the pre-pill no-choice fall of 1961. After a lifetime of trying, in vain, to pass as normal, I adopted being on the edge and felt deliciously Bohemian.

Happiness was not fashionable in that milieu. Existential angst was. I tried hard to be sophisticated by pretending to understand movies like The Last Year in Marienbad, Ingmar Bergman and Luis Bunuel. 

In Yoka's tiny room, up 6 flights of stairs in the tower on the corner of the Postjesweg, just before the bridge to the Kinkerstraat, we played Vivaldi and Bach, Schumann's piano concerto and George Brassens, and talked about Life, the Universe and Love, which at that age is Everything. 

Eventually my heart was duly broken, and I did not get much else done that year. It was time well wasted. 

The next year there was of course no scholarship. I tried becoming a student nurse. In my room in Sint Elizabeth's Gasthuis, in lovely old downtown Haarlem, I replayed the soundtrack from the previous year and spent my off time digesting the experience. Those years were the only time in my life when I'd put on a record (remember vinyl?) as soon as I found myself home alone.

Fast Forward to the Sixties (the real ones, which started after the death of JFK) and early seventies. With the exception of the Beatles, who we loved, the sound track is a blur. One knows names, and hears things on the radio, but even though we lived through the golden age of rock and roll I didn't take much in. 
I was in my forties before I discovered that Rock Around the Clock had not been Elvis Presley's greatest hit.

So, fast forward to today. I am home alone, Chris is driving our fellow grandfather to hospital in Kelowna (about 31/2 hours away). I  decided it was time to fill some gaps in my musical education. Classic Rock 101, courtesy of YouTube. 

I listened to Stairway to Heaven. Loved the sound, guess you have to be under the influence of substances to get the lyrics. And found out that Led Zeppelin was NOT from California. Honestly, I had no idea.

Honour these names

Know these names. Honour them.

Shiv Chopra.

Margaret Haydon.

Gerald Lambert.

They are the scientists who made sure our Canadian milk does not have Monsanto's bovine growth hormone in it. They got fired for their integrity.

"Veterinarians Shiv Chopra, Margaret Haydon and Gerald Lambert spent most of their lives at Health Canada. Their job was to evaluate the safety of drugs for animals intended for human consumption. They had long expressed reservations about certain antibiotics and growth hormones.
The researchers eventually revealed that they were being pressured by their bosses to approve these products. They disclosed this to members of two parliamentary committees and the media. In their testimony they explained that they had exposed this situation to protect public safety. In July 2004, all three were summarily dismissed. They appealed to the Public Service Labour Relations Board, claiming that their dismissal was unjustified."
Things have not gotten any better. 
More information here:

Entering the snowy season

It could be argued that we have two seasons here: the months when the earth is covered with snow, and the months it is not. 

The times vary year by year. We have seen  White Time start as early as Halloween, and as late as the night before Christmas.  Snow may be gone from the land as early as the beginning of March, and as late as mid April. 

Mercifully we don't get the extreme cold people East of the Rockies and further North have to deal with. Our typical daytime winter temps hover just below freezing, with thawing spells in warm years, and cold spells down to minus 10-15 in others. Once the snow is in place it is actually nicer to just have it stay below freezing.

My favorite daytime winter temperature is around minus 5. Cold enough to make the air nice and crisp and prevent the soggy icy mess one gets with thaws, but not too cold. In return for our mellow temperatures we put up with a lot of grey skies.

Last winter was a long one. We had snow on the ground from November 23rd to mid April. This year promises to be similar. I get great comfort from knowing that I will be able to work/play in the greenhouse in late winter.

Meanwhile this is my quiet resting time. I have to get over feeling guilty when I just sit and read in the middle of the day. Chris is doing snow duty and monitors the infra structure, like making sure the pump doesn't freeze. I appreciate his management immensely. Would you believe in 42 years I have never shoveled snow? Haul me before the House of un-Canadian activities! 

I also wonder how best to participate in the world-wide political awakening. It really doesn't make much sense to contribute to climate change by driving two hours to Nelson for a token few hours of moral support. I am not even sure the physical occupation of space makes much sense. It did at first, but may have run its course.

Meanwhile one of the most positive developments in recent years has been the rise of the humble farmers' market everywhere. I ended up being one of the 2 coordinators of the Nakusp market. Not because of any talent, just because nobody wanted to take it on. I have decided to spend my energy on preparing during the winter for the best possible 2012 season ever. Building the New is more constructive than protesting the Old anyway.

We need brochures designed and printed, we need new signs, we need to discuss certain issues with the village, we need better ways to involve the vendors. I am working on a Facebook page.

For my own sales, I need to do a better job figuring out how many plants of which variety to start, so I don't waste too much time that could be better spent on my own garden.

I am also doubling volunteer time with my friend with Parkinson's  so her saintly mother can take a break. I might do the odd stint at the Thrift Store. This slow season should fly by......

The word for waste was sin.

Waste of food seems to be the theme of the day. I railed on Facebook about an event in Nevada, where the Food Police forced the destruction of precious food that was supposed to feed 72 people.

I was literally stuttering and sputtering with indignation. You know the system is insane, but the reality surpasses one's wildest paranoid fantasies.

Then Melanie on Multiply had an item about frugality, that prompted a comment about the incredible waste of packed school lunches. The thought of all those apples in the garbage makes me REALLY MAD.

During my childhood the memory of the Winter of Famine, 44/45, was still quite alive in the collective mind. Food waste was totally not done. 

On the rare occasion that something did go to waste, my mother or grandmother would say: "Wat zonde".

Zonde, dear readers, is the word for SIN.

Only recently have I realized how profound that expression was.

Mary Oliver one, Augustine zero

Posted to Multiply September 16 2011

It may be the long weeks of sunshine, late but welcome. 
It may be the transit of Jupiter in Taurus, my rising sign.

It may be the peace of being old enough to get government money without guilt or hassles, and having some finances sorted out so I have access to emergency cash and won't leave debt behind in case I suddenly kick the bucket.

It may be the fact that both my children are happy and doing well right now.

It may be that  Nutriflex by NAKA  is fixing my wonky hip so I can dig again.

But whatever the reason, I have been feeling a bit euphoric lately. Just happy with my life, warts and all. That doesn't mean I have no wishes, or have stopped learning. It just means I feel very content and grateful. Any thing more is total bonus.

So this quote by Augustine of Hippo posted by a Facebook acquaintance, stuck in my craw.

If you would attain to what you are not yet, you must 

always be displeased by what you are. For where you are 

pleased with yourself there you have remained. Keep 

adding, keep walking, keep advancing.

Contrast this to poet Mary Oliver:

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Now that's more like it.

A taste of my own medicine

Originally posted on Multiply September 7 2011

No, this is not about some deserved payback time. I had a thorough reflexology treatment today. 
Oops, we are not supposed to call it treatment, we might get accused of practicing medicine without a license. We were taught to call it 'session'. Sounds like New Age channeling. Anyway.....

My friend Jen, a fellow foot squeezer, was in town to visit her mother. We try to get together on those occasions so we can trade but it doesn't always work. This time it did. I brought my portable recliner and we worked on the lawn in her mother's backyard. I am rather fanatic about not missing more of these precious last summer hours than I have to. It was lovely.

When I got up not only were my feet tingling in a nice alive way, my whole body felt as if everything was aligned just so. My right hip was practically purring. Unfortunately it reverted back to mild whining after driving home.
But I am still stoned, in a nice deeply relaxed fuzzy way.
My plan had been to hit the top garden afterwards and start preparing a large garlic bed where the peas were. NOT. Jen gave me the spiel I so often give others: to get the maximum effect from body work, plan a quiet day afterwards. Give your body a chance to absorb what it has just received. Have a nap, soak in a tub with bath salts, go to the Hot Springs. Drink lots of water. Just don't hop up and start rushing around.

Isn't it funny how we KNOW all this stuff but when it comes to ourselves we have to hear it from someone else?

Anyway, perhaps because I had also done a trade with my friend Beverley and gotten Jin Shin Do'd on Monday, this time the work hit me like a ton of bricks. I barely made it home. I plonked myself down in the shade on the lawn and slept most of the afternoon away. Now I am sipping Earl Grey to clear the fog.

Deadheading petunias should be an allowed activity?

Food ignorance

I had to buy some chicken feed, and ended up chatting with the pleasant girl at the till. 
She asked me how many I had to carry over winter. I said I didn't know yet, because half the flock is un-sexed, and I can't quite tell yet which ones are roosters. They will be eaten. 

Gasp. "I didn't know you could eat roosters!" "What did you think half the chicken in the grocery store is?" "Well, you know, CHICKEN!" 

This one is right up there with the nice lady who visited my friend Elsje's homestead. She was admiring the calf. "And, when will it start giving milk?" "This one, never. It is a bull calf." "But, it's a COW?!"

Family Gathering and Age

Posted to Multiply August 22 2011

That was the nicest family get together anyone could ask for. 

One of the joys of having our son in the same city as his sister is that we get to see both offspring at the same time more often. For many years we'd see both kids regularly, but hardly ever at the same time. 

Daughter and spouse made a  quick trip to retrieve the grandson from his summer in the country, and to visit SIL's parents, who cannot make it to Vancouver due to health problems. The demands of everyone's work dictated a fast trip: Arrival Saturday night, departure Monday morning. It takes about 8 hours of driving. Son decided to come along for the ride.

We often make this an occasion for an extended family get-together here. Once in a while I enjoy cooking my brains out and hosting some people. 
The extended family in this case consists of three sets of grandparents: us, our fellow grandparents, their other grandchildren with parents, and the cousins' other grandparents. We need words for these relationships. 

This was not the best weekend at my end, but the kids said they'd take care of things. Did they ever! 

No matter how early I start, and how much I make ahead of time, preparing a dinner party always takes longer than I think. At least I calculate that in these days. The usual scenario finds me red-faced and sweaty in the kitchen until 10 minutes before guests are due. I am all in favor of cleaning as one goes but find it hard in practice. When people ask if they can help I explain that they can keep me company with a drink at the kitchen table, but because I am a terrible organizer I am incapable of delegating. 

Not so my brilliant scientist daughter. The woman has inherited her grandmother's ability to stay calm in the middle of threatening chaos, and to make efficient use of other people. Both my children are fantastic cooks, with a cheerful rivalry about making  use of all one can find in Vancouver. Critters with tentacles, odd body parts, weird produce from land and sea ....  But for this occasion son graciously allowed his sister to take the lead and did the prep cook/dishwasher grunt work.

I got out of the way and went up the hill to tend to gardens and chickens.
When I got back about 2 hours later all the food was prepped and the kitchen was clean again. All I had to do was shove the meat into a slow oven, make a plate of deviled eggs and a salad and grill the zucchini later. I also took care of desert, a humungous Black Forest Cake bartered for with reflexology.

The young people went to the beach to enjoy the new boat that N's SIL and husband had just bought. I ended up opting for a relaxing bath and a rest on the shady lawn at home. The water is just too cold for swimming this year. Chris has never been a beach person, but I have always been a fanatic. Not so this year. Another sure sign of getting old.

The shift is more noticeable every time we get together. The offspring are both in their thirties, settled into good professional jobs they enjoy. They are the grown-ups now, fully participating in their time. We are becoming the old ones on the periphery, struggling to keep up with new technology. Watch us fumbling to answer a cell phone. 

Guess what: it is OK! One of the more pleasant surprises of age is that so many changes you dread in anticipation are OK when you get to them. Between 60 and 65 I felt ageless. At 68 the years are starting to bite. Or at least nibble. 
I fully intend to remain as healthy and productive as possible for as long as I can. I intend to stay on this land as long as possible. But I won't cling to illusions of still being what we are not. Denial of reality by the old creates burdens for the young. They have a tough enough row to hoe without that. 

And now, I'd better go do my exercises..... 

Showing Up

Originally posted to Multiply August 19 2011

Well. That was a bit disappointing. 

The idea to set up at the campsite for the Beemer convention actually came from one of the members, who enjoyed reflexology at the market last year. It was enthousiastically received by the coordinator. 

 Yesterday, as reported, was a no-go, but I had some expectations for today.
The morning started promising, with three bookings in quick succession. Then it just fizzled out. One more client at 1 PM and then I sat there till 2.30, when I decided to pack it up. Not a total loss, but considering the hassle not a great show either.

Note to self: Let go of expectations. We all learn that at the market. You never know which day will be your dud, and which your record breaker. An individual vendor may do quite well on a quiet day when no one else is doing much business. The important thing is to prepare yourself, and show up.

Going to bed now (at 9PM) so I can show up at the market tomorrow.

A wasted day

Posted to Multiply August 19 2011

I should just relax about it, but it irks me when I waste a precious summer day and yet do not enjoy myself either. Perhaps I  have set this up by declaring Thursday the special free day, sort of a relaxed Sabbath principle. That means I get to go by impulse. The impulse may well be to work my butt off, but it would be entirely by choice.

Today I had to break my promise (to what?) because the Beemers are coming to town, and I am setting up the reflexology booth in the village campsite. The Beemers are a largely middle-aged group of motorcycle enthousiasts, BMWs to be exact. Last year a few riders enjoyed reflexology at the market, and one suggested I come to the site this year. You betcha!

The convention started this afternoon. In theory I could have spent the morning either getting some outside chores done, OR just relaxing. But with a deadline in the day that doesn't work so well. I noodled and doodled and putzed and got it all together and finally got to the site, only to find out that it made no sense to set up today. I left brochures and some signs and was back home by 4. 

Nothing stopped me from redeeming the day by getting some serious outside stuff done, but the momentum was gone. Or I could have finished the Hilary Mantel tome I have been chewing on, OR washed the fly-specked windows that have been taunting me for weeks.  But I merely noodled and doodled some more, neither relaxing nor getting anything done. 

At least the deck and living room are decluttered and ready for the almost-traditional end-of-summer get together on Sunday. My ideal scenario would be to make some serious money tomorrow, and have several people book a session at my home on Saturday, so I can skip the market. Wish me luck!

A serious chat with my right hip

Posted to Multiply August 12 2011

On July 28 I wrote: "Tomorrow will be the weekly free day, mine to use entirely as I please. The intention is to go up to the fenced veg garden and work like crazy."

Ha. The body had other ideas. It was a Bad Hip Day, the worst I have ever experienced. This is a new development this summer. I have had the odd twinge in the past, but a series of chiropractic treatments totally fixed it for 2 years. 

All day I dragged myself up the hill leaning on a stick, moving painfully and slowly. I accomplished a fraction of what I had wanted to do. For the first time ever the idea of a nice bungalow in town with a yard and garden on level ground was kind of appealing....It may still come to that, but not quite yet.

Meanwhile things have improved and the hip and I have come to some agreements. 

*Daily exercises and regular chiropractic care are mandatory, not optional.

*I finally noticed that Good Hip Days coincided with days when I took 'Just SBGA'  instead of a cheaper form of AFA, the wild blue-green algae from Klamath lake that I have been using since 1997. I got two more pots.

*A good rub with my friend Magda's herbal liniment, enriched with a squirt of DMSO, removes any lingering discomfort.

By the way, the Canadian government will cheerfully pay for a new hip, but makes access to the above substances harder all the time.

Note to my skeptic friends: if this is not 'evidence-based' I don't care. It works.

*Last but not least: I shall not pretend I am still 60. Any new garden beds will be built lasagna style on top of cardboard. No more digging up bracken roots. Someone young and strong will be hired to dig holes for fence posts in the stony ground.

More observations on the whole ageing thing later. But now, up and OUT! 

Summer, at last

Originally posted to Multiply August 11 2011

It may be over tomorrow. Some thunderstorms are brewing and they will be followed by cooler air. But we did get a taste of summer, including a bit of beach weather. It hasn't rained since Sunday a week ago, and the temperature finally hit 30, at least once.

That August lazy feeling is creeping up on me. Today The Boy and I went to the beach South of town to meet the cousins. We had a great time. Yesterday the two of us went to the village beach, but alas. The rungs to the ladder that gets people up on the floating dock have gone missing. Without them, he can't quite get up on the dock, which means he was BORED. Not all of us are blessed with the ability to make friends on the spot. Thank Earth for cousins!

What is it about sunshine sparkling off blue water? It perks me up like nothing else. Of course it is always better with real ocean but the big lake will do.  I have not gone in beyond my thighs. The water feels colder every year anyway, but this year it didn't start warming up till August first, when the nights started to seriously lengthen.

But even if it ends tomorrow, we have experienced the Summer Feeling. The worries of the world seem far away. Articles of clothing and garden tools have been left outside without being ruined. Meals are built around fresh garden produce. Most important of all: Time stops. For a few blessed weeks, it is Summer, and that is all that matters.

Something's gotta give

Originally posted to Multiply July 28 2011

July is flying by in a blur of work and a feeling that we are still waiting for real summer to start. This is so wrong! This is the summer we are given, here and now. There is no snow on the ground and things are growing, even if other critters are eating too many of them.

It is last year's next year. Every year halfway the growing season I start translating this year's disappointments into next year's dreams. My epitaph will read: "Here lies Ien. Next year she will have a perfect garden."
It has NOT been a good year so far.  

Part of the reason for that is the cold spring and the plague of slugs, but let's face it, part of it is my own fault. I am simply over-extended. Now some people, blessed with more energy, design sense and organizational skill may be able to create and maintain lovely flower borders, do the chickens, get the herb garden/nursery beds organized, take care of the greenhouse, pot up plants for market and have a thriving food garden. 

I am not, especially since my right hip has developed a mind of its own lately and occasionally slows me down.

Something has to give. The something will be plants for the market. Sales are slower by now anyway. It is just too time consuming, not to mention the exhausting shlepping involved. I left them at home during Music Fest. It was such a cinch to load and set up!

It seems every time I start doing something gardenish I find myself at the sink in the greenhouse potting up some suffering plant in a container.
I'll just do Reflexology for the last month, and perhaps leisurely create a bunch of stuff for a last-day half price table on Labour Day weekend. It gets chilly by then.

Tomorrow is the weekly free day, mine to spend entirely as I please. The intention is to go up to the fenced veg garden and work like crazy. It is PATHETIC. The potatoes were a bright spot, but now there are signs of rodent activity. Wilted leaves that turn out to have a chewed-up stem somewhere. I'll take some pictures tomorrow. To be continued.