Archive for the ‘Gardeners’ Category

I hardly know where to start with this post.

I am now certified as having satisfactorily completed my continuing education project.   That involved the commitment of a couple of grand to pay for the class in Neuromuscular Reprogramming that I just finished at the beginning of May.  It also required me to travel to California for a weekend each month for four months.   It was grueling, and gave me a new respect for the business Road Warriors who travel all the time.   Very few of my flights occurred without delays of some sort.

The class was well worth my time.   Neuromuscular Reprogramming is a technique of body work that achieves absolutely amazing results.   I am exultant and my clients are very pleased.   One of the side effects has been a huge increase in my business.   There isn’t a day of the week that I don’t have at least four massages scheduled.   Pretty good for the bottom line.

The side effect of that is that Jim has decided to retire from the work force as of June 28.   He won’t be able to start collecting Social Security until September, but that simply does not matter due to the increase in my income.   He will thoroughly enjoy being home for the summer and able to do his own projects.

One of those projects will be installing our new solar panels, which arrived this week.   I can hardly wait for them to be on line and watch the electric bill shrink to nothing while our carbon footprint diminishes as well.

The flower gardens are quite beautiful right now.   This is a view of the path in the Hosta Dell.   Don’t look too closely or you might notice all the weeds that took the opportunity to ensconce themselves while I was running back and forth to California.


Of course, the vegetable garden has been a big project. We’ve been eating wonderful salads out of it for over a month, and it recently presented us with over 6 pounds of snow peas, which we blanched this morning and have in the freezer. I also picked a pile of spinach, which is already in the freezer.


There is a sink full of broccoli raab that needs to be dealt with.  I will get around to that this afternoon, after I plant the veronica and the pink iris that one of my friends brought be yesterday.

So by now I’m sure you are wondering why I would title this “Labyrinth News.”

Simply this.   Back in November a most delightful woman named Twylla Alexander paid me and my labyrinth a visit.  She blogged about it here.  Her vision was to visit a personal labyrinth constructed by a woman in each of the fifty states.   I think she only has two states left to visit!   That is quite the journey, and during the course of it she has connected the owners of all the labyrinths she visited via email.

Now we are all agog over the near completion of her project, and hoping that we will be able to have a little cyber party to celebrate her accomplishment.   Well, and ours, of course!   And so, I make this post and I am hoping that it is possible for folks to upload pictures into the comments section.   I invite someone to attempt to do this.  If it works, then I will make a dedicated “Labyrinth Party Post” for us all to use.

Watch this space….


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A little while ago Jim and I made the trek out to the East Coast for two purposes.  One was to return a large cast iron cauldron that we had ordered which arrived cracked.   We took it back to the foundry to have it replaced with one that was not cracked.  The guy who packed it at the foundry just couldn’t imagine how it could have been cracked…   Personally, I suspect that it left the foundry that way and they were hoping that we wouldn’t notice until it was too late for us to make them do anything about it.   But UPS could have dropped it during shipping, which would not be surprising since it was in a box that was labelled “HEAVY” but even a person who was expecting “heavy” might have been surprised by the 87 lbs…


It isn’t the largest cauldron ever, either.   It is only a 12 gallon sized, and they come all the way up to 60 gallons and more, some large enough to scald a whole pig.   I don’t know how you carry around a 60 gallon cast iron cauldron, actually.

The other reason for the trip was to visit the grandchild, who really represents a huge fork in our road.  He is developing in a most satisfactory way, thanks to the excellent parenting he is receiving.   I surely do wish we lived closer to that beautiful little family, but Skype helps.  One of the things that made the odyssey totally worth it?  Getting to see this:





Another vision that really “made” the trip was this sign:



This road has a serious identity crisis.  Not only does it not know what it’s number is, it doesn’t really know what direction it is going either.   Or possibly, it is all things to all people and going every direction at once.

Sometimes, I feel like that road sign could be the icon for my life.   Like most people, I struggle with the questions “Who am I?” and “Where am I going?”   “What is my purpose?”  “What is really important in my life?”   “Where is my place in the world?”

I do know my purpose, what I was put here on Earth to do, and that is to touch people and help them find the path to healing.   My work as a massage therapist has been doing that for well over 20 years now, and it has brought me peace and prosperity.   It has led me to connections with people that are deep and meaningful.  Recently I attended a class in California featuring Neuro-Muscular Reprogramming.   That re-connected me to Jocelyn Olivier and the Alive and Well School of Massage, the place where my training began.  Watch this space, you will hear more about NMR, which is a profound healing technique that I am anxious to master.  I see clearly that it is a fork in my massage road I am going to walk down, far down, and ultimately it will add longevity and depth to my massage career.

So that is one thing I am.   I am also a gardener…



I like to create things, notably I am working on a quilt right now.  It is a bargello design called “Supernova.”   (This is a pattern I found in a book by Eileen Wright, which I have been thoroughly enjoying.)  I’m 75% done with the piecing.


I am also a labyrinth tender:

01February2008 020


Labyrinth june06 005

That “identity” has led me to connections as well.   My labyrinth is listed on the World Wide Labyrinth Locator, which brings strangers into my life from far away and turns them into friends.  Just a couple of days ago I was visited and interviewed by a woman who is visiting and writing about labyrinths in all 50 states.   I may or may not show up in her book.   After all, she may meet a better candidate than I am for her writing about this state.   Anyway, she had lived in Alaska for ten years and brought me a beautiful rock from the Mendenhall Glacier area of Juneau.   We had a thoroughly enjoyable visit.

There are no forks in a labyrinth, there is simply one path.   You begin at the beginning, follow the path through its twists and turns, and eventually you reach the center.

Sort of like life, actually.



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Do you remember that we have a row of espaliered fruit trees?  There’s a pretty good picture of the row in this post taken in spring three years ago while the apples were in full bloom.

We started out with two pears and six varieties of apples.   Very shortly after we planted them, one of the pears succumbed to fire blight.   Unfortunately, I did not know what was wrong with it before the fungus had been transferred to the apple just to its north on the row.   After several years of severe pruning and a lot of praying over that apple, it also died.

Last year, the apple I planted because it was Thomas Jefferson’s favorite, the Spitzbergen, also died.  Frankly, I didn’t mourn its passing much because for the life of me I could not figure out what was so great about that apple.  It was mealy, and not very flavorful.   However, perhaps it made wonderful applejack, as that appears to be the reason most of the Colonials were growing apples in the first place.

Last year was also the year I discovered that the rubber tree rings we had placed around the young apples in hopes that they would keep the weed eating job around the trunks to a minimum had turned into tree girdling apparatus.   The lesson here is, those rings do not work.   They don’t slow the weeds down much, so you wind up doing the weed eating anyway.   Once the weeds have gotten thick it is very easy to forget that those mats are there, and as the years pass the trees grow larger and larger.   Eventually they run into the mats and begin to girdle themselves.

Last year, all my apples were looking SO unhappy, and I attributed it to the drought and heat until one day I happened to be clipping the weeds around the trunks while I was watering them deeply and realized what was really going on.   I spent a couple of hours creatively and productively releasing negative emotions as I ripped the mats away from around the trees.   Fortunately, I noticed this problem before the girdling was complete, and once the restriction was removed the little trees recovered well.

I am so grateful, because this year they bloomed beautifully in spite of the cool spring, and were pollinated well despite the rain that fell on the blossoms.   I managed to get the fruit thinned in a timely fashion in between my peripatetic spring wanderings.    Then we installed a squirrel/bird barrier when the fruit started looking really good.


This is one of the children of Jim’s fertile brain and is designed to be easily moved and installed.   Each panel has chicken wire as the fence, and they are independent of each other.   The whole thing can be connected panel to panel using wire ties.   Over the top we put a flexible black plastic bird net and clip it to the chicken wire with clothespins.   Apparently it is far enough off the ground that the squirrels have not discovered they can chew through it.   I think they get stymied by the chicken wire at ground level and don’t even bother to climb up to the top.

Whatever the reasons, the barrier serves its function well and keeps the squirrels and the birds out quite nicely.   If only it would do the same for bugs and fungus.   Despite that, I picked the crop this morning.    The results were I got 46.8 lbs. of apples that are essentially perfect:  no fungus, rot, or insect damage.  Some of them I will put in the refrigerator for future reference to eat out of hand.   The rest of them will be peeled, treated with citrus acid, and frozen for pies and crisps.

There are also 38.4 pounds of apples that have active rot going on.   Those I will cut up and start cooking for apple sauce as soon as I am done with this post and the client who is due to arrive within moments.

At the prices we have to pay for organic apples, this amounts to about $150 worth of apples.   The squirrel barrier cost us the same amount, so we break even this year.   The barrier is re-usable, a one time cost that as far as I am concerned, more than paid for itself considering that a couple of years ago I had a nice apple crop and the squirrels got ALL of it.

For the record, the Moonglow pear tree, which is supposed to need another pear tree to cross pollinate itself, produced two dozen beautiful and tasty pears despite the fact that the Bartlett pear that was designated as its pollination partner is long dead.   I think the ornamental Bradford pears planted in the savanna may be standing in for the Bartlett.

The apple crop consists of Granny Smith, Fuji, Gala and Golden Delicious:


I sat down and ate one of the apples as I was picking this morning.  It was wonderful.

I took a little time to express my gratitude to the trees, the weather, my husband for the ideal squirrel barrier, and to the Universal Deity for the conditions which provided us with this very nice crop of apples.   Next year there will be more!

And this, dear readers, is why we go to all the trouble to grow our own food.

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“So, how much do organic potatoes cost, anyway?”   I asked my darling husband last night.

“Oh, about $4 for a five pound bag,” he replied.

“Well, I think that maybe growing potatoes is just a waste of my time and effort.”

Dear reader, you might ask what prompted this exchange.

When I was a youngun we used to sing a song very similar to the “99 Bottles of Beer” song that had words that said “The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah…”  It was a rousing tune, and a lot of fun for a six year old to sing in the back of the car when you are traveling across country.  Not so much fun for the parents to listen to, but fun to sing.

I submit that the words should be amended to say “The ants go marching one by one, oh no! oh no!”   Because if your ants are marching one by one, they will soon be marching in their millions, especially if they find something good to eat.

A few short weeks ago, my potato patch looked like this.

Granted, that picture is of the potato patch from last year, but this year’s patch looked just has happy and healthy.    Shortly after they blossomed, the potato plants swooned, for no particular reason that I could see.   They were not blighted, there were no potato beetles.   They just didn’t look very happy.

Soon, they looked very unhappy indeed

Having decided that we probably should cut our losses and dig what potatoes there were, last night, having been stood up by my massage client of the evening, I went out and addressed the situation.

This what I discovered.

Lets just see a close up of that, shall we?

No wonder that the poor plants were swooning.   Something had systematically eaten all the phloem and xylem of the plants, girdling them.   And someone was obviously enjoying the potatoes that the plants had been making, too.   Look at all the holes in that spud.

Who, one might ask, would be doing all that damage?   Well (if the title of the post has not already given it away), take a look at what I discovered when I broke the perforated potato open.

Yep, those are ants, marching one by one by one by thousands.   I mean, how many ants does it take to do that sort of damage?   Let me tell you, there was not a single potato in that patch that had not been attacked by ants.   Some of them had been harmed more than others, but ALL of them had damage.

I contemplated the storage problem this had produced, as all the harvest now had to be washed and cooked and frozen.   Potatoes full of holes don’t keep worth a damn, I can tell you.

Well, as luck would have it, after I had mourned my potato harvest, I attacked the crab grass that was attacking the edge of the raised bed.    We have put carpet remnants around the edge in a vain attempt to control the weeds near the raised beds.    So, as I was pulling at the grass,which had put its roots through the carpet, and was crawling along the edges of it seeking the water it knew was in the garden, I happened to flip back the carpet scrap.

It was the New Orleans of ant cities, a Tokyo perhaps,  inhabited in its millions.   Life was good in the ant universe; with all those potatoes to eat, reproduction was underway on an industrial scale.

I decided that a tsunami, or perhaps a storm surge was in order.    Watch out!  The levees have broken….

Okay, I’m not a very good Buddhist.   I systematically flooded the entire municipality of Ant, several times.   Gleefully I watched the inhabitants scrambling to safety on the escarpments above the town, and cruelly I sprayed them down into the flood.

I admit to a certain joy in the destruction.    As I was casually using my trowel to rearrange the dirt, the ants sent out their minions to stop me.

Pathetic things.  They are not fire ants, their jaws are so tiny that they can’t find a place to pinch me.   Well, except on the soft skin around my knees, where I have lots of tiny wrinkles left over from my weight loss.

I brushed them away casually.   Then I started thinking about what the ants might be thinking.   Was I some sort of Goliath, destroying their Lilliput?   Images of the Godzilla movies ran through my mind.   Were the ant generals down in their bunkers making plans on how to stop my ravages?

A mosquito whined near my ear.   I checked.   It was not being piloted by an ant, nor was it armed with tiny heat seeking ant missiles.   There were no bombs slung beneath it.


I decided perhaps the heat had gotten to me, and I should go in and see about the beer situation.


An exhaustive search of my organic gardening books and the interwebs has taught me that I need to make a tea from Jim’s cigar stubs to spray on the plants, or possibly I should be spreading diatomaceous earth about liberally, or on the other hand I should be using coffee grounds to discourage the hymenoptera.   Then there is the boric acid/sugar or borax/sugar organic poison route.

I believe I shall be doing all of the above.  Beginning today.

And perhaps I shall create a judicious flood now and again too.

Too bad, ants.   You should have stuck to eating the grass seeds and storing up the tiny seeds produced by the spurge, so that I could have more spurge sprouting in the pathways to weed out.

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There’s a certain amount of irony involved in life, you know.

I was reminded of this the other day when I was out working in the Stroll Garden, specifically the “Scree Slope” portion where I have all the sedums and hen and chicks planted.   There are wonderful dianthus there too.

Here’s a fairly recent shot of the area, taken from within the Japanese Rock garden.

Truly, it is quite wonderful right now.   But if you zero in on the rocks in front of the sedums, you will see that the maples propagated themselves quite nicely this year.   There are “helicopters” all over the place.

I spent about an hour and a half out in the area, removing the maple seeds, in addition to cleaning out the leaves that blew in last fall.   There were plenty of weeds to pull as well, which is sort of how I justified the rather obsessive compulsive clean-up I was engaged in.

So the irony is I can spend hours hand picking weeds and trash out of a garden, but at the same time pulling my vacuum cleaner out of the closet and running it around the house just seems like too much effort.  I am GOING to do that job as soon as I’m done with this post.  And I am NOT going to photographically document the grass clippings in the hall that rode in on my bare feet, or the dust kitties under my desk, nor the drifts of Ruby’s fur that have accumulated at the edges of the dining room (spring is shedding season, you know).   I shall leave all that to your imaginations.


I find this ironic too.   This was our weather forecast for this area for this day.

Today: Showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly after 1pm. Some of the storms could be severe. Partly sunny, with a high near 75. Breezy, with a south wind between 22 and 29 mph, with gusts as high as 40 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t that pretty much sound like “We don’t think it is going to snow, but we really have no clue as to what is going to happen, so be prepared for just about anything.”


I found this on Facebook the other day, posted by one of my friends.    It struck me as ironic, and wrong headed too.

Karma is a two-way street.

I’m thinking that one ought to look at that statement and contemplate the fact that NO ONE goes through life without hurting anyone.  Sometimes it is purposeful, sometimes it is accidental, sometimes it is a knowing thing, and sometimes it is from lack of attention.  Sometimes a person who hurts you is lashing out because you have hurt them severely.    Lots of scenarios exist here.

So, the question I think one needs to ask is something like, “Who did I hurt that is now watching me be hurt and feeling lucky because God let them watch?”

One can get philosophical here and meditate on the fact that Mass murderers go free, dictators reign seemingly unharmed, nations trample upon other peoples and remain powerful and profitable, Rupert Murdoch and Rush Limbaugh are rich and free.  You could wait a Very Long Time to see your nemesis screw up and pay the price.   Maybe even a couple of life times.

The other thing that occurs to me is that it is a pretty sick thing to find joy in the pain of others, or to sit by, gleefully rubbing your hands together waiting for them to screw up so you can watch them flounder around.

Perhaps the focus should not be so much on “You hurt me!” but rather on “Who have I hurt?”  Perhaps making amends for your  OWN transgressions is a better karmic path than sitting back waiting for the axe to fall on someone who you feel has transgressed against you.


I could be wrong about that.  That would be ironic, wouldn’t it?


Now, I believe I shall deploy my vacuum and maybe even a dust rag.  That way, if the tornado develops it will be destroying a nice clean house.

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