Some like it hot

 

It’s heating up quickly here in the Blue Ridges; showing in the garden where peas and lettuce, in past years their pods swelling with sweetness, leaves juicy and fresh at this juncture, are already beginning to bolt.  We’ve had downpours, lots of rain all at one time, deluged with water after a dry warmish winter with next to no snow.  Mixed up into this are mood swings, from warm to cold to warm to hot to cold and wet to hot, fluctuating differently than comfortable predictable patterns.  Which asks the question,  to ponder ponderously the preponderous until it’s preposterous?  Or the other question comes a calling with fish in tow:: how then to fluctuate with the flow, swim with the current, surf the wave?

We’ll  be popping in tomatoes and cucumbers along those pea trellises, they love the heat in which they grow and thrive rather than bolt away, sow beans and squashes;  water in the evenings followed by rain dance . . . which requires mortar, pestle, shells, and firefly’s . . . wait and see what happens . . .  could be ‘the’ year for heat loving plants rather than cool season ones in these mountains for a change.

The cabbages, broccoli, and cauliflower are under cover, cloaked in stealth away from the sight of those agents, those cabbage butterflies, so white and dainty, yet devastating once they get to setting eggs that hatch green camouflaged caterpillars that creep and crawl and devour the leaves, leaving behind dainty green lace.  The row cover also gives them a bit of a buffer from the heat, keeps more moisture in as well, so we’re hoping to enjoy them and who knows, the peas may yet get to springing up.

In the meantime, there’s quiches with eggs from the hens and asparagus, nettles, lambs quarters, mint tea, and best of all, though the driveway was flooded and battered, a little stirred and partially fried:: twas nothing a few boys with shovels couldn’t patty cake patch back into ship shape, dare I say, better than before 🙂

Repurposing:: cookbook into paintbook

Making an art journal with a very old, much loved and used cookbook starts with one cookbook that has well-stitched pages and a tub of glue::I use mod podge and glue three pages together, then three more, then another three and leave them open to dry before moving on to the next lot.  Before gluing, I’ll tear out pages then go to the corresponding side and tear out the set that’s on that side of the stitchery, thinning the book this way as it tends to get bulky with time and collaging.  I like to get all my pages glued before beginning arting in books, but it’s not necessary and I know folks who glue as they go along instead.  I work on our dining table, which I keep covered with an old shower curtain.

After the glued pages are dry, I paint two pages at a time with white acrylic gesso, let them dry, then go through about six sets worth to start out.  Then I get to the fun parts::moving color around the pages, usually Jasper paints with me and we get some interesting undergrounds done together 🙂

 

Later I’ll go through them and pull designs out of the swirls, collage, or draw over them.

They sit like this until one day inspiration, energy, and time all come together, then I pull out the paintbook and begin adding in details, turning something of the above over into the below.

Make a paintbook and give it some color, it’s a whole juicy flow to painting your story . . .  . cookbook, picture book, board book, composition book, your kids old notebooks; any book is repurposeable once it’s lived it’s original/intended purpose, the one thing to look for is firm good quality paper and sturdy stitched bindings, then go, glue, paint, give a book new life and flow!  When finished give it a cover of your own to show 🙂

Springing Along

 

Lilac has perfumed the air and blossomed; the wind and rain have blown away spent blooms but not before we gathered flowers to infuse in a syrup that’s handy to soak pound cake with, drizzle over pancakes, or add a splash to lemonade later in the year, a reminder of lovely lilac days.  Spring is moving along fast.  Knotweed, garlic mustard, and burdock are all big and past their tender tasty prime.  Lambs quarters are popping up with milkweed shoots, asparagus is on its way to ferning, and we’re on our hands and knees turning over wormy dirt where cabbages, broccoli, chard, kale, and lettuce are being given homes.  The roses have begun budding and yellow jackets are buzzing around looking for a spot to make their nests. Little Leif has come and gone.  He spent many a day away from his desert home in these lush mountains, waking to the sound of Lordly Cock crowing, popping out to gather eggs.  He’d put things down on the grasses, where they would disappear from sight, swallowed by the tall greenery  . . . . and oh, his expression, then the search!  Fingers parting the swathes, peeking, crawling nose to ground, looking for his marbles!

 

 

Too quickly the days are passing, one day to the next, one week to another, year to year; again we’re doing a garden, and though gardens are being done yearly, they’re never the same, giving what’s given to them . . .  piquing curiousity, for in a garden is made visible the fluctuations all around.  Even while the earth feels sure beneath the feet and hands it is turning turning and we with it, pulling cinquefoil here leaving it there, choices being made moment to moment, peas or dock?  Is there room for both?  Where to make the cuts with chicory and evening primrose, both beloved by bees and butterflies so beautiful, yet they’ll outgrow and crowd out chard and swallow the basil; choices choices that shape a patchwork crazy quilt that shows fully its story later, as the days and weeks and months keep turning.

Today under the row covers we found ditches formed by the downpour a few days ago, a rain so hard it flooded the driveway, making it un-driveable until early evening.  Surely it would have remained flooded, three creeks instead of one, had the leaves, logs, and branches not been moved out where they were damming up the flow, sending water bursting through the banks, frothing and rushing downstream into the big river at the bottom of the mountain, which in turn flooded out through porches and swing sets onto the road.  Though the driveway’s cleared, it’s scarred and marked, rutted by the passage of water eroding the earth; here and there are sand and gravel islands.

When I drive it, I’m reminded of the Karachi roads where I learned to drive; zig zag zoo, together up together down, around a pothole here, a mountain of a speedbump there, another ditch and groove, year round bump and go dirt roads . . . . though I’ve heard tell in the years between now and then those roads remain only in my memory, having been smoothed out and paved by machinery and advancements in that land; ironic that I live on a country road in an already advanced country that rivals those roads now!  Turn turn churn, East to West, West to East, sometimes it feels like we’re all wildly whirling in opposite directions from where we originate, thus shifting and moving this to that and that to this, eroding being eroded replenished absorbed reshaping where we are based on where we’ve been in a musical chairs medley until Haughty Heron flies overhead and lands on a swaying branch, peers down his long long nose and says, Hmm, I’ve seen this all before, now where are the fish?  Corn Woman grins at him in response.

 

Pieces of Peace

 

When I participated in the World Peace Poet Project I hadn’t imagined I’d receive so many variations of poetry on the topic of peace and resistance, it was an eye opener and enjoyed by my entire family . . . the excitement of walking down to the mailbox to see whether any postcards had come, seeing what each one looked like, reading them aloud, discussing them, reading them aloud again, and in Layla’s case:: the joy of new stamps to add to her album.  It was a fun experience and somewhere in the middle I was inspired to paint a series depicting some of the themes that popped out and so it continued, a surprising turn from poetry to paint.  Above are the beginnings of the series and below are the ones I’ve decided are the pieces of peace that are ‘finished’ for the time being  . . .  maybe they’ll rest a spell 😉

Workdays

Sixty bales of straw.  Half went around our fruit trees::  they needed heavy mulch, and with chickens and a dog scratching, shredding, and scattering mulch all over the place, I’m trusting these bound bales, squared and trined around the base will do the trick of killing the grass and simultaneously mulching, so with time there will be a clear dirty skirt down below.  Let’s see, we pulled back the grass at the bottom and then baled the trunks without touching them.

The other half went into the garden, where we’ve begun working once more, laying straw over the pathways that have tamped down sawdust from last year smashed in and trodden, setting up string for peas to climb and twine around. Chickweed’s up, dead nettle, garlic mustard, dock, catnip, anise hyssop, and daffydills; sparrows are singing once more and the morning slopes are covered with robins hopping about.  Lively and next week we’ll sow seeds for peace.

Began cauliflower, chard, broccoli, kale, cabbage, tomato, zinnia, and lettuce seeds under lights, and mice have helped themselves to all but the zinnias and chard, going so far as to wiggle under the lids on the trays and feast and scratch!  After the new moon in a few days, will restart seeds, am going to seed heavily so any remaining mice nibbling will simply be ‘thinning’ . . . Ahmad has been setting mice traps with cheddar and so far he’s caught a couple, which may make all the difference too.  In the meantime, we’re having fun moving straw and building huts and gates 🙂

Turning Over

Turning over to a new year as orbits intersect and give us vernal equinox, spring, crocuses, daffodils, rainbows, and warm wormy soil to dig around in.

Winter was mild this year, dry, low on rain and snow although we received a driveway frozen at the last minute, winter winds blew in to say, We’re going to play one last time before leaving, leave you with a bit of ice, nice?  It came and it went,  both equally quickly, feels like winter is spent and here we are at the beginning, gathered around our Haft Seen Sofreh, ringing in Nowrooz with blessings for one another, blessings for all . . .

May we dream deeply, clearly, and well.  May we have each others backs.  May we accept one another as we are.  May we love and be loved, love lighting up our lives and shining from our eyes.

May we walk in light, with light.  May we attract and magnetize what is of benefit to us, walking steadily and firmly yet gently upon this beautiful planet, spreading seeds for what is forward to grow it abundant, rejuvenated, and fertile.

May we be focused and with purpose, giving our energy generously to what is attractive, blessed, and purpose full.  May we remember to rest and restore, give ourselves moments in between to digest and reflect.

May our endeavors in play and work thrive, flourish, and prosper.  May we learn from the lessons that come our way and deepen our study of what interests us, engaged and enabled to share with our fellows; learning how to learn where we are short.

May we be with intuition.  May we have allies and guides along the way, may the teachers we need come when we are ready, and may we go to where we are called when our teachings are needed.

May we be clear and illuminated, reflective, adjusted, enabled to live in harmony with one another and all our relations.

May we be free from bonds that are unhealthy and restrictive, empowered to cut away what we release constructively and compassionately.

May it be fun year with adventure and opportunities open for us to engage and be engaged with.  May we be provided for in all our needs, and may we be grateful for providence.

May we be with courage, encouraged.  May we be grounded and centered in our choices.  May we give voice to what must bespoken, stand up for ourselves, show up as we are when called, trusting that we are as Spirit created us, enough, and yet ever reaching when Spirit nudges us to become more.

May we have stamina, fortitude, and vigor for our workabouts.  May we come together to play, share stories, cook and enjoy nourishing meals, give thanks, celebrate.

Blessed Be this Nowrooz and the year ahead.