Thursday, April 24, 2008

Flowers Around Me

California Redbud Tree in Spring Bloom

This blog post is about the flowering things that are around me that I did not plant.

The first is the California or Western Redbud seen in its colorful Spring glory in the above photo. This interesting tree was here when I arrived. Obviously, it is named for its Spring profusion of reddish pink blossoms that attract hundreds of bees everyday. This tree literally buzzes with activity very loudly all day long. The bees are focused on gathering their sweet nectar that they don't bother me when I walk underneath the tree on my way to my chicken coop. Oh, a few fly around and follow me for a short distance, but then go back to the blossoms. As the blossoms fade in mid-Spring, the tree grows lovely green leaves and stays that way until Fall, when it then drops it leaves and shows off all of its thin brown seed pods that rattle in the wind. When I read the Wikipedia article about the Redbud, I learned that it is in the legume family of plants, hence the seedpods. I learn something new all the time around here!

Bush Lupine

The purple blossomed bush in the photo above grows wild here in the Sierra foothills. It is also a legume, a type of Lupine. This is a purple Bush Lupine. We also have smaller purple, white and yellow lupine flowers that grow closer to the ground in fields and along roadsides. I mostly have the larger bush variety growing on my property. This year I have several big beautiful specimens all around my home. I planted none of them. They just grow here and bring me beauty. When I first moved here (10 years ago now) I brought some of the pretty lupine flowers inside in a vase and quickly took them back outside, as their heavy pollen scent was too much for my nose to handle. These legumes are good for the soil in which they grow as legumes enrich their soil with nitrogen making it fertile for other green things to grow.

Rosemary bush in bloom

The photo above is a close up of one of my Rosemary herb bushes that the previous owner planted out in back of my house. I have several of them all in a row out there. They are beautiful, useful culinary herbs that also smell good and are almost care-free. They need a little water now and then, especially in the Summer. Another nice thing about them is that they are not tasty to the herds of deer and other wild critters that live here with me.

So that's it for today's flower tour. These are the easy-care flowers that live here. Some other day I will show you the not-so-easy-care flowers and trees.

Spring color and easy-care all at the same time. Lovely.

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Planting Seeds, Literally

Veggie Seed Packs

I am late planting my vegetable garden this year. So many things to do around here that I just get so far behind. Usually my "cold crops" get direct seeded into my main raised bed garden during the first week of April, but this year I delayed until just a couple of days ago. My excuse and my reason, was that I misplaced (still can't find it) my collection of various seeds that I have gathered over the past several years. I've looked all over my home and my storage spaces in the garage and in the sheds. Couldn't find my seed collection anywhere. So I had to order more seeds, fresh ones, from my favorite garden supply outlet Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply

That took some time and then I took more time getting the seeds into the ground. I had many excuses. Too busy, too cold, wasn't in the mood, had to go out of town to see the new baby... lots of reasons/excuses.

Anyway, I finally got some of the seeds planted into my garden. You can see the variety of seeds that I planted in the seed packet photo above. I have planted carrots, radishes, two kinds of beets, spinach, several kinds of lettuce, mesclun, chard, cabbage, broccoli and snow peas so far.

Do you remember that purple onion that decided to start growing on my kitchen windowsill awhile back? Well, I carefully divided it up into four growing baby onion plants that then grew lots of roots in a jar of water on my patio table until I planted it amongst the beets and carrots this week. Onions and root crops are good companion plants. They encourage each other to grow.

I didn't include a picture of my garden in this post because, well, it just looks like a patch of dirt at this point, with a few onion tops showing. I'll post a photo later on in the season.

Now I need to get going on my warm weather crops. I am running out of time for them. Mother Nature does not want to wait for me!

I love my garden. I find solace there.

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spring Color

Spring Color Pot

I finally planted those pansies! I planted them in with the radiant red petunias that survived in the terra cotta pot on my porch since last Summer. I can hardly believe that those petunias are still alive. They are actually thriving. They are blooming their little hearts out! Must be all that coffee and tea that I watered them with during the Fall and Winter months. Well, now they have pansy companions in many colors. And I have a colorful patio table centerpiece.

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New Day, New Life

Grandpa Jack and sweet Annelise

My partner Jack's daughter gave birth to a beautiful baby girl last Friday. Mom and baby are both happy and healthy and doing fine. We drove down to southern California over the weekend to visit everyone and meet his new sweet granddaughter, Annelise. She is so beautiful! I have held babies before, but I had never held a brand new just-born infant in my arms. So it was a precious treat for me. See the photo below:

Me and Annelise in the hospital room

Just a day old and so full of life and personality! I was thrilled to be included in welcoming her to the world. When she smiled at me (yes, I know it could just be gas!) it really made my day. Babies are such perfect special beings. They come in and totally change your life forever. They make me wonder and ask more questions. They make me dream and look at everything differently. I think they know what they are doing.

On this trip we stayed in a hotel when we usually stay with relatives who live in the area. Here's a nice view from our hotel window:

Here's a view from our 8th floor balcony looking down at the pool. I was afraid I'd drop my camera or worse! We didn't swim in the pool, but we did have drinks by the fire pit that was down in the pool area.

We also over-indulged ourselves with food and drink on this trip. After a very nice dinner at the local Chili's restaurant, we split a large dessert called Molten Chocolate Cake. A moist chocolate cake, filled with warm fudge sauce, topped with vanilla ice cream and a hard chocolate shell. All drizzled with chocolate and carmel sauce. It was a meal in itself.

Jack attacking the Molten Chocolate Cake dessert. I quickly joined him after taking the photo.

It was a special weekend. Seeing new life blossom and thrive always amazes me. It helps to renew my spirit and passion. It's good for my heart and soul. It makes me realize how connected we all really are.

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sometimes I Forget and Need Reminding

Be a deer...outside my bedroom window...

I've been thinking.

I've been thinking about my life.

Time to make some definite changes. I feel so old lately. I miss who I used to be. I've lost touch with myself in the past few years. I need to find that creative spark within me again. That flame in my own heart. I need to find it and nurture it and help it to grow strong and bright.

I need to make my body strong and supple again. I am feeling my age. Already, at only 47! I need to feel younger, stronger and more vibrant. I must fight for what I want in this life. I can't let time ravage me and make me weak.

Spring is the time for new growth and change. Now is the time for me. Now is the time for me to live. I must dance while the music is playing. I must sing and be heard. I must stop being so afraid. Afraid of what, I ask? Life. Afraid of life, is the answer. Life is the answer.

Sometimes I forget who I am. I forget my strengths and my wisdom. My experience and my knowledge. I forget what's inside of me. I forget what I know and how I feel. I forget, and then suddenly, I remember. All at once it comes rushing back in. Like a tidal wave. Knocks me down with its force, but also refreshes me with its truth.

Sometimes it takes others to remind me. Sometimes just a quiet evening. Frequently my kitty whispers in my ear, tells me that I am someone special in this life.

Sometimes I remember. With her help.

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Everyday Comfort

My Jessie loves clean laundry...

My kitty Jessie is my best friend, my baby and my everyday joy. Her full name is Whispering Jessie, named after a John Denver song. She has been my companion and confidant for 15 1/2 years now and I hope she will be with me for many, many more. She understands me. She nurtures me. She worries about me when I am upset. She also seems to understand what I am saying to her, or maybe she just reads my mind. She is an amazing being. So beautiful and graceful even now as she grows older. So loving and trusting. I love her with all my heart. I don't know what my world would be without her, and I don't want to find out.

My sweet Jessie loves me.

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Morning Tea, Simple Pleasures

Morning Tea in the Sunshine of my Porch

A couple of days ago I enjoyed my morning tea outside in the sunshine. I stood on my front porch and listened to the birds chirping and the squirrels chattering. The mug I chose that morning is a relatively new one that I purchased on a road trip I took last summer to visit my Dad who lives in Texas. Partner Jack and I drove there and back and managed to find some interesting scenery and diversions along the way. The best one we found was just outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico in a little town called Tijeras. We exited the highway in search of a bathroom stop and found a wonderful little gift shop/coffee bar/open air art market. Very quaint and very artsy. The gift shop/coffee bar is called the Just Imagine Gallery and on the weekends from May through October they have the Tijeras Open Air Arts Market on the lovely grounds adjacent to the gallery.

Well, the smoothies and the food were excellent. The gift shop was stocked with lots of interesting stuff. The mug in the photo above is a Laurel Burch design that has the following philosophical quote written on the side:

The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears...

There's the quote ~ barely visible ~ click the photo to enlarge it

I have a book somewhere around here that has the same title. I believe it is an Native American saying.

Anyway, as I was pouring my tea in my beautiful philosophical artsy mug, I was thinking to myself that it is the little things, the simple pleasures in life that can mean so much to me. They can comfort me when I need it. They can bring back good memories when I need some. They can start my day off with a positive note.

The photo below is my favorite because it has two comforting things shown in it. My tea mug with it's nice quote and memories of our fun time in Tijeras, and of course, my sweet Jessie kitty who is my very best friend and companion. She is so cute and curious and attentive. I will write more about her another day. For now, enjoy your simple pleasures and have a positive day filled with good memories.

Curious Jessie with the artsy mug ~ in the morning sun

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sad Day for Chickens and Mother Hen

Miner's Lettuce ~growing wild in the shady places

I am very sad to report that my brave little hen Barbara did not make it. She died in my arms this morning about 30 minutes after she received her fresh antibiotic injection. Although I did exactly as instructed by the vet and gave her the usual dosage, I believe that the medicine was too strong for her weak body and it was just too much for her. The older medicine may have been weaker and also less effective at fighting bacterial infections. This fresh stuff was just too strong for her. She may well have died anyway even if she hadn't received the drugs but I still feel very bad. I know I did everything I could to help her and to save her, but I still feel responsible for her death. She would have been 7 years old on April 6th.

Before I buried her, I made sure to show her body to the other two hens so that they would know what had happened to their friend. Just for a few moments, and from a little distance, just in case she had something contagious. I just wanted them to know where she was so that they wouldn't worry and wonder anymore. With the help of my partner Jack, I buried her near the chicken coop where there are other chickens buried from years past. I wrapped her lovingly in a special cloth, a remnant from my old childhood bedspread complete with fringe attached. I laid her softly deep in the hole we dug, gave her some miner's lettuce for the trip, and placed a piece of cardboard on top of her (to protect her) on which I had written my little eulogy for her. "Barbara Chicken, my brave little hen. You were a good layer and you will be missed by me and your sisters. We love you." That's actually only an excerpt from it. We filled in the grave with the soft earth and covered it with a plastic grid material weighted down by heavy rocks and things so that she would be safe from predators. We dug her grave about 2 feet deep, which is deep enough, but still I don't want to risk some predator coming by and disturbing my friend. I placed a couple of lavender flowers on top of her grave.

It has been quite some time since I have had sickness and death occur in my small flock, but I never get used to it. I need to make sure that my other two hens, Lucy and Red, are healthy and stay that way. Barbara's illness may indicate that I need to keep the hen house cleaner or add vitamins to their water or perhaps just keep a closer eye, and hand, on them to check for signs of illness. I don't often hold them and feel their bodies anymore. It's very difficult to tell that a chicken has gotten skinny merely by sight because their fluffy feathers hide their little bodies. You must hold them and feel them and maybe weigh them from time to time. Since they have been grown up hens I haven't done that very much, and they don't encourage me to do it either. They used to fly up on my lap and sit and visit with me when I would go out there and sit in my coop chair. As they got older they stopped wanting to do that as much. I guess I also stopped going out there to just sit and visit as much too.

Lavender on Barbara's grave

I am a very sad Mother Hen today. I have been mourning and crying over my lost friend. I know most folks wouldn't do that, but I can't help it. I never get used to someone being alive and conscious one moment and then still, silent and dead the next. I can't wrap my head around how the life force can just leave us like that. In an instant she is gone. It leaves me feeling scared and makes a hole in my heart.

Goodbye my Barbara Chicken. You were my brave little hen. I love you.

Mother Hen Jen

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket