Friday, June 22, 2012

Blue Moon

                     So after my encounters with deer eating my tulips, the allium did fine.  They looked like puff balls made of little purple stars, and the deer let them live long and prosper.  They are, I believe, in the onion family, so maybe the deer just knew they wouldn't like the taste after my delicate tulips? 

Gourds, squash, pumpkin? Your guess is as good as mine!
 The butterflies loved them.  And what came in the mail a few days ago but a catalogue that is dedicated to all types of tulips; ones that open, ones that stay closed, ones with ruffles, ones in whole rainbows of colors including blue.

My husband gave it to me, and then I think he waas disappointed that I didn't fling it open with the passion I would have in the past.  "I'm not planting another tulip." I told him.

"Oh sure you are." he encouraged me.  "They didn't eat all of our tulips."

And he is right.  I calculate that if we plant about 100 more tulips, we might get to enjoy ten surviving tulips.  Or the neighborhood deer will just throw bigger dinner parties.

To say our garden this year is saddly underperforming would be to put a better face on it than is actually happening.  The heirloom tomatoes that I grew under grow lights, in a hydroponic, nutrient rich water are just pathetic.  They are green, and that is about all you can say for them.  They are leggy, the leaves are tiny, the stems are puny.  It would be a miracle if anything grows on them.  The string beans that I started from seed in the same pots are doing much better.
       The squash, one plant from a packet of seeds, put out about 5 leaves, a yellow flower, and then stopped growing.  It is still green. It still has it's flower.  It just isn't growing.

     And are you wondering why I am letting clumps of grass grow in my garden?  Well first, you know the story, I am not feeling all that well and right now I can't do much gardening, BUT, those  
are not clumps of grass growing, but stands of early, dwarf (so the stalks only grow to 5ft high), sweet corn.  Yes! Today is the 21st of June and I am supposed to be able to harvest ears of corn from them for our Fourth of July Barbecue.  What are the chances, do you think?  This is a recent picture, I kid you not.  Lest you think that there is something wrong with the seeds or the plants, I got them from Burpees, and they were very highly recommneded.  Everyone I talked to had great results with them.  Except for moi!  I think there is something majorly wrong with our soil, even though my husband has
mixed peat moss into the ground, top soil and a bag of cow manure, not to mention all the Miracle
Grow that constantly lands on it from watering other plants. Someday I would like to take ALL the soil out of there for a few feet down and replace it with manure - horse, cow, chicken - and see if that helps at all!                                      
The bugs this year seemed to have started earlier than usual, and I can't stand on top of
them like I would usually to spray them with vinegar and water, oil etcetera, so they are having a feast as you can see on the picture of my new Blue Moon climbing rose from Burgess.  Not exactly blue, but pretty anyway.  I feel if it had had someone loving it better, like I would have usually, and    may-be added some iron to the soil around it's roots, it would have been bluer.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               In the meantime, I got some free seeds with one of my orders.  One was for "Vine Peaches" and the other was for some type of super tomato with vines that are sturdy and reach to the moon and back.  Okay, not that far, but far beyond what the usual tomato would be.  I didn't care all that much about them, so I put them together in two hanging baskets, put them down on the sunny steps of my back porch, and mostly forgot about them while I was upset about those dratted heritage tomatoes in the front.  Well these plants are doing great!  They are green and lush and soon will be climbing onto the bannister of my back stairs.  It will be interesting to see what fruit I eventually get out of them.
Then, because I do think of myself as a writer, I began to write at a site called  It isn't a paying venture, of course not, when is it ever?  Right now I'm writing about P L Travers and Mary Poppins.  I've written other "lenses", it's what they call these short writings, and I'm enclosing the links in case you would like to check them out.

And please excuse all the problems I had with formatting today!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Reuse It!

We're often encouraged to practice the three "R's": reduce, reuse, recycle. I think the easiest of the three to practice is recycle.  If you have a recycle bin, you can do it almost without thinking.  Of course

Recycle, or can you reduce?

recycling is better than having everything toted to a landfill, but recycling isn't as good for the earth as reducing, re-using and re-purposing is.  Briefly, a lot of fossil fuels are used in recycling.  To read more about it, please go to my left side bar and follow the link there or use this link.  Instead try to focus on these three "R's"; reuse, reduce and re purpose.

Those shampoo and conditioner bottles, what can you do with them, besides put them into the recycle bin?  What about finding a shampoo and conditioner that come in bulk sizes, say a gallon container (check the warehouse stores like Sam's or BJ's) and then refill the smaller bottles from them?  I really can't think of any way of re purposing those bottles, but if you can, I would love to hear about it! 

How about the cardboard tube inside of toilet paper or paper towels?  The first strategy is to reduce.  With paper towels, it is quite easy to replace their use as much as possible by using rags, sponges and dish towels.  However, I can't imagine anyone wanting to reduce toilet paper use in that way, not to

                                          Reduce?  Reuse?  Recycle? Re purpose?

mention how unhygienic it would be, and the massive amounts of bleach, actual soap - not laundry detergent - and hot water to clean them for toilet duty again.  One solution could be to buy larger rolls of toilet paper to reduce the actual amount of toilet paper used.
      Another idea is to re purpose the cardboard tube.  There are a lot of sites on the Internet that will tell you how to make Kaleidoscopes for the kiddies or to use them to separate cutlery by taping the tubes together.  Not having anyone in my home that would enjoy a kaleidoscope, and preferring to use an empty, cardboard wine cooler carrier for my cutlery, I'm not particularly receptive to purely crafty uses for anything that I try to re purpose.
   I have seen where the paper tubes have been cut into approximately 4 inch sections, and the bottoms cut to have four sections, then bent over each other like you would close up a cardboard box, filled with dirt and used to start seeds.  They can be planted directly into the ground because the cardboard will disintegrate into the ground.

                  Re purpose?

        Perhaps the easiest and conversely, the hardest things to re purpose is old clothing.  I am of course talking about clothing that is too stained, torn or worn to donate to a charity.  Clothing in good condition should always be donated. 
        Clothing can always be torn or neatly cut into handy squares to use for cleaning, dusting, in the garage etc.  But what if you have enough rags?  T-shirts can be neatly torn into strips, and then crocheted or knitted into chair pads or little rugs for in front of the kitchen sink or bathtub.  Look up on the Internet t-shirt quilts for more uses for t-shirts.
        Jeans can be selectively cut so that the worn parts are excluded.  Good, heavy duty pot holders can be machine sewed from them.  Also heavy duty bed covers can be machine sewn from the squares that would fit nicely in a boy's room or the room of any teen for that matter.  Book covers and tote bags can be machine sewn from salvaged denim.  Even a durable picnic blanket could be pieced together.  These projects all take time, but they are not challenging and you've already paid for the denim material when you bought the jeans, so the project is free.

         Sweaters and afghans that are worn can be unraveled to use the yarn again.  Sweater arms from children's sweaters can be used over the handles of pots and pans along with pot holders for extra protection.  Of course, never leave anything on a pot, pan or kettle unattended in case of them catching fire.
        Take a good look at the items to be thrown away or recycled in your house.  Can any of them be re purposed?  Take a good look.

Some ideas:

  • egg cartons - the cardboard ones can be 3/4 filled with sawdust and a 1/4 filled with wax to use as fire starters in a fireplace or outside grill.  Tear off one or two as needed.  Please remember to use proper precautions. 
  • egg cartons - foam - give them a good wash in soapy hot water and use them in your drawer to coralle small items like paper clips, screws, clips, spare change etc
  • egg cartons - clean well in soapy water, and bring with you to a picnic for your kids to use as a Kala game board.  The pieces can be pretty shells or pebbles that they find.
  • egg cartons - especially foam - bring to your organic grocer or to backyard farmers for them to use again for selling eggs.
  • egg cartons - cardboard - use to start seedlings
  • mint tins - decorate if you wish - use to keep small items in your purse in one place (tweezers, nail clips, spare change etc)
  • mint tins - decorate if you wish - use to store needles, lengths of thread, pins etc for a portable sewing kit. Leave in your purse, desk at work or in your car.
  • Crystal Lite concentrate containers (and containers like it) use it to cold crayons and a few papers for an on the go coloring tote for your children or to coral things like hair accessories, or in the bathroom to hold all the little toiletry samples we're always being given.
  • plastic cocoa container - use it to store all the envelopes of ingredients like gravy, chili mix etc and keep it neatly on the cupboard shelf. If shelf space is limited, I have removed the back pockets of worn out jeans, added a clip magnet to hold it to my refrigerator, and stored all those envelopes in the pocket.
Do you have any tips to share?


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Carmelite Sisters Reflect on "For Greater Glory"

The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles rarely go to the movies, but this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to be a part of a premiere showing of For Greater Glory. Seventy-five of our sisters immediately said "yes" to the gracious invitation of Archbishop Jose Gomez. Why? Because it was during those days—the days of the horrendous religious persecution in Mexico in the 1920s—that our community began. Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament, affectionately known as Mother Luisita, had already accepted fifty-five sisters into the new community.
It was on July 31, 1926, that President Plutarco Elias Calles started enforcing the anti-clerical laws throughout Mexico. The following day, August 1, 1926, all religious services were stopped throughout Mexico. No more Masses. No more marriages. No more first Communion. No more religious practices of any kind.

To read more

Carmelite Sisters Reflect on "For Greater Glory"

Monday, June 4, 2012

Replacement Therapy

Have you been going through your spending looking for a place to make some cuts and save money?  Star Bucks put a store in my town a few years ago, about the time that I got cancer.  After my numerable operations, I was no longer able to drink coffee, but if I hadn't had those operations, I can tell you where a healthy chunk of my weekly budget would be, at Starbucks for a mocha latte, yum!  That is until I realized how much of my money was going to Star Bucks, and that I would prefer to keep that money in my pocket, that is.

But before I replaced my Star Buck's fix, I would try to think of something to replace my fix with.  Not something that would cost the same or nearly the same amount of money my Star Buck's cost, that wouldn't make very much sense and I wonder if it would be worth the effort expended in the first place?  Or would I slowly resume the same habit again?

I would try to figure out when I was most likely to buy my Star Buck's.  Did I buy it on Wednesday, the middle of the week, or to celebrate Friday - the end of the week, or to make Monday's less Monday-ish?  Did I buy it when I was driving the kids and the decibel level was at leaf blower level, or on the long trip to the doctor's office?  Or did I buy it just because it tasted good?

Once I figured the when and why of buying Star Buck's, I would start figuring out how could I replace the habit in a satisfactory way.

If I simply wanted to replace Star Buck's, I could buy some Coffee Mate, prepare coffee with it and spin it in my blender with ice.  The savings would be significant.

But what if I wanted not only to not drink Star Buck's, but wanted to stop drinking coffee all together?  Then I would start experimenting.  Could I replace a cold, sweet latte with hot or warm tea?  Could I replace it with herbal tea that I made into ice tea?  These ideas might not be instantly appealing to everyone but rather an acquired taste.

However, after trying the teas as a replacement for a few weeks and still not enjoying it, it might be time to admit defeat, even a temporary defeat and try something else.

Seltzer or club soda might make a good replacement .  You could even try stirring a few teaspoons of concentrated juice into it to flavor it.  Or maybe even plain water with lemon or lime juice mixed in.

It takes a while to change habits, and the longer you have had a habit, the longer it takes to change it.

Some things to remember:

1  If you take something away, make sure you replace it with something else.

2   It takes time to change habits, and each person is an individual.  Don't judge yourself by someone else's success or failure.

3   You might give in to temptation.  Don't beat yourself up about it.  Just resolve to get back on board, that day.


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