Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rejoicing over Something Geeky

Last night I went to bed happy, truly happy for the first time in a very long time. I actually got something geeky that I had been trying to make work for months to work! Hurrah! Wheelchair version of a happy dance! I can, I can, yes I can!

So after all of that you may be wondering what it was. How to place a code in such a way that it will affiliate link to my cafepress shop so that someone can become an affiliate and ask all their family and friends to come see what I have to offer, thus bringing them income along with me. Hurrah!

This is different from the link on the right which goes to my shop and just makes money for me--not enough traffic this way. So I am hoping, hoping and hoping and now I have to figure out the next steps.

It was cold this morning and the only reason that I finally got up was that it wasn't even very warm in my bed, so I had to get up and turn up the heat. I am not looking forward to winter despite the fact that I basically like it. I like drawing in, having the privacy that comes with closing the windows and not hearing what everyone else is doing. I love the winter baking warmth and smells in my house and the smells of soups and chili cooking.

I totally love Christmas and the preparation for it that is Advent. Valentine's day is fun too and of course, by then in my part of the country, spring will be on it's way.

So having done my geeky thing, I am resting on my laurels today. I go to play with plants and to inventory pots for the bulbs that have been waiting to be potted. Over the weekend basil will be harvested and I hope that pumpkin muffins will be baked--if I can find my recipe.

I am grateful.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Gardening with the Best Assistance--Friends

Yesterday and today I played with my plants. Yesterday I dug in the dirt--a big bag of potting soil, but it is real dirt nonetheless. I have dirt under the fingernails to prove it! A small bag is residing on the porch waiting to fill pots for various transplants and will be refilled so that I can pot up new bulbs that came from American Meadows two weeks ago--tulips, King Alfred Daffodils, the fragrant ones, white daffodils and a new Amaryllis bulb, big Amaryllis bulb. I can hardly wait.

Today I messed about with moving pots and moving plants--at one point I was enmeshed or maybe ensnarled in potted rose bushes and trying to move a tomato plant by myself was a mistake. It did more damage to the plant than me, but there was a moment there when I wondered what I was going to next. Then I carefully grabbed one rose, between the thorns, and extricated it from me and the wheelchair. Next I did the same with the other. Then I admonished them to stay in their places. (Yes, I talk to my plants.)

My friend L came and expertly, patiently staked the remaining tomato plants before moving them. They are nicely in a row farther down in the patio from where they had been, getting more sun. They have tomatoes growing on them, so now we are hoping for ripening--and they need more water than I have been giving them for the grow bags were so much lighter than I thought they would be.

I smell of tomatoes and basil and dirt and wish my house could be equipped with a handicap accessible bathroom and shower. Someday, perhaps. I dream and dream also of the garden that will grow in the next season.

I am grateful for the exercise and sunshine, the warmth of the Fall day and the friendship of L who is home, all too briefly, from the sea.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Today I have had the exquisite pleasure of watching hummingbirds in both the back and front yards. I have become expectant each day now of seeing one or both of a pair who seem to be nesting in my pyracantha tree (yes, it really is) as they come to the pineapple sage in the backyard. Right outside the kitchen window, the show is framed for my perfect viewing as I wait for water to boil for my coffee or tea or as I wash dishes.

Then I put "fluffy", who had become the indoor basil plant, back on the porch. The weather is mild and she needs a bit of sunshine on her leaves. After a bit, with the front door open, for I am waiting for someone, I waited for something slow on the internet and looked out that door. Motion in the basil plant attracted my attention. Sure enough, there was my favorite bird darting from basil branch to basil branch and then over to the blooming pineapple sage I can just see through the screen door. This is perfectly wonderful!

Here are pictures of "Fluffy" while she was inside.

It is a perfect day, one of those days when just being is a blessing and when I wish that I could bottle it to release on a cold winter day or a hot summer one. I am grateful for the day and for my dear friend and housekeeper who came and cleaned for me today.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Blessings

My house is perfumed with the smell of drying basil. One more bush has been cut out. Above the smell of the basil is the lovely smell of carrot bread cooling on the open oven door. This is a mix that a friend gave me for my birthday. It looks like it should be pumpkin and it is the time of the year for pumpkin. It definitely doesn't taste like pumpkin. I can hardly wait to cut a slice.

Yesterday was a misspent day. I have a fabulous recipe for pumpkin muffins that I cannot find. I have looked everywhere. It is not there, or there or anywhere and yet it must be somewhere in my house! Thinking to reinvent it, I went to the web. Pumpkin muffins with chocolate chips; pumpkin muffins with raisins and currents; no plain, light, fluffy pumpkin muffins. Well, I will just have to keep looking.

Being outdoors to survey and tend the plants was a decided blessing. Taking it for granted all summer has made it a blessing today, for it is clear by the weather that winter is coming. The tomato plants are gorgeous and even have a small number of tiny tomatoes. So far none have matured to the point where I could pick them and use them for green tomato pie--something I have been wanting to make for six years since I first found the recipe on the web.

Baking is another blessing for a Sunday. It makes the routine different. Of course, I wish that I could go to Mass and hear the chant and chat with my friends afterward, but since I can't I want to make rituals that set Sunday apart from other days.

Monday will come soon enough with all of its tasks. For now I am grateful for Sunday, for the basil and the pumpkin bread and for the sun shining in as I type.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Delicious Weather, Delicious Harvest

The weather is perfect for this time of year, perfect for any time of the year. I love it and wish we could keep it for a very long time. Here are basil tops drying on the bed tray. This is, if I remember correctly, from one plant.

Several times today, while I was puttering in my kitchen, I looked out the big windows over the sink to watch the hummingbird feeding at the pineapple sage, which has now blossomed all the way to the top. The tranquility and beauty of this scene helped me to be more at peace with myself over all the trials and tribulations of life. God has made these perfect creatures, the plant and the bird, which do not sell stock or make financial messes of others lives or for that matter demand anything. True if I had not provided water to the plant--through the kindness of friends who have been watering for me, because I cannot access the side and back yards of my property--the bird would not have found food. We are a food chain of three, a cooperative society.

Then I tried to listen to the last presidential debate--since I have already voted, it was pointless, really. I do wish that Obama would simply counter McCain by agreeing about the mortgages, though. I hope that he hasn't lost ground because of this debate. I honestly couldn't tell who was ahead. So now we wait for three more weeks.

In the meantime, I will enjoy the weather and my tiny harvest. Tonight dinner was buckwheat pasta and pesto. Very yummy, very gratifying and I am grateful. I like harvesting my dinner.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Harvesting the Basil

Five basil plants are now reduced to four. The largest bush, the one in the grow bag, yielded about 8 oz of minced basil in oil produced by processing it in the blender. My wrists, arms and shoulders have had a workout.

It is amazing to see a rather good sized bush, a fair pile as it sits on tissue paper on the floor to be photographed, reduced to such a small quantity. I have seen its precedent in apples. Many years ago a friend gave me a paper grocery sack of apples from her backyard tree. I peeled and chopped and boiled and canned and had--four pints of apple butter. It was amazing. Essence of apple and I have never done it again, but am glad I did it that one time.

The basil is going to be like that. A small cinnamon basil, not part of the count of five, is drying on top of my dryer. I will attend to it tomorrow, stripping the leaves from the stems and placing them in a separate layer above the basil or the roses. (I am always drying roses, almost always drying something.)

So now there are four. One is temporarily residing in the house as a house plant. One will be cut tomorrow and laid out to dry. The other two, outside, I hope to nurture along for a little while longer.

It was cold over the weekend so the basil wasn't happy. That is why one is in the hall. The others, overgrown in their pots, were hooded with white plastic bags and kept warm. With warmer weather this week, I hope they will be fine.

I am grateful for the plants, for the harvest and for the fact that I had the good sense to harvest only one and split the basil processing over two days--keeping the branches that I hadn't gotten to yet in the refrigerator.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Too Much Volunteerism, Not Enough Time

The week flew by in too much volunteer activity, which I truly need to curb. All communities need volunteers and all of my life I have "stepped up to the plate", usually to take on the quiet, behind the scenes and never ending boring jobs no one else wanted to do.

It started in high school when I was involved in CCD (confraternity of Christian doctrine, or teaching catechism) at my local parish. Then for a number of years, I was too busy being a student to do much until the election campaign of 1968 when I poured my time, energy and heart and soul into Eugene McCarthy's unsuccesful bid for the Presidency and into the local Democratic club.

My next stint of volunteerism was for my church again and lasted several years. It led to the discernment that I had a call to serve and the decision to go to Graduate school in a field that I now regret, religion.

When I returned home after graduate school I volunteered again to serve on church committees and then in the last ten years in my local neighborhood.

The biggest lesson that I have learned from all of this is that volunteering in an unseen way is asking to have one's time and energy used up and thrown away. If you are going to volunteer at least do it in a way that allows you to be seen; allows you to make real contacts with people so that friendships might be formed and support given.

I have seen that the more people are given the less they give back. An entitlement mentality sets in. "It's free, so why can't I use it any way that I want" becomes the norm, rather than, "Thank you. This is such a great thing that you are doing." I have seen genuine rudeness set in where there should be gratitude.

Maybe we need a thank a volunteer week. I know that for me I am going to try to strike a better balance in my own life. I am grateful for the experiences and for the lessons that I have learned and also for the fact that rather late on I am finally assessing them. For me it is going to be less is more--less volunteering and more time spent on activities that give back to me.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tempus Fugit!

It's hard to believe it is Tuesday already. The time is going by too fast and this is my favorite time of year. I love the low angle of light in the fall, the sense of a pause after the too long days of summer, the heat and the routines of survival I must go into when heat waves strike. Now it is neither too hot nor too cold. I know that I have survived the summer and I do not yet have to hunker down and worry about how I will manage during the winter.

The house is still cleaned up and therefore friendlier than before I had company, so I am still benefiting from their visit. (The fact that my sister left my fridge and freezer well-stocked is a blessing too.)

A month from today is the election that seems to have been going on forever. The bailout so much touted and so hurriedly passed, does not seem to be working. The stock that I need to sell to pay my way through the winter is down a frightening amount. At the same time, the worry about finances seems to hang like a heavy mist before a storm, casting a pall of doom over the beautiful fall day. I am determined not to watch the news, for it is all bad. I do hope that Obama is elected in a month and that he does bring the energy, intelligence, hope and common sense that he seems to carry to the actual job of leading this country.

For the decline of the stock market is relative. We don't hold money in our hands that we have in our names on paper only--unless of course it is our savings accounts. I have believed for ten years that the value of our economy is inflated and for twenty years that supply side economics pays out only to the rich. It looks like I was right. (I just wish that I had a little more money in hand at the moment.)

So back to work to see what I can do to earn some. Before I know it time will have flown to November and a new round of bills. I am grateful for the beautiful day, the lovely light and that at least for this month every thing is paid.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

We Ate Too Much!

We ate too much, we really did! Last week at this time my house was filled with family and friends. I love all of them dearly starting with the tiny toddler, my grand-nephew who is just starting to walk. (Watch out world, he will soon be running--and climbing.) His Mama is a joy and treasure in my life, too. All the friends who came are dear to me and I felt loved and stuffed and exhilarated with excitement and exhaustion.

Cake, three kinds of ice cream, delicious Champagne, Chinese food, lasagna, steak, cheesecake, blueberry muffins, an incredible, edible fruit arrangement, my sister's delicious tilipio dish with its yummy sauce, more kinds of chips than I knew existed and a wonderfully gooey Midwestern cheese dip that is pure fattening. Oh, and I almost forgot the French bread. (Why is bread almost always served with pasta? They are both carbs and may as well be applied directly to the hips, or the gut, or the seat--depending on where the fat settles on any particular person.) I think I ate a month's worth of calories in ten days.

Watching the food flowing through this house accompanied by all the beverages and the coming and going to the airport, I thought, "How can there be a recession? This family is singlehandedly doing our bit to stave it off?" That may be the key actually to the whole thing of staving off recession. Turn off the television, forget the news and celebrate our lives; live and be happy.

Today my sister and her husband are on the last leg of their journey home. It is time to settle down to work again. I will try to blog more regularly and there is plenty else to do. Cafepress designs need tending, Squidoo lenses need updating and making, and I still need to figure out how to find more ways to sell Mary Kay products to more customers. Anybody with any ideas please leave comments.

Any good diet advice, I could use that too! (Of course, if somebody could just do it for me...) I am happy and grateful.