Saturday, 14 May 2022

Workout for the Knees

Today has been a productive, satisfying sort of day. I made 7 dozen cookies (some peanut butter, some chocolate chip), froze some, took some to a neighbour, and will give some to the grandkids tomorrow. I worked in the garden for a while, putting up strings and netting for future green beans. I cooked a chicken. I walked the dog and played ball with him at the park for a while until the heat drove us home. I did a little grocery shopping and vacuum-sealed some lentils and such for storage. I mowed the lawn, showered, and did three batches of laundry. I watched the news and listened to some Avi Kaplan.

Now I'm sitting and reading a lovely little book called Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May (the irony isn't lost on me) and sneaking some chocolate chip cookies, while watching the wild ducks that have returned to our swimming pool, as they do every spring.

I love this kind of day. Though when I tried to get up just now to get my husband's supper ready, I found my arthritic knees aren't cooperating. Might have been a bit too rough on them today!

Husband just returned from playing for a wedding and asked if I wanted to go to Home Depot to look at flooring for the church. Um...Maybe a rain cheque? I'm in my nightgown already, and the knees definitely wouldn't be happy with the hard floors of Home Depot.

Besides, I'm in the middle of a chapter...


Saturday, 7 May 2022

Garlic Collapse

Every year, I always get a lovely crop of garlic, enough to last the year and to have extra to sell as well. But somehow this year it didn't turn out. Usually by this time, the garlic is six inches tall and thriving. This year there are a couple of wispy shoots and absolutely nothing else. Did squirrels eat it all? Did the bulbs rot in all the precipitation? Did I somehow just get dud bulb stock last fall? No idea. But it looks like we have to purchase it this year. Luckily, we have a farmer friend who grows garlic, so I don't have to rely on the golf-ball scentless garlic at the store. 

I guess you win some and you lose some, but I'm hoping this isn't a forecast of the garden to come!

Friday, 29 April 2022

I ate the mint

My grandfather was a mint farmer in Idaho and one of my favourite people on the planet. I would follow him everywhere and ride on the tractor with him as he worked his fields. He would distill the mint and extract the oil to sell to gum and candy companies. I have fond childhood memories of sitting in the recliner with him in the evenings, watching Johnny Cash and sucking on the football-shaped little mints his oil went into. They were just the right size and shape to fit on your tongue, the peppermint was sinus-clearing, and if you sucked on them long enough they turned into sharp shards that would cut your tongue, but they were amazing.

After Grandpa died, those mints became a tangible link to him and to my childhood. My mom found an outlet that still sells them, and every Christmas she sends a little bag of them, which I hoard and ration out carefully to make them last as long as possible. They no longer contain Grandpa's oil, of course, but the feel and taste of them in my mouth bring me such happiness. They say taste and scent are powerful triggers of memory, and I know for myself this is true. I made sure each of my grandchildren had one and told them the significance of them, and I gave one to my son's girlfriend as a way of welcoming her to the family. So much meaning imbued into one little candy! 

The latest bag of mints was eaten, carefully shared out if someone had a sore throat or a bad day, like medicine (you really had to earn one!), until only one mint remained. I tenderly set this aside, reluctant to consume it, wanting to draw out the joy as long as possible. But watching what's going on in Eastern Europe right now, knowing that at any moment life as we know it could all come crashing down...well, I decided it would be a shame if the world ended and I hadn't eaten that last remaining mint. There's enough to regret in life without that. So yesterday, with some ceremony, alone in the kitchen, I ate it. 

Seize the day! Soak up every bit of joy life offers you, while you can.

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Seedlings

Ordinarily, I would have started my seeds weeks ago, but I've been out of town, and the spring seems to be getting a late start anyway. We had a dusting of snow last night, and the temperature is dropping to a high of 4 later this week.

Nonetheless, yesterday I got my seeds started -- peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, parsley -- and we'll just have to hope for the best. I doubt the brassicas will do much with this late of a start, but it's worth a try. I also planted the peas and onions (seeds, not sets) outside yesterday. I took the lettuce and spinach I've been growing all winter indoors and stuck it out as well, not because I thought it would survive so much as because I needed the pots. It felt kinder to give them a shot at life instead of dumping them in the composter.

The next thing I need to do is built trellises for the peas and beans, which will provide them support but also provide a bit of light afternoon shade to some of the beds this summer. They are predicting high temperatures this year, and a bit of shade will be welcome.

It felt so wonderful to be out in the garden again, poking at the soil and getting back in touch with myself. I know that sounds weird, but I'm my most authentic self when my hands are in the dirt.

Thursday, 21 April 2022

Sword, Pestilence, and Famine

Well, we've had two years of pestilence, swords are being raised in eastern Europe, and next up is famine. It's difficult these days to watch any news broadcast or Youtube video without being told about coming food shortages. The supply chain disruptions have been building for many months. Weather conditions have been harsh, and drought is a real, ongoing thing in many places in North America. And yet I still get the impression that many in the west think that famine is something that can only happen in the Sudan or Ethiopia.

There is one Youtube channel I watch periodically where people write in with updates on the shortages they see in their areas, from around the world. It helps to get a bigger picture of what's happening. I'm always sort of amused, in a dark way, by the ones who write in to say they see only four or five choices of salad dressing in the grocery store, or only a couple of kinds of pasta. They report that stores carry only certain brands and not others. We have become so accustomed to having a multitude of choices that any reduction in choice almost becomes an affront. Any limitation at all becomes a "shortage." We still enjoy vast abundance in the west compared to many people in the world. I fear reality's going to hit us harder than others simply because we're so used to not just quantity but variety on demand.

I'm also finding that many items that people are worried about are items I have never purchased, like "Manwich" (which I gather is come kind of canned sloppy joe mix). I have tried to focus in my life on being a producer more than a consumer, but I suppose eventually I will also feel the pinch at some point. I'll be interested to see what that reveals to me about myself. What expectations do I have that I'm not even aware of? What unknown brand biases might I have? What will I miss most? We shall see.

Sunday, 17 April 2022

Am I Just Wimpy?

I mentioned it snowed, right? Actual snow, on the ground. Biting wind. I go out to walk Brio, wearing my hoodie with a jacket over it, hat and gloves, and leg warmers over my sweat pants.

The kid next door is out playing without his shirt on, and his mom is in the back yard wearing a tank top.

Made me feel like a marshmallow.

Kindness

My lovely neighbours Mary and Paul decided that it was too sad to be alone with a can of Spam on Easter, so they delivered a gift bag yesterday with lemon-buttermilk cupcakes, cookies, and a nice book. Isn't that the sweetest thing ever? A lovely gesture that brightened my whole week. A reminder that stockpiling and preparing and being independent are important, but having ties to community is even more so.

It's Easter Sunday. There's a dusting of snow on the ground, the furnace is running nicely, the dog is snoring beside me, church is on Zoom, and I have lemon-buttermilk cupcakes I fully intend to eat for breakfast (along with the homemade yogurt that, I am pleased to announce, appears to have worked). Days don't get much better than this. 

"There is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ. He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened..." (Mosiah 16:8-9).