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Archive for June, 2011

Bye Bye June!

Well, I don’t know about you, but I found June to be most satisfactory over all. It was a weird month as I caught up to many projects, some of which are almost completely finished. Very careful to not start lots of new ones like I usually do, I’ll be free in July to focus on getting everything off my old ‘to-do’ lists and take a trip up to see our daughter and her wife in San Francisco for a weekend.

ye olde oregano patch


Most of my gardening efforts have been pulling weeds and clearing out dead things to make room for the tomatoes that are slowly growing. Slowly since we have had a lot of the usual June ocean cloud cover which cuts our daily Sun down to about 4 hours a day. Today, I will go out to collect herbs for drying. The New Moon makes it a perfect couple days to do that. It’s good for the plant’s regrowth to cut extra herbs on the New Moon.

Spread the herbs out so they get lots of air.


I’ve probably said all of this before, but today it makes sense to repeat it to myself…There are a couple rules I try to follow when gathering herbs:

1) Don’t take more than 30% of a healthy plant. Being a little conservative yet more consistent with collection will keep a plant lush and thriving, instead of shocked and stunted, trying to recover. There are exceptions to this rule, like all rules. If a plant needs an aggressive chop, then let it have it – but always on a waning or new Moon.

2) Gather your herbs no later than mid-morning. The Sun has had time to dry the dew off and get the plant’s Mojo working but not enough time to start breaking down the volatile oils and juicy alkaloid stuff that we want at optimum levels in our collected parts.

What parts you collect, leaves-roots-stems-flowers, depends on your herb and your needs, so keep that in mind when planning ahead. Give them a good rinse and they’re ready to dry. Most of mine get dried on plain unbleached craft paper that comes in a big roll. Sometimes, depending on the herb, I hang big clusters upside down by the stems. Keep them in a cool, dry, out of the dust area and maybe turn them over every few days if their leaves are big. After a couple weeks, they are ready for storage. Mine get stored in jars that I collect along the way and I make sure to label them since a lot of herbs look the same after they’re dried.

I really love all my mismatched recycled jars.

3) If you’re after an herb for its roots, you may not want to touch it for another Moon, letting it mature in the summer Sun. For seeds, definitely do not cut off the flowers now or you will not have any seeds later! That sounds only sensible, but I have done it before without thinking. Yes, I can be a little impetuous.

the seed head of the Fennel herb


Remember, if you’re packing up seeds to share or store, put their name and date collected on the packaging so you won’t have to question yourself later.

Packing up seeds to share.


If you’re not after an herb, it’s also a good day to collect blooming flowers for vases. The plant will get a good trim for regrowth as the weather heats up and you’ll have something pretty to look at. I don’t know if I’ll have time for cutting flowers today, we’ll have to see. My camera froze yesterday, so until I get it fixed there won’t be any new pictures and getting that taken care of will be my priority. Enjoy your day and I’ll see you next month.

"Girl with a Basket in a Garden" by Knight Daniel Ridgway

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Self-reinvention is everything
Spin many nests . . .
Molt, Rest, Molt again…

Before she left our current dimension, my adopted Wise-Mother Ginnie told me many smart things. Whenever life got overwhelming I would pour my heart out to her and she always had the right words for me in return. Some were her own, some were the words of others. She was a word collector with a brilliant mind that was like a perfectly organized Super Filing Cabinet. She had been a librarian and I never met anybody whose profession fit them as well as hers. Some days I miss her voice and her word-magic in my life so much it hurts my stomach.

The words above were a response from Ginny at a time when my life had been undergoing gut-wrenching and overwhelming change, and all of it against my will. For some reason, these words were in my head when I woke up this morning. Probably because I have been thinking a lot about change, the fear of change, changes that happen against one’s will, inevitable change, the embracing of change, and the futility of ignoring change, for better or worse. Also, I have been changing. I’ve been getting some serious rest and relaxation for the first time in a long time and I like it so much that I’m doing everything I can to insure that I get to have it even after I go back to school in the fall. Everything I do lately gets filtered through my ‘change lens’ with a question of whether or not I should change the way I do it, or stop doing it altogether. Even the way I sleep has undergone a drastic change. The top sheet is off and I sleep sideways in the bed with a single loose blanket and no pillows, totally free-form, and my long-running shoulder pain is suddenly gone. Why did I have to sleep in one direction in a bed tucked in on three sides? Who wrote that rule and why did I follow it even though it didn’t work for me? Stupid. Fear of making a change. Anyways, changes have been going on all over the place.

It’s pretty scary to make changes. If you change jobs because you dislike your current one, you’re happy and terrified all at once. Even an unsatisfactory job is a comfort in ones life and changing that throws one off balance for a while. Deciding to change your diet and exercise routine is ominous and doomed for failure unless you completely embrace certain changes. Saving money and getting out of debt means changing the way you treat money – that’s totally terrifying. Even deciding that certain things you’ve been doing in the garden are not really worth the time and effort can cause a hyperventilated panic attack, because it means changing the routine, doing away with the familiar.

Today, I decided to stop composting until I finish school. Simple enough, but I was strangely hesitant of facing the fact that I no longer wanted the extra task of keeping track of kitchen and garden scraps and caring for my electric composting machine. It almost felt sinful and I don’t really believe in sin. Tom suggested I do it the traditional way with a big can and I said no, no I just want to have a life free of compost thoughts for a while. Is that ok? He said “it’s already done, you’re free, feel better?” – yes, yes I do. Every time I turn around I find something similarly outdated that I want to change or eliminate, streamline or throw in the garbage. What will I do with that extra time? Something exhilarating and valuable, something that impacts life in a profound and beautiful way. Or maybe an extra nap now and then.

The words quoted at the beginning of this post were words Ginnie told me every time my life was undergoing dramatic and traumatic change and I was fearful or weary, not rolling well with the punches. They were from a poem by Amy Gerstler and I haven’t read it in a couple of years. Today it was perfect. Thank you, Ginnie.

Advice from a Caterpillar
by Amy Gerstler

Chew your way into a new world.
Munch leaves. Molt. Rest. Molt
again. Self-reinvention is everything.
Spin many nests. Cultivate stinging
bristles. Don’t get sentimental
about your discarded skins. Grow
quickly. Develop a yen for nettles.
Alternate crumpling and climbing. Rely
on your antennae. Sequester poisons
in your body for use at a later date.
When threatened, emit foul odors
in self-defense. Behave cryptically
to confuse predators: change colors, spit,
or feign death. If all else fails, taste terrible.

I wonder if he smokes a hookah?

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Tom and I took a few hours off last week and went to the Del Mar County Fair. We hadn’t been in almost a decade. Everything was the same. I had to have a corn dog, like always. We looked at the livestock and I remembered the years of my youth spent in the country. The smell of manure does that to me. It wasn’t unpleasant. The smell of manure I mean.

Baby goats are the cutest thing ever. If only they had fit in my purse!


According to the sign, these two goats are named “Beyonce” and “Maybeline” which is why they got their pictures taken. I really do love goats.

Beyonce and Maybeline are too busy for a photo shoot.


We looked at the winners of the flower contests and I enjoyed waltzing around saying ‘oh I can grow a better Rose than that blue ribbon thing’ until I ran into a purple Dahlia bigger than my head. That shut me up. I didn’t take a picture of it because displaying that prize-winning flower on my website didn’t seem right. I did get pictures of non-award display plants that tickled my fancy:

The 'day-glo' colors of this Bromeliad reminded me of an aerobics leotard I had in the 80's.


I fell in love madly with a Fuschia


Bloomers and Petticoats

or maybe a ballerina in a tutu

Years ago I dragged Tom through the gardening displays making mental notes about the garden I wanted ‘some day’ and yesterday I walked through thinking ‘wow I totally did it’ and that was a great feeling!

African "Lion's Tail" fit their description perfectly

We visited the vegetable and farm displays, always my favorite.

can I get an "Amen" up in here?!


I loved the colors of this Cabbage


A Sea of Sunflower Happiness


There's always time to stop and talk to a Bee


We looked at the photography exhibits and I thought about the dilemma I’ve had over whether or not I should put my name or website on all my photos. Some garden bloggers do that, something written across every photo they post so that it’s there forever like a big scar. It’s been on my mind for a year and half now and I firmly decided at the Fair that no, no I will not put any identification whatsoever on my online plant photos. Yes, I took them and they are technically mine. But, it’s a photo of the natural world which does not belong to me. There have been billions of poppies bloom on the planet throughout the course of history and capturing an image of one more is not something for which I need permanent credit. My intention is to share that moment in time with you, and I do it freely. If someone wants to ‘steal’ a photo of a flower from my website, that’s a good thing for the world. If someone wants to print it, frame it, and enter it in a photo contest, then they had more gumption than I did and I hope it wins a ribbon – woo! Perhaps I’ll change my mind one day, perhaps not.

Ok, does anyone know what this is?

We saw everything in three hours, mocked everyone’s fashion choices, wondered at the numbers of people in line to eat deep fried butter, bought a ‘ratchet pruner’ , which has become a new favorite tool, and now we don’t have to go back for another decade, unless I decide to enter a flower growing contest. No, definitely not.

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Well, Happy Summer Solstice! It’s warm outside, the day is long, Sun is shining, and plants are growing. The garden was left alone today so she could bask in the Sun while I worked elsewhere. Tomorrow or the next day I may start trimming up some things since the Moon is waning. The biggest job at the moment is keeping everything watered, but I expect that at this time of year. One thing I am celebrating today is an Orchid ‘re-bloom’ and I’m very proud of this one. It’s not easy for most of us to keep Orchids alive, much less do so until it blooms again, which sometimes takes two years. This ‘Tie Dye’ Phalaenopsis is a beauty that managed to survive my worst care record in history last semester. There were a couple buds that fell off during the last week of school because I was late watering, but I put a little extra love into the process for a while and she rewarded me…

'Tie Dye' Phalaenopsis Orchid


One by one, 15 blooms.

Will they all open?


The end bud here is smaller than a pea:

The tiniest of spider webs.


Reminds me of an inkblot test…what were those called? I forget.

I remember now: Rorschach!


It also looks like an alien in the center of a fancy personal spacecraft:

an alien from outer space?


Or maybe it’s just beautiful.

Summer Solstice - 2011

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Lazy Sunday

Today, I’m going to honor my lazy bone. Sometimes you just have to take a day and do nothing, to melt into yourself and emerge later as something new, something fresh. Or perhaps just something that looks rested. Happy Lazy Sunday, and to all the awesome Dads who never get enough credit and who suffer through ill fitting boxer and hideous neck tie gifts, Happy Father’s Day! Go take a Dad-nap!

Segundo, King of Cat Naps

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“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.” ~ Albert Einstein

Bee and Fennel

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Date with the Muse

The sun shines
in bright defiance
of the dark horizon
shadows wrestle
with the light
I am showing up
for my date with the muse
she is lounging
in the pear tree
discussing with the blossoms
the anticipated flavor
of the fruit.

by Lisa Kagan (excerpt)
from We’Moon Calendar – 2011

Sunlight and shadow at play in a frilly yellow Gladiola

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