Everyone have a restful Sunday! Be back Monday.
Well, it has really been a wonder-ful week for the children and nature, highlights being finding the bunny and saving the bird. Just a few more quickies, and next week we'll get back to some other subjects!
Corn-husk dolls: Christina and Anna-Grace eagerly husked the corn I brought home from a local farmer, then quickly set about making their own version of a corn-husk family, complete with braided hair and a baby.
Captured Cricket: It was Anna-Grace’s turn to be breathless. "MOM! We caught a cricket!" She presented the container to me in the kitchen. As I began to lift the lid, she stated, "Watch out! He jumps REALLY high." BOING! Right out of the coffee container onto the kitchen floor. "See? I TOLD ya!" Then came the joy of catching him, scooping him up carefully, and putting him in a jar with a tinfoil lid. Anna-Grace and her little friend began hopping around, with much the same excitement as after they picked strawberries. "What if you could keep a cricket as a pet?" "Yeah, and what if you could pet him, and then he crawled up on your wrist?" "Yeah! And then, he JUMPED!" Off they went with more what ifs, putting grass and a little bit of water in the jar. After a time of observation, we convinced them to let him go, but it was a fun and memorable find!
We found the Ent-wives! A post to come on trimming the wisteria, but I just had to share this picture! The giggles and silliness that accompanied the wisteria mess was well worth making it!
This is a "Hawaiian Ent-wife". OK, for those rare few unfamiliar with Lord of the Rings, the Ents are talking trees. And they lost their wives. Literally. Can't find them. I guess they didn't look under the wisteria. That's where I found my... Oh, well, we'll wait for my wisteria post!
Lastly, probably my favorite, Geese in Need of a Garmin: Angela and I were outside, when a small flock of geese flew by, really low, honking loudly – going west. Angela looked up, and after a moment’s reflection, called out some un-solicited advice. "You’re going the wrong WAAAAAAY! A little to the left!"
Everyone have a restful Sunday! Be back Monday.
This is bindweed. It doesn’t matter which of the many varieties it is, if you see it, KILL IT! And I don’t mean pull it up and compost it, either. It will love you for that. I mean kill it.
I did not take this plant seriously when it first appeared in my garden – after all, if you let it go long enough, it will give you beautiful white morning glory flowers. But by then you are in big trouble! After a couple years of my tolerating this plant and not aggressively eliminating it, it had taken over my peonies (and I have a dozen plants) and spread to other areas. So here’s what to do.
I hope you read this post soon enough to avoid an infestation in your yard, but if not, following these tips will get the enemy well under control. Yes, weeds are flowers, too. But I do draw the line somewhere!
Just a quick note before my daily entry - another commenter asked about ADD! I am getting hold of a reliable source in natural medicine, and soon will share with you what I know, i.e. what helps. Hopefully!
WELL! I really DO have other things I would like to write about, but when the moments of wonder and learning come in the garden, they must be cherished and shared! This one was almost a tragedy.
Christina came running in, breathless. "Mom! We found a baby bird in the pond! It was stuck, with its wings on the rocks and its head under water!" Sure enough, wrapped in a kitchen towel (ew!) was a small, shivering, wet bird. I simply cannot figure out how it got in that predicament. It may have fallen from the side of the pond and was trying to get a foot hold on the rock to climb back out, but got its wings stuck while flapping. However it happened, I told them, "Well, get a box and line it with a rag. It’s probably just stunned and needs some time." I expected it would be able to fly off once it dried.
But when the girls put it in the box, they called again. "Mom! Look at the tail feathers! They’re almost gone!" Sure enough, its little bottom was bare. Feathers had clearly been removed. Had it been attacked by a larger bird and escaped, only to land in our pond? It was something to ponder. Whatever happened, it seemed clear to me that the little guy would probably not make it; it would not be able to fly again and would be easy prey, or we would not be able to care for it well enough and it would die. But Christina and her friend were going to do all they could to save this bird. They put water in a milk cap and gave it some sunflower seeds. Then they went out to the compost heap looking for worms. No luck. (I’m sure they were there, but two 10-year-olds probably couldn’t dig deep enough). So they pulled out a Butterfly Field Guide, looking for plants that caterpillars live on. "Mom? Do we have any milkweed around here? How about poplar?" I suggested the broccoli, since there were three little green critters in the last head I picked. Christina had thought of that, too, but had found none. Well! I told her to check the beans. "Turn over the leaves and get some of the little yellow bugs." Bean beetle larvae ought to be good for something! Success at last! They gave them to the frightened little bird, who of course ignored it all. Then they pulled out a Bird Field Guide to try to identify it. However, a small brown and beige bird could be almost anything. My guess is a young female chickadee, but we’ll never know.
Having done all they could, they went about their play for a couple hours. When they returned, they asked if they could take it outside. "Yes, but stay with it! You don’t want a hawk to get it." Out they went. Moments later, that most wonderful word in the world was heard again –"Mom!" What now? "Mom, he flew away! He’s all right! He flew away!" How he flew with that tail I’ll never know, but Christina’s little friend said she saw its tail feathers spread, so it must have had enough left after all. An unexpected happy ending! And a terrific opportunity to learn and experience wonder. They will always remember saving that bird.
A tiny baby bunny startled me as I was cutting the rosebushes in the Blessed Mother garden. Now, normally I would be moved by such a sight, but we have TOO many bunnies in our yard! Nonetheless, I did not want to hurt it, and I called Angela who was nearby as I tried to decide what to do.
"Oooooo! He’s so CUUUUUTE!" she crooned. Well, yeah. But he eats my flowers!
"I’m going to catch him with the net!" She ran to get the big butterfly net that is always near the pond for catching frogs. Now it will catch a bunny. I don’t remember it ever being used to catch butterflies.
The poor little thing was shivering, and trying to appear invisible, when the great orange net swooped down on him. The first effort failed – he ran out from under. But the second try was a success. By then Christina had joined us. Carefully we scooped a pan under the net, and I told them, "Take him WAY out into the back field!" Off they went, now with Teresa joining them.
They were gone for some time, then returned triumphantly and told me of how he let them stroke his back.
"We named him Apollo. Because of his great size." Haha!
Lovely groundivy on the chair stump
Well, now I’ve got another project for myself: a monthly, systematic critique of each garden on our property (twelve so far, but who’s counting?) I don’t know why I can’t just be satisfied, but I am always striving to make the gardens better. Although I gain such joy looking at them, I still see things that need to be done, or fixed, or added. So, each month I plan to evaluate every area of the property, even through the winter months (probably the most important months, since it takes much more planning to make a winter garden beautiful.) Here’s what I list for each section:
Hardscape: stump shaped like a chair, stepping stumps and stones, poles for grape vine, pot (hardscape is the same for every season)
Foliage: spirea, chive, grape beginning
Color: primrose (yellow), flowering quince (peach).
To do: remove one pole, replace rotting stumps, weed. Long term – plant with groundcover. (two rotting stumps removed, garden weeded)
Foliage: grapevines, chive, spirea, primrose, quince, rose of sharon
Color: spirea (pink), chive (pink), columbine (maroon), spikey thing (beige/peach), ground ivy (purple)
To do: nothing new
Looks lousy! Chive with tons of dead heads, spirea done and ugly, larkspur not growing.
To do: deadhead chive (did it), plant new seeds (planted zinnia and dill)
Foliage: Spirea (didn’t give it a haircut, so no repeat bloom), chive, grapes, primrose leaves (looking old), seedlings coming up
Color: very little! Tansy starting near grapes (yellow), a few chive heads (pink), Queen Anne’s lace (white) and weeds, a few rose of sharon flowers
To do: weed around grapes (but not the Queen Anne’s lace!), pull up spirea
So there’s an example of one garden, and how I am analyzing it and the others monthly. I will enjoy continuing this monthly evaluation. Organizing is such fun! And I hate having nothing to do (um, not actually a problem for a homeschooling mother of six. But just in case, I always keep a long list of projects if I ever have a spare moment!)
Here’s another very healthful weed to add to your menu. Does it look familiar? If you’ve got a garden, you probably have summer purslane.
The technical name is portulaca oleracea, which means "eaten as a cultivated herb." And it was, too, for thousands of years. It grows all over the Mediterranean and has spread throughout the world. Greeks ground the seeds in with their flour, and Indians considered it a healing herb. It is a good source of quite a few nutrients, and is considered a very good source of vitamins A and C, iron, and magnesium, and is especially high in omega-3 fatty acids and anti-oxidants, the cancer fighters. Here is a link to the Journal of American College of Nutrition study, which found purslane better than spinach in multiple categories. http://www.jacn.org/cgi/content/abstract/11/4/374 Website suite101.com quoted dietician and leading nutrition consultant, Kate Geagan, who stated, "Purslane is one of the richest sources of ALA (alpha linolenic acid), which is a precursor to DHA. In other words, if you can't eat fish, purslane helps fight heart disease and stroke, too." OK, ready to try it yet? Purslane is a succulent: moist and crunchy and slightly lemony, it is refreshing in a salad. Its mucilaginous quality makes it a good thickener for soups. The stalks can even be pickled, or breaded and put in a casserole. If you have a whole bunch, put it in a paper bag for a few weeks. The seeds will ripen, and you can winnow them out and use them in your breads, or sprinkle them on top of dishes.
Here’s a recipe that sounds great: Purslane, pepper, and tomatoe salad with lemon and olive oil. All ingredients to taste. Purslane is a high source of iron, but iron has to be "bioavailable" in foods. Purslane’s iron is enhanced by the vitamin C in the pepper, tomato and lemon, making it more available to our bodies. So add purslane to you next salad, or stir-fry it up as a side dish. It should be your newest superfood!
Nothing I could say would be an exaggeration in praise of this book. It is truly a classic: it touches the heart and brings out the best in the reader, it teaches some wonderful virtues, and it uses art to advance the story and give pleasure to the senses. It is a treasure for young and old – I LOVE this book!
Lydia Grace is a little girl from the country who gardens with her grandmother on her parents’ farm. There is joy and color and beauty in her world. But her peaceful, flower-ful life is suddenly interrupted; because it’s 1935, and there is no work. She is sent to live with her uncle, a baker in the city, and the entire story is told through the letters she sends. We discover that her uncle never smiles. But we also discover that she is an incurable optimist, and she sets a goal to make her uncle smile. In the process of trying, however, she brings joy and beauty and color – and smiles – to the people of that gray city.
What amazes me is how much of the story is told by pictures, and how the character of the uncle is so very fully developed, almost exclusively through the artwork. The author also knows how to use silence; there are several very poignant pages with no words at all. On those pages the story is advanced by the art – powerfully. Be sure to contrast the page when Lydia Grace arrives, a tiny spot of color in a gray world, to when she leaves. Note what stays the same, but also what changes. These pages, as with others in the book, are worth lingering over and studying.
Get this book for your home library. Discuss it with your children and you will have some wonderful conversations. The positive attitude in the midst of trial that Lydia Grace demonstrates, the tenderness of those whose lives she touches, the hardships of the depression, the family love, and the exquisite pastel pictures make this book a gold-mine.
Then get a packet of seeds in Lydia Grace’s honor, and fill a window-box!
Definition of temperate: moderate in degree or quality; restrained.
After suffering weeks of drought and scorching temperatures, followed by a tremendous thunderstorm last night, the line of this sonnet, "thou art more lovely, and more temperate" has been repeating in my mind. Our summers are definitely not temperate! But honestly, ladies, wouldn't you just melt if your honey wrote such beautiful words for you? Even if you had to read his poem with a dictionary in hand, it would be worth it! Sigh...
By William Shakespeare
Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And Summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And oft' is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd:
But thy eternal Summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
My sister-in-law sent me the greatest quote, to encourage me to keep at it: "Sharks and blogs need to keep moving to live." HaHa! Or, in the 'texting' parlance, LOL! Every blogger has the best of intentions when starting, but how does one make sure it happens?
I am a person who NEEDS schedules. I don’t know how anybody gets anything done without them (I also don’t know how anybody gets anything done if he watches TV regularly, but that’s a different topic!) So even in the summer, I have made a schedule, and it is helping me get things done, including posting to my blog. In case it will inspire anyone, here it is:
5:30 am – Art drags me out of bed before he heads off to work (and I do mean DRAGS! I am NOT a morning person!)
6am – prayer and religious reading, getting ready for the day.
7-9 am – Out in the gardens (I keep a list of what needs to be done and when. I also come in a few times to rouse the troops!)
9am – Family prayers
9:15 – Reading with Anna-Grace, then giving her copy work for the day (a few sentences a day.)
The rest of the day is a blur of activity, with various projects and errands as all mothers know. I keep a day-timer for this stuff.
7pm – Dinner (Art gets home late. Long day for my over-worked hubby!)
Do more stuff.
9pm – Start work on blog or books or editing job. This is how I’ll make sure I post frequently and also work on my books. (I am also going to make a schedule of different kinds of blog entries to make regularly, so I am sure to discuss all the topics of my blog on a regular basis.)
???? Bed (I’m a night person. I feel guilty going to bed before 11pm, so I’m usually up past midnight. It does NOT make it easy to get up at 5:30am! So I am going to work on going to bed closer to 11.)
I even made a loose schedule for the kids! (oh, they loved me for that!) Here’s theirs:
8am – Up, get dressed, eat. Whoever’s job it is, feed the bunnies; whoever’s job it is, empty the dishwasher.
9am – Family prayers
9:15 – Anna-Grace, read with Mom; Christina, practice typing; Angela, practice piano
After lunch – Clean kitchen; Teresa, practice typing. (Arthur has his own detailed schedule, Maria works full time.)
There are variations on the theme, of course, but a little structure makes sure the important things get done while still relaxing in the summer! Do you keep any kind of a regular summer schedule, or just go with the flow? Let me know- share what works for you in the comments section!
Welcome to Growing Goodness! This website is dedicated to growing good things, both plants and children. It's a gardening blog with maternal overtones, as I discuss the goodness and value of plants, both wild and domestic. In the process I hope to help you pass a love of nature on to your children. Happy Gardening!