Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday Muse - Blogs

Soliloquy is the blog of Nancy Bond. I love the attention to minute detail that so many of her photographs present. I love the quotations that capture the essence of the nature photos she shares. Her poetry and writing are infused with the same attention to detail as her photos and through it all, one sense Nancy's connection to nature. I'm glad we found each other's blogs some months back through an ever-extending community of kindred-bloggers.

Anita's Take Joy! is a relatively recent addition to my bloglist. Anita tells stories on her blog the way we would tell a friend a story over a cup of coffee. Her writing is conversational and natural. Her subjects range from recurring dreams, to crafting, to what's growing in the garden. Those are things I love to talk about in person; I love to read about them as well.

Apparently, I'm about to introduce you to Cherry Menlove's Tales from Pixie Wood blog, just as she begins a blogging-hiatus there. She does however, maintain another website, including an active community forum. Her blog is dedicated to the art of lovely homemaking. Her blog is subtitled, "Days in England and Tales from the Homemaking Front." I can make no claim to having a home with as many lovely decorative touches as the one Cherry presents. With two little boys, several house pets, and a dusty dirt road just outside the front windows, pretty bows and delicate fabrics are kept to a minimum. A girl can dream however, and visiting any of Cherry's web-endeavors is a breath of fresh, sweetly beribboned, air.

photo by Aisling, June 29, 2008 Blue Light Clematis

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Stroll Invitation

"Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams." ~ Ashley Smith

If you have time this week for a Sunday Stroll, to walk slowly and notice things that you may have overlooked before, please post about about it on your blog and then come back here with a comment and a link to your post. You may use the Sunday Stroll button at the top of this post on your post or side bar if you would like. I will add participant names to this post so other strollers can walk through your garden too. I'll check back often and try to keep the list updated.

Look who's strolling:
Margaret at Periodic Pearls

Sunday Stroll - Dragonfly Landings

The flowers in the butterfly garden make lovely landing pads for more than just butterflies. Honey bees, and bumble bees, and moths of many varieties settle in for long, slow sips of nectar. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds zip in to sample the sweetness of the coral bells. I've seen them sit still for just a few seconds on the branches of the Chinese Elm tree. Dragonflies do elegant aerobatics over the swaying blossoms. Sometimes one sits on a slate in the trail for a little sun and, I like to imagine, a brief meditation. I don't blame them. I like to do the same thing.

photos by Aisling, Sunday June 29, 2008 1) Stella De Oro Daylily 2) marigold and tiny bee 3) Dutch Iris and ants 4) Arctic Daisies 5) baby sun coreopsis 6) fairy rose 7) whitetail dragonfly

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Nature & Children

Author Sharon Lovejoy, whom I mentioned in my Monday Muse post, has posted a request for contributions for the book she is currently writing. You can read her request for ideas for nature arts & crafts or adventures here. She is thanking contributors by choosing one idea and awarding it's submitter with a nice little package of prizes, including two of her books and a blank journal with her illustrations. If you are a gardener, a nature lover, or just an interested reader, please visit her blog to read all about it. I just know you'll enjoy your visit to her blog whether you have an idea to submit or not.

photo by Aisling, June 24, 2008 Gertrude Jekyll rose

Wordless Wednesday - A Sinking Feeling

You can see a lot more Wordless Wednesday photos here.

photo of Skye in laundry room sink by my daughter Haiku, June 25, 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday Muse

Of the blogs on my sidebar, several were added quite recently. One of those is Dee's Red Dirt Ramblings. She commented recently on one of my Sunday Stroll posts and I, in turn, visited her blog. I knew right away that I would return to her blog again and again. She is a gardener in Oklahoma, and lately has been dedicating her posts to the beautiful daylilies blooming in profusion in her garden. If that were not enough to ensure my return to her blog, her writing style would be. Her writing is informative, engaging and entertaining. You may have noticed her posts on my last couple of Sunday Strolls.

Next on my blogroll is Rue's Peanut Butter and Jelly Life. Rue's blog is full of decorating ideas and home comforts. She and her husband are hopeful that the purchase of a particular old farmhouse is in their near future. I return to her blog often to see how the quest proceeds. As I visit, I am impressed by the sweetness of Rue's spirit, which makes her blog even lovelier than the pretty photos of her home. Reading some blogs is like visiting a friend in her home, and Rue's is definitely a blog of that variety.

One of my favorite garden writers is Sharon Lovejoy. I have mentioned some of her books here in previous posts, particularly Hollyhock Days which includes my favorite lists of names for the full moons of each month. Her blog, Sharon Lovejoy Writes From Sunflower House & a Little Green Island, is filled with the same practical homegrown wisdom that characterizes her books. And like her books, there is a little bit of fairy-magic sown in for good measure.
photo by Aisling, June 21, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday Stroll Invitation

Eleonora Duse said, "If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive." If we agree with her words (and I do!), every walk in the garden, every hour on the porch watching the sunset, every moment we pause to watch a hummingbird at the coral bells... is an affirmation.

If you have time this week for a Sunday Stroll, please post about about it on your blog and then come back here with a comment and a link to your post. You may use the Sunday Stroll button at the top of this post on your post or side bar if you would like. I will add participant names to this post so other strollers can walk through your garden too.

Look who's strolling: Dee at Red Dirt Ramblings
Margaret at Periodic Pearls

Sunday Stroll - Chasing Swallowtails

As I walked in my gardens today, camera in hand, I tried to catch the beautiful Eastern Tiger Swallowtails in a photograph. Alas, they evaded me and so you will see only flowers and green leaves today. Trust me, if I manage to photograph my fluttering friends, I will post the photo here later! Rain clouds are looming on the edge of the sky, so I may have had my last garden meander for today. The photo above is a Galliardia, or blanket flower that I planted from seed. It was supposed to be a solid burgandy blanket flower to suit the dark color scheme of my front garden. As I wrote in my "Spirit Bead" post, quite some time ago, sometimes I am not the only designer at work in my garden.

Below are Ruby Cloud Masterwort, or Astrantia, Black Lace Elderberry, and two dark velvet purple pansies all from the front garden.

Down the hill, behind the house in the Butterfly garden, where camera-shy swallowtails hang out, I took photos of these Ganzania's which are a new-to-me annual.

In the Orchard Garden, in Haiku's rose and herb bed, a lush tangle is blooming. This dianthus, Candy Dish, is sumptous, and these rosebuds (on the same plant, though their coloration is different) are almost ready to bloom. This pretty Sweet William, a cousin to the dianthus, is tucked in amid rampant catmint and peppermint.

Now, I'm off to eat popcorn and read a fantasy novel one of my brothers loaned to me. Happy Sunday friends!

all photos by Aisling, Sunday June 22, 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008


Earlier this year, I found a book at the library's perpetual used book sale in the basement. Though I had little time to read, being busy with my own school work and my children's school year activities, I looked forward to reading time in the summer. So, a very battered copy of Pearl S. Buck's The Exile was added to a rising stack of books "to be read." These past few days, I have immersed myself in that book whenever life allowed.

At first, I thought I was reading another of Pearl Buck's brilliant novels, set in China. As I read on, I felt that I was reading of a real life. This story did not follow the predictable plot patterns that I've come to expect after almost 40 years as a reader. Real life is not so neatly scripted, and this book read like real life. Further in, I began to suspect that I was reading the biography of Pearl Buck's mother, though no child named Pearl was ever born into the Christian missionary family about which I was reading. Could this little girl named Comfort be Pearl? With no book jacket to refer to, I sought information on the Internet. The Exile is indeed the story of Pearl's Comfort Buck's mother, Caroline, who lived most of her life in China surrounded by a culture that treated its women with disregard, surrounded by heat and disease, suffering and sorrow. Yet despite these dismal surroundings, there was in Carie, as she was called, a vital resilient spirit, both generous and compassionate.

As one expects from Pearl Buck, the writing is both intelligent and lyrical. In this passage, Buck describes her mothers perception of her environment, when they lived for a summer on a mountain top in two rented rooms of a temple:

"When the children lay sleeping and Carie fanned them as they slept, she pondered on the strangeness of her life, she whose room and home had looked out over sweeping meadows and clear country roadsides, over windswept, distant hills and wide skies - she sat here with her two children in a dark room in a Chinese temple, where through the round window she could look down a flagged path to the vast incense urn that stood outlined against the dense green of the bamboos. All through the night and day at long, regular intervals the temple bell reverberated its solitary, resonant note and echoed from the hillsides - a strange, mystic music filled with human sadness."

Tears streamed down my face as I read through some of the pages. I could understand this woman's spirit so well, as she lived with a determination to connect with others, to know them and hear their stories. As one paragraph explains, "There was always someone telling her story to Carie. The very chambermaids in the hotels were confiding in her by the end of the second day of her stay anywhere."

Our stories are important, but perhaps more important is being able to share them. Pearl S. Buck shared her stories through writing. Her mother told her own stories of growing up in America to her children as she raised them far away across the seas, but more importantly, she was the eager, caring listener to the stories of many broken Chinese women who thought their stories did not matter... until they met Carie. The way Carie lived her life reminds me of another favorite quote about stories, to go along with those I have on my right side bar:

"The universe is made of stories, not atoms." ~ Muriel Rukeyser.

photo by Haiku, June 19, 2008 pink dianthus against a blue sky

Thursday, June 19, 2008

An Apronful of Peas

I've become so immersed in my gardening that I have neglected to share poetry here on Thursdays for the past few weeks. I've just discovered (or rather rediscovered) that if you look hard enough, you can find poetry even about vegetables. I like this one by Eleanor Farjeon, who wrote the beautiful lyrics of Morning Has Broken.


The country vegetables scorn
To lie about in shops,
They stand upright as they were born
In neatly-patterned crops;

And when you want your dinner you
Don't buy it from a shelf,
You find a lettuce fresh with dew
And pull it for yourself;

You pick an apronful of peas
And shell them on the spot.
You cut a cabbage, if you please,
To pop into the pot.

The folk who their potatoes buy
From sacks before they sup,
Miss half of the potato's joy,
And that's to dig it up.

~ by Eleanor Farjeon (1881-1965)
The photo, taken yesterday by my daughter Haiku, shows the blossoms on some of our snow peas. Thus far, we have only had a few radishes and an abundance of herbs from our garden, but soon I hope to pick an entire "apron full of peas" as this poet suggests, to add to our evening meal.
I hope you find some poetry in this day.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Rainy Tuesday at Home

Are you tired of reading about our rainy days yet? We're having another day of gray skies and cold, cold drizzle. I took my morning walk with long pants, and three layers of shirts and sweaters. I left my coffee mug in the house, or it would have been diluted by the falling rain. My pants, shoes and socks were soaked by the time I got back to the house. I finally found out what has been eating the buds of a beautiful peach lily whose blooms I look forward to each year. Slugs. Notice how slug rhymes with ugh? There's a good reason for that!

After driving my oldest daughter to work, and my younger daughter and her friend to spend the day in town, the boys and I came home to our first day of "summer school." I don't currently homeschool my boys, but this summer we will be taking two days a week to work on a few subjects of interest. Today, we began a history book about the Revolutionary War. This book includes crafts, games and recipes that correlate to the material. My boys are excited about making a faux buckskin bag and a tri-corn hat next week (after a trip to the fabric store later this week) and cream scones as well. I remember doing these projects with my girls several years ago.

I made Rosewater Lemonade to go with their lunch, and then went to work on a sewing project. The current project is a long lavender gown for my oldest daughter who does medieval reenactments. We modified a pattern, which I am learning is not one of my strong points. I can follow a pattern pretty well, but when we start to modify I get really nervous. Besides all that, the teeth of my sewing machine appear to find lavender cotton silk delectable.

The remainder of the day will be filled with my usual Tuesday cleaning routine (vacuuming the living room, washing the kitchen and dining room floors, laundry,etc.), making dinner, more sewing, picking up my girls, and hopefully some reading time for me late in the day. I'm reading The Exile by Pearl Buck, a very old book, but new to me.

I hope you all have a pleasant Tuesday, at home or out and about, rain or shine. A thought for the day:

"He respects Owl, because you can't help respecting anyboday who can spell TUESDAY, even if he doesn't spell it right." ~ A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
photos by Aisling, June 17, 2008 1) Blue Campanula, aka Blue Rain Flowers, or Fairies' Thimbles 2) Another photo, because it's so pretty and the first one opened today 3) Pale Aquilegia 4) Alchemilla Mollis (Lady's Mantle) catching rain

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Gardener

An on-line friend once mentioned that she imagined me in the garden in a long floral skirt or dress and a pretty hat. Though that sounds picturesque and romantic, the truth is much more mundane. I generally garden in shorts and a tshirt, or jeans and a sweatshirt, depending on the weather. I never wear a hat and I'm usually barefoot. Haiku snapped this photo on the butterfly garden trail as I was taking a little break the other day from working in the veggie garden. I was glad to be amid the flowers with my daughter, with the shadow of elm leaves dancing across my face.

Monday Muse - Inspiration from Blogs (resumed)

It has been several weeks since I wrote about the blogs on my blogroll and the inspiration they provide. Beginning with Memorial Day, it seems my Mondays have been devoted to other things... but today I'll resume. Since I began writing about the blogs on my list, and why they are there, I have added a few new blogs. Eventually, I hope to go back and tell you about some of those, but in the meantime, I'll just start where I left off.

The last blog I wrote about was Our Red House, so next up is Path to Freedom Journal. This blog chronicles the happenings of a little Urban Homestead in California. I love the photos of vegetable beds and small livestock, artfully squeezed into a tiny urban backyard. I love the weekly menus which are posted, giving readers a glimpse of what eating locally... very locally... could look like. My climate is so different from the one in which the writers of this blog dwell. In this northern locale, eating locally takes on a different challenge entirely: the growing season is much shorter, so more preservation and less fresh eating is involved. Nevertheless, I find their urban homesteading adventure fascinating and inspiring.

Next on my list is author Margaret Evans Porters blog, Periodic Pearls. I read several of her novels years ago, during a Regency Era reading frenzy. One day, several months ago, I read a comment that Margaret wrote on my friend Nan's Letters from a Hill Farm. Recognizing her name, I sought out her blog. To my delight, I found that we share other interests, besides writing, history, and England. Her gardens are lovely and I'm happy that she has joined in my Sunday Stroll event several times.

Next on my list is a quiet, thoughtful blogger. Prairie Star doesn't post her Wonderings often, but when she does they are insightful and personal. I think we found each other through comments on Cate's blog, Beyond the Fields We Know, and I have enjoyed getting to know Prarie Star through her own writing. She has a calming, pleasant friendliness that is conveyed through her posts.

Photo by Haiku, June 14, 2008 looking at the butterfly garden through the wild daisies that grow behind it.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday Stroll Invitation

A recent storm washed the color out of my lovely shell-pink peony, but left the gardens sparkling with rain water. In fact, several days of rain have left the garden soil rich with nutrients and promise. Between rains, we work in the garden with muddy toes and contented sighs.

"If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.

~ Loran Eisely, The Immense Journey, 1957

If you have time this week for a Sunday Stroll, please post about about it on your blog and then come back here with a comment and a link to your post. You may use the Sunday Stroll button at the top of this post on your post or side bar if you would like. I will add participant names to this post so other strollers can walk through your garden too.

Look who's strolling:
Margaret at Periodic Pearls

Sunday Stroll - As Clouds Roll In

photos by Aisling, June 15, 2008 1) Carnival Weigala in front garden 2) Close up of darker blossoms on Carnival Weigala 3) purple and white pansy in front garden 4) White McKana's Giant Aquilegia (Columbine) 5) Red McKana's Giant 6) Blue Aqueligia 7) SkyWings Iris for which my "SkyWings Butterfly Garden" is named 8) Blue Flax and Red Rose Leaves in the Rose & Herb Bed 9) Dianthus, cultivar "The Rosish One" 10) a "baby" pear 11) Iris, cultivar Rock Star, in the Rose & Herb Bed.

If you look at the sky behind the iris in the last photo, you can see that the clouds are really rolling in. More rain, from another storm, is on the way.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Memory Box

This morning, I folded a black graduation gown into a small square, and tucked it into a gallon-size freezer bag, with a cap, a tassel and a bright orange sash. I squeezed that bag into an overflowing bin of my oldest child’s memories. A few weeks ago, we opened that Memory Box to pull a few things out for Senryu’s graduation party. Tiny dresses from her earliest days are tucked amid preschool art. Little poster paint hand prints, are pressed onto colored construction paper and covered with clear laminate, holding a moment in time, as I used to hold that hand in mine. Sweet baby “cowgirl” boots and little hair bows that make me catch my breath at how swiftly time passes, are hidden under a black and cream dotted dress that she wore when she was five as the flower girl at my best friend’s wedding. She was so shy then, as she took hesitant steps down an outdoor aisle, moving quietly as if she hoped no-one would notice her. In the intervening years, she has sung and acted on stage, with vibrancy and energy: a small girl with a big powerful voice that takes people by surprise when they first hear it. She has flown half-way across the world, away from me… away from everything that she has known… to experience life in another culture for an entire year.

A pink jumper from the first day of kindergarten… A black cap and gown from high school graduation... It surprises me how full of memories that bin in the basement has become in only 18 years. It amazes me how full of experiences that young woman has become in those same years. As I press down on the lid, which only catches at the edges and does not quite close, it occurs to me that soon this bin will migrate to a corner of my daughter’s own home… perhaps in some far corner of the world, as she has an adventurous spirit. And yet, though the physical souvenirs may not be here, I will have a memory box of my own that overflows; the tears and laughter, heartaches and triumphs, the drama and the songs, of my years as “Senryu’s Mumma” fill my heart to overflowing.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wednesday - An Inhabited Garden

"The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers, and cities; but to know someone here and there who thinks and feels with us and though distant, is close to us in spirit - this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden."

~ Johann VonGoethe
photo by Aisling, June 10, 2008 .... Peony, Abalone Pearl

Nature Notebook - Early June

I usually show you what is growing in my gardens. This Nature Notebook entry features what is growing in the wild edges and the untended areas of our property. After many days of rain (and more to come) mushrooms are springing up all over the yard.

Campion, Buttercups, Field Daisies, Clover and both orange and yellow Hawkweed are blooming where the "grass" has not been mowed (our lawn and fields are mostly wildflowers and a variety of grasses, rather than actual grass.)

"My only desire is an intimate infusion with nature, and the only fate I wish is to have worked and lived in harmony with her laws."~ Claude Monet

photos by Aisling, June 10, 2008 1) a patch of yellow hawkweed in the front "lawn" 2 & 3) Mushrooms in the grass behind the house 4) wild campion 5) buttercups 6) field daisies 7) red clover 8) orange hawkweed