Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Woodland Beauties

From my wildflower walk with 5 year old Tanka today.

Photos by Aisling, April 30, 2008 1) Erythronium Americanum - "Trout Lily" 2) Dicentra Cucullaria -"Dutchman's Breeches" a wild relative of Bleeding Heart

Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday Muse - Inspiration from Blogs

It's been a while since I've done a "Monday Muse" post, but usually they have been about a musician who inspires me. Of course music is not the only thing that inspires me. Gardens and nature do, of course, and people I meet who are expressing themselves creatively. Some of my best inspiration these days comes from the blogs that I read, not always on a daily basis, but as close to it as possible.

For the next few Mondays, I'm going to tell about the blogs on my bloglist: who they are and why they're on my list. I hope you will take that time to visit some of these blogs which inspire me. My list is alphabetic, so there is no preference suggested by the order of my list. I enjoy them all, or they wouldn't be there. That reminds me that I have a few "new discoveries" to add soon.

The first blog on my list is Beyond the Fields We Know. Cate, the author and artist who pens the blog, is inspiring in her connection with and knowledge of nature. I go there to see beautiful photography, and read informative, moving prose, and amazing poetry.

Next on my list is Cedar Chest of Dreams. Robbin is currently resting and recovering, but when she is "up and running" her blog is filled with inspiration, humor and dreamy thoughts. It really is like visiting a friend to bring her blog up on my screen and catch up with her each day. If you're reading this, Robbin, I'm sending prayers and healing thoughts.

Next on my list is Cor Blimey She's a Limey, which currently carries a heading "life at the hovel" in honor of recent renovations at Lesley's cottage in England. She provides a great number of film reviews, as well as glimpses of her garden and her cats. I have known Lesley for many years on line, primarily through homemaking email groups. Many of those old lists have gone "by the wayside" but I have been glad to keep in touch with Lesley through her blog.

photo by Haiku, April 27, 2008 White (Emperor?) Tulips in the Moon Garden

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Invitation to Stroll

John Muir said in 1890, "New beauty meets us at every step in all our wanderings." Today I invite you to find new beauty in your corner of the world.
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. I'll check back often and try to keep the list updated.
Looks who's strolling:

My Sunday Stroll - New Beauty

photos by Aisling, Sunday April 27, 2008
1) chartreuse daffodil, cultivar unknown (a gift from a friend) 2) Poet's Narcissus opening 3) bleeding heart foliage 4 & 5) the fan-folded leaves alchemilla mollis (Lady's Mantle) 6) vinca 7) the first flower stalks on the heuchera (coral bells), a hummingbird favorite here 8) Purple Prince Tulip almost ready to bloom 9) the slate trail in the butterfly garden, with Arwen in the upper left corner

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Today at home

I was basically stranded at home today. Yesterday, the serpentine belt in my car's engine decided to start unravelling itself; not a good thing. I borrowed my husband's van, and because his does not have a bell to remind me to turn off the lights, I didn't do so. Again, not a good thing. I would charge the battery with our plug-in battery charger, but can't pop the hood (it is an older van and the mechanism doesn't operate correctly.) Yesterday my dryer also decided to die. Though I would really enjoy a clothesline outdoors, every time I ask my dear husband to help me put one in, he talks me out of the location I have in mind for it. Hmmm...

So today, despite some plans, I stayed at home. I draped laundry all over chair backs and door tops, and stair railings and opened all the windows wide. The breeze was brisk and effective, so I got several loads washed and dried.
I brought a card table up from the basement and put my seed trays on it. I am late in starting seeds, but have better luck transplanting smaller seedlings. So far, the boys have started three kinds of pumpkins and I have started rosemary and stevia. Over the next few days, I will be starting more seeds and also putting rhubarb and asparagus in beds outdoors.

I could have run around and done errands and kept appointments today, but I enjoyed my involuntary day off. I did housework. I did college homework. I took a couple of short walks with my five year old, Tanka, and a few photos in the garden. I read huggy buggy board books with Tanka and made bread and homemade tortillas. It was one of my favorite kind of days, and the sort of day the doesn't happen often enough.
Oh yeah, and if that wasn't enough to make me happy (it was), the Red Impression Tulips in the front garden opened today.

photos by Aisling, 1) white tulips in the moon garden 2) asparagus and rhubarb to be planted 3) pumpkin seedlings 4) Red Impression Tulip

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Leaves in Spring

photo by Aisling, April 23, 2008 Lupine leaves. Look closely for spider silk and for evidence of last night's rain caught on the edges and in the "bowls" of the leaves.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

My Sunday Stroll - Light

Haiku, my 15 year old daughter, took these photos for me today. I took a walk also, watching for little leaves pushing up through the dirt, and watching the play of light and shadow in the garden. I especially liked the way my daughter's photos caught the light.

photos by Haiku, April 20, 2008 1) blue hyacinth and blue sky 2) The sky through bare branches 3) a little tulip open to the sun 4) broken flower pots 5) light and shadows on daffodils in the herb garden

Please join me for a Sunday Stroll...

If you are reading this, you are invited to join me in a Sunday Stroll today.

William Wordsworth once said, "Come forth into the light of things. Let nature be your teacher." On my Sunday Stroll this week, I hope to find the light in the garden. Only a few things are blooming, but the tiny leaves are emerging from the dark haven of the earth where they have slept through the winter. Now, they are stretching towards the light. Slowly, I will walk through my yard and garden into the light, stretching my winter-weary body, looking closely to see what nature has to teach me.

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. I'll check back often and try to keep the list updated.
Look who's strolling:

Friday, April 18, 2008

Showing Their Colors...

Barefoot, or ruining little pairs of formerly white socks, my sons are drawn to the trail in the butterfly garden. In their imaginations, the trail has been the scene of many things, from prehistoric exploration to intergalactic battles. They run around and around the slate pavers until something interesting arrests their boyish inertia. I see them from the kitchen window, stooping together, looking down... still for just a little while. Are they looking at a tiny red spider mite scurrying for cover under a fresh young violet leaf? Or have they found a menacing black spider, a monster in miniature? For a while, they climb the tree, then spin in the grass brandishing sticks, and then they are back on the trail.

Together, these two rough-and-tumble boys, with dirt under their fingernails and grime on their sweet little faces, exclaim over the opening of a delicate and ephemeral blossom. They run to the house to tell me, "One bloomed!" and then they are out the door again, racing back to the trail that weaves through the early spring garden. Most of the plants in the garden are waiting for warmer days to show their colors, but my sons show me their brilliant, energetic, kaleidoscopic colors every day of the year.

photo by Aisling 1) The garden trail last year, on 4/21/07 Note: My photos from the kitchen window of the boys playing on the trail were zoomed in from quite a distance and were too blurry to use here. I'll try again soon!

Thursday, April 17, 2008


soft catkins emerge

lilac leaf buds swell with green

spring is unfurling.

~ Aisling, April 17, 2008

photos by Aisling, April 17, 2008 1) willow catkin 2) sensation lilac leaf buds 3) little bee on the first daffodil to bloom this year.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Please join me for a Sunday Stroll...

You are invited to join me in a Sunday Stroll today.

A Sunday Stroll is not a power walk. It is a slow motion experience. To take a Sunday Stroll is to meander through the garden, with camera in hand, noticing things... like the tender green shoot growing up through last year's leaf litter, light through a translucent petal, or the spider in the tulip cup.

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. I'll check back often and try to keep the list updated.

"The moment one gives close attention to anything,
even a blade of grass,
it becomes a mysterious, awesome,
indescribably magnificent world in itself." ~ Henry Miller

(I first shared this quote, and wrote about paying closer attention,

Look who's Strolling today:

My Sunday Stroll

photos by Aisling, April 13, 2008 1) crocus blooming along the trail in the butterfly garden 2) Daydream tulip leaves, filled with rain or melted snow 3) slowly emerging hyacinth 4) Daylily leaves coming up next to last year's stalk 5)What the day looked like here. It was a cold, crisp day, but there's that blue sky!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Meet the Locals...

My children have been on spring break for the past week. Today is their last day, so tomorrow we will all be back to our routine. I am substituting for one of the recess attendants. I hope it is a nice day, weather-wise, since I will be outside for several hours! The photos in this post are from Haiku's walks near our home (but not all on our property) during the past few days. The last one was taken from the dining room window this evening. He started moving quickly once he noticed my daughter leaning through the window to take his picture, so it is a bit blurry, but he was a pretty fellow so I'm including it despite the lack of crisp focus.

photos by Haiku, April 2008 1) black-capped chickadee 2) Maudie getting a drink 3) a little raccoon who ventured out of the woods in the afternoon. 4) ring-necked pheasant

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Sunday Stroll - Audience Participation Requested

I've added a button to my sidebar for my Sunday Stroll blogging event. Next Sunday, I plan to include a format for participants to add a link if they would like to post a Sunday Stroll of their own. If you are a gardener, or nature lover, please consider joining me. I will write more about this as the week proceeds. In the meantime, here are the photos from my Sunday Stroll today.
photos by Aisling, April 6, 2008 1) golden yellow crocus 2) lavender crocus 3) blue hyacinth, not yet in bloom


The week three theme for Gracious Hospitality's blog-a-thon is tea motifs in decorating. I have to admit, I drink most of my tea in mugs and don't stand on ceremony very often. The tiny bit of "tea ware" that I have is in my china hutch, though I look longingly at the tea cups and saucers in local antique store windows fairly often. In my house, with two rough and tumble little boys, I'm afraid those items would not last long. Right now, one of the panes of glass in my hutch needs to be replaced because of Tanka's wild antics.

The photo above shows two little brown tea pots that were my maternal grandmothers. The smaller of the two could be used as a creamer in a pinch, but also makes a lovely single serving of tea. The photo below shows the little bride and groom mice who sat atop our wedding cake about 20 and one half years ago, in front of the sugar bowl and creamer from my grandmother's china set. The mice were a gift from a wonderful friend with whom I worked. Sadly, I have lost touched with that friend, who was so much of a kindred spirit. I think of her often when I see these country mice, and I think also of the two country mice, Limerick and I, who were married all those years ago in a garden.

photos by Aisling, April 2008

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Good Morning, Spring!

Since I wrote my "Goodnight Winter" post on March 19th, I've been waiting for the day when I could write this post. In theory, I could have written it the next morning, but I had no spring-like photos to share, no spring-like weather for inspiration. Yesterday, finally, the first crocuses bloomed here. Yesterday, for the first time this year, the air was warm and fresh. The boys climbed the tree in the butterfly garden for much of the afternoon, and I pulled away some of the dry brown leaves of last year's garden looking for green. The first flowers of 2008 are more than a week later than last year's earliest blooms... and it has truly been a long, cold winter. Now, though more winter will come in an icy morning or a late snowfall, the walk into spring has begun and hope is blossoming along the trail.

photos by Aisling April 4, 2008: 1)crocus buds in the morning 2) hens and chicks 3) Tag on the garden trail

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Nearly Wordless Wednesday - Mr. Wiggles

When my girls were small, I explained migration and the return of the robins to the north by making up a story about a little robin named Mr. Wiggles. Each year, we greeted the first robin we saw as "Mr. Wiggles."
photo by Aisling March 25, 2008: Mr. Wiggles, the first robin of spring.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


I'm a little behind on posting in the tea blog-a-thon, but I want to sneak this one in before moving on. This is my Week 2 post, but Week 3 has already begun. La-tea-dah asked participants to share a book about tea.

My encounters with characters "taking tea" started at a very young age. Some of my favorites were mentioned by other bloggers, such as Bilbo's unusual tea party in the early pages of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. I read Louisa May Alcott's Under The Lilacs at a very young age, and in the first few pages encountered a tea party in disarray. And I worried over Lucy in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis as she accepted an invitation to tea from Mr. Tumnus. I enjoyed those moments so much that I read all of these books aloud to my daughters when they were little girls.

I would like to share a few passages from a tea book that I encountered only a few years ago. In the very early 1950s, Monica Lang wrote her memoir, Invitation to Tea, which tells of her life as a young wife on a tea plantation in India. During the years the story covers, Monica encountered elephants and jungle plants, wrestled with malaria, and raised a petting zoo's worth of animals, including both a lamb and a baby tiger. Here is just a tiny glimpse, regarding the growing of tea.

"In a short canter we turned a slight bend in the path and the plantation suddenly came into view. Involuntarily I drew a deep breath and reined my horse. A huge expanse of soft rolling green like an immense carpet stretched into the distance as far as the eye could see. On either hand whichever way one looked the same lovely green expanse stretched to the jungle edge. Tall trees interspersed the acres of short green bushes and in the far distance the Himalayan snows in all their glory were visible against the bright blue sky. I was spellbound."
"With the advent of the hot weather came also what was known as the first "flush" of the tea. The days of cultivation, hoeing, pruning, were over for another cold season, and plucking and manufacture took on an aspect of twenty-four hours a day. I had thought during the cold weather that the life of a planter was what one might call "full." Now I gained a greater knowledge of just what that life comprised."
"Never again shall I be able to look at a package of tea without a slight contraction of the heart, for I know how much of a man's very soul goes into the making of those crisp black leaves."

photos by Aisling March 25, 2008 1) books and teapot 2) inside cover art from Invitation to Tea by Monica Lang, Peoples Book Club, Chicago, Copyright 1952