Saturday, August 30, 2014

some poems (the "s" poems)

sipping tea

sitting on the porch,
sipping tea in the twilight,
recounting the blessings of this day,
this life,
wishing, like a child, that all of it could stay like this forever,
knowing that it won't,
that it can't,
knowing that this is how it must be,
the buddhists speak of the impermanence,
the endless becoming of this existence,
and even in accepting this,
my heart breaks a little at the thought of all these blessings passing on,
but it's good for the heart to break like this


there's a secret inside you,
being told over and over,
in a quiet, soothing voice,
it tells all the wonder of you,
sometimes it's hard to hear,
sometimes it gets forgotten,
but it's always there,
and when you find a moment of stillness,
you can hear it


i wake sometimes,
in the night,
searching for you,
amongst the pallid moonlit scraps and shadows scattered around the room,
amidst the tangle of dissolving dreams and images floating around my half-lucid mind,
a dim light in the next room,
you haven't gone far,
you too, it seems, are searching,
but not for me,
sometimes i try to stay awake until you return,
sometimes i want to go to you,
sometimes i want to ask what it is you seek,
but i'm so often overpowered by slumber's will,
waiting in the dark,
my eyes forget if they are open or closed,
and soon i am lost to sleep again,
sometimes i wake when you return,
sometimes i cannot find my way back to you until morning,
and what a glorious reunion,
waking to find you next to me again,
as if you'd been there all along,
as if the night itself had been a dream


sleep love,
it's dark,
i know,
but, sleep love,
the light will come again

Thursday, August 28, 2014

barefoot gardening

gardening and barefooting go very well together and, in a way, gardening with shoes on has become a sort of sacrilege for me.  it was nearly four years ago that i pretty much stopped wearing shoes.  i wear shoes when we go into town or when i'm doing some kind of work at home that puts my little piggies in peril but the rest of the time i'm running around unshod regardless of the weather or season.
it's amazing how much information the bare foot has to offer.  when stuck in a shoe each step feels pretty much like the one before it.  the variety of sensations i get when barefoot keep things interesting---it keeps me aware, keeps me focused.  going from grass to gravel to leaf litter generates a lot of signals flowing from the feet to the brain and back and it's hard not to be fully engaged.  there is a sort of mindfulness that automatically develops from the awareness of the sensations coming from the feet.  not only have i become more aware of what my feet are sensing but i'm more aware and more careful of where i'm putting my feet.  when wearing shoes i've noticed a tendency to walk around somewhat carelessly because my feet are protected and because i can't really feel where i'm stepping.  i think that the physical carelessness that comes with wearing shoes breeds carelessness in other areas of how i function---wearing shoes changes how i think about things and i become less sensitive in general.  it's an odd shift but very definite and not one that i like much.

as a gardener it's good to know about things like soil moisture, compaction, texture and temperature---when i'm barefoot i'm constantly in tune with what the soil is doing without having to consciously check---it's pretty neat.

and walking around with naked feet just feels good. 


found a goat head

Monday, August 25, 2014

Portulaca oleracea, purlsane

the nice thing about getting manure from different sources is that it comes with different weeds.  why are weeds a good thing?---because some of them are good to eat.  i've used some of the llama manure in some new beds i've put in and one of them has sprouted purslane.   purslane, like a lot of "weeds", is pretty tasty and quite nutritious---it's a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.

it's a pretty little plant

i picked some this evening to throw into tonight's salad---along with some dandelion greens, another tasty and nutritious weed.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

mexican sour gherkin, mouse melon

the mouse melon vines are climbing all over the trellises and making lots of fruits.  i picked a bunch for dinner tonight.  they're crisp and sort of cucumbery tasting but mostly they're cute---smaller than a cherry tomato and striped like tiny watermelons.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


even if we didn't eat them, i think i'd still grow them just for the blossoms...

Friday, August 15, 2014

happy birthday, mama!

i wish i could give you something, 
something beautiful,
like how it feels to be in the garden, 
like how a sunflower smells,
like how the birds sing,
like how the sun shines,
i wish i could give you something,
something beautiful,
as beautiful as you are

happy birthday, mama!  i love you.

Monday, August 11, 2014

resonant body

i watch them in the garden,
working tirelessly,
flying from flower to flower,
as i move from plant to plant picking beans and squash,
i think we may not be so different,
the bees and i,
sometimes social,
sometimes solitary,
honey bees and bumble bees and long-horned bees,
carpenters and leaf-cutters and masons,
i wonder,
how it would feel to have the body of a bee?
a resonant body of bristles,
the constant vibration from within,
is it a life more intensely sensual than this?
light, color, scent,
vibrations from without,
all amplified,
their frequencies running in shivers over each hair,
perhaps merging with one's own vibration,
becoming a cyclic, physical om,
seduced by flower after flower,
lusting after nectar,
grains of golden pollen sticking to hirsute appendages,
brushing past the other humming, filamentous bodies seeking nectar deep within a flower,
knowing how to fly,
how to sacrifice,
how to sting

Saturday, August 9, 2014

happy birthday, kittens!

around this time 9 years ago, jack and billy were born.  a few days after that their mother was hit by a car and killed and my aunt kathryn took over bottle feeding a litter of five tiny kittens.  i visited her when the litter was probably about 2 weeks old---eyes just opening and ears still partially closed.  i fell in love with two little boys, one, all black, the other, a gray tabby, and took them home with me.  i kept them in a little box in my room and bottle fed them until they were old enough to eat on their own.

they've been good companions over the years and i'm happy they're still with me.  they lived most of their lives at the ranch in catheys valley and i wasn't sure how they would handle a new environment but they seem to be quite comfortable up here in the pines. 

billy is the lazy, house cat type, a bit of recluse, preferring to spend most of his time napping in out of the way places (i can usually find him under the mill office).  jack is the wildcat troublemaker, he's much more social than billy, spending a lot of time with me in the garden and following me around during the day when i'm outside.  

being cats, they are of course horrid little beasts at times, but i love them---they were so cute when they were kittens...

playing at killing each other

they always stuck pretty close to each other.

i still find them hanging out together quite a lot these days.

 they got along well with grove...he was quite tolerant and accommodating.


they get along well with zane too.  billy seems to tolerate the pup more than like him but jack enjoys hanging out with zane and they even play together sometimes.

jack seems to have adopted staal.  

actually i think the adoption is mutual.

saying good morning

jack and billy are both sweethearts and fun to have around.

black jack mcmew (aka  jack, jack sprat, jack damn't, booger, boo, bruiser)

william w. purrbody (aka billy, billy mew, beeely)

happy birthday, my furry little beasts!

jack and billy were just sent happy birthday greetings from their sister, sophia (sophia louise whitstocking) who still lives with my aunt kathryn.  she's looking good. 

   happy birthday, sophia!

Friday, August 8, 2014


staal's been out with his old truck and chainsaw cleaning up the property and cutting firewood to keep us cozy this winter.  

zane helped unload...

freeze! (put 'em up!)

as i mentioned, in an earlier post, the beans seem to have found their happy spot and are really producing right now.  this morning i picked a nearly-bursting, gallon bag of beans.  those, along with the gallon-and-a-half already in the fridge got me thinking it was probably time to start putting up a stash for winter.  aischa, generously and thoughtfully, has given us use of a vacuum sealer she had which she sent down the bay area mariposa pipeline (BAMP) to us via gabriel (who spent a couple days with us this week)---how timely.  

there are a couple of ideas on how one should prepare beans for freezing.  one involves blanching the beans in boiling water and then cooling in ice water before bagging and freezing.  the other, which just involves placing the fresh beans in a plastic bag and removing as much air as possible before sealing and freezing, is much less labor intensive and makes more sense to me, especially since i now have a vacuum sealer at hand.  this afternoon i gave it a try---i think i love this thing.

the process was fast and easy.  i sealed 6 roughly-quart-sized bags of beans---a good size for a meal.  the bagging plastic comes in rolls so you can cut it to any size you need.

i tucked the sealed bags into the freezer and made myself a snack...

salty, garlic beans cooked in butter and olive oil

with your hands is how it's done

and we've still got some in the refrigerator.

and some squash

thanks for sending the sealer, aischa.  and thanks for the visit, gabe---so nice to see you.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

a plan

he said to her,
"i have a plan.  let's live up here together and be happy."
to which she replied, smiling,

Sunday, August 3, 2014

spider update

miss argiope has reappeared on the east side of the kitchen garden.  i bumped into her (literally---she wound up on my shoulder for a brief moment) yesterday.  she seems to be doing quite well for herself.  this morning she had a tasty morsel well-wrapped in silk.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

bean farmers

i planted somewhere near a dozen (i've lost track) different varieties of beans this year.  i started some early, some late, and some in between.  the earwigs kept the earliest plantings pretty well mowed off for quite a while but most of them were able to keep growing and are doing very well now---some others (all of the yard longs) couldn't handle being chewed on repeatedly at such an early stage of growth.  i've got pole beans and bush beans and they're all getting happy right now---really pushing out pods. 

'roc d'or' (the yellow pods) and nickel french

'purple podded pole'

i did the early plantings in the kitchen garden---pole beans on the bamboo trellises.  later i sowed bush beans, semi-bush beans and a couple climbing varieties out in the orchard garden.

four, 4'x8' beds of beans

i'm trying out some native american varieties---some limas and three varieties of tepary beans.  most of the beans i'm growing are for use as green beans but the teparies and a few others are for dry beans.  the teparies come from the southwest and mexico, they're quite drought and heat tolerant and seem to be liking it here. 

the two beds in the foreground are planted in tepary beans

jack, camped out under the tepary beans

i've got a 4'x4' plot of 'roc d'or' bush beans on the west side of the orchard garden.  their bright yellow pods are easy to spot when it's time to pick.

'roc d'or'

and they look really pretty mixed with the purples and greens of the other beans.

today's haul...tonight's dinner

the bees are enjoying the bean blossoms.

and the cats are enjoying the shade during the hot afternoons.

billy, snoozing under a bean trellis

and this was just way too good to pass up...

staal, plowing his pinto bean plot, 1975

Friday, August 1, 2014

Argiope aurantia, black and yellow garden spider

i stepped out to the kitchen garden with my coffee yesterday morning (as i do every morning) and was greeted by the most beautiful spider i've ever seen.  she had spun a web, about two feet in diameter, anchored to the side of the house, the kumquat tree, and the hinged side of the screen door (the web had enough resilience so that the opening and closing of the screen door did not damage it).  i did a quick search and found out her name is Argiope aurantia, black and yellow garden spider.  when i saw her i was reminded of the garden spiders i saw as a child at my grandparents house---though i don't recall them being as brilliantly colored as this spider.

the zigzag woven through the center may serve as a visual warning to keep birds from flying into the web.

her body was a little over an inch long.  her leg span was probably a good two inches across and probably easily spanning three inches diagonally. 

i didn't see her this morning but hopefully she's still hanging out nearby.   spiders are a good sign of biodiversity and a healthy garden.  they're an encouraging sight---even my dear, arachnophobic staal, enjoyed seeing her, at least briefly, and that's also encouraging.