Aug 01


Life, Random 2

I’m taking my baby in to see the vet this morning. I really have a bad feeling about this time. He’s not himself, has (yet another) ear infection, can’t keep any food inside of him, and since Sunday has had a slight cough (first attributed to almost choking on something). He had little to no interest in a tennis ball on Monday, which is beyond a major red flag.

Send some positive thoughts our way if you think of it.



Jul 27

Beautiful Rain

Gardening/Herbalism/Nature, Life 4

As I write this, we are having a most beautiful rain. Perhaps not the most ideal, as it sprung up quickly and is drenching us in torrents as opposed to a slow steady fall, but it’s life-giving water and the winds aren’t so bad as to cause real damage. I didn’t appreciate rain until I moved to Texas and stayed there for 4 years. Spend even one summer in a brown, nearly treeless land where you feel like you’re inhaling dust with every breath, and you will quickly learn to dance in the rain. I feel almost guilty for enjoying it so much this year, with so much of the country in massive drought. Especially when I read on No Unsacred Place about how it’s affecting day to day life for some people.

Since I last posted about my “real” garden, I thought I’d put up some pictures of my little porch garden. Despite the heat wave, most of my little plants are thriving and some are not so little anymore. πŸ™‚

Like the rose I was bewailing a month or so ago. It’s taken off at an astonishing rate. When I try to water it at the base, it whacks me in the face even with my arm fully extended. My mom suggested pruning it back some to try to get a second bloom out of it this year, and I think I will at the same time give it a manure tea treatment as suggested by the Redneck Rosarian. I wanted to do it before, but I don’t know any sources of manure in this area and am not currently equipped to have my own rabbits. I found some manure tea bags and bought three, so hopefully I can give at least all the potted plants a nice fertilize in the next couple of weeks. The price I paid for them really makes me cringe considering the content, but maybe I can source something local for the next season. Anyway, hopefully I can talk a second bloom cycle out of this rose, as the first one was very sad and I immediately cut the blooms off in order to help it save energy for fighting the bugs and black spot.

My edibles pot is finally looking like I envisioned it being this spring. I am delighted to be able to say that these chives, oregano, and violas were all grown from seed. The viola actually was so big a few weeks ago that I chopped it off to about three inches above the ground, as it had bloomed and done and I wanted a second bloom cycle from it as well. Not only is it beginning to bloom again, but tiny viola seedlings are popping up all around it. Squee!

This is my for-gods’-sake-bloom-already plant. It has looked like this, only slightly smaller, for weeks now. My mom says it’s an aster, but I remain unconvinced until it actually shows its colors. It’s over two feet tall, towering over the faery pot.

These are the mixed-up-chrysanthemums, also in the faery pot. See the bloom? I am tempted to cut them all off to ensure that they bloom in the fall, but it just feels cruel to do so. They’ve had enough rough treatment this year, being dug up and transported across three different states and then popped into a pot much smaller than the spacious yard they came from. We’ll see.

You can see the basil looking quite happy in the corner here, and the bleeding heart dying back in the heat. I’ve since pruned it back to about 5 inches. It’ll be back next year.

The day before the huge storm and before the bleeding heart started turning brown, we had a visit from the most beautiful luna moth (if I identified that correctly). My heart stopped when I spotted it. Isn’t it just gorgeous?

This was supposed to be a “Cherry Brandy” rudbeckia. Seeds were from Henry Fields, and damn it, but these are NOT red. If you know how much I hate orange, you will know how very disappointed I am. They were advertised as looking like this:

Photo from

So NOT the same color. I am holding out some hope that either a lack of water or light might have affected them, however, as they did seem extremely dry and I had them partially shaded (dumb moment on my part – daisy type flowers, or those of theΒ Asteraceae family – love the sun!).

Everything seems fairly happy. That makes me happy. The end. πŸ™‚


Jul 25

Fear of the Garden

Gardening/Herbalism/Nature, Life 1

For the past couple weeks I’ve had this horrible fear of my garden hanging over my head, because between the sprained ankle and very long work weeks, it had been almost exactly a month since I had even seen my garden. That means it was before the huge storm that knocked out our electricity for almost 4 days, and before the torrential rainstorm a week later (we received almost no rain with the “electricity” storm). I was afraid because I knew I would either find everything I’d planted dead (this mostly brought on from 5 years of Texas summers…any plant neglected for a month, outside, unprotected, will be nothing but dust when you get back to it), or find everything growing like gangbusters but competing with weeds as big or bigger as the plants themselves.

That’s right. We live in Virginia now. Neglected gardens don’t turn into dust, they turn into jungles! Honestly though, that’s alright with me. I was braced for either possibility, but this is far and away my preference. All I have to do is clear away the weeds and…

I have tomato plants again! Er…monster tomato plants. It’s like they’ve grown about 5 or 6 thick, long legs each. And they’re loaded, can you see? I’m seriously kicking myself for not taking the time to add either a cage or a stake when I transplanted them (kept thinking I’d get to it when they grew a little more), and I may still stake them. I hate them all lying over on the ground like that, and it can make the fruit get spotty. Now it will take 2 stakes per plant though, to support them in the way they’ve grown so misshapen. At any rate, I should have tomatoes in a week or so!

I also still have peppers, one cucumber plant (nearly smothered, but still alive…if it survives me accidentally breaking a portion of it during weeding), calendula, dill, zinnia, and cosmos. Oh, and lots of onions. LOTS of onions. Sadly today I only got about half of the garden weeded before it just became far too hot – and the grass around the lot still needed mowed, so I needed to do that. It looks better but it needs another day of work, and soon.

I also would like to most sincerely thank the person who had this plot last year, for planting potatoes and apparently only taking the big ones. When I turned the ground early this spring, I kept finding tiny potatoes and would throw them out, but guess what most of my “weeds” are? The 3 foot high, use-both-hands-and-heave-and-curse-till-you-fall-over-backwards kind? They’re freaking potatoes.

On the other hand, if I have this spot next year, I think I will plant potatoes in June. My family always had horrible trouble with potato bugs eating our plants, which were always set in March or April. What do you know…these unwanted volunteers – all of which came up in late June or early July – are showstoppers, with nary a bug to be seen. Most of them are nearly fully size already as well. I suppose the lack of bugs could be the onions I planted through the entire garden, but still. I might try it.


Jul 10

This Life Is Yours

Quotable 0

This life is yours. Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and love it honestly. Take the power to walk in the forest and be a part of nature. Take the power to control your own life. No one else can do it for you. Take the power to make your life happy. ~Susan Polis Schutz


Jun 23

Kayaking the James River

Gardening/Herbalism/Nature, Life 4

I’ve wanted to try kayaking for years. Despite the fact that I have a rather irrational fear of water I can’t see several feet into, gliding quietly (relatively) down a river has had a draw for some time. I was talking to a friend a few weeks back saying how many things there were I wanted to do and try, several of which were on her list as well. Her response was, “Well, we should just do it!”

The result of that conversation being an early afternoon trip to Twin River Outfitters in Buchanan, Virginia, where we rented a couple of kayaks and were shuttled to a spot 5 miles up river. Did I mention neither of us had ever been in a kayak? However, we picked the easiest of their list of self-guided runs and decided to hope for the best. With only a handful of Class I rapids it couldn’t be too bad, right? After slathering on sunscreen and watching a basic water safety video we departed.

The Twin River Outfitters bus, loaded down with tubes for an afternoon run.

Buchanan! It’s a very cute but very tiny town.

Shiny! Also sweltering.

Our shuttle driver chatted cheerfully on the short drive, then gave us both a shove off into the river. We looked at each other, then down the river. “Er…ok.” Feeling like complete and utter noobs, but grateful there was no one there to laugh, we paddled away. Or in my case, tried to. It took me awhile to even out my strokes (one arm stronger than the other, I suppose), and unfortunately ended up running into M a couple of times before getting the hang of it.

Just a few minutes down the river, we started hearing a faint roar. “I hope that’s traffic,” said M. “There were only supposed to be Class Is, right?”

I listened for a minute. “Nah, that has to be traffic.”

Or not. Getting closer, we could see it was definitely NOT traffic and was indeed our first rapid. Which, while not at all deep and not really all that fast, looked rather intimidating. And the video hadn’t said how one was supposed to navigate these things. I had a momentary panic when I bumped into a rock and was subsequently turned backwards into the current, then got stuck on another as I tried to turn around. M also got stuck but we both muddled our way through without capsizing. The first rapid turned out to be by far the rockiest, and the rest of the trip was fairly quiet.

Lovely and peaceful.

The water was so much clearer than I expected river water to be. For most of the trip we could see the river bottom, which was extremely comforting to someone used to swimming pools. πŸ˜› We saw a couple of cranes, ducks, and M saw minnows.We also passed the remains of Buchanan’s Civil War era covered bridge, burned during an altercation in 1864 (which sadly I did not get a picture of – I was terrified of dropping my phone into the water and so didn’t get nearly as many as I would have liked).

I-81 bridge. You could feel the vibrations from passing vehicles, which I guess was to be expected considering the shallow water, but I was still a bit surprised.

The 5 mile paddle took us about 2.5 hours, and our arms thanked us for not signing up for the longer trip (yes, we’re babies yet, give us a few more trips). We also discovered that 3 Nalgenes worth of water isn’t enough for a 90 degree, 60% humidity day, and that we probably should have beached the kayaks and taken a swim part way to cool off, since we didn’t deign to flip either of them (despite the dire predictions of M’s husband). Waterproof watches and cameras were also discussed, as trying to dig anything out of the dry-bags was annoying. Neither of us suffered any major sunburn, which was a major achievement. πŸ˜€

We agreed it was a fun trip and we’d like to go back for more. “But next time, more rapids.” “Definitely. That was the best part!”

I hope I’m not about to acquire yet another expensive hobby…


Jun 21

By Oak, and Ash, and Thorn

Books/Writing, Gardening/Herbalism/Nature, Life, Quotable 0

A joyful welcome to summer!

A Tree Song
by Rudyard Kipling

Of all the trees that grow so fair,
Old England to adorn,
Greater are none beneath the Sun,
Than Oak, and Ash, and Thorn.
Sing Oak, and Ash, and Thorn, good sirs,
(All of a Midsummer morn!)
Surely we sing no little thing,
In Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Oak of the Clay lived many a day,
Or ever AEneas began.
Ash of the Loam was a lady at home,
When Brut was an outlaw man.
Thorn of the Down saw New Troy Town
(From which was London born);
Witness hereby the ancientry
Of Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Yew that is old in churchyard-mould,
He breedeth a mighty bow.
Alder for shoes do wise men choose,
And beech for cups also.
But when ye have killed, and your bowl is spilled,
And your shoes are clean outworn,
Back ye must speed for all that ye need,
To Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Ellum she hateth mankind, and waiteth
Till every gust be laid,
To drop a limb on the head of him
That anyway trusts her shade:
But whether a lad be sober or sad,
Or mellow with ale from the horn,
He will take no wrong when he lieth along
‘Neath Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Oh, do not tell the Priest our plight,
Or he would call it a sin;
But–we have been out in the woods all night,
A-conjuring Summer in!
And we bring you news by word of mouth-
Good news for cattle and corn–
Now is the Sun come up from the South,
With Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Sing Oak, and Ash, and Thorn, good sirs
(All of a Midsummer morn):
England shall bide ti11 Judgment Tide,
ByΒ  Oak, and Ash, and Thorn!

Thanks to hecatedemeter for linking to the video!


Jun 19

Roses Quite Contrary

Gardening/Herbalism/Nature, Life 4

I think I need to develop a new flower love. One that at least tries to reciprocate.

I adore roses, especially the old English roses with millions of petals and loads of scent. The colors are beautiful, the form charming, and if a rosebush is happy it just grows and grows and grows.

My poor little rosebush is not happy, and I don’t know what to do to help it.

This is it, a Queen Elizabeth tea rose, right after transplanting into the pot.

Aphids attacked it as it tried to set it’s first bloom. I managed to get rid of them with some soapy water spray, and cut this bud off to let it have a little more energy.

Then black spot set in. A spray of a little soap and baking soda in water seemed to help check it.

Now some dreadful invisible something or other is putting tiny holes in all the leaves. It is so terribly sad.

I am honestly clueless. I thought for awhile the failure to thrive was due to too much water, but that didn’t seem to help either. Poor little thing did bloom, but it was such a sad, dilapidated looking flower.

Maybe roses just aren’t my thing. Maybe they just don’t do well in pots. Maybe it needs a soil amendment or some fertilizer. I don’t know! I don’t remember ever having trouble with roses like this at my mom’s house so I’m really at a loss. I don’t want my rose to die. If anyone has suggestions, please feel free. πŸ™


Jun 18

Happy Things

Gardening/Herbalism/Nature, Life, Random 0

It’s definitely time for a happy things post. Just a few things that have made me smile, made me glad to be alive, or just generally relieved stress this past week (or weeks).

  • Pilates at Empower . The girls and I rock the Sunday afternoon class, and Erin and Katy (owner and instructor) just rock in general.
  • A beautiful little corridor of peas! These are brown now and need to be pulled out, but it was so pretty while it lasted.
  • Stuffs from Goulet Pens! Squee! New letterboxing logbook, new inks, and new stationery.
  • A full tank of gas, regardless of the price paid for it…but especially when it’s $2.95 a gallon! And yeah, apparently I need to dust.
  • Blooming bleeding heart – plant started from the one at my great-grandparents’ farm. I cried happy tears. πŸ™‚
  • Photos for scrapbooking finally arrived! Happy because I’m feeling creative enough to work on that again.
  • A full cup of coffee on a rainy morning.
  • Did I mention that it’s raining? I suspect I won’t be so happy about the humidity when the temps soar later this week, but it feels beautiful now and it’s good for the gardens. Don’t think you can see the rain in this pic, but you can feel it (despite the blurriness).

    Here’s to a happy week for all of you!


Jun 13

New Ink!

Books/Writing, Life, Random 0

No, not the permanent kind. After the last post you thought so though, didn’t you?

Alright, that’s a very bad attempt to be funny when I’m tired and a bit “meh” feeling. I really meant to write a garden update, but things are changing so fast that the last pictures I took are already out of date. I’ll still post them later, it just makes me feel behind. So instead…

I have a new Lamy Safari fountain pen! Specifically this one, purchased from the Goulet Pen Company (which, by the way, is an amazing company and I highly recommend ordering from them).

I might have bought it just for the awesome color. Though I’d been wanting to try a Lamy anyway, since so far I only have a Noodler’s Flex and a Platinum Plaisir. Not a whole lot to compare it to, but I definitely like it better than the Flex. I love the variety of beautiful colors the Noodler’s Flex pens come in, but the way a flex nib writes just doesn’t do anything for me.

I really like the way it feels in my hand. One of my biggest worries with fountain pens is that they will be too big. My hands are long but skinny. This is pretty much perfect. Heavy enough to feel, but light enough for my hand not to get tired (I’ve already written a couple of letters with it!).

This shot shows the color best, I think.

I was too impatient to use the converter I bought with it and just plugged in the cartridge it came with. Hehe. Overall the pen is a total winner and I will probably buy another Lamy. My one “meh” factor is the EF nib seems a little scratchy. That’s quite possible just the fact that it is EF and I bear down a bit too hard or write too fast for it, I’m not sure which.



Jun 09

First Body Art

Life 10

Or a tattoo…but I like to make it sound fancy. I love it, and many thanks to Jason Setchel of Asylum Studios Tattoo and Body Piercing in Roanoke for doing an amazing job! I would go back in an instant and feel good recommending him and the studio in general to anyone.

I am way too flipping excited about this. I was scared to death it wouldn’t turn out looking the way I wanted it to, since all I could do was tell him that “I want this tree, but with color. But not solid. I mean not flat. But lots of blue and green. But more green.” Also, it didn’t hurt as much as I was anticipating…felt sort of like a sunburn and still does.