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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

If It's Worth Doing, It's Worth Doing Well...

I know you've heard this...I was raised with it. Along with the corollary: Idle hands are the Devil's workshop.

So we had to be doing something always, and if we were going to do something we had to do it well...Somewhere along the line that created the Perfectionist with a capital "P" that I am today.

Well, I'm trying to slack off a bit, now that the people who raised me are gone. So then Kat reminded me that gardens start out looking a little sad in response to my last post (you DID notice my perfectionism down there, didn't you?). I've tried to lower my sights a bit to realize that on my balcony, I will not have scads of tomatoes or any other vegetable, there just aren't "perfect" growing conditions out there...but I can tell you that at present the lemon balm and the catnip are going great guns! And I guess that means that I can relax a bit over the garden at least...there'll be plenty of that for tea (and for the kitties!). Over on my other blog I've been showing folks photos of my (finally!) completed Highland Triangle Shawl, and gearing up for a summer of Amazing Lace and Summer Reading. I strive for perfection in all I do, but I'm not going to tell you where the "flaws" are in HTS (you can't see them in the photos or when I'm wearing it, but like the Hopi Indians I know I allowed the spirit room to fly free), and I've already acknowledged that I can read much less than I used to thanks to my vision, so my booklist for the summer is brief compared to years past.

I'm a joiner. I'm a doer. I have to be constantly in motion...there's not enough time, so I have to cram more in. Heart disease and Lupus have taught me that time is finite. Sleep is something I do because my body insists upon it, not because my mind is willing to stop for even a second. Because there is SO MUCH in this life I want to try, to savor, to accomplish. So many bags to make and see the color and fabric combinations come alive that I haven't even imagined yet; so many shawls to knit in patterns my fingers haven't learned yet and with glorious yarns of unbelievable softness and vibrancy; so many books to read with word pictures that writers far better than I haven't set to paper yet; so many recipes to try exploding with untried flavors; so much love to experience that hasn't touched my heart yet.

All kinds of love: for my man, for grandchildren, for family and friends, for feline companions, for pasttimes, for passions.

Wow. I'm not a perfectionist? I want to do it all, to the very best of my ability. And that's the only definition of perfection that matters.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Balcony Garden continued...

I think they look a little sad, and I sure hope they survive transplanting...we've had such cool, gray, damp weather, I didn't dare try them outside till today (you're missing the tomato plant that's hanging up above...I didn't realize how bad this shot was). We're due for more cool, rainy stuff beginning everything may rot. ;(

This is the planter that will rotate lettuces and mesclun mix from seed - right now it's mostly radishes and that clump of chives there. I'll add in whatever else I can think of later...

All total there are two red grape tomato plants, two Sungold yellow cherry tomato plants, an Anaheim pepper, a Poblano pepper, 4 basil plants, parsley, chives, thyme, cilantro, catnip, lemon balm, and geraniums. No. I don't eat geraniums. ;)

Left on my kitchen windowsill is a lovely rosemary plant. It's doing so well there, and I use it so much, I decided to pot it inside. This is my attempt at eating at least some salads locally for the Eat Local Challenge. I sure hope everything perks up. And I've put tomato cages on my list...poor babies need help!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Just the Beginning!

Here is just the start of the balcony garden I spoke about yesterday...there are two Tami-G hybrid grape tomatoes, 3 sweet basils, a rosemary, and 2 little common geraniums in hot pink (yes, I usually do red, but I loved these, and I think with a couple of white ones or then a red or two mixed in they'll make a lovely pot!). I'll plant the salad seeds today, and some radishes...whatever else I can think of that will survive the dipping of temperatures we're to get tomorrow...

Then also today I'm off to the Salem Farmer's Market - I realized that the traffic and parking issues on Roanoke's Farmer's Market with today being the Strawberry Festival and Chili Cook-off, would just be more wasted fuel (not to mention a headache!). At our present $2.63 a gallon I'll try to conserve that as well on this Eat Local Challenge. I also learned that the strawberries for the festival came from California - what part of LOCAL does that not fit??? lolol. Strawberries will be ripe around here soon, so, I'll keep my eyes open and go for a "pick your own" day with my dear SIL! And in the meantime, I'll work on making room in my little freezer for the spoils of that excursion...

(I promise more photos as they arrive)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Eat Local Challenge

My two best, on-line buds, Birdsong and Jane have been giving me much "food for thought" over the past few weeks. I don't think Jane would mind my telling you (if you don't already know from reading her blog) that she is probably the Queen of Thrift (my mom was a darn close second...) and Birdsong is involved in the Eat Local Challenge and has provided a thoughtful discussion of her plans in participating over on her blog, so go check that out...go on, I'll wait...

Now that you're back, I'll tell you that I'm hoping to be approved to participate in this and what my plans are: I used to be a vegetarian (ok, a Pesca-Vegetarian, which means I ate fish, too) and I know I was healthier, tho' I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian, so dairy and eggs were part of my diet. For health reasons, I've been considering removing the dairy and eggs and returning to a vegetarian - I guess now an almost vegan - diet. "Almost," because I don't think I'll give up my fish. I've become a consumer of soy products (which I will exempt in my eat local challenge as I don't know of a single soy milk producer anywhere near me, and I am committed to Silk products). Other exemptions I'll make will be for coffee & tea, chocolate, whole grain pastas and rice, and salmon & tuna (my fish of choice). The margarine I use to help in lowering my cholesterol will also have to be exempted, as I will continue to do everything I can to promote my heart health, as a heart attack survivor! I may have to make other exemptions as I get into this...I'm just in the earliest of thinking on this! :)

The idea of thinking where my food comes from, and the quality of it, isn't so foreign to me...I once participated in an email message group called Positive Futures in affiliation with the magazine Yes! and there was considerable discussion of the topic then. Then, too, I come from a long line of vegetarians who grew and put by their own food. My dad always had a Victory Garden when I was growing up and I guess I got something from his genes, because I adore gardening. I now have only my little apartment balcony in which to grow a bit of salad, but I will be exploring how I can optimize that small space to add as much home-grown produce to my diet this summer as possible.

I'll also be exploring what is available on my two local Farmers Markets and at farm stands nearby, as well as farms that open up for "pick your own." A small, refrigerator-top freezer is all the space I have, but I suspect it can be better-used than it has been. And I'll do my best to utilize my local natural foods coop and local bakeries (for bread!).

Sometimes I think it's easy for us to become especially complacent about the daily choices that we make - in an almost mindless way - so this challenge is one that I welcome, if only to make me stop, zenlike, and look mindfully at the food I choose to consume and the distance it travels and whether it supports local producers.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Abundance Thinking

I'm on a roll here, thinking authentically, examining my constantly over-"examined life" (thank you, Thoreau!). That craft helps me in my quest is a given. But while examining the construct of my days, determining whether or not I can acknowledge an "authentic life," I can't help but wonder if the idea of "thinking abundantly" does anyone any good?

There've been lots of essays and books on the concept. If we start to consider, even when a serious lack might be present in our current lives, what we do have, and be grateful for it, does more good "stuff" come our way?

I have a quote on my office wall...I do not know who said it, it was sent to me through email at a particularly difficult period in my life - it spoke to me then, and still does: "When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change..."

Changing the mindset of "have-not" to one of appreciating the wealth in our lives (and I'm not talking just monetary wealth, here) just may make things change around for the better. And if it doesn't, what has one lost? If I spend my hours happy that I have what I do, that I enjoy the people and activities of my day, rather than grousing about how unfair life is, or what I'm missing out on, isn't the real quality of my day affected?

Of course, it is. Does it bring more good stuff my way? Well, there's probably no way to know this unequivocably. Because once things happen, they can't be undone to be redone under a different perspective...time marches on and you can't replicate that specific experiment. But I know that when I put a positive slant on things, the negatives don't seem to hurt as badly as they do when I'm in a bad mood. Those bad moods and negative attitudes just seem to make EVERYTHING worse! I think it works along with the old saw "smile and the world smiles with you..."