Thursday, July 18, 2024

In the garden...

Time for a garden update (for my relaxed recording keeping)...

Checking on the Roma and Rutgers tomatoes every other day or so I often find new branches overladen with fruit and needing to be tied up.

A benefit of using wooden stakes is I can attach twine with a staple gun anywhere that I need it to be to get tomatoes off the ground:


Cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen.

Zinnias and sunflowers keep the bees buzzing and the moths stopping for a drink, and hopefully pollinating squash and tomato plants.  Making a mental note to plant some flowers among the tomatoes next year.  

I am surprised at how small are the sunflower heads on the massive stalks that have grown at least 8 feet tall and are about 2 inches in diameter at their base.  Maybe their smaller size is a good thing, though.  I didn't stake these plants, and larger heads might have made them too top heavy.  


And today, we picked all the peaches left on the peach tree.  Peaches were falling off and some were molding on the branches, so I decided rather than take a chance on losing more peaches, it would be better to pick all that were good and let them ripen in the sunroom over a few days - processing them for the freezer a few at a time.  

Enough were ripe enough to eat today, and at least one baggie's worth is in the freezer right now - sliced and spread out so they freeze individually before bagging up.  Visions of smoothies, mixed-fruit popsicles, and peach cobbler are dancing in my head.

I think it worked well to remove some limbs from the peach tree a year and a half ago, even though it's possibly why we didn't get fruit last summer.  This spring, I also thinned the peaches when they were about walnut-sized.  Three to six inches apart on the same branch is a good rule of thumb I've learned.  When I removed at least half of the peaches off the tree in the spring, I wondered if we'd have many peaches to pick come summer.  Today, seeing the bounty laid out, clearly there are more than enough.  And better yet, many were larger and less marked with a green peach scab than the peaches harvested two summers ago. 

Green beans (pole beans) have been producing for about a week now, and I'm picking some every two or three days.  Not enough yet to process (I hope to get enough at one time to can some this year), but they've made for tasty eating this past week.

We had some good rain earlier in the week, and oh my goodness, did I get attacked by mosquitos one morning after it rained the night before!  I was only out in the garden a few minutes before I noticed I was being swarmed and bitten by mosquitoes. I got back to the house as quickly as I could and sprayed myself down with bug spray, but later it became obvious I was too late. My arms had provided a feast for the blood thirsty insects.  For some reason, they left my ankles alone this time.  I'm thankful for that little mercy, and I'm immensely thankful for Benadryl cream.  It's not exactly a miracle potion, but it does help tame the itch for a while. 

Looking forward to a weekend of beautiful weather, and possible rain to start next week.  It's a nice reprieve from the too-hot-too-early days of recent weeks.

I hope you're enjoying your summer!

Sunday, July 14, 2024


Congrats to Boud and Magpie for knowing what my colorful stitching project was a week or so ago.  I thought you two might come through with the correct name!

A few weeks ago the video below popped up in my YouTube feed.  I watched it, mesmerized by the character of Margaret Fabrizio, and her story of learning how to create a type of quilt that is made in India.  This particular quilt is called a kawandi.  Kawandi means "quilt" in the language spoken by the Siddi's.  The Siddi people are of African descent; their ancestors being taken to India as slaves - first by Arabs in the 600's, then by Portuguese, and finally by the British.

In case you're interested, here is the interview of Margaret Fabrizio conducted by Joe (The Quilter) Cunningham:

The video doesn't explain how the quilts are made, but the last 10 minutes or so show Margaret working on a small kawandi.   After the above video, I watched other tutorials on making kawandis, and I finally decided I needed to make one.  A very small one.

I looked through my stash of older, somewhat sedate cotton quilt fabrics that I inherited from my mother-in-law, but at the time I was in serious need of some cheery colors.  So I headed to JoAnn's to see if I could find some happy budget-priced fabric.  I was thrilled to find a great sale on fat quarters, and I came home with these:

First, a bit of an explanation as to how kawandis are made...   First of all, the Siddis make their colorful blankets using scraps of fabric and fabric taken from clothing that is no longer being worn.  Old saris are also used in different ways in these kiwandis.  There is a backing fabric, a lining fabric, and torn pieces of many colors of fabric to make up the front of the kiwandi.

In videos I've seen (I think that Margaret filmed when she was in India), the Siddi  women sit on the ground as they tear squares and rectangle of various fabrics, finger press the edges, and sew the pieces to the backing using a simple running stitch through all the layers of fabrics.  

Aside from using new fabrics, and an iron to press my edges, pins to hold my fabrics together, and wanting a border on my project, I tried to assemble my small kawandi in the same way the Siddi women make their larger ones.  

The pieces are stitched on, starting on whatever edge feels comfortable for the hand you are stitching with.  I worked from the left and went around clockwise.  Whichever direction one stitches, working around the perimeter of the blanket, pieces of fabric are stitched down all along the edge of the backing material. After the first round of pieces are attached, a lining fabric is inserted under the flaps of the pieces stitched on up to that point.  You can see the white lining I used in the following picture:

The stitching goes around and around moving inward until finally when the last stitch is made in the center,  the quilt is completely finished.  I believe the Siddi end each round of stitching with a knot, and then begin a new round about a finger's width from the round before it.  I did that a few times before finally deciding to just make a square spiral because I was using the same color of thread for all the stitches.  There was no reason I couldn't just keep going 'round and 'round until I ran out of thread and needed to add a new one.

The edges of the fabric pieces are either finger-pressed or iron-pressed in such a way as to make finished edges as one stitches round and round.   The edges that lay under fabric, unseen, are left unfolded and unfinished

My running stitches are smaller and rounds closer together than I've seen others make them, but on this small project, I think it works well.  My stitches are far from perfect - they are not the same size, or even straight sometimes, and the distances between my rounds are varied.

But, I don't care! While I'm not ready to make another very soon, I love how my little kawandi turned out:

The little triangles at the corners are called phulas in the language of the Siddis, and also in Hindi.  Phula means flowers or blossoms.  While I took some liberties, I wanted to make this traditionally where I felt it was important to do so.  And kawandis traditionally have a phula at each corner.  That said, I'm not exactly in love with my phulas.  Fortunately, I can undo that first round of stitching and remove them if I decide to.  Or maybe I should make phulas from some of the prints.  Maybe I'd like that better.

For now, it stands finished looking like this, and I couldn't be happier.  My little kawandi is right at 14 inches square.  Would I love this to be larger, like blanket-sized.  Oh yes!  It would make a perfect-weight summer blanket.  Do I envision ever making a blanket-sized kawandi?  I don't know...  It was kind of mesmerizing to make, but it was also tedious, and my fingers got sore after stitching for very long.  

In truth, I've been eyeing Sashiko stiching and I am intrigued at the intricate designs that are made with simple running stitches, many in simple straight lines - I had no real understanding of how Sashiko stitching is done until just recently. I'm not sure when or if I'll try that, but for now, I'm giving the pads of my fingers a break from needle and thread, and I've picked up my crochet hook to make some doilies.

I'm also eyeing my collection of crochet threads, thinking they would make decent sashiko or kawandi stitching thread.  The possibilities for using my stash are opening up as I type...

Friday, July 12, 2024

Year of Projects...

I've recently decided to join again with a group on Ravelry called Year Of Projects (aka YOP).  I had completed seven YOP years before dropping out a couple of years ago.  Hand issues were hampering my ability to do my favorite hobbies, but I'm back at it, and I think the creative camaraderie of the YOP group might be good for me to join in again.

Since I suspect most of my readers are not Ravelry members, I thought while I'm explaining Year of Projects, I'd also explain a little about how I use Ravelry.

First, Year of Projects (YOP):

The active portion of the Year of Project group on Ravelry consists of a small number of fiber crafters who like to share their love of craft on their blogs.  Each YOP year run from July through June, though some YOPers choose to follow a January-December year.  Personally, I love having something brand new starting in July.  The first Sunday in July, each YOP participant creates a blog post stating his/her goals for the YOP year, then each subsequent post is simply a follow-up on those goals and whatever else the blogger wants to share.  

I missed posting last Sunday, so this is my official first YOP post for the year 2024-2025.  Since I tend to lose interest in my goals once I've declared them, I keep any specific goals fairly loose and to myself.  That said, I have managed to come up with a list of two goals I am happy to share:

1)  Make things.

2)  Use materials in my stash.

Now, I don't forbid myself from purchasing new materials, as you will see, but I do "shop my stash" first.

All that means for you, as a reader here (especially, if you're not a YOPer), is that I will likely post more regularly (on Sundays, specifically) about my crafty hobbies.  And, if you are a fiber-crafter and you ever want to join in on the Year of Projects, hopefully I will have shared enough information here that you can jump onto Ravelry and join up if you're interested!   And to be clear, while being both a member of Ravelry and being a fiber craftsperson is the gateway into the Year of Projects group, many YOPers are multi-craftual, and we often share other, non-fiber crafts, as well as things made with yarn and string.

Now, for Ravelry:

Ravelry is an online world-wide social network of fiber crafters.  There are various groups within Ravelry to suit a variety of interests - whether a member is a seasoned pro at their fiber craft(s) or a beginner.  I used to be more active in a few groups, in fact, I helped moderate two groups at one time, but now my main use of Ravelry is as a database of helpful-to-me things.  

At this point in time, I use Ravelry mostly as a resource for knit and crochet patterns (both paid-for and free), and a place where I store a pictorial record of my completed projects, as well as a pictorial record of all the yarn I own. It is a simple thing to search through my yarn on Ravelry to remind myself of what I have, instead of digging through boxes to see if I still have, say... that one weird purply-blue color of bamboo yarn from a particular manufacturer. 

Inside my personal database, I can use filters to sort through my yarn hoard collection efficiently.  I can filter my stash by fiber, color, and other attributes that help me envision what yarns to use for a project I have in mind.  It was a lot of work several years ago to create my own record using Ravelry's database system, but at the time I decided to consider that activity to be a hobby unto itself.  Slowly I built my personal database, and I continue to update it as I accumulate or use up yarn.  

I also sometimes download from Ravelry a spreadsheet telling me all sorts of things about my yarn stash - when I do this, I'm mainly curious how many skeins I own, our how many yards or meters of yarn I have taking up space here.  I use this spreadsheet to determine how well I'm meeting Goal #2 above.

If you're a fiber crafter and a blogger, feel free to check out the YOP group on Ravelry.  While July is the start of each new YOP year, people can (and do) join in anytime. 

Okay... enough of about that.  I'll be back with a YOP post on Sunday, but for now, here's a sneak peak of a new project I'm currently working on:

I've had a real hankering for working with tiny hook and thread again.

Friday, July 5, 2024


 First, something new to us that we've found in our wood mulch.  Slime mold:  

Just doing a quick search, I'm thinking this is likely in the Dog Vomit family.  If so, I can attest to the appropriate name.  When I saw the first one, I actually thought it was something a wild critter had thrown up.  When I found several little mounds of this throughout a bed where new wood chips were recently spread, I realized that wasn't likely and I needed to look this thing up.

While I was, at first, wary of even poking it with a stick (scenes from "The Blob"  vivid in my memory), I was relieved to read that it is harmless.  One can even safely pick it up with bare hands.  Not that I wanted to do that, but it was a simple thing to discard it.   In case you're interested in seeing how much more beautiful than dog vomit some species of slime mold can be, there are some pictures here, and an interesting little video explaining how slime mold grows.  

Moving on...

Checking that the front door was locked one evening recently, this little fella caught my eye:

With the porch light on, he (or she) was probably enjoying a feast of insects tinier than itself.


And, finally...

...a sneak peek at a stitching project I started recently:

Fat quarters and floss

There is a clue in the picture above as to what this project is called.  
If you know, you know.

Almost finished.  
An explanation of this project will soon be forthcoming.

What interesting, perhaps random, things have come across your path recently?

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

In the garden...

After recently writing two heavy posts, and the second one very dense, I'm thinking some lighter fare is in order.

We've had some beautiful days recently sprinkled amongst our normal hot and humid days.  And checking out the 10-day forecast, it appears we're going to have a string of beautiful days with highs only in the 80's.  The garden seems to love it all, and has been going gangbusters.

I'm harvesting zucchini already

And the banana peppers look like they're maybe a week or so away from harvesting.  I am planning on pickling and canning these.  I use pickled banana peppers fairly often in cooking, so I'm hoping I can find a pickling recipe that produces a final product I like.

I planted a ridiculous number of tomato plants.  And here's the story: 

I couldn't find any 6-packs when I first started looking for seedlings in early May, and finally I asked at a couple of places if I was too late to be shopping for them.  At one place, they didn't remember ever seeing any, and didn't know if they'd be getting any.  After looking for them at the Lowe's garden center,  I asked the same question there.  The person I asked started to respond similarly, but thank goodness she asked someone else.  

The second employee said, "Hmmm...  I think we have some out there with all the other vegetable starts."  Since I had already scoured the outside plants, I didn't hold out any hope she would find any, but she did!  She found a number of 6-packs that were starting to be a bit leggy, and I think they were marked down.  Looking through them, I found several 6-packs that had multiple cells containing two plants!   Same with pepper 6-packs.  Who hoo!  What a score!

As I was deciding how many tomato 6-packs to buy, my common sense shrunk to the size of a peanut.  Suddenly all I could imagine were jars of spaghetti sauce, and all the chili I could make with preserved tomatoes.  I even imagined myself making and canning salsa - which I've never done in my life.  The stars in my eye blinded me to just how many tomato plants I was actually going to take home with me when I carried three six packs of them to the check out.  

Now... remember there were two plants in some of the cells of those three 6-packs... This week, I finally decided to face the reality of what I had done, and I took an inventory.  I counted 25 tomato plants, divided more or less even between Rutgers and Romas.  And I must not fail to mention I also purchased two cherry tomato plants.  There are so many tomato plants, I can't get them all in one picture.  I'm almost embarrassed about the situation, except that I'm NOT.  😆 

Part of me wishes tomato plants didn't take up half my garden space, but I get over that by imagining all the experimenting I can do with the bounty I expect.  And it will be fun to give some away, too.  

Of course, this is all IF a blight or critter doesn't take them out.  We (and our neighbors) have been graced with a skunk visiting our yards a few times in the last week.  As I was looking up how to deter a skunk from spraying around the house, or better yet how to persuade it to leave the premises altogether,  I came to learn these nocturnal animals can decimate a vegetable garden. 😟  I've set out a gourmet dinner in the backyard; this skunk isn't going to be in a hurry to move on.

So now I'm researching ways to deter the little striped terror from eating my produce - just in case I start seeing nibbles.

At the moment,  I've got beautifully globed Rutgers:

And adorably oblong Romas:


I'm not sure if these cucumbers are going to produce anything.  They are slow growing.  I suspect they don't get enough sunlight, and this raised bed dries out too quickly.  They  keep wilting, and I keep reviving them, but at the end of the day, I think this spot is not where they're going to thrive best.  

For good measure, and for entertainment value, I've also planted some things in pots:

I've got some herbs and flowers, and even some eggplant growing in containers.  

Not adequately pictured, but also in the garden are a bunch of green beans (pole bean style), more and various peppers, and zinnias, dahlias and sunflowers.  The zinnias are blooming already, and the sunflowers are above my head.  

My lovely garden has practically transformed my normal disdain for summer.  Enjoying 80-some degree days instead of 90+ days doesn't hurt at all, either.

How do you enjoy, pass or survive the hot days of summer?

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Feeling better...

I want to say Thank You to all who left kind and helpful comments on my last post.  First, let me say... it is immensely helpful to hear of others' experiences.  At a minimum, it is validating, but there were some truly helpful things offered up.  I have such kind and thoughtful commenters.

While it is surely clear to anyone visiting my blog on a regular basis, that I'm no stranger to overthinking, I've come to realize that what I've been recently experiencing wasn't/isn't that.  Or isn't simply that.  I'm pleased to say that I am feeling better for longer stretches of time over the last week, and I think that is true for several reasons. 

First of all, I have some really great people in my life.  People who evidently do, sometimes, ask me how I'm doing.  One friend spontaneously did just that days after I published last week's post.  

The two of us were leaving an event, and the encounter wasn't long.  But it was private-ish and allowed for a bit of a conversation.  While I didn't elaborate to her all the various unsettling memories I had been dealing with, the one thing I did share received a response that was so validating, it was almost instantly healing.  My friend's response what like fresh air and light on a recently reopened wound that I had been trying (unsuccessfully) to just "get over".  

She didn't rationalize away the situation in which the wound was inflicted.  She also didn't demonize the one whose words had cut me to the quick.  All she did was see the wound for what it was and entered into my hurt for a few moments.  And she gave me a hug.  

To be clear, I know the wound hadn't been intentional.  I'm sure the one who inflicted it has no idea the damage that was done in her few words that took all of 5 seconds to say.  I'm pretty sure, if I were to write out the situation here, most people wouldn't give the exchange a second thought. In fact, I'm not sure if I hadn't been in the fragile state I was at the time (going into surgery to remove my infected port), that I would even appreciate how careless were the words that were spoken - in this case by a doctor.  It wasn't until I had permission to see my wound as valid and without trying to rationalize it away, that the shackles around that particular memory started to crumble and fall away.  And amazingly, my painful thoughts surrounding other more justifiably haunting experiences have eased - almost completely it seems.  At least for the moment.  I think, perhaps, I just needed the freedom to see my haunts without justifying/excusing why they happened in the first place.  

This experience has led me to the following thoughts - most of which I've added after publication, unfortunately, but here goes...

I'm sure this isn't the first time I've experienced this kind of healing of my emotions, but it was so profound this time, I hope I am forever changed by it.  While I think I've understood the importance of validating others' thoughts and feelings (I wrote about it in my last post), I am also prone (as many of us are, I have learned) to want to help the other person see the various sides of a situation.  I think what we're trying to do is help the hurting person's rational brain see that they don't have to suffer all the bad feelings and thoughts they may be caught up in.  

Being on the receiving end of that kind of "help", though, a few times over the last year, I now understand just how unhelpful rationalizing and advice-giving responses usually are.  And, here's why I've come to that conclusion...  

I suspect that many of us attempt to rationalize away our painful experiences. I have no idea if it's actually rational to rationalize this stuff, but for me, it's often a first-line coping mechanism.  When it happens naturally, I don't know that it's an unhealthy thing to do.  But most good things, when taken to an extreme can become very unhealthy.  A, perhaps overly simple, example:  Overlooking an offense is good, but being a doormat leads to an unhealthy mental state, and possibly abuse.

If it is a natural inclination to rationalize our painful experiences, we certainly don't need someone else to offer the same (or other) rationalizations to our already cluttered and pained our minds.  

I don't know about you, but when someone does that in response to something difficult I've shared, I immediately wish I hadn't made myself vulnerable. And I learn, going forward, to be guarded.  Of course, we should be careful who we share vulnerable things with, but if we are so guarded that we ultimately decide it's safer to stuff our feelings down, instead of finding appropriate ways of airing them, the results can be unhealthy.  Toxic, even.  We may never really heal if we don't examine our painful emotions and what has brought them about.

The more helpful response we can offer to someone stuck in painful thinking, I now believe, is something that might break an unhealthy rationalizing pattern or loop a hurting person may be stuck in.  And what can break an unhealthy pattern of rationalizing a painful experience better than validating it?  A doctor can't treat a physical wound without examining it and seeing it for what it is.  Covering a physical wound without treating it is asking for a nasty infection later.  Why do we live as if covering over our emotional wounds leads to anything other than a sick heart and mind later? 

While someone stuck in painful thinking might need professional help to truly become healthy-minded, when we're in the position of someone having shared a painful experience with us, a likely helpful first-line response is to simply validate their feelings.  I'm realizing saying a sincere, "I'm sorry that happened" would probably suffice.  Enter into the pain, if I can, or just simply acknowledge it, rather than try to reshape their perception of the experience.  Entering into a person's pain most likely will make them feel better, at least in the moment.  When they feel better, they'll probably be able to think better, and will be in a better position to examine their wound, as well as the experience that caused it, and heal from it. 

Disclaimer:  I am not a psychologist.  Not even a good armchair one.  But I am interested in learning from experience, and really do want to offer the right kind of help when someone else is struggling.  This present experience has helped me internalize, and I think see something I didn't understand before.

The only significant things that have happened in the 9 days since my last post is the above encounter, a lovely visit with another dear friend, and I've had the last appointment in my recent string of medical appointments - which seemed to be the catalyst for my recent struggling.  I feel better just having all those appointments behind me as of last Thursday.

I've also come across some things online that remind me that I have tools (mainly writing) to use to examine, dissect and treat the other painful thoughts should they rise up again to haunt me.  Just being reminded I have these tools available, and that they have been helpful to me in the past, has given me an even greater sense of well being.

If you got this far, you're the best!  Thanks for sticking with me.  

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Still here...

I haven't gone anywhere.  

In fact, I wrote this post a few days ago and I've been considering whether I want to actually publish it.  I've finally decided to do it, and hope some good can come from it.  

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post titled "Ruminations and Risk Taking".  At the time my use of the word "ruminations" was simply to mean contemplations - of any sort.  At the time I wrote that, I was enjoying being outdoors, soaking in the sun, and listening to birdsong, just contemplating life, and being thankful that I was rebuilding my strength, and getting on with life.  There was some heavy stuff on my mind, but my feeling then was that all was mostly well.  And it was.  And still is, for that matter.  But recently, I've come to realize that there has been a fair amount of negative ruminating going on, too. 

In recent weeks, my brain has been revisiting stuff I'd rather not think about (explanation as to why, in a minute), but it wasn't until the third or fourth time over the last few weeks that I heard myself monologuing to my husband for 10-15 minutes at a time, reviewing (ruminating out loud about) stuff from last year - some things he already knew, some things I had never told him - I realized that I am dealing with a load of unresolved stuff that happened during the diagnostic stage of my cancer experience.  Yes, I know that was an insane run-on sentence, but I'm leaving it as is.  Welcome to my brain right now.

Last week, when I once again heard myself telling my husband something awful from last year, I stopped myself mid-sentence wondering, "Why am I doing this again?!?"  And as soon as I asked the question, I knew the answer!

Since mid-May, I've begun a series of follow-up appointments with doctors.  I had my second appointment with the endocrinologist (who works out of a different cancer center than I visited last year) to discuss results of tests she had me do.   A few days later I had my first six-month follow-up with my oncologist to discuss the ongoing endocrine therapy he has me on.  Earlier this week, I had a follow-up MRI (unrelated to breast cancer, and that came back clean - yay!)  Next week I have my annual follow-up visit with the surgeon who removed my cancer.  And, I guess, just because I was on a roll making medical appointments, I had scheduled my "Welcome to Medicare" appointment with my GP for last week.  Whew!  

All these appointments have been as good as they can be (and I anticipate next week's follow-up with my surgeon will go fine enough), but being pulled back into the world of cancer treatment, and walking back into two different cancer centers several times now in two months has caused me to revisit the trauma that happened during all the diagnostic tests a year ago.  

With a few unpleasant exceptions, most of the staff I encountered last year were the nicest and kindest medical people I've ever been treated by.  At the same time, the tests they ran me through were among the worst things I've ever experienced to date.  Truly - the stuff of nightmares. In recent weeks, I was only able to sleep for four or five hours a night.  Sometimes, not able to fall asleep until the sun came back up.  Weirdly, I was functioning fine (in spite of little sleep and a brain on overload), but there was (and maybe still is to some extent) a cloud following me around for weeks now.  And I finally called it out.  I think it's just plain old unresolved trauma. 

I'm not sure where I go with these thoughts from here - I'm pretty sure I'll figure it out, or time will resolve it, or I will find help if I need to.  But for now, somehow, calling out what's been going on with me helps me feel better.  I'm happy to say I've been sleeping somewhat better.  

And while I'm sparing you the details of the things that try to trouble me, I hope my sharing this much is helpful to someone possible going through their own "ruminating" over hard things that don't seem to have any resolution.  

As for myself, I'm sure there's value in just getting this off my chest. To give air and light to unwelcome thoughts and make them less powerful.  And to document this experience for myself.

Maybe you know someone who has experienced some sort of trauma or difficulty in the recent past, and while they look just fine on the outside - in fact, they may be very fine, life might be great - they also may have dark, troubling thoughts from time to time.  While no one wants that kind of thing to go on forever, I'm pretty sure it's normal to experience this kind of thing after any sort of trauma.

If you, personally, know someone in such shoes, don't be afraid to ask them how they're doing.  They probably won't be expecting it, and they may not know what to say.  But they will appreciate that you asked.  

And if they talk...

Just listen.  

Validate them - listening without giving advice is priceless

Appreciate their vulnerability. 

It may just mean the world to them.

And if they don't want to open up, that's okay too.  Or maybe they're feeling on top of the world at that moment - they'll tell you if they are.  Celebrate with them.

It will mean a great deal that you asked.

Spirea in bloom in May.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Soon it will be very hot here...

Billie Jo at Afternoon Coffee and Evening Tea made me smile today with her honest post about preferring the indoors as the weather heats up.  I relate completely.

And it stirred up this post in me. 

Writing recently about putting a garden in, and showing some of the pictures, while I think I've been honest about it being a bit more of a challenge for me this spring, it's easy to make gardening look and sound somewhat idyllic.  

The truth is, it's a lot of hard, sweaty and dirty work - for anyone - to put in a garden.  If the sun is shining, and the temperature is anything above, say...  68 degrees, and depending on how hard I'm working, I turn into a sweaty mess out there in fairly short order.  Because of that, if possible, I save showering for after working outside in the morning.  But that isn't possible every day. 

If I can't garden until the afternoon or early evening, presumably I've gotten myself in presentable condition for whatever I needed to do in the first part of the day.  As I change my clothes and put on "gardening shoes", I begin an internal discussion about how hot it is, how sweaty I'm going to get, and how I'm going to need to take a second shower afterwards.  The worst is actually when it's a coolish temperature outside, and I can probably work "sweat free", but if it's been rainy, it's turned buggy, and I know the smart thing to do is use a bug repellant.  Whether I'm hot and sweaty or covered with bug spray (or both), I'm going to feel compelled to take another shower when I come back in from working outside, and while I enjoy the clean feeling afterward, I hate the idea of getting wet all over again.  

In fact, I dislike it so much, on a comfortable day when I don't anticipate getting sweaty or dirty as I work outside, I sometimes forego the bug spray - just so I don't have to take a second shower.  I take my chances with the mosquitos, and almost always regret it.  Mosquito bites that turn into painful welts aren't pretty, and they are maddeningly distracting for three or four days.  The whole situation - painful welts, valiantly resisting scratching - it's pure misery.  And ridiculous.  And probably not even smart.  But I repeat this scenario over and over again.  All because I don't want to take a second shower.

I probably have a whole blog post inside me about how much I can drag my feet like an eight year-old over taking a shower - let alone two showers in one day.

But that's a post for another day - or probably not. Today, inspired by Billie Jo, I just wanted to write something I don't know that I say very often.   

One of the things I appreciate about gardening is that it gets this seriously heat-averse gal outside in the most miserably hot temperatures, when my natural bent is to stay inside where it is cool and mosquito free.  It's been a lot warmer here than normal since March, but our truly miserable heat is expected come July, August and September.  The early part of October can even be hot here, though the humidity seems to lessen by then, making the heat more tolerable.  And the promise of the first frost and falling leaves makes October's hot days kind of nostalgic feeling.

When our boys were young, I'd take them to the public pool at least a couple of times a week during the hot summer; in one town we lived, we'd visit a nearby lake.  On days we didn't go to the pool or lake, we might pull out the sprinkler, or fill up water balloons.  Oh, and water guns - those were a favorite, I'm now remembering.  It seems to me that we all enjoyed summer.

When the boys got older, and going to a crowded public pool ceased to be as much fun, I think that's when a dislike of summer started to settle into me.  Summer became something to endure.  That's been my attitude for years now.  And I've always felt kind of bad about it.  To dislike a season that is responsible for providing much of the world's sustenance seems pretty ungrateful.

I don't know how long we'll live in this place that has a nice garden spot, asparagus and strawberry patches, and a couple of fruit trees.  We may live here longer than either of us has the strength or desire to garden.  I don't know the future.  I only have today.  And today, as much as I dislike getting all sweaty, or using bug spray, and taking more than one shower in a day, I'm realizing one of the great benefits gardening is to me, is that it gets me outside - pretty much every day.  And the biggest surprise is it also has made me not dislike summer quite so much.

When the temps here get to be 90 for a stretch of time, and it hasn't rained in over a month, I may still complain. A
sk me to travel south between the middle of June and the middle of October, and I'll probably groan.  And, if I absolutely have to attend an outdoor event on a hot, humid day (or evening), I'll consider it something to endure.  Yeah...  I don't think I've fully embraced summer and all its sweaty heat, but I don't seem to hate it (so much) anymore. For that, I am grateful.

And sometimes...  like today...  we get treated to a pop up rain storm that totally refreshes everything, cools things off.   In the spring, these showers are expected from time to time. In the summer, a shower like this feels like a gift.