As if someone has reached out and turned the wheel of the year a notch, quite suddenly I sense the birth of Fall. Summer still blazes, but her intensity is waning and she has let her guard down a few times. A couple nights ago I opened the door to let the dogs out, and felt goosebumps prickle my skin. Goosebumps! The air was cool, so cool, sliding hesitantly through the half opened door. I opened the windows, and cherished every breath of breeze that kissed my cheek. The night insects sent up their prayers to the moon, a hallelujah chorus of sweet summer night, but with the liveliness now came a bare hint of mortality. Like the skull in the still life painting, with beauty lurks death. In death, beauty. The partners may change, but the dance goes on. Summer curtsies, and awaits her next dance with golden anticipation.
First of all, guess what brightened my evening last night? Well no, not that, though it was pretty nice. Oh yeah, and that was great too. . . but no. . . OK so a few little things brightened my evening last night! But I was especially pleased to visit Going to Graceland and discover that lovely Grace has gifted my blog with this lovely award: Wow! What a happy surprise! Isn't it pretty?
All these blog awards come with instructions, and this one is no different: first of course I link back to the fun, inspiring and wonderful friend that bestowed this accolade upon me. Next I am to pass the love on to five deserving blogs. In the interest of not repeating ourselves, I won't include the otherexcellentblogs that Grace has already honored- please check them out. I don't actually read that many blogs, so I don't have a huge pool of contenders to choose from. Consequently, my regular readers may spot a couple sites here I have honored in the past- they are well worth revisiting! Without further ado, I award:
- Bird at The Birds in the Meadow. Her site includes an inspiring nature blog, plus a cool store where you can purchase her unique handcrafted jewelry and other creations. I love reading about her nature walks and other adventures- Bird's photos and descriptive style really make me feel like I am right there! I never miss a post.
- Kyddryn at Shade and Sweetwater. Her writing is sometimes funny, sometimes beautiful, poetic, enlightening, and entertaining. Plus lately, there's been plenty of gratuitous kitty cuteness to enjoy! Please consider sponsoring the adoption of Rook, a sweet (formerly feral) kitten. Click on the "tip jar" at the top right, and help pay for Rook's necessary vet visits. Every little bit helps. Thank you!
- Robin at Naked in Eden. Her posts make me think, and it's a refreshing mental exercise. ;) They encourage the sort of self-examination and wondering that is all too easy to forget in the hustle and bustle of being a Mom. I have often been surprised at the level of reflection to be found in the comments, as well- something about Robin's writing really seems to draw insightful thoughts from her readers. A wonderful mix of Nature and Philosophy.
- Alicia at A Magical Childhood. Look here for absolutely wonderful ways to have fun with your kids- that you can realistically handle in your day to day life! So many sites have inspiring crafts, games and other activities for kids, but they are often just too perfect, complicated, expensive or time-consuming to really be useful. Not at A Magical Childhood! Go find something silly and fun to do with your kids today!
- Amy and Sunshine at Rock Star Farms. Rock Star Farm is a very cool project started by a couple of friends, and I've only recently discovered, through Facebook, that they have a blog. Check out the videos on biodynamic farming- very interesting!
So I hope that this will provide you with some enjoyable blogsploring! Begone, and reap the fruits of these wonderful blogs.
I just want to use this moment to alert you to an awesome project!
Iraqi Bundles of Love (IBOL) Here is a quick summary of the project, from the intro on the website: * * * Iraqi Bundles of Love is a short-duration project, set to last about six weeks, to surge fabric and sewing (and knitting!) materials into the area around which I live in Iraq. It is timed to coincide with both Ramadan, and the departure of my units from Iraq.
It is intended to be a simple project, requiring little effort and little expenditures from those wishing to participate. It is based upon my assessment that sewing fanatics and quilters and knitters tend to have stashes that far exceed their actual needs, and that sewing fanatics and quilters and knitters are passionate both about sewing / quilting / knitting, and about sharing with others.
The general premise is this. I am in Iraq, and I can get mail through the US Postal System. Willing contributors can send to me a flat-rate box of sewing / quilting supplies, all bundled up. I’d open the box, pull out the fully-contained bundle, and hand it off (with others) to our counterparts in the Iraqi Security Forces (Army and others) or the local police, for them to distribute. The stated intent of this operation is to put sewing and quilting and knitting supplies into the hands of two types of recipients: locals who desperately need such things, and local sewing co-ops who have received grants or loans (typically to purchase sewing machines, rent space, etc).
That is it, in a nutshell. * * *
So, if you happen to have a bunch of fabric, sewing, knitting and craft supplies laying around, then why not share a bit of it with Iraqi women? I think this is a wonderful project. (Oh, and international donors can help, too! Go to the website and leave a comment requesting information on how to donate from your country, if you do not live in the US.)
Check out the instructions on building a bundle. It's easy! Here's information on what to send. But hurry! Boxes must be postmarked by September 7th.
I'm afraid the summer has slipped past me without ever a blog post about my summer garden! I kept putting off writing about it until I had some good pictures to share. I shot a couple nice ones early in the season, but most of the garden's life cycle has gone undocumented, I'm afraid. So here is the mish mash of pictures that I do have. (sorry for the hasty editing job) Here you can see the garden in all its scruffy glory, quite early in the summer. The collards, cucumbers, squash and watermelon I planted as seeds. The pumpkins were volunteers left over from last year that sprouted. The arugula I planted as little seedlings. The tomatoes, eggplants and peppers I bought in pots and transplanted.
Already, my collards were starting to look like this: and the arugula was just about eaten away. Not only have I gone totally organic this year, I've been very slack about pest & disease control. (and weeding!) So the arugula and collards ended up being a total loss. It's OK- I was skeptical of their chances anyway, since summers are too hot here for greens. I might try some in a month or so, to see if I have better luck with a fall garden.
The volunteer pumpkin vine was very vigorous, quickly taking over one half of the garden plot. My plan had been to send the squash varieties through the fence and off into the yard. This monster grew so fast however, that I was caught by surprise. It was already too big to retrain, and it's huge leaves shaded the fledgling squash and watermelons. This was to prove too much for the seeds I planted, and so far none of them have borne fruit. The pumpkin monster made one gorgeous big pumpkin for me, which I harvested last week only to find it had bugs eating it from the inside. Oh, well.
The other volunteers made these little cuties:
The eggplants were not what I expected. They flowered early: and soon made clusters (!) of gorgeous little variegated fruits. The variety is called "Fairy Tale Eggplant", and I had to look them up to learn that they are harvested at 2" - 4" long. Cute! Very tasty, too- more tender than other eggplants I've grown. I would grow these again.
I planted three kinds of tomato- a cherry (or is it grape?) tomato, some romas and a slicing tomato. Predictably, the cherry tomato has done wonderfully. It started fruiting early: and soon I had lots of red tomatoey goodness! While the plant continues to produce extremely well (WHAT am I going to do with ALL these tomatoes?!??) I am not overly thrilled with the flavor. They're OK, but not the juicy heaven that home-grown tomatoes should be. Next year, I'm looking at heirloom varieties. The roma is producing, though it's been prone to blossom end rot. And the slicing tomatoes tend to feed the bugs. My tomatoes would be much happier if I actually took care of them. :)
Not pictured are the very happy cucumber plants, which have climbed right out of the garden and are making tasty cucumbers like crazy. (WHAT am I going to do with ALL these cucumbers?!??) The red bell peppers are only just now making fruit. We'll see how they do.
I hope you've enjoyed this visit to my summer garden. Over all, I'd dub it a success, despite my neglect. In the past I've gotten a remarkable harvest out of this little patch, with a bit more care and attention. Maybe next year I will be more involved. :)
The other night I was reading to the boys before bed, and I read this poem (In "The New Kid on the Block" by Jack Prelutsky). The boys started giggling early, and by the time I read the punchline they were both falling over with laughter. It was a highlight of my day!!
Louder Than a Clap of Thunder! by Jack Prelutsky
Louder than a clap of thunder, louder than an eagle screams, louder than a dragon blunders, or a dozen football teams, louder than a four-alarmer, or a rushing waterfall, louder than a knight in armor jumping from a ten-foot wall.
Louder than an earthquake rumbles, louder than a tidal wave, louder than an ogre grumbles, as he stumbles through his cave, louder than stampeding cattle, louder than a cannon roars, louder than a giant's rattle, that's how loud my father SNORES!
Screaming, and tears, whining, resistance, defiance. You take rebellion to illogical, emotional levels that your brother's never dreamed of. He'll often start the uprising, but he knows when to cut his losses, and watches in wonder while you seem hellbent for destruction. Time and again I find myself in a frustrating game of chicken with you, the 3-yr old vs this harried authority figure known as Mommy. Logic holds no sway here. 'Damn the torpedoes! I am three, hear me roar! Don't speak to me of consequences, for they hold no meaning in this land, this great eternal NOW. I don't want to, and that should be enough for you!'
Oh, Sweetcheeks. You were such a sweet baby. Just as laid back as could be, you were sent by angels who pitied me after your brother's babyhood. Sweet, sweet, cuddly precious little thing. Who could have imagined you had such iron resolve under those smiles and curls? You've lost those poochy baby jowls that gave you your nickname, and you have earned your new nickname, "The Pirate". It pleases you.
Yet now, shining auburn hair spread across your pillow, framing your peaceful face as you dream your pirate dreams, you are radiant. You are love, pure, fierce and breathtaking. I've never known anyone to utter the words "I love you" as often as they leave your lips. I've never known a more enthusiastic snuggler. I've never chosen to pour myself into anyone as emotionally needy as you are, my wonderful middle child. I love you so much, and you drive me crazy, and you're beautiful.
You are a marvel, my little Pirate. A walking paradox. A small, strong bundle of defiance and overflowing love. Navigate life's uncharted seas with your 3-yr old fearlessness and enthusiasm. Keep loving like there's no tomorrow. Be ever true to yourself. And please, please, to all powers that be, may you grow to temper your resolve with understanding.
Unless otherwise specified, all the photographs on this site were taken by me with my trusty little Nikon Coolpix 4200 point-and-shoot. The lens is getting rickety and the battery door is held on with a rubber band, but it's still working. If I manage to do any editing at all, it's very basic- I might crop or adjust the exposure a little, for instance. If you wish to reproduce any of my photos in any way, please just be courteous and ask my permission first. I'd be flattered. Thank you.