Thursday, April 27, 2006

It's a Bumbly Sort Of Day In The Garden.

Apple Blossoms In The Garden.

Bumblebee Enjoying the Blossoms.

Another Blurry Bee--The Garden is Full of Them.

Today all four apple trees are in full bloom in the garden and it's a wonderful sight. Our trees are all young, we've only had them in for a few years now. Last year we got a fair amount of fruit, but this year looks to be even better. We have two columnar trees--a red and a yellow. Also, we put in a Liberty and Akane last year. These are two varities that do best in our area and pollinate one another. And they are just plain beautiful trees with the prettiest red apples you ever saw. When they are loaded, they fairly glow in the garden.

We have problems with Apple Maggot here in the Pacific Northwest, as well as several other orchard pests, so keeping your fruit worm-free is tough. We had some damage last year, but we do not spray, rather we use the sticky traps to try to keep the flies to a minimum. I wasn't too unhappy with the results. I got plenty of nice apples, and plenty that were able to be trimmed and used for applesauce. We'll see what this year holds.

It's great to see the bees at work. You may have heard that there is a real problem with the honeybe population. They are dying in record numbers due to a mite infestation. Since they are the chief pollinators for our food crops, we now have to rely on other insects to do the heavy lifting. Bumblebees are great, and so is the lowly Mason bee. Setting up some Mason bee houses on your property is a good thing to do. They are simple and easy to make. We set two of them out last year and they are nearly full as of last week. The Mason bee (which looks rather like a common fly) is a tireless pollinator and should be encouraged in your garden. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

When Is A House Just Too Much?

Today's paper had an interesting article about some local homes for sale in the multi-million dollar range. (Today's title is a live link.) I'm all for people using the money that they earn for whatever purpose they choose--it's their money after all. But when do people simply have too much? What happens when you just can't spend all that you have, do you start building places like these? Can you truly rationalize wasting money to showcase your self-importance when you see what is going on elsewhere in the world (or even in your backyard)?

I think about some of the people I've known whose lives would be drastically changed with just a small amount of money. These people weren't deadbeats, or habitual makers-of-poor-choices. They were people who had a run of bad luck, or an illness or divorce, or just didn't quite make enough to keep the wolf from the door. The physical and mental stress from not having enough money takes a real toll. If they just had enough to pay off some unexpected bills, enough to pay for some medical needs that suddenly arose, enough to send their children to school for a year, enough to buy a reliable used car to get them to a much needed job...the list goes on. How many people could be helped by the money that went into building these homes?

I love my home, and I enjoy fixing it up so that it's a warm, comfortable place to be that reflects who we are to the outside world. I'm sure that these people do as well. And they likely give lots of money to charities of their choice. But the way that we consume sends a message to the rest of the world about us and our values. People who live in homes like this are sending a message, and it might not be the one they think they're sending.

There's nothing wrong with having a beautiful home. But when having a beautiful home bleeds over into creating a monument to yourself, you're not just building a mansion--you're building resentment.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Life can Be tough...


I just had to share this photo of Maggie (the dog) and Eli (the cat) in one of their more stressful moments. This was taken around the holidays when things were hectic in our household. Obviously our stress didn't flow down to them--and that is how it should be. Posted by Picasa

Almost Done


This is a quick, little scarf that I've been working on in the evenings when listening to the news. I still have to concentrate on my knitting when I'm doing any sort of pattern, so a nice, easy project is great for keeping busy in the evening. It's made from Patons' "Cha Cha", which is fun and easy to work with. These little scarves are so light and keep you really warm. Although the season for scarf wearing is fading, I'll appreciate having it next autumn! (The books in the background are the complete set of Sherlock Holmes mysteries and a set of novels by E.M. Forster. (Yes, books are everywhere!) Posted by Picasa

I'm a Friend of "Friends of the Library".


Look at the great books I found at my local library! Sure, libraries are one of mankind's greatest inventions. I mean, the thought that you can access nearly any book for free as often as you like is a pretty unbelievable concept. However, if you are fortunate enough to have a "Friends of the Library" group at your local library, you can also buy wonderful books for a small price. It's like a great used bookstore, but at even better prices. Whether they're books that have been culled from the shelves, or books donated by thoughtful patrons, I am almost always able to discover a "personal find" in one of these sections. I haunt three different FOL sections,and I found these great books last week. This knitting novel cost $20 if purchased new. And I found a lovely hardbound edition with perfect dustcover for $1.00. Plus, I've been interested in learning watercolor painting for a while now. This book is the absolute best I've seen. It doesn't have a price on it, but $1.00 sounded great to me. The others I've looked at in the art supply stores have been $30 or more. Now I know that I could read these for free via the library (if they had them, I haven't ever seen the watercolor book before)--and I do that with tons of books--but when I find one that I know I'll want to read over and over again, I buy it for my personal library. (My husband is starting to worry that we are running out of shelf space, but there is always room for one more bookshelf! Besides, his spy/adventure novels take up some space too!) Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I Love A Good Quiz

And one that deals with Jane Austen is simply too much to endure! Try this out. It's a bit lengthy, but worth it. As an avid reader of Miss Austen's, this was truly fun. Of course, it didn't hurt that I ended up as my favorite character. Try it out and see who you best resemble. Then, either pick up one of her books, or plug in to the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice, and lose yourself in her world. Think about how truly vital it was in those days to "make a good match", and what marriage meant to not only a woman's happiness, but to her lot in life (and possibly that of her family as in this story). Think about your own marriage...has it led to your happiness? If not, what can you do to move it towards a happier state?

Which Jane Austen Character are You? (For women) Long Quiz!!!
created with

Speaking of marriage, here are some quotes to ponder:

There is nothing nobler or more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.

Mark Twain:
Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.

Friedrich Nietzsche:
It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.

Robert C. Dodds:
The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together.

Will Stanton:
Getting a dog is like getting married. It teaches you to be less self-centered, to accept sudden, surprising outbursts of affection, and not to be upset by a few scratches on your car.

Friday, April 14, 2006

All Nature seems at work.
Slugs leave their lair--
The bees are stirring--birds are on the wing--
And winter, slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of

A cold front has moved in bringing cutting winds and lots of rain. I'm getting antsy to dig up my garden beds and start planting. But digging in cold, wet soil ruins it, so I must be patient and wait until the time is right. Patience is something that does not always come easily to me. It's good to be forced to wait for what you want. Delaying gratification brings a feeling of pride when at last you are able to achieve what you were wanting all along.

As for the garden, and growing things, I read that the cost of our fruits and vegetables will be higher this summer, since the farmers in California have been so hard-hit with rain. They have delayed planting most all of the things that we enjoy eating later in the season. Do we ever stop to think about what would happen if the foods that we take for granted suddenly became unavailable to us? Makes you want to go out and dig up the ground and plant a row or two of lettuce, pot up some tomatoes, and hope for the best!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Isn't this a lovely thought? It's not always so easy to do though. I have to keep reminding myself that it's the "simple things in life" that truly matter.

This pretty bookmark was given to me by a thoughtful coworker of my husband. He tells me that every now and then she checks out this blog when she needs a break from work. She saw this and thought I might like it. Well I do, and I plan to add it to my collection of beautiful bookmarks. I have a little purple box (ooh, it matches!) where I keep them. When I open up a new book, I buzz over to my box and choose a suitable bookmark. That way, I get to enjoy it along with my book.

I happen to know that this kind woman and the others that work at his fine establishment put in long and sometimes stressful hours in a hectic, and fast-paced business. It's good to know that people who crunch numbers for a living can take a break now and again to enjoy the simpler things--even if it is via computer...

Civil War Quilt?

My sidebar has long listed the "Civil War Quilt" as an ongoing project. I never did complete the quilt, as the final design was much too complex for my limited sewing skills. So, what to do with all those quilt blocks? I found instructions for a table runner in a book I had, so that's what I did. All that remains is to add the backing and it's done. Heck, it would even look nice drapped over the right couch if you wanted. (This is not the right couch though!) Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Let's Sit a Spell

Even though it's raining right now, it truly is Spring. This past fall I actually took the time to plant some bulbs in the front garden. and What a payoff. Daffodils, tulips, grape hyacynth, all blooming up a storm. They provide such an uplifting feeling--even on dreary days. Plus, the neighborhood kids love looking at them. We also moved an unused garden bench to a little spot outside the front door and my DH created a lovely water feature beside it. So now I have a lovely place out front to sit and read, or just watch the world go by.

I frequently bemoan the fact that houses no longer have front porches. Our neighborhood is no exception. However, people have a way of seeking community and so one by one, the people on our street have found a way. Garden benches, patios, and other seating areas have been created. Some are costly, both in effort and money; others are as simple as a green plastic bench set out under a lilac bush. But slowly people have made zones where they can watch the kids at play, chat with passing neighbors, or just watch the world as it goes about it s business.

We always wanted to remove ourselves from the this busy world. After long, stressful days at work, more people contact was the last thing we wanted. But now that I've been "at home" for a few years, I find that I enjoy the time that I spend with those who live around me. It's now a pleasure to stop and visit for awhile with neighbors, both big and small. Perhaps this is something that you could incorporate in your neighborhood!
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