seed, bud, blossom, FRUIT!

The blog-o-shere contains wonderful, amazing photos and writings of peoples' talents, art, gardens, skills, creativity. Sometimes, it makes a girl feel a bit inadequate. We look in the mirror and see wrinkles and zits. We look at our garden and see the basil that croaked or the weeds. I've been meaning to document some photos and aspects of the less-than-perfect life in order to learn, to increase my powers of observation, to perhaps gain insight from readers out there, and to document how achieving our potential is hard freaking work.

But today is not that day, because after a week of working every single day (my bank account thanks me) and celebrating Mr. B's birthday, I looked to find tomatoes!!! Five little green tomatoes!!! And lots more blossoms!
So today, I celebrate green little tomatoes and yellow tomato flowers and little tomato buds. I celebrate the progress on my self-designed topsy-turvy tomato planter made from a recycled two gallon water container:
The nasturtiums and tomatoes both have buds, and the marigold is one of my happiest. I'm also celebrating the fact that my beneficial garden, where I scattered seeds that attract pollinators is, in fact, doing just that, with a myriad of bees, from bumble to honey to mason, are constant visitors.
 I'm celebrating the beauty of my garden with all its flaws and room for improvement.
And I'm celebrating having the day off! Time to go get some good grub and go roller skating with friends. What are you celebrating in your garden or in your life, gentle readers? I'd love to hear from you.


summer at last!

Yesterday, the radio told me that Portland had three days of clear sky this spring. I'm not sure what qualifies as a clear day, but three days...um, wow. I told a clerk that, and she responded, "Yeah, I noticed!" But yesterday felt like summer. Wonderful wonderful summer. I biked to the grocery store in shorts and a t-shirt, celebrating, rather than shivering at, the touch of the breeze on my bare arms and legs.
I also celebrated what felt like our summer solstice by making a delicious salad for two from our garden:
I weeded and planted, including planting more pansies, some shasta daisies, an orange-scented thyme that I found at the nursery covered in honey bees, and some annuals for our little outdoor sanctuary. We set up the dome that Brian built the other day, and yesterday, I added some homey touches and color.
I put cushions on the wicker chair and foot rest, hung up a curtain, spray painted two of the chairs green, and hung up the hammock from Ecuador. I also rolled the busted grill inside, and while it's currently holding several plants, I'm going to hang those eventually from the dome and turn the grill into a planter box.


become what you love

I finally finished my embroidery project! It started in December on a dull day of subbing, with a piece of graph paper. I designed the lettering. Months later, I stitched. Then, finally, I found a piece of scrap material to use behind it. One day, on the beach, I scouted for a piece of driftwood to hang it from. Then, finally, last night, I stitched on the red lace border.
I want to give it away, but until I find that lost piece of graph paper with the original lettering design on it, I'm not ready to give it up. I want to have the option of reproducing it or at least being able to use the design to help facilitate making different ones, such as: "hello, honey" with some bees on it or "grow" or "follow your bliss."


happy father's day!

To all the great dads out there, especially mine, happy father's day! I'm getting more and more excited to fly home next month, pack our beat up body boards and beach umbrellas and drive down to the coast for a week on the beach, one big happy--sometimes grumpy, sometimes giggly, sometimes goofy, sometimes sleepy, often hungry, usually thirsty--family!


black to green

Turns out, I don't have a black thumb. I've been wondering: where have all my bean seeds gone? I have two, yes, two (1 and 2) bean plants growing out of several plantings of seeds. But my fears have been eased; I did not somehow destroy the soil in my garden. My thumb turns greenish again as my suspicions have been confirmed; it turns out that beans just hate cold, wet weather! Thanks to Gayla again!

We Portlanders really can't complain: we have a long growing season. Everything seems to grow here. But I've picked a tough year to get started on having my own garden: the 3rd wettest May on record, and possibly one of the wettest and coldest Junes as well. It's currently 53 farking degrees outside!!! and gray looms, threateningly.

So beans, if I must, I will keep trying with you, until I am happily eating you steamed with olive oil, sea salt, and lemon juice!


if you visit me, I'll take you here

This weekend, we walked along cliff edges, stood on mountain tops, and washed our feet in the ocean.
We examined small wonders, such as dew drops that held worlds of mystery. 

We feasted our senses upon the wild flowers.
In Oregon, so many flowers that are cultivated for the cottage flower garden grow wild, including irises, columbine, lupine, foxglove, bleeding hearts, sunflowers, and orchids.
We wallowed for hours in sunsets.
We climbed a mysterious moutain...
...that cleared for one wonderful day to reveal vistas of more mountains, including Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood (pictured below), and Mt. Jefferson and the great Columbia River emptying into the Pacific Ocean.
And we discovered wildlife, including raccoons, bald eagles, seals, deer...
...and the life of tide pools, such as starfish and sea urchins.


growing roots

Today, like many days, I thought about my family and how much I miss them. I've encountered people who assume, because I live on the opposite side of the country, that I have a poor relationship with them. That I moved far away from them. That moving far away from them was the point. But it wasn't the point at all.

And today, I thought about how, when posed the question, "Do you see yourself staying in Portland?" my answer is often ambivalent: I love Portland, but it's so far away from my family, as though hinting that eventually, one day, I'll succumb to my wish to be near them. I wish, instead, that I could convince them to move out here.

I don't feel like the strange bird in the family, but I'm the only one who studied abroad (London) or lived with a former boyfriend in Italy for two months. I'm the only one who's lived in more than three states: Pennsylvania, California, New York, Arizona, and Oregon (in that order). Yet, it seems like it's just coincidence that it was me and not them. I view my family members as fiercely independent and bold, but perhaps, it just took me a little longer to grow roots. My sister Emily has traveled oceans that I'll never fully understand, more in terms of realizing that she deserves love and respect and demanding it from those around her. My sister Alicia's confidence and simultaneous humility and contagious sense of humor always astounds me. And my parents: well, I look at how amazing my sisters are and I have my moments, too, and my parents deserve most of the credit, really. They raised me to follow my wanderlust and they encouraged me to be myself and travel and learn and love. So it's their fault that I live so far away (haha! Just kidding, Mom!). And what a dream life! How lucky are we! Are we real? A happy family. If I have children, may I be as good of a parent as my own were.

Yet, I moved far away. And I didn't garden for many years. When I was young, gardens were places of magic. The setting for fairy tales. The homes of nymphs and dryads. The wonder of twilight. The world of the imagination opening on a rose petal.  And then, I got older and the dew drop on the rose petal grew, became a whole globe to dance across, to explore. And now, like so many others of my age, there's this settling down. This need to grow roots. Literally and figuratively. What does my garden say about me that I don't quite grasp? Perhaps a need to recreate that dream world. And quite likely, my garden is, in a sense, about homesickness and the need to recreate home.

So I create a home and I grow roots. My fingers dig deep into the earth, and like a benediction, the earth returns blessings upon me. And Portland, so far from home, becomes home, nestled amongst the fierce and beautiful Cascades and only a short drive from the Pacific. What more did I dream of, staring out my bedroom window as a youth, than a magical garden near snow-capped mountains and a stormy, gray sea? And a gray striped cat. And a kindred spirit to share it all with. If only Mom, Dad, and my lovely sisters would join me.


more about bees and blossoms

My bees are doing well, despite all the rain. No signs of mites, and they're population is up, up, up. The first half of the hive is full, extremely, blindingly full of bees. The worker bee above has full pollen baskets, taking advantage of today's sunshine to gather.
The bumblebees, as I've said before, LOVE LOVE LOVE the comfry.

Notice the full pollen baskets on the hind legs.

"an edible gardening primer"

I finished reading Grow Great Grub: Organic Food for Small Spaces by Gayla Trail. The title is a bit misleading, because really, this book is for anyone. It's about growing great grub, period, whether your space is small or large. I got the book from the local library, but I'm tempted to run to Powells and buy myself a copy to use as a reference. My copy of her first book, You Grow Girl, is dog-eared from all the times I've checked on it. That's because both of her books are filled with recipes (such as one for Dark Opal basil jelly), creative projects (like sewing yourself a gardening apron), and gardening ideas, tips, photos, and words of encouragement such as:

"I'm not going to lie to you. There is a heck of a lot to learn when it comes to growing a food garden. But you don't need to know everything now in order to begin. You'll learn over time through doing, succeeding, and yes, even failing. To become a food gardener, you need only a little direction and a plant or two to begin with. Expanding from there, your experience and confidence will grow along with your garden. And most important, remember this: without a doubt, you will make mistakes. All gardeners do from time to time, even the experienced ones. Grant yourself permission to learn through messing up, and before you know it, you'll find yourself with bowls of strawberries, bundles of fresh herbs, the perfect tomato sandwich, and your own fantasy food garden." (7)

These words hearten me when my bean and zucchini seeds don't sprout (are they getting eaten or rotting in the soggy, soggy ground?) or my best tomato plant gets demolished by a chicken because I foolishly had it out in the open. It reminds me to look at my ripening strawberries, my tall garlic, the flower buds on my peas, the increased population of my bees, and my many other garden wonders.

One more thing about Grow Great Grub: not only is she a gardening goddess, she also produces the entire book almost entirely by herself (and I believe with the help of her mister), including words, photos, and layout.

In other lit. news, I read with the American lit. juniors The Great Gatsby and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (fun book to teach). I also read The Bean Trees, and a book on butterfly gardening. I've also dipped into scads of books, short stories, poems, and graded hundreds of papers (sweet, sweet summer vacation=bliss of reading whatever I want and no grading!).


This was Saturday. Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah (loud angelic chorus of thanksgiving!). Please note, it was followed on Sunday with torrential rain showers and the thought that I might need a canoe or kayak in order to get home from work.
Here's a shot of the garden with comfry gone wild on the left, but I don't have the heart to chop it yet because the bumble bees love it. In the front are various greens, including spinach and kale. Beyond that, I've attempted to plant beans, but either they're rotting from all the rain or something is eating the shoots. Beyond that are peppers, tomatoes, marigolds, lettuce, and peas (on the right). Beyond that, salmon berries, garlic, strawberries.

I used up all of my compost on Saturday and started a new batch. I also planted the area in along the fence to the left of the chicken coop with more peas, beans, spinach, zucchini, carrots, and sunflowers. A few days before that, during a break from the rain (but not the clouds), I worked on my herb spiral. It now has peppermint, oregano, thyme, echinacea, calendula, chinese hyssop, sage, and german chamomile. It doesn't look like much yet, but it will! And the tasty, delicious spices for dinners and teas it will provide me...Mmmm!
(My camera lens is scratched or something. I need to start saving for a new one.)
The ladies are almost full grown. Here's my americauna. She loves to perch on anything and is always the first to jump up on containers and fences.
The one on the left is a speckled sussex, and she's developing these awesome teal feathers. The one on the right is a plymouth barred rock. Her feathers are striped black and white. My girl Cass is going to help me make earrings from their feathers.


another something lovely to wear

Starting to think about costumes for BRC, and I absolutely love, love, love this dress. Where can I find material like this? Photo from Souvenirs.


This beaded dream catcher/spider web is so beautiful and glistening. The photo (along with a series of other dream-like, seductive, creative photos) is from Souvenirs.

The Cherry Blossom Girl is another gorgeous blog with stunning photos of places and fashion.

Also, I love the style of Thompson Family-Life...and the pursuit of all things cute, kitschy, and crafty. Yep, sounds like something that would make me swoon. Her sewing nook is adorable.

pretty love poppy

I love this caftan from Plum Pretty Sugar. Isn't it dreamy? I see myself wearing it on the beach and in the desert. Places that are hot, breezy, and sandy. Another great recommendation from over at Modish, and a splash of color for yet another rainy Portland day.


cannon beach

Yesterday, we went to Cannon Beach for the first time. There were some clouds, no rain, a little sun, lots of dogs, intelligent thieving sea gulls, a few surfers, strawberry blossoms, broken sand dollars, and that amazing tang of salt and sea.
This guy above only had eyes and ears for his surfer buddy, the black speck in the water in the back left. He had no interest in us other humans trying to pet him and talk to him.