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Return to the bee box July 28, 2008

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It is now mid-afternoon and I went out to look at my bee boxes. Sure enough in bee box 2 were some bees taking an afternoon siesta.

This bee box has residents.

This bee box has residents.

 If you look carefully at the vertical column of holes to your left you will see some green in a few of the holes. These are the holes occupied by the bees – they go in the hole and create a “filling” behind themselves as protection. There was a bee going into the 3rd hole from the top, center column, while I was taking the picture but she can’t be seen. The bees are a dark color and quite small.

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Guerrilla Gardening July 28, 2008

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Good morning blog readers 🙂

I just watched a delightful video on YouTube: “Guerrilla Gardening UK Style” You can watch one version here:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=L8WTlqiwYdQ

However, you can actually see the best one here:

http://www.phoenixpermaculture.org/video/video/show?id=2008067%3AVideo%3A14328

I have often thought about this but have never done anything about it. Sounds like a lot of fun. Lots of people make and “distribute” seed balls. What fun! Guerrilla Gardeners actually go about the land – often in the dark – and plant or replant landscapes that are in serious need of beautification. I do think that if one is doing the work in broad daylight one is less likely to be stopped and questioned as you would look like you were supposed to be there doing the daily gardening routine.  So, I have decided to become “Granny Guerrilla: performing random acts of gardening with weapons of mass beautification” and I too will “distribute” my seed balls and plants like Johnny Appleseed but probably in broad daylight as I am most definitely not a night owl and I am most definitely a coward. 😀

Sunflower in my garden.

Sunflower in my garden.

This one sunflower – out of the 8 that I planted – has grown to be a bit over 6′ tall and is attracting pollinator bees (the kind that do not sting). YEAH!   My husband, Doug, had built bee boxes for these pollinators but then we had to wait until something in the garden flowered for the bees to come around.

Bee box under eave of house.

This is a bee box for pollinator bees. It is placed on the NE corner of the house under the eaves. The bees are here but they cannot be seen in this picture.

Bee box close-up

Bee box close-up

Doug made 2 bee boxes. This is a close-up of the second one placed under the same eave a few feet from the first one. I wanted to make sure we had enough homes for lots of bees and thus two boxes. Doug used some old 4″ X 4″ he had in the bone yard (storage place for all the stuff you don’t want to throw away cuz you know you’ll need it someday:). He drilled the holes by sight and hung them. All in all it took 13 months to get him to begin and about 30 minutes to actually build the boxes from start to hanging finish. :-D.  There are no bees here at the moment I took the picture. After all, it’s the middle of the morning and they are hard at work in the garden. You can learn more about these kinds of bees at:

http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Other/note109/note109.html

There are other web sites as well, just go googling and have a good time learning about these wonderful and beneficial insects.

Speaking of flying critters – we had a storm the other night and this beautiful creature took refuge at the top of my screen door under the eave for protection:

Luna Moth

Luna Moth

I’m afraid the picture is a bit fuzzy. I learned how to use the macro setting on my camera afterI took this picture.  S/he was a full grown moth measuring between 4″ and 5″ wing tip to wing tip – maybe a bit bigger – I was guestimating.  S/he left us shortly after the storm was over.

Namaste, Lindy (AKA Granny Guerrilla:)

A few of my favorite blogs . . . July 17, 2008

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A favorite blog that I read every time there is a new post and sometimes go back and reread older posts is Susan Wittig Albert’s: Lifescapes” found at http://susanalbert.typepad.com/lifescapes/. Along with being a famous writer of mysteries, among them the China Bayles herbal mysteries, Ms. Albert writes blogs as well as other book series, leads writers’ groups and generally writes most of the time. Her Lifescapes blog is based primarily on nature, the outdoors, her gardens, touches on sustainability issues, and other things near and dear to her heart. In today’s blog post she mentioned another blog: Sharon Astyk, Casaubon’s Book. The subtitle: Sharon Astyk’s Ruminations on an Ambiguous Future. From Sharon’s site I found another great site on issues of sustainability: http://crunchychicken.blogspot.com/.

Why do I find these blogs interesting?  Personally I believe we all should be reading, listening, talking, advocating, and activisting (new word:) all we possibly can to bring about sustainability on our only home – Mother Earth. Yes, I have read the headlines about the findings on Mars. Do any of us really want  to completely destroy Earth and then move to Mars? Interesting thought and I can think of a few people for whom Earth would be better off if they did move to Mars but let’s get real. We aren’t going to move to Mars after we destroy Earth. First of all, we probably won’t destroy Earth. However, we are destroying the ability of any and all life forms – humans included – to live on this planet. The planet will continue long after we are gone. Perhaps that is what happened to Mars? Perhaps there was life on Mars  but the “intelligent” life forms destroyed the planet and moved to Earth?  And so, I read the blogs, the books, the articles, I talk to people, I listen, and I try to do what I can to create my own sustainable community. I haven’t gotten very far. 😦 The people I talk to are in denial. They cannot believe that anything really bad could possibly happen and that “we will pull out of this” and life will go on as it always has. We will keep driving our cars and buying food at the grocery store and shopping whenever we get the urge. We will continue to take long trips wherever and whenever, and we will continue to eat peaches from S. America in the middle of winter. In short, we will get over the hump, slide over this bump in the road, and go back to “business as usual”.

Whatever platform you choose to believe ignorance is not bliss. We all need to learn all we can and then act accordingly. Act as though our lives depend on our actions and on our decisions. It just might all be true.

Do something for the Earth today – something to help sustain Mother Nature. In so doing you will also be doing something for yourself and for those you love and care about.

Oh yes, and if you have some great sites that I haven’t mentioned based on these issues won’t you please send them to me in the Comments” section of this blog? I would love to hear from you.

Namaste, Lindy

The Critter Kids July 9, 2008

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It’s about 110 degrees out as I write – too hot to do much of anything. Even with the AC the house is warm and I do not feel like knitting with all that warm yarn on my lap. I do have a good book to read, Whatever Happened to Ecology by Stephanie Mills. Ms. Mills was born and raised in the Phoenix, AZ area and has lived in my old neck of the woods in northern MI for a couple of decades or more.  Her writing is ecology/bioregionalism based which is right up my alley.  However, I have not written for quite awhile now so will update my blog with pictures of our critter kids.

I have some pictures to share now that I have finally figured out how to work my new Adobe Photoshop program:

 

Daisy Mae and Ayla

Daisy Mae and Ayla

 

Daisy Mae is our rescued doggy. She had been hit by a car at approximately, according to our vet, 6 months of age and left out in the road to die. Doug, my husband, found her, took her to our vet (she had a broken pelvis). When she was on the mend we brought her home. That was 2 1/2 years ago. She is the sweetest, most well-mannered dog either of us has ever had.  Ayla, the kitty, is now 2 years old. I found her as a lone abandoned 5 week old (according to our vet) in a parking lot at a local supermarket. She was filthy, hungry, and thirsty (it was July and terribly hot).  Doug named her Ayla after the little orphan girl in Clan of the Cave Bear.  Ayla adopted Daisy as her surrogate mother. She eats from Daisy’s food bowl even while Daisy is trying to eat, sleeps with Daisy, plays with Daisy and Daisy allows Ayla to do anything. Daisy has not shown one single hint of aggression in the 2 1/2 years she has been with us. She does bark if someone strange comes into the yard.
Emily

Emily

This is Emily sitting on the Kitty Climber Doug made for them. Emily was found by me about 2 years ago at a Kitty Adoption from PetSmart. She is a solid jet-black cat and had been passed over for adoption by others probably/possibly because of her color.  I doubt I will ever get a good picture of the 3 of them together as Em prefers to be an only child. She just manages to tolerate the other two.
She has decided she owns me and usually needs to sit on me.  She is a very nice girl whose age is undetermined (also according to our vet).  All these adoptions came about shortly after the loss of our 12 1/2 year old Abbey. Abbey had been the love of our lives and had to be put to sleep due to terminal liver cancer. We had no intentions of acquiring more animals after that loss – they just fell into our laps and we were unable to say “no” to all these homeless and loving little critters all of whom we love dearly.
Abbey

Abbey: June 1993 - December 2005

     Abbey was a Chesapeake Bay/Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix who we found in a shelter in Canyon City, CO as a 6 week old puppy. She was our first child, adopted 1 year after we were married. Abbey was both brilliant and beautiful. We loved her dearly and we miss her more than words can ever say.
 
     That’s it for now. I’m just happy I finally figured out my new photo program – it really was easy once I spent a little time getting familiar with it. 😀
 
 Namaste until we meet again, Lindy

Words of Wisdom – or so they say . . . May 30, 2008

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This has nothing to do with either knitting or herbs but it does have to do with another of my favorite things – namely words. A few weeks ago on another blog we were challenged to come up with a mantra in exactly 30 words. Some readers were able to produce theirs very quickly but it took me a few days of thinking and editing to come up with mine. These can be seen on the LizBiz blog. My 30 word mantra goes like this:

 Lindy Says:
May 2, 2008 at 6:46 pm

I think I may have finally done it – a 30 word mantra. I kept coming up with more than 30 and then had a hard time paring it down. This was a good exercise:

Be Here Now
Be thankful for each day
Honor, embrace, extend to all life:
Respect
Love
Kindness
Patience
Dignity

Communicate w/ honesty + tact
Cherish imagination, dreams
Build relationships
Enjoy solitude
Namasté

As long as I don’t count the w/ and the one + I have just 30.

A day or so prior to this 30 word mantra challenge we were discussing (on the same blog) the Four Fold Way, or as some call it, The Four Path Way.

Following is my response to that post:

Your Four Path Way sounds remarkably similar to The Four Fold Way I have used for many years – something I meditate on each morning as I close my daily yoga practice. It goes like this:

1. Show up; choose to be present

2. Extend honor and respect

3. Value the art and craft of communication

4. Responsibility and discipline

I just may change the name of mine to The Five Path Way and add:

5. Let go of the outcome
(we must learn what we can control and what we cannot control)

I read about mine (I have adopted this as my own with my own modifications and the ways in which I adapt this to my life) many years ago in a book by the same name written by Angeles Arien. I also have one of her Tarot books. Reminding myself each morning of these four steps (soon to be 5 ) helps me deal in more effective ways with my classroom full of 9 and 10 year olds all day every day.

Today, on the NPR website, I ran across another challenge using words. This is called “Six-Word Memoirs: Life Stories Distilled”. The challenge is to describe your life in 6 words. There are some very interesting 6-word descriptions on this site.

The article begins: “Once asked to write a full story in six words, legend has it that novelist Ernest Hemingway responded: “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.” The link to the NPR website – Talk of the Nation, Feb. 07, 2008 – http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18768430

I came up with my 6 word story about my life while practicing my daily yoga:

“Locavore kneads yoga, fiber, books, nature.”

Now it’s your turn – I would love to hear what some of you come up with.

Namaste, Lindy

Heaven in my Mailbox May 28, 2008

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Here in the tiny rural community in which we currently live we have no PO delivery service – everyone goes to the tiny local post office to pick up their mail. I had not been to the PO since this past Friday what with being gone all day Saturday and then the PO was closed on Monday for Memorial Day. However, once I did get there yesterday afternoon (Tuesday) I found a lovely “surprise” waiting for me – not really a surprise since I had placed the order but nonetheless lovely. I received from Amazon two of the most stunningly beautiful knitting books I have yet to see: “A Fine Fleece” by Lisa Lloyd with a forward by Clara Parks and “Shear Spirit: Ten Fiber Farms, Twenty Patterns, and Miles of Yarn” by Joan Tapper and Gale Zucker. What marvelous books! I had just committed myself to buying no more yarn until all of the projects currently on my needles and in my stash are done – finished – completely completed! Well, knitters (and spinners, weavers, dyers, quilters, etc) all know what those kinds of commitments are like – fleeting – very fleeting. We are always serious when we make that promise to ourselves but the mind is a funny thing – it can easily forget and/or get distracted. It’s like an addiction. No, it is an addiction! These two books are filled with simply wonderful patterns for scarves, vests, cardigans, socks and more and most of them are just crying out for me to begin them. I use the word begin because I have decided it is the process of beginning a new project and the process of knitting the pattern that I love even more than the wearing or using of the finished garment. It is knowing I have something interesting waiting on my needles; something with character, beautiful color and texture, scrumptious to the touch.  With more than one project in the process it means I can pick up the one that suits my mood of the moment or choose the one that is most portable to take in the car or on a plane rather than the monstrous and still growing afghan which requires me to stay put in one place for a period of time with a clean and special place to hold all the excess fabric. Many projects on the needles also mean that when I am feeling brain dead or want to watch a special movie or show on TV while I am knitting I can choose one that requires little or no thought. If I am in the mood for something more challenging and do not need to share my brain with anything else I can choose a project that requires me to pay attention to it and only to it. So, you see, there really are good and perfectly reasonable reasons (excuses?) for having many projects just waiting in the wings at any given time.

Here are pics. of the covers of these two great books. Google online or go to Amazon to check them out more closely. Amazon does not make either of these books available to view the inside pages. Better – best – yet, make for your nearest LYS and check them out in person and support your favorite LYS at the same time. You ask why I didn’t do that? The closest LYS to me is 75 miles away and with gas pushing $4/gal. plus a full time teaching schedule it really is better for me to mail order when I can.

A Fine FleeceShear Spirit

Knitting as a Process May 26, 2008

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Just when I thought I had a brilliant idea to use the “wormy” technique” as in Melissa’s Scarf from my last 2 posts and make a long, straight scarf what do I find online but this:

http://www.cocoknits.com/knit/garments/accessories/wormscarf.html

Oh well – I’m often behind the 8-ball so I shouldn’t be surprised that someone else beat me to the punch on this one.  I am going to make this scarf no matter whose idea it is.  I think it will be cute to make a very narrow wormy scarf in bright colors to wear in winter to add detail to a solid color turtleneck. Or make one in a really lightweight cottony sock yarn to wear with a light colored sundress. Hmmmmm! It would be great made from Flat Feet yarn. Or . . . YIKES! I have far too many ideas without enough time and/or money to follow through on all of them.

Yesterday we drove up to Prescott, AZ – one of our favorite places – to shop, visit, and eat dinner at the Prescott Brewery – home of the best locally brewed beer in the world. That is, of course, in our opinion. We haven’t visited every brewery in the world so we really don’t know this for a fact but they do brew a mean beer.  Anyway, one of our stops yesterday was Studio Three – a shop dedicated to the knitter, spinner, and weaver. They had recently gotten in a supply of sock yarn called “Flat Feet”. This yarn is machine knit as an undyed flat tricot fabric . It is then sent to a little cottage industry in Cave Creek, AZ where they hand-dye the pieces of knit fabric in a multitude of colorways. Although I have a lot of sock yarn this was something I knew I just had to try and so I ended up buying not one but two pieces. It just so happened my husband went into the yarn shop with me and when he saw this yarn he decided he wanted a pair of socks for himself to wear with his Birkies thus the purchase of a 2nd piece. Following are pics. of this yarn. You just pull out the waste yarn at the beginning and unravel the fabric as you knit. It produces a really kinky knit up sock that smooths out when it is washed and blocked. The fabric pieces are knit from 80% superwash Merino and 20% nylon. You can find out more about this little industry at: http://www.conjoinedcreations.com  Studio Three had a pair of socks on display that were in the process of being knit. This fabric produces multi-colored socks without the usual stripes we have been seeing on the market for many years. I’m anxious to get started but must – as in ABSOLUTELY MUST – finish a vest I have been working on for ages and ages. This is not to mention all the other projects currently on my needles but that vest really does need to get done. Then there is that lovely little summer T-shirt in a beautiful multi-shaded cotton yarn that is soooooo amazingly soft. I really should finish that T-shirt so I can wear it this summer. I had planned on finishing it last summer to take to Cape Cod with me . . . Sometimes I think I don’t knit to actually wear anything but rather for the pleasure of the process.

Doug\'s Choice 

 This is the piece my husband, Doug, chose for his socks. It is primarily blues with some brown and other neutrals.

 

 

 

Lindy\'s Choice

 

This is the piece I chose for my socks. This one is primarily blues, some neutrals, and a bit of red.

 

 

 

 

Namaste, Lindy

Promised Pictures – Finally May 23, 2008

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Melissa\'s Scarf

 Finally – here are the promised pictures which I could not get into my last post. I had been attempting to use a new-to-me photo editing program and it was (still is) driving me nuts. I went back to my old standby and had no problems inserting my pics. The picture to the left is the complete and finished Melissa’s Scarf using a bulky chenille yarn. The next 2 pictures are close-ups of the edging detail. They are fuzzy – my expensive digital camera doesn’t do well with close up shots :(.

 Edging detail - Melissa\'s Scarf

Edging detail - Melissa\'s Scarf

 

 

 

 

The colors in the full shot above are closest to the true colors of the yarn.

I’m really having a time trying to figure out placement of text. Well, I have all next week off from school so I guess I will be spending some time working on inserting pictures, taking better pictures, and working on placement of both text and pictures within my blog.

Namaste, Lindy

Knitting as Passion May 22, 2008

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Today is Thursday, May 22 and I have spent too much time throughout this week attempting to get the pictures in which are discussed below. I will therefore post this blog and continue to work on posting the pictures at a sooner or later date – sooner I hope.

When I first began this blog I mentioned knitting as one of my favorite things to do in my tag line in the header. However, I realize I have never written about this favorite (next to reading) pastime. I have a really good reason to discuss knitting today as a new friend, a young woman by the name of Melissa who owns a most delightful yarn shop in Cedar, MI, put a link to my blog on her blogroll. I can no longer procrastinate – she has forced my hand and now I must blog on a fairly regular basis. This is also the first time (on this particular blog) I will have finally gotten my ducks in a row and posted pictures. When I visited Inish Knits (Inish is Gaelic for island) this past March Melissa gave me one of her newsletters. In it was a pattern for a delightful little shawl/scarf. A friend of hers had designed it and named it “Melissa’s Scarf”. The scarf itself is a simple triangular pattern  which begins with the usual 3 cast-on stitches and progresses into a large triangle through regular increases. What makes this scarf so different and unique is the series of cute little “baubles of yarn” that show up along the diagonal edges of the scarf. The technique is simple and the result is dramatic. Anyway, to make a longer story short I had decided to make this scarf and learn this simple technique. Which I did and I have and I promised Melissa I would take pics. of her scarf and post them for all the world to see.

While visiting Inish Knits I had purchased 2 skeins of a lovely hand-dyed 100% Merino in shades of subtle blue to use for this scarf. Upon returning home another yarn called to me telling me it would be a better choice for this particular pattern. A skein of Blue Heron Yarns bulky rayon chenille (250 yards) which I had and had not been able to decide what to do with since I had bought it for another project and changed my mind about using it became the yarn of choice for Melissa’s Scarf. For all you knitters out there you know what I mean when I say that yarn has a mind of its own. Yarn either wants to be a certain project or it doesn’t and if the knitter tries to force a yarn to be something it doesn’t want to be the project simply does not work out well. So, here was this beautiful chenille in shades of pink to lavender just crying out to be “Melissa”s Scarf”. It went together perfectly with enough yardage to make a scarf that is the perfect size for summer.

 

BTW – Melissa keeps her knitterly and spinnerly fans up to date through her blog, “The Land of Wool and Honey”.

Perhaps by the time I post on the subject of knitting again a pattern will have called out for those 2 skeins of scrumptiously soft blue Merino. However, I do wish now that I had bought at least one more skein from Melissa while I was there – I’m thinking perhaps warm, wooly, winter socks.

. . . and so Namaste until we meet again,

Lindy

April Flowers April 6, 2008

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Yes, I know. The little rythme doesn’t go quite this way – unless you live in the desert or perhaps anywhere across the southern USA. In our case it’s more like “March showers bring April flowers.” The desert is in full bloom right now with Prickly Poppies, Desert Marigold, tiny purple flowers, the gorgeous native plant with bright orange flower whose name escapes me at the moment, and lots of Plantain popping up everywhere. The Mesquite trees are just beginning to leaf out and are a brilliant shade of fresh new green. The weather is dry and sunny with highs in the 80’s and nightime lows in the low 50’s. Gorgeous weather which we need to fully enjoy now because those 100+ degree days are right around the corner. This means I will get out today to do a little more gardening as well as other outside type chores.  My Rosemary bushes blossomed for nearly a month and have only recently moved on to just beyond the blossom stage – the blossoms turn a light green and dry on the bush. My culinary Sage, which I thought I had lost to winter freezes, is blossoming right now with beautiful purple flowers. My lavender – the only Lavender plant I have left after losing two others  – is also in full and glorious bloom. I’ve planted lots of different kinds of lettuces and other greens in my tiny garden but I was a bit late getting this seed out and so nothing has begun to sprout yet.

My current book is Ecological Literacy: Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World.  This book is the 3rd in the Bioneers Series.  Although I am thoroughly enjoying reading it I can’t help but think it does not totally apply to my situation. I live and teach 4th grade in a tiny rural, migrant farming community. Every one of my students are ELL (English Language Learners). As teachers we are forced to teach to the test and follow the NCLB (No Child Left Behind) law to the letter. Unfortunately this often precludes everything except the teaching of the school’s chosen reading and math curriculums. Although we hear often that it needn’t be this way, that we can include other subject matter, there are only so many hours in a school day and when the students are struggling to understand what they are being forced to learn we end up at the end of the school day with no time left to even relax for a few minutes and review our day. My frustration and anxiety level with this method of non-teaching is reaching an all time high. Our students are being cheated out of a real education for the purpose of passing standardized state mandated tests.

Enough ranting and raving for the time being. I have managed to pull “tons” of weeds this afternoon and still have tons more to go. We are always grateful for any rain we get but there is always a price to pay as weeds pop up by the zillions and grow to record heights overnight. Well OK – a bit of an exageration but when you are the one crawling around on the desert floor pulling weeds and getting your fingers full of stickers cuz everything in the desert is thorny it does not seem like so much of an exageration. 😀

For now, Namaste,

Lindy