Friday, April 12, 2013

Getting the juices flowing again

Blogging has taken a back seat to family and other issues for some time, but with the new life of spring, I'm feeling my blogging juices flow again.

My winter offered several crises giving me much spiritual "grist for the mill", as a good friend of mine calls it. I believe I have grown with the challenges I have faced and continue to face, though, and I am so glad for the change in the weather which has lightened my mood and given me new eyes for the events as they unfold.

I have spent much of this last week in the garden, weeding, moving trees and brambles to their new locations, and today putting in a bed of broccoli I had started in the greenhouse a month or so ago. The winter lettuce is lush and baby lettuce and greens are up. The winter greens have bolted and so the timing is working well.

The hoop houses were wonderful this year. Our winter harvest was the best yet. I need to work on a way to deal with the gales which played havoc with the plastic covers, but I have a few ideas which I'll fill you in on when I figure it all out.

Work in my studio has been spotty, too, with my attention in other directions, but I am working on a custom rug right now and have many projects planned for the coming months. It works well to do my garden chores in the cool mornings and evenings and then spend time in the studio during the heat of the day and I'm feeling excited and inspired about the upcoming work and play with my garden and my art.

I've mentioned before my friend, Kathleen O'Brien, who sparked the idea and set me on the path of trying to integrate my spiritual life, my gardening and my art, which are all interests we share. She suggested this blog as a way to work on that process.

Kathleen has been such an inspiration to me in many ways. I am so entranced with her art, which is filled with visions of nature and spiritual geometry of which I am also so connected. She also has been such a role model for me through the way she gets her art out into the world.

I'd like to tell you about her exhibit I am hoping to see this month. Realms of Wonder is Kathleen's solo exhibit at the MS Rezny Gallery in Lexington, which began on April 1st and will be open until the end of the month. If you can't make it to see the exhibit, Kathleen has a  3 minute video about it which she made last Saturday: . Maybe I'll see you there.

By the way, Kathleen also has a lovely web site and blog you might like to visit:

Thanks! Happy Spring!

Monday, July 30, 2012


I have really been noticing the Sun coming up later each morning and dusk arriving sooner each evening. Our ancestors marked the day halfway between the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox as Teltane (also known as Lammas or Lughnassad). They celebrated a ritual marriage between Lugh, the Sun, and Eire, the Earth with hopes the mating would balance the male and female energies to strengthen and harmonize the Sun and Earth until harvest. This Wednesday, August 1st, marks Teltane and in honor of the Sun and the Earth, I thought I'd share some thoughts and some photos of my garden.
Herb and flower gardens at the end of June.

Despite a lengthy drought, which probably isn't over even though we have gotten a little rain of late, my garden has flourished. Fortunately I have been able to water the vegetable garden from our pond, but there for a while I was concerned for my dear garden and all the plants and wildlife living near us as the temperatures were in the 100's and everything looked scorched.

I am an organic gardener, and I have been building our soil with compost and green manure for many years. This year I have been planting my seeds and doing my transplanting diligently according to a biodynamic calendar. I used a calendar last summer, but I wasn't consistent. This year, as an experiment, I decided to follow the biodynamic recommendations as much as practicality allowed. I'll admit some scepticism but I'll have to say that my garden appears to be doing exceptionally well.

Veggie part of the garden at the end of June.

Of course my experiment hasn't been scientific and there are way too many variables to draw any conclusions, but it is enough evidence for me to continue using the calendar next year.

When I was taking the Master Gardener class a few years ago, other students teased me when I said I didn't see many insect pests in my garden. They couldn't believe I didn't have to spray with chemicals for bean beetles and potato beetles and the like. I decided to pay close attention this year to what pests I saw, especially after a mild winter when pests might be in larger number.

One cucumber plant which has produced
dozens of large burpless cukes.

I have seen one Colorado potato beetle on an eggplant, 9 Japanese Beetles on my okra, not one Mexican bean beetles in two succession plantings of bush beans, a couple of squash bugs, and 7 or 8 Blister Beetles in this whole growing season. I do struggle with Squash Vine Borers, though I've kept them at bay longer and longer each season with a couple of techniques, and my eggplant are bothered by flea beetles, though not enough to keep them from pumping out lots of lovely fruit. I do see a little pest damage on the veggies that I pick, but I don't treat the plants with organic insecticides like Pyganic or diatomaceous earth unless I am going to lose a good share of the crop, because if I kill the "bad bugs" I'd be killing the "good bugs", too, the predators which keep the pesty insects in check. I attribute the shortage of "bad bugs" in my garden to all the hungry birds, all the "good bugs" and to the health of my plants and soil.  

I've started turning under the Crimson Clover
which has been growing in this bed so it can
decompose as a green manure. It will be my winter
bed under a hoop house. I left the volunteer
zinnia and will plant around it. :)

I know it sounds like I'm bragging, and I guess I am, but I get frustrated with the common attitudes about organic gardening and I wish I could help people see the advantages of not using chemicals on their gardens.

For those of you who do fall and winter gardens, it is time to begin preparing the soil and begin some of the planting. It is time to think about planting carrots. I have been turning under the green manure on one of my winter beds and have some bedding plants started in the greenhouse. I usually go ahead and put up the hoop house and cover it with a light row cover because there are a lot of hungry insects who like those sweet young plants. Row covers are one of the best tools for pest control. 

My friend, Donna, took this photo of my hoop house
a couple seasons ago.

I hope you'll consider a fall and winter garden, because, in Kentucky, you can get a great deal of fresh food and the growing is easy with typically cooler temperatures and plenty of rain, and the pests are taking a break. For more information about
fall and winter gardening and
hoop houses, visit

The bees are loving my dwarf crepe myrtle 
which is blooming it's heart out this
year and has such a sweet scent.

These Juliet "Roma" shaped tomatoes are a cross
between a cherry and a Roma type tomato.
The plants are taller than me and have
not had one sign of disease.
If things go as they usually do, they will keep
bearing baskets of tomatoes until the frost kills them.

I wish you all a happy Teltane and, if you garden, best wishes for a prosperous garden during this unusual garden season.  


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day Thoughts

I have been thinking a lot about the Earth. It isn't hard to see how, for many generations and many cultures, we have often thought of the Earth as our Mother. She literally feeds us. Try to think of something you eat that didn't come from the living soil, directly or indirectly. The minerals from the rocks of the Earth's surface, via plants and animals, make up our bones and are vital to the workings of our bodies.

I find it very sad that the profit-making form of agriculture so common on this planet now is destroying the very soil needed to feed us. I have read about how with industrial farming that for every ton of food produced we lose 6 tons of topsoil while filling what is left with toxic chemicals.

Did you know that healthy soil should have 600 million bacteria in a teaspoon? There should also be tens of thousands of protozoa and miles of fungal hyphae. If all these little friends were in our soil, the plants which feed us wouldn't need fungicides or bactericides.

It is because of this that I'm a compost fanatic. We compost all the vegetable trimmings from the kitchen, all the weeds and spent plants from the garden, and most everything else that will decompose, in a huge compost pile. The compost process requires and encourages the very life needed for healthy soil. The finished compost added back on your vegetable and fruit beds is like a shot in the arm for your garden. Growing cover crops and digging them into the soil is another wonderful way to recharge the life-filled soil.

Happy Earth Day. Give our Mother a shout out when you eat or drink or breathe today!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Synchronicities in the round

I can sense when I'm in a groove sometimes, because the universe starts feeding me synchronicities and coincidences. I'm reading a book about a theory that is able to mathematically account for the cosmic or metaphysically components of the universe. Thankfully it is written in laywoman's terms. I've begun to have supplementary information popping up in other areas of my life. I was noticing a circulation of coincidental happenings when this quote came up in my reading and really pulled the phenomenon together for me:

You see, where you put your energy, where you put your mind, is vitally central to your experience. If you begin with an act of faith and say, “I think life is this way and I’m going to live as if it were this way,” then you cast yourself into the midair of faith having no proof of anything but the simple feeling, the knowing, that all truly is well and that the universe does make sense. ...You simply need to let go of any preconceived notions as to how that works and simply engage in life to the best of your ability... The universe will begin to perceive you as joining the dance. You will begin to get synchronicities...The universe will begin to help you. You will feel that feedback. And the more you lean into that, the more you will receive it. *
Since I find that this groovy thing rarely happens when I'm stressed or over scheduled, I have been trying to keep my calendar more clear. This folds in well with the fact that I'm trying not to drive as much with the gas prices as high as they are.

Even so, I do need to go to town now and again. Yesterday I went to a meeting of local artists, a group called Gathering Artists, where we have been planning a collaborative exhibit for October. I have been working to finish a hand woven Wall Hanging of a sunrise I saw when I was in Nag's Head, North Carolina, and I brought it for "Show and Tell" at the meeting, despite the fact it wasn't quite done. I will finish embellishing with hand dyed silk and mount it in the next few days so I can put it in the fiber art exhibit of my work that is currently on display at the Boyle County Public Library. It is in the Mahan House Gallery if you'll be at the library and would like to stop in and see it. It will be there until May 6th.

You can see more of my fiber art on my web site,
When I was in town, I also needed to pick up some potting soil so I can pot up a bunch of bedding plants I have growing in the greenhouse. This has been the strangest spring and it is really hard to know when to start things both in the garden and inside, and when to put the plants from the greenhouse out in the garden. We have had downright hot temperatures, interpersed this past week with a number of frosty nights. We are waiting to see if the cold temperatures have damaged the blueberries, apples, pears and peaches. It did some damage to the strawberries, but they will bounce back, I feel certain. I had them covered in a hoop house, which added several degrees of protection. All my early greens and the broccoli and cauliflower are in hoop houses still, though on warm days I pull off the row covers.

As you can see, even with trying to keep the calendar clear, this is a busy time around here. Wish me luck with going round and round in the groove!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Trilateral Blogging

After reading my recent blogs, my husband, Steve, asked me what exactly a blog is. I assume many of you already know, but I had my own opinion, which I offered. It seems to me to be a rather open-ended form of communication on the Internet, and, for me, it is much like a letter written in installments to a bunch of friends and family, as well as to people you don’t know. My Webster’s dictionary had no definition, but Wikipedia says it is a blend of the term web log with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. It is quite a phenomenon these days and I see it as a way to bring the humans on this planet closer together, which seems to be a good thing.

I shared in an earlier blog that I had been encouraged by my Kentucky Arts Council Peer Advisor, Kathleen O’Brien, to blog (yes, it can also be a verb) to help me integrate my weaving, gardening and spiritual aspects of my life. I have found that I am happy to share what I’m up to with my weaving. For instance, I finished weaving another of my handbags with the new design today and always feel a relief when I weave again after a period away from my loom. It is like scratching an itch. I am also looking forward to making some Christmas gifts so I can do some sewing. But I am especially eager, with a side of nervousness, to try some new techniques and create some things I’ve had incubating in my mind for some time. I got a book on dyeing at the library and hope to create some handdyed fabrics soon. Having a wonderful workspace and having regular blocks of time to devote to my fiber art is such a luxury. My art is feeling like a bud finally beginning to open as I approach the late afternoon of my life.

Sharing what happens in my garden is also a treat for me. I believe growing our own food and helping others do the same is an important way to be in sync with the Earth. I have added the material about Fall and Winter Gardening and an article on building a hoop house (also called Low Tunnels or Quick Hoops) on my web site for you to see if you are interested. Click here or cut and paste this address:

Or go to the home page and click on the Turtle Island Farm and Gardens link. I will add some photos of my hoop house and step by step photos of how I built mine soon.

While I have much to say about my weaving and gardening, I’ll admit that writing about my spirituality is troublesome for me. I believe some of the difficulty lies in trying to use words to express something that exists in a realm where concepts and feelings are the norm and where words fall short. I am also a little self conscious about having such non-traditional, eclectic beliefs and wonder how many of those who might read my blog are even interested. Even so, I will continue to throw in some of my spiritual thoughts. Feel free to skim or skip if it isn’t your cup of tea.

Well, Steve is downstairs whipping up a batch of chili rellenos from our Anaheim peppers which we grew this summer and then roasted, peeled and froze. My mouth is watering. I 'm off to pick some cilantro under the hoop house before it gets too dark.  

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Monkey Mind Composing

Thanks for your comment and suggestions about writing. Definitely food for thought. I do need to be more consistent keeping a notepad with me for ideas. It is the monkey mind composing and editing while I want to be enjoying my gardening or yoga, for instance, that is most bothersome. I am glad to be inspired by life, I just don't want to be writing while I'm living. I think this is a long time problem which I am only recently identifying. It has kept me from writing more.

I have gotten messages in many forms for the last several years that I should be writing more, though. Hopefully I can solve this and find a way which doesn't disturb my focus on what is happening moment to moment in my life while still absorbing that which inspires and enriches and motivates. Thanks again!
Earlier I mentioned the request from a friend to write about my spirituality and I've given that a lot of thought. One of the reasons I am writing this blog is to integrate my weaving, gardening and spirituality. When it comes down to it, though, I'd have to say my spirituality has become quite integrated into all aspects of my life. That is not something I could have said even a year ago, but my day starts with reading, yoga and meditation, and though I can't say I am constantly aware of my spiritual path, it is something I am aware of on and off each day, all day. I hope that doesn't sound arrogant. I guess it might. I don't mean to sound like I have everything figured out. I know when my life gets rocky or when days are crazy busy this integration fades to the background, but I feel so fortunate to be in a time of my life when, for the most part, I feel pretty grounded and connected.

I'll have to admit that the long gaps between my blog postings, though, have something to do with my desire to stay in a spiritual mindset. I have worked hard to avoid those mental conversations with myself or those practice conversations with others. You know, when you are preparing for some potential future encounter that may or may not even happen. You know what I'm talking about, right? I stop them by shouting at myself in my head, "Who exactly are you talking to?" If you are familiar with the concept of "being in the now", I think those conversations keep you from experiencing life right now and I stay on guard for them throughout each day. 

As I have been doing more writing, though, I find myself composing a blog entry, or some other piece I am working on, in my mind as I am doing something else. I recently saw a Masterpiece Contemporary program where a character spent the whole time composing a poem describing his experience in his head while having lunch with an old girlfriend. It was exactly what I have been trying to avoid. I'm playing with some solutions, one being to sit down and write a little every day and then try to block the mental composing when it arises. Any suggestions from those of you who have overcome this problem? Please comment below.
As I mentioned before, it has been a long time since I’ve written, but I haven’t forgotten I would share why I think we had a good sweet potato harvest. If you have a soft heart for field mice, avert your eyes! I have this amazing mousetrap which I placed among the sweet potato vines a few weeks before harvest. I trapped numerous little rodents who in previous years would burrow down to my sweet potatoes and gnaw huge holes in them. I hate to have to do it, but I lost only a couple of potatoes to such damage this year. If you’d like plans for the trap, I’ll post them on my website, hopefully in the next day or so ( I can't post the plans right now though, because I promised myself I'd finish tying on the warp on my loom. I have a couple of handbag orders so I'd better get at it. By the way, I’ll put photos of my hoop house, and how to construct one on my website, too.

As a post script to the earlier entry, I would add that it hasn’t rained yet today so I was able to get the rest of my garlic in for a total row length of over 40 yards. I’ve decided not to plant potatoes or onions next season after poor crops the last couple of years. I think the recent excessively wet springs are to blame, but no matter the reason I have room for more garlic.