Saturday, June 26, 2010

My Newest (Vintage Hat) Love

My husband is an amazing man. Seriously, seriously amazing. And I'm not just saying that because he surprised me with a hair appointment at my favorite salon AND an absolutely adorable vintage hat! Well, only a little...but to get back on track: my husband was the brains behind a very wonderful day! I got to get all dressed up (I don't get off of the farm very often for "fun" things - okay, I don't get off of the farm very much AT ALL - so I like to make the most of my outings!), and he drove me over to the salon. I had my enormous mane of hair cut and thinned a little bit. When the stylist was done, I felt like a HUGE weight had been lifted from my shoulders! Apparently, I have very thick hair... Now it's been thinned a little for summer, and I feel about a million times cooler!

I also adore my newest vintage hat! I have decided it is my new gardening hat! What do you think?

(Adso helped me model it - what a cutie pie)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Love Affair With Hats

Okay, I have a not-so-secret love affair with vintage hats (don't worry, my husband knows). I LOVE vintage hats. Actually, I don't even think that "love" is a strong enough word for it. In any case, suffice it to say that vintage hats are the catnip of my life. It's a crying shame that more woman don't wear hats on a daily basis, and I have decided that I am going to bring the hat back (by example, of course)!!

Hats were an important part of female fashion, up until about the 1960's, when women began focusing more on hairstyles than on hat styles. So you could think of the '60's as the D-Day for Hats. So sad...

I have been collecting and wearing vintage hats for several years now, and I have a respectable number of them at this point. I have discovered that I am mainly drawn towards hats with feathers (possibly the result of being around house cats for far too long) and wide-brimmed straw hats. I have tried to wear all of my vintage hats equally, but I have to admit to playing favorites ever since the purchase of my beloved fedora. The day I bought that hat was the day I discovered true (hat) love...

Recently, Ryan indulged me with the purchase of a lovely little vintage straw hat that I had been drooling over! I can't wait for it to get here! It is, in my opinion, the perfect straw hat. Not as fancy as my wide-brimmed confection from the 1930's, but casual enough to wear gardening, and yet elegant enough to wear out for a day on the town (note: the Fedora would be my evening accessory of choice!)!

Viva la Vintage Hats, Baby!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Study in Black (Cumin) Continued...

Another overcast day provided picture perfect lighting to showcase the newest set of Black Cumin flowers!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Last seen in August 2009. If you have any information as to Summer's whereabouts, please contact us immediately!!

After about a week of "normal" summer weather, it has turned unseasonably cool here the past two nights. Yesterday was 38 degrees when I awoke, and this morning it was 36 degrees! Where has summer gone?! My garden plants do not know what to make of this crazy up-down weather pattern, and my tomatoes and melons are most definitely NOT happy. I am terrified that, after all of my hard work, the harvest this year is going to be awful. Sigh. Fingers are crossed for good luck.

My sneaking suspicion was confirmed last night after a quick jaunt into the wood lot: I have a patch of mullein growing wild on my property. This past winter, while gathering firewood, I noticed a patch of plants that I thought looked an awful lot like mullein, but did not feel 100% confident in my identification skills at that point in time. However, one of these fuzzy-leaved beauties was in full bloom yesterday, and it's rather difficult to mistake a flowering mullein plant for much else. I was elated (and also slightly annoyed with myself for PURCHASING mullein seeds this past spring to grow in my herb garden)! Now I have access to a lovely source of mullein this year! Mullein is a biennial, so the my plant babies (grown from seed this year) will not flower and produce seed until next year. Ergo, with the discovery of the wild flowering mullein patch, I will have access to a ready seed source this year (not to mention a plethora of leaves for medicinal uses!). Yippee! Plus, there is something so majestic about a (5 foot tall!) mullein in full bloom. I have to admit that I stood in front of the plant for a good minute or two, just drinking in its beauty. After the hectic quality of the day, there was something so peaceful about this collection of plants in the late afternoon dappled forest light. I probably the first time in a while.

It makes me happy to know that my knowledge of wild plants has been expanding this year. I am trying to learn to identify "useful" weeds (such as yellow dock). I love that I can now look over my pastures and, instead of seeing a jumble of unnamed/unknown weeds, actually identify certain plants out of the bunch! Mentors are found in the oddest assortments, and my knowledge has been learned from both books and hands-on teaching. Thank you to all who have imparted their knowledge to me, even if it was a fleeting sentence of wisdom.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Asleep on the Job
Our two Apothecary Inn mascots are asleep on the job...again!

But on second glance, so is the innkeeper...

With the lovely overcast morning, it was the perfect time to take pictures in the garden!

The subject today?:

Black Cumin

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Summer Days
The heat has finally hit us here in Southern Oregon, and looks like it may be here to stay. I have been working hard lately, trying to clear everything out of my greenhouse. I need to get all remaining plants out of there before the extreme heat kills them! I have a table set up outside with some of my smaller plants on it that are not quite big enough for transplanting yet. Amongst the myriad are two new varieties that I am excited to try this year! I am actually raising them as perennials, though in our climate (if planted outside) they would be annuals: Naranjilla and Litchi "Tomato." Here are some close-up pictures (note the awesome set of spines on both plants! - cute now, but lethal as they get older):


Litchi "Tomato"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Four Years and Countless Lifetimes...

On this very day four years ago, I married my best friend. I have never regretted it. Together, we have faced down death - I have known what it is like to hold my husband under the stars at night and wonder if this night will be our last? - and disaster, heartache and hardship. Our love has come out ever the stronger for it, and I don't believe that is something that many couples today can truthfully say. The best piece of advice I ever received was from a mentor who said, "Be each other's best friend." We have taken these words to heart. We are the other's confidant, strength, and place of peace, and at the end of the day, there is no one I would rather be with.

What most people today don't seem to realize is that it is not the wedding day that counts, but rather the shared life that comes after it...

Though it may be a "mere" four years now, I look forward to celebrating my 50-year anniversary and beyond with my husband!

And now, in celebration of this very special day, here are the wedding vows I wrote and said to my love:

My Dearest Ryan –

They say that they built train tracks through the Alps long before there was ever a train that could make the journey. In that same manner, I fashioned the tracks of my life, long before there was ever a man who could make the trip with me.
In truth, I never thought that I would find you. I searched for you for SO long – looking in all of the wrong places – desperately trying to ease that aching loneliness that always existed in the dark recesses of my heart. I yearned for you from the moment I realized that my life was missing something; yet deep down, I also knew that I was not ready. I had so much growing and learning to do. I had to lay down my tracks. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and all things work out in the end. Instead of fighting life for what I felt I SHOULD be doing, I threw my arms up, and let the wind push me along my path. My path led to Utah – to YOU. I have lived here going on four years, my darling, and in that time I have seen and done so much. Throughout my life I have been laying down my train tracks, but only in these past four years, have I truly been able to discover myself; been truly able to say, “I am nearing completion.” As you know, I spent the last two years past in almost virtual seclusion from the outside (social & dating) world. I focused my energies inward, and finally, about two months before I met you, I began to feel a change. This change was in part influenced my mentors around me, but mainly by my own self. Finally, I prayed that I might find you, and for the first time, I knew that I was indeed ready – my track line was ready for a train. For two months nothing happened, and I worried that no one had heard me. Then, lo and behold, on the world’s best blind date, *SMACK* there you were. We literally did run right into each other, at least as far as that attempted first kiss is concerned! J From the moment I laid eyes upon you, I knew that you were different. There was a level of comfort and knowing that, having just met you, I had no right to feel. I knew your thoughts before you voiced them, and knew YOU better than you knew yourself. And the even more amazing part was that the same held true for you. You understood me on levels that even I did not comprehend. It was as though I had spent my whole life fumbling around in the dark, and finally you came along and turned on the lights. You lit up my world, and I truly knew what it meant to be ALIVE. How can I ever repay this great gift that you have given me? You took my poor, broken heart – stomped on and abused by so many – and you not only patched it up, YOU MADE IT WHOLE. Oh Ryan, my heart and soul, words cannot describe how I feel about you. I now understand why the Jews and Muslims have 900 names for God; one small word just isn’t enough for love. I stand before you today to keep a promise that was made before time began. I love you now, as I have loved you always. And I love you now, as I will love you forever. I will stand by you, in the good times and the bad, as I understand that everything in life runs in cycles. I will never desert you; I will be that shoulder that you lean on; I will be that other half that, until now, you could never find but always knew existed. I will be so close, that our hearts will beat as one. So close, that when you close your eyes, I fall asleep. I love you, Ryan.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Sad News

We received an email earlier this week informing us that Narf (one of our 2010 Nigerian Dwarf goat babies sold earlier in the year) had died. Apparently, she had escaped through a hole in the fencing into the neighbor's yard, where she ate some toxic plants. She died shortly after.

This has been such a bad kidding season for us. Ryan and I were absolutely heartbroken when we heard the news about Narf, and that cinched the decision that we had already been considering for quite a while: taking next year off. We will not be breeding/milking our does for the 2011 season. This year has just been a nightmare, and we feel that we need a year to recover, or we are going to lose all heart (and permanently retire our herd).

We will miss you, little Narf.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Diary of a Gardener

With a steady drizzle the past two days, I haven't been as active in the garden as I normally am. Not that the rain bothers me, but there is something about a dreary day that makes me want to either take a nap or read a good book. With two hyperactive indoor kittens and a basement in the final stages of mopping up after a lovely flooding incident over the Memorial Weekend (what a crazy fiasco), I opted for the good book - The Bible.
MY Bible, that is.

Behold, the 2010 Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook. Also known as Gardening Erotica.

As an early birthday present, my dearest husband got me a membership to both the Seed Savers Exchange AND the Flower and Herb Exchange, and promised me that for the holidays this year my gift would be a seed-buying budget. The man knows his audience!!!

I have spent two days reading through the 2010 Yearbook, and I STILL have yet to finish it. There are something like 13,000 unique vegetable varieties found within it! Already, I have a wish list going that I am terrified to add up the total cost of...when he said a seed buying budget, he meant a few grand, RIGHT??!! ;)

I did manage to get out a bit into the garden this afternoon. I noticed that two out of my 3 Ajawiri tubers have sprouted leaves above the soil, and the first of my lima beans have sprouted! There was also a tiny Chile Negro on one of my pepper plants, making that the first Chile Negro of the season! I also discovered that my carrot patch in the Second Garden Plot had carrots large enough for eating, and I picked a large handful of them, as well as peas, for the vegetable curry I am making tonight. Ryan picked another pint of strawberries last night, so we can have those over fresh yogurt or ice cream later too!

I also planted some asparagus, okra, basil, Moldavian Dragonshead, and Mexican Marigold in the 4th stone raised bed in the Herb Garden. I dug up and transplanted some Clary Sage and Mullein that had grown a bit overcrowded in certain spots. Now hopefully they will all have room to reach their full potential. In some ways it absolutely astounds me how such tiny seeds can SO quickly yield such large plants!

I am working to clear out the greenhouse so that I can deep clean it in preparation for seed germinating early next year. I want to make sure no pests are hiding in there, waiting to attack future plants. Plus, there is nothing better than starting the next season with a fresh, cleaned work area! I have almost everything planted outside except for some cucumbers and asparagus, and the last herbs in the germination trays (I am waiting for them to get big enough to transplant). I have four flats of plants that I plan to give to a gardening friend. I did not have room for them in my own garden, but she does in hers, so we both win. I have also set up an outdoor table, and placed my Aji Limon Pepper, Litchi Tomato, and Naranjilla starts on it. These are all plants that will be grown indoors during the winter as greenhouse perennials. I started them rather late in the season, so they are still quite small and need a bit of coddling.

Well, with an hour to go before dinner and chores, I suppose I should make one final effort to be productive in the garden today!

Or maybe I'll just get back to reading my book...

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

A Walk in the Garden

Even with a cooler, wetter summer on hand this year, the pollinators were still happy and hard at work in the garden!

Busy bee pollinating some Valerian blossoms

Bee pollinating chive flower

The first Speckled Roman paste tomato of the season!

Ancho chiles ripening on my plants

I planted over 100 heirloom tomatoes this year, and here is a shot of about 50 of them, divided into three different rows in front of the greenhouse.
After just over a year of hard work, Ryan and I finished building the formal herb garden where the old baby goat pasture was once located! Here is a shot of the 4th and final stone raised bed, with tomatilloes and peppers planted in it for this year.

Comfrey in bloom

First eggplant blossom of the season!