Sunday, January 23, 2011

purple martins are coming

Today we put up the purple martin gourds. We follow the Puple Martin flight map on a website and it shows they are close to us now. They usually come in at the end of January or first few weeks of February. This is the first time we've put up our six gourds since we sold the house.
Hopefully we will see a scout this week.
At the old farm we raised many generations of the little purple birds. We dutifully put up their habitat, counted the eggs and recorded how many babies they had.
Those little purple guys were my constant companions during spring and early summer. They were with me, swooping close by or watching with heads poking out of their little houses as I walked the herb rows.
Our cat "Fuzz" used to watch them with a twitching tail and ears laid back, but he never came close to catching one of them.

The "dawn song" they sang in early sunrise was beautiful. Other calls were the "scolding" song, the "I love to fly" song, the "come out and learn to fly" and the "lets go to sleep" song. We often felt that they were talking right to us.
Their housing was on the southern side of the garden, a perfect place for us to watch them and them to scold us.
Since purple martins love to be around humans they made a lovely addition to the natural show that awaited us every morning.
I can't wait for them to come back!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Blending the tea.....

Tea blending is such a quiet pleasure for me. I feel very happy as I handcut and stir together leaves,spices and flowers .

The wooden spoon makes a shushed sound as I sweep and fold the herbs in my old brown ceramic bowl. It is comforting, familiar. The aroma of the tea brings back the memory of a long summer season.

In winter, the tea herb selections are few because I use only the most recent summer's harvest.

This is all we have left since the last festival:

Autumn Mint Morning: Spearmint,Culinary Hibiscus,Cinnamon Chips.

Summer's End: Roses, Pineapple Sage Blossoms, Bergomot leaves,Lemon Verbena.

Winter Dreams:Calendula, Lemon Balm, Mugwort, Organic black tea leaves,with dried Apricot.

Stress Less:Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Red Clover, Calendula, Organic black vanilla tea leaves.

In late spring some of the tender, sweet new blossoms will have bloomed, and the fresh green tonic herbs . I will then make these fragrant teas:

Sweetheart Rose Blush : Rose Petals, Rose Hips,Lemon Balm, Rosemary, Pineapple Sage, Vanilla.

Spring Zing: Lemon Verbena, Rose Hips, Dandelion leaves, Peppermint, Lime and Orange mint,organic green tea.

Serene Lemon: Chamomile, Lemon Verbena, Lemon Balm, Pineapple Sage blossoms.

Strong Woman:Red clover,Dandelion leaves,Stinging nettle leaves.

If you would like to try your hand at blending and don't grow your own herbs, begin with the freshest you can find.

If you start with dry herbs:
Ask the store owner to smell the dried herbs. If they don't look vibrant and smell like the flower and leaves they are supposed to be, don't buy them. A good supplier will gladly let you look at and smell their loose herbs. If they smell and look like musty brown herb, they will taste the same way in your cup. Hot water will not rejuvenate an old herb.

When you start with fresh:
Buy from someone local to ensure the freshest harvest.
If the supplier or farmer can't tell you about the herbs, they probably have no interest and no real talent for growing them.
As an herb farmer, I always offer to let the customer pick a leaf to smell the wonderful aroma. It is a wonderful thing to smell a fresh herb! Crush it gently in your hand and inhale!

I enjoy and lovingly tend each herb I plant, take real pride in the dried plants we process. The herbalist or grower you buy from should be able to give you an abundance of information about the herbs you choose.

Give it a try, making up your own tea blend. It is very satisfying and will you happy too!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

winter blues..and greens...and....

My ability to write this blog has been a bit diminished lately.
A very sad thing happened to us on the very week,
no, no, on the very day we were supposed to close our house loan. My husband had an oil spill with the company crude oil truck. This means he was pumping oil into the container on his truck and a valve caused a hose to burst and it spilled out many gallons onto the ground. Lots of crude oil on the ground.

He was fired.

He is a much better person than me. The bank and the lawyers closing our loan would not have asked us about our jobs on this day. We were already approved.
They were ready to give us the money.
My husband said it was wrong to take the loan because he lost his job and it would be lying.
I did not see it this way. I was frantic, panicked. Absolutely crazy. I lost -my-freaking- mind.
The day the spill happened, he came home very late. I knew something had happened.
He tried to explain,but I held up my hand in front of my face and said,
"No...Kyle...I can't talk to you right now. Please don't tell me anymore. I can't hear what you want me to know."
Honestly, I don't think I could have held my tongue. I would have said every terrible thing I was thinking. It would have changed our relationship forever if I had spoken what my burning brain was thinking.
We didn't speak to each other for 5 days.
That's a very long time when you live in an apartment that's only 500 square feet. A second floor apartment with 12 steep concrete steps. (pure hell when you buy groceries and you're 50 years old.)
At the end of those terrible days, we forgave each other. We talked and talked all night. We decided never to go so long again without forgiving each other.
My heart is broken tho..
I feel broken
all over.
Another spring in town. No plowing, no planting, no anything.
Had to call everyone. The builder, the bank, the lawyer. It was so humilating.
My friends and co-workers ask me about the house and I just say, "oh, it's coming along". It's hard to lie. Not much of a lie, but it feels like a big fat one.
The good news is, we have 4 months to accept the loan, the bank will just run our credit again. Thank God we won't have to start all over with the loan process.
That means I have until March. Not very long. Hmmph.
My husband is looking for a new job, may have one in February.
I sincerely hope he gets it. I don't know if I have the strength to start a loan all over again. It's so hard, so very hard to start over.
Valuable lesson learned tho..
I learned that no matter what happens in a marriage, you have to forgive your partner. He is your lover,spouse, your friend.
He is the person you can not live without. The man that looks after you when you are sick or angry or discouraged. The person you've been looking for. The guy that loves you when you are very tired at the end of a long day.
When you know that you are married for life, have a true partnership; a real, honest- to- goodness, " I love you more than my own life" relationship,
you just have no option but to forgive .
No matter what happens. Ever.
I love him like that. I love him forever, until my life is over.