Monday, April 30, 2012

how does your garden grow...

While I'm working on my W post, I thought I would give you a glimpse of our garden this year.

the harvest this morning
The berries are from a wild dewberry that grows amongst some of my day lilies.


green beans

white squash


bell peppers


japanese eggplant




Checking on the green tomatoes, I spied this little beauty, just emerged and drying it's wings. I haven't identified it so if anyone can, I'd appreciate it.

Friday, April 27, 2012

V is for...

Really, it's time I plowed on through and finished this alphabet thing, don't you think?

V is for....vasectomy

Marc and I decided early on, like most people in love and starting out their life together, that we wanted two kids, a boy and a girl, and we wanted them two years apart. And then we got exactly that. Two years and three days after our daughter was born, our son was born and it was time to go back on birth control.

We knew we didn't want any more kids and I didn't tolerate birth control pills well and the IUD I had had previously caused me to be in severe pain for the first day or two of my periods and those were basically the only two options for birth control available at the time besides condoms, which we had used between pregnancies, or a diaphragm, neither one of which we were thrilled about using. Sterilization or abstinence was the only sure way to avoid pregnancy and I don't know about y'all but abstinence was not an option.

Sterilization for women was serious business. Back then it was major surgery with hospitalization and anesthesia to get your tubes tied. Now, with the advances in medical technology, it's a much simpler out-patient procedure and there are several choices. You can get them cut, pinched, or plugged.

For us, hospitalization was out of the question and since vasectomy was the only available simple inexpensive out-patient procedure at the time and Marc's sense of manhood and virility was not centered on his ability to deliver sperm whether he wanted more kids or not, he made the appointment.

A bit of topical anesthesia, a little cut, a little snip, a little stitch and we were out of there in less than an hour.

Vasectomies were not that common back then. Just about all of our male friends were horrified at the very thought of 'cutting off their manhood'. Ironically, these same men had no problem with their wives undergoing major surgery to 'cut off their womanhood'. Just one of the many double standards women faced back then.

I don't know how men in general feel about vasectomy these days. Now that we have entered our 60s, the topic of avoiding unwanted pregnancy doesn't ever seem to come up. I would hope though that any man who is certain he does not want to be a father, takes the matter into his own hands and gets himself sterilized instead of expecting his female partners to be responsible for avoiding pregnancy.

All I can say is, Marc's vasectomy was the best thing to happen to our sex life and I thank him for it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

earth day

Image via

Today is Earth Day and instead of my annual screed against plastic, that all pervasive material that does not biodegrade but only breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces causing birds and fish to starve to death, creates islands of trash in the oceans, fills our landfills to the point where our trash has to be shipped out elsewhere, and leaches toxic chemicals into the food and drink stored in them; we're gonna get dirty.

But first...

We already recycle everything...plastics # 1 – 5 and 7, paper and cardboard, aluminum and tin and steel and glass. We compost our kitchen waste. We take our own shopping bags to the store. We buy products in glass containers preferably. We wash out and reuse ziplock bags. We don't buy products that are over packaged and the two of us still end up with a large size grocery store plastic bag of trash about every four or five days and most of it is plastic or is coated with plastic.

OK. I had to get a little one in there.

This year I'm thinking more about the earth and our connection to it and how, as we separate ourselves from it more and more, we suffer physical and emotional ailments. I've thought for a while now that the human race is going insane from this modern life and our immune systems are suffering. Surrounded by concrete and buildings and artificial lighting, we spend our days and nights in artificially conditioned air, rarely coming into contact with the natural world.

Oh, the cities have parks and green spaces and the occasional tree studded along the sidewalks but mostly we only see them as we zip by in our cars, our lives too rushed to take the time to stand amongst the beauty of nature, barefoot, in actual physical contact with the planet, to breath in the scent of growing things.

We seem to have forgotten that we are not separate from nature, that we evolved out in the natural world and that our health and well being is still dependent on continued contact with the earth.

We prevent our children from playing outside out of fear of injury or lack of time to supervise them, we discourage them from getting dirty. We tamper with our food spraying it with poisons or genetically modifying it or adding chemicals and colors that were never meant to be ingested. We sterilize our environments with anti-bacterial cleaners. We eschew any kind of physical labor or exertion preferring a machine to do the work. We pump pollutants in the the very air we breath and the water that is essential for life.

The result is that although we have conquered certain diseases like small pox and polio, we have seen cancer, asthma, allergies, autism, diabetes, obesity, and depression, among others, skyrocket. Our immune systems are compromised. We are living longer but are we living healthier when we have to take a handful of pharmaceuticals everyday to maintain the balance of life?

Finally, studies are being done to show how dependent we are on the natural world for our health and well being, something that I have known instinctively, something that we should all know instinctively.

In the last several years I have read articles about studies supporting the importance of contact with the earth. Most basically is our immune system. We need to be exposed to bacteria and dirt to be healthy. It is how our immune system builds up it's defenses to disease and illness, how it learns to ignore germs and pollens.

The lungs of toddlers who don't go outside to run and play and instead are kept quietly indoors do not develop fully and are much more likely to develop asthma. Children who don't go outside to run and play and get dirty have weakened immune systems and tend to get sick from every bug they meet. Girls especially are at risk of this because while our society expects boys to go and rough and tumble in the dirt, we expect little girls to be clean, quiet, and lady-like.

Another recent study has shown how important dirt is to our emotional health as well. There is a bacteria in the soil that helps produce serotonin in our brains. Working in the soil, getting dirty, gives us a natural high. We feel better about the quality of our lives and are happier. Working in the soil has always been my favorite part of gardening and now I know why. But even a simple romp in the park will help you with the beneficial effects of dirt.

Most important is how we have adulterated our food supply. It wasn't enough to turn our food into a chemical soup, now we are genetically modifying it to disastrous results. Study after study is linking GMO foods to infertility, immune system disfunction, accelerated aging among other things. Europe has started banning GMOs but unfortunately the US is still being bought by the GMO big business.

So go outside today. Embrace your Mother, literally. Get dirty and start a garden. Boost your immune system, eat real food, be happy and healthy.

Remember...refuse, reuse, recycle.

links to previous earth day posts and anti-plastic rants:

links to articles referred to above:

Friday, April 20, 2012

of birds and fields

Last spring the fields were pink with evening primrose and red with indian paintbrush. The year before they were blue with bluebonnets and purple with henbit. This year yellow is the predominant color in the fields with coreopsis and coneflower and black-eyed susans and other things that I haven't gotten close enough to identify.

part of the 13 Acre Field

I think I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I hadn't seen the wrens for several weeks. Well, the other day Marc happened to notice one flying to the bird house that hangs by the front door. We don't actually use the front door. Only strangers come to the front door. We watched it come and go for a few minutes and it sounded like faint baby birds chirps whenever the wren was perched on the birdhouse.

After it flew off, I climbed up to peer in to see if we had baby wrens but it was too dark in there and silent so I got down and went back to my business. Within five minutes a wren flew into the garage, perched near the open door where it could see me sitting at my work space, screeched at me a bit, and then flew away.

A few days later we saw the wren again coming to and going from the birdhouse and again, it sounded like faint baby bird chirps when the adult was there. Haven't seen it again but then we were back in the city for two days. I don't know if there are babies or not. Maybe not because when they are feeding babies both parents are constantly coming and going and we haven't seen that much activity.

I did manage to get a picture during the second sighting.

When we got home last evening from our day and a half in the city doing business stuff, I was walking around the yard and as I walked past a rose bush a female cardinal bolted out and perched in a nearby pecan tree. I took a closer look and there, nestled in the dense thorny branches, was a nest with four eggs.

This morning I went out for a look with my camera and found the nest without mom so I took the opportunity to get a picture. Apparently, mom and dad were nearby and started chirping loudly, not at all happy with me. I snapped one picture and then left the scene, stopping in the shelter of the new shop building to watch and very soon, the female flew back and settled on the nest.

the rose bush

the nest

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

garden club wing-ding

Last week was the Wharton Garden Club Plant and Flower Show. This year it was held at the library in the program room instead of at the Museum. The new director at the museum was not as cooperative as the recently retired director had been. And the library does a plant swap every year so it seemed like a good match and they were very excited about having it there.

Last year we had a silent auction and a plant sale at the same time which was way more work. This year the club decided to do just the plant show with a speaker and partnered with the library's annual plant swap it was just right.

I was on the committee this year so I had to be there early and stay late to help set up on Thursday and take down on Friday. As usual, I just sort of picked the best looking thing I had at the last minute. I ended up taking three things though. I was just going to take the one but then I came home and took two others.

And I won two 3rd place ribbons! One for the maidenhair fern and one for the water plant lizardtail.

maidenhair fern

lizard tail

This was my third entry.

hens and chicks

Here's some of the other entries:

There was also a floral arrangement category and you could only use flowers you grew.

As usual, I came home from the plant swap with far too many little plants to find a place for.