Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Almost Veggie Garden

     I am so excited to have a vegetable garden! I know nothing about how to do it, and that has made it all the more fun. I keep asking people for advice, and they pretty much all tell me the same thing: 

Plant things, and add water.

    I decided to put the garden in the field in front of the house. I knew I needed to turn the grass into dirt somehow. I was pretty sure a shovel and elbow grease would do the trick but figured there had to be a better way. I talked to my friend and neighbor Shelly about it. She had a great garden so I knew she would have good advice. She offered to have her husband use their tractor to till the ground. It was amazing! A garden in mere minutes. 

     I didn't want to use a lot of chemicals for weeding so I looked up some ideas on a more natural approach. I read some great reviews on the use of a torch. After tilling the ground you burn all of the weeds so it kills them down to the roots. That way, you have less to weed! I went to the nursery and got myself a torch. I then went to Home Depot to get a propane tank. I got home, hooked the torch hose to the tank, eager to try it out. But something about a torch, me, and fire sort of freaked me out. I had no idea how far out the flame would shoot once I lit it. I thought I had better not light it alone. I asked Shelly to come over but she was heading to town. I texted a couple of friends to see if they could swing by, but they were all busy. I sat there, contemplating the situation. I picked up the metal "starter" and squeezed it. It seemed harmless enough...but images of my hair catching on fire kept me from trying. 

     Just then my father in law pulled up. I asked him to light it for me.  The flame shot out forcefully, make a loud, constant "wooshing" sound. I found it to be a little intimidating. He turned it off, handed it to me, and told me to light it. Which I did. Reluctantly. I grimaced and held it as far from me as possible. I turned it back off, drug it out to my garden, and lit it. I tip toed to the edge of the dirt and scoped out my plan of attack.

  It was surprisingly satisfying! I felt like a zombie killer out there, blasting everything in sight. I went over the garden twice just to be sure. ( And because I was having a ball.) After that I spread compost on over it, with the help of Kyle and my father in law. It looked beautiful! I then remembered I wanted to lay down netting before the compost. Oh well.... The first on many gardening mistakes I will undoubtedly make. 

   My neighbor tilled the garden two more times. I will now make raised beds and wide rows. I have no clue how to go about doing that, but that is what Google is for.  I can see how people get hooked on gardening. It has so far been a lot of fun. And if all goes well, and the plants thrive better than my animals, it will also be rewarding.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pets. Or Lack of.

      We seem to have such bad luck with animals.

     I couldn't even keep fish alive. I started with a twenty gallon tank and did my best to take good care of them. They got some odd disease and died slow deaths. I couldn't bear to flush them or freeze them like everyone told me to do. Instead I bought them medicine that never worked and watched sadly as they puffed up and grew spots. I kept up on cleaning the tank. I didn't feed them too much. I will never understand what I did wrong. I finally had one beta that seemed like he was going to live.Then one day we came home and saw him laying on the kitchen floor, covered in white fur. White fur that matched our cat perfectly.  Recently, Chase and Autumn asked to get a one gallon fish tank for their rooms. I decided we would try once more. We set each little tank up and decorated it nicely. We put one beta in each tank. Chase woke up the next day and his fish was dead. We took it back and got a new one. He woke up the next day and that one was also dead. Autumn's lasted a week. I tossed the tanks and washed my hands of fish. Forever. And I won't even get into the whole CHICKEN thing...

     I recently brought a kitten home from the vet. She was orange and cute. We have a sixteen year old female cat and I thought they would be great friends. Only 20% of orange cats are female so I was so excited to find another one. Everyone loved her for about the first five minutes. We named her Edie Beede. She was so naughty. She got into everything. We had to lock her downstairs so she wouldn't destroy our Christmas tree. Our other cat hated her. Havensong couldn't hold her without getting scratched so she put her in her baby stroller and pushed her around. That cat didn't care a bit and tried to claw anyone who passed by.

     Edie's eyes started to get really weepy and red. I took her to the vet. He prescribed drops and antibiotics. I hate giving cats medicine. Not long after that she started wheezing like a dragon. I took her in again. She had a "fragile constitution." The vet said she would always deal with it. Her mother was a stray, so she picked it up in the womb. GREAT. I told him she was making us all crazy. She clawed everything in sight and jumped on the counters. Nobody wanted her near them because her wheezing got on their nerves. Not to mention her head was freakishly small compared to her body. And her belly hung to the ground already. Everyone in our house wanted to get rid of her but WHO would want a cat like this?

     One night we were all sitting downstairs watching T.V. Tayler looked over at Edie Beede and said, "What is wrong with her HEAD?!" She looked like a unicorn. There was something clearly wrong. I brought her in the next day and was told she needed surgery for an abscess. The bill came to $400.00. I told the vet I would not pay that much money for a sickly cat HE gave me. He knocked it in half.

     Soon after we noticed cat spray downstairs. NOOOOOO....I thought it must be our old cat doing it so I brought her in. Nothing was wrong with her. Then we realized...Edie Beede was now peeing in our house! I brought her in to get her fixed. Maybe that would stop this horrid behavior. It was so nice having her gone. I payed $14.00 to have her stay there two extra days. I even considered not picking her up. We put her in the office upstairs while she healed because there was no carpet for her to pee on. It didn't matter. She started peeing on everything else. I had a lamp in a box and she managed to pee on ALL FOUR SIDES of it. It was a birthday gift for my friend! She also chewed up Beau's microphone stand and kicked litter everywhere. Scott came downstairs from cleaning up after her (bless him) and he told me he looked at the pencil on his desk and a bad thought ran through his mind. I knew then, for Edie's safety, and our sanity we had to toss her outside. I was sure an Eagle would swoop down and snatch her but most people in this house said they would welcome the sight.

    The vet bill arrived in the mail. $300.00 to spay her. WHAT?!  I called the vet to tell him I would not be paying that much to spay the demon cat he gave me. He knocked it in half. He was getting tired of me, but I didn't care. I was tired of this creature he pawned off on me. I told him Edie Beede was evil from the start.  The first day she was outside she jumped on a rose bush, tore off the petals, then chased the dog.

He explained to me that her mother was wild, so what else did I expect? Yes. How many of us are products of our wild mothers? That made perfect sense....

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chicken Party

The chickens are still alive!! 

I think it calls for a celebration. I haven't wanted to jinx things so I haven't talked much about them lately. I found a poultry vet in Bellevue who agreed to sell us his chickens. He promised they were strong and healthy. I didn't really believe it. I figured it would take mere weeks before they started kicking the bucket. Nope! They are doing great. I brought them out a cake just to say thank you for staying alive.

Not really. I brought it out because Autumn took a cake decorating class and we forgot her cake in the downstairs refrigerator for a month. It's not that we didn't appreciate her work. It was more that we couldn't bear to ruin such beauty.  Nobody seemed very thrilled about eating a cake she made in March.

So we had a chicken party.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

My Day On The Mountain

 I wanted to start a new hobby on my birthday. It was my 40th so I wanted something different. I live in a part of the world that is so beautiful. I am surrounded by trees and mountains at every turn. Mt. Baker is hardly ever out of my sight. But I have become used to it being there. I take it for granted. As amazing as the Northwest is, we do have to deal with long months of grey weather. It can become very difficult coping with the lack of sun. At times I want to pack everything up and move to bluer skies. But then spring and summer get here and I forget my frantic thoughts of escaping Washington. Still, I need a new plan for the winter time. My fireplace only goes so far in comforting me. I don't want to feel like I am hibernating. I want to be outside. I have heard there is no bad weather, just bad clothing. Or something like that. I want to embrace this place, and find things to do out there. I knew some people always went to the mountain. They seemed excited and happy about it. There must be something  I was missing.... I like to hike, I really wanted to include the mountain in my life, so the logical connection for me was snowshoeing.

My friend Renay asked me what I would like to do for my birthday and I told her I would like to learn to snowshoe. Well, she happened to have three pair! We invited our friend Shannon, arranged childcare for the thirteen kids between us and picked a day.

     We had a nice drive up and found the trail easily. We had to climb up an embankment to get to the trial, which was quite funny in snowshoes. I told them I may have to just stay behind and show shoe in the parking lot. Just like the practice area at a roller skating rink. I had zero faith I could get up to the top in all that clothing. I was laughing so hard at myself as I imagined how lame I looked.  I ended up crawling on all fours, but it worked. I made it.

     I was so taken by the beauty. Forgive me for sounding silly to those who spend lots of time on Mt. Baker. I just forgot how fabulous it was! I felt like I had stumbled into another world. It looked like Narnia!  I had been missing this for so many years. This was not grey or dreary. It was breathtaking. I stood there looking all around me, feeling sorry for those poor people in California, Arizona and Florida. I stopped envying them and started pitying them! Who had this, a mere hour and a half from their home? Why was I complaining so much about winter with this within reach?

     I quickly realized this was no everyday hike. It was not putting one foot in front of the other. It was LIFTING each foot and THEN putting it in front of the other. Knee lifts, over and over and over. In minutes my gloves came off. Then my hat. I was unzipping like crazy and had only gone a couple hundred feet! The cold air around me felt great.

We came to a ridge that overlooked a valley. Renay and Shannon said they had a little birthday ceremony they wanted to do. Renay had brought a bag of rocks with her in her backpack along with a Sharpie. She told me she felt it would be really amazing if I could write down the negative things that had been in my life during the past forty years that I wanted gone. Things I wanted to be free of. She told me to write words on the rocks and throw them as hard as I could down the mountain side. I told her I thought it sounded perfect. It was so quiet as I wrote. It felt a bit scary being honest with myself and God as I thought of all the things I wanted gone from me. But it was also wonderful taking a stand against things that had done nothing but hurt me or hold me down. I threw rock after rock after rock. I yelled when I threw them and they yelled with me. The last word I wrote didn't even deserve the strength it would take to throw it. I just tossed it weakly. It disappeared over the ledge, and I wished it would just as easily disappear out of my life.


Ya, I am pretty sick of it ruling me and making choices for me. I have had an emotionally draining year and would like to be able to stand up and take a breath, please. I would like to stop spinning my wheels. I would like to hand over the reigns for a while because the horses are a tad too wild and out of control for me. I am pretty much done over-thinking everything and worrying all the live long day.....Fear has just taken too darn much. Here you go God. Smash this, crush this, pulverize this, annihilate this, because I am WORE OUT.

     After I wrote and threw and hollered, we stood in a circle and prayed. It was a moment I won't forget. I felt thankful. Thankful for my family, thankful for friends who are true-faced, thankful for hope, thankful God's Grace never runs dry.

 (It really doesn't. I have tested it out.)

And what have I found? It's not about being perfect so God will be pleased with me and others will be impressed. I am going to stumble, and when I do, I stand up, brush myself off and say..."Oh YES....I desperately need a Savior!" And then I go to Him. Again and again and again and again and again. I use my failures and my weaknesses as ways to fully aquaint myself with His Grace and Mercy. And without fail, I see little sparks of glory light my path as He changes me bit by bit. As He sifts me, sorts me, and sanctifies me.