There are three reasons you should read this post. Actually, scratch that. There are over a hundred reasons you should read this post. Hint: It involves free books! (Plus the other stuff in the title, too.)
Two years ago, when I began this journey, I was terrified. I was newly grieving. I didn't know why this was the story God gave me to write, but I did know that it was the one I was supposed to write. Here are some early reviews that confirmed that to me.
I never considered myself to have a green thumb.
My gardening attempts were always clumsy guesses and hopes that often turned out to be terribly disappointing.
When we moved to this property, I was determined to have a vegetable garden that would provide food for the family for a good chunk of the year. (Until I get an actual root cellar built, storage until about December or January is the best I can hope for.*) So, I started collecting gardening books. Thanks to the ultra-craziness of my home-schooling lifestyle, I didn't read nearly as many as I collected, but a few were my "go-tos" every spring when it came time to put in the garden.
The Gardener's A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food: 765 varities of vegetables, herbs, fruits, and nuts was--and is--an indispensable reference each year when it comes to putting in my vegetables.
However, this year I have also discovered the benefits of Lois Hole's work, since she ran a farm and greenhouse in Edmonton area (only one gardening zone off of where I live) and has great wisdom to share when it comes to knowing what does and doesn't work in Alberta.
This year, I decided it was time to read a few of those books getting dusty on my shelf, and excitedly dove into about four volumes at once.
I also excitedly started putting seeds into dirt, eeking out precious space in sunny windows where it could be found--next to my houseplants, on the ironing board, wherever.
I didn't start my indoor seeds until around May 1, as I was still a little disorganized. (And by "little", you can read "not really organized at all, just pretending I am, so don't spoil my delusions.) Fortunately, within about two weeks, the weather started warming up enough that I could bump some of those first starters out onto the deck during the day and make room in the windows for another batch.
Thank goodness I did, because although I was checking the weather diligently most nights, I forgot to one night when there was a very hard frost, and didn't bring in my tender tomatoes and pumpkins and squashes. I had to start new ones.
(Although that second batch of squash is now mostly planted out in the garden, last week there was another frost that took out the upper leaves and my marigolds, too. Apparently, my plastic vinegar/milk jug "cloches" were not sufficient protection against that typical early June hard frost. Noted for next year.)
This year is my most ambitious garden year yet. Not only do I have more raised beds in my vegetable patch than ever before, I am actually starting a few flower beds, and am putting in some of my favourite perennials. Shasta daisies, lavender, a hosta, bleeding hearts, lilies, and California poppies will be sharing space with a few food crops to make use of the all-too-precious black dirt I had hauled here from Mom and Mike's place.
I'm a very impatient gardener, though--I check my seeds several times a day until they come up, barely restraining myself from the child's trick of digging up the seeds to see if they have sprouted. :-)
I took these photos last week, before I had completed my front flower bed (which now has the hosta, strawberries, and morning glories snug as a bug inside.)
Last Monday, I wandered around our yard, capturing all the beautiful signs of what it looks like in late spring:
Jason has done a beautiful job of keeping our yard mowed so far, which is quite the feat considering his hay fever, and that he uses the push lawn mower. Yes, the older boys have helped, but it is just a lot of mowing. Jason did this patch last weekend, and it took him four hours:
That is only half the yard! (Actually, it's only the part of the half that I could fit into this picture!) However, it has been so wonderful to go out my door and be in a park.
As a "thank you", and to hopefully help maintain it, I am getting him a riding lawn mower for Father's Day. :-)
Gardeners are pretty much the ultimate optimists, I think. No matter how bad your garden turned out the year before, THIS is the year it's going to be amazing! Caterpillars, craziness, and cold weather be darned!
Perhaps because last year was such a gardening disaster for me, I really, really want to have the magnificent garden I am imagining this year. And honestly, this is the first year where I really feel like I am starting to "get" this gardening thing.
As they say--"Hope springs eternal within the gardener's breast." No, wait, that's not it. "Tomorrow is another day." Closer. How about, "The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies." (Gertrude Jekyll)
(*This year--after only three or so years of looking at the spine on my shelf--I plan to actually read the book "Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables" by Mike and Nancy Bubel, so watch for what I am sure will be some rather amusing anecdotes as I think of ways to get creative with Vegetable Storage--and possibly a book review.)
Jude has been preparing a research and presentation project for the upcoming Heritage Fair, which he is doing in partnership with David M. Their project is talking about weapons and vehicles that Canada used in WWI. One day, after Jude had been reading up on tanks and had to get up for a moment to do something else, leaving his book on the couch, I looked over and saw this:
Get 'em started on reading young, I always say... just never thought to use a book on tanks before!
A list of my favourite books for living and entertainment as of this writing.
Heather Anne asked me what my top five favourite books are. I'm going to cheat a little and answer this in two categories: Top Five Favourite Fiction books, and Top Five Most Life-Impacting books that I have read.
Top Five Favourite Fiction Books*
1. The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge
2. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
3. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
4. Pay It Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde
5. Otherland by Tad Williams
*Read as "The Top Books I Could Narrow This Down To for a few minutes to type the list, out of the 500 or so I could actually include here.)
Top Five Most Life-Impacting Books
1. The Bible
2. The Maker's Diet by Jordan Rubin
3. Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD
4. Captivating by John and Stasi Elderidge
5. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
And just for fun, here are my kid's current Top Five Books:
1. Bob and Larry's ABC's
2. The Napping House
3. Cows In The Kitchen
4. Trouble in Tonka Town
5. The Gruffalo
Today, Dawn introduced me to Facebook. How flippin' cool is that!! Uh, I mean, oh Great! Another way to waste time on the internet connect with friends. Just what I needed! (Dawn, I'm not sure that was entirely kind. ;-) Just kidding. Way cool, thanks.)
Thank you, Colleen, for these. Although I didn't actually use any today, they were humourous enough to help me back on the path to sanity.
It's been a heck of a week. On Sunday, I woke up with a sore throat and a runny nose. Bummer. So Jason said we should stay home ("If you go to church, you'll just sing with all the songs, and talk a lot, and then sing on the way home, and then sing while you play the piano this afternoon, and then..."), and I agreed this was probably best. However, this meant that I would not be getting out on my last chance for socialization before he needed to use the van to drive to work again for three weeks. (His car-pool buddy's wife just had a baby, and he's taking three weeks off.)
So. I've been fighting a cold all week. I took most of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to sit on my butt as much as possible, occupying myself with watching the boys and our new puppy play in the yard, or making sure Suri didn't have an accident in the house, or making sure Noah wasn't picking her up by the tail, or making sure Jude wasn't chasing her around to the point of utter exhaustion ("Jude, she's just a baby! She needs lots of naps, still!") and reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
I thought I'd finally make up my own mind on the whole Harry Potter thing, since Heather Anne loves the series so much. I have to say, I can see why J.K. Rowling is so successful from it. She weaves a good tale. As far as the controversy--I can see the points on both sides. Jason read it too. I think we're going to have to think about it. However, if I got rid of my copy of A Wrinkle in Time because of the New Age leanings in it, I'm guessing Harry Potter won't be surviving in this house. We'll see.
By Thursday, my cold didn't feel any better, but I knew I had guests coming for the weekend, so I had to make some sort of an effort to put the house in order. So I spent the day working. A lot. And still doing all the same Suri-and-kids-related activities as before.
To make things more fun, I think Jude may have been fighting the cold, too, because he took a nap almost every day this week, even though he seldom takes them anymore. And his attitude has sucked.
And oh, the LIES!! This kid has a serious lying habit that I am at my wit's end about. And he just lies about stupid stuff he doesn't even need to, sometimes. What sucks is that he's the only kid that can talk somewhat articulately, so I kind of rely on him to tell me what happened in a situation I was not an eye-witness to. But how can I trust the kid when he just LIES first thing?
Jabin seems to have been getting up unusually early this week, as well. And the naps have been all wonky--I think there was one day where all three children, and the dog, were sleeping at the same time, so I got to have a little nap--I had been asleep for maybe half an hour and the phone rang. I forgot to unplug it because I am not in the habit of taking naps anymore, either. This woke both me, and Jude, up.
So between the cold, the short nights, the napless days, preventing the kids from torturing the dog, and getting completely frustrated by the liar with the bad attitude in my house, it all built up to the screaming-through-my-keyboard that you were witness to this morning.
Only because if I screamed in real life, it would scare all my kids and the neighbours would call the police.
However, there is a sunshiny end to this dismal week: my brother and father arrived tonight to visit for the weekend. This is the first time Logan has met Jabin, as the last time I saw him was only weeks before Jabin was born at my grandfather's funeral last October.
I found out something really cool about my brother tonight. He entered a strongman competition. And he pulled a bus.
You have to realize: my brother is a self-proclaimed computer geek. He has been a computer geek for as long as I remember. And although he has always been a semi-active guy, he's not the guy I had ever visualized pulling the bus in those strongman competitions.
But apparently, this is one computer geek that refuses to be totally out of shape. (Visualize Dilbert's paunch.)
Instead, he really is buff! Check out this post for pictures of the competition. My brother is the one in the blue shirt that says "I'm made of meat" on it. (You might not have been able to read it in his photo--I only knew that because he is wearing the same shirt tonight.)
Also, he has this interesting goatee look going. Tell ya, Bro--cut your hair really short, add a gold earring or two, and I'd mistake you for a drummer, not a computer nerd. (I'm thinking most people don't guess your true profession by looking at you, do they?)
My baby brother. *sniff* All grown up.
Maybe that's why I keep getting his name mixed up with Jude's: I keep forgetting he's not a baby anymore. Dang it!