Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hayner the frog and dog days of summer

Aha...I finally caught Hayner ! As you can see...he is a very nice specimen of a frog. I do kinda worry what is going to happen to him as fall/winter approach. I'll keep the whiskey barrel full and running...but it just may be to shallow for him. I'm sure he will move on as his instincts dictate.

I am getting a little tired of 90+ heat and no rain. Dog days are summer are enough to push me back to the office! School is starting soon...so it's back to the grind for me...and I kinda hate that..as I really enjoy my early morning sunrises with the flora and fauna.
This heat is just getting to be too much for me as I get older. I also worry about the animals...as the heat in combination with the biting horse flies create a lot of stress for them. Even my cat, Gussie, (asthmatic) is having a difficult time Her breathing sounds like loud purring. It is hard sometimes to tell the difference. Looks like I will be taking her to the vet soon. The garden is starting to show it's age and the demise of the plants. August of course is a harvest month...so all is as it should be! (Well except for maybe global warming and these long hot summers are now the norm!) But then again, I always complain the loudest whenever we have a cool summer!

There's a red sky this morning...could mean rain...I hope so. Time to dress and clean stalls and get my day started!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rain, barrels and watering plants

Well, so far, I have not had the time to purchase any goldfish for my 1/2 whiskey barrel. However, a real pretty frog has become a tenant. I wasn't sure at first if he was just a hobo moving thru town...but he has decided to stay! I have not been lucky enough to capture his picture...he is very nervous and jumpy to say the least. I tagged him with the name, Hayner, which was the name of a whiskey that was manufactured in my hometown in Ohio. Seems my parents took to collecting Hayner Whiskey bottles...mostly made from the late 1800s to early 1900s. They were a hit at the auction this week. Seems Hayner developed a combination lock top for their whiskey bottles.

I've always liked whiskey barrels and now I think I need another one....a bigger one!

While in Colonial Williamsburg last March I took this photo of a HUGE Rain/water barrel. This barrel is full of water and is used to fill watering cans so that the plants can be watered as needed. The barrel is very large and to tell the truth, I think I could take a dunk in it ...especially in this really hot weather. We have had a long stretch of over 90 degree days. While I love my garden that is now in the place of the pool, I do miss the pool during these hot, humid dog days of summer. However, I think the water in this tub would feel like bath water in this heat!

This huge water barrel serves a better purpose. It is designed to catch and hold rain water for watering plants and seedlings. The great thing about this barrel is that the water is always available and always warmer than water coming from the modern house spigot. According to the Master Gardner in charge at Mount Vernon, this is a good thing for your plants, cause watering with cold water can constrict their roots. (Mount Vernon has a large barrel situated about ground, collecting well water that allows the water to come up in temperature.) In this heat, I am watering 2-3 times a day, especially all my container plants and annuals. I try to collect as much rain water as possible (very little lately!) or other run off water to use in my watering. I always water till it runs out the bottom of the pot. Remember you need to use a water soluble fertilizer at least weekly to replace the washed out nutrients.

This is much like Ayurveda's tradition of drinking warm water with lemon early in the morning to ensure proper digestion! (Cold water puts out your digestive fire!) To grow and maintain good health for yourself and your plants, learn to drink your water without ice and try to water your plants in the same manner.

from along a very dry Turkey Run creek...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Carrots and one last tribute to Aunt Grace

There's no place like home and I'm home at last! I spent the last 6 weeks in Ohio, cleaning out my parents home and getting it ready for sale. Not a great time to be selling a house...but a heck of a time to buy one. This whole process has been one long physical, emotional and mental exercise. I have been so lucky to have the time to do it right..but to also walk hand-in-hand down memory lane with the Scott family. I felt many times that I was being guided and helped by Aunt Grace, Aunt May and many others. I found letters, diaries and so many early pictures of the family. I also found my Grandmother's diary that talks about the first phone call she got from my father when he reached Norfolk, VA after WWII. He was a Prisoner of War in Germany for 9 months, after being shot down during a bombing raid. (I also found out from letters my father sent home before he was shot down, that his mother sent him a picture of his old girlfriend!! He thanked her for it...but told her he didn't think he would tell his current girlfriend (My Mom!) that she did that! I just confirmed with them that yes, Grandma, liked Jan best and Mom did not know that Dad had a picture of Jan with him in England!
As posted in other writings I found pictures of Aunt May and Uncle Lewie...and of course Aunt Grace. I finally found that picture of her horse, Carrots, that I was looking for. I remember seeing it on her dresser in the nursing home for many years. She wrote many poems about Carrots, but this morning I can only find one. This is for Aunt Grace....one last post...

'Owed' to Carrots
Your racers may think I'm a crook
When I say they'd scarce win a look
They might beat her in miles
But never in styles
For she did every gait in the book.

Hialeah ne'er once dared to share its
Rounds with my beautiful Carrots.
Never trained for the track,
For they knew she would stack
up all points save those for demerits.

Her standard was now do or die. O
This last line will start you to cry.
O she looks so alive (She's here twenty-five)
Cause she left Blue Grass to live in Ohio.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Market baskets, well trained dogs and Aunt May

Living in an 1894 farmhouse way out in the country (even now it is a 10 mile trip to town - can't imagine what it was like 100 years ago! )makes market day a special outing. I am sure that the first owner of my home loaded up a buggy or buckboard and would go to town probably once a month to purchase anything the farm could not supply. I figure she probably used baskets to carry, store and protect her purchases. Market baskets were used well into the mid 20th century. My mother's market basket will be for sale in the upcoming auction of the contents of my parent's home. She decided to keep my grandmother's basket and sell hers as it is in poor shape. However the auctioneer said market baskets sell well no matter the condition, so we shall see. I wish I lived close enough to use a market basket.

My Aunt May (Grace's sister) lived in town for all her married life. Small home towns were known to have stores open up in different neighborhoods that sold all kinds of goods. My Aunt May lived close to one of these neighborhood stores and would walk to the store daily. It just so happened that May also had a well trained dog with his 'own' miniature market basket that would accompany May on her daily excursion. After several trips to the store the dog soon learned the way and could be trusted to make the daily trip on his own!!!(much to the amusement of the neighbors!) Aunt May would put her order and some money in the basket and the dog would grasp the basket's handle in his teeth and march off to the store intent on his very important errand. The proprietor of the store would fill the order and the much cherished 4 legged member of the family would quickly return home with the goods. According to May and her husband, Lewie, it didn't matter if meat was in the basket or not the dog would not touch the contents of the basket. In fact the dog would protect its contents at all costs.
One day on his way home from the store, our canine was accosted by another dog, hell bent on acquiring the tasty contents of the market basket. According to all the neighbors and my Aunt who watched from afar, our fearless dog calmly put down the basket and watchful as to not spill the precious goods; and then proceeded to whip up on the poor hapless no doubt hungry stray. With his tail tucked, bleeding, bruised and running for dear life, the miscreant ran down the street, as our favorite pooch stood unscathed and the victor! Returning to the basket, he carefully picked it up and return to his mistress.

Following these exploits our canine family member became a legend in his own time!

My Uncle Lewie, May's husband as a youngster! Aunt May and Uncle Lewie lived a long and happy life together. Unfortunately they did not have any children but took special care of all their nieces!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The "Grace" of Arts

The other day I talked a little about my Aunt Grace. Actually she was my father's aunt, but I also called her Aunt Grace. Born in 1880 she grew up in a large family of 5 sisters and 1 brother that was my grandfather. My father, was named after her father. (She is the young girl standing in the back row on the very right of the family picture.) After graduating high school, Aunt Grace decided to become a teacher. I firmly believe that this decision led to her remaining single all her life. We often asked her why she did not marry, and her only response was "no one bothered to ask me" However, in the early 20th century, a female teacher was not allowed to marry. Once married, you were required to quit your job and stay at home!!

I think she loved teaching so much that she never had any intentions of giving it up! Grace lived a long full life and died in 1975 at the age of 95. While the last couple of years found her bed ridden, she was of sound mind and heart for all but the last year or two. We corresponded regularly while I was in college.

Grace excelled at many things besides her excellence in the classroom, including writing poetry and painting. I have been so fortunate to find these pictures of Grace, a few poems and some of her art work while cleaning out my parent's home.

I do believe that this is a self portrait! Just my opinion, but she signed this with her full name and most of her other work was signed as G.I. Scott.(I is for Ione - from Greek Mythology!)

written from near the Great Miami river and the Scott homestead.....

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Enchanting Chamomile

Chamomile is one of my very favorite enchanting botanicals. I have been sweet talking a small grouping to grow stronger and healthier for the last several years. All this in hopes of a small (operative word - small!) harvest of flower heads to dry for medicinal purposes. This year, I have been able to gather my first harvest. It took a little bit of research to find out when was the best time to remove the flower heads. (Just as the white pedals start to turn downward!)
This is one heck of a tedious job! For in my lovely sorority, no one plant bloomed at the same time...so it was a singular undertaking everyday! Well into the middle of summer, I now have according to my weight scale a whopping 10 grams! My friends are sulking in the excessive heat so no more blooms at least for a while. There are always a few that will bloom while following a different timeline.I think I really need to extend my chamomile garden...and invite some new fresh faces.

Chamomile makes a great tea to calm and relax the nerves. You can add near boiling water to a teaspoon of flower heads and let it stand for several minutes. I do not add any sugar or lemon to my drink, as I love the fresh taste of chamomile. (reminds me of apple blossoms.) Chamomile tea will relax a edgy stomach, calm your nerves and bring about an overall sense of peace. I am always turning to this wonderful botanical when I can't sleep.
(Remember Peter Cottontail and his cup of chamomile tea at bedtime??)

I have also used chamomile for slight wounds and or soreness. Just cool off the chamomile blossoms from your tea and apply (using some cheesecloth if necessary) to the afflicted area. You also can add chamomile tea with Epsom salt for a nice bath.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The sweet heavy scent of honeysuckle

This morning...as I checked on our garden, suffering from heat stroke no doubt, the heavy sweet scent of honeysuckle filled the air. Such a wonderful summer aroma that brings back many happy memories. Dawn and dusk are always the best times to really inhale honeysuckle in bloom and stir up childhood memories.

Heavy scented days of summer are the times, that I really miss certain individuals who are no longer with us in the flesh, but I'm sure their spirits are. When the summer is strong and the flora is doing its best to out last the excessive heat, I always think of Tasha Tudor.
I'm not sure why...except she was an extraordinary individual, artist and gardener. I have always loved her books, since my great Aunt Grace (1880-1975) gave me a copy of The Secret Garden and other books illustrated by Tudor. In the dog days of summer, I think of Tasha, her beloved corgis and admire a woman strong enough in her convictions to live the life she imagine. I certainly can not go barefoot like she did, but I am trying! In the early mornings and late evenings, I take off my shoes and socks and let my feet soak up the messages from Mother Earth. Tasha always said she could tell when the first snow is coming by feeling the changes in the earth. I wish I had that ability. My feet have a long way to toughen up before I could go barefoot all the time and a LONG way to go to read any messages!! I regret never getting a chance to meet her. Tasha's family is keeping her memory alive and you can check it out on their website http://www.tashatudorandfamily.com/

***Photograph of Tasha, by Richard W. Brown***

Lately I've been thinking a great deal about my Aunt Grace. While she was actually my father's aunt, she was just "Aunt Grace" to me and like me was a teacher. My grandparents on both sides, died while I was fairly young, so Aunt Grace became a surrogate grandmother. Her life was full and interesting. Being the horse lover that I am, I always enjoyed the stories she told me of driving her beloved horse, Carrots, to the 1 room school house everyday. When she was 40...the Ohio Board of Education made her go to college to get a teaching certificate! This after teaching for almost 20 years! She went to Miami University (Ohio) and had a great time with the younger coeds...and finished her teaching certificate. Returning to the classroom, she taught for many more years. I wonder what she would think of education and students today...and the fact that cursive writing is being removed from the curriculum.

Grace was quick with pen and ink. The following is one of many poems she wrote. She also sketched, painted (watercolors), painted china and was an excellent seamstress.

One morn there came to our back door
A cat we'd never seen before.
Her face and figure so forlorn,
We knew that she'd been alley born.
We took her in, and hoped she'd rally
No luck--so she became our Weeping Sally

We soon found out she fed herself.
She scorned the food from off our shelf
For to our garden she'd repair
To see what forage she'd find there.
She scaled corn stalks and husked the ear
Until the soft grain did appear.
She sat erect as a squirrel to dine
On young green beans still on the vine.

Now, was her dish just corned bean hash?
Or, was it cat-made succotash?
~Grace I. Scott (early 20th century)

reminiscing along Turkey Run creek

It's not easy being green...and pixies in the garden

Just like Kermit the frog sings, try as I might, being green these days is not always easy. I have come along way baby in trying to help take care of Mother Earth. My latest adventure (after reading a list of easy 'green' things to do on Huffington Post) is to order stainless steel (or glass) straws. According to the experts, plastic straws are a major contributor to our landfills and waste. So like a good tenant of Mother Earth and a landfill neighbor, I ordered this handy dandy stainless steel straws complete with a mini cleaner brush. I opted for the stainless steel as I figured it would be a whole lot safer in my purse! You can find these straws on line...for a nominal fee. I think I paid 10 bucks for a package of 4. I am going to give a way 2 of them to friends...

Speaking of good tenants, I have two new (old) pixes in my garden!! I am so lucky to have them come live with me! They have watched over my parents house for over 40 years!

Now they are adjusting to their new home on the farm. At least this excessive heat wave doesn't seem to bother them!

I have always loved these guys, but have never in all these years found 2 that are this cute and durable. I think I need to name them....as I am sure my mother didn't bother.

Any suggestions?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Eager Beaver

This past spring, the farm's back pasture flooded on numerous occasions due to spring rains. For a stretch of 4 or 5 days, we had constant rain. Apparantly this beaver got a little confused as to which way was home. I could have given him directions to head down stream to the Muddy Fork Creek...if he had only asked! (Must have been a male...didn't ask for directions!) This was the first time we had ever seen a beaver in our pond. He swam around for a couple of hours and after a nice swim and a quick snack ....he moved on to Muddy Fork. No worries mate!

We have had the pleasure of seeing several different species of fauna over the years. Several years ago, we spotted a river otter, making his (lost again!) way across our pasture. Besides the normal animals we have such as deer, skunks, rabbits and coyotes, I also saw my first red fox this past May. I wasn't fast enough to catch the fox on camera...and have not seen the vixen since!

Friday, July 15, 2011

A lament....or I was born a century (or 2) too late

While cleaning out my parents (66 years of marriage) home, I came across a letter written in 1931 to my grandfather. It seems that my great-grandfather left Shelby County, Ohio to move in with his son, John, who lived in Miami County. My grandfather apparently was concerned that his father may owe money and had asked the County Recorder to make sure that all debts had been paid. The letter written in response is pictured here.

This letter is an excellent example of late 19th century penmanship. (I'm guessing that is why it was saved and in a box of pictures?) It is also contains a bird flourish. From what I can gather this type of penmanship and flourishing was popular the last half of the 19th century and continued a little into the 20th century.

It has been reported in the news this past week, that schools will no longer be teaching cursive writing. It has been replaced by keyboarding.

back home in Indiana...watching the steam rise from farm pond

Monday, July 11, 2011

I wasn't blogging...but I was busy...

Another hot day here in the Ohio valley...I am amazed at the fact it has now been 3 blogs in 3 days. This after being quiet all winter. I may not have been blogging, but I was busy! Pictured here is my new zen/yoga/meditation room. I took a small TV den, which was used daily when my daughter lived at home, and turned it into my quiet space and yoga room.The room is a 'walk' through room to get to the bedrooms, so it was never really used, except if my daughter had company. We called it the "Barn" room due to the ugly dark blackish/brown cheap paneling that was on the walls. The previous owners were so cheap with this room, that they built the wall you see here...right on top of the existing carpet!

I knew I could not removed the cheap paneling...so I had it painted a soft green with antique white accents. I then decorated the room with bamboo poles that I painted white and placed in large red planters filled with sand. I purchased the bamboo at a local "Hobby Lobby" and then sprayed painted them. Next, I purchased the silk bamboo planter from a craft store and cut some of the silk bamboo to place in with the white poles. The planters really soften the room and let a lot of light come in from the east window. The room has 2 other windows, south facing and west facing so that all times of the day it is full of natural light.
I added a floor water fountain for added measure. I treasure this room. It is very unusual for anyone to have a spare room to set aside entirely for a yoga and meditation practice. I am very very lucky.

along Turkey Run creek...watering the flowers and garden several times a day in this excessive heat~

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I sometimes wonder why the "hanky" or "hankie" was replaced by paper tissue? I am sure it has a lot to do with sanitation, but in this day when we all try to live 'green' I think one thing we can do is return to using the hanky!
My best friend, Janice, gave me this antique box with hankies for my birthday! I had the most fun, washing them and even ironing them! (I know...ironing??...but it brought back some childhood memories, as my mother first taught me to iron by allowing me to practice on the family's hankies.)
The box was full of fun shapes and colors and I especially loved the one that was on top of the pile...just for my birthday!
Recently while cleaning out my parent's home I came across a large box of my mother's hankies. I even found one that while the material fairly 'stout', it was covered in 'french knots' embroidery. Not sure if it was ever meant for 'use'...but it is pretty.

One of my favorite things to do is to make sure I change my hankie with the seasons. For now there are all sizes, colors and shapes of hankies in full bloom.

from along Turkey Run Creek...on a VERY hot day

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Summer musings

Again, it has been a long time between blogs!!! Spring has flown by and my time has been divided between the farm and caring for and cleaning out my parents home in Ohio. Seems I am making as many trips up and down the highway as I did last summer when they still lived in the house! Soon it will be ready for the "For Sale" sign and I am sure I will lament not ever making another trip to the family home....but so it goes....

It is full summer and the garden is doing well....as are the weeds! We have had plenty of rain very nicely spaced so things are really blooming and shining their faces to the sun.

I made an attempt at caring for 2 goldfish...not such a good idea! (at least for the now dear departed fishes...) Cleaned out an old whiskey barrel...for 2 months...changing the water and making sure it held a good water level. In late May I added to 'charmers', Jack Daniels and Capt. Morgan ...who enjoyed their new abode for a short while. Jack held on a lot longer than the Captain! (This reminds me of all the goldfish I have had in my youth!) Anyway....to make a long story short...I now have a plastic liner for the barrel...and I hope my next two will flourish in their new updated home without the influence of whiskey!

Take some time this summer to enjoy this season.....as the next one is coming on fast!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Coming out of hibernation....

Wow, it has been a long time since my last post...hard to believe it was in November! But, having both a turtle and a black bear as my power animals...it goes without saying that I really do hibernate in the winter months! So happy 2011 for everyone.

Animals are starting to come to life! Our friendly vultures returned last week just in time to start cleaning up the spring road kill. Seems the skunks came out a little too early and are having a hard time crossing the road and avoiding the bad drivers in the snow/ice.

Birds are feeding well...have kept up with them all winter. Yellow finches are starting to really brighten up. Saw a pair of Eastern Bluebirds last week. We put up a new bluebird house but have not seen any bluebirds since. I sure hope they come back. First sighting of a red wing blackbird today, so they have returned. Listen in the early morning; the birds are starting to really sing.

Winter was hard here in southern Indiana. Mostly dark, dreary days since it seemed like we had snow/drizzle every other day. I knew it had to be a hard one, as I have never seen such a dark and heavy coat on the local deer. However, it does appear to be an early spring and we have already seen a couple of days in the 70s with more anticipated this week. Of course, that means storms too, but they are welcomed to help spring clean Mother Earth.

Garden plans are coming along. I hope to put in a really good vegetable garden this year. We are going to house it in one of our small paddocks that has a high woven wire fence. This should help keep the 4 leggeds out of it and maybe this year we will get some produce. If all else fails, I hope to make frequent stops at our local farmer markets.

Husband has been busy building me some cold frames so we can get a jump on the growing season. This should be interesting adventure as we don't always agree on what is best!!(In the past I have left the vegetables to him and I planted flowers.) I am slowly getting him to understand the importance of organic farming. So our plan to clean out the paddock is to burn off the weeds...keep your fingers crossed on that!!

Got a new camera for Christmas..so I am anxious to start posting some spring pictures. I have not had a lot of time to work with it..but hope to gear up here soon. My daughter is coming home this week and will be able to help me re-learn everything.

My parents have adjusted well to the move from Ohio and it has been so good to have them here in bad weather, where we can take care of them. Only thing left is to clean out the house in Ohio and sell. That will take up some time this spring/summer I am sure.

Stress - we all have it. It has been a challenge to find ways to deal with winter, assisting my elderly parents, returning to work, farm and house chores and being a daughter, wife and mother. I found that I had to return and rebuild my practice of yoga and meditation. I really started to feel the stress buildup over January and February (mostly due to the fact I suffer from a mild case of SAD)

I have practiced yoga (Hatha) on and off all my life. When I was in junior high my mother and I started to watch yoga on PBS after I would come home from school. This winter it was time to begin again. Due to the cost of gas, a class fee and the time of travel to the best yoga studio in this area, I created my own practice at home. Even Wii has a yoga program...but somehow that modern technology is not a good 'fit' for my idea of a yoga practice.

A simple 30 minute program of basic yoga postures and relaxing in the corpse pose have helped a whole....whole lot.

Incense is also a great relaxer during a yoga practice or for just relaxing after a hard day! [I used a lot of Sandalwood in the past but have switched as Sandalwood has been over harvested and is in danger.) I like to burn Pinon. This scent reminds me of the Southwest and of my trip to Santa Fe with my daughter last May. We burned Pinon in our kiva fireplace every night at bedtime. So when I light some for my practice....I am taken back to our wonderful, relaxing and stress free spa trip to New Mexico.

Remember a scent can reach your brain and affect your mood in less than 20 seconds! Here's to an early and stress free spring for everyone! Breathe deep!

along the rain swollen Turkey Run Creek...