Category Archives: Gardening

Her Work

**First Off: I want to say: Welcome Home to my friends who faced a great ordeal and now are safe and recovering. I’m so so happy that they are with friends and family. Many many other people have said it more eloquently than I could, so I’m happy to let them wax away on their behalf. But just because I do not say so much about the whole thing, my heart is nevertheless bursting for them.**

I feel like I have not spent much time on Pender lately. My course I’m finishing up to teach prenatal classes took me to Vancouver last week. I got to stay with beautiful friends and see bits of my family. But I am just not a big city girl and I was happy to return home, even if it was only briefly.

The time I have been home has seemed even sweeter. My daughter looks and smells sweeter to me. My husband, well, that is not for the blog’s ears nor eyes. The grass is vibrant green. So much so that it almost hurts to look at it because the neurons in my eyes are firing so hard…. or something. The trees are popping with blossoms and finally the garden is starting to look like a garden again instead of a giant mud hole.

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Gabrielle took a watering can to water our currant bush with it’s fuchsia flowers and I couldn’t figure out why it was taking her so long to get there. Then I realized she was watering every single dandelion and daisy along the way. By the time she got to the currant bush, there was barely a drop of water left in her watering can.

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Oh yeah, so Gabrielle’s work. She takes it very seriously. She puts the groceries away in the fridge because it is her “work.” She checks the traps in the garden for slugs every day, because it’s her “work.” Above is her filling her bucket with cedar sawdust for the garden paths because it’s her “work.”

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This work of hers is serious business. Other three year olds may believe that they play all day, but not her. Most of her life, she tells me, is working. No wonder she is exhausted by 7pm. (Me too…)

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We have this driveway near our house that is quite steep. The rain flows down it and forms puddles at the bottom. Often in the winter, the puddles are quite significant and they have become a landmark. Like, “Lets walk to the puddles and look for that frog.” The Puddles have been a landmark for Gabrielle since she was a year and a half. And among a couple of my mom friends too. We would often take our kids there when there was a lot of rain so they could splash in the puddles and we would stand on the road watching them and visiting. (The road is very quiet.)

Marc even informed me one day, that a 4 litre milk jug of water fills up a puddle if you needed to artificially make some fun.

The funny part about The Puddles, is that we have never seen a car go up the driveway. And we have played there almost daily for a year and a half. Then the house went up for sale. They re-did the driveway with these huge stones. For a while, the puddles were filled in.

Temporarily.

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The girls figured out how to dig out the puddles and they were taking the big rocks laid down for the driveway and rolling them in the mud to make “chocolate rocks.” Then a man came walking along the road and walked up the driveway!

He was probably wondering why these children were playing at his driveway. He asked us politely to put the “chocolate rocks” back when we were done.

Oops!

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We dutifully replaced all the rocks and we tried to repair the damage the girls had done to The Puddles driveway. We scuffled home and stuck them in the bath to wash off their mud and our embarrassment.

In the evenings, we’ve been going down to Welcome Bay. (Also a landmark, the beach near our house.)

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We’ve brought dinner down there and made an evening picnic out of it. It’s terrific to spend time together as a family, because it has seemed so rare lately. And this weather has been phenomenal. It reminds me that it’s only a few months of terrible weather and the rest of the year really is quite spectacular.

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I have a dozen pictures of her just like this, but she’s talking in them all so I had to decide which one was the talking expression I wanted. I’m sure her story was quite enlightening.

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Alright, I’ll admit it. We’ve just been picnic-ing everywhere.

Baby plants, Baby Bees and just Babies

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Obviously we start with the best first. Babies!

I would say casually that they are popping out. But I must give credit to these beautiful women and how hard they work to birth their babies. However it happens, however long it takes, I am always amazed at the strength it takes to have a baby.

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And to think that the journey doesn’t end when the baby comes out, it is just the beginning. My daughter seems to know this well. Pip, her doll, got left outside overnight by the woodshed. Gabrielle is nursing Pip back to health after her cold and lonely night.

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The sun is returning to Pender Island. Glorious Spring Sun! The seeds are bursting and uncurling tiny leaves. And we have sewn seeds and while we wait for them to sprout, we run off to the beach to find rocks to paint.

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And my bees! Well they are doing really well, thanks for asking. They still have honey in the hive after minimal feeding. That means that their location is exactly right for them. If they have enough food to sustain them through the Winter, then they will burst this Summer. As soon as there are drones in the hive, I will look at splitting them.

Spring! Spring is by far better than Winter!

Life in December

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December brings a time of hibernating. A time of avoiding the petrie-dish of Pender Island play groups as hand, foot and mouth were going around, then lice, and then chicken pox! So we diligently open our advent every day and try to occupy ourselves with home things. So here are some snap shots of our boring home life.

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Marc went out to the farm and cut down a tree. I specifically asked for it to be a bit spindly. I wanted something a little sparse. This Christmas, I am really embracing my hippy-granola-lovin’ ways.

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I wrapped my presents this year primarily in second-hand cloth from a thrift store. I received a Christmas present from a midwife, in which the highlight was home-made granola! Score!

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I finally cut my hippy daughter’s raggedy ends of hair. She’s three years old, and this is her first hair cut. Her ends were sun-bleached from our month in Mexico last year and velcroed together so well that they were determined in forming dreadlocks. Another check mark for Hippy.

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This year, to Marc’s Christmas party, we brought a parsnip dish. From our own garden. Score two for Hippy. And our daughter scrubbed them because she loves scrubbing that mucky dirt off veggies.

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In the morning, after hot chocolate and opening advent, we play “Having a baby.” This game involves someone (Gabrielle, me or sometimes the unfortunate Odetta) pushing out a baby and then getting checked by the doctor kit. One of my most favourite things about this game is the fact that my daughter always says “I will catch the baby!” Instead of “deliver” the baby. Score three for Hippy.

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Then it snowed a little. A very little bit. Pathetic actually.

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Ok so, I got my hair cut in February in Mexico in the back of a restaurant by our waiter. The haircut was fine. I’m not picky. This picture is me getting my second hair cut of 2013. And they styled it! Like it was an actual real hair-cut! I’ve been blaming my awful frizzy hair on my postpartum hormones. But no, the truth is, it is sheer laziness (or a shift in priorities.) I could have amazing hair like they do on TV, but I don’t. Because I don’t care enough to do This.Every.Day. Score another point for Hippy. Sigh.

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Instead of straightening and then curling my hair, I do this all day. I talk “the guys.” -while they push out babies, or have tea parties, or get stuck in trees, or hog all the snacks.

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Amid the playing, real work gets done too. My child has an amazing attention span. And she is a hard worker. She is good at weeding, washing dirty vegetables, doing dishes, sweeping the floor, and she helped me unload this truck that was full of firewood and now she’s sweeping it out. A Farmer’s Work Ethic. That’s what she’s got here.

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One of our favourite inside Winter activities is baking. Which means I have to go on lots of runs when Daddy gets home.

I hope you’re enjoying your December in whatever way you can. We are just waiting it out over here, until Spring.

“Let’s go plant some garden, Mommy!”

“Um, nope. Not for months Babe. Not for months….”

 

Crispy Garden, Crispy Child

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Considering the fact that we live in Canada, it really doesn’t get that cold here. I can’t really complain. But I will. A little.

This frost will sweeten up our parsnips in the garden but it won’t be much good for the chard, kale or cabbage still out there. And certainly not beneficial for the poor bees. They clump together like emperor penguins, rotating into the centre to keep warm.

We still play outside most days, even in the frost and even in the rain. We modify our clothes and the level of knitted accessories and out we go.

Only the littlest one in the family is looking forward to the first snow fall with great excitement. I’ll enjoy the novelty as it falls and then I’ll be done with it.

Any favourite Winter activites to share with us as we settle into this, the longest of seasons?

My Episode of Hoarders

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My counter is constantly filled with vegetables. I am thinking of applying to be on the reality TV show Hoarders. This is the way I’m leaning these days.

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I’m not trying to brag. Much. Maybe a little. But every time a friend of mine shoots me a text to ask me what I’m doing, I dutifully reply, “Processing veggies.”

It’s a bit embarrassing.

I think I may need an intervention.

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Marc reminds me sometimes that I am nothing compared to what people used to do. Or compared what some people who are trying to store food for their family for a year. But seriously, it takes all my time. And still my counter overflows with bounty supreme.

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And in the midst of all the veggies, there are blackberries and honey to deal with too. More of either would be fine with me. But please, no more zucchinis!

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(Purple potatoes with leeks above.)

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My daughter has jumped aboard this veggie-storing train. While I cut tomatoes for the dehydrator, she shells black beans and then pretends they are money, or gum, or coffee beans. You name it. Of course, they must be sheltered by umbrellas…inside.

Obviously.

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I’m not doing all this alone. My partner in crime is ever present. He is the expert on pressure canning. The big pot with it’s shrill scream intimidates me thus he takes over. And he has proved himself to be A Pickle Master.

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Mostly the problem in our little house is where to put everything. We cram it under counters, under wood boxes, in coat closets, in corners, on top of fridges and bookshelves. And we wait for the little house to explode from the weight of all the beans, onions, potatoes and tomatoes.

In one thousand years, archaeologists may find a little pile of rubble made mostly of canned beans and say, “This must be those veggie hoarders we heard myths about. Legend says they were buried alive under a mountain of their own perfectly preserved vegetables.”

Ah, the irony.