Lammas 2017 – Gonna Get My Girl Body Back (This is a Work in Progress)

You know what I’m doing for Lammas this year? I’m shaving my goddamn legs. That’s what.
My morning wasn’t great. Like: French Toast for breakfast is pretty swell, but doing it because you are SICK-SICK-SICK of fried eggs and toast, but that’s all you have? Less great. CREATIVE, maybe, but not great. Adding lemon curd definitely helped, mind you. 😉
 
Still.
 
Ms Sugar has a new post up about Lammas and creating rituals/rites/ceremonies that don’t focus on (a) adding extra heat to the kitchen, or (b) sacrificial dudes of the sun and grain. She’s using Juliet Capulet as a template here and… okay, this is a baby-girl who offed herself OVER A BOY inside of a week of turning 14. So the call be selective about Teenager Experiences is probably a wise one. >.> None the less, I get (I think) where she’s going with this.
 
So I shaved my legs. I put Wild Heart oil blend (made by a bath-stuff-supplies crafty vendor years ago, I don’t even remember who… sorry) because of the name, and because the licorice scent (anise essential oil, along with perum balsam and I don’t remember what the third bit is) of it makes me think of the anise hyssop I’ve been rubbing my fingers against, every chance I get, around town.
 
Last night, my wife, her girlfriend, and I went to Kontinuum – a sound-and-lights show set in an incomplete subway tunnel, down town. It reminded me a lot of the Rave Stuff that the CU architecture students used to do, back when that was still legal. The scafolding was for artistic purposes only (as in: will support light fixtures and speakers and screens NOT human bodies), but… Let’s just say I would LOVE the opportunity to go dancing in a club with support structures – gogo cages, fixed (pin in, so no rotation) stripper poles, barres, that kind of thing – so that me and my fucked back and knees could really get wild.
Ideally a Tea Dance (Like 2pm to 7pm) in the kind of place where the windows are all super blacked-out, so that the day-light can’t get in, possibly with a tunnel to make your way through – perhaps with beaded curtains or tactile not-exactly-obstacles – to help get people into the “we’re in a different world now” head space. Like: First we brunch then we dance (and possibly fuck-in-the-bathroom) then we sushi and cocktails, and then we fuck some more.
 
That would be great (good thing it’s Pride Month around here…)
 
So. For those of you who don’t know, the title of this post (other than the Lammas 2017 part) is also the title of an essay by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna Samarasinha (one of my favourite poets, and femme auntie extraordinaire). What does this have to do with Lammas?
Fuck all (well… wait for it…), except that I’ve been feeling gross and awful for ages, and I want to feel better!
So.
I’ve been glamour-boarding, in the name of reminding myself what I like and what I want to look like (and also to generate Ideas for this autumn’s Harvest) and it’s equal parts burlesque/pin-up, tribal fusion, JuneCleaver/JoanHolloway, leather/fetish/gothic stuff, pics of Lagertha/Valkyrie, and women with horns/feathers/claws. So… I haven’t changed.
Which is good to know.
But also: I miss having red hair.
I stopped dying it over a year ago. For… Reasons… >.>
Basically, I thought “Why am I dumping chemicals on my head if it’s not making me beautiful?” (yes, you read that right…)
And then I thought “If Laura Jane can be this beautiful, without dying her hair, and we have the same colouring… Maybe?”
…So I stopped dying it.
And now I miss it. I imagine ME, glamourous (you can define that as fascinating or powerful or sensual, because they all apply), and my hair’s the colour of old claret.
 
Ms Sugar talks about the Red Ladies. The goddess who handle sex, money, power, whoring, and sensuality. At least, my sunshine Lady certainly covers all those bases and her colour is RED (even if mine isn’t – in spite of the above “I miss having red hair” situation). And today is one of her feast days. So why the hell not, right?
Right.

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Mid-July: In Which Everything Goes To Hell – A “Productive Home” Post

So! Erica, over at NWedible, is doing a Productive Home Weekly Report thing, and has invited people to chime in with their own productivity reports.
I’m… not totally fussed about tracking productivity. It feels a bit like giving myself a performance review. BUT, if I think of it as an opportunity to brag about the awesome-fun-cool stuff I’ve been doing/planting/harvesting/cooking/baking/canning/fermenting/etc chez moi that I’m really excited about… it gets a whole lot easier.
So here we go.
 
IN THE GARDEN there has been some planting, a tiny bit of harvesting, and a little bit of… building?
 
I rescued three cucumber plants and a zucchini from Certain Death in a neglected loblaws garden center… about a week ago. I transplanted them, plus one of my pre-existing but too-heavily-shaded-by-beans-and-radishes cucumbers and a couple of my probably-pumpkin plants to:
A new in-ground bed that I put together by piling up bolted mustard stems, overlaying them with some newspaper, and then emptying a bag of soil on top of everything.
They seem to be… mostly not dying? Which is sort of what I was going for. One of the (very small…) cucumbers is flowering, as is the probably-a-pumpkin (you can see both below). The zucchini occasionally tosses out a male blossom as well. I’m hoping that, by August, they will be blooming with the lady-flowers and starting to hint at bearing fruit.
 

Cucumber plants plus something that is probably a pumpkin, but might be a zucchini.  You can also see the bottom of the trellis I put up over the weekend.  We'll see if it holds and/or if anything manages to climb it.

Cucumber plants plus something that is probably a pumpkin, but might be a zucchini. You can also see the bottom of the trellis I put up over the weekend. We’ll see if it holds and/or if anything manages to climb it.


 
So there’s that.
 
I’ve given my daikon-radish “fence” a major haircut, so that the beans and eggplants and everyone else in that bed can actually get some light. This is less of thing for the Ground Cherries, which can handle a bit of shade (though my particular plant is probably getting too much from the tomatoes to produce much fruit. We’ll figure it out).
My jalapeno has three little peppers starting on it.
My eggplants have, between the two of them, three fruits developing.
My yellow bell pepper is… Let’s say I’m not holding my breath on that one…
But my tomatoes!
It’s been magnificently rainy this summer, and kind of on the cool side, so pretty much everything is moving slowly. I’m used to getting my first ripe cherry tomatoes, oh, about two weeks ago, and as of now, they’re all still green.
Which is fine. They’ll get there. Even if I’m bringing them indoors in October and letting them ripen next to an apple in the kitchen.
And look! This is my first year growing beefsteak tomatoes! I have… ANY! 😀
 
Beefsteak tomatoes, at the slightly-yellowish-green phase of edging towards ripening.

Beefsteak tomatoes, at the slightly-yellowish-green phase of edging towards ripening.


 
I’m pretty sure I’ve got at least one roma tomato, too, and the Big Tomatoes are in the ground, rather than the raised beds, so they’ve actually got enough root depth and aren’t getting themselves sick with blossom-end-rot and what-not. Hurrah! 😀 (Not that I’m counting my tomatoes before they’re ripe, or anything, but I’m hopeful, y’know?)
 
In further squash news: Danger Squirrel and company have eaten most, possibly all, of the waldham butternut and golden-zucchini seeds I planted, many months ago. But this bruiser that came up in the compost heap is, I’m fairly confident, a Fairy Tale Pumpkin:
 
Fairly confident that this is a Fairy Tale Pumpkin growing out of my compost heap, as squash are wont to do.

Fairly confident that this is a Fairy Tale Pumpkin growing out of my compost heap, as squash are wont to do.


 
Fairy Tale pumpkins are great, in that they are HUGE, and they finish ripening off the vine (like: harvest it when it’s dark green, streaked faintly with orange, at Samhain, but don’t cut it open until the rind is a milk-chocolate brown, around Imbolg). BUT they are not so great on flavour. Like ponca butternut (an ancestor of waldham butternut) and any zucchini you’ve ever left too long on the vine, a lot of their size is water. So they’re not great for things like pie or baked veggie side dishes where the squash flavour is something you care about. But they’re excellent for adding to braises and stews where the extra liquid will be soaked up by barley (for example) and the otherwise mild pumpkin flavour will be augmented by whatever else you’re cooking with it.
 
In other news!
My raspberry bush is FRUITING!!!
My raspberry bush is fruiting!

My raspberry bush is fruiting!


 
The friends who gave it to me warned me that it hadn’t fruited in all the years it had been in their yard. I said I was willing to give it a shot, as they wondered if being near other raspberries – like the ones in the alley behind my house – might encourage it to fruit.
That wasn’t what did it.
What did it was a big heap of bone meal dumped around the roots of the plant. Turns out, there was fruit (ish… proto-fruit) all along, it just needed some phosphorus and calcium to help the fruit develop into something that could actually ripen. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!
😀
 
So I harvested a couple of raspberries from my own canes today. Hopefully more will follow.
Beyond that, I haven’t been harvesting a whole lot. There have been garlic scapes, the occasional bit of chard, a heap of snow peas(!!!) and the last of the radishes. Oh. And a sprig of mint for hibiscus iced tea. But that’s been it. I think there will need to be a kale salad in my near-future, though, as the Cavalo Nero is getting bigger, and could do with a trim.
 
IN THE KITCHEN there has been… not a huge amount of activity, honestly. And a bunch of stuff that didn’t work.
I tried to make a sour dough starter. Which started beautifully, but died very quickly, in spite of regular feeding. I think I must have been doing it wrong. (That said, if I can make a chef from scratch every time…? That wouldn’t be the end of the world…)
 
I wound up making “by any means neccessary” bread, using 1 tsp dry yeast + a cup of kefir and… you guys, it’s not good. Like, “it makes great toast” levels of not good. It looks beautiful, and smells awesome, but it tastes like, well, like a fermented milk product (which is not what I look for in a sandwich-canvas) and tends to get soggy REALLY easily.
 
Speaking of fermented milk products… my kefir got fruit flies. In the worst way. I had to toss the entire batch, plus about 1/4 of the actual grains, because I wasn’t able to separate them from the corpses of fruit flies gone to their fermented-dairy graves.
On the plus side, the grains I was able to save are still alive and kicking and making kefir, so I can keep churning out coffee cake and scones until the heat turns up in these parts. So there’s that.
 
The Ex is coming by in two weeks to collect all the stuff they’ve been storing in our basement (among other places), so my wife and I have been moving some things around. Our antique kitchen table is now The Bird Stand (it looks good there, and it means it’s not blocking the washer and dryer… not that the washer and dryer are hooked up or anything… >.>) and we are sorting out where to store all the bird food and bird toys and such-like. It’s a work in progress.
 
Which… So is the rest of the main floor. I know this section is about what’s going on “in the kitchen”, but our front room (when we moved in, it was – briefly – my wife’s workshop, and it’s been a never-quite-defined half-storage room ever since she got her own shop) is currently the staging area for both The Ex’s stuff and a bunch of items we’re holding for a friend who’s getting divorced and will need help with furniture and other stuff when the time comes. When that’s all been taken care of, we’re going to turn everything around in there, so that my desk is facing the window and the bistro set I’ve been referring to, somewhat hopefully, as “the dining room set”, will be moved into a more accessible area, so that we can actually, y’know, dine at it.
The living room is looking better than it has in a while (hurrah!) though there are still things that need touching up. The birds are fed and watered and have had their cages cleaned (and, in Fiona’s case, some of her stuff has been moved around… though not by very much. I don’t want her to get bored…), and the vacuuming actually got done, albeit not by me.
 
The kitchen, to drag this back onto the topic at hand, is still a mess. Moving the table into the living room means I’m out about six square feet of “shelf” space, and the counter is feeling the pinch (and, consequently, I am feeling the “Augh, I don’t know where to staaaaart!” that I feel whenever there’s no clear space to put something down).
I’m continuing to use up my crushed tomatoes and my salsa (I made SO MUCH last summer), but I have a LOT of preserves still to go through. Crab apple jam, pear and pumpkin butters, chokecherry-plum relish, jalapeno jelly, a jar or two of pickled beans (they’re lovely on sandwiches, but see above re: soggy bread), and a LOT of gifted preserves (delicious gifts, mind you) from other folks. I need to do an inventory, and I need to put up shelves. This might or might not be the summer that happens, but it needs to happen. I have too many empty canning jars and nowhere for them to live. Too many (Ha! Meaning two, at the moment!) fermentation projects on the go. It’s time to add more storage to the kitchen.
 
 
Anyway, so yeah. Not a whole hell of a lot going on in terms of house-hold productivity this week, but that’s where things are at. Did I mention I had a grease fire (small, put out quickly and easily with baking soda) AND boiled a pot dry today? I did. “Productive Home”, indeed. :-\
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Full Moon – Berry/Rose Moon Crests

Hey kittens,
 
So it’s been a while.
Can I tell you I’ve been feeling “distracted” for years? Like, very briefly, before we moved into our lovely new house (back in September 2014), I felt like I kind of had a handle on things, and I’ve been feeling like I’m playing Catch-Up ever since? I don’t know where this feeling is coming from. I mean, probably? Probably it’s a mix of scrabbling for money and the decrease in “free” time (and brain space) that comes with that.
Or maybe it’s something else.
I don’t know.
 
What I DO know is that my wife and I went on a Laundry Date today (yes, we have a washer and dryer, courtesy of a generous couple of friends; no, we haven’t re-arranged our own – somewhat-mousey, ugh – basement so that we can carry them downstairs and hook them up) chez the Laundromat.
We went for a motorcycle ride the other day. Can I tell you how amazing it is to have a vehicle again? Evne one that won’t keep you warm and dry, it still gets us to work in 15 minutes and lets us go away for the odd weekend, which is AMAZING.
 
I put in another in-ground garden bed yesterday. Planted rescue-cucumbers (discounted to $0.54 at the Loblaws, and probably not getting watered anymore) and a rescue zucchini, plus transplanted a few cucuberits (one cucumber, two… probably pumpkins? Not sure…) into the same bed and sprinkled bone meal around all of them.
I can’t say I’m super-hopeful about any of them taking off. That family doesn’t like having its roots disturbed, plus the super-market starts had been neglected for a while and it’s not like my yard is super-amazing in terms of soil nutrients. Mostly what grows in the ground is (a) self-seeded mustard greens, (b) dandelions, (c) cats’ ears, (d) yarrow, and (e) creeping charlie. Stuff that feeds lightly and/or has hella tap-roots. But, frankly, I have fertilizer (well, bone and blood meal) and I’m not afraid to use it.
 
On the more more hopeful end of things, I’ve pulled out most of the bolted mustard and radishes (few of which ever developed big, juicy roots, ’cause apparently they don’t like being transplanted either) and my chard now has a LOT more space. I’m hoping that between the additional breathing room and the on-going heavy rains (and sunshine, every now and then!), I will get myself some very healthy chard and kale… right up until November. Fingers crossed!
Likewise:
I seem to have one jalapeno pepper (so far), one eggplant (so far), three beefsteak tomatoes, one roma tomato, and a TONNE of cherry tomatoes slowly developing as actual fruit. I am hopeful that things will continue in this vein! 😀
We are continuing to get LOTS of herbs (sage, cilantro, apple mint, winter savoury, and garlic scapes, all of which I’m harvesting. The lemon balm and the peppermint seem to be doing nicely as well, but I won’t be harvesting them (much) this year, so that they can get well-established). The French Sorrel seems to be doing nicely, too, though I would still like to get some Leaf Sorrel (MUCH bigger leaves) added to the mix.
 
I harvested raspberries from the alley this morning! I still haven’t gone out to pick service berries. I honestly don’t know if I will. Part of me wants to, and part of me is all “Meh. I haven’t actually used up the ones from last year yet…” so… not sure. But if I do, I need to do it THIS WEEK or I’m out of luck.
The cherries look like lipstick trees! (This is such a great time of year).
 
 
My tracking of Full Moon Energy Weird is… not currently registering a whole lot? So we’ll see what this looks like when mapped over multiple months.
 
So, here’s a thing I’ve started to notice. I do a “spare cards” pull at the end of every tarot spread. Doesn’t matter what lay-out I’m doing, I pull an “Advisor” card (top of deck), plus an “over-arching influences” (top of deck), and an “under-lying influences” (bottom of deck) card to go with it.
What I’m noticing is that these cards tend to provide the jist of the answer I’m asking for. Like, the entire rest of the reading boils down to detail-work, but the answer is in those three cards.
Like, last months (just barely posted) Full Moon post included a very short tarot reading, and the “context cards” made more sense than the actual (two cards only) spread.
Likewise, I recently did a (much larger, grand cross) reading about Dealing With Money Feels, and the answer was so clearly written in those last three cards. Sure, the Queen of Earth fell out of the deck (relevant…), but here was the last little bit:
 
Advisor: The Emperor
Overarching/Underlying: The Guardian (15 MA) / 10 of Earth (“Home”)

 
Sure, the Emperor CAN mean “dealing with The Man”, it can mean Patriarchy. It can mean pre-established and disempowering rules and laws (which always have to do with power structures, not with What Is Right).
But the Emperor (the Green Man, The Code), is also: Structure, getting organized, bringing order our of chaos, recognizing one’s own authority. Taking control of your own life, getting your ducks in a row. Being in a position of strength. Being your own boss. Breaking the chains that held you and going in a way that is good for YOU to go. Setting a direction. Bringing security and comfort. Sticking to a plan. It can mean “skills, confidence, competence. Al the stuff that the Three of Stones asks you to recognize in yourself and expect to be valued. Being able to talk the talk of the walk you’re already walking. It can mean self-discipline. It can mean leadership and taking the initiative.
The Emperor has good boundaries, and a willingness to act, to dare, but also the pacing to get stuff done in an orderly and sustainable fashion.
(Seriously. I was going to search “Emperor” on Little Red Tarot, and Beth had JUST posted a new post on exactly what I needed!)
 
My overarching and underlying cards?
Home – the ten of earth – all that material abundance, solid foundations, financial stability, all that stuff in “Made It Home”, in “We Are The World”, a house where all the windows open, with fruit trees, berry bushes, greens and nightshades and cucuburits, growing lavish in the yard, a kitchen overflowing with good food for everyone who comes and out of my always-open door, no fear of the rent not being payable, a home-base to come back to, to anchor me (us), no matter where we go on our adventures. An absolute certainty that we have, and will always have, enough to share on top of having enough “just in case” and enough for ourselves.
Crossed with? The Devil. With bindweed, with conditioning, with the boogy-man that stands in the way of really examining all the Stuff that lurks in my personal underworld. Call to katabasis, to the digging deep (and surfacing) in all my dirty secrets about wealth, worth, value, and morality.
 
 
Well. Okay, then. O.O
 
Anyway, onwards.
 
 
~*~
 
Motion: Lots of walking, this past week, as I was temping close to home. Also lots of bending and digging in the garden.
 
Attention: Watching the clouds, waiting for (and receiving) rain, rain, and more rain. Over-thinking everything (alas, but there it is), and trying to figure out how to stop.
 
Gratitude: Long rides in the country under clear skies. Working farms. My wife loving me. The friend who gave me a lift home on Friday, when it was pouring rain. Greens (and snow peas! and more on the way!) from the garden.
 
Inspiration: Big, beautiful moon last night. All the flowers blooming like crazy.
 
Creation: Chasing the first threads of a new (ish) story. No idea if it will go anywhere, but trying to catch hold anyway. Wrote a poem (about Scorpios and Feelings and the High Priestess tarot card) the other day. Message is “finish your damn book”, and no clue how to get there, but: scribble, scribble, ugh, scribble, scribble. So here we go…

Full Moon – Flower Moon Crests (Finally Hitting POST on a Mo(o)nth-Old Entry…)

Wrote this, well, a couple of weeks ago, but only posting it now:
 
~*~
 
It’s Full Moon in Sagittarius, folks!
The sage bloomed the day of the Full Moon (which was Friday). As such, it will come as a surprise to nobody that sage (along with – apparently – peonies & tomatoes plus basil, borage, saffron, & chervile) is one of Sagittarius’ associated plants.
 

Five sprigs of sage ft tall, blue flower-spikes.


 
I’ve been having PMS-type symptoms/experiences all week. Tripping, dropping things, and otherwise ending up with unexplainable bruises, craving ALL the chocolate all the time, and being neck-deep and deeper in my Feeeeelings. Usually(?) this means I’ll start bleeding within 48 hours of this stuff showing up. But it’s been six days and… nothing.
We had a house-guest for most of the week who shed some light on the possibility that this might have more to do with the waxing, nearly full Moon than with the state of my uterus. So I’m going to start tracking that and see what-all lines up with what.
As for this full moon, in particular… Ugh. Everything comes full circle. Everything comes back around again… :-\
 
Sarah Gottesdiener, over at Little Red Tarot, says:

If you are doing a spell for this particular moon, […] feeling your desires within your body, take some time to summon what might feel hard. […] The shedding of one skin is not an easy transition. […] Acknowledge the feelings of fear, anxiety, the unease you might have of the unknown, of being fully seen, fully given the gifts you’ve wanted for years.
This Full Moon, bring it all up, let it be reflected under her light.
Realize we aren’t in linear time. […] We are in an internal spiral, where time and time again we are asked to encounter our most devastating patterns and our most inspirational truths.

 
…All of-which is kind of wacking me in the face right now.
See, the other day, I was having a Writing Date with a friend and working on a poem, when a stranger came up and said “I have something to tell you”.
She’s one of those people who are the opposite of me, in that rather than being a total bunker and Natural Ground, they get Messages that need to be passed along. She’s been getting them for 30 years, so she’s used to people being a little put off by her. I have no idea if it was weird for her to have someone go “Oh. Yeah, no, I totally get that.” And treat this as part of their Normal. Maybe it happens way more often than I think it does. Who knows.
ANYWAY.
What she said was (in highlights form):
 

There’s something happening / going-to-happen with you. Something about a child. And… math? Numbers? 2s and 3s
Look at the numbers.
You need to trust Divine, trust your soul more.
The answers are within yourself.
Everything comes full circle.
There are three people around you. The one in the middle might be male, but I can’t actually tell[1]. Two of them are younger.
Everything will work out how you want it to.
 
Also: there’s a ladder, like a symbolic ladder. You’re not ready to climb it yet, but when you are, you’ll climb up 1-2-3- rungs.

 
 
So, here’s the thing. I was writing a poem about trying to be family again with the ex who I thought was about to move back to Ontario (and who occupies a place in my heart that has a lot of “child” built into it. An ex who also used to date my wife, and who introduced me to a lovely person who turned out to live up the street from me), which included a lot of tarot references (6 of cups, 3 of cups, in particular).
 
So I thought I knew what this was about.
 
And then I got home, and my wife said she’d heard from The Ex that day, and that said ex was staying in Alberta and aiming to move overseas, permanently, in the next year or so.
Which.
I actually cried a whole lot that night, because while I’d been bracing for having to deal with seeing them around far more frequently than I did when they were living across the country, I’d also been hopeful of some kind of “we can actually be friends with each other and I’ll be able to trust you again” outcome and… that’s just not going to happen. And it sucks so much both that it’s not going to happen AND that I’d been holding onto that hope for just about a year-and-a-half at this point.
Feelings of grief (still, ffs).
But also a certain amount of humiliation? Like “how could I have been so foolish/stupid to think that this would end the way I wanted it to…?”
 
…All of-which to say: I basically have no idea what the message is actually about. Like, obviously, it’s about leveling up in some department. But I don’t know WHICH department, y’know? I mean, interpersonal relationships are kind of a huge deal for me, and there are clearly People Involved. But who even knows.
 
The folks over at Hoodwitch say:

What you fear says more about you than you may think, Scorpio. If you use the Full Moon on the 9th to help you investigate what you’re resisting, you may make some progress in dislodging its roots from your belly.

 
Once upon a time, I had a conversation with my Dad that went something like this:
Him: You’re carrying around a huge amount of anger.
Me: I know. But if I let go of it, I don’t think there will be anything left of me…

 
It was another 7-8 years before I did anything close to starting therapy and dealing with all that rage. BUT. I’ve been having similar feelings… sort of… about something else recently. That I have these internal Defense Walls inside me. They feel like gristle or scar tissue, but they’re energetic. Or something along those lines. And that, if I let all those guards down, let them go, I’ll fall apart.
So, on the “summoning what feels hard” and “investigate what you’re resisting” fronts, I had a conversation with My Lovely Wife about, well, all of that stuff. About the ladder I’m not ready to go up yet (or at least one aspect of what I’m currently assuming The Ladder is about), about things I’m resisting, about things that are hard.
I also did a couple of tarot spreads about the above-mentioned Message From Beyond.
The short one is a variation on the Who And How spread – which I want to say I got from Asali Earthworks, possibly via Little Red Tarot, but for-which I can’t find the original link. Basically, the answers looked like this:
 

“Who and How do I have to be to climb that ladder?”
Who: New Vision
How: beyond Illusion


 

“What is the context of this Leveling Up?”
Advisor: Seven of Air.
Over-Arching Influences: Page of Water.
Underlying Influences: Six of Water.


 
The “context” cards are the easy ones here. The over-arching and under-lying water cards…
I often think of myself as a Page of Cups, less inclined to wear my heart on my sleeve and more about dipping my toes in the water, still learning How To Relationship. And yet… When I look up the Page of Water, I get phrases like “Be intimate, be intuitive, be emotional, be loving”. Even the heavily-simplified Shakespeare Oracle tarot deck (I won it as a door prize last week) touches on the Page’s open-heartedness. The page of cups is a reminder that “The door is open and you know how to fly, you just need to step out on a limb and take off” (which makes me think of “you’re not ready yet, but when you are, you’ll climb up 1-2-3). The page lives gently, learns (is still learning) from her mistakes, but isn’t afraid to try again, try something new, take a chance.
The Six is the “wishful thinking” card. I’ve seen it interpreted more kindly or optimistically as “reunion” or “innocence” or even “playful connections”, interpretations that connect it with kindness, generosity, and the potential (and need) for mutual care. Little Red Tarot even reads it as “Fuck the system, I’m going to be who I really am!”… Which would be a lovely way to view this, and – given the whole “leveling up” thing – maybe is how I should go? In my case, though, the six of cups is frequently a card of longing that hints at… well, given that the 7 of Water in this deck is projections, I tend to read it as a bad tendency to assume one thing is happening when, in reality, no such thing was ever promised or put into words. (Weirdly, this card’s “key dates” fall right on top of my birthday. Hm…)
The 7 of Air has pretty much always spoken to the deep fear/suspicion that I’m a Monster Inside and that I have to pretend to be something so much smaller, less voracious, more polite than I actually am in order to be loved and wanted. It tends to serve as a reminder to Take Off The Mask. Which can relate to both the “be who you really are” and “stop assuming everyone means the same thing when they use the same words” stuff in the Six of Cups, to the “set yourself free” stuff intrinsic to the Page.
 
As for Who and How?
Who do I need to be? The Hanged Man. Which is patience, taking a breath, “hanging around”, a long look in the mirror, a willingness to entertain a change in perspective.
How do I need to be this? Judgement. Awakening, Liberation. (when you’re ready, you’ll climb). Don’t just hang in there, take a look around. Notice how things could be different.
 
Ugh.
And that’s the thing.
Because, when I read for myself, I tend to get the answers I’m expecting. Like when I assume the six of cups is always and only the “wishful thinking” card, and completely ignore all the numerous good/positive/hopeful aspects of it. I see The Hanged Man, and I read it as a specific thing. And sometimes I wonder what I’m missing. Can it mean “be willing to let your world be flipped upside down”? Can it mean “Stop worrying about controlling every little thing”? Can it mean “Let It Go“? Can it mean a whole bunch of stuff that I’m just not thinking of? (Uh… probably).
 
ANYWAY.
 
 
Ariel, at Siobhan’s Mirror, said in her (two weeks ago) tarotscope for Scorpio:

Understand that all you wish for already exists and is on its way to you.

…Which puts me in mind of the not-so-long-ago message in that reading I did for the New Moon right around Beltane.
 
Chani says:

Surround yourself with the folks that inspire you to trust in the ebbs and flows of life.
Surround yourself with the folks that help you to feel your own innate sturdiness.
Surround yourself with the folks that never have you second guessing your gifts.
&nbsp:
As Venus moves into Taurus, it wants to help you to connect with those that know how to build. Partnerships. Relationships. Life. This month-long journey of Venus’s wants you to open up to the possibilities of different kinds of partnering.
 
The season of love is upon you.

 
I can only hope.
 
 
ANYWAY. I’ve been sitting on this post for seriously a month… Time to hit the Post button.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad.
 
 
[1] Being psychic doesn’t mean you can’t be cissexist. I have a bunch of masc-of-centre NB folks in my life, which “…might be a guy, but I can’t tell” could sort-of apply to, but seeing as there aren’t a whole lot of straight-up dudes in my life, I have no fucking clue who this person is. Given the context, it seems unlikely to be my brother, so… Uh? No idea.

First Weekend in June – A “Productive Home” Post

So! Erica, over at NWedible, is doing a Productive Home Weekly Report thing, and has invited people to chime in with their own productivity reports.
I’m… not totally fussed about tracking productivity. It feels a bit like giving myself a performance review. BUT, if I think of it as an opportunity to brag about the awesome-fun-cool stuff I’ve been doing/planting/harvesting/cooking/baking/canning/fermenting/etc chez moi that I’m really excited about… it gets a whole lot easier.
So here we go.
 
 
IN THE GARDEN there has been a lot of planting!
 
I think I’ve got the garden pretty-much planted for the year. I mean, yes, I’d still like to get my hands on some lovage (and I may have a source!), but other than that and maybe transplanting a bunch of winter squash, I think we’re set. It’s time to grow-grow-grow!
 
Planting(s):
The beans, winter squash, and yellow zucchini seeds that I had just planted, the last time I did one of these things, are poking their heads out of the earth and starting to look like they might grow into Serious Plants.
That said, most of the winter squash… doesn’t seem to have come up? It looks like I got a package of Mostly Duds on that one. BUT a few are coming up – which I’ll need to move around slightly, as it appears Danger Squirrel has been moving things around on me – AND I’ve got some sprouting in the compost heap, where they’ll stay as they should be super happy in there. The winter squash (which I think miiiiiight be Fairy Tale Pumpkin) that sprouted early-on from compod seeds needs to be transplanted (again) so that it can get its roots inper soil than is available in my raised beds, but it seems to be growing fairly happily, which is a good sign.
I’m saying that I might actually get a real squash CROP this year, even though I know it’s way too early to be counting my pumpkins and butternuts at this point.
The daikon radish “perimeter fence” is also doing its thing – though it remains to be seen if it does its JOB, which is keeping the soil IN, and the marauding runner-roots of crab-grass and creeping charlie (which I love, and use as ground-cover in the front yard) OUT of, my vegetable patch – but they’re growing, so that’s good.
My transplanted rainbow chard seems to have recovered from being unceremoniously uprooted and moved around, which is kind of a relief. Ditto, the breakfast radishes, which had been growing all in a clump and are now much more spread out.
In addition to the seeds that are coming up, I planted a whole bunch of starts. Two ground-cherries, from a friend up the street, a jalapeno pepper and an aubergine from another couple of friends (also up the street – I live in a goooood neighbourhood), and a bundle of goodies that I bought, once I had the $20 to do it (freelancer life, I tell you…), including:
A Lebanese Cucumber (because I think my first one got frost-zapped, or close to it, and I wanted to make sure I had some cukes this year)
A Japanese(?) Eggplant – the long, skinny ones
Chives (the standard-issue onion type, that get the purple flowers)
Lemon Balm
Sorrel (we’ll see if it takes off, the way my friend’s – also up the street – has in her shady front garden)
Black Cherry baby tomatoes
Roma tomatoes (I don’t actually remember the variety off the top of my head)
Beefsteak tomatoes (for my wife, who loves them. I’m… not holding out a tonne of hope, but we’ll see)
 
The friend who gave me the ground cherries may have some “mild salsa peppers” to send my way, as well. (Their parents have a Tiny Hippie Farm in the Valley, where they raise laying hens, and they often have spare plant-starts to give away to their youngster’s garden-enabled friends).
 
In Other News: My raspberry bush has one (1) flower! But there’s a strong possibility of more, so I am starting to get hopeful for fruit in the back yard! 😀
 
Harvesting:
Lots of rhubarb.
Lots of mustard greens.
You’ll hear more about both of those, below.
Beyond that, the garden is still young, and most of my perennials are flavourful herbs, rather than early veggies, so there’s not been a lot to pull out of the ground just yet. I admit, I’m hoping for a week or two more of cool weather (although maybe not as cool as it’s been…) so that my peas and greens can stay comfortable and my radishes have a solid chance to get big enough to harvest. >.> It’s funny. I want my peas to start flowering, but I don’t want my khol crops to bolt. But those things happen at the same time! I have to remember that if I want my fruit crops to start producing, I have to let my greens go to seed as well. 😉
 
 
IN THE KITCHEN there has been fermenting. And cleaning. And furniture-moving. O.O
 
Ferments:
So I treated my kefir grains to some whipping cream. As you can imagine, it’s much thicker than it has been, AND it’s delicious. Not that I’m going to switch my kefir to an all-cream-all-the-time diet, but it’s definitely something I’m doing again, and will probably try to do every now and then for the foreseeable future. I’m not sure that I could use this extra-thick kefir to make, effectively, a sour-cream “cheese cake” type custard, but… maybe? Certainly something I’d like to try!
Earlier this week, I made orange-pops, which is a recipe I got out of My First Cookbook EVAR (I think I was seven, if not slightly younger, when I was given this cookbook). Basically, you take a (small – slightly more than 1C) tin of frozen orange juice, mix in 2 cups of yoghurt, and a tablespoon of vanilla, blend with a fork (or a whisk), spoon it into freezer-cups, and freeze it over night. I used kefir instead of yoghurt. Tastes great, but it doesn’t freeze super-solid (unlike the chocolate-coconut ones), which means sometimes I pull the stick out with no popsicle attached. I wonder if adding coconut milk to this recipe would help or hinder on that front…
In other fermentation news, we have gone through about 1/3 of the sour kraut. I’m enjoying it, my wife is enjoying it, and tbh I’m also loving how quick and easy it is to add veggies to a sandwich – no washing, no chopping, because it’s all already done. TO THAT END, when I pulled a grocery-bag full of mustard greens, dandelion greens, and Vietnamese garlic greens on Wednesday (and picked some wild grape leaves, on the way home), I decided to ferment them into something like a sour kraut (except not, because these greens are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more delicate). It’s an experiment – I threw a little bit of onion, and a bunch of mustard seeds and (dried) coriander, plus a bird chili into the mix – and we’ll see how it goes. I HOPE it’s good, as it’s a good way to use up pulled greens, but… Look, honestly? Three days later, there was no bubbling going on. I added some kefir whey (I wanted to skip that step, to see if I could do a vegan ferment and also avoid the mold possibilities in letting dairy just hang out on top of the salt water like that, but oh well) and we’ll see if it helps, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m wondering if the dandelion greens have too many natural defenses (unlikey?) or if I just washed my greens a little too well? We shall see.
I have also made bread but, since it’s not sour dough, I’m not sure that it counts as “fermenting” at this point. Still! Bread! The loaves turned out small, but well. And that’ll do.
 
Other Kitchen Stuff:
One of my favourite Heathens is coming to visit for a few days (in town for a conference, and we’re conveniently located), so I’ve been tidying All The Things, prepping the guest-room, getting a spare house-key cut, checking my stocks to see what kind of vegan food I can whip up for dinner on Monday, that sort of thing. BUT I also spent a big chunk of yesterday moving in a WASHER AND DRYER (!!!) which meant my house felt really chaotic for a while.
The washer and dryer, which were given to us by some generous friends who were moving & at the same time and said we could have their old set FREE if we were able to ourselves, are currently sitting in my kitchen, where my ancient kitchen table used to be. Technically, the table is still the – we’ve just cleared it off (which took several days worth of finding homes for Things that got dumped onto the table because they didn’t have anywhere else to live) and shifted it around a bit.
I suspect the new machines won’t be hooked up for, probably, another month. the washing machine needs to be further moved into our basement (which… it may not fit through the door, but we’re willing to give it a shot) where the hook-up is – or else my ex-contractor wife will need to renovate the kitchen, which (as this is a rental) we’d rather not do – and the dryer will need to be hooked up to the vent (which IS in the kitchen) and set on top of… something… so that it’s not blocking the kitchen’s Cold Air Return. Both machines need a bit of a clean before that happens.
We’ll also need to find a new spot for that table, but an old friend (read: ex-partner), whose stuff we’ve been storing for two years, has decided to make a more permanent move to Alberta and will be collecting the rest of their things from us some time in the next month. Which means the plant stand and small cupboard we’ve been using as bird-cage stands will need to be replaced. With, for example, an antique drop-leaf table.
None of that has happened yet, but the table is tidy for the first time in a year-and-a-half, and the laundry machines are IN, and that’s a major part of the battle. I’m really happy about it. 😀
 
ANYWAY. That’s been my Productive Home week this week. Still to do: Make a vegan dessert (either chocolate Wacky Cake or a rhubarb pie), vacuum the main floor, sweep upstairs, and put clean sheets on the guest-bed. Also figure out whether or not I can hang a set of curtains today. :-\ (The walls are lath and plaster, which means stuff meant to be screwed into drywall… doesn’t work so well. But also, our guest would probably appreciate some curtains). ONWARDS!
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

New Moon – Flower Moon Begins

Today, the new moon shifts from Taurus into Gemini.
The folks at Hoodwitch – who point out that this one is a Super Moon? – mention that this is a time when people may find themselves feeling a little overwhelmed, or else feeling like they can take on more than they actually can. (Guilty. My wife totally sat me down and told me not to reinvent the wheel on a particular project). They suggest that this is a good time, energetically, for rituals around goal-setting (new moons in general) but particularly for creative writing, communication, and social boundaries: Gemini is chatty and social, but is also an Air sign so, tarot-wise, Gemini exists in Sword Time, in terms of things you may want to focus on. Want to Work yourself to be better at Using Your Words? Now’s the time to do it. Want to get your actions more in line with your actual values? This – especially with Venus squaring Pluto right now – is a prime opportunity get that stuff sorted out, make a plan and implement it (for longer-term project, which this might be, I recommend Miss Sugar’s New Year New You magical-action project prompts – I’ve found them really helpful on a number of occasions). Want to focus and get clear about some Stuff you’ve got that’s keeping you confused and spiraling, dig down and sort out what you really, really want (as Ariel, at Siobhan’s Mirror, suggests I do in her Scorpio Tarotscope for this New Moon), or maybe let go of some Old Baggage? This is a good time to work on that (and, handily, Hoodwitch has you covered with a Meditation suggestion).
 
Liz Worth talks about Gemini New Moon as a time of social choices. She offers a handy tarot spread (bottom of the linked post) and asks us to consider who is choosing us, and where we’re putting our social energy. Are we deepening connections with people who matter to us? Are we reaching out to people who reach back to us? Or are we tossing our social energy “juggling balls” at people who aren’t tossing them back, and aren’t showing up? Are we expressing ourselves to the best of our abilities? She points out that Gemini Time has a shadow side that looks like indecision and lack of commitment, and a certain amount of abdication when it comes to owning our choices (and our ability to make them). <– This is absolutely something that I have a LOT of problems with and am only very recently starting to get the hang of. I've been faced with a series of crap options on the personal front and, not liking any of them, have chosen to stick with the status quo while telling myself (and firmly believing) that someone else had all the power in those situations… even though, really, I was making a choice to stick with something that wasn’t going well. This Gemini New Moon is a good reminder for me to watch myself, and my (in)actions, in those situations. As Hoodwitch points out: “Practice acceptance this week, even about the things you want to change. Acceptance isn’t consent; it’s self-awareness.”
 
Questions to Ask Yourself during Gemini New Moon and its Waxing Period:
What can I cultivate, nurture, and allow to take root within myself as this moon waxes?
You’ve got all that composted energy from the recent Balsamic Moon to work with so, set goals, yes. But then act on them. A goal is just a wish, if you don’t put some action into it. For each goal you set, come up with one internal and one external action you can take to further it. (E.G.: I want to use my words better. Internal Actions: I can do a faceup tarot spread to help me sort out what I want to say, or I can bless and drink a tea made from nettles and thyme, to bolster my courage and my way with words. External Actions: I can push myself to Use My Words to ask for what I want or need – attention, respect for a boundary, choose your own adventure – clearly and specifically, once a day, for a week… and see how I feel).
What I can I breathe through and/or air out during this period of clarity? Gemini Time means connections, but Air Time more generally means boundaries and sometimes cutting ties, whether with people or with old habits. Get clear on what are deal breakers (and who or what need to be offered less of your time, energy, and attention as a result) versus what are things you can accept as a “price of admission” in your social interactions (and therefore work to stop spending your energy stewing about them)?
 
Ariel’s tarotscope for Scorpio suggests that good things (and some much-needed financial/material stability) come for those who stand their ground. Which is a relief to hear. Gods know I have a hell of a time talking about Money Stuff, and don’t have a really solid grasp of what “normal” or “healthy” look like when there’s cash on the table (or not on the table, as the case may be). I hope her predictions hold true, but I suspect I’ll need to Use My Words and have some scary/stressful discussions in the near future to make sure of that. O.O
 
As far as good things coming to me go… I’ve landed another part-time contract: One day per week (or a little less – more like 4 hours, with the option of a few more as needed) at a very respectable rate of pay, working From Home for a friend who needed, essentially, a research assistant. I’ve also received a wodge of seeds and starts from friends of mine (an aubergine and a jalapeno pepper; a couple of ground cherries; a whole bag of seed packets that I can use in the front and back gardens). I’m really enjoying showing off my garden, and trading rhubarb (stewed or cooked up like lemon curd) for plant starts or giving it as thank-yous. I’m also enjoying harvesting from it! Rhubarb Bars, stewed rhubarb for desserts; baby mustard greens, dandelion greens, and garlic chives for dinner veggies with pasta and cheese sauce; sage (which is about to flower – it’s gorgeous in flower!) used to flavour dips and roasts.
The garden doesn’t quite have its legs yet, so to speak, but it’s getting closer every day. I spaced out my radishes this morning, and we’ll have them to eat in another week or so. The chard is starting (slowly) to take off, and so is the kale. I’ve (re)-sewn sorrel, and I hope it will germinate this time ’round. I may be able to get some lovage (a heavy perennial “herb” that works more like a vegetable. You use the stalks and leaves in place of celery and I think it would be good for “transition periods” – right when it’s available – for soups, stews, and as a pot veggie to cook up with a roast) from a friend of a friend.
I planted (well, seed-scattered) larkspur, forget-me-not, and field poppies in the front yard, and I now have lupin and nasturtium seeds to add as well. I’ll be getting some Lily-of-the-Valley and, maybe, some Dame’s Rocket (“Wild Phlox”) seeds later in the summer, after they’ve had a chance to seed. My goal is to hit up one of the markets (Byward or Parkdale) in the next week or so and see if I can’t get my hands of a few more herb, flower, and veggie starts to top things off but, for the moment, I’m waiting for my seeds to germinate… so that I can remember where they were planted. Adding more transplants has to wait until then! 😉
 
 
~*~
 
Movement: Not a whole heck of a lot. I spent most of last week sick, and I’m still recovering. I’m finding I need more sleep than usual (or at least “usual” during long-daylight time) and I get tired faster. I’m still walking a lot, and working in my garden (which involves lots of bending and squatting and digging), but I’m also taking a lot of rest breaks.
 
Attention: Paying a LOT of attention to boundaries and how much energy I have available to throw at any given project. Some of this means checking, and double-checking my schedule to make sure I know how much of my time is devoted to Other People (whether that’s social time OR paid-work time) versus how much I have available for writing, tending the garden, home-keeping, and other stuff that’s more solitary and self-recovering. Also working to be more actively attentive-to/engaged-with my wife, making time for date excursions and conversations, trying to make a little LESS space in my life for “screen time” (says the lady who has been on her computer for four hours at this point…)
 
Gratitude: Friends & family who give me things – Plant starts, seeds, a covered hotel room (!!!), a car to borrow (!!!), knife-throwing lessons, a recently-replaced washer and dryer (!!!!!) – to help me out. (Seriously, I can’t tell you how excited I am about all of the above, but in particular about the fact that we are going to have an in-house washing machine and drying machine as soon as early June! To be able to make the week’s bread, work my new from-home job, do the dishes, AND do the laundry all at the same time? SO AMAZING!) Grateful, too, for a long walk with my wife, dinner and conversation (and compassionate advice) with a friend, garden chats and catching up with other friends. The ability (thanks to the above-mentioned car and hotel room) to attend my family reunion in mid-June. Grateful for warm weather and long, sunny days. Grateful that my neighbour lets me use her garden hose to water my plants.
 
Inspiration: Dane Edidi’s poetry book, Remains: A Gathering of Bones JUST arrived in the mail, and I’m looking forward to digging into it. I’m also told that one of my library holds has come in, and I’m excited to dig into the work of one of Urban Fantasy’s grandmothers. I’m also getting inspired by the garden- and kitchen-craft of other folks – whether they’re friends and neighbours, or long-distance folks whose blogs I read. It’s great to geek about gardening and fermenting with other people who do what I do, to trade plants (or SCOBYs), and get ideas for what to try next.
 
Creation: Lots of kitchen creativity. Lots of garden nurture, though that’s not exactly “creative” on my part. Coming up with new recipes. Writing poems. Made jewelry for a friend (who was wearing them when she won her Big Award – I’m so chuffed about that tiny, rather insignificant, but special for me detail). Hoping I can push next week for a writing date or two. I read the work of people who come up with, like THIRTY, GOOD poems in the space of seven days, and I’m just like… How do you do that?? But I want to try, too, so I shall. (Remember what I said, above, about Internal and External things I can do to forward my goals? External: Schedule writing dates and put them in the calendar, then follow-through and attend them. Internal: Refill my creative well by reading lots of poetry by other femmes (which will then be glossed in my poetry writing, so…)

May Long Weekend in the Garden – A “Productive Home” Post

So! Erica, over at NWedible, is doing a Productive Home Weekly Report thing, and has invited people to chime in with their own productivity reports.
I’m… not totally fussed about tracking productivity. It feels a bit like giving myself a performance review. BUT, if I think of it as an opportunity to brag about the awesome-fun-cool stuff I’ve been doing/planting/harvesting/cooking/baking/canning/fermenting/etc chez moi that I’m really excited about… it gets a whole lot easier.
So here we go.
 
IN THE GARDEN there has been sprouting and there has been planting! Of both seeds and starts! And there has also been (a tiny bit of) harvesting! Because perennial food crops are fantastic!
 
PLANTED:
I picked up some starts from the local Home Hardware (I’m not choosy). Purple basil, peppermint (I seriously managed to kill my peppermint last year – possibly due to drought, or possibly due to poor management – so I’m trying again), Lebanese cucumber, yellow bell pepper, and yellow cherry tomato. I got them in the ground early this afternoon, along with planting some golden zucchini seeds. We’ll see if they come up.
 
I’ve got scarlet runner beans and butternut squash, along with a “perimeter fence” of daikon radish (I’m hoping the long, thick tap-roots that develop will help keep water in, and invasive runner roots out, of the in-ground bed where I grow my cucurbitas and all my nightshades) planted as seeds, and have some probably-butternut squash coming up from compost-seeds already, which is nice. My rainbow chard is popping up all over, and I spent part of this afternoon transplanting it into more orderly rows (yeah, I’m doing rows… ish. I want my chard to have lots of room to get big and gorgeous and start thriving). My kale – which is, in theory, the Tuscan Black variety (Cavalo Nero) – seems to have sprouted, too, which is nice. I’ve been thinning out the self-seeded mustard greens a LOT in order to give the chard and kale some room to grow. Mustard, I’ve decided, makes a lovely “baby green” for salads, but isn’t something I love as a cooking green, partly because it bolts so darned quickly. It makes for decent sprouting broccoli when it bolts, though, so I’ll have to leave some to mature. 😉
 
The as’kebwan’ (sunchokes) are starting to sprout (again – I dug up a bunch earlier, as I needed to get the last of last year’s harvest out of the ground, once it had thawed – they’re great, by the way, and finding their way into a lot of stew and “potato” salad).
I have no idea if my (new to me) raspberry bush is going to flower this year. Or any year. But fingers crossed?
 
READY TO HARVEST / HARVESTED:
I have tonnes of rhubarb (and sage, and winter savoury) ready to harvest. Along with some frozen rhubarb left over from last year. Uhm. So, as I’ve previously mentioned, I need to make some pies. Or at least a Rhubarb Cafloutis or a crumble or shortcake or something. It makes a great coffee cake (I use the recipe in Company’s Coming “Muffins and More” for cranberry coffee cake, and just use diced rhubarb in lieu of cranberries) and, now that I have eggs in the fridge again, I may just go that route as it packs easily for lunches.
 
The sage has been getting picked and chucked into braises, fairly frequently, but I haven’t been doing a whole lot with the savoury. The dandelion greens and Vietnamese garlic (the tops, not the roots) have been getting added to pastas every so often, but (weirdly?) I’m concerned about using them up too quickly (or at least before the garlic starts to scape).
 
OTHER:
I turned the compost (first time!) and edged the in-ground beds (front and back). I’m happy with how the compost is doing. I put stuff like pizza boxes and newspapers in the compost heap in order to add carbon to a pretty “green stuff” heavy heap (at least I think it’s heavy on the green stuff, as it’s mostly spent coffee grounds, old tea bags, egg shells, and veggie ends) and its rotting into oblivion along with everything else, which I assume is a good sign.
Also, there are wriggly worms in the compost (and even in the raised beds!) and the soil in the back yard’s in-ground bed (which, until Wednesday, the compost heap was sitting directly on top of) is dark a relatively easy to turn – unlike the dirt in the rest of the yard, which is pretty compacted and mostly supports stuff with deep tap-roots, like dandelions.
 
 
IN THE KITCHEN there has been baking and fermenting!
 
FERMENTS:
I’m drinking a LOT of kombucha lately. Partly because I’ve been home, sick, this past week, and drinking Lots Of Fluids has been a significant part of the bill, and partly just because it’s hot out now, or reasonably so, and I’m wanting cool bevvies, rather than hot ones (at least when I’m not hacking up a lung. Appetizing, I know). So I’ve been topping up my kombucha bottle a lot more frequently. NOTE: This makes for a less sharp kombucha which, with my love of the sour stuff, isn’t really what I’m going for. It’s still good, it’s just “lighter” than I like. I continue to cut it with a cup or two of lightly sweetened, long-steeped hibiscus (raspberry/pomegranate/etc) tea, as I like how that works out.
 
I’m continuing to make dairy kefir. My wife won’t touch it in terms of using it as a yoghurt substitute, but she likes it fine in baked goods, so I’m using it a lot in pancakes and coffee cake and similar. Even in bread (see below). I’m making Very Small Batches, and hoping I can get back to the stuff I was making in winter, where it would separate really evenly into curds and whey, and I could get super-thick “kefir cheese” (more like yoghurt or sour cream) that way, while using the whey in things like bechemel sauce or briases. Today, I made chocolate popsicles using (1) chocolate chips, (2) coconut milk, and (3) kefir. They probably won’t be solid until tomorrow, but they should be VERY delicious (and not overly sweet, which is a help when you want something refreshing on a hot day) if the liquid mixture is anything to go on.
 
I (finally) drained my sour kraut crock and packed the fermented cabbage (which is crunchy and done, but also salty AF, holy moly…) into some big mason jars and put it in the fridge. Time to start using this stuff on sandwiches. (Conveniently, I have some beet-and-bean spread sitting in the fridge that will work really nicely with this).
 
Speaking of sandwiches… I tried making a sour dough starter. It.. was not that? successful?
I separated out into Kinda Brown Water on top, and sludge on the bottom. Except, when I drained off the water, it was actually pretty bubbly and fermented-looking. So… It sort of worked? Maybe?
Basically, I poured the entire ferment into my most recent batch of bread, along with 2tsp of dry yeast, so while it was doing its thing, I don’t actually know if it was lively enough to lift a whole new batch of dough.
Yeah.
I’m learning to make sour dough from books like Michael Pollan’s Cooked, and I’m not too quick on the uptake. I don’t usually (yet) start making my bread dough the night before I actually want to bake it, and I’m realizing that if I want to do sour dough, that’s how it’s going to go. Or else I’m going to be starting the chef – like maybe making a chef from equal parts kefir and flour and water, which I’ve done, but am not entirely sure about (my wife liked it. I wasn’t too keen on the texture, which was a lot denser than I’m used to, but it was flavourful and made an acceptable sandwich, so it did the job) – at breakfast, and baking the bread after dinner. This is, by the looks of things, a bit of a slower process than the “only takes 2 hours” version using dry yeast woken up in sweetened warm water. So we’ll see. I’d like to keep this up, just because it would be nice to not need the dry yeast, eventually. But, for now, I’m really glad I have some on hand.
 
BAKING:
The entirety of this week’s baking has been the above-mentioned bread and rhubarb coffee cake. There are a couple of chicken legs baking in the oven right now – although that’s more like a “confit de poulet” than a “baked goods” kind of thing. It’ll be dinner along with some left-over potato salad (not made with sunchokes, or even at home, but left over from a catered lunch at a place where I was temping) and some wilted greens (as in: dandelions and garlic greens. I want that sorrel to successfully germinate even more now… Hm… a little lovage wouldn’t hurt, either…). Big Plans for this weekend include a new batch of bread (made with dry yeast, I have zero doubt), a further rhubarb Thing (maybe muffins), and cookies or cornbread. Probably not both.
 
 
GENERAL HOUSEHOLD STUFF:
Put together a care-package for someone who helped do the C-16 rally on Parliament Hill the other day. (Pasta, crushed tomatoes, salsa, tinned tuna, tinned soup, and 2L of pumpkin-coconut-lentil stew that I made with the stuff I had lying around).
I haven’t been gleaning a lot yet this year. I’ve got dandelions growing in my raised beds, so we’re just harvesting them like any other intentional crop. The the local fruit trees (my favourite cherry, plus tonnes of serviceberries) will be fruiting in about six weeks, and so will the red currants, and I’ve been watching their progress with GREAT interest. (The alley raspberries are about to flower, though they’ll take a little bit longer to fruit). I’m hoping the garden will keep us happily in greens all summer (and fall, and into the early winter…) with lots to spare for the freezer, so I’m not worrying too much about foraging for wild greens right now.
Went grocery shopping! I’ve been on “milk and eggs only” for 3-4 weeks, after a fairly lean winter. We’ve run out of a few things that I’ve been putting off replacing. It’s really nice to have cooking oil, mustard, mayonnaise, chocolate chips, and a bunch of other “not 100% necessary” things again. Plus I bought chicken. 7 chicken legs for $10. I have no idea if that’s a good price or not, but I’m really happy to have 3 meals for two + a chicken leg for some evening when I’m on my own over here, sorted as the greens start to come in. There’s still a lot of dry-goods to replace (particularly flour, but also honey and some basic baking things), and I want to re-stock on chicken and fish in one big go, though I suspect that will happen at Costco or similar, rather than ordering another half a pig. (Yet. We’re still finishing our first one). We’ve got a gallon of maple syrup due to arrive some time this coming week, which I’m looking forward to. I want to try using it more frequently in my baking.
As per usual, I’ve been offering the first slice of every new batch of bread to my gods and ancestors + Anybody local who wants to partake. Now that I’ve got the compost turned (and regularly watered – thanks to the neighbours who are okay with me using their hose), I can use it as an offering place for more stuff, should I happen to have it. The compost heap makes a great offering altar, just because it’s got All The Things in it – heat and wetness, earth and air, and movement, and change, all going on at once. If I manage to successfully make mead (hello, summer fermenting project), some of it will be going in there.
We turned the heat off. (Technically this happened a week ago, but close enough). It’s been wonderful to sleep with the windows open again!
I moved the fig tree outside. My landlord’s husband and I stood outside, drinking coffee and chatting about gardening. He said the fig tree needs a bigger pot (again), and that going around the edges with a big knife will help keep it from becoming root-bound. Which, admittedly, it might already be. But… we’ll see. It’s not technically ours, we’ve just been babysitting it for two years.
 
ANYWAY. That’s the state of the garden and the rest of the household for the moment.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.