Tag Archives: state of the garden

New Moon – Apple Moon Begins (New Moon in Leo, Partial Solar Eclipse)

Crab apples, Malus sp. - Photo by Jonathan Billinger - Via Wikimedia Commons

Crab apples, Malus sp. – Photo by Jonathan Billinger
Via Wikimedia Commons
Close-up of deep red crab apples, ready to be picked.


 
I may be jumping the gun a little here, but there have been ripe apples falling off the trees between here and the Redeau river for weeks, so even if the crab apples aren’t quite (quite) ready to be picked by the grocery-bag-full yet (I will be testing this theory tomorrow, while doing The Laundry across from a bunch of city trees, so we’ll see) I’m going to go ahead and call this one Apple Moon.
 
I pulled a LOT of quack grass (and some crab grass) out of the raised beds today. Also, gave the bolting mustard and icicle radishes a bit of a hair cut. I want the seeds, but I also want the volunteer cherry tomatoes and the kale (or is it collards?) and chard to have some breathing room and light access. So a lot of it is now drying (like hay? Ish?) on a bed of as-yet-unflowered new dandelion growth in the hopes that it dries down before I chuck it in my compost heap.
For my efforts, I managed to find one (1) beautifully ripe yellow cherry tomato and one (1) undersized striped zucchini. (I also harvested a very, very woody icicle radish which I slivered – along with shredding the more delicate greens – and added to my current batch of “wild” (ish) fermented veggies.
It’s a start.
 
The veggie ferment, btw, is now in the fridge. It was smelling Not Great – as in “smells like saurkraut is supposed to smell but… also with an over-layer of Ewwwwww” – and putting it in a cooler environment will help the Good Bacteria take over from the not-so-great bacteria in a timely fashion.
 
I’ve got four at-home days coming up, and my plans include doing laundry (finally!), harvesting crab apples and/or heirloom red-fleshed apples (hopefully! If successful: also making crab apple jelly and/or apple butter), setting up a new batch of yoghurt in the instant pot, and digging a lot of sunchokes out of the other raised bed (Thanks, helpful squirrels! I so appreciate the way you replanted literally ALL of those…) with an eye to pickling them in big chunks with some garlic, ginger, and mustard seeds. Maybe some bird chilies as well.
We’ll see how this actually goes though, as the week progresses. I’ve got poetry to submit, word-counts (novel) and further poetry to write, and a couple of things to mend as well, so. We’ll do what we can.
 
I’ve run into a bit of a problem with the yoghurt. I’m not sure if I’m trying to culture too much milk with only half a cup of starter, or if I’m not mixing the starter in well enough, or if I’m over-heating the milk initially, or if I’m waiting too long to transfer the yoghurt to the fridge (unlikely), but… I’m winding up with “thick milk + lumpy bits” rather than the relatively smooth, definitely cultured-all-the-way-through yoghurt that I was initially getting. I’ll take a look around the internet and see what’s what, but if anyone reading this is recognizing the problem and knows how to solve it, do feel free to leave me a comment on the subject.
 
My sourdough bread is… getting more like the kind of bread I want it to be. Which is a good sign. It’s still not as dry as I’d like it to be… I’m not sure if that means I need to cook it for longer, or let it rise in the fridge over night (my current suspicion is the latter), but things went relatively well the last time I made bread, and I didn’t use any “booster yeast” (1/2 tsp of bread yeast added to the initial sponge), so that’s a good sign.
 
My wife and I are going to visit the Twist Fiber Festival in Saint-André-Avellin next weekend. There will be demos. There will be a food tent. There will be art exhibits. There will be a “mini farm” (which… is that like a petting zoo? Or an animal expo? I have no idea, but I’m looking forward to finding out). There will also be vendors and pay-to-register workshops, which I will be avoiding because I have very little cash but a HUGE yarn stash (by my standards) AND access to youtube tutorials. But the plan is, in addition to taking a day-trip, to pick up some manure compost (and maybe some bagged mulch?) and cart it all home where it will sit and do nothing until the fall.
 
My wife and I were chatting about the garden this morning. About how the food forests that I day-dream about are honestly waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay beyond my current scope. My approach to gardening is mostly to ask “What grows here anyway?” and try to make the most of it, coupled with an attempt at planting things so heavily that the plants I want (like rainbow chard or “dazzling blue” flat-leaf kale or zucchini or winter squash or tomatoes, or, or, or…) overpower and shade out the plants I don’t (quack grass, crab grass… actually, that’s about it).
And that technique isn’t really working right now. So I’m starting (and ending up super out of breath… not a good sign) to weed my raised beds a little more intensively, in the hopes of preventing another wild-grass take-over of my food-growing spaces. Here’s hoping I manage to do some good.
 
Oh. I did, indeed, try mixing up a batch of rhubarb wine. Specifically, I took half a batch of my ginger beer, added 2C frozen diced rhubarb, and 1/2 tsp of bread yeast, plus some honey, and let it go for a couple of weeks. Just yesterday I racked it (sort of) and topped it up with a handful of chokecherries (that I mashed and pitted) plus honey, pomegranate molasses, some water, and 1/4 tsp more yeast. I figure I’ll let that sit for another week or so, and then rack it again and shove it into the back of the fridge to age (“age”) for a while. Based on the smell, I’m expecting something that tastes predominantly ginger-y but with lots of fruity undertones. Fingers crossed!
 
On the astrological front. It’s Leo Season. Everybody’s going “Look at me! Look at me!” on some level. Lammas, the first harvest, was a little over a week ago (or about two weeks ago, if you’re doing the lunar version), the nights are getting longer, though the days are still long (and hot), and Eclipse Season is in full swing.
The thing about quarter/cross-quarter days is that, because they happen roughly six weeks apart, they make for good points of reflection.
Liz Worth, who tends to talk about Eclipse Cycles – the multi-year dovetailing of eclipses that chase each other across any specific two signs at opposite points on the zodiac wheel (when the sun, and therefore the new moon, are in one sign, the full moon will be in the other) – recently brought up that Leo and Aquarius are both very creative signs, but that they’re creative in different ways. That Leo wants self-expression and the spotlight (freedom TO), but that Aquarius wants freedom FROM old habits/behaviours/rules that don’t apply or that hold them back. Maybe it’s no surprise that having eclipse energy (transformation a-go-go) in both of these signs, one of-which overlays Imbolg (a time of germination, stretching, hopefulness, and hidden/underground changes) and one that overlays Lammas (a time of reaping what you’ve sown, but also a time for sowing a second crop of short-season, cold-weather-loving seeds. In other words: Building new plans and projects in places where you’ve already seen some results), means feeling the push to make things (changes, projects, splashes) happen in your life.
 
What were you starting to work towards back in February? Now’s a good time to check in with where those projects are at. What kind of results have you been seeing? What do you need to turn under vs what do you need to tend better? What can you build from here-on-in before the Last Harvest at Samhain spins us back into the Root Time of resting and dreaming underground?
Liz suggests the intention/affirmation of “I am ready for my next step”, and offers a related tarot spread to figure out what that might be (it’s at the link, above).
 
Horoscope-wise: Jessica Lanyadoo, over at Hoodwitch, informs me that “There is strength in your willingness to move slowly and with intention, Scorpio”, and reminds me not to rush those changes unless I actually want to haul the same old garbage along with me into my next stages (which… not so much). On a related note, Chani offers this affirmation-scope: “What I am beginning now will grow over the next six months. I confidently pour my energy into what I want to bloom and become. I spend time developing the projects that most reflect my values.” Miriam, courtesy of Radical Tarot’s Tarotscopes, offers this bit of (awkwardly on-the-nose…) encouragement to Scorpios like me:

Oh Scorpio, it’s been a torrential few months. You seemed to be pulled back, dragged through the past, reminded of hurts and anger from several years removed. But even just the past few days have found you realizing that this was more a bow-and-arrow situation, necessary tension building to propel you further than ever before, quite specifically in the direction of hitting the mark where it comes to your passion. […] The magic is in your hands, and pushing past your need to pull away and be secretive will really allow all of this to spark, catch, and take blaze with truly dazzling effects!

 
Which I guess brings me to my Tarot Card Meditation:

The Lovers - Tarot of the Silicon Dawn (Egypt Urnash): Three colourful, femme sweethearts circle each other, laughing and playful together.

The Lovers – Tarot of the Silicon Dawn (Egypt Urnash)
Three colourful, femme sweethearts circle each other, laughing and playful together.


 
On top of being explicitly queer (both in the art and in the write-up), this is one of the most marvelously, deliberately polyamourous Lovers cards I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. I’m delighted to have drawn it for today’s meditation.
It is – as I’m finding a lot of these meditation random-draws are – remarkably relevant to current personal events, and also to that tarotscope from Miriam.
I pulled the card reversed – so this is about me and how I related to lovers-type situations. My relationship with my own desire. My relationship with my own sexuality. My ability to give myself permission to want, and ask for, and experience pleasure when there are other people involved.
I can’t help wondering how deeply this relates to the draw I did when Rampion Moon was full, about creatively engaging in my web of relationships by being willing to take some risks.
 
~*~
 
Movement: Hours of walking, some week-yanking (read: squating for 15 minutes at a time… urgh), but not much else. Plans for later this week to go apple picking in the neighbourhood and out near Mud Lake.
 
Attention: Totally absorbed by my friend’s recently-launched debut novel. Also paying attention to what veggies and fruits I can forage, harvest, and/or buy on-the-cheap-because-in-season. Brought home 3kg each zucchini and roma tomatoes, most-of-which will end up in the freezer, one way or another, for use in stews and pastas over winter.
 
Gratitude: Grateful for the rain that is still falling. For running water and a neighbour who lets me use her hose. Also grateful that said neighbour periodically hands us bags of snap beans or whole fuzzy melons from her much-more-prolific-than-ours garden. Grateful that I know what wild greens I can eat. Grateful for the apple trees that grow across from my laundromat. Grateful for upcoming work that has not been canceled (I had a bit of a scare last Friday but, while my next long-ish office booking has been shortened, I’m only losing two days, which is a BIG relief!). Grateful for a wife who loves me, and says so often. For a metamour who brings us corn on the cob and coconut oil and lends us her car so that her girlfriend (aka my wife) and I can go on day-trips together. Grateful for a second radish crop. For thriving rainbow chard (at last!). For my first home-grown zucchini EVAR and for the first tiny cherry tomato of my year.
 
Inspiration: The above-mentioned debut novel, and the woman who wrote it <3. A rejection letter from a paid market that was, none the less, very encouraging. My wife, who is quite the bad-ass and an astonishing wiz at fixing unfamiliar analogue machinery.
 
Creation: Making some progress on the spite-novel (aiming to make some more progress this Wednesday) and also on the knitted tank top. Made a batch of offering-candles today (beeswax + lard. We’ll see how they do). Plans to make some super-dangling rainbow earrings over the next few days as well.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad.

Full Moon – Rampion Moon Crests (Lunar Eclipse)

Photo by Tomasz Sienicki Via Wiki Media Commons Heavy rainfall on a suburban street. There are mixed coniferous and deciduous trees in the foreground.

Photo by Tomasz Sienicki
Via Wiki Media Commons
Heavy rainfall on a suburban street. There are mixed coniferous and deciduous trees in the foreground.


 
The rains came back! 😀
The temperatures haven’t been quite as astonishingly high and we’ve been getting a little (and sometimes a LOT) of rain most nights, and some days, for the past week.
I hope this continues.
August (coming fast) has historically been thunderstorm season in these parts, and we sure do need them right now.
It’s kind of amazing to watch the second crop of radishes germinate, and the dandelions starting to put out new leaves.
I reseeded my greens bed with rainbow chard, collards, and Tuscan kale, in the hopes of filling in a few empty patches with greens I can throw in my freezer.
The chard that’s been struggling for the past month seems to be doing a little better in the cooler temperatures and regular rains. (I water the garden every day, but ten minutes with a hose is NOTHING like four hours of the entire sky dumping water on you). The soil in my raised beds is still pretty dry below the surface. One of my goals, this autumn, is – after the frost kills everything off, but before the ground is frozen – is to dig a lot of organic matter (like dried up veggie stalks and straw, but also manure compost if I’m able to find some) but, ideally also a lot of absorbent cotton rags (like threadbare old tank tops, for example) way down deep to help retain water in what is still some pretty depleted soil.
I mean… good luck with that, person with back problems who can’t deal with squatting for more than two minutes at a time, but that’s the goal.
In the mean time, I’ve been harvesting mostly-wild leafy greens – purslane, sow thistle, lamb’s quarters, and wild grape mostly – from the back yard and the surrounding neighbourhood and turning them into “wild sour kraut”, which I put on sandwiches and mix into soups.
 
Today I pulled up a bunch of icicle radish (some with nice root, but mostly just for the greens) plus some sow thistle, and I’ll be adding that to my current veggie ferment, which is mostly wild grape leaves (currently the biggest leaves available,which is why). It’ll be a nice, crunchy one, but also a bit more tannic than usual.
I’ve been (buying and) freezing zucchini for a month or so, too, which is nice.
I have to tell you. I know Michael Pollan has some Problems[1], but every time I read one of his books, it does make me think about what kind of food I’m growing (or not), cooking, and eating, and that what I want to be dishing up – stews, pot roasts, and braises heavily studded with winter squash, mushroom, sturdy cooking greens, and garden herbs; pasta dishes bright with chard, young (not nearly so bitter) wild greens, yellow summer squash, cherry tomatoes, and crow garlic; strata baked from sourdough bread, heavily drained labneh (yoghurt cheese), sliced apples or pears, and eggs from ethically-cared-for hens (I wish) – isn’t quite where I’m at yet, even if I’m close.
Basically, I think I need to double the amount of veggies I cook in a given dish, or else cook more than one dish worth of veggies – doing a tomato-cucumber salad to go with the pasta or the pilaf, or steaming some broccoli or winter squash to go with the carrots, potatoes, and cabbage that were cooked in the same pot as the pork and barley.
I admit that the thought of buying substantially more veggies – even frozen ones, which are generally less expensive than fresh – is daunting. But I think it will be better for us, over all, if I can make it happen.
 
I’ve spent most of last week modeling for a five-day oil painting course. It was really nice, and was enough hours that I was able to top up the rent for August, but I’m very glad to be getting my “weekend” now that it’s Monday.
Plans for today include writing this blog post, steaming some zucchini, finally making some candle offerings to my gods and ancestors (those candles are now lit, and I’m quite happy about it), getting a few more greens into the fermentation crock to pickle, and finishing reading that latest food theory book.
It’s going to be an easy day. I hope.
 
I’ve been thinking about ancestors lately.
In part because I’ve been watching half a dozen or so people trying to paint pictures of me, and I see the parts of my face -reflected in their paintings – that come from my various parents, grandparents, and generations further back.In part because I’ve been reading In Defense of Food and the part of what that books says is that “food” is something your more distant ancestors would recognize as such[3].
Cooking with barley rather than rice (not exclusively, granted). Trying to grow my own “kale yard” (which was what the Scotish folks allegedly called the household veggie garden, ’round about the 1600s when we were eating a LOT of wild foods as well) and forage a lot of urban greens[4], is stuff that my ancestors have done. Up until pretty recently (my mom grew up dairy farming; my dad, while he grew up wealthy, also grew up rural and did a lot of fishing for meals). I’m a much worse angler than I thought I’d be (based entirely on childhood fishing trips), but I’m theoretically getting better at gardening and foraging and fermenting, and I’ve been making really good jam and relish for years. And all of this stuff is Family Stuff. My grandparents (my mom’s parents) saw a former garden of mine – something like 13-14 years ago, in a much different part of town – and they were so happy to see me growing food of my own. I’m proud of it, when I’m able to manage to do it, and part of why is because it’s something I learned from them to value and also do.
 
Tarot of the Silicon Dawn (Egypt Urnash) Left = Three of Water (A trio of intergalactic snake people, entwined and having a jolly good time together). Right = Eight of Fire (A fire-haired video game character pitching a flaming pentacle at the viewer while gaining extra hit points).

Tarot of the Silicon Dawn
(Egypt Urnash)
Left = Three of Water (A trio of intergalactic snake people, entwined and having a jolly good time together).
Right = Eight of Fire (A fire-haired video game character pitching a flaming pentacle at the viewer while gaining extra hit points).


 
I drew two cards for my Tarot Card Meditation. The first by just flipping over the shuffled deck and seeing what was on the bottom, and the second by cutting the (now upside down) deck at random and seeing what it “opened” to.
Who I need to be? The Three of Water
Abundance. Pleasure. Love overflowing. (Egypt Urnash).
Discover pockets of joy and comradery. Reconnect with your happiest safe haven. Find peace amid chaos. (Cristy C. Road).
How I need to be the three of water? The Eight of Fire
Courage. Boldness. You’ve got the power-up and some extra lives to experiment with. (Egypt Urnash).
Ignite your passion as you heal with laughter, yelling, song, and dance. (Cristy C. Road).
Who I need to be is an active participant in my web of relationships.
How I need to be that, or maybe what I need to do (action-wise) in order to be that, is creatively engaged and (surprise, surprise) willing to take some risks.
 
Discover pockets of joy and connection. Heal with laughter and song and dance. I kind of feel like this – appropriately, perhaps – relates to the card I drew at the New Moon, which suggested that I needed to get the heck out of my funk, reconnect with my sweetheart(s), and re-engage with joy, instead of staying camped out on the Planes of Desolation and Preemptive Disappointment.
This is like that. Creative engagement and some emotional (uh… I assume?) risks are both necessary for connection with other people, especially if you’re me.
 
~*~
 
Movement: You wouldn’t think sitting still for six hours a day, all week, would be such a strain on your neck and shoulders, but there it is. However! The studio was a ~45 minute walk from the house, so I got in a good hour-and-a-half walk every day, which is nice. Totally skipped going dancing on Saturday, though, due to the 7am alarm clock I’ve been dealing with all week.
 
Attention: Watching the water levels in the garden, the heavy clouds and whether or not they’re likely to spill. Whether or not there are puddles (or even wet pavement) when I get up in the morning. Watching for signs of recovery and new growth in the garden.
 
Gratitude: Grateful for rain. For enough modeling hours to cover the rent. For knowing how to find & harvest leafy greens and fruit (chokecherries, early apples) somewhere other than a grocery store. For libraries. For coming home to clean dishes last night. For a wife who misses me and makes me smile. ❤
 
Inspiration: Watching people learning to mix bright colours into skin tones and figuring out how to make a 2D picture look like a 3D form using lighter and darker shades. That’s pretty cool, and I kind of want to try painting a picture of an egg now. >.>
 
Creation: Remarkably little. I’ve made some progress on my knitted cotton tank top, and have written a few thousand words in my Spite Novel, but that’s about it.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad.
 
 
[1] Specifically, he’s a fairly wealthy man, born in the mid-1950s, who lives in an area where you can grow/buy fresh local veggies 100% of the year, and he’s writing for people who are in more or less the same demographic (not actually bad, in and of itself), even if they aren’t in the same part of the world. He has some spots where his understanding of the culture he’s writing in and for gets a little willfully spotty, particularly around the idea of who is most likely to be taking on the extra 2+ hours per day of meal prep that his particular dietary/ethical suggestions require, and what gender they will most likely be. Just because Michael – as a freelance writing who often works from home – does most of the cooking at his place, and has a job that allows him to do so by interspersing those two hours in and around the rest of what he’s doing on a given day… doesn’t mean that’s how it goes in most households in the demographic he’s writing for, let alone, say, Millennials and Gen-Xers, in their 30s and 40s, who are more likely to be “spending less than 10% of their income on food” because they are spending 40%-50% of it on housing[2], and still have to come up with a way to pay for those pesky utilities (y’know, like heat) and crushing student loans while working unstable gig-economy and low-waged service-industry jobs.
His writing doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and sometimes he writes as though it does.
 
[2] In our case, it’s more like 65%, if you were wondering.
 
[3] Which is not stopping me from buying freezer pizza, ice cream, chocolate bars, frozen berry punch from concentrate, or tinned mushroom soup, I’ll have you know.
 
[4] Which tend to be invasive plants brought by my colonizing ancestors, see in particular: rampion and garlic mustard, but also plantain, purslane, dandelions, crow garlic, and lambs quarters.

Fermentation Elation – 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.
 
There’s been almost no rain for the past month, which is not a great situation. The garden is looking pretty crispy, even in the back yard where I’ve been watering every day. Also, I’ve come to the conclusion that my soil is depleted enough that it needs some major-by-my-standards remediation. Meaning that – when the heat breaks, and provided I’ve got a spare $20 kicking around – I’m going to try seeding the non-garden parts of the yard with white clover in an effort to at least get some nitrogen back into the ground.
But, for now, I’m relying on my garden for herbs, greens (mostly “weed” greens), and rhubarb. Which is about as productive as it’s able to be right now.
As seen in earlier posts, I’ve been out collecting service berries (see below), as well as wild greens that don’t grow in my yard. But most of the productivity at our home is happening inside the house.
 

 
Inside the house, things are going quite well:
Earlier today, I blanched a bunch of grocery store zucchini (there are another 8 or so in the fridge yet to do) and put them in the freezer, in a silicone muffin tray. I also froze (on a cookie sheet) the last of the service berries, and transferred the latest batch of my fermented wild greens (a litre and a half!) to the fridge, in mason jars. Oh, and I re-bottled the cider that I started fermenting at Winter Solstice.
I put it back in the plastic jug, with a little more bread yeast and some maple syrup for food, to do a technically-third ferment, because it turned out VERY dry and VERY still, and I wanted something fizzier and a little bit sweeter to bring to my mom’s tonight.
Which, I guess, brings me to: I’ve been making booze.
Cider, see above, but also I started a batch of honey-wine a couple of weeks ago, just after Summer Solstice (as seems quite appropriate) and, while it’s a little more ginger-y and a lot less service-berry-y and rose-petal-y than I had been aiming for, it does smell like something I would actually want to drink. So I’m calling it a win. (Here’s hoping it still smells that good after it’s had six months to age in the back of the fridge). I also made ginger beer, which is marvelously fizzy, and which I’ve been drinking heaps of in the hopes of scaring off the sore throat I woke up with this morning. (Seriously… My body’s been kind of a weird barometer these past few months, so I’m hoping this is due to a major pressure change in the night, and not to me getting sick, and that we’re actually going to get some solid, steady rain. Which we badly need!)
I’m thinking I’m going to try making rhubarb country wine – maybe even rhubarb-chokecherry country wine – in another couple of weeks, around Lammas. My goal is to put up a bunch of tasty drinks that I can serve at my Winter Solstice party at the end of the year. 😉
 
In other fermentation news (apparently this is A Thing in my house, now): I’ve made two batches of sour dough bread. I’m still working out the slightly trial-and-error (in my case) process of figuring out how long to cook the stuff, but I’m thinking that third time will be the charm, and cooking it for about an hour and a half should result in some good, tasty, fully-cooked bread that is also easy to cut with a normal bread knife. (I over-baked it and ended up with a very thick crust which, sure, my wife thinks is great, but which I find tricky to do for stuff like sandwiches).
 
Anyway.
Right now? Right now, I’m preparing to do my first experiment in home-dyeing.
I’ve got black beans (which, in theory, will give me a nice blue) soaking on the counter and, on a shelf, I’ve got an old plastic ice cream bucket filled with a mix of water, vinegar, and shredded aluminum foil, in which I am soaking a cotton crop top that I’d like to make bluer than it currently is. (Currently, it’s a kind of faded, greenish pastel turquoise which, while okay, is not ideal).
In theory (in theory) the vinegar will leach some of the aluminum into the water and will mordant the cotton (the vinegar doesn’t really work as a colour fixative for plant fibres, though, I need to use salt for that) so that it will better take up the eventual dye, giving me both a more even AND deeper colour of blue. No idea if it’ll work, but it’s (probably) not going to hurt, so I’m giving it a go.
 
Oh. And I’m knitting a tank top. This is old news, but I’m starting to do the cabling (for shaping) and am knitting in the round and, while it doesn’t look like a shirt (or even a tube) just yet, it’s much closer to being a shirt than it was even ten days ago, so I’m happy about that.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

I’m Almost Forty – A (not so) “Productive Home” Post

If you’re wondering why I picked that title, it’s because I’m turning 38 this Tuesday. Now You Know.
 
Anyway.
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.
 
As you may have noticed (or not) I haven’t done one of these since, oh, mid-July. I haven’t been hugely productive on the home-front in the intervening almost-four months.
I put my kefir grains in the fridge, in a pint jar of cream, to slow them down because I finally admitted to myself that I don’t love my home-made dairy kefir and, while it’s good when it’s thick enough to use as a sour-cream substitute in baking, it’s mostly a lot runnier and I just wasn’t going through a litre of the stuff every 4-7 days so… I’ve put it into hibernation mode and am hoping that the slower pace will let me keep feeding it (rather than letting it get over-fermented, moldy, or infested with fruit-flies… all of which have happened over the past summer) without getting “overwhelmed”.
I haven’t made bread (or much other baking) from scratch in a long time, either. I think I made cookies a couple of times, and that’s about it.
I… oh, heaven and earth, I think it’s actually snowing outside. O.O
 
Okay.
So you wanna know what I have done?
I pulled in as many green tomatoes as I could swing (a couple of weeks ago, when frost started threatening), and TODAY I dug up my jerusalem artichokes (as’kebwan’), which are now sitting in a full (if small-sized – ~2 gallons) recycling bin on my kitchen counter, waiting to be washed, blanched and frozen (that’s tomorrow’s job).
 
I put up something like 2 dozen pints of crushed tomatoes (Labour Day weekend, or there-abouts). Made choke-cherry curd, choke-cherry relish, and goblin fruit jam (also heavy on the choke cherries, big surprise).
 
I packed all the Supplies from Unholy Harvest into rubbermaid bins (which my wife then moved to the basement – hurrah, I have my main floor back and it feels so good), which was a good thing because our basement got 5″ of water in it during a big rainstorm earlier this week. (It’s fine. It’s a concrete floor on top of limestone, so the water just seeps in, no sewer contamination involved, thank goodness. And my lovely wife got the sump pump running in short order, so everything’s dried out pretty well).
 
I spent a canning day with a friend in Gatineau, making strawberry-rhubarb jam (last weekend, or maybe the weekend before?) while also pressure-canning eight pints of chick peas (my first time using a pressure canner, and I suspect I’m hooked. Looking into a membership at the Ottawa Tool Library so I can borrow the one they have on the shelves and do this multiple times per year).
 
I started a couple of new knitting projects this week as well. The first is a “safety shawl” (neon pink and pale turquoise stripes, the turquoise is going to have glow-in-the-dark beads looped into it) for walking after dark in Winter. The goal is to speedy-knit this using big needles and twisted (double-wrapped) stitches, so that I can have it done before next New Moon. The second is a cotton tank top. Which starts out looking like a really skinny cotton scarf and gets built upon from there. That one’s not the priority project, but I’m still excited about it.
 
Beyond that? Lighting my altars, making offerings at Samhain (and finally freaking switching the wreath on my door to “autumn leaves” instead of “tulips and lilacs”…), working on glamour magic stuff, getting a bit back into the swing of doing Fabulous Friday Dinners. Checking in with a lot of people. Re-homing furniture and small appliances to people setting up new places. Having breakfast with my mom. All sorts of stuff.
 
Anyway. My lovely wife is home, so it’s time to throw some dinner (left-over braised chicken thighs with root veggies, dried cranberries, and garden kale) in the oven to heat up, so off I go. 🙂
 
 
– TTFN,
– Meliad the Birch Maiden.

New Moon – Frost Moon Begins (Scorpio Season)

Hey, kittens,
 
Apple Moon crested just as Unholy Harvest was kicking off, and now it’s two weeks later and here we are. Over thanksgiving weekend, I was part of a Leather Covering Ceremony, hosted a bunch of lovely out-of-town guests, had a long heart-to-heart with a friend from south of the border, and (wait for it) baked two turkeys. One of them, I striped entirely for parts, and the other (while some pieces are now in the freezer as well) has been supplying our dinners with protein since it came out of the oven. Cash allowing, I’m going to do this again in late December, because having some pre-cooked, pre-shredded/diced critter in the freezer has saved us a LOT of trouble when everyone is hungry, including the cook, and there’s not a lot of time or brains to pull something filling together.
 
Right now, the bones of those two turkeys, plus a couple of chicken carcasses and – I think – maybe a ham bone(?), are simmering on the stove to make what I hope will be an excellent, thick stock. I’ve also got my steamer full of diced eggplant (going in the freezer) and a bowl of green tomatoes waiting to be turned into chutney. (There was a rumour that the temperature was dropping to -3C last night, so I pulled all my tomato vines down. It doesn’t look like we got a real frost, BUT I don’t mind being that much closer to having the garden put to bed, so).
 
I had a bit of a zucchini emergency. Not the kind where you have too many and need to foist them off on your friends (alas! One day!) but the kind where you (meaning I) stock up on late-season summer squash just before the house-guests descend upon you (me), and then ignore them for two weeks, having left them on a shelf in their grocery bag, rather than putting them in your (my) already over-stuffed fridge. >.>
Four zucchini rotten enough to be poured into the compost heap.
Granted, four yellow summer squash are just fine, and all of the eggplant and garlic in the same bag is salvageable. BUT that’s why I’m freezing one-cup portions of blanched, diced eggplant right now, and making pickled garlic in the next 24 hours.
 
In less great news: I did not get the job I applied for. I was apparently a strong candidate, which is good to hear, but not the best fit. I’ll live. And, with any luck, something better will come along quickly. But right now – between the supply back-up at the harness factory and the teachers’ strike at Algonquin – my employment front is looking a little bit sparse. So, fingers crossed that the phone starts ringing soon. At least I picked up a new reception client, which is helping! 🙂
 
On the more Woo end of things:
I finally picked up candles!
I stopped making beeswax candles …a while… ago, because my wax-melting pot has a teflon coating, and teflon off-gasses something that will kill birds. And we have four little birds in our house, and I want them happy and alive. So no more candle-making until I find myself a cheap and serviceable steel pot with a spout.
I’ve been filling my candle tins with oil, most recently (I’ve also used bacon grease), but find that it tends to set off the smoke alarm. SO! I got a bag of big tealights that should do the trick in the mean time, and my gods will be a little bit better fed.
 
As I said in the subject-heading for this post, it’s Scorpio Season – or will be as of Sunday (though the new moon is, itself, moving from Libra into Scorpio this coming Thursday, and both Mercury and Jupiter are dipping into it already).
Chani suggests that this lunar cycle is a good time to “shake loose from our lives what keeps us out of balance” and urges us to “stay with the desires that may have been tucked away for fear of being judged, rejected or abandoned”.
Her horoscopes for me say:
Rising: “Creativity is its own reward. It is no means to an end. It is the entire journey.”
Moon: “I take the invitation to understand myself in new ways, envisioning new possibilities for my own resilience. Envisioning a new way of understanding how to utilize all have been given. Envisioning inventive ways in which to get my needs met. Meeting myself where I am at.”
Sun: “I know that parting with the past is a process. I know that taking steps forward sometimes means I need to revisit what has held me back. I know that revelations take time to adjust to. New feelings need time to connect to. Learning what to do with what awakens within me is an ongoing practice. I’m allowed to be learning.”
 
Liz Worth suggests that we “use this New Moon to set an intention for kindness and compassion, but try to turn it on yourself first”, and offers a tarot spread on the subject of balance and honesty.
…Which I haven’t done, but which might be a good idea. That said, I HAVE been playing with my Silicon Dawn tarot, trying to get to know it a bit (it’s one of the Weird Decks that has a bunch of extra cards and has switched some of the elements around) while also trying to sort out, well, problems I’m not sure how to solve (nothing major, just… unfamiliar territory). I’m enjoying the deck.
 
~*~
 
Movement: A lot of walking. A lot of walking in heels (not even very high heels) resulting in my hip and lower back being more than a little annoyed at me. None the less, looking forward to dancing on Saturday night. Also looking into the (slim) possibility of snagging a pool membership for the local community center, so that I can hit up the hot tub on the regular and do some low-impact exercise while it’s cold.
 
Attention: Strictly speaking, I’m not paying as much attention as I should be. I’ve been cleaning out old (expired) supplies today, clearing out rotten food from the kitchen, and generally trying to get on top of the mess of my house… and it’s not going well. It seems like I’m knocking something over or otherwise getting things a bit messy every time I turn around.
 
Gratitude: The unexpected tax refund that will cover our November rent. My wife (just generally). My wife telling me she’s nuts about me and reminding me that kindness is a decision that someone makes, it’s not just something that people do auto-magically, and that she knows I make that decision consistently (which was really good to hear). Friends who bring me squash soup and home-made lasagna, or chocolate and fancy cheese from far-flung locals. Friends who tell me I make them feel welcome, or that I’m really dedicated, or that I make the world a better place. Hot baths. A functional furnace. Neighbours who bring me vegetables. The local sex shop that (re!) stocks my chapbooks. Chocolate with sea salt. Small good things every day. ❤
 
Inspiration: Right now? Not tonnes. Though I’m still using astrology, tarot, and the wheel of the year to inform my poetry. I’m looking forward to hitting up a local reading series tomorrow night, so that I can try performing my work again (first time in TWO YEARS!) and see… how people feel about it. How I feel about it. Fingers crossed my stuff goes over well!
 
Creation: Still working on my femme glosa project. Also composing non-glosa formal poems (a sonnet and ghazal, so far) with the intention of submitting them to a magazine at the end of the year. Plus all this canning that I’m doing at the moment. >.>

Full Moon – Zucchini Moon Crests (Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius) and Wanes

So, as will surprise nobody, I wrote this up about two weeks ago, when the moon was actually full, but am only getting around to posting it now – practically on the eve of both a new moon AND a solar eclipse.
Bear with me, folks.
 
~*~
 
Hey there!
So my own zucchini are doing NOTHING and my cucumber vine shrived and died. Meaning (again) I’m getting all my cukes and zukes from the grocery store and/or the farmer’s market this year.
NBD, but I’m looking forward to a time when I’m inundated with squash-type garden-fresh produce to the point where I’m calling my friends, friends-of-friends, and local soup-kitchens going “Can I offer you these grocery bags of home-grown zucchini? I have plenty to share!” ‘Cause that would be AWESOME.
My pumpkins seem to be doing nicely though, so there’s that. And my beans are just about ready to harvest! 😀
 
A friend of mine says that everyone she knows is a mess right now, so maybe my heightened anxiety stuff is just… Something’s in retrograde or something? I don’t even know.
 
Hoodwitch says “Eclipse season is about the powerful flow of feels”, so maybe that’s it. She also says “Be prepared to confront your ugly bits with compassion and strength.” And “strive to act in ways that reflect your integrity”, and advises (me, as a Scorpio, at least) to “Get grounded into the here and now so that you can notice if you’re reacting to something presently happening versus something tugging at your heart.”
 
Relevant.
 
Chani Says:
“Monday’s lunar eclipse will help you heal.
Whatever issues are in need of it. Whatever dynamics need dealing with. When you find that you need help letting something from your past go, ask for guidance. Ask for help. Ask for what you need to move forward in peace.
Mercury’s retrograde will be asking you to review your social roles, commitments and communications.”
 
So… That’s a thing. Not the Mercury Retrograde thing – that happens, what, four times a year? Easily?
No, I mean the OTHER thing.
 
You know how The Moon handles intuitive stuff, but it also handles repeating patterns?
 
Well, I’ve been having Feels (and Thoughts) about repeating patterns in relationships. How a shitty thing my brother said to me, about 20 years ago, is still rebounding around my psyche setting off tremors.
 
They only like you ‘cause you give them things.
 
This stuff came up during my life-coaching, last year. Stuff about feeling like I’m starting out all relationships (romances, friendships, you name it) “in the hole” or “owing” the other person just because they deigned to hang out with me. But I’ve also noticed a pattern (how 17 years later…) wherein all but one Person I’ve Dated has been relying on me for financial support and… I’m starting to wonder how to stop that from happening in future. Like, it’s one thing to be on Team Us and do what needs doing, but it’s another thing to notice that “team us” as actually been “us” not “team other person”… once? And that, given my history, that was probably by luck not by design. More second chakra crap, I suspect. :-/
 
On a (marginally? sort of?) related note: The Queens!
 
What really struck me about the descriptions in that link was the part wherein the Queen of Earth knows how to do SELF-care, and specifically because of that is ALSO able to do community care like a boss. I’ve always read it the other way around. Like, I start out learning how to take care of other people and… eventually this turns into me being able to take care of myself? Something?
 
Little Red Tarot has this to say about Aquarius Full Moon, btw: “During this Full Moon, we can’t not think about the collective, for one of the archetypes of Aquarius, the water bearer, is one that serves the collective. The Sun is in the sign of Leo, which is ruled by the Sun, the sign of the self. Here we are, trying to rise up into our best selves that can weave the most dangerously compassionate, enduring, uniquely creative webs into the world.”
 
Balancing what I need with what other people need.
 
This shouldn’t be so hard. :-\
 
~*~
 
Movement: Not nearly enough! BUT I did get to throw knives with a neighbourhood femme friend last weekend, which involved lots of throwing (which – unexpectedly – was good for my messed up back) and also lots of squatting (not so much – ow, my knees and hips), so I’ll definitely call that a work-out. 😀
 
Attention: As I said in my Lammas post, I’m trying to get my glam game back on track. Can I just say how utterly frustrating/irritating it is to be fighting up hill against a whole wodge of conditioning that says “keep yourself small (Ha! At 6’4” – that’s gonna work) and unnoticeable, and you won’t get hurt”. Holy crap, is that ever hard! But that’s the current project, so…
 
Gratitude: Having a spare room to offer a friend who needs some short-term crash space AND having on-hand the kind of food that it’s safe for her to eat. Getting to go for a motorbike ride with my wife, enjoying the breeze and stopping to look at the river for a bit. Such a lovely evening out! Having friends I can count on when I need to get things off my chest. Having friends who are game to sit down and do Writing Date stuff with me (and also give me feedback on my work!!!). Graeful for other witchy femmes (and non-femmes, tbh, but in particular the femmes) for just being visible and present and being My People. Grateful for a pumpkin vine with what looks like a solid two pumpkins developing rapidly! Grateful for being able to put chard up in the freezer, and for the week of work that’s let me restock on a LOT of kitchen staples (flour, tinned tuna, baking powder, and lots of other stuff) after running on empty for too long! Grateful for Pride Season arriving in Ottawa, for all the nifty things there are to do, and the way everyone’s turning their queer-viz up just a notch. It’s so great to see. ❤
 
Inspiration: Other witchy femmes, zomygoats! Whether it’s poetry, or seeing them get published, or running into them and chatting with each other, or even just SEEING US AROUND, it never fails to lift up my day and remind me (a) who My People are, and (b) give me a reason to keep being visible (keep working on my poetry and prose, keep blogging, keeping dressing to be spotted, keep being brave and putting my social self out there)! ❤
 
Creation: Have been pushing at The Novel again – sorting out some of the skeletal issues and plotting out the last quarter of the story. It’s, uh… I’m going to have to cut out a solid one, probably two, sub-plots (which will help drop the first third of the book down to manageable work-count size), but… I seem to be hitting my beats somewhat correctly in spite of that? Which is nice to see? Also, I have a knitting date semi-arranged, so maybe I’ll get some more work done on those stocking extensions. 😀

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…