Tag Archives: state of the garden

Full Moon – Honey Moon Crests

We are officially moved.
I have transplanted my garden, added a couple of starts (yarrow and winter savoury) and seeds (dill, golden chard, anise hyssop, poppies, zucchini) out front, and planted frozen service berries (and dried hawthorn berries) around the perimeter of the back yard.
My brother got married on Friday.
That, more than anything, is why I’m referring to this full moon as a Honey Moon. The weather hasn’t exactly been conducive to happy bees investigating the flowers. This time last week, it was 36C and we were all wilting with the heat. I landed myself a sun burn while transplanting the rhubarb, lovage, and sorrel, and we subsisted on pasta salad and ice cream as much as we could.
This week, we’ve seen temperatures drop into the danger-of-frost zone over night, and – while that’s been really helpful for getting the transplants to root comfortably – the salad greens and cucumbers in our weekly CSA box have been languishing in the crisper while I’ve been making pasta with hot cheese sauce and sauteed frozen veggies, and baking box lasagna, bread, and pie in the name of hot meals and an excuse to have the oven on (because our heat is well and truly off).
 
So, yes. I’ve made our first batch of bread in the new house, which is pretty great. Rhubarb-cherry pie (And rhubarb-service-berry pie) are absolutely lovely and, yes, we have a CSA.
 
I am definitely excited about the CSA.
I’ve wanted to get one for YEARS, and between all the various repercussions of travel bans during a pandemic, the fact that we know we’re going to be in this house for the foreseeable, and the extra help from the CERB, we were able to do it this year.
I hope we can do it again next year, as I quite like this Thing where we have a bunch of veggies delivered to our doorstep once a week.
It feels very fancy.
That said: You guys, there is definitely a learning curve to this, and I am finding that I’m wasting more food than I might otherwise.
I put up two weeks worth of spinach and beet greens earlier today – so I have five little pucks of cooking greens in the freezer for after our CSA finishes its last delivery about 10 days before Samhain – and I sliced up some radishes and teeny-tiny beets to start making fermented pickles with them (I am expecting further radishes tomorrow, so I’ll add more then). But I haven’t been cooking the radish greens, even though radish greens have been our main cooking vegetable (alongside dandelions) for most of the past five years.
 
I chose to get us a full CSA, rather than a “lite” CSA, because I knew I wanted to have those extra veggies – tomatoes, cooking greens, summer squash, root veggies, and winter squash – in order to can them or freeze them for later use. Between the cucumbers (so many cucumbers) and herbs in the CSA, and the lovage that seems to be making itself at home in its new bed, I managed to put together a really good couscous salad, and we’ve been enjoying it with and/or as our last few meals. But I have to learn to use things up more quickly than I have been, or I’m going to have a lot of rotten lettuce on my hands.
 
I’m excited that there are not one but TWO high-bush cranberry (cramp bark) trees on my corner, because, while they take a WHILE to sprout and grow, they DO grow well from seed AND the berries make really good jelly. (Allegedly it also makes good pie, but I’m getting mixed information on how safe it is to eat in large quantities, so I may stick with jelly. It’s part of the elder family – and you need to cook elder berries for them to be safe to eat – so I’m thinking of it in similar terms).
Anyway. My plan is to harvest a couple of handfuls of ripe berries in… August/September (apparently?) to use in lieu of cranberry sauce, come October AND to plant around the yard because they’re also a really pretty flowering shrub that’s native to the province, and that I’d like to plant as part of the under-story of our foresty back yard.
 
A friend – with-whom I now share a neighbourhood! – has been donating spare plants to me, most recently a big pot full of a BUNCH of ostrich ferns. I’m loving the thought of, next year, being able to pick a few fiddleheads – not many, not this early – to throw into spring stir-fries or pastas, and hoping that they’ll quietly take over from the gout weed that’s currently eating most of my front yard. I gather there are black eyed susans, rose campion, white wild geraniums, sweet woodroffe, and lily of the valley coming my way in the next little while, and I’m very excited.
 

Nine of Pentacles - The Wild Unknown Tarot (left) AND the Prisma Visions Tarot (right) - On the left, four feathers surround nine pentacles in a protective border. On the right, a tree trunk is lit up with colourful life-force, flowers blooming at its base and a house with lit windows in the distance.

Nine of Pentacles – The Wild Unknown Tarot (left) AND the Prisma Visions Tarot (right) – On the left, four feathers surround nine pentacles in a protective border. On the right, a tree trunk is lit up with colourful life-force, flowers blooming at its base and a house with lit windows in the distance.


 
The card I pulled on the day of the full moon (yesterday), for my tarot card meditation was the nine of stones. I pulled it from my Wildwood deck and, given that I pulled it maybe a scant hour before my brother’s wedding went live, part of me couldn’t help but read it as “Almost there!”
But this card – while definitely meaning “almost there” – has a lot to do with where my wife and I are right now.
We are Officially Moved into the house for-which I did Big Magic to get. (And need to make good on some further Big Magic as a follow-up).
We are feeling unusually financially stable (not that it won’t take some work to keep it that way) and are excited to have more space, to have a home with laundry machines of our own, and “grown up bedrooms” (as my wife puts it) and a whole room to dedicate to my wife’s workshop so that she’s no-longer dependent on anyone else for shop space.
I have two really solid romantic relationships that I’ve done a LOT of self-work to keep and find, AND two tiny, remote jobs that are helping to keep our heads above water when all of my usual (in person) work is on hold until, realistically, there’s a vaccine available for COVID-19.
I just signed a contract for the sale of one (1) short story, to a paid market and sent out another poetry submission today.
We are right down the street from some of our closest friends and chosen family, with plans to bring a portable BBQ grill to a local park – now that we can do so – and have a meal together (ish) in short order.
Things feel really good!
And that’s what the Nine of Stones is generally about. Not just about “almost there” but about “all the hard work you’ve done is paying off”. It’s the ripeness of All The Things coming to fruition. It’s the reminder I’ve murmured to myself, in Child’s Pose, every night for months: “You are worthy of commitment, you are worthy of devotion, you are worthy of thriving. And you do”.
 
It felt really, really good to pull this card.
 
~*~
 
Movement: A little bit of walking. Yoga every night. A lot of lifting and carrying boxes and a LOT of digging and transplanting. There’s still a lot of unpacking to do, and it won’t suck to get back to doing some (small amounts of) resistance training again. But it WILL be nice to get into the more leisurely, non-furniture-related part of moving where I spend an hour emptying one box and then go read for a while, you know?
 
Attention: Black Lives Matter peaceful protests, what various levels of my own governments are doing and/or not doing at this time, what I can do to help (sign petitions, send letters, send money).
 
Gratitude: Grateful for this house. Grateful for a wife who encourages me to say something when I’m upset about a thing, and actually has a discussion with me rather than a defensive mess. Grateful for our CSA and the money it takes to pay for it. Grateful for automatic deposits and other ways to get my paycheques into my bank account without actually having to take a bus to a bank branch with an on-street entrance (that is one thing I don’t utterly love about my new neighbourhood. Everything else is great, but that’s mildly inconvenient). Grateful for a second-hand BBQ grill that actually works. Grateful for being close to some of my best friends, even though it meant moving away from some of the other ones. Grateful for a cool June (so far) that’s given my transplanted garden some time to recover. Grateful for a new sister-in-law who seems pretty cool. Grateful for video chats with my girlfriend (who – along with her whole household – is still safe and sound, thank all the gods). Grateful for “bougie welfare” keeping us safely housed and in groceries while my in-person work is canceled/postponed. Grateful for Bonus Free Books. Grateful that Magic Works. Grateful for so many good people in my life. ❤
 
Inspiration: This almost feels like the question “What is giving you hope right now?” There’s a LOT of awful going on. And a LOT of the awful has been here the whole time, while I’ve had the luxury of pretending it wasn’t going on at all. What is giving me hope right now? My brother getting married. The fact that there are fewer than five cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia right now. The number of people who, before March 2020, wouldn’t have really given Universal Basic Income any thought, or would have though it was a bad idea, actually going “This… is good, actually. I don’t want people to starve or not be able to get their medication, or lose their homes. Tell me more about this UBI thing?” and, likewise, people who couldn’t, here-to-fore, imagine a world without police in it are now going “Okay, but do they really need 10% of our city’s entire budget? Surely that money could go somewhere more appropriate, like, say, low-bar-for-entry trauma-informed mental health supports or, perhaps, a universal basic income?” That gives me hope. I hope this makes for real, lasting change.
 
Creation: Okay, truth be told, I haven’t been feeling super creative lately. Mostly, I’ve been wanting to escape into novels (to the point that I actually ordered new books off the internet yesterday) and have been avoiding Hard Stuff on the literary front for weeks. I’ve created a bunch of letters to politicians. I’ve created some really delicious pies and an excellent salad and the beginnings of a pretty, trans-planted garden. I’ve created a possibly-useful twitter thread for Cdn people who want to (try to) make a difference when it comes to unjust laws outside of our own provinces and (allegedly) made a “useful contribution” to the local Defund The Police conversation that’s starting to happen at the municipal-political level (I am… not sure how that happened, but I’ll take it? I don’t even know). I technically edited some poetry today, mostly to the tune of “Whelp, I can see why this microchap didn’t get accepted…” and sent off one (1) submission. But it feels like a very long time since I’ve written anything new. Hoping that, once things settle down (in the next couple of days), I’ll be able to start devoting time to writing on the regular again. That’s the plan, anyway.

Full Moon – Leaf Moon Crests

My perennial bed, still messy with deadfall, but the rhubarb, nettles, and crow garlic are reaching for the sky.

My perennial bed, still messy with deadfall, but the rhubarb, nettles, and crow garlic are reaching for the sky.


 
This picture was taken about ten days shy of a year ago, and the rhubarb and crow garlic are… yep, about ten days shy of where there are in this photo, growth-wise. There are bleeding hearts and day lilies starting to poke through the soil in the front yard. We are, very possibly, in our last few months in this house, which is sad and exciting at the same time.
We may, just maybe, have found a new place to live.
It’s not downtown. Which is sad. And being this house’s last family is sad, too.
But the place we found – other than the “not downtown” part and not having a dish washer – is pretty close to perfect. Perfect enough that we’re excited about it.
 
You may recall that, not too long after my 40th birthday, I did a big ritual with the goal of manifesting abundance, pleasure, and security (as per both The Empress AND the then-recent full moon in Taurus).
The full moon in Libra (also ruled by Venus) was just last night and some of the big stuff seems to be falling into place.
I have two little anchor-income jobs that – while they’re nowhere near enough to live on alone, and they may or may not end up preventing me from accessing Emergency Income Supports (we don’t know yet because Who Is Eligible keeps getting expanded – hopefully at least one of us will be able to access these funds) – are also providing enough cash annually (in theory) to raise our household income by more than $9000. That will make a significant difference in our quality of life.
 
Likewise, a few days ago, a friend in the neighbourhood pointed us to a friend of hers who is looking to move and whose rental will be available in the next month or two.
You guys. It’s a three-bedroom with LOTS of space (and closet space), a yard to garden, a big driveway with lots of parking, and a big kitchen with room for the chest freezer and some extra shelving. And the (shared) basement has a high enough ceiling that we could actually stand up in it. There’s a possibility that there will be washing machines available, but if not, we’ll have to spend some money on laundry machines as there are zero (0) laundromats within even a half-hour walk of the place. But… $200 for a second hand washer-dryer set off kijiji is still going to pay for itself inside of one year, so. Not really upset about it, especially since it means not having to hoard coins, schedule the availability of clean socks based on the weather report, or drag 2-3 loads of laundry around outdoors during the winter (or, y’know, a pandemic…). Plus we have friends in the area already, including one of my wife’s partners (who is Older and my girl is very happy/relieved to be (potentially) moving to within emergency sprinting distance, basically, if something bad happens).
We’ve talked to the landlord on the phone, and we sent our application off earlier today.
So keep your fingers crossed for us on this one.
 
The sourdough bread situation is… going about as well as it usually does. I think I need to remember to – at the very least – only give it one rise before putting it in the loaf pans and prepping it for baking, as that seems to help.
I’m doing a Kitchen Sink stew in the slow-cooker today. Using up odds and sods from the fridge and freezer. It’s making the house smell really nice, which is great since it’s grey and chilly outside.
I finished a pair of slippers – for future use as “house shoes” when visiting other people – and I’m continuing to work on my t-shirt dress. It’s slow going, and we’ll see what the end result is like. But it’s good to have a project on the go. I’m taking it kind of one step at a time and hopefully I won’t mess something up so badly that I have to redo it entirely. We’ll see what happens. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’ve also started hunting through my fabric stash for 100% cotton scraps that I can re-purpose into masks for those rare occasions when we have to be out and about. Lastly, I’m working on a stocking extension. It’s been in progress for years, and is basically something I pick up when I want to knit a thing and don’t have a more pressing project on the go. I’m a long way from done on that one (and there’s definitely a whole other extension to do afterwards), but it’s nice to have something to knit.
 
Yesterday, I went to (virtual) Full Moon Meditation courtesy of Connect DC and Two Rivers Sanctuary again. While I didn’t get any Big Huge Messages this time, I did have an unexpected energetic experience. I’m not sure quite how to talk about it but… it was a thing, and one that’s apparently happened before (though I only knew about it because somebody who can See That Stuff told me about it after the fact).
The meditation was very comforting. Which I gather is kind of Their Deal when they’re doing Full Moon ritual.
New Moon rituals, if they have them, can potentially be focused on stuff like providing a container for catharsis, but Full Moon rituals – based on attending exactly two of them – seem to be very focused on love and receptivity and belonging. Which is pretty great, and something that I find really helpful, especially in stressful situations where I might (maybe, possibly) be telling myself that I shouldn’t be getting my needs met because other people need more and/or I don’t deserve it, or whatever.
This ritual was very actively pushing back against Scarcity Feels, and I appreciate it, and am glad I was able to take part.
 
Mary El Tarot - Five of Cups - A white unicorn lounges on the lip of a well. Behind it is a waterfall. Water cascades out of the sides of the well in four directions.

Mary El Tarot – Five of Cups – A white unicorn lounges on the lip of a well. Behind it is a waterfall. Water cascades out of the sides of the well in four directions.


 
For my tarot card meditation I used a random one-card generator and got the Five of Water.
I know this card best as the Osho Zen deck’s “Clinging to the Past” but, with the occasional exception, it is reliably a card about grief regardless of which deck you’re using.
The Next World Tarot describes this card as one where “hope is nebulous” and grief (disaster, abandonment, failure) feels familiar, reliable and navigable. I know a lot of people who don’t know how to handle it when success comes calling. Right now, I’m personally in a situation where it looks like, maybe, some Big Magic of mine is about to get results, and I’m trying not to get too confident about it Just In Case things don’t work out as well as it (currently) looks like they might. Using the Conditional Tense when I talk about our (potential) new house. Continuing to ask all and sundry to think good thoughts for us. Putting all of this stuff in brackets to essentially keep saying “this is still a big IF and I don’t want to jinx it by Hoping”.
But I AM hoping!
And I’m aware of the grief (and stress, because moving is not a fun time) that will come with a Yes, too. Like I said, further up the post, we will be this house’s last family before it’s demolished, and our beloved shelter deserves better than that. We’ll be leaving this neighbourhood – that we both love – in order to receive/accept this house that is otherwise utterly perfect for us, and there’s going to be some sadness around moving away from so many of our friends.
…And I’m still hoping. I think this will be good.
 
~*~
 
Movement: Continuing to do my Moon Salutations. Which is nice. Going for very short walks. Dancing in the street when the street is marvelously empty at 10am on a Monday morning. The up-coming Stay Homo and Dance video dance party scheduled for this Friday. Pulling last year’s dead stalks out of the garden to make room for this year’s new growth.
 
Attention: I’m kind of glued to the CRA website right now, in the interests of finding out whether we’re either Completely Fucked or actually Probably Fine with regards to income supports (Bougie Welfare, basically) from the government. Beyond that? Paying attention to the plants waking up and the baby squirrels and the amorous, courting birds of all kinds flitting about the neighbourhood.
 
Gratitude: For a metamour who turns up with a care package that includes chocolate and wine. For postcards from my neighbours. For the rhubarb and the crow garlic and the sorrel waking up and growing again. For the grape hyacinths starting to just barely hint at flowering. For the friend who’s offered to bring us pizza. For the people (mostly relatives) who have reached out to ask if we need money, explicitly. For the friend who pointed us towards this house. For video chats. For video dates with my girlfriend. For my DC metamour getting safely through COVID19 without having to go to a hospital(!). For stay-in-your-house shows done via live stream. For remote work that means we have a little bit of income. For my sewing and cooking skills. For my wife’s Official Layoff that will make it easier for us to access government supports. For a (potential) summer move that will let me rescue my garden and bring it with me. For the borrowed-for-the-duration work truck that will let us move without help, if that’s how this goes. For my over-stuffed pantry that’s been feeding us, with limited inputs, since mid-February. For Beltane (and the option of restocking said paintry) on its way. For my wife having time off to rest her body and tinker on her projects.
 
Inspiration: SPRING! The whole ideal of “Make do and mend”. The culinary experiments of #IronChefCOVID19 and everyone who is trying their hand at sour dough bread (it’s such a thing right now, and I totally get it, and also I can’t blame the people who are looking at this and going “Okay, but why THIS specific food? Why now?” Answers: Because yeast is surprisingly hard to come by right now. Because making sourdough bread (successfully) can help stave off feelings of helplessness and/or scarcity. Because, hey, maybe nurturing a starter along will help some people remember that Not All Microbes and we can actually have relationships with same that don’t involve us actively and desperately trying to murder one another, so there’s that, too).
 
Creation: Working on a sonnet. Lots of sewing. Lots of cooking. A very small amount of prose (like maybe 650 words in a two-week period). I’m doing. But I’m not doing much.

Full Moon – Thunder Moon Waxes and Crests

Thick, purple thunder clouds over a probably city-scape that has been largely cropped out of the frame. Photo by “Rubbish Computer” via Wiki Free Images.


 
Berry Moon has come and gone – my freezer has a big bag of service berries and a smaller bag of red currants to show for it – and it was very hot and very dry. My garden staggered by on 14 gallons of water roughly every other day, but I’m sure it’s as relieved as I am to be getting heavier waterings than my watering can and I have been providing.
Thunder Moon started a little over 10 days ago (at the time of this writing), in Leo, just before Lammas, and right around when I was getting home and settled after a week-long visit to my girlfriend’s place and the last of Mercury Retrograde kicking my ass on the way home. It’ll be full, in Aquarius, later this week, but I’ve got some time, so I’m doing the scribbling now.
 
You guys, my squash are not doing so well.
Technically, I’m not sure ANYTHING is doing well – my chard is okay, and my two tomato plants are doing their thing, but they’re giving me maybe 2-3 cherry tomatoes per day, put together, which is… not a lot. My beans have started flowering, and they look like they’re doing just fine. But the cilantro and dill have gone to seed (fine – I’ll use the coriander and the dill seed just as happily) and the basil and anise hyssop are… struggling. The ground cherries kind of just aren’t. And the squirrels ate about 1/5 of my one and only pumpkin and seem to be going after any fertilized squash bebes they can get their hands on.
Anyway.
I’m kind of like “Fuck it. The clover I sow won’t germinate. I dig a heap of manure compost into the ground and plant a compost-loving-plant like squash in it and… not a whole lot happens. Like, yes, I totally let the ground cover cover the ground. It’s what it’s for. But is it actually that bad? Is the apple mint a problem? Because it’s supposed to deter squash bugs but didn’t deter them much (the bottom of my shoe, however…) and maybe they are crowding the squash? Should I just yank out the smallest of them and give the rest some extra room?
Maybe?
So that might be a thing that I do with the squash, in the hopes of having the remaining ones get bigger and start producing Actual Food.
Beyond that? Beyond that, I have a basket of zucchini on my counter, half-of-which will go into my freezer, and plans to do similar with as many peppers, nectarines, and roma tomatoes as I can swing. Sweet peppers and greens, too.
Also, I’m starting to watch the apples and crab apples that grow near my laundromat and on my way to various libraries, because they’re ripe or ripening and, while I have a LOT of apple butter still lying around after last year’s bonanza, I’m pretty much not someone who say No to free food, so I will probably at least make some pies, you know?
 
I’ve been reading T. Thorn Coyle’s Sigil Magic and, in line with that, have been asking myself “What do I want???”
Those three question marks are intentional.
Sometimes “what I want” is simple, if not necessarily easy. I want my old, kind of broken, computer to keep working for another few years. Or I want the shredded comfrey leaves with-which I mulched my squash and beans, to translate into a lot of squash and beans for my kitchen (I think I need a lot more comfrey, and a couple of years of adding this kind of mulch frequently and regularly, to really get that, though). Or I want a machine that will wash three racks of dishes all at the same time, just by turning a dial and pressing a button. Easy. Specific.
And sometimes they’re not that.
Sometimes “what I want” is nebulous and fearful and teary and basically boils down to “I want this not to be happening. Please make this not be happening”. And I don’t even know what to do about those. The things I can do to mitigate them, I do, but most of what I can do is so negligible they seem utterly useless, utterly hopeless.
And sometimes they’re not that, either.
Sometimes they’re big – no less specific for being big, but big none the less – and require a lot of trust and a willingness to let a lot of it be out of my own hands as to whether or not I get what I hope for. Sometimes I feel guilty for wanting these things. Not because they’re “bad” or even “selfish”, necessarily. But because they’re just so substantial.
Sometimes I’m afraid to look at them. Mostly, I think, because I’m afraid if I make some kind of definitive statement about “This is what I want. I want XYZ”… and then I’m wrong…
And, yeah… Like, I just had to literally ask myself “Okay, so… what’s the problem? You want a thing, you try it, and it doesn’t fit as well as you thought, and…?” and the answer is some wordless jumble of “sunk costs” and “wasting other people’s time/energy/patience” wherein “other people” includes both human being who share my life with me and also various deities who showed up and helped with the opening of doors and so-on.
…Which is maybe a silly thing to feel?
 
Chani’s horoscope (for Scorpio) for the recent New Moon says:

With this new moon, I know that good things flow towards me all the time, but it’s my job to remember to flow with them. To prepare a space for them to land. Take root. Grow tall and wide.
I am an excited host for the arrival of all blessings. I know that nothing squashes good fortune like an expectation of what it should look, be, or act like. I remind myself that cosmic gifts come it all kinds of bizarre forms. The more I trust what shows up, the more I am able to work with it for as long as it is with me.

 

Osho Zen Tarot - Playfulness (the Page of Fire) - A joyful clown dances in a cloud of sparkles.

Osho Zen Tarot – Playfulness (the Page of Fire) – A joyful clown dances in a cloud of sparkles.


 
Osho Zen Tarot - Awareness (the Chariot) - A silhouette on a veil is burned through by the cold blue fire of enlightenment, a bodhisattva emerges.

Osho Zen Tarot – Awareness (the Chariot) – A silhouette on a veil is burned through by the cold blue fire of enlightenment, a bodhisattva emerges.


 
Following that, I pulled two cards (from my Osho Zen deck) for this upcoming Full Moon’s tarot card meditation: Playfulness (the Page of Fire, upright) and Awareness (the Chariot, reversed).
I can’t help but boil them down to “Be open to play, to trying new things just to try them. Send the shambling zombies of your poetry off into submission land and then forget about them. Scribble porn just to remember that you can, in fact, write porn. Proposition your sweeties as though you were doing pick-up play at a party. Don’t take everything so seriously because it’s not all life and death… and also, be ready for the ride when it comes, because it’s going to come and it’s going to come from inside”.
 
~*~
 
Movement: Moon Salutations on the dock of a metamour’s cottage + climbing those 69 steps up and down repeatedly over last weekend. Walking to and from my week-long temp job. Walking all over DC’s downtown checking out galleries and museums with my girlfriend + dancing in her back yard. Hauling home 30+ lbs of groceries before the cottage trip. Taking a long, rambling walk to, and then through, the Experimental Farm and then circling back via the arboretum. Sex that, while wonderful, also reminded me just how little stamina I actually have.
Nothing super heavy, but lots of good moving around.
 
Attention: Listening to The Shondes (uplifting tunes for the win!), trying to identify trees in on the Experimental Farm and in the Arboretum.
 
Gratitude: Thankful for being able to pay for plane tickets to DC twice a year. For a long, easy date with my wife, yesterday. For grilled cheese sandwiches. For cherry tomatoes off the vine. For unexpected temples and magical group rituals (uh… more on those later). For full-day modeling gigs. For thunder storms that rattle the windows. For a break in the heat. For breezy sunshine. For dinner with my sister and drinks with my brother-in-law in the same week, even though they both live out west. For sex. For poly-family photos and vacations.
 
Inspiration: Brian Eno’ and Peter Schmidt’s “Oblique Strategies” deck, as performed by this random prompt provider website. I like “remember those quiet evenings” and “a line has two sides”, so far, and find “Once the search is in progress, something will be found” to be kind of comforting, tbh.
 
Creation: Remarkably little, but I did write a scrap of something that might turn into A Real Poem.

Rhubarb Curd 2019

It’s SUMMER!
The sun is bright, the breeze is a huge relief, and we’ve been having thunder storms!
My squash are already flowering! Woohoo!
It’s hot! It’s humid! What better time to boil 3 gallons of water at a time and make preserves? 😀
 
I know, right?
 
But I’m doing it, anyway.
As per usual, we’ve got a tonne of rhubarb and, in the interests of getting our garden to feed us just a little bit better every year, I harvested an armful of it (not reeeally an armful, but a sizeable bouquet none the less), stewed it with a little water (and no sugar – yet) with the goal of making a LOT of rhubarb curd.
Rhubarb curd being the rhubarb version of lemon curd, obviously – you use pureed rhubarb instead of lemon juice and you get a sweet-and-tangy, super-rich preserve that can be readily turned into a cream pie later on in the year, when the thought of baking things is horrifying to contemplate.
 
Anyway. This recipe is for a (relatively) large batch and, using the equipment I have in the kitchen, it takes two mixing bowls AND two pots, outside of the huge one I use as a canning bath (and/or for making crushed tomatoes and salsa). If you’ve got multiple vast, deep bowls and pots, you can do this with fewer receptacles involved, which does make things slightly easier, but if you’re like me… just make sure you separate things from the get-go rather than trying to figure out “three eggs by volume” once it dawns on you, mid-way through a dozen-and-a-half eggs, that you’re not going to be able to fit all of this in one pot.
 
And now, the recipe:
 
~*~
 
 
Rhubarb Curd 2019
 
INGREDIENTS
2C + 4C rhubarb puree, separated (this starts as about 12C raw, diced rhubarb + a little bit of water)
2C + 4C sugar, separated
1C + ½C butter, separated
+
1C + ½C sugar, separated
12 eggs + 6 eggs, separated (as in 12 whole eggs in one bowl and 6 whole eggs in another)
 
 
DIRECTIONS
 
Sterilize 8 pint jars (+ lids) in the biggest canning pot you have
 
In a BIG pot AND a sauce pan combine the rhubarb puree, butter, and sugar (bigger amount goes in the bigger pot, etc)
 
Start heating it (on low, so the sugar doesn’t burn), and let the butter melt, while stirring occasionally
 
In two bowls different-sized mixing bowls, blend the heck out of the eggs and sugar (bigger amount goes in bigger bowl, etc) – I use an electric hand-mixer to do this
 
Once the butter is melted in the rhubarb mixture, and everything is well-mixed:
Add the egg mixtures to their respective rhubarb mixtures, and blend on LOW with the electric mixer until things are well-incorporated
 
Increase heat to medium
 
Stir each pot occasionally, to keep the sugar from burning to the bottom, cooking until the mixture is good and thick AND the colour has changed slightly (it will look a little more opaque)
 
Pour into sterilized pint jars
 
Cap and process in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes
 
DONE!
Makes ~8 pints.
 
 
~*~
 
NOTE: You can replace the 6C rhubarb purree with an equal amount of choke cherry or cranberry puree if that’s what you’ve got and/or you want to make a curd that is a rich purple OR a bright pink colour. Rhubarb curd ends up being kind of beige… Which is fine, just not too fancy-looking.
 
My biggest pot will fit seven pint jars, so I sterilized seven jars and put the remaining 8th pint worth of finished curd into two clean 1C jars, which have since gone into the fridge. (The ones in the water bath have another 10 minutes or so to go).
 
The plan is to use one of those 1C jars to make yoghurt pops… once we run out of ice cream and/or when it’s time to take another loaf of bread out of the freezer to thaw. (We don’t have an ice cream maker – though that’s something we’re looking at doing fairly soon – but I’ve got a popsicle mold and I know how to use it. 😉 )
 
 
Other stuff I’m doing in the kitchen:
 
Steaming and freezing greens – specifically radish and mustard greens, so they’ll be on the bitter side, but at least I remembered to label the bags this year, which should be an effective way to remind myself to go easy on the bitter greens when I’m making stews.
 
Making rhubarb-mint simple syrup (it mostly smells minty, tbh, but we’ll see how it does) for cocktails
 
Drying raspberry leaves – and, in the near future, feverfew – for over-the-winter teas
 
Making rhubarb-mint iced tea (usually with some additional herb – anise hyssop, raspberry leaf, and creeping charlie have all made appearances) with a little honey in it, just to have on hand
 
Attempting to make “cooking wine” out of frozen “grape punch” from concentrate… It’s… okay? It’s was still a little sweet for cooking with, when I decanted it into a clean bottle and chucked it in the fridge, about two weeks ago, but hopefully what’s left of the yeast will make short work of that, and I’ll have a flat, sugar-devoid, complexly-flavoured thing that I can use in dressings and marinades and (eventually) soups and stews, without having to have shelled out for Actual Wine.
 
Trying to Eat More Vegetables – and relying on hothouse bell peppers and greenhouse tomatoes & cukes to do that, still, even though the garden is giving us heaps of herbs and I landed some field zukes from the grocery store this morning. We’ve been eating somewhat vegetarian meals around here for the past week – if only because it’s easy to cook enough chick peas and quinoa to fill a liter tupperware (respectively) and then just keep them in the fridge and add veggies and cheese to the mix. Tonight I think there’s going to be a pasta salad with tuna in it, though, because variety is a wonderful thing.
 
 
Anyway. That’s what’s up with me.
TTFN,
Meliad, the birch maiden.

Eat From the Larder Challenge 2019 – Weeks Three and Four (After the Fact) + Some Goals

So, as-you-know-bob, April was Eat From the Larder Month chez House of Goat! As mentioned earlier, the Eat From the Larder Challenge was created, many years ago, by Erica Strauss over at (the now mostly-dormant) Northwest Edible Life blog, as a way of demonstrating the maxim that “Cooking is a basic skill of resilience” in real time while also using up any preserves that are hanging around, wearing out their welcome.
While the first year I did this challenge (2014, I think?), I was pretty strict about following the rules of the challenge, I’ve been getting less and less hard core about them as time has gone on and I’ve gotten the hang of using a Par System (if you wanna be fancy) to keep preserved foods and dry goods actually moving through my larder rather than building up in stashes that end up taking up a lot of space without getting eaten.
I’ve said, often enough, that “It’s always Eat From the Larder Month at my house” because we spend more than half the year relying on predominantly frozen (or otherwise preserved) produce, and because I learned – my first year of doing this – that brown rice will, eventually, go slightly rancid if you let it sit around for literally YEARS without using it… and it’s waaaaaaaaaaaaay better to use it up over the course of 6+ months (and drop another $15 for a new 5kg bag of brown basmati when the time comes) than to let it sit for literally years In Case of TEOTWAWKI.
 
So, particularly if you read the first of this year’s EFtL Challenge posts, it’ll come as no surprise that the second half of the Challenge looked much like the first. I continued to buy milk and eggs.
A neighbour gifted me eggs, whipping cream, and a jar of dairy kefir (she’s vegan, but her recently-visiting parents aren’t) so I now have dairy kefir in my fridge again[1].
I made a steak and kidney pie – and discovered that a 2:1 ratio of kidneys:steak is a little too weirdly-floral-tasting for my tastes, and it would have been awesome to cut it with, say, a tonne of mushrooms and some extra onion or something. But here we are. I still have a frozen pig kidney in my freezer, but that’s down from having three, so I’m calling it a win.
I sprouted some mung beans, and may try to do the same thing with green lentils. (My attempts to sprout chick peas have… not worked out so well, but we’ll see if I can get it right…)
I made sourdough bread a couple of times, and it mostly worked, most of the time, and making bread with bottle yeast is still easier and faster, so I clearly don’t have this down pat just yet.
I made a 3L batch of yoghurt, and used 2C of it, in lieu of cream cheese, to make a chocolate cheesecake(!!!) which actually worked!
I used the gifted whipping cream and some more of the yoghurt to make a liver mousse (uh… yesterday. I got the liver, itself, out to thaw at the end of April, but it’s been hanging out in the fridge until last night).
But, for the most part, it’s been pretty business-as-usual around here. There are still h’ors d’oeuvres in my freezer – where they’ve been hanging out since Winter Solstice, if not earlier – that need to be baked and served. There are elements of my larder that got “eaten down” by other people, because there are a few folks in town who needed extra groceries and I was able to go shopping in my freezer/cupboards for them and basically “off-load” a roasting chicken, a lot of frozen veggies, a loaf of home-made bread, some tinned tuna, some garden rhubarb, the last of the brown basmati rice (picked up in October, so it’s just fine thank you), and a variety of Things In Jars (mostly tomatoes) on other people.
 
The biggest thing that’s come up, though, is that vegetables are delicious, and I would like to eat more of them.
So, like, for those of you who’ve got the cash flow to not worry about this? Produce isn’t cheap. Bags of frozen produce are less expensive (usually) than fresh stuff – which is another reason why we use so much of it – but it’s still not cheap. Blessings Be upon my garden – with its rhubarb and sorrel and crow garlic and plentiful dandelions, with its sage and savoury and lovage and (hypothetical, but here’s hoping) raspberries and even its nettles and occasional purslane, with its self-seeded radishes and mustard greens and its volunteer cherry tomatoes – for giving me free produce all summer long, plus enough (we hope) rainbow chard and (sometimes) winter squash to keep feeding us later on, from the freezer. Bless the neighbourhood’s numerous city service berry trees and neglected chokecherries, and the raspberry canes along the alley. Bless the antique apple tree across from my laundromat and the big, chunky crab apples that grace the verges of the rich neighbourhood to the south, for the cider and fruit butter they give us in the Fall.
 
I’ve been planting for the past week-and-a-bit. Adding manure to the garden beds, and digging at least one new one. Putting in a second lovage plant and trying again with thyme, plus adding a few annual seedlings, too.
I’m thinking about how one of the Big Easy Things a person can do to reduce their own carbon footprint is to eat more vegetables.
I mean, yes, I know. The idea being expressed there is “Get more of your calories from plants (rather than muscles)”. But when I think “Eat Less Meat” what I end up thinking is “Eat Less Flavourful, More Boring, Food” combined with “Access Fewer Amino Acids and Start Feeling Dizzy and Having Trouble Thinking Things Through”.
Whereas, if I think “Eat More Vegetables”, yeah, I may be thinking “¼C diced salami[2] + 2C milk and a tablespoon of parmesan cheese split between three+ people” in a meal that’s half rotini noodles, but I’m also thinking “Five or six cups of veggies: Mustard & radish florets, leafy greens, hothouse grape tomatoes, and herbs… This is beautiful, flavourful, and delicious!”
It’s a plate of shredded red cabbage tossed (or steamed, if you want it hot!) with diced apple, dried cranberries, and pumpkin seeds topped with yoghurt, minced garlic, and a dollop of grainy mustard.
It’s a thin slices of toast topped with mayo, hot mustard, apple butter, garlicky hummus, and a generous heap of sour kraut.
It’s rutabaga, winter squash, beets, onion, garlic, and parsnips (or carrots, or even creeping bell flower root, if you want to go there) roasted with frozen or hothouse bell peppers and walnuts, then tossed with a 2:1 mix of pot barley and black lentils cooked in bone stock, and topped with lacto-fermented radish roots-and-greens before serving.
It’s hothouse tomatoes & cucumbers, sprouted mung beans, slivered crow garlic, and frozen edamame tossed with yoghurt and quinoa (OR orzo pasta, for that matter).
It’s half a cup of liver mouse, 80g of brie or chevre, and a cup of artichoke-mayo-garlic-parmesan dip set out with soda crackers and wine and a spread of olives (or a tapenade made from a tin of same), dried apples, pears & cranberries, roasted walnuts, bell peppers & tomatoes, chokecherry relish, heavy-garlic hummus, and baba ganoush.
It’s all beautiful, flavourful, and delicious.
It’s all appealing and something I would want to eat.
…And it means upping my veggies per person count from 2 servings per dinner-time to something closer to five or six (a serving of most, though not all, veggies is about half a cup).
Which means my budget – in terms of space, but also in terms of money – is going to have to more than double.
Not the most comfortable though, even at the beginning of Free Food Season. But, I figure, at least Free Food Season will give me some time to adjust to this while everything is bright and delicious, and that’s emphatically a start.
 
So.
What was my take-away for 2019’s Eat From the Larder Challenge?

Variety is still wonderful
 
Veggies are delicious and I need (and want) to eat more of them, which is going to cost money, but maybe I can get more perennials going? Perhaps? (Is this the year I try to plant asparagus?)
 
Sourdough bread remains difficult, but I’m better at it than I was. Also, making dips out of various things is a GREAT way to use stuff up. Whether that’s liver and yoghurt or pressure-canned beans and mashed pumpkin… And strips of mediocre sourdough bread make GREAT dippables if you put them under the broiler with some oil brushed over them first. Pro tip. 😉
 
We easily eat two dozen eggs per week in this household. And a solid gallon-and-a-bit of milk. Four and 3/4 litres per week, if you want to get technical and also include the milk needed to make yoghurt once a month. Which is… a lot. I’m more than a little relieved to still have access to these[3] and this is definitely where our food choices are at their most brittle and where a big bag of powdered milk might be a good way to make the (much tastier) liquid stuff stretch farther, or help me make do when it’s not available

 
During the EFtL Challenge, this year, I nearly ran out of flour and short pasta, and did run out of parmasan and cheddar as well as granulated sugar (but we also have tonnes of other options – like honey and maple syrup – to use in place of granulated stuff). I was out of baking powder before I even started, and have been happily using baking soda (and acidic stuff like fruit butters and yoghurt) in my quick breads. Shortbread cookies made with honey instead of sugar are delicious (next up: Making them with a mix of whole wheat pastry flour and oat flour, in addition to the butter and the honey…)
 
I’ve since re-stocked on flour, sugar, pasta, and other dry goods and pantry staples, and will be having a gallon of maple syrup delivered from a friend’s family sugar bush… some time between now and June, probably? Between that and the garden starting (just barely – we’re still on dandelions, crow garlic, and rhubarb right now) to produce veggies, I’m feeling pretty good.

Goals for This Year’s Preserving Efforts
 
Grow winter squash (including spaghetti squash, butternut, buttercup, and two kinds of pumpkin) AND cucumbers up a trellis to make them harder for the squirrels to attack
 
Grow pole beans (and nasturtiums and icicle radishes) in the same bed as the squash.
 
Pressure can a lot of mashed winter squash and/or dice, steam, and freeze it for the freezer.
 
Grow a lot of radishes (again) and lactoferment the roots and greens together (with mustard seed, garlic, and bird chilies)
 
Maybe try growing amaranth (and inter-plant with eggplant and pole beans), because I hear it’s easy to thresh and winnow and because it’s a really nice addition to Pumpkin Soup
 
Continue to sprout various dry beans and add them to salads and stir fries
 
Grow and freeze as many hardy cooking greens as possible (mainly rainbow chard, but also some kind of kale or mustard greens)
 
Buy enough yellow and green zucchini (like 60, unless my own zucchini plants give me a bumper crop) and red shepherd peppers (like 85… which will cost a LOT more, and so maaaaay need to be significantly limited) and eggplant (15, because I’m not expecting a high yield from my eggplants, tbh) to put up a LOT of frozen veggies, so that I’m less dependent on – but not independent from, I seriously doubt – getting veggies from the freezer section of the grocery store.
 
Grow mustard for seed
 
Occasionally pressure can batches of bone stock AND batches of cooked chick peas or other large beans at the same time
 
Wild-harvest local service berries (freezer) and chokecherries (curds and jellies) at the appropriate time.
 
Sow clover seed in the back yard to help the ground fix nitrogen and get it a bit healthier and more able to support other food crops

 
Ha… These goals are ambitious, and some of them (like the amaranth, though I do have the seeds) may not happen. But here’s hoping I’ll be able to meet that 5-6 servings of veggies person plan, and do a lot of it myself.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] I find that dairy kefir – at least mine – smells like a mix between old cheddar and blue cheese. I’m not sure it’s supposed to smell like that, but it still smells like a familiar food, so I tend to put it in bechamel sauce to make it taste cheesier, particularly when I’m all out of parmesan and cheddar due to the challenge restrictions.
 
[2] Or a whole cup of tinned tuna, or the half a cup of diced meat you can get off a left-over pork chop or chicken leg. You get the idea.
 
[3] Not long ago, a friend commented something along the lines of “A million different things can be made from a base of coconut, rice, flour, yeast, sugar, cardamom and saffron”. She was talking about Zanzibari cooking. I think my Million Different Things are probably made from a base of eggs, milk, wheat flour, maple syrup, mustard, black pepper, nutmeg, and salt. (And, yes, you can theoretically use spice-bush berries in place of both the nutmeg and the black pepper, but I don’t have those. Yet).

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.