Finally we're starting to get ripe tomatoes. Let's just hope we don't have an early frost. These are green zebra - brown berries - jetstar - cherokee purple - valencia - moongold - yell
So finally we're starting to get tomatoes on a regular basis.
First there was the rain and the rain and the rain.
Next came the unrelenting heat - did you know tomatoes don't produce if the temperatures are in the high 90's everyday with nights in the high 80s?
Well, they don't. They produce big green tomatoes but they don't ripen.
But now they're starting in ernest. I'm hoping the noon agricultural report of an el nina starting bringing an early frost is wrong! I figure if they're right we might get a month of production. Oh well.
Here's what we have now:
Brown Berry - a really wonderful cherry tomato with a lovely flavor
SunGold - an orange cherry - we have so many of these I'm trying to figure out how to use them all.
Moon Gold - a larger orange tomato
Valencia - a mid size orange with a meaty texture
Jet Star - a Rutger-like midsize globe
Cherokee Purple - dark, midsize
Brandywine - a large bright red
Green Zebra - we've had a few of these but the plant is struggling. These are one of my favorites for its great flavor and the way it looks in a salad.
The zucchini are struggling but the butternut squash look terrific
And the potatoes are something we'll want to be sure to do next year again - they taste wonderful and produce very well.
We're getting such wonderful raspberries from our bushes now. Bright red and sweet. The bushes are as striking as they were in the winter when the flower heads were a chamois color and the only red was the vines. Artistically speaking, I like them both equally. As far as the rest, I'll take the summer green!
Had a salad with some of the first tomatoes - sungold cherries, yellow pears, brownberry and green zebra. I picked a Valencia orange and a moongold orange but they aren't quite ripe as yet. Let's give them another week - is it always this late when they start? Things are moving along so quickly - the locusts are already singing loudly in the evening. How does summer zip by and winter crawl?
Just when we felt we really had a handle on the critters.....
We've stuffed the vegetable gardens with enough ribbons, moving objects and noise makers that we felt we finally had things under control. And the fungus-type stuff was much better with the HOT weather. So we were ready to move on to insect control.
Then yesterday morning when I was leaving to teach my painting class at the art center I happened to brush by our baby cherry tree. You know, the one that was doing so well! The one that gave us three cherries the first year. The one that was flourishing. Bent twigs! Stripped leaves and bark! Unhappy little tree that had obviously been mauled in the night. I can envision how pleased the deer must have been - yum! cherries!
When I returned from the class - there was this yard scupture as protection.
Ribbons, a folding patio chair and a wind chime.
As of this morning the tree has perked up again. Good job Jim!
For the past 5 years Sue and I have been teaching classes at her Copper Prairie Studio. Its a peaceful setting with space for students to interact with nature. Each year we gain energy from the people who attend the class and when the class is over we say a loud, YES - we can't wait until next year!
Then about February to March, when the proposals are due with Heartland, we waffle around. Maybe we won't teach classes this year. ..are we sure we have the time?
But then we pull the proposal together and send it in and wait for people to sign up. As the time for the class nears, we start bouncing new ideas off each other and in the process we start to smolder into a small flame.
When the class meets - WOW! - we find we have another super group of teachers who energize and support each other. And this year we say - This is the BEST group ever!
Yesterday I was with one of my very favorite gardens - my friends from the Encore group. Once upon a time we taught together in a middle school.
Most of the teachers had a nice, neat little group to attend during teacher meetings. They were seperated into either 7th grade, 8th grade, and etc. Or they might be seperated into English, Math, and Science.
We were the group who didn't fit - the art, music, counseling, gifted, at risk, etc. There was usually only one of us so we couldn't be grouped into Art, etc. And we taught all grades, so we couldn't fit into one grade. So we were pushed into something that was called the "Encore" group. Why? Who knows. Maybe its that the encore is what comes after the 'real' performance. The teaching that went on after the 'real' teaching was done?
That was the attitude of the administration back then.
We've been through a lot together - about half of us are no longer teaching. But we get together every summer for field trips, yesterday at the Botanical Center and the Asian Garden and Bridge. We still call ourselves Encore - but we are certain it means the best part of the performance.
I am here to tell you that all is not as it seems, with lovely gardens just laying in wait.
There were beautiful benches painted a bright blue, set against nearly black petunias and lots of greenery surroung them. What a blissful spot to wait for all of our group to arrive.
I had a soft pink shirt on and was feeling pretty pleased with the situation - when - smack! The petunias attacked.
Just FYI - black petunias touching pink cotton create large purple spots and - who would have known it! - leaves can also create green spots. I now have a semi-tie-dyed pink cotton shirt. I say semi because the spots are only on my one arm and up the back.
So - I guess I will have to steal back onto the grounds some night and roll around in the greenery to make the whole shirt look intentional.
Just a word to the wise - Watch yourself while in the outdoors!
I'm getting ready to teach a workshop on color at the end of this week. So "color" has been running around my head even more than usual. On Saturday I happened to be in Home Depot - one of my personal favorite stores for sure - to pick up paint to recolor my wicker furniture.
THERE I was in what is, next to being outdoors, and next to being in Heaven - my bestest place ever. The Paint Sample section!
I remember back in the day when there was a choice of white or antique white paint for walls. What a move forward it was to be offered an actual choice of white - from cool whites to warm whites with a true white. How modern that was.
The thinking was that walls were the canvas around which a room was planned. Canvas as in gessoed canvas. Color was in pillows and wallpaper.
Then one day came the tiny samples of maybe, three tentative blues or pinks.
And here we are today with what seems like miles and miles of wall to wall color in the sample section. I never walk out of HD without a handful of samples. It makes me happy to know that, if I were to have 100 rooms, I would be able to color coordinate each of them in a completely different palette.
One of the comments I received from my last blog told me about the healing effect of color as it is used in Qi Gong. I love the pink or red for the heart - our ancestors must have known things we don't because that has always been the color of valentines and hearts. (And you thought we knew everything with our twentyfour hour news cycle and internet!)
Green is the color for the liver - we can't live without this organ - that's certain. I wonder why green used to be the color for jealousy but now - not so much so. So I'm thinking about how green makes me feel.
Years ago we used to go to Ireland in the spring and early summer. If you've ever been to that island you know there are over a hundred shades of green. Small patches of color make up a quilt of the landscape but they are all in green. Even the sky has a greenish tinge to it. What a rest for the eyes! And how peaceful.
So did the Irish landowners rest in all that peaceful color? They didn't - their homes were painted in the brightest shades of pink and violet. Their doors were bright red and cobalt blue. There must be a moral somewhere but it escapes me at present.
I only know that when I see that bright "permanent yellow green" in Iowa fields in early summer, I rejoice and am glad this is where I was planted.
Every summer, my good friend Sue and I, teach classes for educators at her studio. It's a beautiful, peaceful setting with lots of open space and a pond. She has a labryinth and extensive flower beds. In other words, its an idyllic place to get away from everything and just reflect on creativity.
For the first time this year, we'll be teaching about color. I've become very excited about the way color affects our lives and our art. Oh well, you might say, of course, that's what art is about, isn't it?
Well, it is and it isn't. I was blessed enough a few years back to attend a workshop with Stephen Quiller - The Color Guru. And color took on a whole new dimension for me.
Since starting my 52 small paintings, I've found that working on a small scale pretty much limits you to working with color and motion. And it has only increased my excitement.
So I'm looking forward to teaching this class with much anticipation.
And to having lunch in Sue's peaceful kingdom.
I've included Nita Leland's website below and in my artist's inspiration page. Nita has written books on color and is a wonderful resource.
I received this quote in my fortune cookie:
It is the most gratifying goal that must begin with a small achievement.
And it reminded me that my goal to create 52 paintings in this year has become a bit neglected. So I'm going to have to go back to picking up that brush every day.
It also made me think of how much I can accomplish if I just make sure I spend a small amount of time each day working toward my goals. I say goals because I have a whole long list of these.
Some of these are:
Scan all the family photos of our immediate family as well as those of my mom and dad - and share with relatives
Complete and market my knitted bags
Complete the 52 small paintings before the end of December
Finish at least one of the two books I'm writing
Clean out all those things we have accumulated over the years
Three months ago I thought I had the whole system licked. I discovered sticky notes on the computer. So I had a lovely line up of notes in varying colors: purple was long term goals by month: March - paint ceilings, start plants, etc.
pink was daily goals: Monday: lunch with friends, laundry, complete one painting, etc.; yellow was additional goals and so on and so on. Up to this time I had kept a journal with these listed - but here they were staring me in the face every morning when I opened the computer. What bliss! What power when I checked each accomplishment off!
Then pow! My NEW computer failed. But never fear -
I have Carbonite back up and presto = when the new harddrive was installed, there was everything just as I had left it - except - WAIT - my sticky notes were gone! Disappeared into the ether. Where were my lovely thought out goals? What would I do tomorrow when I rolled out of bed?
And what happened? I had the most lovely vacation. No goals, no lists - I'd never in my life operated without lists so I just read a book, puttered in the yard, tried a new recipe AND wrote a chapter of my book, picked up the brush, took some photographs - not because it was on my list but because I felt like doing it.
I remembered my lunch dates because they did matter to me. No catastrophe happened - nothing quit working or fell down. I did what I enjoyed simply because I enjoyed doing it rather than because it was on my list.
I feel like my time has expanded and I'm more creative than ever.
I'm quite convinced it was a God Wink and I feel blessed.
You might notice that the name of this blog has changed. Also that its been a long time since I last posted.
My life has changed! And not always in a good way - in fact there were many dark days. As of two and a half years ago I have become the primary caregiver for my husband who is a victim of strokes.
Its been a long process and very much an up and down one. -like rollercoaster up and down or mountain and valley!
I still teach painting and use my class blog to reach my students but I had just allowed the gardening aspect of my life to wither and very nearly die. Where was the time!
As I had been telling myself my website greatly needed an overhaul, I finally got around to looking at the pages and up popped what I'd always thought of as my Gardening blog!
They say things will fall into place at the right time - or as we say in the art world - the teacher will come when you are ready - The title of the blog was actually "The Growing Project" and what have I been doing as a caregiver but Growing!
Often -actually most often for a lot of that time - I was fighting the whole thing.
So this life is still a garden and in drawing on all kinds of inspirations I intend to provide growing advice - including sometimes just questions - to caregivers like myself
And I am very interested in your stories as you work through your caregiving.
Stories are so powerful! They're like the rain on the seeds and the dirt of your backyard garden.
When we moved into this house, it was empty ground with some trees and scrub grass. Now, my aim is to provide food for both our souls and our bodies.
As I move through this process of gardening, , I remember every day the watchword of every gardener -- "Next Year!"