Breathe in Beauty

Nature is not perfect, nor perfectible. But whether in chaos or order there can always be found magnificent beauty that heals, energizes and inspires.

I don’t like to see folks high on false Hopium when they face troubled times.  I don’t like political slogans or wistful mantras about Hate or Love.  

I wish all mankind could feel what I feel, see what I see, touch what I touch, so that the wholesome Hopium of pure life filled them each day with all the sense of wonder and potential, or challenge and purpose, they try forever in vain to find in others’ words and buying things.

And they would know to micromanage Life is antithetical to our raison d’etre, not to mention a hard lesson in futility.

Co-creating beauty and abundance, participating directly in our daily sustenance, living reciprocally between the heavens and the soil is a marvelous feast of the mind, heart and soul.

Nature does not long to be worshipped, or revered, or admired from afar, or just replicated in images. It is us, it is ours to be truly seen and felt, up close and very personal, not as masters or servants, but as partners, in divinity.

To work with nature, really work WITH it and IN it, is to spend your days suspended in magic.

Try one minute of bee zen. Can you hear their successful model of a happy colony? Contrary to popular lore, the worker bees control the queen, not the other way around. Can you sense their contentedness in maintaining their colony as instinctually as every Superorganism does?

Just like the human body, if left to its own devices, it knows just what to do.

One minute of bee zen

Milking Mamas, Busy as Bees

Big days on the wee homestead! The cucumbers are coming in by the bushel full, the lambs are dropping like rabbits, the mushrooms are growing like mad and the bees sound exceptionally pleased. I can’t keep up!

Luckily, Handy Hubby is here now every day, thanks to his ‘early retirement’ (that is his layoff six months ago) thanks to The Great Scamdemic. With his steady efforts and attention our place is shaping up beautifully and my stress levels have been reduced by half, even as chaos still reigns. For these are not the only new milking mamas, I’m now officially a milkmaid in training myself!

Welcome, Summer! Two piglets for a goat in milk was our barter with a friend. She’s settling in nicely and Phoebe was the first of the herd to greet her.

Learning to milk in humid and buggy 95 degrees F is every bit as pleasant as it sounds. 😏

Impressive udder and gymnast-like capabilities!

Handy Hubby crafted me a nice milk stand from plans posted by Fias Co Farms, a very good resource for goat newbies.

The chanterelles will surely give up very soon in this heat, so I forced myself to brave the mosquitoes and ticks once more to gather one last big basket full. I came across a new variety while hunting that’s not in any of my books, so I contacted Texas Foraging expert Mark ‘Merriwether’ Vorderbruggen, who identified it and directed me to this excellent site:

https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/hexagonal-pored-polypore

Since our temps went from April-like to August-like overnight, I got stuck in a bit of a bind with the bees. Because I’m trying to work between 3 different hive types (very stupid, do not entertain this folly I would advise) I’m trying to get them to move of their own accord. It is working, but it is quite a slow process. I will eventually have 3 colonies from this one very full nuc without too much destruction or fuss, or at least that’s my plan.

To end I offer a true garden success. I’ve been experimenting a lot with companion planting, sometimes with advice from permaculture books, but sometimes just by my own observations. This year I planted sunflowers very early, before it was warm enough for the cucumbers and melons. My thought was to attract the bees to the garden like a lure down to the still small cucumbers. It’s worked like a charm and the trellises are bursting with activity.

I’m also trying some new tricks with the tomatoes, letting the cherry types go wild, but highly managing the large varieties and interspersing them with various herbs, lots of comfrey, turmeric and ginger. The results are not yet in on those efforts, but I’ll keep y’all posted.

Mmm, grapes, our favorite! Ta Ta for now

Flooded Dells & Chanterelles

Wow, what weather! We got 12 inches of rain overnight on Monday, far more than we’ve ever seen here. Unlike the tornadoes, hurricanes and hail, however, I don’t complain about the rain. This region was made for rain, and lots of it. It’s the droughts that are far more difficult to withstand, and far more unnatural.

Texas Weather Modification doesn’t respond to public inquiries and they don’t share data on all the various projects happening around the state, so who’s to say if this was all Mother Nature. Man’s tech being ‘proprietary’ after all, we peons and peasants are relegated to the realms of conspiracy theory. Folks will continue to deny the weather warfare schemes until the bitter end, I suppose. No one wants to believe man is manufacturing the weather, despite clear evidence right at our fingertips.

However, that’s beside this particular post’s point. This is what we woke up to, the sound of Niagara Falls outside our window! While still in bed I said to Hubby, “What is that sound? It can’t be wind, the trees aren’t blowing!” One look outside and I saw, that’s the creek that now looks like the Mississippi, flowing right over the road and bridge (sorry for the shaky camera, I was focused on the roar more than the image).

While we had several fence issues from the debris, lost a favorite old tree, and the electricity was out for a spell, it’s absolutely amazing to me how resilient nature can be.

The water was mostly receded in just one day and then, out come the lovely fruits as kind rewards for our losses and extra labor.

Chanterelles abound, the flowers and veggies are flourishing. The mosquitoes and ticks too, no gifts given without associated costs.

One delicious dinner of pasta in cream sauce with chanterelles, green brier tips and sweet peas. And another favorite tonight, pizza of course, which Hubby pronounced my best ever. Our own homemade cheese, bacon and sourdough crust certainly help the chanterelles sautéed in garlic butter make their best impression. .

While hunting chanterelles I stumbled upon a rather large patch of this rare beauty which I once mistook for a wild orchid. Actually it’s a Purple Pleat-leaf, in the Iris family. It’s gorgeous in the wild, but wilts immediately when cut. I carefully uprooted a few of the tiny shallow bulbs and transplanted them in the garden.

Hopefully the bees will find them as lovely as I do! If not, they still have their garden favorites.

All Crow No Grow

Once Teacher
Becomes Gate
Precious gift of Fate
And Foe

Precision required
Lift on the down
Balance that act
Adept Perfection
A first-last Lie
Hover humming
Bird is the word
Twist that power
Collect eyes and ears
minds and memes
For your numbers games

But never forget
She who bats last
Nature’s best trick
That insidious
Observer effect
Switch that rift
Into acrobatic twists

We birthed Gaudi from the peacocks
Caged monkeys taught us tricks
Camouflage from the lizards
Stealth a gift from snakes
We learned ugly crazy irrational
Slippery crafty nasty witchy

When it works it’s the Bomb
When it doesn’t it’s the Adam
And just when you think it’s all figured out
Observer Effect
Aka Evolution? By
Way of Effluence
Not Affluence

If Nature is so perfect
Why does she keep changing?

Like the sword bill hummingbird
Whose Passion flowers yield to he alone
Together an evolutionary dance
each a teenie sneak
Imperceptible micro-move
toward one another

Laughing at us
Mere humans
Enslaved by our weakest links
Preachers of discernment
with blinders on our eyes
No finesse or fearless shows
But loads of fake niceness

And lesson learned
Time always tells
There’s far more to know
from the battle of the hummingbirds
than stuck in the field with crows

Envy Is Everything

I’ve heard contention whether envy or jealousy is ‘le mot juste’ and while I’m interested in the semantics, in this particular case, for the moment, I’m more interested in the feelings.

Let’s just say, for the sake of this post and the wisdom I’m trying to impart within it, that envy, like its roots, denote from ‘envie’, or, ‘to desire’. That is, within this particular context, to desire something for its own sake, not to receive pleasure by withholding from another.

To desire something at the expense of another is a feeling I’ve not yet known, though I’m assured constantly it’s a quite universal feeling. Not that I’m saying at any level that I’d wish to share my spouse, as one example, with another for the sole sake that such an individual would benefit, at the level that I theoretically might, according to such anecdotes, from the accolades or astral benefits of sharing my spouse. Now that I’ve only managed to combombulat the issue, let me state it unequivocally: Desire is love without the commitment.

To say “J’ai envie de toi.” is a far more sexually explicit thing to say in French than to say “Je t’aime.” Yet both are translated often as “I love you.” In Spanish the two expressions prove even more nebulous.

Until this particular feeling enlightens my consciousness I can only say what I’ve experienced personally in that relative ballpark. I have “envied” only one person in my entire life—in this particular sense of I WANT what you’ve GOT—and it was not for her beau, or her looks, or her wealth—though that is not to say that any of those were not enviable. In fact, as enviable as any of these things might be, this young woman would have no idea whatsoever I ever ‘envied’ her at all. It was like 20 years ago, or so.

And yet, when I think of her, my heart is stroked. I get a knee-jerk reaction of nostalgia mixed with mystery that evokes in turn a tear-jerk reaction that is completely unique to this particular individual.

I don’t even remember her name. In fact, in the most attracting moments I ironically also found her a bit irritating—as odd as that sounds—too lively, too happy, too in love, or something.

She was blonde and bubbly and sleeping with the boss, so I really don’t knock my irritation too much. But, she had something else. It’s so extraordinarily rare anyone has anything I want, but she had it. To me, in a way I didn’t understand at all at the time, she had the ring of power.

And She had it so fucking good it burned. It burned me! My desire for what she had burned me, so hard, that over 20 years later, my biggest triumph in life is, #metoo. But not for her man, her plan, or her choices!

No, not that #metoo nonsense!

She knew the plants.

We walked through Prince William Sound Alaska, and the flora and fauna were like relatives to her. She knew her TERRITORY! Never, not ever before or since, have I felt that kind of envie.

And now I know, if she were to meet me again now, she’d say the very same thing about me.

She’d see in me what I saw in her: Pride in my territory.

And so, this strange young woman I knew for only a few months, in changing the course of my mind, changed the course of my life, for the better, forever.

And she has no clue about it, at all, and most likely never will.

“Seasonal Dissonance”

Related to the psychological term ‘cognitive dissonance’ this new Eco-socio-scientism-conspiracy term describes the thermometer and related mechanical device-reading temperatures that refuse to align with the visual and sensory data which would otherwise assure a concerned individual that the season is indeed changing.

A lunch of freshly foraged chanterelles and lactarius indigo—lucky for me, I chose wisely. These are not beginner’s mushrooms and I was really nervous! (Hubby didn’t dare, citing the obvious need that, just in case, someone must live to tell the story.)

”Hmmm, roast pork with spider sauce? Not sure I’m feelin’ ya . . .”

Persimmon seeds in the feral hog scat is a better indicator than that blazing 90 degrees Fahrenheit that’s frying the kohlrabi and beet seedlings before they’re a centimeter above the soil’s surface. Don’t fool yourselves, it’s not just ‘Mother Nature.’

This is that tricky New Micro-Season in East Texas, thanks mostly to weather engineering I’ve no doubt, where no crop, or handler, understands what’s actually happening.

Cardinal flower (lobelia cardinalis)
Big Elkhart Creek 

The days are far too hot for the cool season, the nights far too variable for any season. The hungriest and most prolific garden pests are still proliferating, long from dead from potential threat of frost, but the hungry chickens are unable to benefit because said voracious insects are conveniently barricaded with the young greens and seedlings they so covet within the garden gates where there‘s narry a predator to be found.

If the past few years of weather whiplash are an example, we’ll go from shade cloth over our boxes to in need of frost protection within a few days. Maybe this time we’ll be ready for it?

The bees are as excited as if it’s spring, which gets me worrying. I plan to do some honey harvesting very soon. I have a mean colony who I’ve been giving the benefit of the doubt for well over a year now but who might get the permanent boot very shortly. I got stung in the eyebrow, again, just trying to maneuver around their hive, gently. Just in order to weed!

There’s just no call for that level of aggression around here; they’re clearly asking for some serious retaliation. Sure, the golden rod they’re feasting on was not my doing, but that tree groundsel, excuse me, a meager toll is in order, considering I planted that expressly in that very position for their exclusive benefit.

2nd favorite thing I’ve planted this year: Thai Red Roselle, makes my favorite Kombucha, another favorite discovery of 2020!

First favorite, check back to summer posts, Trombetta squash. We are still eating it!

40 seconds of Zen, OR, as long as I was able to sit still before swatting another mosquito on my nose

Nature=Master Deceiver

“There’s no lie in nature.”

I’ve heard this repeated so many times now, from so many different and I believe well-meaning voices, that I decided it’s high time to add my own voice to this nonsense.

Nature doesn’t deceive. Nature doesn’t try to fool you.

Today this is repeated by quite a few philosophers, conspiracy theorists and ‘truthers’ as a way to elevate nature above man’s conning and cunning ways and to condemn our current fantasy-based reality. I agree our so-called civilization deserves plenty of condemning. But, I do not intend to trade one set of illusions for another.

Apparently this attitude goes way back, to the likes of Walter Russell and an entire camp of German Idealists. I love nature as much, maybe even more, than these guys, that’s for sure. Yet my experience is there are no greater deceptions to be found anywhere else, the worst of man’s worm tongue included, than there are to be found in nature.

You wouldn’t dare!

There are mushrooms so similar that not only a spore print, but a microscope is needed to tell them apart. Poisonous Amanita spissa or delicious Amanita rubescens? Chlorophyllum molybdites, lepiota Americana or macrolepiota procera? Do you want a nice dinner or an evening hugging the toilet? Don’t be fooled, choose wisely!

“Destroying Angel”
the deadly Amanita virosa

Man got his idea for camouflage directly from nature, obviously. In some cases the camouflage is so stealth you could be staring directly at a living creature and not even know until it moves.

Take a walk in the woods and you’ll see sticks that look like snakes and insects that look like sticks. There are spiders that look a lot like bats and bugs that look more like birds.

There are plants like poison ivy, my greatest garden nemesis, that look completely benign, leave no feeling or trace at all in the moment, but 12-24 hours later, long after you’ve forgotten all about it, can elicit a rash so severe you’ll be begging for relief even if it takes the form of a cocktail of toxic pharmaceutical drugs.

That horror story is my arm, on too many occasions to count.

The possum plays dead so effectively he’ll fool nearly any predator.
The most beautiful flowers can kill you.

Datura inoxia

The most disgusting and unappetizing swamp insect can be delectable.

In fact, to say nature is THE Master Deceiver is even an understatement if you ask me. Nature is a raving, lying bitch at least half the time.

Living so close to nature, growing food, co-creating with the land has offered me the greatest single lesson of my life: Cute and nice are the camouflage of prey and pets.

Nature does not play nice. Nice is for ninnies.

It’s considerably more deceptive when man’s hands meddle in nature’s mix as well, quite impossible sometimes to tell where one ends and the other begins.

Homestead Happy Snaps

We mustn’t let the tyrants and clowns get us down
Joy and laughter can still abound
Mantras and cliches can spout the latest crazes
But it’s Nature that always amazes!

Praying Mantis living on Wandering Jew, seems somehow apropos, no? He really does live there and he’s pretty good company. 🙂
I’ve heard of bats in the belfry, but in the umbrella?!
How about a cuteness contest—goats or sheep? I know my opinion! Share yours below?
It’s very zen to watch the bees, I find. Next time I’ll figure out how to add sound—I love that soothing buzz of what appears to be such well-ordered chaos—Such miracles in nature!

Homestead Happenings

Just a wee update on the wee homestead during our current Sweltering Season—that runs from about mid-July to October here—where you thank Man every damn day, and especially every night, for inventing A/C, and refrigeration.  As miserable as it is, especially when the weather makers continue to steal our rain, this has been the best one yet for me.

When we first came here I swore I’d travel every summer at this time.  HA!  After that plan failed, I’d give up on the garden by this time, because who really cares about okra and eggplant anyway?  I’d ritually whine to Hubby we are over-producing.

Recently pulling out a hot sauce from 5 years ago, with pickles and marinara still left from 2 years ago, Hubby made an astute (yet annoying) observation.   “Aren’t you glad now we were over-producing?”

Yes, indeed I am.  I haven’t had to don a face diaper yet, and I’ve no intention to.  I’ve got a freezer full of grapes and tomatoes to process, a fridge full of peppers and a living room full of pears awaiting the same fate, fall seedlings started, a pack of dogs at my feet, and the plan to take a serious ‘home vacation’ very soon.  More details on that forthcoming.

In the meantime, look how the girls have grown!

6DCFBCBD-D7EB-4DA6-9822-1213CF4D5FFF

We’ve established a favorite snack station!

94D0E5D4-BD51-4F76-A76A-1B5DC2FD09F1

Not for sure if all the sheep are pregnant, but clearly the majority are, fingers crossed.

F347C12B-F962-4160-BA62-A49C02956E64

The hummingbirds and bees are happy with my offerings and don’t even notice the heat, it seems.  6 colonies going strong so far, or so it seems from their activity at the entrance, because I never mess with them in the Sweltering Season.

The old piglets are getting fat while Mamma & Papa Chop are getting reacquainted in the Back 40, planning for more piglets soon on the way, we hope.

92CB272D-F211-4420-86AD-C9CBF5F44FC8

I’ll leave out the part where friends and I are complaining about the mysterious lack of butterflies this year.

 

Homestead Happenings

Just another loungey Sunday on the wee homestead.  I’m so grateful I don’t have to go to the grocery store, or venture to town at all or anywhere near where masks are apparently now required, and witness the ‘shitf**kery’ (Decker’s choice expression from Dispatches from the Asylum, highly recommended for anyone who might wish to choose a few minutes of lucid reality) happening all around us, apparently, like a super-creepy episode of the Twilight Zone or Black Mirror.

Here we have problems, who doesn’t.  Even if might be completely unmanageable problems, at least they are sane, rational problems.

FBC516A2-D5B7-42EA-9173-97594E302A17
Another 20 pounds of wild grapes, whatever to do with them all?  And melons harvested a bit early due to disease, no where to store them but the living room as they ripen, so problematic.

F389D82C-AD74-488E-BE9F-EB77189468B9
Girls gone grazing!  Whatever to do, what if the kids flock with the sheep and forget all about me?  This is what keeps me up at night.

8A881B69-031F-4734-BF79-6BF790647BDE
Why are some of my very favorite plants considered toxic and are pooh-pooed by ‘science’ and most of my modern-day neighbors (and certainly NOT by my ancestral ones!)?  Like this gorgeous castor bean, the ubiquitous pokeweed everybody wants to kill, and especially my most beloved Datura?  These heat-lovers belong in the South!

86E390C6-8DCF-4AFA-B69E-009CB398E380
A gorgeous volunteer Datura growing here in the background.  No poultry have died from it, though we’ve lost more than usual to something mysterious, about 20 now, one or two at a time, with no clue as to why.

Here’s a wonder: why do Lowe’s, Walmart, and all the other shills of the Corporatocracy sell the same zucchini and yellow squash seedlings that are nearly impossible for organic gardeners to grow according to everyone I’ve talked to, including the Master Gardeners to whom I once was a member?  Get out there with your hand-vac at dawn, they all said, to gobble up all the squash bugs and vine borers they attract, meanwhile this gorgeous heirloom squash (Trombetta) takes it all, virtually maintenance-free, with the stamina of a giant, even in our crazy summer heat?!

Bubba & Buttercup: “How to stay cool in incessantly manufactured weather, we wonder?  Don’t worry, we’ll find a way!”

11E1F226-CAD1-4699-A40E-47870C96D6F4
And here’s to the countless ninnies and nitwits claiming Trump is solving the weather modification/geoengineering issue.  Come on now, do I have to go back to photographing the sky every damn day?

22DBB9EA-1095-4FA5-988E-F49E3D986C99
“Mamma, we’ll follow you anywhere, just save us from the chicanery and chaos of civilization!”