Saturday, April 30, 2016

Badger Among the Wares

My Dear Toad,

I've tried to find race cars here, or painted caravans, or even a few fast horses, to write you about. To no avail, my friend! My time on the coastal plains of Sir Raleigh's colony is near its end, so I shall share instead my friendly hours at the local farmers' market. This may not excite your fancy, but it's the best I can do. Would it help to add that an air show is also occurring at a nearby military base? That's much too loud for me, but I hear the Blue Angels are performing. You'll have to use your imagination.
I nearly forgot! I did see some quite lovely boats. Do you fancy a boat, Toad? I wager you could do a bit of damage to a boat!
lovely catamaran
elegant river motoring boat
Here I am, with my kind hostess, Mary Kathryn. I've spent many hours resting in her quiet home before my flight over the Atlantic to return to the precious isle.
 Myself among the strawberries:
 Myself among the eggs:
 And nestled in with the pizzelles:
 Hiding among the tomatoes:
Badger among the yarn goods:
Badger among the soaps:

It was quite fun to meet all the market people and see the crowds streaming by as Oriental had its yearly town-wide yard sale. I liked the soaps best; they smell so fragrant.

Please tell Ratty and Mole I will be home soon and to have my slippers and fire ready. I need a long nap.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

What's Growin' on the Farm?

Blue Lake Beans at last!
Golden Wax Beans
Sweet Peas

 I think the above photo is spinach ...
And the below photo is kale. The labels faded and we are left wondering.
 Buttercrunch Lettuce
In the herb bed:
I have lovely basil.
 And mountains of oregano.
And two parsley types, dill, cilantro, sage, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, lovage, borage, hyssop, chamomile, and chervil. I'm expanding my herb choices. Adam eventually wants an herb bed devoted exclusively to tea herbs.
And I'm thrilled to say that our yard is abundant in plantain! I use it to make a healing salve for burns and skin abrasions. It's wonderful stuff, and now I have my own plantain at hand! I'm even growing my own plantain patch in the shade:

Plantain looks like this:
This is the narrow variety; there's also regular plantain that has wider leaves. The seed stalk looks like this:
Again, I think the regular variety looks different; its seed heads are longer.
Here's a photo of a nice, healthy plantain plant.
My dear sister-in-law Anne gave me several plants about a month ago, and they're doing so well! The yarrow is thriving.
And the hosta is quite large.
My artemisia is growing like mad and making a nice mound. The clumps below are over two feet across.
My other shade bed with lambs' ears, astilbes, and hostas is looking lovely.
This is all quite exciting because I've never had much of a green thumb. My mother is the gardener, and plants just seem to grow to make her happy. I gardened in Iowa, but anybody could grow anything in that soil. Not only the good response of the plants, but also my enjoyment in this hobby, is surprising to me. May it continue!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

I'm Sure You Can Tell ...

... That I'm Busy. Sorry to have been gone so long!

My yellow rose bush is a joy. I feel as if the previous owners of this home have given me so many gifts in the beautiful thing they planted here, everything from the apple trees in the orchard to the daffodil bulbs in the ground.
(I can't get this video to load at all! Ugh.)
While in Oriental last week I videoed this Nonsuch sailboat coming into the town harbor while "Sunscapes" plays in my CD player. Such  a peaceful moment. I love the quiet grace of a sailboat in light wind.

Over the weekend our community choral group gave its spring concerts. I love singing under the direction of the lady we've had for a couple of years, but sadly she is leaving us. She put together such an amazing concert full of quite varied music. I got to accompany on two songs that were fast and rhythmic, and I enjoyed singing a raucous solo in a negro spiritual piece, "He Never Failed Me Yet."
My parents arrive for a brief visit this weekend. Julia's school year is winding down toward finals. Soon we travel west for Peter's college graduation! We skype regularly with Anna to see how she's doing in Japan. I can't wait to see Philip and Kara too, at Peter's graduation weekend. We're all staying at Ridgehaven, and that should be fun :) Life is busy ... and of course every day is chock full of farm work and working at the afterschool program, plus church responsibilities.
So ... if I'm not here, you'll know I'm not sitting with my feet up, watching a movie and eating bonbons!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Cutting the Wireless Wires

Yesterday morning I put on farm clothes, gathered my trowel and work gloves, and headed to the greenhouse to put tomatoes into the garden bed.

And I almost picked up my cell phone too. Half the time I have no pocket (especially now that we're past jacket weather), and I must carry the thing in my hand.

But yesterday I decided to leave the phone in the house and give myself a break from the constant, low-grade demand of that gadget.

I consciously decided to throw myself back 30 years ago, to a time in my life that I didn't feel the need to have a phone on my person 24/7. Do you recall that feeling? The freedom? The calmness? The absence of urgency?

A cell phone is a kind of addiction -- even when it's not dinging or ringing, folks feel a compulsion to "check it" to make sure it didn't forget to ding or ring them with some urgent message ... like, "Here's a photo of a silly dog lol" from a friend they haven't seen in twenty years. Or perhaps their cell phone company notifying them of how many minutes they have left. You know, really important things that we allow to invade our private peace every minute of every day.

With a cell phone, you're never alone, and perhaps that's the point. We've forgotten how to relish being alone.

I'm planning to do this more often -- leave my cell phone in the house. If somebody calls, I can find out later. I have a right to personal, private peace. Time with my own head. Time when nobody can reach me unless it's so urgent they drive to my home and physically find me.

Why did we think wireless technology would free us? We are attached to the petty world of constant communication by the invisible wires of compulsion, of obligation, of addiction to the next message. I'm snipping those wires deliberately. If you need me, leave a message. I'll get back to you when I'm done in the greenhouse.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Mr. Badger Finds Hygge

My Dear Mole,
How I do miss our friendly chats and occasional visits. A calm friend is a true comfort, and such are you, Mole. I came on these travels to find if other creatures are slipper-wearing, tea-sipping, fireplace-gazing, afternoon-napping lovers of leisure as we are. And yes, in each home, I've found some good old-fashioned hygge.
My hostess is a yarn lady. I helped her with a little crocheting, a little tea, and some couch-sitting.
I'm not sure about those fox-like fuzzy socks she's wearing. They growled at me, and I growled back. She's reading about an Irishman! Mr. Lewis's gripping account of Trufflehunter and the other badgers of Narnia has long been one of my favorite winter reads.
She offered me popcorn, which I'd never tried before. It's crunchy and salty, but otherwise is inferior to a good old English breakfast.
My hostess tried to encourage her canine and me to become chums, but so far this has not occurred. He is a soft and nervous creature, and the only thing I can say in his favor is that he does seem to wear slippers on his paws. His fur protrudes over his claws in the most amusing manner.
Regarding the creature's paws, my hostess keeps alluding to someone named Dr. Seuss.
Mole, my dear fellow, I do not know what the next adventure will be. I often overheard talk about going to a place called Greenhouse. More news from the colonies will be forthcoming.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Mr. Badger Writes Home

Dear Ratty,
At last I have arrived near the American ocean, and I begin to see my way back home to our fine island again. I admit that all this traveling wears on an animal, but I'm holding up rather well. All our friends have been such gentle hosts. Each time I arrive I find it so freeing to be removed from the yellow envelope and given tea.
Oh, Ratty! The first thing my hostess did this time was drive me to see the River! The River -- I knew you would want to see it straight away!
 So wide! So majestic!
My dear fellow, when I think of the many hours of delightful rowing you would enjoy here, it makes my heart yearn for you to come as well. When you visited the colonies last, this destination wasn't on your itinerary. How I wish it had been!
Today, dear Ratty, I'm spending the day recuperating from the exhaustion of traveling in the lumbering post office lorry across country. I'm snuggled in a blanket on a rainy day here on Red Robin Farm. I'll write again  soon.


If you'd like to read more about why Badger is traveling and whom he's visited, here are a few links:

Badger's travels originated from Pom Pom at PomPom's Ponderings, and you can read a bit about his visit there at this link to her blog.
And this link right here will take you to all the posts from Mags in Ireland describing Badger's visit there in the cold of winter. Mags and Pom together are orchestrating Badger's round-the-world tour.

In late 2011, Badger's friends, Ratty, Mole, and Toad visited us in the NC mountains on a similar tour. Read how we welcomed them and all the contents of their traveling package.
Read about when Ratty, Mole, and Toad  got a tour of Brevard, NC  and had adventures traveling in bank tubes and viewing a waterfall.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Finding His Name

Adam is messaging with various people about various dogs, but the truth is that waiting to find a cheap dog from a random person within a 3-hour drive of one's home is a long endeavor. So this morning we visited the New Bern pound. And we found a new friend:

On the drive home, we discussed what his name is. Because he already has a name, we knew; we just had to discover what it is. So we bandied around different options. Buddy. Sebastian. (Julia prefers fancy names; we do not.) Scotty. I forget whether Adam or I first said the name Ned.


We all liked it fine. Julia volunteered, "I like Ned. It was the name of a dog in Brian Jacques's Flying Dutchman book, a dog that could talk!" She added, "His name was Denmark, but they took the first three letters, turned them around, and came up with Ned."

Denmark. Ned Denmark. It didn't sound right.
There's clearly some Great Dane in this boy,
so Denmark seemed like a logical choice.
Meanwhile the name Teddy is rumbling around in my head. "Teddy," I say. I ask Adam, "What is Ned short for?"


"And that's where you get Teddy too, right?"


"So ... Theodore Denmark."

Adam laughed. "But," he said, "Theodore What Denmark?"

"Theodore Roosevelt Denmark!" I exclaimed.

Julia groaned in pain in the back seat.

Then Adam said, "Theodore Roosevelt Denmark, the Moose!" (Because that president formed the Bull Moose Party. Random historical facts stick to his brain like noodles to a wall.)

And Adam and I looked at each other with surprise and glee and realized we'd just (finally) found the dog's name! His perfect name! Moose!

We'll still call him Ned, mostly because Julia will insist. She hates Moose for his name, but Moose it is and Moose it will be.

Right now Moose is taking a nap with Adam, who is a very happy man, in the office in the barn. At last he has a friend to do his farm work with and life can return to normal. Beau, I'm sorry to admit, is a miserable failure as a lone farm dog.
Two dogs is good, Three dogs would be better.

Moose discovers he's not allowed in the greenhouse.
And I'll add that the New Bern Pound is an excellent place with caring people and sweet dogs. We may go back there after Ned Moose settles in.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Apple Blossoms

How many apple trees did I say had survived in our orchard? I don't recall. But only three of them have blossoms this spring. They're all trying to recover from the stress of being overgrown for years, and then being pruned again by us. They put out leaves, but no flowers.
Except three of them:

Apple blossoms are so simple and sweet. Next year -- I hope -- we'll have an orchard full of them.
The bathroom is nearly finished. Adam installed the vent fan and the ceiling light yesterday, and is working on moving the electrical plug by the sink. Fiddly wiring.
We are busy. I'm back into my work schedule until the end of the school year. I also teach a Bible study each week and sing in a local chorale. That concert occurs in a few weeks. I'm also trying to finish up Julia's literature course and French course for this year. Adam does his usual church work and lately has more on his plate in pastoral work, helping people who need help. Julia is flying toward the end of her semester, finishing her junior year. Next month we have Peter's graduation and a family wedding. I always think summer will be calmer and I can get so much done, but somehow it doesn't happen that way! We continue to hunt for a couple of new farm dogs to adopt. Pound dogs are actually pretty expensive these days, especially if you just want a lab mix. Adam keeps an eye on PetFinder and Craigs List.

Except for blogging, I do hardly any writing anymore, which saddens me. In order to write, I think I need more "down time" -- less work and duties and dashing around meeting schedules. And I need a calmer mind too. There are too many stresses in life right now, and the imaginative mind becomes subdued, even dormant, during such times. I do plan  to get back to writing some day.

The farm is looking pretty weedy right now and needs much mowing. But the bees are happily flying around and the plants in the greenhouse are thriving. They will go in the ground in a week or so, and then we'll see how the farm year will prosper.