Adventure!

A lot of things and people and places have fallen away from our family in the last decade. Sometimes it has felt like nothing but an emptying out, and sometimes the losses have led to wonderful and unexpected new beginnings.

These new beginnings remind me that if everything that was lost had remained in our life, we might not have set off to unexplored territories, territories that have been tremendously meaningful to us. The emptiness made us bold in unexpected ways and pushed us to new horizons.

Take for example the Camino. Though only Ben and Elizabeth walked the Camino, it has filled all our lives with stories and images, spiritual gifts and a feeling of having been on their bold adventure with them, if only from the peanut gallery.

Reading and rereading the drafts of Elizabeth’s book, learning the towns and places strung along the trail, studying the gifts of the Camino Essences linked as they are to these now familiar places, then connecting it all to Lizzy and Ben’s adventures and the pilgrims they met- It has made me feel a part of something bigger than myself- and in a life where travel has not figured greatly, this has been wonderfully expansive and fun.

From childhood, I always felt reading a great book or listening to a tale well told had the tang of adventure even for the listener. I am grateful I feel this way about Ben and Lizzy’s Camino tales.

There is a marvelous scene in the movie Apollo 13 where the NASA engineers in Houston are given a pile of exactly the same odds and end that are onboard the apparently doomed space ship. They are told that they need to solve the ventilation problems on the spaceship with what is there before them then walk the astronauts through their own construction of a gizmo built from these random odds and ends. Everyone understands that this is the only way to save the astronauts. And as we know, the engineer’s ingenuity wins the day and the astronauts survive.

Today is Jim’s birthday and I am excited about a project we took on for his birthday. It speaks to armchair adventures as well as making do with what is, trying to accept a loss as well as move on from it.

The loss on my mind today as I assemble Jim’s birthday gift is the place in the Adirondacks. It was six miles up a lake by boat with no electricity and no roads. This made it a place of wilderness and adventure for all of us, no less so for Jim who spent two summer building a four bedroom sleeping cabin next to the original camp, carrying every last piece of lumber up the lake in a jury rigged barge.

One much loved detail in the original camp was that the bedroom walls were lined with covers from a pulp magazine called Adventure. Collected in the 1920’s and 1930’s by my grandfather and his sister, these covers were much studied by generations of children. We would lie in our camp beds under heavy blankets and point our flashlights at one cover after another. It was always a bit of an adventure to go up the creaking stairs to our beds, but peering at these covers in the dark sent us further into a delicious state of terror.

Many covers showed vicious characters chasing someone down. In one memorable cover a very scary looking man was coming out from a cargo hold with a knife in his teeth. Pirates abounded as did cowboys encircled by cigarette smoke and understandable hostile Indians about to do them in. The covers so often caught the moment of ultimate tension in a story.

The particularly haunting ones were the ones where you knew the guy on the cover was not going to make it. There were a number of covers showing a solitary arctic explorer in the middle of nowhere, heading to his own frozen death. These pictures were almost the scariest because they had such a palpable sense of loneliness.

I used to look at every last cover each night before falling asleep. Some were so frightening that my heart would start pounding before the flashlight’s beam met its image. When I was little, I always slept in my grandfather’s childhood bedroom so my grandfather’s covers were much more familiar to me. In later years when I ended up in my great aunt’s room, there was a whole new collection of terrifying images to memorize.

It occurred to me one day that perhaps I could find Adventure covers on the internet to put on the walls of the new bathroom in a surprise birthday moment for Jim. I had taken on a similar project last year when I decided to find each of the kids a copy of a much loved fairy tale book, read every summer on the Adirondack camp porch.

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Boy cousins, brothers, uncles and then my own sons seemed to find Jack the Giant Killer the most satisfying story in the collection whereas girls seemed divided between stories like Furball

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or Beauty and the Beast.
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or The Dancing Shoes

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While I had managed to find four copies of this 1928 fairy tale book, I couldn’t find any Adventure covers for sale. However, I did find a website that was collecting cover images from as many pulp magazines as possible. According to this website, these covers were often the way artists made a living during the first half of the twentieth century, and they are now being collected as art. They had a jackpot of Adventure covers.

We spent many winter nights studying the covers on this website before making our selection. Choosing just one that we all remembered, we decided to move on with new Adventure covers just as we have moved on with new Adventures- a little bit of a shout out to what was but mostly an appreciation of what is.

We settled on a group, none of them as scary as the ones we remembered (though perhaps that’s because we weren’t looking at them with flashlights in a dark dark room a long way from civilization). I hung them today. Here’s a view of six to give you the flavor. From here on out, it will be an Adventure! to visit the new bathroom!
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Seed Catalogs

It was seed catalog heaven this weekend as I poured over all my seed catalogs to send for the year’s seeds. Took my mind right off the sawdust and jet engine construction noises in the next room!

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My favorite catalog remains the Seed Savers Exchange- All their seed is saved by their members, and they fight the good fight against GMOs.

I love that they share the stories of how seeds get saved.

One tomato I am getting from Seed Savers this year is a yellow tomato called Emmy. It’s rescue as a seed involved a woman named Emmy. To save her life, she had to flee from Transylvania at the end of WW2. She actually grabbed a tomato from her garden as she ran from her home, hoping to preserve this tomato as well as her own skin. I have to respect this kind of serious gardener. I can’t imagine thinking straight enough to save a tomato from extinction in this kind of situation!

It has surprised me how many dramatic seed saving stories I’ve heard over the years.

During the break-up of the Soviet Union, Soviet citizens escaped the country via the Caucasus mountains in order to save seeds. Others risked serious consequences when they handed US tourists parcels of seed through tour bus windows, entrusting literal strangers to save precious plant varieties. The seed situation became a crisis in the faltering Soviet Union when seed banks were subject to power outages and government seed inventories were no longer kept under proper conditions for preservation. Getting these seeds into the hands of actual gardeners who would grow them was both heroic and visionary.

I can see how important it is for us to have actual gardeners growing the seeds of earth, not just trusting to seed banks to keep seeds safe. May more and more people find themselves preserving the diversity of earth in this way (hopefully without having to run over any mountain ranges to do the job).

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It may shock people that I buy seeds from Parks and Burpees as well as Heirloom organizations, but the resources they can bring to seed hybridization means they sometimes have real treasures. Our beloved Mehera White Marigold seeds took Burpee 56 years work. I will always be grateful to the member of the Burpee family who was as crazy about this Flower as I am!

I watch with delight the rise of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. The catalog is passionate and flaky and chock full of heirloom seeds, and somehow the man behind the catalog is keeping it all together even as he buys up failing seed houses, runs a replica Ozark village in Missouri and takes photos of his four year Sasha eating every vegetable under the sun.

If he can buy the Petaluma Savings Bank in Petaluma, CA and transform it into a thriving seed bank- Well props to him! And props to all who are buying and growing and saving heirloom seeds and saving our heritage just like Emmy with her yellow tomato!

Construction Blues

Since moving the bathroom, the only calm place in the building IS the new bathroom.

Every other space in the house is torn up…. because with the removal of the old bathroom:

A) old walls were torn down then new walls were built
B) the wood stove had to be moved because of the new walls
C)the old hearth for the wood stove had to be taken out and a new hearth built where the woodstove now sits
D) the old floor where the old bathroom was had to be torn up and then replaced
E) the place where the old hearth was needed a new floor
F) you get the picture…

Its like cascading dominoes around here- One little project catapulted us into about twenty other necessary fixes…… PLUS we decided as long as we were doing construction we “might as well rebuild all our bookshelves.” I must have breathed a bit too much plaster dust the night I had THAT thought.

What lunacy it was to compound the situation with this add on! Right now all our books are packed up in boxes and stacked in various bedrooms upstairs which means everyone trips over boxes on their way to bed and of course none of us can find any book we want.

Downstairs, sawdust is everywhere, and standards are getting lower and lower by the minute as dust covers everything in the house.

A Green Hope friend emailed me today and asked me to write a blog about watering plants. I did water all the plants in the greenhouse today, but it was bedlam out there as they too are covered in sawdust. I hosed some of them down and then felt that only meant they’d gather dust better. I am sure they too are feeling that water is the least of their problems right now- If they could, they would probably FIRE ME!

But to briefly and inadequately cover the topic of watering, I think watering plants is symbolic of self care. Watering takes time and it matters a lot – much like self care. A beloved gardener friend whom I learned a particular lot from lavished water on all seedlings and took watering extremely seriously. She also took really good care of herself. I try to follow her example, but sometimes I get bogged down and both me and my plants get a bit wilted.

Today was like that. The greenhouse plants looked bedraggled and so did I. At first, during this spurt of construction projects, I thought I was sailing along just great. I congratulated myself on being soooooooooo flexible. I did Christmas without any of my cookbooks and “loved it!” I had a livingroom/kitchen in which there was really no place to sit down except the floor and it was CHARMING!. La di di! I was CHILL.

I (sort of) managed this light hearted attitude for a number of weeks, but now I feel a bit growly!

Ten weeks in and I really don’t care if I have floors or hearths or a working wood stove, I just want it to be over- It’s a little bit like childbirth really. At some point you lose all track of a baby coming or there being any point to the pain and I AM AT THAT POINT.

Jim tells me by next Friday we will turn the corner (I think this means all floors will be in place).

How exciting! I will be able to pull up a chair and look at the walls and ceiling that now need to be painted and also note that every thing in the whole house, including all the greenhouse plants, needs to be washed. PLUS all those new bookshelves will need three coats of varnish!

Should be a wonderful moment!

Construction Blues

Since moving the bathroom, the only calm place in the building IS the new bathroom.

Every other space in the house is torn up…. because with the removal of the old bathroom:

A) old walls were torn down then new walls were built
B) the wood stove had to be moved because of the new walls
C)the old hearth for the wood stove had to be taken out and a new hearth built where the woodstove now sits
D) the old floor where the old bathroom was had to be torn up and then replaced
E) the place where the old hearth was needed a new floor
F) you get the picture…

Its like cascading dominoes around- One little project catapulted us into about twenty other necessary fixes…… PLUS we decided as long as we were doing construction we “might as well rebuild all our bookshelves.” I must have breathed a bit too much plaster dust the night I had THAT thought.

What lunacy it was to compound the situation with this add on! Right now all our books are packed up in boxes and stacked in various bedrooms upstairs which means everyone trips over boxes on their way to bed and of course none of us can find any book we want.

Downstairs, sawdust is everywhere, and standards are getting lower and lower by the minute as dust covers everything in the house.

A Green Hope friend emailed me today and asked me to write a blog about watering plants. I did water all the plants in the greenhouse today, but it was bedlam out there as they too are covered in sawdust. I hosed some of them down and then felt that only meant they’d gather dust better. I am sure they too are feeling that water is the least of their problems right now- If they could, they would probably FIRE ME!

But to briefly and inadequately cover the topic of watering, I think watering plants is symbolic of self care. Watering takes time and it matters a lot – much like self care. A beloved gardener friend whom I learned a particular lot from lavished water on all seedlings and took watering extremely seriously. She also took really good care of herself. I try to follow her example, but sometimes I get bogged down and both me and my plants get a bit wilted.

Today was like that. The greenhouse plants looked bedraggled and so did I. At first, during this spurt of construction projects, I thought I was sailing along just great. I congratulated myself on being soooooooooo flexible. I did Christmas without any of my cookbooks and “loved it!” I had a livingroom/kitchen in which there was really no place to sit down except the floor and it was CHARMING!. La di di! I was CHILL.

I (sort of) managed this light hearted attitude for a number of weeks, but now I feel a bit growly!

Ten weeks in and I really don’t care if I have floors or hearths or a working wood stove, I just want it to be over- Its a little bit like labor really. At some point you lose all track of a baby coming or there being any point to the pain and I AM AT THAT POINT.

Jim tells me by next Friday we will turn the corner (I think this means all floors will be in place).

How exciting! I will be able to pull up a chair and look at the walls and ceiling that now need to be painted and also note that every thing in the whole house, including all the greenhouse plants, need to be washed. PLUS all those new bookshelves will need three coats of varnish!

Should be a wonderful moment!

Questions for you about Flower Essence Racks

I posted these two photos on Facebook yesterday but also want to put them up here, because I want as much input as possible on this project.

We have a carpenter friend, Jay Waldner, who is interested in making wooden Flower Essence racks for shops and practices. He is a marvelous craftsman and problem solver. Our inventory sits in beautiful wooden stands of his creation. When he built these floor to ceiling stands for us, he thought through the issues we confronted including how the Flower Essence bottles could slide smoothly as inventory was pulled. His stands manage our inventory in a way that is both functionally flawless as well as extremely elegant. That is really the hallmark of his work: issues of form and function are both addressed beautifully!

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This is Jay’s first prototype.

It a two piece affair that will hold 6 bottles of 24 different Essences. The two pieces don’t have to be sold together, but together they would be perfect for the Animal Wellness Collection as they would hold the 22 remedies of this collection while also offering space for the frequent additional Essences, Golden Armor and the Arbor Garden.

In this prototype, the dividers are made from pine although Jay says they could also be made from cherry. Jay thinks he would finish the pieces with a mix of tung oil and varnish. In their protoype stage, they are not varnished. The angle of the surface the bottles sit on is 20 degrees, but Jay could shift this easily so that the bottles slide more easily when the bottom bottle is removed.

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This second prototype uses dowels for dividers. It would probably be easier to clean. Jay said he would be happy to build a second unit to go behind this one, but I suggested we post these photos and get your input before he builds this. The angle of this prototype is much steeper, about 45 degrees.

I can take more photos if people want them. I can also given you exact measurements of the units. We have received a lot of requests for this kind of rack over the years. Now that we have someone willing to provide them, we need more data from you before he goes into any kind of production.

Is this the size unit you would like? Would you rather have racks that held fewer bottles of more Essences for example a rack that holds three bottles each of 36 or 48 Essences? Would you rather have much smaller units that could work as building blocks? How much would you be willing to pay for one of these? Would you rather not have the sample bottles set on top of the units? What are the concerns you would like us to address with these racks?

Email your thoughts, suggestions, feedback, ideas to us at green.hope.farm@valley.net or post your thoughts on our Facebook page! THANK YOU!

As a community of Flowers, Angels, Nature Spirits, Dogs, Cats and even some People, Green Hope Farm can be a funny place……and I love telling you all about it!