The Agony and Ecstasy of Plums

If there is a plum tree in your life, you probably know the agony and ecstasy of plums. Very early in spring, radiant white blossoms cover every inch of their branches. Bees of all varieties find this state of affairs to be bee heaven, and plum trees literally hum with bee traffic. Plums are beautiful trees all year long, but at this moment, they are a wonder.

The agony comes next. With all the vagaries of our unsettled climate, incipent plums are often lost due to late frosts. Some years there will be nary a plum that survives these frosts. When the baby plums do survive the frosts, it usually means a bumper crop. Plums will hang off every branch, glowing in shades of purple red and gold, each one a sweet mouthful of such deliciousness. The off years feel like a small price to pay for this glory.

In early September, during a good plum year, we all disappear at one point or another down into the plum trees and often stay there for a very long time. It is impossible to eat just one plum and so we linger, juices dripping down our hands as we eat just one more.IMG_0212
Even with all this snacking, our plum trees give us a lot of extra plums in a good plum year. And this is a good plum year. An epic year. A year in which I lie awake at night trying to think what to do with all the plums. A year in which I am beginning to experience almost as much agony as a bad plum year.

Case in point: Over the weekend I decided to manage some of the plum glut by making plum jam. I found a recipe for Ukrainian Plum Jam that required no pectin and virtually no sugar. It all sounded so innocent.

According to the recipe, after pitting twelve pounds of plums, I would heat the plums with a tiny bit of sugar to a boil then simmer for ten minutes then cool completely for up to a day before repeating this process three more times. It sounded lovely to have an enormous vat of plums gently bubbling on the stove. So luddite. So cosy. So charming.
The reality was a different story. While our plums are abundant, they are also small so getting twelve pounds of pitted plum fruit took awhile. A long while. But hey, what are Saturday nights for?
Boil number one went smoothly. I thanked the babushkas of the Ukrainian plum jam recipe with all my heart.

During the second boil on day two, perhaps I was a bit less attentive. Suddenly the bottom of my pan was a scorched mess. I quickly poured off the plum mixture in hopes of saving the jam. Somehow it did not have a burned taste.

However, I felt a bit burned after an hour scraping the bottom of the jam pan.
Sadly, round three fared no better. I heated the pan at what I thought was a low enough heat only to find myself saddled with yet another scorch job. This is the pan right now- a work in progress with more scrubbing to be done.
Round four, I did not leave the jam boil once, and I used a different pan, stirring constantly. The recipe suggested I do a fifth round if the consistency of the jam was “not to my liking”. I did not care if the jam was the right consistency or even if there was any jam at the end of this project.IMG_0363
Here is the LAST PLUM JAM I will ever make.

Now I am going down to the plum trees to eat my fill, then I am telling the birds to have at them.


September 3rd, 2013. It’s a little bit like after the circus rolled out of town.

Trampled grass where the big top was.

Cricket song replacing the exuberant noise of high wire farm activities and a packed house.

Dozing cats draped on the furniture instead of large bodies checking their iPhones.

Me cooking for a crowd of thousands then trying to convince myself that Jim is going to LOVE leftover meatloaf for dinner eight nights in a row.

Yup, I am suffering from ENS or Empty Nest Syndrome.

Ben has returned to his life in the classroom and in charge of a dormitory of fifty five teenage boys.

Emily has moved into her first apartment in Boston and today begins to teach in a fourth grade classroom.

Will is a freshman in college in Lewiston, Maine, 3 hours and 15 minutes or 3 hours and 23 minutes from here depending on who wins the fight about which route we take.

Will during the packing
Here are some the songs I am singing to comfort myself as I get used to our household census of two.

On Top of Old Smokey the dishes
All covered with snow For the first time in years
On Top of Old Smokey the dishes
‘Cause there’s nobody here.

Where have all the Flowers wooden hangers gone
Long time passing.
Where have all the Flowers wooden hangers gone
Long time ago.
They’ve gone to Boston every one.
When will they ever learn return? When will they ever learn return?

I’m gonna wash that man right out of my hair.
I’m gonna wash that man right out of my hair.
I’m gonna wash that man right out of my hair.
Because I have inherited six zillion half empty bottles of hair product.

Getting to know you, Getting to know all about you
Getting to like you, getting to hope you like me
Getting to know you, putting it my way, but nicely,
You are precisely, my cup of tea.

From this valley they say you are going
We will miss your bright eyes & sweet smile
For they say you are taking the sunshine
Which has brightened our pathway a while.

All I can say is THANK GOD FOR GRACE (who still lives nearby with her mama and papa!)

Grace wearing a cheerio for decoration.


Conversation here has become nothing more than veiled hints, people shushing each other and others in some sort of scrum in the bottling room whispering to each other.

Most everyone here (five Sheehans and about as many staff) has succumbed to GOTS aka Game of Thrones Syndrome in which we find it impossible to put down our books and rejoin the human race for more than a brief pause to refuel and rub our tired eyes.


We are all in different places in the series. This means there is much analysis of where in which volume someone is before anyone says something aloud like, “Bummer about the wedding.”

Well actually, I wish SOMEONE had stifled that particular comment. Apparently everyone in America knows about the red wedding but me. I am almost through the third volume but not yet to the wedding. Just a guess, but I bet the red adjective is not about them serving red velvet cupcakes.


To add insult to injury, several staff who are not reading the books have seen the HBO series. These folks are the real trouble makers as they keep inadvertently spilling big beans. Let’s just say that at this point, they are huddled behind the shipping stations in fear of having one more person give them the hairy eyeball for their inadvertent spoilers.

Our collective GOTS is so extreme that on Wednesday when Ben, Will and Emily took a first load of stuff down to Boston where Emily will be teaching school next year, they also took their GOT volumes.

Not only did they bring their books but after carrying all Emily’s stuff up five flights of stairs, they settled in among the cardboard boxes and read a few chapters.


Here is Grace trying to help Emily pack and wondering why all her fans are not paying as much attention to her clanging pot lids as they used to.

It’s GOTS Gracie and as soon as you can read, you’ll have it too.

More Thoughts on Lyme disease and our Beyond Lyme Flower Essence mix

I am going to repost a previous post about Lyme disease and our new Flower Essence mix Beyond Lyme because there has been a flurry of interest in the mix after staffer Alli Howe reported in on how the mix was helping her family dog Cody.

Before I repost the description, I just want to add a couple things-

I feel very strongly that this is a very important Flower Essence mix given to us by the Angels and Elementals to help all of us make a necessary paradigm shift in our collective as well as individual consciousness.

Let me try and rephrase that……

This Essence offers us the information we need right now to make a necessary energetic shift. It offers a way to make this shift in a profound yet efficient and painless way.

I believe that when humanity has collectively moved through the thought form underlying Lyme disease, our animals will move on to greater health with us.

I strongly encourage anyone who gets any nudge to work with our Beyond Lyme mix for any reason to give it a try. Your efforts to make the shift help everyone. We are all moving through the collective experience of Lyme disease right now so your efforts to make the paradigm shift serve everyone else- including the animals. Lyme disease will be solved in another variation on the hundredth Monkey phenomena- a truth I find deeply encouraging and hopeful.

As the Angels wrote this with me, they asked that I use the words we and our. They are not going through this lesson in the same way we are, but they are very much with us in it. They are already operating consciously from within what they describe as our “collective unified energetic field”, and they will help us be conscious of this too.

That is another truth I find encouraging and hopeful!

Beyond Lyme-
In the hero’s journey, there are obstacles placed in the way of continuing one’s journey. These obstacles are sometimes called “threshold guardians.”

Humanity is on a hero’s journey to expand its understanding of itself, and one of the threshold guardians at this particular point of our collective journey is Lyme disease. Lyme disease represents a thought form that we must wrestle with and move beyond in order to continue our journey home to conscious oneness with divinity.

Each of us on our hero’s journey confronts and moves beyond the thought form of Lyme disease in a way perfect for us. There is no right or wrong in how we each tackle the threshold guardian of this thought form.

Some of us have decided to tackle it through experiencing the physical condition of Lyme disease. Some will move through the threshold in a different way. All of us must make this journey in one way or another as the threshold guardian of Lyme disease represents an illusion of separation and conflict that individually and collectively we must move beyond in order to experience ourselves as a collective unified energetic field.

Collective unified energetic field; I know that is wordy. Sometimes realities sublime and simple seem to be the hardest to describe. The threshold guardian of Lyme disease brings forward our attack from outside ourselves/”other” consciousness so we can dismantle it. Crossing this threshold will free us from any illusions that self and self-interest do not encompass all beings.

One of the most awe inspiring things for me as I worked on this project was the way I experienced the selflessness of those who are most directly tackling this thought form through living through and beyond the disease process. Their work is a brave way showing for the rest of us. Our culture has such a decidedly judgmental framework about disease and those who gets sick. Whereas these courageous way showers work not only to cross this threshold for themselves but show us all it can be done. This rings a bell for all humanity of confidence and hope.

At this juncture, through the grace of Nature, we can move beyond this threshold without any more people needing going through the physical disease process of Lyme disease.

Flowers and the Angels and Elementals of Nature do not hold the same illusions of separation we must disband and therefore, it is with Nature’s gift of Flower Essences that we can find a way shower mix for all of us that can move us through this threshold in a different, more gentle way.

I loved the name the Angels chose for the mix: Beyond Lyme. There it is. This mix is not about keeping us in the thought form of attack by others outside ourselves. It is about releasing these ideas and moving us beyond these thought forms.

Almost everything about this mix surprised me except, of course, that the Angels and Elementals of Nature and the Flowers of creation could support us so completely to move beyond Lyme and past this threshold guardian to a new experience of reality.

We must all move beyond this threshold guardian as represented by Lyme disease. This means the Beyond Lyme mix is helpful for just about everyone! It is available from Green Hope Farm for $9 for a half ounce bottle and $30 for a two ounce bottle.

Beyond Lyme contains these Flower Essences: Aloe Ciliaris, Bottlebrush, Burdock, Carrot, Celandine, Cherry Tomato, Coralita, Cosmos, Dill, Echinacea, Echinops, Eggplant, French Marigold, Giant’s Causeway, Ginseng, Jade, Jamaica Dogwood, La Belle Sultane Rose, Larkspur, Lemon, Magnolia, Maltese Cross, Nodding Ladies Tresses, Orange, Pennyroyal, Queen Anne’s Lace, Radish, Ruby Moon Hyacinth Bean, Rudbeckia Cappuccino and Cherry Brandy, Sea Holly, Self Heal, Spiderwort, Teasel, Top Chakra Teasel and Wild Ginger

Red Shiso Mystery

We try to do everything here with as much love as possible, but we are always finding that we can do things with even MORE love. Why? Because sometimes more love is necessary!

This year it is the Red Shiso that is getting the leaf by leaf super love treatment. Never will our stabilizer have been more full of love.

To back up a step….with the Red Shiso, I listen extremely carefully to all guidance and do everything I can to follow the letter for letter guidance because, while I can mess around with ugly geraniums, WE NEED THE RED SHISO! It is quite literally the life blood of our Essences!

This year we were guided to sow the Red Shiso at the beginning of June. This later date is because the crop is very frost sensitive and especially this year, we had frosts up until then.

Additionally, we were guided to grow the Red Shiso in three different gardens. I figured out the running footage for all these different gardens and divided up our seeds accordingly. All of the young women here helped to dig the rows, add the soil amendments, sow the seeds and then pat them into the earth. The Red Shiso loves to be patted down by children. Perhaps this is because the seeds need light for germination and little feet seem to be able to press the seeds in without the dirt covering the seeds. I also know the Red Shiso likes laughter and song so we sang as we planted.

I know it might seem a little extreme to think about little feet versus big or songs versus no song but not only does this crop matter to us, but it is a tricky plant to grow. Complete crop failures are something I have heard about from folks with a lot of agricultural experience. Several other Flower Essence companies have tried to grow Red Shiso at our recommendation only to have no success. So we pay attention to every last detail down to the songs we sing.

This year there were no children to be had so we used our own feet to pat the seeds down. Perhaps it was our heavier feet that was the X factor. Perhaps it was the endless soggy, wet, cold days of early summer. Perhaps it was the mourning doves that were there scrounging seeds night and day. Perhaps it was our old friends the slugs who so often have threatened our Red Shiso crop. Perhaps it was the seed batch from the seed house. For whatever reason, we had terrible germination. The seeds germinate in 7-14 days so at first we just waited with hopes that things would improve. By the time we were certain that the germination wasn’t going to get better, it was mid-June.

By this time every tiny plant that had germinated was getting the serious love treatment. Attentive weeding is an understatement. We were out there night and day on slug patrol and weed patrol and mourning dove patrol. Checking upstairs for further guidance, we sent for more Red Shiso seeds and reseeded all the gardens.

Then we filled the greenhouse with seed flats sown with Red Shiso. This was a first for us to grow the Red Shiso under glass. Germination was worlds better, especially inside the greenhouse. Within a few weeks, we had baby plants from the greenhouse to plant out and some new babies in the fields as well. The crop was not going to be as thick and luxurious as normal, but there was going to be a crop.


So now we wait to see what this more sparse crop is going to do. Will the plants branch out because they are not so tightly planted? What will we learn from all this? We don’t know exactly.

So much happens here in the summer that it is hard to get any perspective until things quiet down later in the fall. I do know that we have learned that it is possible to love pretty much every single leaf of our Red Shiso crop and have the plants soak in every bit of our care. And we are happy to pour on the love. By season’s end we may well know every plant in all these different gardens by name!

For a view of the Red Shiso growing in this year’s Venus Garden, check out our Facebook page where I posted a photo of the Venus Garden today.

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!