Flow Free

Flow Free.

I have been taking Flow Free a lot lately. This is one of the most versatile remedies in our collection. It is so deeply helpful in so many ways. Like many Flower Essences and Flower Essence combinations, when it was first created, we saw only the tip of the iceberg of how it supports people and animals in their healing tasks. As the years have unfolded, we have begun to see beneath the surface to its vast and diverse strengths.

The tip of the iceberg for which Flow Free was created was urinary tract issues, specifically a request for Flower Essence help from an older gentleman with prostate issues. On a number of trips to Bermuda, Lynn and I decided to seek out Flowers that we thought would help with flow issues in this part of the body. We called this our “P” project and the Flowers were referred to as our “P” plants. Okay, so it was a fun project! We laughed a lot! But we also came back from these trips with fabulously Flower Essences, helpful in their own right and vital to our beloved Flow Free combination remedy.

Our most memorable moment making “P” Flower Essences for this remedy came when we made our first batch of Monkey Tail. We found this pendulous long fuzzy red Flower in the gardens of a very posh, very old world resort owned by a childhood friend of Lynn’s. As we lowered the long hairy flower into our glass bowl, a prim group of Brits gazed at us with equal parts veiled curiosity and equal parts horror at our unseemly and strangely suggestive behavior.

After that, I grew Monkey Tail in the greenhouse here so as to avoid this kind of scene. This was a relief to Lynn who has the impeccable manners born of a Bermuda childhood. She would say that she bore with me through my “P” Flower Essence missions out of compassion for this friend with the prostate issue, but I think SHE actually coined the phrase “P” plant and as I recall, she laughed just as hard as I did when we created the furor at the resort.

In any case, the gardens here and the gardens of Bermuda gave us a wonderful compliment of Flower Essences for our friend’s issue. The Angels encouraged us to make the group into a combination remedy they called Flow Free. By the time we launched the remedy, we had realized from feedback and our own experiences that Flow Free offered supportive information for all sorts of issues of the urinary tract not just prostate issues, so that was the basis for our initial definition.

Almost at once, we found the Angels and our own intuition leading us to suggest this remedy for a much broader range of issues. Flow Free offers helpful information for circulatory issues. It offers helpful information for any kind of blockage. The blockage need not be physical. Basically, any time there is resistance or a sense of things not moving, a need to let go, or a desire to go with the flow then Flow Free surfaces as a possible support.

Stories flooded back to us about this remedy. They still do. This morning I was thinking about writing about Flow Free and one of the first emails on my desktop concerned an ailing cat with non specific symptoms who had found much better health after being given this remedy. This was the nudge I needed to write about Flow Free.

I use the phrase “non-specific symptoms” intentionally. Flow Free unlocks and releases situations that defy description and seem to defy help. I think of it as the stealth Essence in the collection, the one I would suggest for mysterious situations.

I don’t mean to suggest it’s a mysterious process to arrive at Flow Free as a possible tool. It’s just that because of the many mysterious situations in which it has unlocked and released the situation, I have needed to broaden and then broaden some more my sense of when and how to offer this remedy to the world. Basically, Flow Free is one I now think about offering for most any situation. And when I check with the Angels, which is what I do whenever someone asks for a suggestion, the Angels so often concur. Flow Free it is.

One of the things I notice about the Angels is that they work with the essences in a metaphorical way as well as a literal way. If someone is back stabbing you, they will suggest Watch Your Back. If you are being pestered by someone else, they will suggest Flee Free. With Flow Free they have helped me see that it helps with emotional flow, flow of ideas, flow of material goods, flow of tears when grief is bottled up, basically any situation when things are dammed up and need to flow better.

Right now they have suggested it for me as I navigate the transition of Lizzy and Ben off in their new apartments and Jim, Emily, and William back to school. Flow Free helps me go with the flow of all these changes. I am drinking a quart jar of water with Flow Free in it right now. From the moment of birth onwards, letting go seems to be the job description of parenthood and never more so for me than this week.

And how did the moves go? Ben is now ensconced in a great apartment on the top floor of a boy’s dorm at Kimball Union Academy. The view from each of his dormer windows is breathtaking, sort of like paintings by Bruegel in which you can see world after world unfolding in the distance. We dubbed his place the “Crow’s Nest” because of this sense of overlooking the world and then discovered that one of the last people who had lived there also called it that. Lizzy is settled into a charming old house, part of faculty and staff housing at Bennington. For those who love synchronicities as much as I do and who have been hanging with my rhino blogs this summer, you may find it as funny as I did that when we unpacked Lizzy’s pots and pans in the kitchen of her new home, we found a ceramic RHINO sitting on the top of the stove. How that comforted me that she was right where the universe wanted her!


Here she is holding the rhino of Faculty Row #3, in Bennington, Vermont!

Four Swarms

There really was too much going on the last couple of days for me to deal with FOUR swarms. And of course bee man Jim was GONE every time the bees swarmed. I swear they wait until he leaves the property to swarm!

Whatever were the bees thinking? Every time another swarm happened, all of us in the office would be alerted to the latest swarm activity because the very air of our building would take on a deep resonant bee buzz noise. Then we would look out to see another 10,000 plus bees take off in a cloud of whirling glory.

Have I said this clearly enough? I love bees, but I really do not understand why they do what they do. I love being around them. Even standing in the middle of a swarm makes me happy, but I have absolutely no intellectual understanding of what makes them tick. Or why they would leave a spacious hive full of honey as well as new empty frames for the wilds of a new home with no honey waiting.

When I asked them why they were swarming, the gist of their answer was “Because we feel like it.” This was a wonderfully sassy response, but not terribly edifying.

One thing I do know about swarms is that a swarm takes off from a hive with a new queen bee in its midst. It will then temporarily settle in a nearby branch in a big pulsing mass of bees, all protecting this new queen bee. Scouts from the swarm then go out to seek a new home. When they find a spot to move the new colony, the whole mass of bees takes off, quite fast I might add, for the new home.

This temporary rest before moving to the new home is the time I can try and get a swarm into one of our empty hive boxes and thus get a new hive for the farm. The first two swarms in this latest go round happened within minutes of each other. While both swarms were in flight, I asked the Angels how to proceed. The Angels told me not to try and put these swarms in new hives.

Because I get some nutty ideas like “I really CAN carry an empty hive up a step ladder and toss a mass of bees into a waiting hive box, it was an excellent thing the Angels clarified that I was NOT to try and collect these first two swarms. Both hives settled on a branch twenty feet up in the air, a location perfect for me to balance on a step ladder while holding a hive and then making a free fall dive with or without accompanying bees.

I want to take GOOD care of the bees here. This means I might have tried some foolish maneuver on a step ladder. The Angels, over the years, have learned to be VERY CLEAR with me when they want to kibosh one my overly optimistic ideas. I am most grateful for their sensible guidance. Jim too, I imagine.


Here’s a view of the first two swarms. Notice, no step ladder in sight.

Here’s what the air looks like when the bees are on the go.

Swarm three and four were a different matter. They settled about six feet off the ground on the branches of our big oak tree. I was given the Angelic thumbs up to collect these swarms. Jim, of course, had just left the farm when these swarms happened. Without injury to self or bees, I managed to get both swarms into new hives.

When trying this maneuver, the key is moving the queen. If I can get her settled into the new hive, the rest of the bees will stay. I do this with such finesse. I grab big handfuls of bees until the branches are stripped bare and hope the queen in amongst those in the bottom of the new hive box. I love scooping live bees into an empty hive. It is unlike any other experience I can think of.

I did NOT appreciate the fact that I had to go out to the barn and build a box and assemble the beeswax frames for inside the hive when swarm number four happened. It was already hot and bothered by dealing with swarm three in that attractive insulating bee suit wear. I had to build the frames as fast as possible because I didn’t know how long I had before the scout bee found a new home. My hammer skills were not great with the itsy bitsy nails needed to build the frames. I actually asked the Angel of Bees to help me and that seemed to do the trick. I got everything built before this fourth swarm took off and as of this morning, the two new hives were humming away with bees coming and going to the late summer Flowers like Goldenrod.


Note that I am standing on some random chair with the new hive perched precariously on another chair. I have a knack for doing stuff with the most half baked equipment.

The symbolism of all these swarms doesn’t escape me. Two of our children are moving into their own apartments off the farm TOMORROW! Hence the two swarms on the go and Angelic directives to LET THEM GO. Mercifully our other two children will be with us awhile longer. Hence the two swarms I could put in new spacious boxes right next to our two parental sized original hives.

I know, I know. All this swarming means more room for the original queen bee in her hive ( and fewer dirty dishes) but GULP! It will feel really weird not to have so many bodies around! Ben is moving to a faculty apartment in a dorm at Kimball Union Academy and Elizabeth to an apartment in Bennington, Vermont. TOMORROW! Did I say that already? Only wish we could move all the stuff needed for two empty apartments as easily as those bees got moved!

On another topic, the peaches have ripened without the hail storm I probably deserved after my counting my peaches before they ripened.

Or maybe I got what I deserved. Each evening this week, I have been peeling, cutting and/or canning them up. We canned them without sugar to meet the needs of some in my group who live sugar free ( this would not include me). Since there really is an enormous crop, later this week, I will can more in a light sugar syrup to meet the needs of others in our group who prefer sugar on everything. Then we will move onto the pear crop which also looks to be substantial.

In the meantime, at every meal we eat the peaches in complete amazement that these luscious fruits could actually grow here at the arctic circle. Peach pies have also been featured. Here’s one in progress


Don’t you just love May May sitting there underfoot, just hoping I will lose interest in all this frenzied activity at the stove and get back to the really important stuff like throwing a ball for her.

As I finished this, Vicki called out from the next room that the bees seem to be on the go again…. and then Jim came in to say its going to be very cold tonight, maybe in the 30’s. I don’t know which to do first, put on my bee suit or go to the barn to get the sprinkler organized for tonight’s low temperatures. The Red Shiso may need to be kept warm with this sprinkler come five am tomorrow morning!


Another rainy weekend. Riley and I have been out in the garden doing the usual.

One advantage of a rainy, rainy summer is that all these lovely tall Flowers that usually don’t mingle with their shorter brethren are flopping down for late summer close ups. These bigger plants are so leggy after a season of so much rain and their blossoms are so heavy with actual raindrops that all the plants that aren’t staked are flopped over. That would be practically everything in the garden. Everything is flopping. That would be because nothing is staked. Despite all my best intentions and all those great green metal stakes I could buy, there just hasn’t been any staking going on. Zippo! Ergo, very little is vertical out there.

Here the formerly five foot tall Bee Balm visits with the two foot tall Autumn Joy Sedum. The Sedum is just beginning to think about blooming. The Bee Balm is just beginning to think about finishing its blossoming. They look like they were meant to nudge elbows but they weren’t. Notice all those lovely leaning stalks!


More flopping on the Sedum. I would if I could. It looks very inviting. Here a five foot tall Phlox takes advantage of the offered resting place.

Did you notice in that photo of Riley that the lawn is looking rather long? Sort of like the beginning of a hay field? Yup, that’s another thing that is looking leggy.

Jim experienced a miracle this last week. The lawnmower died. When he took it in to be serviced, the lawnmower guy reported so many other sick lawnmowers in the queue that Jim was assured it would be a good two weeks or more before a revived lawnmower would be returned into his hands.

This delay gave Jim a new lease on life. Up until the lawnmower collapse, any essay he wrote about HIS summer vacation would have been about mowing the lawn.

Our endless rain has meant that the lawn has needed to be mowed at least every five days ALL SUMMER LONG. Usually after these five days it was a tough mow of thick lush growth.

All this wet summer long, whenever Jim would get a distant and distracted look on his face, I would asking him what he was thinking about and he would tell me he was thinking about his next assault on the lawn. Often he would overshare with long descriptions of his next mowing strategy.

Even during a dry summer this lawn is a tough mow. As you might imagine, with all the odd shaped garden beds and zillions of shrubs, trees, and gewgaws I have planted, it is no easy thing to mow our lawn. It takes Jim at least three and a half hours and he can’t do any of it on a riding lawnmower. Its all fiddly bits circling trees and such.

Were Jim to film a horror film, he would probably include a scene with him mowing under the Larch tree. But for now, he’s been given a reprieve. He is enjoying a sleepy Sunday afternoon without the smell of gasoline in his nostrils or the roar of a small gas engine in his ears, an afternoon where the only noise is that of rain drops falling on flopping Flowers.

Rhino Takes a Holiday

We decided to take overworked Rhino to Montreal for a mini break holiday. It was the least we could do for him after his long summer on dish duty. Montreal is a little over three hours from our farm. Rhino was game to drive up early Tuesday morning, wander the city for a day, spent the night in a hotel, and returned late the next day after more adventures.

Here he is on first arrival, fresh and ready for lots of walking.

Here’s Rhino on St Catherine Street leaving the three older Sheehan children to a shopping whirlwind. Will, Rhino, and their supervisory parental units had other plans.

They went to the rooftop hotel pool to chill.

Once revived, they could join the rest of the crew to beat the pavement again.

Gosh, it looks like we were the only people in Montreal in these shots. That’s what a Rhino does for you. Really clears the pavement!

Rhino even took in a museum.

Rhino particularly liked the “Il Modo Italiano” exhibit at the Musee des Beaux-Artes and insisted we get a shot of him in front of this vintage Alfa Romeo touring car.


But it was not ALL walking, shopping, and culture for Rhino. It didn’t take Rhino long to realize that this is a city that’s all about the food! Here’s Rhino looking at the view from the balcony of his new favorite bistro on Crescent Street, a street packed with restaurants.

Favorite sights in general for Rhino? Spotting this car, just his size.

And seeing the sartorial splendor of a city that loves its fashion.


Sunday’s Pleasures

After lunch today, I found Jim at the kitchen table with big bins of papers. He was leafing through heap after heap in a determined search for a particular farm document. He explained that he needed eight different pieces of information for a meeting he had later this week and he wanted to find at least one needed piece of information today. The rest, he said, could wait until tomorrow.

I suggested all eight documents could wait until tomorrow, noting what a strange thing it was to get worried about finding this document on a beautiful sunny afternoon. He said the things we got worried about at unusual moments was what made us individuals. He noted the weird way I had spent the morning. He had a good point.

A brush pile that had been down near the compost heap since LAST OCTOBER suddenly became my top priority. I was overcome with a BURNING NEED to move that pile. This pile had been there with more and more Ladies Bedstraw tangling it to the earth for almost ten months. It was not going anywhere and was almost invisible to all but the most observant and obsessive eye. Soon it was going to meld into the landscape so well it wouldn’t even need to be moved. But NO, I was going to move that pile this morning if it was the last thing I did. And when I clocked myself on top of the head as I heaved a big piece of brush into our truck, it looked like it might be my last moment. But it was not.

On one of my trips, I hooked William into riding shotgun. It was really fun to bounce across our hayfield in the truck to the bottom of the field where I was moving the brush. William was stellar at tossing the brush onto its final resting place without clocking himself as his mother had done.

Here he is getting ready to roll.

This thing about priorities….. I am a bit of a pinball out in the gardens. A long, long time ago I tried to be a list person. Plan. Color code with magic markers. Cross out with secondary colors. Mostly I found that I would put things on my list after I had already done the job so that it could look like I was making progress on my list.

Now its all a bit more random. I start with some idea of what needs to be done and usually this leads to other things. On Friday I decided to make Dilly Beans. I haven’t canned in about ten years. Just like that brush pile, suddenly those beans and my canning jars were calling.

I went out to pick the beans.


But I also needed garlic for the Dilly Beans. When I went to pull a head of garlic, I realized all the garlic needed to be pulled up. So I harvested the garlic with Riley at my side.

The Dilly Bean project was a success. I got a ridiculous amount of pleasure from lining jars of beans on Jim’s new pantry shelves. So today, after the brush pile activity, we did yellow Dilly Beans to compliment Friday’s green Dilly Beans. Because the water was hot and I had been leafing through my freezing and canning cookbook, I decided to can blueberries as well as yellow Dilly Beans.

This turned out to be the easiest canning ever.

While out picking blueberries, I saw our cat Mishka chase a wild turkey. This was perhaps one of the funniest things I have ever seen. Tiny toasted marshmallow colored Mishka leaping like a siberian tiger after a turkey several times her size. It took the squalking turkey a good fifty yards of running just ahead of Mishka before he remembered he could fly. He took off over me and I had the berries back to myself.

Because it was such a clear sunny day, I also made several Flower Essences. That is one area where I do make a list. I inventory all the mother Essences before the growing season and build a list of what needs to be made that season. The list is in a loose chronological order of bloom time. When we have a nice day, I look at this list and see what is blooming. Today I made Joe Pye Weed, the Fairy Rose, and Black Eyed Susan. I was lucky with the Fairy Rose because its just about to go by. But there was a beautiful branch of blossoms sitting right over the Arbor Garden pool just waiting for me today.

Did a little weeding too. After all my action shots of weed piles, I bet that surprises you!. Well here’s another one!

I also had to go over to admire the ripening peaches at frequent intervals. We have NEVER had peaches like this. I probably am asking for a hail storm the way I am so excited about the peaches.

Okay, I WAS tired after all this activity. Looking through a pile of papers at the kitchen table was sounding like a reasonable way to while away a Sunday afternoon. I decided to stop and settle down with a cup of tea and a book in the shade.

But the garden had plans of its own. One of the beehives swarmed. Suddenly about 60,000 bees were on the move. They formed an icicle of bees about 50 yards from the hive. The Angels told me to finish my cup of tea before going after the swarm. When I had finished my tea, I went down in the bee suit to move the swarm into an empty hive box, but the bees had started to move again! Lo and behold they went back to their original hive. I am so glad that they decided the grass wasn’t greener in another location and that I listened to the Angels about finishing my cup of tea. Angels move bees much better than people!