Did I Mention That I Love Iris?

Not Iris Apfel, silly!  I am referring to what Wikipedia calls the genus of 260–300 species of flowering plants with showy flowers.  They are in bloom everywhere right now.

Yesterday I had lunch with my mother in law at a cafe on a small farm close to where I live and to my surprise, there were rows of beautifully blooming iris.  By the way, this farm is Lavender Ridge Farms in Gainesville.  It is tucked away just east of the city near what is known as Oak Ridge, what I refer to as Speed Trap 82.  It’s on the back road of the back roads.

Every year or so I order 5 to 8 different rhizomes from Schreiner’s in Salem, Oregon. Never have I been disappointed. I also ordered from a farm in Washington, Echo Gardens that was very generous with bonus iris. Unfortunately, while the farms want to make a profit, I am always looking for a good deal. To not have to pay shipping is my first deal. Secondly, these new introductions in many catalogs have a huge mark up. Consider “A Grape Fit”, a tall bearded plicata introduced just last year. It’s on sale right now at Schreiner’s for $45. I picked it up yesterday for $6.   It won’t come home to my garden until July.

A Grape Fit

You will want one too!  Stop by Lavender Ridge Farms if you are cruising around North Central TX around Sherman/Gainesville and have a look at their beautiful flowers.  Lavender will be in season in another month.

 

About What?

What do I write about?  This morning while driving to work a few thoughts crossed my mind but passed through about as fast as I was driving and I was unable to retrieve those ideas this evening.  I supposed I could have used my phone recorder or whatever that app is called but there are cops all over the place just waiting to pull me over for not having both hands on the wheel and traveling one mile over 55.  Seriously.  Maybe I’ll write about them in the future.

When all else fails I write about and photograph the cat, the horse, the garden.  About six years ago I planted some iris, about a hundred of them.  I’ve lost some, gained some.  Unfortunately last year we had so much rain and it was just dreadful getting out in the mud to sort through the mess out there and I lost about a third of my crop.  Heartbroken I totally ignored the garden for the remainder of the year.  Only this year, January, did I start pulling weeds, fertilizing, rearranging plants and am happy with the blooms.  I’ll start collecting iris again in July for next year.

Today’s Forecast

It was not what I expected.  The weather, that is.  The forecast called for some rain around noon but all I heard on my Droid was the beeping of the radar indicating various thunderstorm warnings within 50 miles or so.  I think they make it up as they go but that doesn’t make any difference in the beauty of it all.

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Rural health care offers wide open countrysides with an occasional cemetery to shoot a magnificent sky.  On my smugmug account, there is a gallery for sky pictures that every once in a while I lose myself in with a slide show and Tangerine Dream.

Tangerine Dream, Bad Company, Seal, Chris Knight, Chris Isaac, Ry Cooder.  Those are a few. It matters what you listen to when looking at pictures and when sitting under a dark, unpredictable sky with a gust of electric wind that makes tree branches sway.  Do you see the connection weather has on mood?

 

 

Zoom

That is how to today felt, as if it zoomed right past me. It’s what happens when you are busy and don’t pay attention to what is around you.  Do you remember driving home from work today?  Do you remember your lunch hour?

It doesn’t matter what all is on the calendar or what is lined up at home for the evening.  The speed limit is still the same.  The clock does not tick any faster.   I’ve always had a rule and a camera in my lap.  The rule is:  Notice the sights when you drive.  Forget everything for a moment except the road rules.  Take in what is flying right by you along the 377; the fields of blue bonnets and Indian paint brush.  Now don’t get too distracted by the cuteness of all the calves and foals grazing in the pastures.  And if you carry a camera, stop and take a picture.  Take in a deep breath.  Smell the fragrance of the air even though it may be coming from your local cattle barn.  Take a picture of the cloud formation or the old dilapidated barn.

PointTexasPasture2012

Lunch.  You probably inhaled it.  I almost did then I realized that I don’t have to and that everything I am about to do will still be there.  Lunch was wonderful.  It consisted of my favorite Subway sandwich, the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki on flat bread with olives and spinach with Mozzarella cheese.  This is the toasted version chased down with a bottle of ice cold Fiji water.  I ate lunch with the dead at a cemetery.  It was the only place I could safely pull off the road and eat in quiet with the windows down and a cool Spring breeze blowing a few strands of hair across my face while I took a bite of bread.  It slowed the day down a bit.  My thoughts drifted elsewhere away from the tight uneasy schedule.

There are many ways to snatch time.  Turn off the phone, or at least get off the screen. Stop multitasking.  Just concentrate on one task.  That task should stimulate the mind.  In a 2013 article written by Carolyn Gregoir, Senior Writer of the Huffington Post, she quotes David Eagleman, “The more detailed the memory, the longer the moment seems to last. ‘This explains why we think that time speeds up when we grow older,’ Eagleman said — why childhood summers seem to go on forever, while old age slips by while we’re dozing. The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass.”

Make the most of your moments.  Time flies.

 

 

 

Spring: The Best Season

This is the best time of year. To begin with we celebrate the risen Savior on Easter. And then baseball season starts but not necessarily in that order. The days are warm and breezy. Okay, some days are just plain windy blowing dust and pollen. For most of you this is the worst time of year. But you can’t have pretty flowers and butterflies and honey bees without pollen and dust. Start a riot if you want to but you just cannot go wrong with a glass of lemonade, the smell of honey suckle and the sound when the baseball bat cracks the ball while the crowd cheers.

Meanwhile, the garden grows.  The kite comes out of the closet.  Spring cleaning begins.  I’d say this involves washing windows but we all know that washing windows is like washing your car.  The minute it’s clean, the rains begin followed by a dust storm.  Forget clean windows in the summer unless you’ve invited the girls over for tea.  At least sweep the front and back porch.

Have you noticed all the buttercups along the side of the road?  And there seems endless blue bonnets and Indian paintbrush.  Get out side, and soak up the warm sunshine.  Stop for a while and smell the newly open roses.  You won’t find this on your device.  Get off your iPad, or whatever you are staring at.  Just sit, think, make meaning of the moment.

Before the Bales, There Were Seeds

And that is exactly what happened.  I order seeds from a catalog and planted them not as early as I could have.  When you have one child you, my friend, are the other child.  That includes being mom, wife, employee, volunteer, dorm guard, cat parent, housekeeper, accountant, chauffeur, picture taker, coach, cook, writer of madness, and a wannabe responsible adult.  There is a lot of responsibility in the world of parenthood.  So I drag the kid out to the garden and give him a shovel.

I give him some seeds and a Jiffy Professional Greenhouse Kit. We both plant seeds and follow the instructions on the box and Youtube and perhaps your garden blog.

In a week there are sprouts.  I put them on the freezer in the garage to keep the dirt temp warm and not too much light.  Meanwhile, the bales are conditioning.  And the daffodils are blooming.

Straw bale gardening-First Year

As January 1 approached I began jotting down what I planned on putting in the garden this year.  This included all the work that was required and I have been rather tired dealing with weeds.  Who hasn’t?  The year prior, I read some blogs on straw bale gardening.  Where I live, you don’t drive far to find feed barns.

End of January I shopped at one of my favorite farm and ranch stores and got a truck load of hay.  Starting with smaller 2 string bales, these were placed along the back fence where there is a gap, rather an open door for George and family, the coons who had been paying visits to my back yard.  More on that later.

There are larger 3 string bales in rows in other parts of my garden.  I prefer these larger bales simply due to size.  They are packed tight too and that means they will hold moisture better.

There are plenty of websites and abundant information on the web and local garden centers on gardening using bales of straw.  For those of you new to this, I emphasize straw bale, not hay bales.  There is Bermuda, Alfalfa, Oat, Clover, Timothy and more.  Don’t buy these.  Buy straw.  If you get the grass bales wet and conditioned, you will get grass!  Straw will have a little bit in it as you will see in one of my pictures but you will not get a bunch of hay or clover.  Sometimes the grasses get all mixed up and you get a bale of luck.  Don’t toss it.  Just work with it.

Each bale was placed on cardboard to prevent grass and weeds from growing up in my bales.  The cardboard over time will add organic matter to the soil.  I’ve used cardboard and mulch on the soil where the rose bush is planted with success and good weed control.  The rose bush has not looked better.

Once placed in January, fertilizer was sprinkled on the bales and they were watered each day for about a week.  Then the rains came and I let nature take its course.  The bales were kept wet however for conditioning.  They are now ready for planting!  The bales need time to condition although many gardeners state you can do this in five days.  I prefer a longer period for conditioning, no less than one month.

 

Let’s Have Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil For Dinner!

Over the past years I have become more aware of ingredients in processed foods. Tired of consuming what I cannot pronounce I have purchased less processed and prepared more from scratch.  Not only do I feel better, I have a bit more to spend.

One, the popular Cool Whip Original is made of water, hydrogenated vegetable oil (including coconut and palm oils), high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, skimmed milk, light cream, and less than 2% sodium caseinate (a milk derivative), natural and artificial flavor, xanthan and guar gums, polysorbate 60, sorbitan monostearate, and beta carotene (as a coloring).[3] In some markets, such as Canada and the United States, Cool Whip is available in an aerosol can using nitrous oxide as a propellant. Cool Whip was formerly marketed as non-dairy, but in Jewish dietary traditions, Cool Whip was classified as dairy rather than parve (non-meat and non-dairy) because of the sodium caseinate (which is derived from milk). Cool Whip now contains milk and cream.

So it’s got some milk and cream in it somewhere choked down in all those unnecessary ingredients.  How much do you like eating/drinking hydrogenated vegetable oil and high fructose corn syrup?  You love it and marketers know this.  And you fall for their sales tactics at each shopping trip.

Here is another; a favorite of mine:  Cream of chicken soup.  I grew up on Campell’s soups.  The cream of chicken soup was my favorite.  For many years I would get headaches of unknown origin until I realized that monosodium glutamate was the culprit.  It’s a controversial topic.  Some of you will comment “it’s all in your head”.  Bull crap.  Not everyone is the same and each person responds to different chemicals differently.

This is what you are putting in your gut:   CHICKEN STOCK, WATER, VEGETABLE OIL, MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, WHEAT FLOUR, CREAM (MILK), CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF: SALT, DEHYDRATED MECHANICALLY SEPARATED CHICKEN, SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE, CHICKEN FAT, YEAST EXTRACT, FLAVORING, BETA CAROTENE FOR COLOR, CHICKEN FLAVOR, BUTTER (CREAM [MILK]).  Source:  http://www.campbellfoodservice.com/details.aspx?code=346

The chicken stock and cream are fine.  The salt is okay, but not too much.  Flavoring is not necessary.  What is in chicken flavor?  Why not chicken?

For now I will share a recipe for a recipe similar to Cool Whip.  I have no idea where the origin of this recipe lies out there on the inter-web.  I did not write this recipe.  If you want to know how I make homemade condenses cream of chicken soup, you must wait for my next post.

Better Cool Whip:

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 3/4 cups whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

    1. Pour the water into a small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water, and let it sit for 2-3 minutes. Place the pan over medium-low heat and stir until gelatin dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
Once the gelatin mixture has cooled…
  1. Place 1 tablespoon of the whipping cream and the cream of tartar in a small ziptop bag. Seal the bag and shake it until cream of tartar has dissolved completely and there are no lumps. If there are lumps, use your fingers to work them out.
  2. Pour the cream of tartar mixture into a large bowl (the bowl of your mixer if using a stand mixer) along with the rest of the whipping cream and the sugar.
  3. Beat with a hand mixer or the whisk attachment on a stand mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Once cream mixture begins to slightly thicken, slowly pour in the gelatin-water while continually mixing. Add the vanilla.
  4. Continue to mix until the cream is thick and smooth.

Arabian Horse ABC’s

From the Summerwind Journal, Monday November 7, 2005.  The early days of Journalspace, much of my blog was about my gelding, Carter. Good times.
My Arabian gelding’s ABC`s

A is for age: 26 in human years. I’m 5.
B is for booze of choice: Spring water. I don’t do booze, but my rider drinks Crown sometimes before we ride.
C is for career: I’m an Arabian and that is all the career I need.
D is for your dogs names: Mickey
E is for essential items to bring to a party: Carrots, lots of carrots.
F is for favorite song at the moment: Wildfire
G is for favorite game: Stealing my rider’s hat. Anything mischeivious.
H is for hometown: Whitesboro
I is for instruments you play: An empty feed bucket.
J is for jam or jelly you like: Jam, but anything with lots of fruit
K is for kids: Sore subject, I was gelded.
L is for living arrangements: Pasture and small barn
M is for mom’s name: Tequina
N is for name of your crush: My owner’s foot?
O is for overnight hospital stays: I’ve never been, but my rider almost spent the night at the hospital when she fell off my back.
P is for phobias: Dragons, gobblins, ghosts
Q is for quotes you like: Feed me
R is for relationship that lasted the longest: Friendship with the mare for the last 2 years
S is for sexual preference: You tell me, I’m gelded
T is for time you wake up: Every now and then
U is for underwear: Find me in underwear and shoot me. Put me out of my misery
V is for vegetable you love: I love all vegies: carrots, apples, grass, alfalfa, pears, persimmons, etc, etc, etc.
W is for weekend plans: Training and riding out on the road exploring new landscapes
X is for x-rays you’ve had: I’ve had non, but my rider has when she fell off my back after I suspected a dragon in those dark woods
Y is for yummy food you make: Now now, that is not a good topic. I don’t beleive in equine slaughter for food. Leave this one alone.
Z is for zodiac sign: I don’t believe in such things.

Sorry Facebook, I Have Found Something Else

We can still be friends.

But my friendship is not what Facebook wants it to be.  It is quite miserable really.  This is a short list of why we, Facebook, are at odds.

1.  I don’t want to “like” everything.  Sponsored posts pop up everywhere on the feed these days and as you well know the right hand column is loaded with everything I do not like.  FB must stay in business but I don’t want my feed to be flooded with a bunch of businesses I have no interest in buying from in the first place.

2.  I am tired of being tagged. My people on my list are all friends I know.  I like them.  But I don’t care for their friend’s friends to see my pictures or posts.

3.  I don’t care about the fifty million shares about love and life that I’ve seen a million times already on all our mutual friends feeds.  I am more interested in original work. Facebook, people get lazy with you.  They don’t have to think when they can use another members creation and just share it.

5.  I am spending more time clicking “I don’t want to see this” on my main feed because I just don’t like the update.  Pictures are those most commonly hidden.  Pictures of starving dogs, dogs covered in snow, untrue stories of how the dog saved a child from falling with the use of gramma’s cookbook.  And some updates are offensive and I don’t have a choice not to see it when it shows up on my feed.  I don’t want to spend my time here fact checking everything.  Keep in mind, this type of communication is not new.  People shared with paper and ink a long time ago urban legends.

6.  When my update gets “shared” I am likely going to receive 10-20 friend requests from people I don’t even know.  I have currently 67 requests from poets from a poetry group I used to belong to.

7.  People can see when you’ve read their message.  Unfortunately when it gets read and a response does not come back in a timely manner this may, and usually does, lead to an unpleasant situation.

What I do like, and why it is difficult to leave FB is the feeling of community in both groups and with my own friends/family.   What keeps me there are the friends I have.  Blogging will become my means of writing updates.  Fewer people will read them but that does not matter.  The diary has the juicy stuff that will not be read by anyone unless found when I die.  But the blog will be my writing out loud.