the perfect Tiny House

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As I cleaned out the three bird boxes last week, I could not resist photographing the nest of the Black Cap Chickadee.

Black cap chickadee

The adorable, tiny black cap chickadee. 

Constructed during the unusually cold spring, this bird insulated her eggs/chicks with divine plushness. Notice the moss base topped with what appeared to be wool or dog hair. I am astonished how creative these birds are when Mother Nature throws a curve ball.

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Keep in mind as you view these images the fact that this small bird erects her nest without help from a mate, only using her mandible, feet, and flight. The entire interior of the box was filled with this material…picked bit by bit and carefully constructed. Are you impressed?

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End view. If you were a chickadee, would you be glad to enter this world snugged in by this nest?

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Custom made, mouthful by mouthful, this beautiful nest is used only for one brood per year. I encourage moss in my gardens solely for this purpose.

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Carolina Wren and Eastern Bluebird nests are totally trashed by the time the brood fledges, often found with many mites and fecal matter. This nest was pristine, tidy with no mess. I hated to take it to the burn barrel, but alas. Before doing so, I had to capture and share photos with followers.

Also happy to report that the resident Eastern Bluebirds have so far this spring successfully fledged two broods of three chicks each. Within days of the last fledge, the adults are back and the female is constructing her third nest. This is a first for my garden’s box, as summer is usually too steamy for a third go. Yet I am confident that this “professional” pair of birds will make do. I gave the box’s interior a good scrub and added Diatomaceous earth to the bottom of the box to ward off blow fly and other blood sucking parasites so common to these birds.

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Nestling bluebirds day nine ~ Swallowtail Cottage

As another steamy Virginia summer heats up, I am delighted each day by the wild bird activity in my gardens, observed from my air-conditioned home. Eastern Bluebirds, Black-Cap Chickadees, Northern Cardinals, Red Bellied Woodpeckers, and Carolina Wrens are by far my favorite birds and they are spoiled by hand-chopped sunflower seeds I deliver throughout the day to my rear terrace. Despite challenges from the plethora of invasive 2020 squirrels, I am slowing winning the battle.

Observation of wild birds, their distinct behavioral patterns, intelligence, beauty, and ability to adapt is truly remarkable. I am so envious of their innate ability to just simply fly.

What birds do you love best? What have you learned from your observations?

Keep safe.

Copyright © 2020 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

Miracles everywhere

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In the words of a local butterfly mentor, Linda best described the wonder of these images I captured earlier this spring:

From a side view, the chrysalis of the magnificent Pipevine Swallowtail  butterfly resembles a miniature prehistoric dragon head. The chrysalis can be a vivid shade of lime green or a mottled grayish brown, suspended on a twig or stick by a monofilament of silk to hold it securely in place until the butterfly is ready to emerge. It then begins to turn dark, revealing the wing pattern and body of the soon to be butterfly. Once freed of its enclosure, it will pump fluid into its wings, making them strong enough to carry the butterfly on the wind or beat a hasty retreat, to nectar plants for sustenance, to begin the life cycle again. The four life stages of a butterfly are truly a remarkable manifestation of Mother Nature’s handiwork.”

Linda Marchman
Author of “Gone Astray”, “Silent Meow”  and NEWLY PUBLISHED “Lost and Found Cats”  www.felinefiction.com

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Early this year, I collected five Pipevine swallowtail eggs from the host plant, a vine (Pipevine) trellised in my garden just for this purpose. Raised indoors due to freakish late killing frosts in March/April, three eggs would fit on the the head of a pin. Tiny. When fed fresh host plant leaves indoors, they grew rapidly in a lettuce container placed in the bay window. The small dots you see in this photo is frass, or butterfly poop. I emptied the frass many times per day and kept leaves fresh. Caterpillars cannot see nor hear. They just eat and poop.  If left in the wild, merely three out of one-hundred would survive to maturity. Predation is rampant. Therefore I do my part to help these beauties survive. About two weeks later, they climbed on the skewers I supplied, and formed their chrysalises. Despite the cold swings outdoors, they rested comfortably indoors.

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This is one Pipevine chrysalis, formed last fall. I stored it in the unheated garden shed over winter, and brought it inside with five of its mates this spring, where they all emerged as butterflies. See what emerged a few minutes later below…

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Notice the different shapes created by the same kind of swallowtail. This one is especially spectacular. The color and shape happened before my eyes. Have you ever seen this transformation? These photos were taken in natural light and the camera was hand-held. If you sew or paint, I am sure you will appreciate this image.

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Amazing, yes? Notice the wee silk thread created by the caterpillar before it transformed into a chrysalis. This is one fine form of engineering!

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This pair is from the same group, yet completely different in color. This I cannot explain. They all emerged successfully two weeks later and I hope that they all live a complete cycle…another two short weeks. In fact this morning, one Pipevine was back at the vine laying eggs. Who knows if it was one of mine. The circle continues. 

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Voila! The overwintered Pipevine emerges! After a while its wings engorge with fluid, and within a short time, it is ready to fly.

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Another view of  spent chrysalis with emerged butterfly resting outside. Over the years, I have raised hundreds of Monarchs and various Swallowtails. They each have a particular life cycle. Learning their ways, caring for them, and seeing them at first flight is a hobby that never fails to delight. When all things come together in perfect harmony, Mother Nature rewards us with miracles.

To these special moments, I cling, while the rest of the planet is currently crazed.

See more of my many butterfly photos and posts by typing Monarch into the search bar on this blog. Butterflies are quite magical, fragile, and fleeting. Similar to life itself.

Let me hear from you in the comments section!

Copyright © 2020 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

And so it goes…

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Spring in central Virginia continues, despite the human condition. Mother Nature always wins. She has run wild since late March delivering freezing 29F temperatures one night then 80F the next week. Wow! My poor peony crop has never seen such dramatic swings. Yet, for the past two weeks, I managed to harvest enough flowers for bouquets to sell at market. Happy customers are unaware of my road of angst traveled to get there.

2015 Peony city market May

slowly a peony harvest in 2020

The O’Neal blueberries are another story. The bumblebees did a splendid job of pollinating the flowers early on. P1040209Fruit swelled on the stems, yet they too experienced the dramatic temperature swings. My three shrubs are now ten years old. How time flies. Over the years, I experimented in numerous ways on how to deter birds and one nocturnal four-legger from my cash crop.

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A few years back I began experimenting with tulle, yes the stuff wedding veils are made of. Standard bird netting is evil and can snag, injure, or kill a wild bird, therefore I NEVER use it. Tulle on the other hand is soft like an angel’s kiss. Notice in this photo the Mylar strips, whirligigs, and even a fake snake on the ground. None really discouraged wildlife.

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Last year I applied more tulle, the widest I could find at Joann’s. This was more effective, but made my harvesting job much more difficult, although every time I lifted the tulle, I felt like a bride. 😉 One curious raccoon would get tied up in the edges, and there would be strips of tulle around the ground next morning. NOT good.

Soon blueberry harvest...new tulle guard in place. Peonies are chin high.

2020 Improvements…Since blueberries are part of my landscape, I do not want to build a permanent structure around them. Therefore, I purchased eight eight-foot garden stakes to form a minimal frame to hold the tulle higher and wider than the shrubs. On the tops of the stakes I placed inverted, one-quart PETE containers to protect the tulle. Yesterday, I only spent about an hour installing the stakes and applying the tulle. Tentatively held in place with clothes pins, the tulle remained in place overnight and, fingers crossed, throughout the harvest weeks ahead. Notice the black-ish line on the ground along the tulle’s perimeter…that is spent coffee grounds, collected from one local coffee shop. Last year I discovered that raccoons despise the scent/texture of coffee grounds. The space left under the tulle will hopefully prevent critters from tearing it. Since I spent the part of three March days hand sewing this 11 yards of double-wide tulle, I want to see it last a few season. Yes?  

What do you think of my recent solution?
Gardening is all about evolution.
And patience, and resilience.

Only the cleverest catbird or cardinal will find their way under the tulle to the berries. I don’t mind sharing a few, but since I harvested thirty pounds of berries from these three shrubs in 2019, I will not share many with wildlife.

Regular market customers are already lined up for their share of this blue superfood come June.

Now back to the peony harvest. Overcast skies this week threaten rain on partially opened buds, not quite ready for harvest. Peonies and rain are not the ideal combination for floral bouquets. A giant circus tent would be ideal for protection, but alas that will not happen. And so it goes…

I hope you and yours are well and safe. I enjoy hearing from you, so please take a moment to drop a comment.

Copyright © 2020 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

Transform, transition, resilience

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Fear can paralyze us.

Change can anger us.

Gratitude can transform us.

Since March 16 my life is forever changed. And for the better.

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We must have hope for the better.

At first, I was in denial about the pandemic. Cases had not yet arrived in my small town. I did not wear a mask until a month ago. I live in the country, and believe the air is pure. I limit my trips to town. Already a compulsive hand washer (being in food production), I quickly located gloves to protect my flesh from harsh hand sanitizers while out in public.

Overnight, ordinary supplies vanished from store shelves. I began to order back-stock of my supplies. Shipments arrived from Florida. Supplements from Amazon arrived late or vanished altogether. Then restaurants closed. Schools closed. Death tolls began to mount. Life is no longer normal. A global shift. A mighty cull. A change out of control.

I must transition or suffer.

The Good Begins:

The first Saturday in April is the beginning of the farmer’s market season here in Central Virginia. This season is my 20th. I have been ready for change for over a decade and change happened in a BIG way. Our public market is closed until further notice. Fortunately, our management scrambled and bought a software geared to online farmer’s market shopping and drive-thru pick up. At first I resisted — many hoops to jump through. I had to open a PayPal account in order to receive payment. NO!
Hesitantly, I joined the other reserved agricultural/value added vendors, and by week three sales quadrupled! I am awash with new business. Customers never before seen. Apparently they want to Buy Fresh, Buy Local and with gusto!

This is how it works:

Monday through Thursday, the public can place/preorder items listed on the site. They also pre-pay so there is no cash exchanged. Vendors gather with their vehicles in a city park, socially distanced, and from 8-12 on Saturday, while customers drive through, trunks open, and vendors place their orders in those trunks. The revenue goes into a City PayPal account, and after they deduct their commission, the balance is transferred to vendor’s accounts. Easy peasy. Technology is fantastic when it works for the overall good. And this is GOOD.

The first week I nearly had a stroke when I checked my orders. Until then, I had become resigned to an inevitable annual loss. Instead, I never had this demand at the old market. I hit the ground running, delighted that organization is my forte, and at my ripe age, still functions. No more guessing nor speculating. No more exhausting chit chat with market customers. No more crack-of-dawn risings. I am over the moon!

Supply shopping became a game. Some hits, some outs. Helpful suppliers and new ones found online have performed flawlessly. I am grateful. So grateful. As a one-woman operation, every bit of help is appreciated! Angels appear in the most unexpected places.

The Advantage:

With stay at home orders in place, families want/need an excuse to get out of the house. From the safety of their automobiles, this drive-through venue allows an outing (even dogs attend) for the entire family, albeit behind closed windows. Vendors are gloved and masked, and communication is nil, except for a wave or thumbs up. When all orders are picked up, vendors too are free to leave. Such a delightful change. Everyone wins.

Back at Swallowtail Cottage:

This spring has been one for the record books. On April 19, we had a killing frost of 29F. For zone 7A, this is harsh. The annual cash crop of hundreds of peony stems/buds were wilted to the ground. This has never happened in the nineteen years I have lived here. They seemed to recover once the sun rose, but most stems have remained in a stupor ever since.

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The Oriental poppies are splendid this spring, yet the peonies are having a difficult time with these unusually cold nights.

Mother’s Day is the sweet spot for peony bouquet sales, yet I merely harvested 18 stems suitable for sale yesterday. Meanwhile, last night we had another hard freeze. Mother Nature is playing hard ball, for sure. This calls for resilience.

The jury is still out on whether the blueberries will ripen. They are in fruit now, but they have never experienced killing frost in their young lives…

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O’Neal blueberries beginning to ripen

Meanwhile, the garden’s chives and parsley are beautiful now, and both make for a signature chive/artichoke/walnut pesto most popular with customers. Win.

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Chives and their edible flowers first thing in the spring…yummy as pesto.

My pimento cheese, buttermilk biscuits, blueberry scones, and Key Lime Pies are finding new popularity. Every Friday, I spend hours in production. Win.

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I currently produce/sell 200 of these per week!

Good food, comfort food, service to the community, and entrepreneurial fervor guide me. One customer stated, “You are getting us through this!” which nearly made me weep.

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My kitchen during five hours of production every Friday.

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The new normal.

Meanwhile the garden reminds me that life goes on despite horror and sorrow. The butterflies lay their eggs on the Pipe vine and parsley. The chrysalises that overwintered with me, are now emerging to fly blissfully away upon the breeze. Those at risk of freezing, I now raise indoors and release on milder days.

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Pipevine caterpillars munch away blissfully indoors as cold temperatures prevail outside. These I collected as eggs.

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The butterfly castle houses one newly emerged Pipevine swallowtail who spent the winter in the shed as a chrysalis. I released it as the temperature rose.

The Eastern Bluebird pair successfully raised their first brood of four nestlings who fledged on May 1.

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Three nestling bluebirds day nine ~ Swallowtail Cottage.

The hummers returned from their tropical retreat on April 20th. The white-throated sparrows finally left this week to migrate farther north for summer. Chipping sparrows are here now, gleaning what they can find in the mulch and under the feeder. Titmice, Northern Cardinals, Red bellied woodpeckers, and the wee Black Cap chickadees also nest and thrive. Many other wild birds grace my gardens, creating a wonderland of endless entertainment, and beautiful views from my windows.

So close your eyes, click your heels and repeat…”there is no place like home.”

For now I am safe, well, productive, and grateful.

How are you faring? How has life shifted for you?

Copyright © 2020 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

 

An Artist’s Way

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Yesterday, I had a telephone conversation with a creative neighbor and the crux of the topic was: In this life, I strive to surround myself with beauty. Above all else, my eye craves divine images of nature, architecture, and wildlife. Perfection is an illusive goal. This fact I finally resigned myself to a few years ago. Yet, still I strive to surround myself with as much gorgeousness as I can muster, sans the help of a trust fund.

No more strolls amoungst grand estates of Europe, no fantastic scuba trips to the Maldives — I reside locally now and have for nearly two decades. Most of my poetry was penned in the late 1990’s before I began this single family house adventure in 2001. My Book of Garden Poems won no recognition in NYC or London. No longer do I draw and painting has fallen to the chores of this needy box. I have found creative opportunities in my kitchen and gardens. This is my first home on half an acre.

Photography helps me stay attached to my creativity, and this rural place surrounds me with endless visual opportunities. Additionally, this blog, which was born in 2011, provides a home for writing. If you are new to this blog, currently there are over 200 posts that combine both photography and prose. While you are house bound, please take time to explore the two draw-down menus within this work in progress. They are found in the left hand side of this page.

With so much global angst these days, I decided to add slices of beauty I recorded over the past nineteen years. Join me and unwind. These are my images/glimpses of near perfection.

In closing, what thought strikes me significantly this week is the fact that home is my safe place and my gardens are my sanctuary. Are you feeling safe?

Please use this time to discover newfangled ways in which to see the beauty in each and every day. We are in this together.

Your comments are always welcome.

PS. While you are cooped up and looking for exceptional video in 4K Ultra HD…check out this channel, Amazing Places on Our Planet on YouTube. The next best thing to being there. 😉

Copyright © 2020 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

Sunday’s monster project

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This boulder/stoop looks innocent enough, yes? Slowly over the past 18 years, it settled to the right, causing a problem, since I use this door every day. Project: raise the stone on the right side three inches. Many contractor estimates were outrageously expensive, so it became a DIY with help…

It almost did not happen.

Why a man cannot follow instructions is beyond me. Even when they come from another man of professional experience!

First: The hired help arrived late Sunday, and was unprepared — without the critical stone dust and proper jack. We had agreed on all materials Friday during a phone conversation.

Second: I had to then wait another hour for him go look for supplies.

While I waited, I excavated most of the hole myself….MOI who should not be doing this kind of work as my body pain is fierce the following day, despite rest/meds.

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Ready to roll. 

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With my tools organized, I awaited the arrival of my hired help…a local handyman. Hurry up and wait became this project’s motto. Sooo

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My wheelbarrow quickly filled with wet, heavy clay. This kind of grunt work I outgrew years ago. My mind is willing, the body, NOT SO. 

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This dig required depth and undercutting the stone in order to place the bottle jack beneath the edge. 

When the guy finally returned an hour later, his rusty jacks did not work and I thought I might have to stop again and to drive to town to purchase a jack. Turned out, the guy’s son lives nearby, so helper-guy left again in search of that jack. More time to kill.

At least the afternoon was pretty and sunny, so while I waited I weeded (with tweezers) my moss patch by the shed door. (Instead of spitting nails!)

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When helper returned, I asked him to place the salvaged 10″ granite square in the bottom of the hole on top of some gravel so the jack would have a solid footing…and he refused. He wanted to keep digging deeper to hit solid ground. If I had agreed, he would still be digging!

Next, he helped himself to one of my small landscape stones and when that stone quickly sank into the wet clay, I suggested the granite again. FINALLY, before I hit him in the head with a shovel, he yielded and added crusher/rock to the hole, added the granite sample, and placed the new jack on top…not in the center mind, but in a cock-eyed position. Safety first, out the window…(No photo of this event, as I had my hand on the shovel, not the camera!)

He then said “I don’t give a s—t what someone on the internet says…I am doing the job my way!” Well. OK then. I had taken advice on this project from a blog follower who built major buildings in DC. (sigh)

Turns out, the use of the gravel/granite worked and up went the boulder….right into the siding. (oops)

Following few more maneuvers with a pry bar, one slab of marble under the front of the boulder, a rectangular paver under the back edge, and a few tosses of gravel dust tamped under the end, I called it quits. Helper promises to return to tamp the edge of the dirt end after a few rains. Then a top coat of gravel will cover the repair. Time will tell.

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As the afternoon faded into shade, the boulder now rests a bit more level. Shall we take bets on how long it will remain that way?

At least this dastardly boulder project is over I am without a trip hazard! Geeze! For now.

What I suffer for this (expletive) house/property!

Finally: A hot shower, two tall glasses of local stout, Tylenol, and bed with the heating pad should ease my journey.

Would you have taken on this project? Comments welcome.

Hope that your Sunday was more enjoyable than mine. 😉

Copyright © 2020 By Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

Meanwhile

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Back at Swallowtail Cottage, landscape projects are happening. Monday I awoke with the message, “remove those Nandina and transplant the six young Buxus to the back foundation!” I immediately concurred, yet these subliminal projects are 1% inspiration, and 99% implementation. Conception is the easy part; there is a disconnect with the follow through. Somehow the subconscious fails to understand reality.
I humbly admit, the execution of this project nearly slew me on day three.

During dormant months (November-March) here in Virginia zone 7A, I do my best garden work; most biting insects are absent, and cool/dry temperatures permit invigorating days outside.

This week: Following breakfast Monday, I began making phone calls. This project required man/muscle power. The photos below capture the efforts of four men over three partial days.

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Before view of Nandina in the rear foundation planting…really sad after 18 years. FYI: Do not plant this Heavenly Bamboo, as the berries contain cyanide and will kill any wild bird who eats it. I did not know this when I planted them, and for years I removed the berries in the fall. Eventually, this plant became too needy and leggy so OUT they went to a local burn pile.

If you don’t know what Nandina flowers/berries look like, here you go:

snake sunning in the nandina

Yikes! During late spring, Heavenly Bamboo create white blooms. This particular day, I had a black snake sleeping amoungst the blossoms, just below my bedroom window. In the last few years, the Nandina flowers became infested with thrips…a sucking insect not welcome in any garden.

Nandina berries

Pretty but deadly. If these Nandina berries are left on the plants during winter months, wild birds often mistake them for food and when consumed, birds will die a cyanide death. Another reason NOT to have this plant in any garden. Unfortunately, since they are inexpensive plant material, many property developers use them copiously.

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The discard pile grows: As my enthusiastic neighbor dug with his wicked serrated shovel, the tarp rapidly filled with stems and roots. What a tough job; not one for the weak, fragile or moi.

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Monster roots on eighteen year-old Nandina. Removing the heavy clumps of soil was another laborious task.

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Day Two: On a very overcast winter day following removal of the blasted Nandina, the rear of the house is now dull and became my very own Tabula Rasa. Gosh, no curb appeal here! The turf appears especially pathetic.

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Meanwhile, the baby Buxus (Green Velvet) await their transplant from the rear border. I propagated these beauties from tiny cuttings about eight years ago. They provide good material for boxwood wreaths come November and benefit from hand trimming. When I asked the landscaper what he thought each plant would cost in a nursery he answered $350! What a fine example of home propagation savings!

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Day Three: Bare ground awaits the family duo of landscapers. Yes, only two men and three hours later, the bed was transformed. Of course the landscaper has been in digging commercially for over 20 years, and they did not stop the entire time. Hurrah! I phoned at the right time when he had an opening! Normally he is booked for months.

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With the Buxus installed, I watered them in after finding a hose that was not frozen. Around 3 PM, I headed to the home store and toted twelve bags of pine bark mulch and five bags of pea gravel back in Baby 5. The gravel was added over the larger stone next to the terrace wall and at the foundation, to keep mulch/mud from traveling/splashing on the house. Nice and tidy. By dark I was knee-walking exhausted! Soon to bed with the heating pad, Tylenol, and mugs of  hot herbal tea!

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Today: Once again, Baby 5 comes to my rescue. Loaded and backed up to the rear turf and my wheelbarrow, this auto has seen me through many a rock/mulch/dirt project. The edge of the rear border now resembles a mine field, and six holes need filling today. I scored ten partially open bags of topsoil for 1/2 price (that I spotted yesterday). The only caveat…get to the home center before 7AM before other frugal gardeners descend. So it goes.

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Rock is the solution at the foundation. It keeps termites from migrating to the foundation, and holds back the mulch.  IF any debris drifts onto the gravel, a quick blower pass, and voila! spotless. Today it looks great.

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PS: Before the landscape pair departed, I had them relocate this young arborvitae to a sunnier location.

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This small Buxus (propagated here) was also relocated to a brighter location. Its former location is now home for the arborvitae. One man accomplished both transplants in twenty minutes. Geeze! Since all material is now dormant, I hope they quietly settle in and wake to spring full of vigor! Me too for that matter! 😉

Now left is to find an area for the adopted/uprooted iris.

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The length of their roots surprised me when I dug them on Friday. For now, they will reside in paper bags in the basement fridge at 40F. I will make an effort, as both varieties are beautiful and sweetly scented.

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My ongoing dilemma is to find a way to raise the right side of this stoop/boulder. Following fifteen years of stepping on one side to enter the back door, the massive rock has settled enough that I have nearly twice fallen off . Who knew, little old moi could cause a mammoth boulder to settle? So far one pry-bar was put to the test, and the only result was a bent pry-bar. The area is too small for a Bobcat. Any ideas?

The 17F reading this morning has given way to sunny a 52F. I must go have lunch, get out of YouTube mode, and get that frozen topsoil down if thawed. Ah, a gardener’s job is never complete.

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The new view from inside the house. Calm and uncluttered.

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Now to await spring and warmer soil, so masses of wildflowers can be seeded in the distant herbaceous perennial border.

Finally, I added two vintage tuteurs to the Buxus bed. The largest one is in the rear border where a Nelly Moser resides and climbs with abandon throughout the Oakleaf Hydrangea during the growing season.

Job well done? Have I inspired you to get out in your gardens and tackle a big project?

I enjoy comments placed on this blog…not in an email as this blog is intended to inspire all followers. Cheers!

therapy-cheaper-than-tomatoes

Copyright © 2020 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

how fragile we are

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Nobody Knows (Paul Brady), Everything Comes and Goes (Down to You, Joni Mitchell), no more i love you’s (D.Freeman/J. Hughes) sung by Annie Lennox, Medusa lyrics tiptoe through my consciousness as I reflect on the tragic loss of legend, Kobe Bryant. As I listen to his many interviews, I realize that Kobe was a man with an extraordinary work ethic, who followed his passion, gave his all to the sport, and said it best here:

Rest in peace Kobe and Gianna.

During his brief retirement, Kobe revisited his artistic side and once again, his efforts were a slam dunk. Dear Basketball won an academy award in 2018 for best Animated Short Film. So much more was in the pipeline…

And in the event you did not follow Kobe’s career/life read here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant


Life and Death are one thread; the same line viewed from different sides.
Lao Tzu

 

what I learned about Keto

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still eating kale and cabbage salad...this time with an egg!

Lightly steamed greens, cabbage and a soft boiled egg make a great meal.

Last April I began the Keto diet. Those of you who follow this blog read a few recipes that inspired my journey. I also joined a FB Keto Reset Group, where many of my questions were answered. I did not buy any books, yet found many at the local library.
Initial Keto side effects were minimal, yet noticeable (leg cramps, headache) and both symptoms passed with conscious electrolyte balance using Himalayan salt and sugar elimination.

At first I enjoyed the morning bacon fest (normally I don’t eat much meat) and the grass-fed burger for lunch. I quickly weaned off sugar and carbs. That was a good thing. I lost cravings. That was the best thing. I stopped grazing. That was even better.
I never lost weight, but I lost body fat. Apparently, according to my doc, as we age, our set point changes, therefore I will never weigh what I weighed in my youth. Sigh.

I continued with this expensive experiment when, six months in my body rebelled. I developed constant indigestion and could not look at meat. Since I never had gut issues before, I surmised it was the meat. In addition, the expense was unsustainable, as I always choose grass fed, organic foods. This teaching moment, “listen to your body” spoke volumes. I also confess I quickly tired of the smell of meat in my kitchen. I feared that my range hood would soon drip grease. 😉

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gone are the days of a bacon scented kitchen

Therefore, since October I am off Keto, feel much better, with gut issues instantly resolved. I remain off sugar and most carbs. I returned to whole milk (which I use in my tea) and skip the almond milk as it contains so many fillers, is not organic, and making my own was a giant hassle. Organically raised, grass fed cows produce plenty of quality milk and is found even in big box stores here in America.

So this is what I learned from Keto:

Keto broke my sugar habit. Keto freed me of my gluten/carb addiction. Both are huge in themselves, and would make every household happier/healthier.

Let’s face it, refined sugar and carbs are addictive and fattening.

What do I eat now you ask?

For breakfast I have a warmed slice of rosemary ham (TJ’s) and two pan fried organic/free range eggs in butter. I often add as a side, steamed organic kale/green beans or sauteed mushrooms. A large mug of steaming organic Rooibous tea (365) with whole milk fills my tank. If I want a taste of chocolate, TJ’s carries an organic, fair trade 72% chocolate bar that is always present in my pantry. One square sets me straight and satisfies…after all a gal cannot be without her chocolate, right? Sugar is minimal too.

For lunch, I warm either a hot soup using WFM’s organic Imagine® Brand chicken or beef broth (skip the low sodium varieties), green veggies of my choice, a hard boiled egg, and either eat that with a spoon or heat and toss everything into the Vitamix and make a drinkable concoction for on the go. I also found a delicious, grass-fed New Zealand sharp cheddar at TJ’s, that I cut it into chunks and keep in a glass container in the fridge. I can grab a square either as a snack or in addition to my lunch. Good fast food.

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great meals are created in my Vitamix. Especially when I am tired of chewing. 😉

For Dinner, I rarely eat “dinner” as I am not hungry so around 5 PM I usually have a chunk of cheddar and a glass of water or a cup of herbal tea, along with my magnesium malate supplement. If for some reason insomnia kicks in later, I rise and have a 1/2 c. of whole milk and off I go to dreamland.

Take away, no not the food kind…but in closing:

  • The sugar/carb habit is broken.
  • I eat simple, good quality foods, while supporting sustainable, organic farming practices.
  • I am satisfied. No cravings.
  • I treat myself to chocolate (mentioned above)
  • I also occasionally crave a crunch, so I eat TJ’s olive oil potato chips, in very small quantities.
  • I also make kale chips at home…just type “kale” into the search bar of this blog.
  • The only oils/fats I consume are organic olive and grass-fed butter. Turns out I had an allergic reaction to coconut oil.
  • I boycott all imported avocados, as the farming practices are not sustainable and big Ag is robbing water from native people. Just Google this topic.
  • Cook at home. Involve the family. Turn off all devices while honoring food.
  • Find what green veggies you like and keep them either in the freezer (green beans) or your fridge (kale, veggie tops, fennel, sprouts). Even canned pumpkin makes a great addition to broths/soups/smoothies.
  • Nearly one year later, I never think of pasta or bread. I cooked pasta once in December… meh. I have organic quinoa occasionally, but last time I cooked it, it went wanting. The bread isle misses me.
  • My brain feels more focused and at my age that is a good thing. 😉
  • Stay well hydrated always with pure water only. I installed an RO system at home.
  • I use all the Himalayan salt I desire.
  • Since oceans are exploited, I do not eat sea salt, and rarely eat any fish. During summer months, I make Solo water (1 t. Himalayan salt>1 pint of water) instead of buying electrolyte water…works great.
  • Stay well away from caffeine. That too is highly addictive. My caffeine comes in bits of occasional chocolate and freshly brewed organic matcha.
  • Remind yourself that your body is indeed a temple. It will take much abuse, but revels in practice of moderation, purity, and simplicity.

Go well into 2020.

If we are not getting older, we are dead.

It is better to be over the hill than under it.

Copyright©2020 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

small steps

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https://www.cbsnews.com/news/kroger-aims-to-end-all-plastic-bag-use/

Not sure why Kroger is taking until 2025 to discontinue plastic bags in stores. Other retailers are beginning to break the habit earlier. We as individuals can begin today by using only reusable cloth bags for shopping/ produce/errands. We can also boycott stores/vendors who refuse to stop this consumption of plastic. Do you agree?

Even here in Charlottesville, we have an independent coffee purveyor who refuses to cease offering plastic straws. I am working with local government to make local changes in ordinances, but apparently here a Dillon’s Rule applies. That needs to change. Why should any retailer profit if it is at the expense of the environment?

Anyway I am on a tear this winter, while the garden is dormant, to research and share knowledge on this blog. Are you with me? Let me know in the comments section as words will convey your opinions. Simply clicking the like button does not.

Although I reside in the foothills of central VA, we do have creeks, rivers, reservoirs, lakes, and waterways impacted by plastic pollution. Those of you who reside near oceans, the issues are more grand and your participation in local government decisions carry much weight.

Today I wrote to a vet at Woods Hole to find out more regarding sea turtle barnacle infestations. IF they reply, I will share that info here… in the meantime, have a look:

In the meantime, will you join in and stop using plastics today? Why not look at all the ways plastic enters your life/home. Small steps to reduce this infiltration will make a difference.

Refer to my last three blog posts for details.

Thank you. Diane