Cleaning up

untitled

We are running out of soap.

And even though I have been buying hand soap and creams locally from Sharlene, a creative genius, at http://thesoapfarm.com  the urge to make my own bars of soap has been growing so I decided to give it a try again. I did learn about making soap years ago at a local herb farm but decided it was too much work until recently when I figured out that I didn’t have to make 40 bar batches.

But, let’s not call me slow okay.

Still, there was the burning issue of working with lye and since I tend to rush in and clumse (new word) about, the thought was unnerving me. I decided to ease myself into it and started out by making a hand lotion. Orange-scented jojoba oil lotion to be precise.

Oh my! It goes on like silk and soaks into the skin like magic. The orange scent is  yah-okay. I would prefer something with more oomph. Something more exotic. Maybe a deep lusty scent to bring out the beast in dear old Man-Wonder.

*Snort*. . . . okay, maybe just beef up the pussycat in him. (Good thing he never reads these blogs.)

Anyway, Man-Wonder, more to shut me up than anything, made  a delightful soap mold for me from an old pine shelf unit he was dismantling.

IMG_2106  Hinged the sides for easy removal.

IMG_2104

Then I gave it a one-sided paint job and, using my super skills at sewing, whipped up two elastic straps (first photo) to hold the sides and lid tight during those first 24 hours.

IMG_2103

Still, I was hesitating about making the soap, even with Man-Wonder now giving me the stinkeye until I spent more time (to the point of burning eyeballs) online watching videos and reading articles on how-to before I screwed up the courage to make a small batch.

It turned out surprisingly well during the saponification stage (look Ma – no lye burns or exploding volcanoes). It poured into the mold nicely. And even though it killed me to do so, I covered it up, tucked a small quilt around it and left it be for twenty-four hours to solid up. Then, with great delight because it was looking so normal, I cut into bars.

IMG_2101

Which are now sitting on a shelf in our closet curing for the next four-six (oh hell, let’s say five) weeks.

Mind you—I am keeping the step-stool in the closet so I can climb up to smile down at them and I gotta’ say—this waiting period is going to be tough. Waiting isn’t one of my strong points.

MB900078707

Like, not uncovering the soap during those first crucial twenty-four hours.

Yeah. No. I peeked.

For shame I know, but, in my own defense—it was just a super-sonic, one-eyed peek before snapping the quilt back around the soap box. And it didn’t hurt the process one bit. . . . I hope.

Want to make soap? Here’s a few juicy sites to check out:

http://www.soapqueen.com/

http://beckyshomestead.com

http://www.brambleberry.com

http://www.countryfarm-lifestyles.com

Wasp-y behavior?

untitled

Here’s the thing—Man-Wonder and I were sitting in our chairs out back, enjoying the evening and admiring the three garden beds busting with plants and humming with bees and small wasps when a neighbor comes around the corner of his mobile holding a yellow glass container high and almost prancing with glee.

“Look at this.” He holds out his wasp catching jar. It’s heaped with dead bodies. “Killing ’em like crazy.” He says. “Never seen them so bad.”

Man-Wonder and I looked at each other in surprise. We’ve seen yellow jackets in the flowers but they’d left us alone. And visa-versa. But, here’s this nice guy, living twenty feet away, telling us there’s a problem.

The very next day we hauled out our seldom used glass wasp-catching bottles.

Oiy!

Suddenly there was a zinging, buzzing party of wasps fighting each other to get inside the jars hung off the back-end of the sun porch. And these weren’t the little garden variety either. These were big honking black wasps. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see them arrive on Harleys!

For two days we snuck out before dawn to clean away the dead and rebottle for the live and firmly shut the porch’s back door since they were prone to zip inside, buzzing loud enough to give us nightmares, and getting in our faces with their, ‘This is a holdup, where’s the sugar?’ attitudes.

Escaping to our wee piece of heaven out back was no longer an option either. It seemed like we’d pissed off their little cousins—by feeding the big bullies. This led to more annoyed wasps in our faces. So, we retreated inside. And there we sat, fans to sweaty faces, while we watched the horror show outside the window.

By the third day the wasps had figured out how to escape from the inescapable trap and like idiots we rushed off to the hardware store for something better.

The new one lasted one day before they were whistling in and staggering out, OD’d to the gills.  So we tried adding a drop of oil to the sugar-water. Worked like magic.

They disappeared!

Not another single black wasp has shown up since. Not only that—out back the yellow jackets have stopped annoying us and gone back to the garden beds. We’re back to splitting our time between the sun porch and the back gardens, lesson learned.

Only . . . while, I haven’t said anything—I’m not entirely sure what the lesson was.

  • Leave nature alone?
  • Don’t muck with the big black wasps because it annoys their little striped cousins?
  • Just because the neighbor does something—doesn’t mean we have to.
  • Sugar kills?

That old ill wind

We’ve been most lucky here on the west coast of Canada; especially Vancouver Island. The wind doth blow most ill winds away and bringeth the rain so we islanders are naturally fresher and have fewer cobwebs in our heads.

Okay, so maybe that’s a bit la-la landish—but I like it so I wrote it.

This week, those winds have failed us because of a high pressure ridge that’s been hanging around since May. Dry, dry days breaking out into a batch of wildfires. And, for the first time in a long time the smoke has not been blowing away.

When I woke Monday morning I had no idea of what was coming. It was still dark and the night air was pleasingly cool. The urge for a paddle had me cajoling Man-Wonder into action and within thirty minutes we were slipping the canoe into the refreshing cold water  of the harbor.

We paddled around the harbor’s edge, sliding between openings in the barnacle covered rocks and wove through the sleeping boats at anchor before heading toward the strait side of the smaller of the two islands fronting our harbor. Pretty brave of us considering we aren’t skilled paddlers and the waters beyond the islands can get darn choppy darn fast.

Hoo Hoo—another big-little adventure for these mobile home dwellers!

A big part of the adventure came when we realized, halfway around the island dawn wasn’t happening. It was like Day wasn’t planning on showing up! Sure, the night sky was lightening but only slightly and instead of the usual pale pink and blue, we were drifting under burnt orange and gray.

Freaky.

Freaky enough that it had our total focus and  we failed to notice the rollers coming at us from the first ferry heading past. We ended up taking them sideways instead of head on.

So, truth time here—we are pussy-pants about rough water. In fact I’m not sure who panics bigger.) Even worse yet—Man-Wonder suffers from motion sickness? Yep, my big tall hunky west-coaster is a regurgitator.

Trust me when I say, I know think we have the ‘paying attention’ part well memorized . . .

However, I’m still glad we did it, it was an experience and also because waking up Tuesday morning was kind of like waking up with your face hanging over a cold, damp, fire pit.

Today it’s a pale gray sky with holes where the sun is poking through.

Life is good and the clouds are moving.

An energizing moment or two

41yRoaJEgiL__AA160_I have been reading Pam Grout’s book—a manual to guide the reader through nine do-it-yourself energy experiments that prove your thoughts create your reality. None of the experiments are expensive. Or suppose to take long.

*Snort*  she obviously didn’t try her experiments during a heat wave.

Three weeks ago I finished experiment #2 and that’s where things bogged down because to do experiment #3 one needs two wire coat-hangers. Crap on a stick! Finding wire hangers turned out to be like hunting for a rotary dial phone.

But, I did find one—hiding in the back of the closet holding up a piece of clothing that will never see the light of day again. One down, one to find. I asked my neighbor to the left. She laughed. So I turned to the right-side neighbor. She looked puzzled but then thought she might have one. Somewhere. It took a day of hunting but she managed to find one for me.

Eureka!

Only, remember the above mentioned heat wave? I’m living proof that during a heat wave, brain cells melt because I put those hangers down somewhere and immediately forgot about them. Worse still, I forgot about Pam’s book too!

Until yesterday at exactly 3:15 a.m. And, as soon as the memory popped into consciousness I jumped up (in slo mo) and after gathering up book and wire hangers, proceeded to the far end of the mobile where I followed Pam’s instructions on constructing a pair of energy dowsing rods.

Step one: With the rods held out a short distance at chest height you wait until the wires stop winging about like a couple of drunk noodles. Once they are settled you need to recall some nasty memory; a negative, drag-down, pull-out-your-heart scene and let it flow over you as you watch the rods.

For me, the rods pulled inward to form a tight cross over—Picture the crossed arms of a grumpy atheist, upon answering her doorbell, and finding a catholic priest on her porch.

Step two: Conjure up a wonderful, joy-packing, bliss-bringing memory from the past and watch the action again. For me, the rods pulled far far apart—imagine a mother standing on her porch as she watches her long-gone son or daughter returning and picture her arms swinging wide for that all encompassing  hug. Yeah! The swing open was THAT wide.

Huh—who knew energy could be so . . . energizing!

 

 

 

Advice on How to Become a Babe (sort of)

images

Okay, so here’s the deal—you know that old saying ‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’? I think they had Man-Wonder in sight through the blades of their beater when they coined that phrase because nothing makes the man happier than a good meal  cookie. Even through countless diets, we have figured out ways to include them. (Perhaps a wee part of the reason why the diets never worked as well as they should have?)

And, as I’ve mentioned a million of so times, I’m a fan of whodunits. My consumption of them equals Man-Wonder’s cookie-inhaling abilities.

And, as any reader of whodunit knows, those devilish little pocketbooks are now filling their back pages with tips and recipes from home care to cookies.

Talk about a sweet bonus — since I believe that anyone who can write a delicious mystery has got to be able to offer up a delicious recipe too. And so far most of the ones I’ve tried do.

Which leads me to Cate Price and her ‘Sometimes a Great Notion’ shop series featuring the main character, Daisy Buchanan. Fun reads, and, in the book titled, Lie of the Needle, she offers up a ‘Kitchen Sink Cookie’ recipe which produces cookies worth their golden weight (and this dough is no lightweight by baking time).

Here’s a recipe so full of yum, I swear Man-Wonder had tears in his eyes when he turned to me and said, “You’re a real park babe!”

*

*

*

*

I’m still trying to figure out if that’s a compliment or not. . .

 

 

pssst – if you want the recipe try entering in ‘cate price and kitchen sink cookies’ or better yet, read her book – you’ll be glad you did.

pssssssst— This cookies freeze well and are as delicious frozen as they are fresh. No kidding.

 

 

 

 

The Garden grow-ith and I collect-ith

The old black file cabinet turned solar dryer got a sweet new paint job this year. Soft sage green. Which I thought was too common so I added purple door knobs and white vents. I think the dryer felt the love too — it’s been outdoing itself this year.

008

Right now all there is inside is a rack of tarragon.

025

Hopefully, another week and I’ll have a good crop of spearmint to dry for winter teas. Oh yeah!

Also solar infused four jars of extra virgin olive oil with different ingredients: rose petals, plantain, lemon balm, and of course my standby — stinging nettle.

Trouble is I’ve forgotten why the stinging nettle infused oil was created. Somewhere I read something juicy about it, how good it was for something, but by the time I had the ‘how to’ done, I’d forgotten the ‘why’ part and now I can’t remember the ‘where it came from’ part either.

The brain just ain’t what it used to be. . . or maybe it never was . . . I can’t remember. . .

Seriously, I’ve never had much of a memory. I know I grew up. I know I came from a fair-sized family. I know I went to school, married and had a child and I know I exist today. But anything before high school (and not much there either) has long drifted away.

So, either I have a suckass memory,or my life has been totally and completely un-memorable.

I choose suckass.

Good thing I have two jars of tincture brewing: stinging nettle and elderberry flower. Maybe a daily shot of vodka-infused stinging nettle will shake up the fog bank. And if it doesn’t, well, after a hefty shot (or two), I won’t really care. . .will I?

sucking herbal tincture

Talk About a Bird’s Eye View

orange chair    blue chair    Our favorite relaxing spot is behind our mobile, on a little stone patio  where our view is a trio of 4’x8’raised garden beds (fruits, herbs, and veggies). Behind the row of garden beds rises a small hillside of grass. Halfway up the hillside, runs an overhead powerline.

Sounds ugly right?

But it’s not.

The garden beds are painted a lovely shade of soft quiet green. Nasturtiums and sweet peas climb wire frames backing two of the beds. Buttercups scatter over the grass. There are flowering shrubs above us and on all sides (thank you neighbors)and there are plenty of towering firs and cedars here, there and everywhere.

Bees and hummingbirds love the flowering plants. Robins and mosquitoes love the dewy grass and the swallows love the mosquitoes. Quite often, while sitting on the back patio, we’ve felt the breeze of wings as they zip just overhead looping and swooping for the little blood-sucking buzzers.

Doves, purple finches, sparrows, rufus towhees, cow birds, red-wing black birds all take turns sitting on the power lines and checking things out. Owls, resting unseen in nearby towering cedars and firs, hoot to each other.

Baby birds, just learning to fly, sway on the tips of branches or huddle on the wires and yell endlessly for food. And we’ve learned to weed carefully around the rhubarb leaves and lady’s mantle lest we get a face full of exploding feathers and squawk because we’ve scared the bejesus out a hiding chick who hasn’t quite got the hang of flying yet.

We see plenty of wood ducks, herons, Canada geese and eagles flying by coming, or going, from the marsh on one side of the park to the estuary on the other.

But, the bird show to end all bird shows happened yesterday during our drive home from the north side of town. Four lanes of traffic alongside a large lake came to a standstill. At first we thought it was an accident until we saw a man stepping over the cement meridian between traffic lanes followed by a large bird with wings a flapping. Then another person crossed going the other way and he too was followed by a wing-flapping bird.

Turns out there were a handful of people helping two Canada geese and their gaggle of goslings cross the four lane highway to reach the lake. And during that entire scene not a single horn blew. Not a single soul yelled out in frustration. There was only total accepting silence. It was eye-watering beautiful!

Afterwards, with the geese safely in the lake, there was a barrage of small toots and a sea of thumbs up for those kind souls.

I’m so glad we were there . . . getting a bird’s eye view.

insurrection-clipart-bird-watching-birdwatcher1

 

The Moving Pen

.art journal pages   This past while I’ve been sketching a lot. Not great sketches. Not horrible ones either. Just sketches of what I’m seeing. The one thing it has taught me, is to really see what I’m looking at. To take a moment or two and notice the shadows. See the angle of the curves, and ask myself how deep are the creases that I see.

An added bonus, because I love to write (okay, babble) is now I can do both. The words I use to fill around or over the sketches remind me of what I was thinking,  smelling, or hearing, as I sketched and colored.

It’s so freaking satisfying!

I’ve accepted that I suck at automobiles, faces and animals but I know I’ll get there one day. Right now I am enjoying the sketching telephone wires, corners of buildings, the backside (as in backs not butts) of people. When I feel good at those I’ll practice on trees, water and the dreaded face. . .

I’ve been gathering bits of art supplies for a while now (translate that into years).  For years I swore by acrylics and pencils. Until I met and understood pens in art. And, within the last year or so I’ve been seduced by watercolors. How they can appear fragile yet be so strong. How they seem to carry their own brilliance inside of themselves.

Watercoloring has allowed me to make mistakes and be okay about it. And best of all, watercolor loves sketch work. And I love my pens!

What a joy!

I adore my aqua brushes. Maybe not so much the bottom three which came as a cheap trio. I’ve lost all three caps because they would not stay on (either end). Peckerheads!

004

~~

Love this Ninja roll case for my watercolor (such fun to use) pencil crayons. I’ve just discovered Derwent’s Graphitint Watercolor pencils. OMG – are they cool or what? (The answer is YES)

003

~~

Last Christmas Man-Wonder bought me a tin of watercolor crayons. They are as much fun to use now as wax crayons were when I was young . . .

005

. . . only I don’t eat them anymore.

~~~

And finally I found just the right bag. The ‘Solo’ brand computer bag from Staples works like a hot damn for packing it all in nice and tidy.

001

008

This bag works not only for me. Man-Wonder (the fisherman) took a shine to it too—works like a hot damn for him too!

012 009

Does that make us a duo on our Solos?

 

 

Lessons learned in the bushes

Things I have learned while walking, and wildcrafting, in the woods:

horsetail    fringecup    broadleaf star    american vetch

 

  • Just because I happily discover a patch of stinging nettles unexpectedly, I shouldn’t pat them like I would  a friendly puppy.

 

  • When coming across oodles of fresh new Oregon Grape Root leaves don’t be so amazed at their softness that I squat down to rub them on my cheeks (facial). People walking past don’t understand. . .

 

  • When I am hunting for Greater Plantain all I’m going to find is the Lesser Plantain. Learn to not be so fussy.

 

  • Cleavers is a happy plant. It likes to reach out and grab in a sticky Velcro way when saying hello—totally unlike the hops plant. When that baby reaches out to say hello—it’s often a nasty and painful greeting. . .

 

  • Feeling sad to find out the wonderfully cheerful buttercup of childhood actually contains an acrid juice that will blister the skin.

 

  • Trying not to do a happy dance upon finding out that the lowly-but-life-enriching dandelion not only spreads by parachuting puff heads but also by travelling tap-root. . . Three cheers for the dandelion—not that I’d ever say that out loud. . .

 

  • The bracken fern, also known as the weedy fern, has rootstock that when boiled down taste kind of like rootbeer. . . I can only assume ‘kind of’ actually means ‘very poor pitiful like’. . . and that’s not something I’m about to try. Especially since memory can still taste Mom’s homemade rootbeer.

 

  • To not get into such a daze of delight over being surrounded by graceful gatherings of fringecups flowers, horsetails fronds and broadleaf starflowers that Man-Wonder has time to sneak away. . .

 

 

gypsy face  Maybe next time I go out wildcrafting I’ll hang a dozen quilted bags off my arms, wrap my head in a bohemian head scarf, hang on some dangly earrings and drape a colorful shawl across my shoulders. . . yeah—really get in the moment!

 

 

 

 

Whose that knocking at the door?

This blog is about death. About stepping through the door which lies between the energy layers.

Why?

death holding the door

Because death is a frequent door holder-opener here in our over-55 MHP and after counting the number who have died since we moved here nineteen months ago, it’s been on our minds to the point we’ve had to adjust our thinking.

It’s sad, it’s uncomfortable but it’s a fact of life. You live you die. And here, where the cluster of humanity is aged, there’s little getting away from it.

Usually, when someone becomes ill you assume they will get better. Here, you hold your breath because the human vehicles living here don’t have reverse.

We’ve come to see that the best time to live is right now, in each moment as it unfolds. To stop living in a past that no longer exists except within the endless chattering loops of brain matter. To stop projecting into a future that doesn’t exist yet—except in another coil of endless mental chattering. To let go of so many things.

In How To Wake Up author Toni Bernhard says, I become mindful of what I’m grasping at, no matter how petty it seems. I reflect on how everything I preoccupy myself with will dissolve at the moment of death—all my opinions that I consider to be so important, all my worries about the future, all the material stuff around me that I think of as mine. All that grasping. Gone. Gone. Gone.’

And, like Toni Bernhard also says, there is nothing nihilistic about those thoughts. They are life-affirming. We need to seriously consider what is important. Possessions? Money? Worries? Fears?

“At the moment of death, all that I’m grasping will be of no use.”

So, living in this MHP, where the departure gate is pretty damn close, is a good reminder to dump the crap and live.

Really . . . this life—is all you have.

« Older entries
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 49 other followers