The Old Farmhouse

Poem about an old farmhouse.

The Old Farmhouse

 

I ain’t what I used to be.

Seen too many winters.

My steps creak, my porch is saggin’,

and half my shingles is gone.

 

But I seen a lot in my day.

 

Got to know folks.

 

That farmer and his wife—they came here

when they didn’t have a lick of sense.

She finally got some.

He never did.

 

They done like married folks back then.

Had babies, worked with the sun, worried over bills.

 

Waited for rain.

 

He plowed the fields, tracked dirt over my floors.

She planted flowers at my feet.

 

Sometimes in the evening, after he’d fall asleep,

she’d bake bread in my kitchen.

 

I always liked it when she baked bread.

 

They done some hard livin’ in their time—fifty-three years of it.

‘Til his heart gave out.

 

They told her to leave then, those kids of hers,

all growed up and moved to the city.

What do they know, anyway?

 

Now the youngest pulls up in his fancy car,

threatens to tear me down again.

But he’ll forget about me.

 

When it’s my time to go, I think I’ll sink quietly

back into the ground, the scent of her flowers in my nostrils.

 

God, how I miss that woman!

***

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2 Links for Introverts and Detailed Thinkers

posted in: Good Reads | 0

2 Links for Introverts and Detailed Thinkers.

I came across this post today and wanted to share the love. It’s from Michael Hyatt, and the title says it all: “How Little Things Can Lead to Big Results.” Detailed thinkers, this one celebrates you!

Hubs sent me this article the other day (rural speak for anywhere from three days to six months ago), and I’ve been meaning to dig up the link: “12 Signs You’re an Introverted Extrovert.” I balked at the idea when he suggested I might be one. (He happens to be).

“Just read it,” he said. “You’re better with people than you think.”

Turns out I happened to have eleven of the signs. Who knew? Obviously he did!

How about you? Are you and introverted extrovert or detailed thinker? Leave me a comment.

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My 3 Essential Tips for Growing Strawberries

posted in: Simple Garden | 2

3 Essential Tips for Growing Strawberries.

Growing strawberries didn’t come easy to me. I’ve been raising the June-bearing variety for about a decade now, and it’s only been the last several years that I’ve finally gotten the hang of it. The problem wasn’t with the berries but rather the grower. I didn’t give them what they needed.

To begin with, the soil wasn’t in the best condition for growing the little gems. The bed needed more organic matter to get that perfect dark crumbly soil we gardeners love–obviously the strawberries do, too. And I didn’t spend enough time watering them. Not that they like their feet wet, but my plants were not getting what they required.

So what changed? I decided that if I wanted a good crop of strawberries, I needed to learn more about them and put that newfound knowledge into practice. And I realized that I had to devote the time to nurturing the plants even though the payback–handfuls and handfuls of fresh berries ripe for the picking–would be delayed a year or two. I focused on growing beautiful green plants and temporarily forgot about the fruit.

To help you avoid making the same mistakes I did, here are my 3 essential tips for growing strawberries.

  1. Mulch them. I took the time to lay down newspaper and straw or dry grass clippings. This solved a few problems. It helped hold the moisture in so my plants got enough water and helped keep weeds at bay. Eventually the newspaper and straw and grass broke down, adding humus to my soil.
  2. Go after weeds ruthlessly. Strawberries don’t tolerate weeds well. Weeds choke out the plants and keep them from growing and producing as much as a healthy strawberry plant with room to stretch out.
  3. Renovate post season. Admittedly, this was hard for me because I don’t like hacking away at vibrant green leaves, but when I made my peace with taking my weed whacker and cutting back the plants an inch above the crown, my strawberry patch thrived. While I had it in mind to thin out the plants and get rid of most of the runners last year, my strawberries have spread out to cover the entire patch this year! It’s a challenge finding places I can step between plants! Ideally it’s best to have space between them, so I will have to be more aggressive in my renovating at the end of this season.
    3 Essential Tips for Growing Strawberries.
    My strawberry patch in all its glory.

    Of course you want to make sure to fertilize the plants. I did this a couple of times last year. Basically, though, it’s a matter of taking care of your plants so eventually they take care of you! I’ve only begun picking this week and have already filled a gallon bag and am halfway to filling a second, not to mention how many berries I’ve snacked on and used fresh. Will keep you posted on how many gallons I get.

    How about you? What are your essential tips for growing strawberries?

    Related posts: 5 Delicious Ways to Use Up Strawberries 

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All Winding Roads Lead to Nausea

All Winding Roads Lead to NauseaOn the way home from critique group the other day, Hubs mentioned he wanted to take a drive. A drive, I thought, smiling inwardly. Visions of the open road and lovely spring vistas tiptoed through the recesses of my mind. Deep and meaningful conversation punctuated with loving side glances.

Sigh.

We’d taken a lot of drives over our shared three decades together, from dating days to early marriage and parenting years and beyond–although our excursions in the beyond category had been few and far between as of late. So imagine my delight when he suggested it–until  he added the part about wanting to drive the route for his upcoming fondo. (That’s cycling lingo for an organized endurance ride.)

SIGH. Road closed and barricaded.

“Did you want to go alone?” I asked.

“No, you can come along,” he said.

Sigh. Road reopened.

So the next day we headed to Defiance–town, not attitude–to the location where the fondo would start. Open road–check. Inspiring view–check. Soul-baring conversation with occasional nods from mostly attentive husband–check, check.

Finally we arrived at our destination, a parking lot that would serve as starting point for the fondo. Still conversing, I looked over at him midsentence, waiting for his knowing glance. He stopped and took in the area, then his eyes met mine.

“Here’s the route,” he said, thrusting a paper with street names toward me. “Keep up.”

Aha! It all made sense now. He needed me along to navigate.

SIGH. Okay, good attitude, good attitude. Sigh. “Sure.”

He drove on as I fed him the directions. The roads were curvy and hilly, winding in every which way. I took in the scenery between downward glances at our itinerary. This was fun.

Until a sick feeling descended upon me. Nausea. Me and winding roads have always had a temperamental relationship.

I dug into my purse for a peppermint. Out. SIGH. “Can you slow down? I feel sick.”

“Don’t look at the paper,” he said. “I can do it.”

He slowed down and opened the windows. I stared straight ahead and breathed in the cool spring air and let him know we’d need to stop for some peppermints.

“I don’t know where we’re going to find a place that has peppermints,” he said. “By the way, what’s for lunch?”

SIGH. “Cooking is about the last thing I want to do.”

After several more miles, we hit the interstate, the winding roads finally behind me. A few more miles and he turned off and took another highway, heading into a small town. I spotted a drugstore–peppermints. He pulled into a barbecue restaurant next door, the smell of grilled meat permeating the air. I gave him a questioning look.

“You said you didn’t want to cook. We can get the peppermints after we eat.”

Oddly, at that moment, I wasn’t sick anymore. After a plate of pulled pork, cole slaw, and baked beans, I was a new woman. Call it male intuition, but the man gets me. Sigh. We headed over to the store for the peppermints, anyway.

Just in case.

Update: A couple of pics from Mike’s (Hubs) fondo.

Cyclists line up for the Vino Fondo 2017.                   Mike’s bike taking a break.

All Winding Roads Lead to Nausea. Image from Vino Fondo 2017.

All Winding Roads Lead to Nausea. Image from Vino Fondo 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seedlings: The Sequel

posted in: Simple Garden | 0

Seedlings: The Sequel. Help for leggy seedlings.What a difference a week makes! While I ended up losing many of the previous seedlings, I was able to save most of the tomatoes and some cilantro. I also managed to learn a few things in the process.

1) Follow the instructions. By placing the grow light three inches above the tallest seedling and leaving the light on for eighteen hours, the plants did much better. Some new sprouts have even popped their little heads through the dirt to take the place of some of the dead ones.

2) Try new ideas. I had read that running my finger over the leggy seedlings would simulate the wind, which triggers the plant to grow stronger stems. I had my doubts this would work, but I was pleasantly surprised! By the second day I noticed a difference in those seedlings that had survived. Yes, you read that right! By the second day!

3) Keep at it. While that tray of seedlings was discouraging, a little TLC can go a long way to bring plants back to life.

And not just plants.

More garden adventures to follow!

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The Useful Art of Daydreaming

The Useful Art of Daydreaming.

A writer friend and I went out to lunch one day, and the topic of daydreaming came up in the conversation. She told me how growing up her mother often scolded her for daydreaming because, from her mother’s perspective, she was wasting time. Not doing anything productive. I had to admit that as a child I frittered away many an hour lost in my own thoughts.

Still do.

Being a writer I have every reason in the world to daydream. For one thing, it’s important work.

What, you ask? Daydreaming?

Yes, I said it’s important work for a writer to daydream. Where else do ideas come from? Thoughts allowed to drift in every which direction help me write stories and poems. And blog posts. But more than that, it transports me from the everyday mundane to the land of possibility. In a real, practical sense, it stretches me to believe for what could be in my life and the life of others. Often, daydreaming sparks prayer.

Important work, indeed!

So next time someone in your life startles you from your reverie, kindly tell them not to disturb you. You’re working. Chances are your loved one will chalk it up to another one of those crazy things and promptly leave you alone!

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Leggy Seedlings: Don’t Let This Happen to You

posted in: Simple Garden | 2

Leggy seedlings from starting seeds indoors.I was thinking of an alternative name for this post, like “Friends don’t let friends garden badly,” but the cautionary warning won out instead. These leggy seedlings look awful, don’t they? I’m embarrassed to even post this. I’ve been growing my own garden for how many years? Twenty-six seasons. And that doesn’t include my childhood spent learning from the voices of gardening experience–my grandparents.

The truth is I haven’t had my grow light out for a while–a couple of years now. When I did use it, I just sort of planted stuff and hoped for the best. Coming off of hard winters, a few of those fighting depression, those little seedlings gave me hope. So whatever I did worked then–and thankfully so!

I’m in a better place these days. Life is pretty good. But when it comes to gardening, what once came easily is a challenge. Time for this girl to read up on leggy seedlings and grow lights.

The problem with leggy seedlings is that they are reaching for the light, and the farther the light source, the quicker they grow toward it, resulting in a spindly plant that won’t usually make it. My light was about a foot away from the tray. What I learned is that the grow light should be positioned about three inches above the tallest seedlings.

The duration of light exposure is also important. From my research, gardeners recommend the light be turned on for about eighteen hours. Mine was on for about fourteen.

So what do you do with leggy seedlings? Gently running a finger over the seedlings a few times a day to simulate wind actually causes some of them to adapt by growing thicker stems. I’m trying this out to see what happens. Some seedlings, tomatoes in particular, can actually be planted deeper and often survive it. Most seedlings don’t.

Though it’s late for starting seeds, I’ll plant another tray and see what grows. I’ll keep you posted.

Related posts: Seedlings: The Sequel

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My Adventures Growing Zinnias

posted in: Simple Garden | 6

My adventures growing zinnias.

Last year I grew the most amazing zinnia bush ever. “Bush?” you say. Okay, I know that zinnias don’t grow as bushes, but this particular plant looked like one. I tried to contain it by using a tomato cage, and it ended up busting out the sides and growing in every direction. I added a few stakes and still couldn’t contain it!

But let me back up the story. I had been growing cabbage and cauliflower in a bed next to my compost pile, and after quite a disappointing crop, I spaded under what was left of the plants to break down into the soil. Being in close proximity to the compost, I thought I ought to work on building up the soil in the cabbage-cauliflower bed, so I added a few spadefuls of decomposed garbage gold and resolved to work on it again soon.

A few weeks later I noticed a lone zinnia growing out of the bed, and I didn’t have the heart to pluck it. So I let it grow. And basically ignored it.

The “little zinnia that could” grew like most zinnias I’d grown before, so I didn’t think much of it. The seedling got water when I set the sprinkler to hit the strawberry patch, but I didn’t go out of my way to do anything special. Before I knew it, the plant bloomed, resulting in a large, beautiful maroon flower.

As the days of summer passed, the blooms kept coming furiously and the plant kept pushing toward the sun until I had to slip a tomato cage around it for support. By then the stem of the plant was more like a stalk, and blooms shot out in all directions, providing a gorgeous show of color with dozens of large flowers on that same lone zinnia.

And it kept going all the way until frost. “Be sure and save some seed,” Mom said one day, admiring the hardiness and beauty of my once lone zinnia. So I did. Honestly, in all my years of gardening, I’d never seen anything like it.

So do I have any practical tips for growing zinnias? Oh, I imagine turning the less than spectacular cabbage and cauliflower crop under fed the soil as did the spadefuls of compost. But I’m thinking there was a lesson designed specifically for me in this lovely floral show I enjoyed all summer long.

The truth is, I didn’t plant it, nor did I do much to care for it. In fact, I’d been nurturing other plants in the garden, and the season was rather lackluster for me as far as gardening years go. One of the worst I’d ever had.

Except for one lone zinnia.

Perhaps the lesson for me is that we are given gifts we neither requested or earned. Blessings undeserved.

Grace.

We can accept these gifts, cast them aside, ignore them, or appreciate them with a grateful heart.

I know what I’m going to choose.

Amy

P.S. Several of the seeds from this super zinnia have sprouted. I’ll keep readers posted as to what develops! 

Related posts:

My 3 Essential Tips for Growing Strawberries

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Seedlings: The Sequel 

 

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