Hypocrisy

I want to be looked at as a lifelong hypocrite. Not because of beliefs that I currently hold that I’m falsely representing, but because of beliefs that are always changing with new information. I want my life to go from stubbornness to learning to bending to solidifying. My core beliefs I will own and will always have but those just below them are molten and always changing and sometimes hardening into core beliefs.

Let’s use a silly example. “I’m not an animal person” This was a very stubborn statement that I stuck to with religious vigor. It in fact was more telling of my ignorance of animals. We did not have many pets growing up and because of my allergies I kept my distance and did not form bonds or learn any information about them. Leading to my all-time most ignorant statement. “Cats don’t drink water.” (Pause for laughter) Okay now that you are done laughing, follow my logic on this one. I did not nor did my parents ever own a cat. I am allergic to cats and therefore stayed away from any that were owned by friends. This leaves my experience with cats linked solely to cartoons and movies. What do cartoon cats drink? Milk. When watching horror movies about cats, what do cats dislike being sprayed with? Water. Therefore, cats do not drink water. I’ve learned since making this statement that this is not true and have been gently corrected in many such ways of thinking. My husband has had endless hours of laughter at my expense and most of that comes from my newly forming bond with animals. This ignorance is by no means limited to cats and I’m more than willing to take the laughter aimed in my direction as long as there are people willing to, when they catch their breath, help me learn from my mistakes and misguided logic. My change from not liking animals to being an animal lover is a work in progress.

So while being exposed to animals my beliefs about them are changing and with that I’ve developed a sense of attachment. Going from “I’m not an animal person” to posting pics of our dog, horses, cows, and cat, and making me look like a hypocrite to those that have not seen the process of change.

On a more serious note there is my views of different cultures. When younger, my beliefs were that anyone who did not do things the way that I did, did not look the way I do, dressed differently, or held different beliefs was wrong. Plain and simply wrong. They should have changed to suit my view of the world. With extensive reading and some limited cultural exposure my thoughts have changed from stubbornness to mild acceptance and in most cases to awe, wonder, and gratitude for those that are different from me. With knowledge came change and a more solid understanding of the previously unknown. I still hold fast to some of my core beliefs but I’m able to accept that not everyone holds those beliefs and neither of us are more right or wrong.

I’m working had to not be upset by conflicting views and that is leading to some interesting conversations, that I can now have like an adult, without anger and fear. I like a good debate and even if that debate does not change the mind of my opponent or myself I’d like to think that we are both taking away a better understanding of the others stance. Instead of just throwing ideas at each other with no facts to back them up, debates have become fact seeking missions with both sides working to find common ground or at least some acceptance. I want this to continue on every level; world views, politics, economy, gardening, emotions, parenting.

I want to forever look like a hypocrite.

 

Hypocrisy

Watering

 

Yesterday was definitely hot. With little to no natural moisture in the soil and not much in sight, I made the trek out to the farm for a much needed watering session, waiting until just before dark to head out. On the way out I watched as the clouds built to the west, almost certain that they would build and just before dropping the much needed moisture they would blow north. This happens on such a regular bases that no matter how much rain is predicted I will still go out to water, and with temperatures in the 90’s in June I couldn’t take a chance on the rain missing the garden.

Watching the clouds build was quite a sight. Blue skies and late day sun prevailed to the east, white clouds blossoming and slowly turning gray off to the west. The air had cooled just enough that I could leave open the window and let the crisp scent of the building storm blow through the vehicle.

I’m greeted at the gate by an over excited and rapidly growing Great Pyrenees pup. The fading light intensifying the colors around his white mass of fur, causing him to stand out in stark contrast to the waist high green grass and brown dirt road.

Getting out of the vehicle I stand still and embrace the calm, cooling air. With the storm building in the distance, the air temperature has dropped and the slight breeze is a refreshing change from the heat of the day, the suns rays having lost the struggle with the turning earth and growing clouds. Inhaling deeply, I take in the scent of green grass, tangy weeds, and the mellow dry soil, all laced with the fresh smell of the far off rain. The hills surrounding the yard haloed by the retreating light.

Spraying the first few feet of each row, the water arching on to each plant, the rubber hose quickly turning slick with condensation from the cool water rushing through it. My mind and body relax with the rhythm of the work, sweeping the water back and forth over each row, savoring the flawless evening. With each thorough pass of water the ground grows dark, soaking in the moisture that doesn’t have a  chance to puddle on the surface, outlining each small plant and forming small droplets on their leaves.

Tugging on the hose, as I move slowly up the row, the rubber straining along with my arms. The routine job giving my mind a chance to wander, it runs free into the clouds and I imagine drops of rain starting to fall on my shoulder and upturned face. Cool droplets slowly running down my cheeks and neck, spots of water slowly blending together on my shirt. My mind turns to study the course that my life has taken. How I never thought that the weather would have such a profound effect my daily routine. This wonderful soil under my feet has caused me to tune into the world around me on so many levels. For some I am thankful, others not so much. I love the time to think, especially about current events and recently read books. I hate the constant anxiety that weather of any form brings.

With all the plants watered, I slowly walk back down the rows, making sure that everything got enough to drink. I reluctantly push down on the hydrant’s handle and turn off the water, signifying the end of my wondering thoughts. Watching the clouds blow slowly to the north, I’m glad that I’ve come out to water since the rain will yet again not be falling over my little patch of heaven.

 

Watering

Spoke Too Soon

My prolific peas had an attack of downy mildew. So……all plants have been ripped out. I’ll try again for a fall harvest but I haven’t been successful with that yet.

Update on the rest of the garden. Cherry and small Early Girl tomatoes are starting to ripen, the larger varieties are full of green tomatoes and blossoms. Peppers are starting to grow, I’ve picked the first few banana peppers. 2nd planting of carrots has yet to make an appearance, I’m not holding my breath. My largest onions, of which there are a few, are about a pound each. Green beans have taken over where the peas left off and are producing very well. Purple beans and lima beans are just forming. Watermelon are starting to grow, I counted about 25 with out digging around in the vines. Zucchini are starting to form along with winter squash and pumpkins. I’ve located the first few cucumbers that are only about the size of my thumb nail.  1st planting of corn is starting to fill out, 2nd planting is tasseling. I’ll be trying a fall crop of lettuce and if I can find kohlrabi seed I’ll plant more of that along with some more beets. Potatoes are just finishing flowering and I’ll start aggressively digging them soon. Sweet potato vines are filling in nicely and sunflowers are making for a very cheerful garden.

One a personal note I’ve been sleeping through the worst of the days heat, resulting in four hour naps in the afternoon and four hours of sleep between 3am and 7am. These hours are not working for me so this week I’ll be a bit cranky as I try to wean myself away from naps.

Hope everyone is having a great summer!

Spoke Too Soon

Nightmare

Crawling into bed, I snuggle into my husbands side. Yawning and closing my eyes, my mind drifting to nothingness as my breathing starts to slow and my muscles relax. Thoughts of the day easing away and doubts of tomorrow lost for another time.

The blackness behind my eyelids is quietly penetrated by a swirl of white smoke-like wisps, softly lit from within, but casting no light around them. Their edges turning and licking towards my soul like a flame. The movement is deceptively calming, making my mind wander closer, allowing for the tendrils to wrap through me, dragging me over the invisible edge.

I’m dropped onto a blacktop street, in the middle of darkened alley, surrounded by tall buildings that block the sky. Fear and dread causing me to turn all around, franticly searching for nothing and everything. The fears source nowhere to be found but all the same it’s coming for me. A shiver runs along my skin multiplying my unease. I try to run, an invisible sludge created by my self doubt and every wrong decision is making it near impossible to move. Each foot filled with lead, nonexistent tethers attached to each muscle slowing my movements and building the tension that threatens to snap back at any moment.

Ahead of me is every love, being threatened with destruction. My hands reach for them, my breathing is frantic matching my wildly erratic heartbeat. Each muddled step is allowing the fear to catch up and the evil to take away someone dear to me. Each moment the face of love is changing, vague and always morphing but somehow this makes it more real.

I can’t escape. There’s no veering from the course and no reaching the destination. Shadow and flame surround the edges of my path, laced with the outlines of serpents and winged beasts. Defeat engulfs me and I try to scream but all that is allowed past my lips is a soft whisper of breath that is quickly drawn into the blackness. Tears stream down my face and I know that the end is near. Just as the skeletal hand of fear threatens to touch my back and the evil rises to make the destructive blow my mind is thrust through the dreams surface.

Thrashing wildly, my scream is allowed to be heard. My arm connects with something hard and I raise it to strike again, my heart pounding in my chest. Before I can lash out the fog leaves my brain and I’m confronted with the fact that I’m now the evil one. My husband the victim of spousal abuse.  He’ll have to hide his shame with a tale of clumsily walking into a door. Thankfully this time I didn’t wake him, so he might not even realize that I did it.

I turn to lay on my side and snuggle against him once more. This time I’m facing a different direction, which normally works like turning the channel on my dreams. Hopefully this time my mind will conjure up something peaceful and save his poor shoulder from further punishment.

Nightmare

Prolific Peas

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I’m doubting my sanity!

Just when I think that I’ve got this gardening thing figured out, mother nature gives me a big middle finger. Want to ty multiple plantings to stagger the harvest? None of your seeds, planted at the same time, are going to sprout with any consistency anyway. Want to till between the rows? Here’s a couple of weeks of constant downpours. Let’s switch up the weather on you too. How about 90 in June and 70’s in July. My plants are as mixed up as I am, all except for peas.

Peas were planted for the 1st time on April 4th this year, about 8 weeks earlier than I’ve ever planted before. Then again on May 23rd, which is around the time I normally plant. By the time my second planting went in the ground, the first was already up and starting to flower.

Beans were planted for the 1st time somewhere in the middle of the pea plantings. I did not see these sprout for over a month. Panicking I replanted May 28th. I did the same thing with beets. What came up was incredibly spotty. Better throw in some more seed. (If you haven’t noticed I’m not the most patient person.)

This is when mother nature really started messing with me. All of a sudden seed that was put in the ground well over a month ago, and had been written off, started to sprout. What!? Okay, I can deal with this, too much is better than not enough. But where are the rest of the beets, kohlrabi, carrots, and cabbage? One more time I went up and down the rows replanting.

During all this my peas paid no attention to the other dysfunctional plants and did their thing, and did it well. They ignored the potato bugs, the weird weather, and their confused neighbors. Harvest started early and has continued well up until this past week. I’m now waiting for the second plantings flowers and small pods to produce, but they are abundant and the down time is giving me plenty of time for anxiety over everything else.

This anxiety includes the lack of cabbage, parsnips, and kohlrabi. It also stretches to the spotty and very late to sprout beets, cucumbers, and summer squash. These things seem to have a mind of their own this year and they are not sharing their opinions with me nor are they listening to mine. Then there are the nasty little potato bugs that were enlisted to make my life miserable.

Now lets take a look at the corn. I planted 4 fairly long rows over a 4 week period. The 1st row is mostly higher than the rest, except for those few seeds that decided to come up with the 4th row. Then in the forth row I have seed that wanted to sprout much earlier than the rest and came up with the 3rd row. I expect and anticipate some losses and other craziness over the season but come on this year is a bit out of hand.

On the whole the garden is looking good, just a bit spotty and a little stunted in some parts. But man, oh man, those peas. Not only does it look like my second planting will produce well but the first is continuing to vine and is starting to produce more flowers, and with the cooler weather this week they should do very well. They have also talked my beans into producing wonderfully already, even with our misunderstanding and multiple panicked plantings. The first picking, only 20 plants of 100 are producing yet, yielded almost 5 lbs. There should be no lack of Dilly Beans and beans in the freezer this year.

Actually I don’t have much to complain about this year. Every year has had it’s challenges and I do have some good looking plants this year, but everything is a bit wonky and is keeping me on my toes. It’s especially been a great year for peas!

Prolific Peas

Colors

It’s easy to get caught up in the debate over white and black, blonde and brown, purple and green. We are all born into family and environmental prejudices that can be hard to overcome. Holding onto these opinions is a lot easier than learning and looking past. It’s also very easy to learn and than hold the new knowledge over those that cling to ignorance.

This post is prompted by a recent influx of White Lives Matter posts I’ve seen on facebook. The fact that we are still using skin color, race, age, religion, and economic status as a bases to judge the value of a life shows how far we have to go as a human race. With the availability of information out there on the historic and present conditions presented to each group, I’m appalled at our media for focusing on the emotional aspect instead of the facts and also at our responses.

I come from a family with many prejudices that have been handed down through multiple generations. Most of these are based on a lack of information, hearsay, and what was going on in the world for the generation that started them. As time passes, I’m witnessing a gradual withdrawal from these opinions and a shift towards greater acceptance. A lot of our families struggle with this comes from geography.

We are from North Dakota. This comes with many advantages; work ethic, community, family value. It also has some drawbacks the main one being a lack of cultural diversity. As our communities start to expand our understanding needs to expand with it, but a common theme is to brace for impact and resist. I’m trying to leave this theme behind but for some reason I can’t do it without kicking and screaming the whole way.

I am far from being above prejudices. Hearing past generations talk about different people has made it very hard to accept someone who is not like me. It’s also very hard for me to accept change. Most of the time I don’t even realize that my thoughts are intolerant. I’ve been blessed with an amazing friend that is not afraid to call me out on my backwards thinking and explain, through her experiences with a wider variety of cultures,  why my thinking doesn’t make sense. This amazing woman has the ability to not only take in both sides of the equation but the ability to vocalize each of them. With her help I’ve come a long way, but still have a long way to go.

I really feel that this constant division, brought on by movements focusing on one side of a problem, can not be resolved by continuing on the current course. In my mind the best answer is education for both sides. If you can’t see where another person is coming from it’s hard to move forward in a mutually accepted direction and this mentality of bringing people to one side or another has to stop, unless that side is the one that is for the whole human race.

Pick up a book about another culture, talk to someone from a different background, turn off the TV and experience for yourself the diversity in your community. This is a constant struggle and there is no such thing as to much knowledge. Continue to fight the urge to resist change and open your heart to embrace everyone. You do not need to change your core beliefs to be tolerant. And try to leave the judgment to whatever higher power you do believe in or just keep them to yourself.

 

Colors

Imperfect Perfection

 

Imperfect perfection describes each thing in the garden from the weeds to flowers, from bugs to dirt, from fruit to farmer, each individual item plays an essential part. This imperfect perfection applies to looks, actions, uses, and in the farmers case thoughts, and could even be extended to the wildlife that passes through and the weather that passes over. Paintings and drawings often show things straight and even, reality is often messy, crooked, and missing parts.

Weeds can be one of the most dreaded things in the garden. They grow when and where nothing else will. Through drought and flood, rain, hail, sleet, bugs, and disease they manage to exist, I think that the postal service had a slogan like this once. (Sorry my mind wanders and I don’t think that my postman is a weed.) Some weeds choke out other plants, they poke fingers, and are difficult to control. At the same time some make good ground cover for well established plants by keeping in moisture and blocking other weeds from growing. Their long tap roots pull up nutrients from deep in the soil that most plants cannot reach, dandelions are a common one. Some are also edible, again dandelions fit this description, the greens can be used in salads and the flowers steeped for tea or even jelly. The flowers can be quite pretty also, although I try not to let them get to that point because the flowers just mean seeds are coming and with the seeds comes more weeds.

Flowers are some of my favorite things.  Whether they adorn the fruit bearing plants like pumpkins, peas, and tomatoes or are on the dreaded weeds, they add color to the otherwise monochromatic green. Flowers not only are pretty and produce the necessary fruits but they help to attract bees for pollination, essential bugs that destroy evil bugs, and some have smells that are offensive to bugs and animals that would eat on the plants. They are the essence of imperfect perfection. Take the flower in the picture above, it took my breath when I first saw it, being the first sunflower of the year. Yet it’s missing petals and is by far the smallest flower now on the plant, but it’s color and height on the plant gave it immediate perfect status.

Bugs come next on my list and are both essential and bothersome. I had my first infestation of potato bugs on my blue potato plants this year and could have done without them, but I also have ladybugs in the same patch of garden that eat the larva and eggs of the potato bug. Bees make my children nervous but are definitely essential to plant growth and production. Spiders help to keep down the bothersome insect population and I’m thankful for them even though I pretend they don’t exist. These are my most feared creature. I had a tomato plant last year that had an extensive web on it and I had to have my husband harvest the tomatoes from that plant. While I don’t like spiders, I do love seeing there webs sparkling in the morning sun covered in dew. Breathtaking! Caterpillars, worms, and butterflies all play their roll too.

The dirt is another vital part of the garden. It’s alive with organisms that provide the foundation for amazing plant productions. Well cared for it produces crop abundance, neglected it dies and all plant life dies with it. Whether soft and loamy or hard and full of clay we wouldn’t exist without it. I tend to eat an extensive amount throughout the year, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to tell the quality of my soil by the taste? Dirt is also home to the worms that help to aerate the soil and break down the organic matter. On the flip side the soil also can harbor diseases.

Fruit is the reason for my garden. Once the flowers give way to this amazing produce, the colors of the garden change again. Coming in all shapes and sizes these also tend to be more imperfect than what we are used to seeing. It has yet to happen that all of my tomatoes are equal size, color, and roundness or my pea pods perfectly straight and evenly filled. These imperfections are often the cause of wonder, when a carrot splits and looks like a pair of legs or a cucumber curls around a post. Unfortunately these odd looking but still tasty wonders are a hard sell to those who are used to the cookie cutter look of grocery store produce. (I’m going to take a minute to rant about this. Because most people are looking for uniformity in produce a large quantity of fruit is thrown out. To get a uniform product in the quantities that are needed, farms begin to spray crops more heavily to improve yield and reduce disease and pest problems. I had read an article in National Geographic on this topic and the numbers of unwanted produce thrown out each year is astronomical, if I remember correctly in the 50 percent range here in the US. There are some places that are using these goods for food pantries and shelters and some that are making sure the unwanted excess is going to farmers as feed for animals such as hogs and chickens. Just keep in mind that even ugly produce deserves some love.) A garden in the fall that is filled with red tomatoes, orange pumpkins, yellow sunflowers, and tan melons mixed with all the green plants and brown earth is a pretty picture that blurs the imperfect into perfection.

The farmer is far from perfect. Pulling plants that are thought to be weeds, planting at the wrong time, overlooking ripe fruit, over and under watering. Each mistake becomes a lesson that takes us closer to perfection but never allows us to reach the final mark. The farmers fairy tale is a weedless, high yielding, bug and destructive weather free, straight rowed, perfectly planted garden. Produce ripe on our timetable and in the quantities needed. But like all fairy tales ours too has an evil villain and our happily ever after comes in the form of contentment with what was produced despite the trials of the year or the numbers. Our perfection comes with the knowledge that we gave it our best and will strive for better next year.

My imperfectly perfect garden has come to be because of all the perfectly imperfect parts. Taking away any of the components would cause the tower to crumble. I’ll keep my bugs and dirt, flowers and fruits just how they are. (After reading this for corrections I realized that my mind left out weeds from this last sentence. Freudian slip?)

 

Imperfect Perfection