Cherishing our Baptism

Each of my daughters received a rose-bush for her baptism.  Moriah was baptized on All Saints’ Sunday (November 1), and I had a tiny tea rose-bush to keep alive all winter.  It was a lovely gesture, but that winter nearly killed it, between the too-sunny window in which I placed the rose, and the intermittent watering it received.  The next summer, things calmed down in my life, and I pruned it back a bit and planted it in the earth, where the watering was a little more frequent.  And how it grew!  Moriah’s baptism rose was the one plant we excluded from the sale of our house, and we transplanted it to the new house two years later, where it thrived in afternoon sun.


SweetP’s rose-bush was planted at the new (now old) house between two other, larger bushes.  In the spring it got plenty of light, but as the summer wore on, the larger bushes shaded it, and though it bloomed, it was hard to find them among all the green around it.  We sometimes forgot to look for its beauty and sweet fragrance.


Both bushes were excluded from this summer’s house sale, and I dug them up and put them in pots which now sit outside my mom’s house by her clematis bush.  Both roses died back, looking dead after the trauma of being dug up.  I know I badly damaged the root of Moriah’s bush– being so much larger than SweetP’s, the root was deep and fat and I couldn’t pull it out whole.  SweetP’s bush came back in September with full leaves, but the most Moriah’s rose has managed so far are two green trunks.  I pray those will sprout new growth in the spring. Winter is coming, and I will have to move them to the basement, because I think the pots are not going to be enough protection from December wind and cold.


My faith is so much like those two roses.  It started came as a gift, started very small, but put out fragrant blossoms almost from the beginning.  It depends not only on the soil around me, but on my tending it.  Nurturing it.  And as I know, the “worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth” (Matt 13:22) so frequently choke the growth out of me.

When I water those roses and prune them, I pray for our faith.  For each of us,  that the gift of our faith, like the gifts of our baptism, will grow and produce a crop for the Kingdom.

Autumn Work: Putting the Garden to Bed


There are a few treasures left in the garden. One rose-bush and a mum (a tall, weird mum that only blooms in November) are still flowering.

Can you see how weirdly tall this mum is?

Otherwise, everything else needed to be cleared out for the winter.  In past years when I haven’t taken out the dead vegetables and pruned, I have regretted it come spring when I want to plant and I can’t.  Putting the garden to bed is kind-of the gardening equivalent to filling a sink with hot, soapy water before I cook.  I think it’s easier to do this work in the autumn when the gratitude for all it produced is still fresh in me.

I required the children’s help (ten hands made light work!) and rewarded them with “free computer time”… they were all in until I started to mix fresh compost.


We spread sheep-manure compost over the beds and laid the dried grass we’d saved over it all. (Obviously, don’t do this if you use fertilizer on your grass or if it’s full of weeds.)

This flower bed was entirely choked with sunflowers this year. When I ripped them all out, I lost a good third of the soil on the roots, so it needed additional soil and compost. I had a bunch of oldish flower packets, and I sprinkled them in, hoping that in the spring they will think they naturalized themselves there. It’s worked in the past.

Strawberry plants, beautifully colored for fall.

We didn’t get to the raspberry canes yet. Maybe this weekend?


Here is our final harvest of the year:
More potatoes (Yukon gold and purple) than I expected, and some bizarre, overgrown carrots that were hidden in the cucumber vines. As Calvin (or Hobbes?) says, There’s treasure everywhere.

Daybook, Early August, 2012

Outside my window: plums, ripening.
What I’m hearing: a gold finch is singing his heart out from the dead branch of our ash tree.
(This is not a gold finch.)

In my prayers: Mandy.  The survivors of the typhoon in the Philippines.  The people of Aleppo and Homs.  My upcoming trip.


Grateful: for our garden.  For Josephine, born last week in Chicago. And Baby Juliette, born last week in Paris.  A run here, last week:

In the kitchen: green and yellow beans.


Reading: Charlotte Mason’s original homeschooling series.  Metaxas’ biography of Bonhoeffer (wow!) and a Geogette Heyer, Frederica.

dles: a few wash cloths.  Not much else.

The Reason I can’t get much done: The Olympics.  I love the swimming and the gymnastics, especially.  What’s your favorite Olympic event (aside from all the comercials with Morgan Freeman’s voice)?

Plum Week

When we came back from vacation, the plum trees were heavy with ripe fruit.


There were not-quite-ripe plums, too, but even those were ready to come off in our hands, so we picked them.  We left the ones the birds had started to snack on.


At the end, we had a lot of plums. (Had I been thinking clearly, I’d have weighed them.)



We froze plums for smoothies and made Plum-Vanilla Jam, Plum Barbecue Sauce, and Fresh Plum Turnovers and Plum Upside-Down Cake.


Happy is she whose husband processes fruit with her.

Independence Days: End of July

Plant something: the sweet potatoes that had grown legs.  I know nothing about growing sweet potatoes, but I guess I’m going to find out!

Harvest something: basil, a few tomatoes, onions, beets!, strawberries and raspberries. And we’re doing our best to hold off on those plums…


Preserve something: pickled beets.  And some raspberries that were on sale at the grocery store– I just froze them on trays and will have them in smoothies all winter.

Waste not: lots of laundry dried in the sunshine.  And while we were gone, 14 people stayed in our home for a night or three.  Isn’t that fun?


Want not: we received two bags of hand-me-down clothes for the kids.  What a blessing.

Build Community Food Systems: I’m really getting nothing done here, but I’m enjoying watching my friend embrace local and natural food.

Eat the food: I love this part.  We’re enjoying this tomato sauce, and pickled beets.


Garden Update: Edibles

I think I wait too long to harvest my food.  I know that because I had multiple heads of lettuce bolt, and my beets are ginormous (and hopefully not too woody.)

But it all looks so pretty in the ground.



If the birds don’t eat them all, this may be a good year for the plums!

Independence Days: June 2012

Plant Something: we put in cucumbers and melons at the beginning of the month, and Sam brought home a basil and a cherry tomato to plant.

Harvest Something: the last of the broccoli, lettuce and strawberries, the first of the raspberries, onions, and potatoes.


Preserve Something: We froze raspberries from the store, and made jam as well.  (Whoa- I guess I filled those jars way less than normal!)


Waste Not: I took may (good) camera in to the repair shop… we’ll see what they can do (and how much it will cost).  SweetP dropped it on the pool deck.  I also figured out what was driving up our natural gas bill: the pilot light on the fireplace.  So we turned that off.

Want Not: Had to stock up on some boy clothes.

Build Community Food Systems: We finally have a grocery store within walking (or biking) distance, and it has bulk grains.  Now I just have to train them how to tare the scale to measure the grains inside my quart jars.

Eat the Food: We’re at the tail end of the last year’s peaches.  Beef, beef, beef.  I made a yummy pesto we’ve been eating on everything.  Strawberries, roasted new potatoes, carmelized onion pasta sauce (thanks, Moosewood), and lots and lots of romaine lettuce.  (Note to self: next year less Romaine.)

Independence Days: Late May

Plant Something: I put in melons, pumpkin and butternut squash seeds.  I had been holding off on putting my two tomato plants in the ground in fear of hail, but I finally did it.  The beets, carrots and lettuce finally came up, so I don’t feel the need to replant them… though it felt like forever.  If I were organized, I would have checked the germination time before I put them in and recycled the envelope.


Harvest Something: rhubarb, strawberries (we’re getting 15-20 every day now), spinach, new potatoes.  Rather than carefully reach under the ground to pull a few potatoes without disturbing the rest of the plant (as Laura describess in Little House), I just pulled up some of the whole plants.  I planted too many potatoes, and I want the space for squash and melons.

Also, I spread the first finished batch of compost in the flowerbeds.  In the fall, friends brought 3 of their big bags of leaves, and they have been a great addition to the compost.
Waste Not:   I was able to duct-tape O’s shoe that broke… not a permanent solution, but it will hold him for a bit.  We continue to dry almost all our laundry on the line, and the heat has been off for a month.  We also changed our company for local milk.  We had a few episodes where a gallon delivered one week spoiled before the second week.  I did a little research and found that our company was a co-op (nothing wrong with that, except that it was one extra step from field to door, and I wondered if that was compromising its freshness.)  So we switched to a different company that is an actual dairy.


Want Not: refilled the propane for the grill.

Preserve Something: nothing

Build Community Food Systems:  My friend built herself a garden.  I had nothing to do with it except that I’m always blathering on about mine and foisting extra rhubarb on her.  So now she has her own.


Eat the Food: J has declared that we are going to eat all the raspberry jam before we go to the strawberry.  Lucky for him, we have a few pints left, but it’s going fast.  I found the raspberry sauce I made, and it’s been really yummy on my oatmeal.  We still have lots of applesauce and beef (lots of beef).  We’re still enjoying our local popcorn almost daily.  How much popcorn did I buy?  Where I could do much better, is in the eating-the-food-in-the-fridge-before-it’s-bad department.  I had gobs of tiny portions of leftovers in little, opaque containers.  When I finally got around to examining their contents, I found some really fantastic mold.  Yowza.