MamaCat Sez

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First Garden Walk for 2015

First garden walk of the year, not a lot to see just yet. Lets stroll around the yard:
The prairie patch is dead and brown, but I did spy 5 praying Mantis egg cases, so they will be back this year. We are going to phase out both the False Dragons head and the Mugwort this year, and make the prairie patch the entire length of the back of the garage, so we have some uprooting work to do this spring.
Picked up a bit of the Fairy shrine, but it made it through the winter pretty well. We had enough snow that stuff didn’t blow away, I guess. The racoons seem to have let it alone this year as well, no pretties seem to be missing, anyway.
The Red Twig Dogwoods have red stems, but no buds, although the Maple tree is starting to bud.
The Marsh Mallow, Echinacea, Joe Pye and Aster beds are brown, and the lemon thyme, lemon balm and Lavender still look dead. The Bast shrine has been flattened by cats rolling as close to the catnip as they can get, which is why it is covered by a barred basket, lol. The Flea-bane and oregano are also not up yet.
The rhubarb is just starting to show, while the chives next bed over are up about an inch already- I chewed on some while walking. The horseradish is starting to green up, but it is still too early for the sage.
The crooked Willow by the garden is starting to bud out, but both the yellow rose and the red are still asleep, and even the grape vines are still snoring; the baby lilies are still under the ground, but the nettles are coming up- soon they will be up high enough for a nice spring tonic stew.
The apple trees were well “trimmed” by the deer this winter, and are still dormant, but the peach trees are starting to bud already- I uncovered them yesterday. The cherry bushes took a beating from the deer over the winter, and I may end up getting some cherry trees instead.
The dwarf lilacs and burning bush have no sign of spring, but the big lilacs have nice big buds swelling; the Clematis, hibiscus and comfrey are still drowsing.
The regular lilies are still dormant, but the road lilies are starting to green up.
As for the wildlife, we have had deer all winter- to the point where we might have to actually reseed parts of the yard this year. Have never had to do that before, but we had as many as 19 in the yard at one time this past winter, and they still come every night to munch- they like this organic grass over the non organic around us, I guess.
The goldfinches are turning yellow, slowly, and the blue jays and cardinals are singing spring songs now. I have the blue bird houses and wren houses all cleaned out and straightened up, and today I put out the bird bath.
Someone dropped another cat off, I’m guessing about 7 months old, nice baby, gray and white boy. He was very skittish at first, but once I got hold of him he let me pick him up and check him over pretty well. He is pretty healthy; I did need to clean his ears. He needs to be fed up, he is skinny from being dropped off in winter, but we are taking care of that. His name is Shadow.
We also have the ‘traveling Toms’ we get this time each year. I thought Smudge, the big gray and white one, would stick around, I almost have him tamed down to touch, but then the current traveler, Link, showed up, and Smudge disappeared. Link is a tabby whom I was calling Tiger, but when I got a closer look he became Link- he has little tufts of black hair on the tip and black spots on the back of each ear, just like a lynx, so, of course, he became Link, lol. He is skittish too, but a few meat scrapes and I was able to grab the back of his neck (carefully). He allowed me to lift him to the railing where I could give him a quick go over, seems pretty healthy, about 1 ½ I think, perhaps two. Lots of fight wounds, but that is normal this time of year. We still have Princess- she just turned 16 this month. And, she has been an outside cat all of her life. She is the only one left of the batch I moved here with.
The rest are rescues- Mama, Sonny, Tigger, Ringo, Zebby, Missy, Jasmine, Molly, Damian, Sam U. El, Tiny, Bubba, Max, Mattie, JoJo, Isis and in the house we have Mia and Cali, also both rescues. And then the two travelers- Link and Smudge, and some ferals that show up now and again that I make sure get fed.
I am hoping to see bluebirds this coming week, and am busy getting wind chimes out, fixing them up, and hanging what I can. Got to find more shepherds hooks! I really want to start uncovering things, but I know it is too early, so am doing what I can while I have the time.
The house plants are surviving, barely; I just have too many this year and have to change them around each week to make the few windows I have do double duty. I have lost quite a few, which makes me sad, but I actually have more still growing than I was thought I would by now. Still, will be nice when they can all go back outside.
Am already planning gardens, we are going to be able to do a lot of things up near the deck this year, so the big garden will be mostly squash, watermelon and the likes, while the little ones will be lettuce, radishes and such. So the tomatoes, eggplants and peppers will be up here, and I am still figuring out how to hang things and where to put things and all that.
Okay, I think that is it for this garden walk-about, hope you all are doing worthwhile things in your lives, and soon we can all be planting and digging in the dirt, and walking through the green grass while flying our kites.
MamaCat, off to do some weeding……

Mothers Day Muse

Musings for Mothers Day
As I sit on the deck, listening to the fountain I watch the birds and think over the past winter, the past indrawing time now ended.
First, I think of those I have lost over the long winter- my fur babies first of all. PJ, grumpy as he was, is still missed, as is Junior. I can’t mourn Junior, as he was never one of my favs, but he has left a hole here with his absence. Domino and Sylvester, of course, my pair of black and white babies. I love tuxies, and it had been a long time since we had any here, so the loss of both of them is a big one. Ringo is gone, but only to the neighbors, and comes to visit now and again. Princess is still with me, turned 15 this spring, every year of that outside. Mama is next oldest, at 12, and still here, as is Tigger and Sonny, both 11. Zebby and Missy, now 5, are here and Zebby is of course pregnant- she won’t come around until she is, so haven’t managed to get her fixed yet. Belle and Jasmine are 2, fixed, and pretty much stay around the place. Milly and Molly, born last fall, are both pregnant- so much for not being old enough yet, sigh.
Another loss this winter was for a friend, Rita, whom I never knew well but liked what I did know. She worked the store where I now work, and we had quite a few late afternoon/early evening talks. She was a fantastic lady and is sorely missed.
I still miss grandpa, three years this spring he is gone and I miss talking to him about mushrooms each spring.
As I sit musing on my losses, I am reminded of what I DO have, as Belle and Jasmine come to sit on my lap while I swing on the deck, and Tigger weaves his way around my feet. Zebby and Missy sit close, enjoying the conversation as I talk to them all, and Milly and Molly sit on the steps, not quite sure yet about this spring thing- they were born in the fall, after everything was put away and spring has been an eye opening experience for them.
I look out across the field, where the tractors have been hard at work all day planting. Corn this year, so we will have a quiet enclosed back yard again this year, which is nice. The Baltimore Orioles are eating their oranges, chasing each other back and forth, and the Flicker ducks in to grab some as well. The hummingbirds zip back and forth, trying each of the five feeders, and the tufted titmice fly between the oranges and the old sunflowers handing over the compost pile. The chickadees are hanging all over those sunflowers, trying to find one last seed, while the gold finches fly everywhere. The swallow is swooping over the yard, hoping the little sprinkle we got has scared up the bugs, while the bluebird soars overhead, catching his share. I haven’t seen the tree swallows yet, but I’m pretty sure I may have seen a purple martin, the first ever here! There is an owl hooting off in the timber, and the turkey vultures are soaring high overhead, riding the wind.
I can smell the lilacs, just opening up, and if I stand I can see the bright yellow daffodils over by the gas barrel, or the red and white of the bleeding hearts over by the fairy shrine. But I don’t want to stand, not yet. I’m content, thinking of the past, considering the present, and wondering of the future.
We didn’t have our festival, not like I had planned, but that is okay. We are a Sanctuary, and we will be here when people need us, festival or no. We teach, we love, we listen, and perhaps most important, we care.
Come and see us sometime. I’ll let you sit in the swing, listen to the fountain, and watch the birds. You’ll have a cat or two under your hand, but the purring is light, and unlikely to interrupt your thoughts. Think of this as your invitation, from us, to you, to partake in Mother Natures Peace.
Oh, and Happy Mothers Day.

Garden Walk for March 4, 2014

First Garden Walk 2014, March 4, 2014
Decided to walk the Sanctuary today, it was such a nice sunny day, not freezing cold as the rest of the winter has been.
Starting off alongside the garage, heading towards the back, the honeysuckle looks as dead and lifeless as the rest of the yard at first glance. Back behind, the wind chimes sound, swaying over the dead and decaying vegetation. The prairie bit is full of downed plants, yet, I feel promise. The Dogwoods around the Fairy Shrine have tiny little buds, no swelling there yet. There are Praying Mantis egg cases, 15 of them, scattered among the red branches reaching to the sky, but the birds have been at them, the tattered remains proof of the hard winter just past.
The jungle is hip high in snow, and I let it alone, sleeping its dreams. The same with the Maple, branches reaching high as if for the warmth of Father Sun. The Marsh Mallow, the Echinacea, Joe Pye weed, Asters- all lie dormant, dreaming winter dreams. I stop at the Healing shrine and tie some ribbons on, to dance in the wind and send their healing energy around the world to those who need it.
The Spearmint, Lavender, Blanket flower, Catmint, Catnip, Thyme, Oregano, Fleabane, all lie under a blanket of snow, waiting for spring. The Rhubarb, Chives, Horseradish and Sage do the same. There is a Praying Mantis egg case on the Sage that the birds have not yet found, tucked down in, and I hope it has made it safely through the bitter cold. There are more, tucked here and there among the prairie plants, so am hoping to have many little fierce fighters again this year.
The Corkscrew Willow is interesting against the winter snow, branches circling around, spiraling through the air, but it too wears the dead winter look.
The gardens lie under the white snow, decorated with banana peels, lettuce cores, carrot skins and egg shells, thrown out during the winter. Deer tracks intersect cat tracks throughout the yard, with a wandering set of coon tracks here and there as well.
The Yellow rose is quiet, with tiny little buds waiting, while the grape vine is just sleeping, no buds anywhere. Oh, here, here at the Apple tree! Buds that are bigger, slightly swollen, a sign of spring coming? I pat the tree, tell it to not get ahead of itself, winter is still here for awhile.
I check inside the shed, making sure nothing has dug in during the winter to wreck havoc, and find only insect shells. Walking up along the Lilac row, I am again reminded of the season to come- the Lilac buds are big, swollen, and ready to burst at any moment. Not now, not yet I want to say, don’t come out too soon, the cold, the grip of winter, is still here.
Walking around the house I head for the gas barrel, for the sign that spring really is coming, and I am not disappointed. There, in all their glory, are the pussy willows, still tight but not winter tight, now furry, ready to announce spring soon. Now I can smile, knowing that the promise made for those of us who brought in the sun at Solstice, the promise that spring would come, would bring the warmth, would bring the joy, the promise that the Sun would indeed return.
Rejoice, for the days get longer, the sun will soon be here in all His glory, and our time of re-birth will once again be upon us!

What about us?

I was thinking the other day-always a good way to start- about cycles. I see by the news that the extreme cold in Minnesota is expected to cut the Emerald Ash Borer population by half, if not more, since it has been cold enough and long enough to reach even under the leaf mulch and bark that they overwinter in. This is a good thing, especially for the Ash trees. It has been cold enough in our part of the country that they expect other forms of the insect world to have lower populations. All good from our point of view, at least of the ‘bad bugs’. Nature has a way of doing this- when something has a population explosion for any reason, after a period of time nature says enough is enough and that population is cut back drastically.

Now, lets forget global warming for a minute. Okay, don’t forget it but put it in the back of your head for now. When populations of deer/elk/moose/bison/antelope etc grow large, so does the population of wolves/coyotes/large birds of prey etc. One feeds the other. But people have to stick their noses into things, and we do things like kill off the deer/elk/moose/bison/antelope etc and so the predator population grows suddenly. We start killing off the wolves, coyotes and other members of that group, and suddenly nature also starts taking care of it- the predator populations decrease by huge amounts. Which makes the prey populations increase. Which means people get more tags to shoot more prey, but nature has it under control- we had at least 4 deaths to blue tongue here at our place last year, and there may have been more we didn’t find- and that is just in our small neck of the woods.

Nature takes care of itself pretty well, if we would just stop mucking things up. Now, my question is, when does OUR population get so big that nature decides it’s time to trim another species? Or has that already happened- think of the earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, lightening inspired fires, tornadoes, all the ‘natural’ disasters that have happened in the past 10 years or so. It’s not the population itself in those areas that are the problem, but people in general, perhaps. Nature is saying to us, you have gotten too big, too numerous, for this planet to support all of you, so I am trimming the herd, so to speak.

Now, lets add global warming in there. Isn’t this the equal to us trying to ‘help’ nature? We shoot more wolves, more predators, the prey population skyrockets and nature has to do something to trim that. Now we are trying to ‘better’ our lifestyle, in the process mucking up our environment, and in the meantime OUR population has skyrocketed. What is the response? Yeah, remember all those ‘natural’ disasters?

To my way of thinking, and again, not specific people because environmentalists are also caught up in these ‘reduction of the herd’ disasters, we need to stop trying to ‘help’ nature, and make more of an effort to keep the status quo- and yes, that means living, actually living, the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle method of life. That means adopting children who need parents rather than adding to the population ourselves. That means learning to do things without polluting/ poisoning or otherwise mucking up where we live.

We are living in litter boxes, and if we don’t clean them up first, nature will. How does your own litter box look?

Garden Walk, November 2013

Garden Walk, November 19, 2013
Today was the last day to pick up odds and ends around the Sanctuary, and when I was done, I did one last walk.
Starting at the house, the Toad bed is quiet and almost empty, holding only two fairies and the two biggest toads. The light is gone, as are the wind chimes. The gnomes have been put away for the winter, as well as the more breakable smaller toads and frogs.
Moving on to the house bed, almost everything has died down, ready for winter. Even the lilies are down flat.
At the gas barrel, the Elderberry bush has lost all its leaves, along with the peonies and the pussy willows. The Lemon lilies have died down, and the ferns are now tucked away, like the hosta, in the ground, ready for the cold.
Around the garage, the hosta here too are tucked away. In the back, while the Mugwort still stands, the Obedient Plant is down. The mini prairie has been cut back, and most of the plants have now gone to seed.
At the Fairy shrine, the fairies have been set up one last time, while the trolls continue to carry on. The racoons play with them both constantly. The jungle is almost all bare, the leaves littering the ground, and the Maple shed its golden yellow leaves in time for Casper’s burial.
The Marsh Mallow is brown and dried, as is the Echinacea. The Joe Pye is being visited by little birds as is the Aster, all going after those fluffy seeds.
At the Healing Shrine, the Lemon Balm is still green, bravely trying to carry on. The ribbons tied on the Healing Branch flutter in the breeze, catching, we hope, the eyes of ‘those in charge’ to send healing to those who need it.
The God Shrine and the Goddess shrine are both almost bare once again, although the Bast Shrine is still green from both Cat mint and Cat Nip. The oregano at the Butterfly shrine next to Bast is green but going brown, while the Flea bane is still going strong. There are bits and pieces of yarrow growing all over the beds and the yard this year, which prompted me to make a large bottle of tincture for mosquito banishment next year, as the Earth always tries to get our attention to what is coming the following year!
The rhubarb is brown and flat, while the parsley is still up and growing strong. The chives are flat, but still green, and the horseradish bed is still recovering from being dug up two weeks ago.
The sage is still green, but it is a false green, as the leaves crumble in your hands when you try and grab them.
The big garden has all been cut down and the fence taken down, although the middle garden still has broccoli trying to grow. The upper garden is ready for next year, the Basil dried and black on the ground.
The Remembrance Shrine is still somewhat green, as the lilies have just went this past week, and the Mothers shrine still has green Mother Wort and Nettle glowing.
Grandmas Red Rose Bush is well wrapped for the winter, put to sleep until next spring.
The grape trellis holds only dried vines, seemingly dead, while the apple trees stand bravely against the wind, a few dried apples still at the very top.
The peach trees have had their trunks wrapped against the drying winter wind, and the cherry bushes hunker down against the Earth, ready for the snow.
The Crooked Willows are both leafless, their amazing branches wiggling across the sky, while the Lilacs stand tall, holding myriads of birds checking out the feeders
The pond has been drained, covered and now holds umbrellas and deck chairs. The tables from the lower deck have been turned upside down to help protect the pond as well. A small table is now on the steps down to the lower deck, held up with an amazing conglomeration of boxes, a small wagon, the old cat house and two planks. Under this table is where the cats eat, and covering the whole thing and including the lower swing is a huge tarp, keeping wet and snow off the cats and kittens. The cat house has been tarped with a second large tarp as well, and the barrel underneath included in the covering. All the cat blankets have been washed and changed, and all the cats have their own private areas they cuddle together in, including a plywood box with old clothes down under the shed overhang, for the strays.
The humming bird feeders have been cleaned and put away, and the regular feeders put out and filled. They already have pulled in chickadees, nuthatches, gold finches, cedar waxwings, blue jays and cardinals. They tease the cats, but the feeders are up high enough that the cats cannot reach them, and the poles are greased so the coons and possums cannot get the feeders.
The deer have already started to spend the night. I go out about 8 to feed the cats one last time at night, and surprised four of them out in the ritual space a few nights ago. We stood and looked at each other for a full minute before they decided they would leave. All winter they will bed down out in the yard- the main reason we don’t cut our grass short in the fall.
The ritual space is silent, almost all the wind chimes are now put away, safe from winters winds. The big pipe chime, the large dragon chimes, the clank chimes and the bells at the remembrance shrine are all that are left, all which take large amounts of wind to sound. I can judge by the sound during the winter how bad the wind is outside. The solar lights have all been put away, with only the two at the outdoor altar left out.
The mums down at the shed are still blooming, but their days are numbered, as the dried corn stalks out in the field attest.
The cats have grown their winter coats, as have the deer. The birds have on their winter plumage, as do I when I take my walks.
It is always a bit sad when it gets to this point in the year, where it seems that all is dead or dying, or barely hanging on. I must look to the past, remember what it was like in the spring just gone, how dried and sear it all looked as I rehung wind chimes, replaced batteries in solar lights and set them, put toads and fairies back in place. Then I can smile, remembering this past year the flowers, the garden, the welcome friends who came to visit. I remember new friends met this past year, old friends we reconnected with and good friends we met at festivals. Most of all, I remember that while the year wasn’t easy, it was also not hard. We have a roof over our heads, food in our cupboards, warm clothes in our closet. Many do not have these things, and this is the time of year this is most brought home to me.
I know many are doing a thanks for each day this month, but I am thankful for so much I would need a year of months to say it all, perhaps a century of months. So, to each and everyone one of you reading this, may you too have a roof over your head, food to eat, water to drink and clothes to wear. Most of all, may you have friends to share this all with. I know I do. Bless you all this season of Thanksgiving.

Garden Walk, May 2013

Garden Walk, May 2013
What a beautiful day to walk the gardens- the sun is shining, the birds are singing and everything is green.
Starting at the house, the toad bed is all put together now. The Sweet Williams are coming up, but I will probably grab some pansies at the greenhouse to plant in there to go with the dwarfs and the toads/frogs/snails.
The Powder Puff Aster is budding nicely in the house bed, and the lilies, peonies, hollyhocks and Iris look to have all come through just fine. The Hosta and Bleeding Hearts we transplanted to the north bed are growing like crazy, they like their new home.
Over at the gas tank, the peonies are coming up well. The old one has buds already, of course. It will bloom by Memorial Day, like usual. The Pussy Willows are not doing so well, it may be time to dig them up totally. I will see what happens this year. The Elder is growing well; hopefully I beat the birds to it this year.
The Snowball bush I had to transplant after its winter upheaval is actually leafing out well, so I think we had a successful transplant. I don’t look for it to bloom this year, since I cut it down so much before moving it, but I will be happy if it just lives!
The Mugwort is up about a foot now, and the False Dragonshead is about half that. The Prairie bit is chock full of things coming up, including some for the first time since planting it three years ago. Am still working on identifying everything, sigh.
The Dogwoods in the ‘Jungle’ are budding nicely, and both the blackberry and the black raspberry are leafing out well. The Bleeding Hearts have flower buds, and will open any day now. Still no sign of the Marsh Mallow, bit of concern there.
The Echinacea is filling the bed, like normal, and the Joe Pye is coming up very well. The Aster bed is full, and the Lemon Thyme is greening up. The Lemon Balm is just starting to peak, while the Lavender is greening from the center out.
The Surprise Lilies, Yarrow, Creeping Thyme and spring Beauties are all coming up well, but the cat nip is a no show, will have to get another one.
The oregano is present, and the Fleabane will soon fill its end of that bed. The Rhubarb is up and growing, while the chives haven’t really stopped. The horseradish is getting taller, but the Sage is just starting.
The Crooked willow is leafing out, as is the Yellow Rose. The baby lilies in the Remembrance Bed made it through the winter, thankfully, but not the Mother Wort. I have some I can transplant there, though, so not a problem.
The grapes are just starting to bud, but both Apple trees will soon bloom. The Peach trees are leafing out, and the cherry bushes bloomed for the first time since they were planted three years ago!
The unknown tree is putting out leaves, but the little apple tree was done in by the winter and the buck who just had to rub the velvet off his antlers on that one poor little tree. Pretty much shredded it.
The remaining pear tree is trying to leaf out, but it is on the chopping block. It is just too close to the property line and the Black Walnuts. The little French Lilacs are all leafing out, as is the Burning Bush on the end. I was concerned about them, after last years drought, but though the deer ‘trimmed’ them this winter, they are all coming back.
The big lilacs are all starting to bud, except for the pink one, which blooms after all the rest, and the hollyhocks in the deck bed are coming along nicely.
The upper garden has lettuce, spinach, red beets, onions, kale, radishes and peas all growing well, while the lower bed has potatoes, Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts planted. The large garden hasn’t been planted yet, that will happen next week, In there will go the tomatoes, Spaghetti Squash, cucumbers, muskmelon, pie pumpkins, hot peppers and bell peppers. Along with marigolds, of course!
The geraniums, mother in laws tongue, rubber tree, jade plant, Moses in the rushes and other house plants will also be going out next week, and then I can show some pictures of the lower deck as ‘The Flower Room’!
As for the other inhabitants of Four Winds, Mama, Tigger and Sonny continue to rule the roost- except for Princess, of course, who turned 14 this spring. Mama, Tigger and Sonny are only 8, so just youngsters! Missy is getting along well, since getting spayed she has decided to stay here at the house and is gaining weight and getting much friendlier. Junior is being paranoid as usual, while Ringo is getting fatter. Domino, Jasmine and Belle are annoying whenever trying to do something outside, as they are positive nothing is done right without their help, while PJ, Horus, Sylvester, George and Frenchy take turns jumping on to my back to ‘supervise’. Casper is just as calm and laid back as ever. Zebby is our surprise- rather than having her kittens across the road, as normal, has had them under the table on the upper deck! How they have managed to live this long with my five little toms and the two ferals out there, I have no idea, but she is staying close and they are all four alive so far. I have told her I will give her no help this year, I just can’t handle more cats. I wish we could have gotten her fixed as well this spring, but the three little girls had just come into heat and needed to be done NOW, and by the time the money was available, Zebby was well on in her pregnancy. Hopefully before next spring!
The other inhabitants have slowly been coming back home. The Bluebirds have taken over two, possibly three houses, while the Tree Swallows have one, maybe two. The Barn swallows are checking out under the shed overhang, while the hummingbirds check out the Lilacs-and fight over the feeders. The house wrens are fighting over the wren house and the Baltimore Orioles fight over the orange halves. The Goldfinches are trying to eat every dandelion seed they find, while the phoebe scolds everyone- especially the swallows who keep checking out ‘her’ roof over the wood pile. The cardinals have moved back to the timber, but the blue jays are still around- one almost wasn’t fast enough while stealing cat food- didn’t check for cats under the table before swooping down. The Indigo Buntings are back across the road, the red winged blackbirds and Killdeer are out in the field and am watching for the house finches and Rose breasted Grosbeaks to come winging in any day now.
We found 21 Preying Mantis egg cases this spring, so am looking forward to many exciting encounters with those lovely beasts, and the cats have brought in one little brown garden snake already, so I know they are out and about- we have over 12 grown ones, so the three or four little ones the cats kill each year aren’t a problem, well, except to themselves, of course!
We are doing well, anxious for camping season to start so we can get out and about, but in the meantime, we are busy caring for these two acres. I am busy trying to learn, understand, pick, dry, can, freeze, make into tea or infusion, and other various little tasks as I learn about the wild foods and herbs around me. At the same time, I am canning, freezing and drying the regular foods I grow and pick. Hubby is busy with his woodworking and his tractors, and of course, we enjoy the grandchildren!
I hope your lives are as full of life and color as are ours, and our hope is that you enjoy this spring season with all your soul!
Many Blessings,


The sense of pride I felt in America while watching the horror happening in Boston was amazing- so many people ran towards the danger in order to help. How amazing this was to see.
Those scenes, played over and over, helped to reinforce my belief that America WILL pull together, that we WILL make this country great again, that we WILL finally learn to live together in some kind of Peace.
The fact that others from all over the world also wish us well, us, as Americans, means so much as well. The US has done things that many of us are not proud of, yet others wish us well.
May the Powers That Be grant us that same compassion.
For now, a poem:

By Paula Baysinger Morhardt
The children do not understand,
And the adults can not tell them.
Why is the world the way it is?
Why is there anger?
Why is there pain?
The children ask,
But no one answers.
Better they should ask the wind,
Or the waves that lap upon the beach.
Perhaps the wolves howl the answer,
Or the reply is whispered in the fire.
Maybe the salmon leaping the rocks knows,
But isn’t telling.
Possibly the Old Oak,
Standing upon the hill,
Could enlighten them.
But not the adults.
If they once knew the answer,
They have lost it.
It was misplaced in the turmoil
Of day to day living.
It vanished the day
Mankind stopped thinking of others
And started thinking only of himself.
There is no one to teach the children
The answer.
No one to teach them how to live,
How to die.
They must go on in ignorance,
Fearing what they do not know,
And fearing the fear.

May your fears be calmed, your worries lessened, your soul be at Peace.

Mid April Garden Walk

Warm today, (well, warmer) so decided to see what had happened in the past few weeks out in the gardens.

The Daffodils are popping up, as are the peonies. We have to get a hole dug and the Snowball bush trimmed, get it moved to a better spot. The one big wet snow we had totally upended it, just a few roots still in the ground, but it is budding all over, so we think we will be able to save it.

The Mugwort is now trimmed to the ground, which was done just in time, as it is about two inches high already. The False Dragonhead is up about an inch, and we have tons of things up in the little prairie patch.

In the Jungle, the Dogwoods aren’t budding yet, and I can’t find the Hosta’s, but the blackberry and the black Raspberry are both starting to bud. The Maple tree has nice fat buds, but the Marsh Mallow is still just below the surface, waiting for some nicer weather. The few Iris I still have are also up and green.

Over in the other beds, the Echinacea is starting to come, as is the JoePye and the Asters, but no sign of the Lemon Balm, Lemon Thyme or Lavender.

The Naked Lilies/Surprise Lilies, the little white spring flowers and the yarrow are up, and the oregano is just starting to green. The Fleabane is also starting to sprout.

The Crooked Willow is beginning to bud, as are the Apple, Peach and Cherry trees, although the fruit trees all got severely trimmed this winter by the deer.

The Baby Lilies made it through the winter and are coming up in the Remembrance Shrine, but no sign yet of the Mother Wort in the Mother Shrine.

The little Lilacs and the Burning Bush were all munched on as well, and are just starting to put out little tiny buds, but the big lilacs have nice fat buds on them.

The Lilies are coming up around the Shed, and the Comfrey is coming nicely. No sigh yet of the mums or other flowers we planted around the edge.

The cats are all doing well, with everyone spayed but Zebby, and since she has hers across the road I will probably not have kittens this spring. Quite frankly, it’s a relief- with 16 cats to keep fed plus the three that are totally feral, it gets rather expensive. I still need to have five little boys from last year neutered, but it was much more important to get the girls done!

The Bluebirds are back, arriving just two days after I cleaned and made ready their houses. The Phoebe, Red Winged Blackbirds, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Blue Jays and Cardinals are all out there, as well as the different finches. We have large amounts of birds around here, even with all the cats.

I have peas, lettuce, kale, spinach, radishes and red beets planted, and the potato bed is ready to be planted, probably this weekend, as are the containers for the Calendulas. In the living room are the flats with the Tomatoes, cucumbers, Vegetable squash, muskmelon, Parsley, Onions, Rosemary, Hot peppers, chamomile, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts and a couple other things, 14 total, all growing now but the Bell Peppers, they seem to have fizzled out on me.

I have the lower deck almost done, I need to revamp my new little flower strip and get the pond up and running, but once the plants are out (when it warms up!) I think it is going to look wonderful. I keep wanting to get stuff out, but we have some snow coming Friday, so just have to hold off- the Dandelions aren’t even blooming yet.

The rain continues, but after last year, I will not complain about the rain! I am hoping we did not lose our smaller Dogwoods along the south edge of the property- I just couldn’t keep everything watered at the end last year, we were starting to be concerned about the well and dropped to watering only food things.

Otherwise, we are well and happy here at Four Winds, and hope each of you have things growing in your lives that make you happy and well. Many Blessings during this lovely Spring Time.


Of Jesus and Box Elder Bugs and commitment

Recently I noticed a sign in front of one of the local churches- Were You Jesus 4 The Least Of These? – And it got me to wondering and thinking.

Dividing the message into two parts, I have no problem with the first half- Were you Jesus? Jesus was a wonderful teacher, full of Love and Caring. As far as I know, the only time he lost his temper was with the cheats and money lenders in front of the temple, so, being Jesus/Jesus like is not a problem.

No, my problem is with the other half of the message- The Least of These. I am assuming the message is meant to say, have you cared for everyone you have met in your life, or some such thing, but I take umbrage with their choice of words.

As a Pagan, an Eclectic Pagan, I believe that we were created by The Creator, that the only thing The Creator had to create with was itself, and so, everything you see, sense, touch, taste, smell, hear etc has The Creator in it. That makes us all equals.

If we are all equals, how can there be a group that is ‘least’?

This is a subject I actually struggle with every day- we have an absolute infestation of Box Elder Bugs, and when I capture vacuum canisters of them and turn them loose outside, they end up back inside. We are talking about over a gallon of bugs a day. So, now I kill them. I had to do some serious soul searching before doing this, because I fully believe what I teach, that we all really ARE part of The Creator, so when I destroy these bugs, I am destroying part of The Creator, AND myself. I had to deal with how that made me feel, how I could be killing part of myself each and every day.

I can hear people now, “but they are just bugs”. ‘Just’ bugs? No, they are equal to us, as is the grass, the Eagle, the Oak Tree, all of us together make up one living thing, The Creator, and when I kill one part of it, I am killing a part of myself.

This living with and by your beliefs is hard, in many ways, yet it is also the easiest thing in the world once you accept what you believe. (My choice of words is perhaps not as well chosen as I would like- I should say what I ‘know’, not what I ‘believe’.)

I am struggling now with what lesson this is all supposed to teach me, what one thing I am to take away from this soul struggle I find myself in each day. That the bugs deserve to live too? Certainly, but not in my home. That it is easier to murder the more one does it? Not for me, it is not. And perhaps that is the one thing I have discovered from all this- It does not get easier each day. I struggle with this choice every morning, and make the same choice each day to kill. I am not angry at the bugs, they are not particularly ugly nor do they bite or pinch. They do, however, leave spots. On everything. I clean and clean and still, each day, the windowsills, the door frames, the light fixtures, all spotted with the leavings of these timber dwellers. They crawl on me at night in bed, we must check our clothing each morning before getting dressed, it is a nightmare and yet, I do not hate them. They found what, to them, was a perfect place to stay over the winter. If I leave them, they will starve, as they eat Box Elders and some other trees, none of which I have in my home.

Some may say I am saving them from a life of starvation, which sounds to me like an excuse, and even then it won’t work, as I am still committing murder.

So, each day, I must rethink my beliefs, what I ‘know’, and make the choice I make. Maybe that IS the lesson I am to take from all this- that thinking about, and making choices about, my belief/knowledge is the important thing, something I SHOULD be doing each and every day.

There can be no ‘least’ in my life, everyone I meet, everything in my life, is equal to everything else. The ‘least’ of these? Yes, I am trying to be as kind and loving to all I meet as I can be. It is a challenge, but isn’t that part of this existence? To learn, to overcome the challenges set before us, to help each other along the way and then, when we have finished, to go to rest, where we review what we have learned.

Then, refreshed and renewed, we are born again to continue the lessons. Whether they are taught by ministers, teachers, parents……or Box Elder Bugs.

First Garden Walk, 2013

Garden Walk, March 21, 2013

What a difference a year makes! This time last year I was weeding; not this year!

Started at the house, not even the road lilies are peeking up yet! The daffodils by the gas tank are not showing, but the Pussy Willow tree does have tiny little buds starting. Over by the garage, the Snowball bush is still lying on it’s side, where it ended up after one of the snow storms. We are hoping it will be able to be straightened and replanted this spring and grow again.

The Dogwoods around the Fairy Shrine have no buds, and nothing in the Jungle;  the Maple Tree by the Jungle is starting to bud out. Nothing in the Prairie yet, nor the Marshmallow, Echinacea, JoePye or Aster beds.

The Lemon Thyme, Lemon Balm, Lavender, Indian Blanket, Ferns, Yarrow, Oregano, Mums, Catnip and Fever Few are still slumbering away, as is the rhubarb, chives, horseradish and sage.

The crooked Willow is starting to bud, very, very tiny ones, but the Yellow Rose, the Mother Wort and the Lilies in the new bed are still sound asleep.

The grape vines slumber away, along with the little climbing rose. The well-trimmed-this-winter-Apple trees are starting to bud, but the Peach and Cherry are still hidden away.

No sign of the lilies or mums around the shed, but the Lilacs are budding, some with nice fat ones!

The Mugwort and False Dragonshead are under snow, as are the new hollyhocks.

I see I have a lot of wind chimes to fix this year, and the cats only went as far as the lower deck an awful lot this winter, sigh, so that needs to be cleaned up.

The coons took off with my double suet feeder, no sign of it yet, but I have hopes it is under the snow somewhere. They tried to break apart the one feeder, but failed. I oiled the clothesline pole this afternoon, to foil their little schemes to get that sunflower seed!

Am debating making the garden a bit bigger this year, but the thought of digging up more grass is not appealing. I will have to rototill this year, and since I will have the panels and fence posts up and out of the way for that, this will probably be the year the bricks get put under the fencing, to help with the yard grass creeping in.

Most of the work must wait until the snow is gone, and the garden and yard dry out- I can’t even fix wind chimes until the snow is gone, because many of the parts are down under the snow.

This time of the year I am anxious, wanting to get started doing all that needs to be done, but I am at the whim of Nature, who is telling me to slow down, take it easy a bit longer, the work will still be there in the future.

And She is right, I need to enjoy this down time a bit longer, enjoy the houseplants while they are inside, enjoy the warmth of the sun coming through the windows, enjoy the time I have to read and make plans.

So, what plans are you making for the coming year? Plans for garden, for yard, for decks, for buildings, for self. The last is important- don’t forget to care for yourself, and the rest will fall into place.

Many Blessings of greenness and comfort, rest and planning.

Ostara, 2013



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