Pollinator Week

I think I’ve shared this story on my blog before? It definitely bears mentioning again and again–folks we cannot survive without pollinators. Even if we could grow soil grown food outside, which by the way is getting harder to do, who on earth would want to live in a world without birds, butterflies, and bees. I get that people are allergic to bees. So maybe they could do without them both physically and mentally, but even little old me scared to death of wasps doesn’t intentionally set out to kill them every spring and summer. For those that don’t know–dandelions are the first food for bumble bees. Bumble bees pollinate our flowers and give us pretty gardens and bouquets to cherish. No bumble bees, no flower gardens. Seriously. Honey bees and sweat bees pollinate meadow flowers, flowers on our fruit and vegetables, and the honey bees provide honey for us. Not willingly mind you–we steal it from them. Thankfully responsible beekeepers leave honey behind to feed the hive. No honey bees and sweat bees no tomatoes, cranberries, broccoli, cherries, apples, blueberries, and all melons. None. Hummingbirds are like little artists with nature’s meadows as their canvas sweeping from plant to plant spreading pollen.

I wasn’t always as learned in pollinators, or gardens, or soil. I took it upon myself a few years back to educate myself on all things environment. Growing a garden and living in an apartment were my motivators. I educated myself while attending college full-time and working full-time. If you want to learn something bad enough–you’ll find the time.

Today as I sat in our apartment preparing for the interruption we call “annual fire alarm check”, I watched “maintenance” and I use this term loosely destroy everything my husband and I have accomplished for our little habitat outside our apartment’s front door. Twelve years ago, and yes I’m ashamed to say I’ve lived here that long, we moved into this apartment. We’d had a home in a partially wooded area that we loved and cared for nature in. Between a “family” financial deal gone wrong that directly affected us and a fractured “family” relationship + land sold out from under us –we sold back and moved out. We moved a few miles away so my husband could continue working at a job he has been in for over 20 years.

We never planned on staying in the area, so we never even looked at buying a home here. We were always going to move, but life is tricky and sometimes despite your best efforts you stay somewhere too long. Gently from above we are being nudged out of here and moving on in 14 months. If we could leave today it wouldn’t be soon enough. O.k. back to what I saw. First, driving around on what can best be described as a redneck sprayer was “maintenance” spraying bleach solution of some kind on the “grass.” The grass died three years back. Now, not even dandelions will grow here–that’s how dead the grass is here.

Twelve years ago we moved in and noticed almost immediately there were no birds. Lots and lots of bugs –no birds. Oh there were predators for all the bugs let me tell you. One night as the moon shone bright through our patio window, I looked out and what did I see but 5 large spider webs strung across our porch, each with a big black spider in it. I let out a scream and the next day hubby was out there pulling down the webs and spraying raid. Yes, I’ve been there–I’ve been ignorant and had a don’t care attitude about certain parts of nature. Also noticed were wasps nests in doorways and at each garage door throughout three apartment complexes. Why you ask? Wasps and spiders eat bugs. If you have a lot of bugs you will have a lot of wasps and spiders. They both, despite my search to prove otherwise, serve a purpose in nature. They are a part of the delicate balance of nature’s eco-system and when kept in check bother no one. Nature keeps wasps and spiders in check. Dragonflies, bears, reptiles, centipedes, and birds eat wasps.

The discovery and then subsequent shame I felt for killing the spiders sent me on a mission of how I could learn to live with these creatures vs. killing them. I discovered birds would be a good start. So, we planted flowers on our deck and down by our door. The first three years nothing. Then like everyone else we put up hummingbird feeders and grape jam for orioles and voila the birds came. Management that had been here when we moved in left and new management took over and the lawn stopped being sprayed with chemicals. Yes, the plush golf course went away after a year or two, but had “maintenance” actually found a way to kill weeds safely and stop mowing when there was a drought the lawn would have continued to thrive. Anyways, back to the birds. Eventually throughout the years we’ve brought back into this area–(yes we did) house finches, goldfinches, orioles, red wing blackbirds, crows, 2 hawks, Canada geese couple, mourning doves, robins, field sparrows, chickadees, nuthatch, woodpeckers, 3 types of hummingbirds and more. We have fed seed during times of low to no food in the spring, jam for orioles, and then seed all winter for the nuthatch, chickadees, woodpeckers, and house finches. I’m not ashamed to say between seed, jam, feeders, and plants we have spent a fortune. That said what a reward we have received in return. Not only us but in the last few years most of the tenants on this side of the building have put in patio and deck gardens and hung feeders in trees. We have neighbors that have requested to live in units that open in this building solely for the small marsh and beautiful habitat created over the past 10 years.

Which today in just minutes was destroyed. Already “management” has sprayed and destroyed any hopes of bumble bees or honey bees in the area. Today even going so far as to use a wand to reach plants in what I believe is a protected marshland. Maintenance fertilizing a lawn that they themselves destroyed by mowing super short right before a drought. If you see a lawn covered in white clover–it’s not a lawn. White clover kills any grass you have left–smothers it, and is directly caused by mowing grass too short. But ya, go ahead and “fertilize” it as I watched the grass be covered in poison and know that the robins who yesterday were showing their young how to pluck worms would now be poisoned and die. Hours after the spraying the silence outside was startling. I witnessed two sets of parent birds take their nests and carry them away. Away from a beautiful habitat created by one human and destroyed by another. Today was a sad day and unfortunately we don’t have any control over what the owners/management of this property do. I have tried to school them on what they’re doing to no avail. They don’t care because it doesn’t affect them. Out of sight out of mind. They likely believe flowers grow open and beautiful and fruit comes about because it’s fruit and vegetables are grown in some country where golf-course front lawns aren’t popular.

Again, a gentle nudge from above to us to move from here to our forever home and there we will be able to build a bigger and better habitat–hopefully it won’t be too late. If I can educate one person on the importance of pollinators through this post–I’m here for it. Happy pollinator week and wherever you are and whatever you are doing–stop and thank the birds and the bees. We’re going to keep feeding them throughout the winter and providing plants for them to pollinate in summer, but for now we’re going to stop feeding while the grass and surrounding areas that they live in, in order to get that feed, are being made toxic by ignorant humans. There are areas close by with feeders and trees and plants that they can go to and hopefully they will stay away from this area while it remains unsafe. We will miss them until they can come back.

Pollinator Information

Animals at risk from climate change

🐝well and 🐝kind

Tips for moving & a year ago today

The year was 2020 and we were moving to Canada, my birthplace, to live in a home we’d purchased that had 22 fabulous acres of land. Then late March, early April 2020 happened, and the world turned upside down. Here we were living in an apartment watching everybody’s life, including our own, be placed on hold. For nearly 15 months now we’ve worked tirelessly hard to hold our life together and figure out how to move forward because “going back” is no longer an option.

Had I been living in Canada as a citizen when Covid-19 happened and the borders closed it wouldn’t have been a problem. I simply would have moved ahead and sponsored my husband to come over, he would have been quarantined in a hotel, and then after 14-21 days we would have taken up residence in our new home. Unfortunately, I wasn’t living in Canada at the time, but was preparing to leave for Canada and set up residency, when Covid-19 happened. Our biggest fear was that I would not be able to come back to the U.S. at all in 2020. There were things I needed to come back for regarding work, retirement, medical stuff and I didn’t want to risk it. There were other things regarding the care of our cat I wasn’t too keen on (he’s special needs, and pets need to be quarantined when crossing into Canada–not just during pandemics). There were so many things, because of Covid-19, that made everything about moving to another country so much more complicated than they already were. All this to say, a year ago today we were set to move and then this past fall made the heartbreaking decision to stay right where we are. We sold our newly purchased property to good friends of ours in Canada–the same friends of ours who found us the property and looked after it while we were finishing up things here and getting ready to relocate. Win win. Yes we were very disappointed in the timing of 2020, but at the same time blessed that we were able to find buyers for our property (almost immediately) and get through 2020 healthy and together. we cannot predict things like pandemics and borders closing, if we should ever plan to cross the border again –taking up residency in another country, we are definitely hiring a immigration lawyer. Even though I spent days and nights filling out forms, passing physicals, buying property in another country, visiting said property, etc. it would have been so nice to have someone to double check things with, ask questions to vs. laying awake at night worrying I’d forgotten something.

We are going to stay where we are another 14 months and then hopefully house prices will have come down some. I refuse to buy a house realistically worth $130,000 for $190,000. Houses in the area we are in, that 6 months ago were worth $60,000, are being listed at $140,000. Supply and demand–people are buying some of them. I feel bad for them because when the market settles a year from now, maybe two, unless the buyer pours a lot of money into it, it’s value is going to be a lot closer to the $60,000 than the $140,000 and what’s worse is the bank is going to agree. Most houses whether priced at home value or overpriced are selling fast and closing fast with sale pending 30 days or less. Our real estate friend said she hadn’t ever seen sales closing so fast. If it was taking longer than 30 days chances are there were issues discovered with the home. Definitely an extremely competitive market with people offering cash so that the home doesn’t get sold out from under them. Too exciting and risky for me I’m afraid. If you are looking into buying a home, I would recommend hiring a buyer’s agent. If selling your home, unless you are very experienced, I’d recommend hiring a realtor with a lot of experience selling homes like yours. I probably wouldn’t hire a friend or relative with little experience (as a favor) to be my realtor–because you’re going to be dealing with bidding wars and all sorts of very competitive maneuvers and you’ll need someone who is seasoned, objective, and tolerant of your possible melt-downs, constant questions, frustrations, and worry. It’s just not something I’d put a friend or relative through–just my 2 cents.

Over the years my husband and I have become moving/organizing experts. We even started a business cleaning and organizing people’s homes in 2017 which we closed just before the pandemic hit late winter 2019. Someday soon it will reopen as soon as we train people to come work with us. We have moved twice in the last 12 years. Both times we were working full-time, plus I was in school full-time, and my husband in overtime. We moved without any friends, co-workers, or family to help (no family,and we didn’t want to ask friends or co-workers mainly because it was last minute/most can’t do heavy lifting). We also moved without a truck–so many loads in our car and our last move was done with a u-haul. Both times we moved a 3 bedroom 2 bath house with garage and one outbuilding worth of stuff. Our first move was done in 5 days, and our second move was done in 4. That’s pre-pack, organize boxes to rooms, label everything, load vehicle, unload and repeat for 4-5 days. The last day in each home was full-cleaning, carpet shampooing etc. Once in our new apartment everything was ready to go- cable, phone, wifi, electric–everything. Most of that was left up to me since I went to school at night and worked some of the time at home. All my husband had to do on the last day was pick up the cleaning supplies, me, walk in our new apartment, look around, go to bed and poof –all set! It takes work to get to that point of organization, but once there it makes life, moving, relocating, unboxing so much easier. My nerves wouldn’t survive if it took us longer than 2 weeks to move out of wherever we were living.

We can’t wait to move. I hate, hate, hate apartment living. We have house hunted off and on for years both during seller’s markets and buyer’s market. I don’t like house hunting at all. I am sure I’m unique in that? We would either be shown houses that needed $electric/$plumbing, and $roof work but the inside was freshly painted, had faux hardwood floors, and new fixtures, or be shown homes with new roofs and the inside painted in purple, black, or brown with rooms gutted or unfinished remodeling jobs. Now, all I want are up to date plumbing/electric, and a fairly new roof and feel we’ll do just fine remodeling/ changing out the rest.

Moving tips:

  • start packing up to a year or more before moving
  • start making labels, organize boxes for rooms in new home
  • one room at a time paint touch-ups, fixing things, cleaning before move out
  • research moving companies
  • research new providers (cable, internet, electric and more)
  • try and have an estimate of how much your move will weigh (for the moving company)

Until next time, 🐝safe and 🐝well

June on the Farm

Gravel roads, bike rides, cool water, the trusty sprinkler, picnics and grandma’s salads, Old Dutch chips, fireflies, bible camp, babysitting, teen beat, lollies, and boys. These are just some of my memories of summers on the farm. Oh how I remember wanting to go camping but that was out of the question. Camping was not something my parents were ever going to have the inclination to do. So, we improvised. I would throw blankets over the clothes lines and crawl in and lay there and watch the reflections of bugs and bees fly over my “tent.” I loved the thought of sleeping outside with all the kittens, our dog, frogs, and all the birds. Why, I’d be right there with the fireflies. ✨

I waited all year for summer to come. Oh how I dreaded school. As the month of May would wind down so would my angst at school be replaced with daydreams. Boys, bike riding, chasing fireflies, walking the valley, hanging with the neighbor kids, picnics, easy times, and best of all gardens of flowers in bloom all over our farm. Don’t let me forget to mention the strawberry bed and the first tomato or walking barefoot everywhere and trips to town. First stop Rexall drug and the magazine racks for me. I would save all my babysitting money and pray there was a new Tiger Beat out that week.✨

Summer time meant more time to read, earn money, and reinvent myself for the next school year. The first picnic would be for Dad’s birthday in June. As I type this post it is his birthday. Ah, I wonder if anyone celebrates birthdays in heaven. He’s been gone almost twenty-five years now. Grandma, his mother, always wanted to have a picnic for him. Eventually we bought a picnic table and there on after a picnic we had. Grandma and her strawberry jello with fresh strawberries and cool whip, Mom and her Old Dutch chips and at the last minute grabbing a couple cans of root beer and 7-up so Dad could have a cool drink once he was done with chores. Summer time was sitting in the crook of an old tree and day dreaming the afternoon away or walking into the woods to bird song and finding a cool place to lie down in the grass. ✨

Whippoorwills at night in the tree by our bedroom with peepers and big fat frogs croaking in the pond across the street.  Summer time was the best time of the whole year on our farm every single day. Whether it was the smell of freshly mowed hay or green chop, the anticipation of the first peony, first strawberry, first green bean, or the summer storms that would have us sitting on our screened in front porch laughing at the loud claps of thunder and smelling summer rains. Oh, how I miss being a kid growing up in the 70’s living on my family’s farm.✨

Nothing compares to the innocent times of childhood where a simple storm, a favorite magazine, an afternoon stroll, hot dogs for lunch, the treat of a cone from A&W on a Sunday afternoon, or watching Dad come flying down the hill on his old John Deere, standing up, letting the cool breeze blow through his overalls happy to be hauling the last load of hay home for the day. Simple times, beautiful memories, cherished days. Summers on the farm.✨

🐝kind be well, until next time

xoxo

Summer Fun 2021

When my husband and I aren’t working or in the house cooking, baking, or sleeping approximately 50% of our time is spent outdoors in nature year round. I am never happier than when I am walking in a state park or refuge among the trees and nature. Since 2004, when I became the “cruise director” in our marriage, I’ve been coming up with ways my husband and I can enjoy time outside/things to do in Wisconsin. We hike, we bike, go out in nature and take a lot of nature photographs, I draw in nature, we sit and relax in it, we have picnics, barbeque’s, and throw the occasional frisbee.

Last summer, because most of what we do (see above) is outside, we were not limited in our entertainment because the state park we visit was open as well as the refuge we walk in. The biggest thing we missed, as far as fun goes, was going to the movie theater a couple of times a month.

So, what’s on our agenda this year as most things in our area have opened up:

  • Regular weekend walks at state parks
  • Picnic at Taliesin ( the estate of Frank Lloyd Wright)
  • Walk at a Lavender Farm
  • Tour Al Ringling’s mansion
  • Afternoon’s in a local bookstore (old-fashioned kind)
  • Bike rides
  • BBQ’s
  • & more!

This spring has been a busy one with planting two gardens, working a lot of overtime, writing, spring cleaning, getting back out and doing all the things we couldn’t do in 2020, getting caught up on reading (anyone else buy lots of books in 2020?), and getting meal plans together to make healthier, easier (quicker) meals from now until fall. I have also been working on and putting together my Simple Living and Organized Guide which should be ready this month.

Any minute it’s going to be Summer–do you have any special plans this summer?

Until next time stay safe and be well!🐝

Container Garden 2021

Peppermint for peppermint tea

We’ve harvested this young curly kale plant several times already and I’ve learned from it to LOVE kale.

Apricot climbing roses

A peony started from a root (crown) cutting.

Young curly kale, peppermint, two kinds of thyme

New Guinea Impatiens and two plants (one grown from

seed) of oregano.

An Arborvitae

Bonnie Centennial Tomato plant doing great in the heat!

Some geraniums, hibiscus, begonia, and cosmos grown from seed.

All total:

6 tomato plants–(2) Cherokee purple and (4) Bonnie Centennial all $4.98 each Bonnie’s Plant Home Depot

2 apricot rose bushes $15.98 discounted from $19.98 private grower Home Depot

4 geraniums @ $3.98 each Bauer’s Marketplace

1 thyme $3.75 farmer’s market plant

1 oregano $3.75 farmer’s market plant

1 oregano grown from seed

1 arborvitae $7.98 Home Depot

2 rosemary (grown from cuttings)

1 New Guinea Impatiens $3.98 Home Depot

1 petunia $5.98 Home Depot

1 peony (grown from root (crown) cutting

1 fuchsia $3.98 Home Depot

1 hibiscus $5.98 Walmart

tums for calcium Walmart

epsom salt for magnesium Walmart

seaweed fertlizer Amazon

2 happy frog potting soil Amazon

Total spent $169.95 which is about 70.00 more than I normally spend. Gardening is my therapy and I wait all winter to be able to go outside and plant flowers and herbs in soil and take care of them all spring and summer. Gardening on my deck is a challenge. Today’s temperature was 90, at 3 pm the deck temperature in the shade was 109 and sun 123 degrees. Times are a changing as just 5 years ago we wouldn’t even see close to this deck temp even when there were heat indexes. Storms, lack of pollinators, wind, over watering, nutrients missing in soil, even pollution from living right near a freeway all contribute to making gardening on my deck a very big undertaking. One I’ve been lucky enough to have the money to create and the time to take care of.

Until next time–what’s growing in your garden?

The Little Things in Life

I wrote a blog post awhile back about mundane days, which in a way, is as unappreciated as the little things in life.

What are the little things in life? Your life?

I hear it all the time “maybe now we can get back to the way things were” or “back to some normalcy.” I can sort of understand someone making a comment like “back to normalcy etc.” I do understand they are just “sayings” although, seriously, there are people that believe everything is going to return back to how things were in 2019 before Covid. Like, just like that, “we’re all back to normal.” The hard truth is we, none of us, are ever going to be able to go back to before Covid-19. There are nearly 3.5 million people worldwide (and their family/friends) whose life won’t return to normal because they died from Covid-19 during a pandemic that turned all of our worlds upside down in the last 15 months or so..

Personally, what I found to be most difficult during this whole last year was thinking all the time about how people all over the world were dying alone. Whether they were dying of Covid or dying of cancer–they were dying alone because of the CDC’s protocols. I thought about people who had limited time and 2020 may have been their last year on earth. Or people that had saved for their whole lives to travel somewhere in 2020 and were not able to. And maybe just maybe didn’t make it through 2020 to be able to reschedule. I thought of a lot of different scenarios of people all over the world and prayed all the time for everyone. Many people’s lives are forever changed from everything we all experienced in the year 2020.

2020 affected all of us–every last one of us. Even the ones for whom 2020 was no more than an inconvenience.

So, what are the little things in life. Life’s little blessings? Where are they as we all get ready to get back out into the world and quite possibly forget the little blessings that helped us keep it together in 2020?

For me it was the quiet. More quiet every day and nature rebounding joyfully. Less trodden paths, more birdsong, flowers left for their beauty, less air pollution, and oh yes–less people to irritate and frustrate me.

I learned how to single handedly keep our larder stocked and neither hubby nor I ran out of TP, or our favorite goodies, or things to do to keep our minds off of the crazy world we live in.

I enjoyed seeing new birds in our neighborhood, neighbors sitting outside taking in fresh air, people helping other people despite.. and getting used to checking ourselves out at every store we visited.

I was overjoyed at times that the mail continued to be delivered, delivery people made it to our door on time, telemarketers and their schemes quit ringing our phones, and restaurants seemed to, for a time, almost perfect their standard fare.

Life’s little things much more appreciated when the focus comes off of the big things in life–which aren’t actually big to me (social, vacation, spa/beauty salons, contractor work, etc).

Last year’s pause of our day-day life brings to this year new knowledge–

  • Our garden is going to be smaller– more gardener focused (therapeutic) vs. production, production, production.
  • Meals are going to be light, healthy, and packed with local veggies vs. labor intensive meals.
  • I survived being a remote worker and will continue to work remotely.
  • We survived just fine without travel and will sock that money away for moving into our new home someday.
  • There are a lot of things we did without food, drink, convenience that we will continue not to purchase because in the end–no big deal. Many items stopped being made or the flavor we liked or the prices went up so–bye!
  • We eat a lot less meat$ and that’s a good thing. We also use a lot less TP (I know TMI lol).

My container garden this year is being dedicated to all of the people throughout the world who lost their lives in 2020. Whether virus or accident or suicide or natural causes or other illness 2020 was a awful, lonely, and much more than ever sad time to die.

The little things I hope to celebrate in my patio garden this year are first blooms, fireflies, sweat bees, Mr. Bumble Bee (he visits my porch every year) being there when he finds the bee balm, the smell of my first peony, the heat of my first cluster of cherry tomatoes, the rain droplets on each green leaf, the end of day feeling of the beauty the sun, moon, rain, bees, God, and I created out of a few dollars and half a dozen seed packets, and lots of watering and pruning!

Happy Spring everybody–get out there when and if you can and create some beautiful memories.