Watership Down

I don’t love the havoc the many wild rabbits at my farm create, like early this fall when they girdled an apple tree I’d recently planted. I always put protective wrap around my fruit trees before winter sets in to ward off rabbits but last fall they started nibbling mid-September.

But this is endearing. Over the years I’ve planted huge patches, entire lawns, in vinca minor (Myrtle). I clip strands of Myrtle sometime in October, line up dozens of canning jars filled with water, and over the course of the winter, each strand grows roots that I plant in the early spring.

Here is one of my patches, along my back path. It was one of the first places where the snow started giving way last week so a family of rabbits got busy and opened a bistro with Myrtle on the menu. After eating, they played on the dance floor (my deck).

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just another barb

Everyone and everything’s a tad prickly this winter. With a serious spike in humidity mixed with temperatures the opposite of flaring, the lancing frigidity has become ever so piercing.

fence_2435

It’s definitely not for the spineless or the quill-willed. Everyone is acting briery, thorny, and prickly these days. Daily chores require a many-pronged approach.

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I have been watching lately on weather.com that the temperatures are rather compressed in Idaho meaning there is not a huge span between day and night. Plus the northern part has had air stagnation warnings for over a week. So, it makes sense that the day moisture begins to freeze as the sun goes down while the dew point doesn’t vary greatly either. Perfect ingredients for the whispy hand of Jack Frost!

    • Karlyne says:

      And the southern part should have one, too, Winnie! We haven’t seen the sun in 13 days and 4 hours and 32 minutes, but who’s counting?

  2. chavonne schmidt says:

    I am new to your site, but have already fallen in love with the magazine!

  3. Deborah McKissic says:

    Brrr…here in Western Pa., we have wind chills(today is a -2, without the wind chill… going to be a high of 0!) and artic blasts and snow…I have not seen anything like these photos and they are so neat..hmm..cool…I run outside to do the necessary chores…and, back in like a cat I sit in the sunshine on the sofa…meow…think spring!!!

  4. Karlyne says:

    But gorgeous photos!

  5. Terry Steinmetz says:

    I’d like to say that I woke to -15 degrees this morning. Sat & drank tea and cuddled under my old afghan. It is hard to get motivated to go outdoors. But alas our wood stove/boiler is in our garage, so we mosey out to keep the rest of us warm! 🙁 Hope all your animals are doing well everyone!

  6. High of 10 here today, in Lancaster county PA, windchill was -15. Steering fluid in car froze, broke the steering column, now that’s cold! Thanks Terry for thinking of the animals !

  7. Lisa Von Saunder says:

    hi Maryjane, well some sort of glitch! the dates are from 2014 !!

  8. Winnie Nielsen says:

    That mid winter prickly thorny sentiment seems to be at it’s all time high! Not just here in Florida…..but all across the nation.

  9. Krista says:

    Oh yes. This winter is definitely causing people to be prickly. Our weather is all over the place and I bet all those being hit by this crazy winter are feeling extra prickly. I love the photos. They definitely look dangerous, but fascinating.

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photo-of-the-day

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I cannot believe this artistry. It just gets more interesting each day!!

  2. Sandie Luck says:

    OH!! What majestic beauty even in the midst of bitter winter weather! Your photos captured it so magnificently, MaryJane! Thank you for sharing from while you were out in the chilling temps.
    Joyfully….~Sandie

  3. Cindi says:

    What an amazing reminder of the mastery and detail in nature’s art that is there every single day for us ~ if we would only stop for a moment to observe. Such an exciting wake-up photo this morning!

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The Growing Season

Today, I discovered an in-the-works documentary that might just revolutionize our nation’s notions about elderly care, child care, and the power inherent at their intersection. The movie is called The Growing Season (formerly titled Present Perfect), and it is scheduled to be released later this year.

“Stepping into most any nursing home, it’s hard to ignore the sense of isolation one feels on behalf of the residents living there, and even harder to reconcile that with the fact that old age will inevitably come for us all. In our fast-paced, youth-obsessed culture, we don’t want to be reminded of our own mortality. It’s easier to look away,” begins project leader and Seattle University adjunct professor Evan Briggs.

She was inspired to delve into the concept of elderly care when she learned about the Mount Intergenerational Learning Center in Seattle, an award-winning child-care program located on a campus that is also home to more than 400 senior residents.

Photo, thegrowingseasonfilm.com

“When I heard about the Mount and its Intergenerational Learning Center, I was struck by the simple perfection of the concept. I was further intrigued by the idea that with neither past nor future in common, the relationships between the children and the residents exist entirely in the present,” Briggs explains. “Despite the difference in their years, their entire sense of time seems more closely aligned. As busy, frazzled, perpetually multi-tasking adults, we are always admonished to live ‘in the moment’. But what does that mean? And with the endless distractions provided by our smart phones and numerous other devices, how can we? I was curious to observe these two groups, occupying opposite ends of the life spectrum, to see firsthand what it meant for them to simply be present with each other.”

Briggs says that The Growing Season explores the experience of aging in America—both growing up, and growing old—and captures the subtleties and complexities of children’s interactions with their elderly counterparts. She challenges viewers to consider what value a person offers to others throughout his or her life. “Are we asking for the right contributions from each other? How do we measure and define a successful life?” she asks. “While this film doesn’t shy away from confronting some difficult realities, it is ultimately a life-affirming story of hope that, we believe, just might lead to serious positive change.”

Here’s a sneak peek:

Learn more about the project at TheGrowingSeasonFilm.com.

You can also pre-purchase a digital download of the film to help support the project on IndieGoGo.com.

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  1. Lisa Von Saunder says:

    FABULOUS IDEA!! We need to do this alot more and get older folks in with small children as they all live in the ” present” . heartwarming film clip- brought tears to my eyes.

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This is what communities should all watch and work to incorporate into the lives of it’s citizens. Oh, how I would love to see this idea take hold and become the norm rather than what exists at present. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Krista says:

    I really love this idea and I bet so many lives have been touched by this experience. It would be nice to see this happening in more places. I could only imagine how lonely people feel in a nursing home, but children could bring them much joy just by spending time with them. Really hope this idea catches on.

  4. Jacqueline Ferri says:

    What a beautiful idea ! When I used to visit my aunt on a nursing home, it was sad to see the lonely patients. Some were put out to the hall and just left there , alone and nothing to do. I hope this concept spreads!

  5. jona newcomb says:

    Thank you for the link to the growing season film. I am a pre school teacher, and watching this truly touched my heart.💞

  6. My father was 86 when he died (at home with his family around him) and during the last few years, even thru dementia, he always lit up when he was with the grandchildren, and he would hold the smallest in his arms an be face to face, softly talking to them with a HUGE smile on his face and a RAPT FOCUSED child looking up at him. They connected on a spiritual level, one had just crossed the threshold from spirit to physical, and the other was preparing himself to travel the opposite direction, and they both seemed connected (with ease) to BOTH sides. At one point, while holding a grandchild who was not yet walking, he kept saying, “Yes, We understand Each Other….” over and over. milkaTheAppreciator

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Happiness is …

Here’s what Carol had on her computer screen this week … just had to share!

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  1. Lisa Von Saunder says:

    What a sweet photo of a handmade toy mouse. And ofcourse the saying is perfect isn’t it? Who made the mouse?

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Bravo Carol! I noted that the mouse also does not use a real Google+ map either. The “way” comes form the inside which makes it harder to figure out. In these early years of the 21st Century, it seems harder and harder to sing from the same page along the “way”. God Speed!

  3. Krista says:

    Love this saying. I know I need to work on this more in my life. The little mouse with a backpack makes it all that much more adorable.

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World Beard Day

What, you didn’t know?

You mean to tell me you’ve never properly celebrated this upcoming important holiday?

Fitzhugh Lee Image Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

That’s okay, I forgive you. But in order to show proper penance, I’d like to you to memorize these whisker-ocious facts (and maybe post a photo in the comments of the most highly groomed bearded man in your life).

  • World Beard Day is celebrated on the first Saturday of September (mark those calendars).
  • You may think this is a new holiday, but, my mustached friend, you’d be wrong. There is actually evidence that the Danish Vikings had their own Beard Day as far back as 800 AD. And you know those Vikings—they really knew how to party.
  • In Donksburg, Sweden, they banish all of the un-bearded to the forest to spend a day and a night (probably thinking about what they’ve done!). Their effigies are burnt to a satisfying crisp in the village by those who have the very best in facial hair. Seems a tad bit harsh … but also humorous.
  • In southern Spain, the locals enjoy a boxing match between a bearded man and an un-bearded one. The bearded one always wins. Of course, he’s the only one allowed to be armed, so things are a bit swayed in his favor.
  • It is considered extremely disrespectful to shave on World Beard Day. Don’t even think about it! Prefer your hunk of burning love to be smooth skinned? Best have him shave the day before and ignore a little stubble.

photo, Ikie2 Designed by Incredibeard via Wikimedia Commons

If you or the significant other in your life can’t quite wrap your brain around (or can’t quite grow) a fully impressive set of whiskers, perhaps a mustache is the place to start. He can even participate in the highly competitive The World Beard and Mustache Championships, located this upcoming September in Northern California. There are all sorts of categories to sign up for, from the humble Dali Mustache to the Imperial and the Freestyle Goatee. Check out these past winners and prepare to be inspired by follicle greatness!

Whatever your preference, opinions about facial hair are varied and sometimes quite amusing. Check out these quotes about the fabulous beard:

“I have the terrible feeling that, because I am wearing a white beard and am sitting in the back of the theatre, you expect me to tell you the truth about something. These are the cheap seats, not Mount Sinai.” ~ Orson Welles

“You know, I just tend to grow my beard out for ‘Parks and Rec.’ As an actor it’s always easier to shave or cut your hair for a role, but it’s hard to put fake hair on or grow hair for a role. When you look at pictures of me, the longer my hair is, the longer my facial hair is, that’s just the longer I haven’t gotten a job.” ~ Chris Pratt

“I will never shave off my beard and moustache. I did once, for charity, but my wife said, ‘Good grief, how awful, you look like an American car with all the chrome removed.” ~ Rolf Harris

“A man’s face is not a rich person’s lawn; you are wasting resources if you devote that much energy to trimming your beard, sideburns, or mustache just so. Nor is a man’s face the woods; there need not be the tangled weeds, shrubbery, and wildlife/eggs benedict that get ensnared in them.” ~ Ellie Kemper

“A decent beard has long been the number one must-have fashion item for any fugitive from justice.” ~ Craig Brown

“Kissing a man with a beard is a lot like going to a picnic. You don’t mind going through a little bush to get there!” ~ Minnie Pearl

Well, have I convinced you? Raise your pint of ale high to this most manly of all holidays. (And be prepared to share your styling gel. Just sayin’.)

None of the men in my family are sporting beards this summer, but the ear of fresh sweet corn I had last night for dinner had a kind of beard …

and my bees are “bearding” (forming “beards” on the outside of the hive during hot weather to keep the hive from overheating).

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I’ve never ben a fan of beards for some reason. The fancy ones with mustaches just look weird to me too. However, there seems to be a lot of men who enjoy the challenge of taming and creating their beards into works of art. And why not?! This is a totally new holiday to me. Who knew?

  2. Karlyne says:

    Those quotes! So good! My kids, by the way, have never seen their father without his beard, and they’re pushing 40.

  3. Krista says:

    My husband has a very basic trimmed beard and mustache. He has joked in the past about growing a long mustache and curling it on the ends! I think if he ever did I would just laugh. My husbands uncle does have a large and long mustache that he points out to the sides. I think this is where he gets the silly ideas.

  4. CJ Armstrong says:

    My hubby grows a pretty nice (any hefty) beard almost all year round. He only shaves it off in the spring when his seasonal allergies hit and make him miserable. Once that season is past, he starts growing it again. He a lot less “scratchy” with a beard and than his five o’clock shadow!
    CJ

  5. Lisa Von Saunder says:

    around here ALL the men grow beards for Deer hunting season, need I say more?

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Argan oil

If you’re a fan of argan oil in your skin-care routine, I have a bit of historical (er, biological?) trivia for you.

It begins with the stout seeds of the shrubby Moroccan Argania spinose tree …

Photo by Songwon Lee via Flickr

Seeds that are gathered by … goats.

Photo by Grand Parc – Bordeaux, France via Wikimedia Commons

That’s right, we’re talking about those wacky tree-climbing goats that scream, “Photoshop!”

But there’s no technological trickery at work here.

These goats do defy gravity, and while they are loping about in the limbs of trees, they eat argan seeds.

Can you see where I’m going with this? (Just be glad you get your argan oil from a bottle.)

Here’s the history of argan oil, in a nutshell, according to Michael Graham Richard of Mother Nature Network:

“Argan oil is quite popular these days in skin- and hair-care products, but this is nothing new. Indigenous Berber tribes in the region actually did something similar, though they didn’t get the argan oil out of a bottle that they bought in a store; goats would climb up argan trees and eat the fruits, swallowing whole the core, which looks a bit like an almond.”

Photo by Fred Dunn via Flickr

Okay, we’re all caught up to that point, so …

“This nut would pass through the goat’s digestive system and end up in goat droppings, where it would be collected. To get at the oil inside, you would then have to crack it open with a stone, and grind the seeds inside. The resulting oil was then used for cooking and as a skin treatment.”

Photo by Chrumps via Wikimedia Commons

Now you know.

As with so many modern manufacturing practices, the middlemen (middlegoats?) have been cut from the process of processing argan oil, but that doesn’t stop them from climbing trees to eat seeds.

Watch and laugh:

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    When we went to Morocco last Spring, we went to a place that sells Argan cosmetics at cheaper prices than Spain. You can just imagine all of us Americans flooding this little store to get a few items each!

  2. As a hairstylist who is always recommending argan oil to my clients, I really enjoyed this! I had no idea, but that is so cool. Now, do I tell my unsuspecting customers?? Haha!

  3. BB king says:

    love those tree climbing goats!! in all my travels tho I have never seen them, darn!

  4. Krista says:

    I have some Argan oil for my hair and I use it occasionally, but I would have never guessed that’s how it was made!! Loved watching the goats climbing in the tree. It gave me a chuckle!

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Wistful for Wisteria

“Ah, wisteria … my favorite. I had one when I was young and newly married and living in a very old house. Since then, I only long for another,” Beverly (Bee Haven Maven) wistfully writes. “I have a picture in my mind of an arbor with wisteria on either side and a great old wooden porch swing hanging beneath. My peaceful dream is only interrupted by the buzzing of bees around my head—they really love the blossoms. Perhaps this will be another project for another year…”

Photo by Ink Flo via Pixabay

I feel certain that Bev is not the only one feeling wistful for wisteria this time of year. They are truly lovely, but not easily grown on a whim. Cultivating these divine vines requires time and patience (like, years’ worth). So, if you’re planning a planting, prepare for a two- to three-year process of hurry-up-and-wait.

Photo by Carlotta Silvestrini via Pixabay

Another consideration before shopping for seeds: only two varieties of wisteria are native to the U.S. This fact matters because the Asian varieties (Wisteria sinensis and Wisteria floribunda) are considered invasive, noxious weeds that will aggressively spread and displace native vegetation.

“Consider growing the less invasive American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens), which grows in Zones 5 to 9. The vine grows 25 to 30 feet long with shiny, dark-green leaves and large, drooping lilac or purple-blue flower clusters, which appear after the plant has leafed out. However, note that the flowers are unscented, unlike the Asian Wisteria,” advises the Old Farmer’s Almanac. “Another native American is Wisteria macrostachya (Zones 4 to 9) or Kentucky wisteria. This late-season bloomer is native to the southeastern U.S. and bears unscented bluish-purple flowers after growing only two to three years, making it the quickest wisteria to bloom.”

Rather than wait for wisteria to bloom, take a (virtual) vacation to Kawachi Fuji Garden in Kitakyushu, Japan. This gorgeous garden boasts over 100 flowering wisteria plants from 20 different species. The voluminous vines create Kawachi Fuji’s famous wisteria tunnel.

Get details at Japan-Guide.com.

  1. Mary Rauch says:

    I’ve only seen Wisteria ONCE in my life. I nearly lost my mind with its beauty and charm!

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    WE are fortunate to grow Wisteria here in Florida. Our blooming occurs in late February and March when we are in the height of our Spring season. It is so lovely and the fragrance is light and sweet. Our Bumblebees go nuts when it blooms too!

  3. Dorothy Nootbaar says:

    Beautiful!

  4. Krista says:

    Very beautiful! It would be so peaceful to sit among Wisteria and take in it’s beautiful purple color. I believe an old neighbor of mine had some hanging along her fence. They did have a lovely little fragrance which was nice when I walked by.

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turkey by the numbers

According to the U.S. Census Bureau and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), of the 243 million turkeys raised in the U.S. this year, about 45 million of them ended up on our Thanksgiving tables.

The American Farm Bureau Federation reports that Americans paid approximately $49.87 on average for a Thanksgiving Day meal for 10 people. In 2015, the average retail price for turkey was $1.45/pound (up from $.99/pound in 1995). But in a survey about pricing this year, while 29 percent of Americans said that less than $1.50 per pound was a fair price for turkey, nearly the same percent of respondents said they would pay $5 or more per pound. Sounds like more folks are going organic for the holidays!

organicprairie.com

Find organic turkeys at OrganicPrairie.com.

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Cranberries: From Bog to Table

In the spirit of the season, today’s post is all about cranberries. You know, those tasty, nutrient-dense, little red morsels … you most likely passed them (or passed them by—folks usually love ’em or hate ’em) around your Thanksgiving table last week. And maybe you’ll enjoy them again at a Christmas feast. Their bright-red hues bring a festive touch to any holiday meal.

When I think cranberries, I think New England, where many of the cranberries in the U.S. are grown and harvested. I don’t think my neighboring Washington state … until now. Turns out, Washington state is the fifth largest cranberry-producing state in the U.S. Who knew?

And cranberries are grown in a unique, almost other-worldly setting called a cranberry bog. According to Cranberries.org, “[Cranberries] can grow and survive only under a very special combination of factors. These factors include acid peat soil, an adequate fresh water supply, and a growing season that extends from April to November. Cranberries grow on low-lying vines in beds layered with sand, peat, gravel and clay. These beds are commonly known as bogs or marshes and were originally created by glacial deposits. Commercial bogs use a system of wetlands, uplands, ditches, flumes, ponds and other water bodies that provide a natural habitat for a variety of plant and animal life.”

This gorgeous slideshow of cranberry production in Washington state will make you appreciate these little gems even more. And here’s a holiday-inspired recipe to get your creative cranberry juices flowing!

Day-after Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwiches

 

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I had no idea cranberries free in Washington state either. I love these wonderful tart red jewels and have been enjoying them for several weeks now when they became available. I tried a new recipe I saw where you take one bag of raw berries, a stalk of celery, one apple, zest of one orange, juice of one orange, and walnuts. Place all ingredients in a food processor and rough chop. Place in a bowl and add sugar (1/2-3/4 Cup depending on taste). When you place in the fridge, the berries and sugar melt a bit and you end up with this tart, juicy, crunchy fresh cranberry salad. Wow, was that ever a delicious treat for lunch and on morning oatmeal!

  2. Diane Benjamin says:

    I and my family are cranberry lovers! Cranberry muffins and breads, cranberries in granola and on yogurt. And did you know that a cup of dried cranberries added to your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe really punches it up! More than half the cranberries grown in America come from right here in Wisconsin. If you’re ever in our neck of the woods in the fall, check out the Warren WI cranberry fest – it’s real down home fun!

  3. Lisa Von Saunder says:

    And here I thought Cranberries were only in Maine, where I visited the bogs on my last visit.
    You can never have enough cranberries in my opinion so I am glad other states grow them now too.
    And remember they freeze so well for future baking

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