Welcome to A Garden Variety Blog!

Although my neighbors are all barbarians,
And you, you are a thousand miles away,
There are always two cups on my table.
--Tang Dynasty

I hope you, whomever you are,
will sit down "with" me for tea,
or flavored coffee or spiced cider,
and have a garden variety chat.
Now and then.
I am not so consistant about blogging
as I ought to be.
I *am* consistant about
drinking hot beverage
and the coffee/tea is always on the hob.

Come on in!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Help me, friends.  How do I refocus, or make the old focus fit my new circumstances?  I'm lost in a well, lately.

I've followed Flylady now for such a long time, and loved the results. If something needed to done, I knew I could do it in baby steps. I can't believe I'm actually talking about me (the go getter, I can do anything poster girl), but one xray changed everything. What I thought was an injury that would heal with time, turned out to be degeneration and demineralization of the top vertebra in my spine, and no therapy or medical recommendation to make it better, not even a suggestion that it could get better.  How I hate the word can't! But every time I try to pick up a plate or a glass, or the broom or vacuum cleaner....I can't. I don't like where I am at the bottom of this well. I know there must be a way to climb back up.  Support groups (especially online support groups) are so uplifting, and helpful in both emotional and practical ways.  Do any of you who are reading this have links you can share with me? (Especially Flylady links that cover "Flying with disabilities".)

I have recently made the decision to quit walking outside for exercise.  The ability to do that has dwindled from 5 miles (1 hour) to 3 miles, slowly.  Now, when I get home after those 3 miles, my hips hurt so badly I can barely walk and can't stretch at all.  The Dr. suggested getting a recumbent bike for indoor exercise.  I can vividly feel how that would hurt.  How is moving my hip joints in that way any easier than walking?  Someone suggested Tai Chi. My Dr. actually laughed at that. 

I will say that one medical group made a real difference for me, and I thank God for them every day.
http://generationcare.org/locations/grand-haven were the therapy group that a specialist sent me to, after diagnosing bursitis and giving me steroid shots.  The Dr. said I had bursitis, and the shots helped.  But after the first therapy session, they told me the pain wasn't coming from the injury (though it was certainly a part of the problem) but the pain was coming from my upper spine.  I thought. "Oh great, chiropractic!"  But it was sort of miraculous how their recommended movements took away the pain!  The movements still work temporarily when I hurt, but the pain with joint use never gets better.  That makes sense knowing the xray diagnosis.

So what do I want?  Oh, healing would be great!  But I'm old and bodies don't keep forever.  So,  I need practical help, how to hints, and maybe a bit of a double handed carry (carried in prayer;  you are all too far away to lift me, and I am too heavy to be lifted!  LOL!)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Well, one of them is still alive.  The Patchouli.  :-)  The others should have been hardier.  Oh Well.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Two days ago, at our newly located and remodeled gardening center, I found 3 tiny herb plants in the plethora of flowering perennials, bubbling ceramic fountains and huge palms that were winter worn and miserable.  I hadn't planned on buying garden plants yet.  Way too soon!  I had hoped for some of the winter hardy herbs that I could put out on the deck right now, Lavender, Sage, Mint.....

 or for pansies that were hardened off and ready for a Michigan early cold Spring.....
What I found were.....
Lemon Verbena
and Pineapple Sage.
These don't get to go outside and play until 60 degrees is a dependable temperature.
Today's dependable temperature is 44.  WHAT was I thinking????  I wasn't.    This time of year garden plants, especially herbs, get me by the throat and force me to make impractical decisions.
I do have a lot of herbs growing perennially already.  I love them.  (well.....maybe not the lemon balm, which grows better than weeds or grass.)
But something about grey weathered pots or clay moss covered pots (sitting up where I can reach them without bending) turns soil, dried up stems and withered oak leaves into magical things.
My beautiful pots that in summer look like an herbal waterfall....
Now look like this.  But if you could look closer you'd see green. 

Wait and see!!!!  Yes, you have to wait.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


This is the year.

I don't make New Year's Resolutions, but this year one found me, and just sat at my door whining and scratching, so finally I opened the door and brought it in.

I noticed the long isles of clothing clogging the stores, in every color and each article mimicking the "styles of this year". Not "my style", but cookie cutter, everyone's wearing THIS style. Back at home, I revisited my own closet. As my hands slid the hangers back I kept thinking "These colors are very good for me. This casual mix and match style is very good for me. Why would I need to find a "jacket" for business when I am not a business person, or a dressy party outfit when I don't like formal occasions." In my closet and my drawers, there are enough colors and styles that suit me.

Watching the ongoing, "This week in new makeup colors" scrolling across my Facebook screen, I realized there is one pink that's stellar on me and everything else is not so much. So, I have that one pink in a small, "easy to tuck in my purse" tube. Why would I need more? What other makeup do I wear? Anything? No. So why buy just because it's new?

What hobbies, pastimes, passions do I long to feed?

Bible Study - tons of resources available online, more than enough for years of study.

Exercise -I have enough Sansone videos to open a library of my own.

Favorite authors - have been my weak spot. I get hooked on one - lately Elizabeth Goudge - and try to own every book written by that author.

Just after the first of the year I started trying to accumulate every book she wrote. Today a couple of her non fiction books arrived through Interlibrary Loan. Eh. Kind of dry. Not entertaining. BUT! SHE wrote them! Eh. Yes, but I prefer her fiction. At the moment of that revelation, I began to think "Enough".

So, here I am at the door, greeting this persistant little word and committing to a year of cohabiting.


Sunday, December 2, 2012


http://pegsjournal2009.blogspot.com/  Found my old blog!  2009 was a long time ago.  Here at the ending of 2012, and the beginning of 2013, seemed a good time to start again.  I'm starting...again...with Advent. 

Today is the first Sunday of Advent.  I've had this "Advent Log" for several years now.  It may actually be pictured in my old blogs.

The original plan was to make the Advent celebration a family thing.  The problem has always been that I seemed to be the only one who wanted to celebrate Advent - at least as a family thing.

With Crystal married (to Kevin McConnell, my son -in-love) and away from home, in her own home, raising Ruby Rose - and with Carrie having found the church that she truly loves (Catholic) and being finally in her own "family" (her church) - and Larry still working more than full time - I am alone a lot.  At first that seemed just wrong.  I am people oriented and need not just any people around me, but "MY" people.

Late, though, I've begun to explore the depths of Alone-ness, and the beauty and peace waiting in the depths.

Advent this year starts my journey into embracing alone-ness.
At first I thought (picture pouting lip, stomping foot, toddler style flounce)
I'd do what I felt led to do, IN SPITE of others.

But decorating my old (ah, memories) Advent log, setting in the new candles (ah, Dollar Store), and researching Advent traditions, Scriptures and weekly focus have all been gently leading me into peace and stillness.  This I would never have found surrounded by people.
Thought I would share the process since I think probably each day, with it's repeated focus and each new week with it's new focus, will draw me ever deeper and bring an "Alone with myself and my God" kind of peace that I may have never experienced before.

So - Yesterday evening (Saturday), as I read on an Advent site, I dedicated the Advent candles and holder. I used this prayer as a pattern. "Lord God, bless this wreath and bless us as well. May this wreath remind me of the hope and joy that Jesus brings into the world. I ask this through Christ our Lord."

Today, as you see above, I lit the first candle, and read the Scripture designated for day 1. 
The Lighting of the First Candle: Waiting for the Shepherd

First Sunday of Advent (Isaiah 1:1-18)

On the first Sunday of Advent, we read the beginning of the book of Isaiah, where the prophet speaks in the voice of God and calls the people of Israel to repentance, to prepare them for the coming of His Son. But the Old Testament people of Israel also represents the New Testament Church, so the call to repentance applies to us as well.

For the rest of the weekFirst Monday of Advent (Isaiah 1:21-27; 2:1-5)

In the reading for the first Monday of Advent, the Prophet Isaiah continues to call Israel to account, and God reveals His plan to remake Israel, purifying her so that she will be the shining city on a hill, toward which men of all nations will turn. This remade Israel is the Church of the New Testament, and it is Christ's coming that remakes Her.

First Tuesday of Advent (Isaiah 2:6-22; 4:2-6)

The Prophet Isaiah continues the theme of the judgment of Israel in the reading for the first Tuesday of Advent. Because of the sins of the people, God will humble Israel, and only the "bud of the Lord"—Christ—will shine in glory.

First Wednesday of Advent (Isaiah 5:1-7)

In this passage for the first Wednesday of Advent, Isaiah discusses the vineyard that the Lord has built—the house of Israel. The passage calls to mind Christ's parable of the vineyard, in which the vineyard owner sends his only son to oversee the vineyard, and the workers in the vineyard kill him, foreshadowing Christ's own death.

First Thursday of Advent (Isaiah 16:1-5; 17:4-8)

In this reading for the first Thursday of Advent, we see Isaiah prophesying the purification of Old Testament Israel. The Chosen People have squandered their inheritance, and now God is opening the door of salvation to all nations. Israel survives, as the New Testament Church; and over her sits a just judge, Jesus Christ.

First Friday of Advent (Isaiah 19:16-25)

The Prophet Isaiah continues with his theme of the conversion of nations in the reading for the first Friday of Advent. With the coming of Christ, salvation is no longer confined to Israel. Egypt, whose enslavement of the Israelites represented the darkness of sin, will be converted, as will Assyria. Christ's love encompasses all nations, and all are welcome in the New Testament Israel, the Church.

First Saturday of Advent (Isaiah 21:6-12)

Isaiah's prophecy foretells the coming of Christ, and of His triumph over sin. In the reading for the first Saturday of Advent, Babylon, the symbol of sin and idolatry, has fallen. Like the watchman, in this Advent we wait for the triumph of the Lord.



Wednesday, May 30, 2012

In My Kitchen

Today is the day I researched "How to store..." (fresh foods), inspired by the fact that I am tired of wrinkled, flabby ginger with mold spots. (You thought at first that I was referring to my aging body, admit it!)

GingerThe consensus (skewed by my own preference) is to cut a large root in chunks put in freezer bags, and freeze it. When you need "fresh" ginger", take out a chunk, peel (frozen ginger is supposed to peel easily using a spoon) and use.

I prefer ginger (sliced) mostly for flavoring the water I keep in the refrigerator. (2 gallons of water, with sliced ginger, cucumbers and lemons.)

LemonsThis was my favorite tip! "When you need a few drops of juice, simply poke the peel with a pin or a toothpick. Gently squeeze out the juice you want, and place it back in the refrigerator."

If you need a slice or two of lemon, don't slice the entire piece of fruit. Using a sharp knife, cut off the end, but don't throw it away. Instead, after cutting off a slice or two from the end of the lemon, put the cap back in place before placing in back in the refrigerator. The sliced off end will help keep the rest of the lemon fresh until you need more.


Place lemons in an airtight glass jar to keep in a refrigerator, or use a plastic ziplock bag to extend refrigeration shelf life for up to six weeks.

Cucumbers  Wrap each cucumber individually in a paper towel, then put all cucumbers wrapped in paper towels inside the plastic bag. Put the plastic bag with the cucumbers in a refrigerator. They will stay perfectly for the whole week.

Some people in saran wrap and they don't go limp, even after 10 days.

A produce manager said that if you run a cucumber under very hot water for about 15 seconds, then place in the fridge, the cucumber will last quite awhile. He said that's what they do before putting them out in the market.


Celery  Try storing celery wrapped in aluminum foil in the crisper drawer.

Fruits and Berries  Try storing strawberries and other berries in a screw-top glass jar in the refrigerator. It's also supposed to keep them much fresher longer.

Various Veggies: here's a good way to keep lettuce, carrots, celery and green peppers crisp and fresh. Never cut lettuce, because it bruises and turns brown. Tear your lettuce into a sealable container and cover with cold water and refrigerate. To use just take out what you need put it in the strainer to drain excess water and you have crisp lettuce. Slice celery, carrots and green peppers julienne style and put into sealable containers cover with water and refrigerate.

Store mushrooms in brown paper bags that has had air hole punch into them and then refrigerate.

Wrap fresh mint in a damp paper towel, making sure that it is not soaking wet. Place the wrapped mint in a plastic bag. The plastic bag should be large enough to not crush the leaves. Seal the bag. Place the plastic bag in your refrigerator, or in the crisper, if your fridge is set at a fairly cool setting

Or fill a jar about half full with water. Place the stems of the mint into to the jar, making sure that each clipped end is submerged. Place a plastic bag over the mint and jar. You needn't secure it since this method will require some air to reach the plant. Place the jar in the refrigerator. Change the water every two to three days. Stores for two weeks.

(I have mint growing almost everywhere here, so I don't store it on the summer. I do dry it for teas over the winter.)

Potatoes  Inspect all potatoes for soft spots, sprouts and mold. Only perfect potatoes are suitable for long-term storage.

Treat the tubers very gently so as not to bruise or cut them. Store in ventilated bins, bushel baskets, or a cardboard box with perforated sides. Completely cover the boxes or baskets with newspaper or cardboard to eliminate any light. Even a little light will cause potatoes to turn green and be rendered inedible. The ideal storage temperature for potatoes is 35 to 40 degrees, though they will usually keep for several months at 45 to 50 degrees.

Check on your potatoes regularly, and remove any that are soft, shriveled or sprouted.

Onions and garlic  Store in mesh bags or bushel baskets. Keep them cool (35 to 45 degrees F.) and away from light. In warmer temperatures, garlic will begin to sprout. Dryness and complete darkness are essential.

Winter SquashStore winter squash (with a bit of stem still attached) in a cool ( to 60 degree F) place that’s well ventilated. Humidity should be relatively low: 30-50%. Check your stored squash monthly to identify and use up any fruit that shows sign of decay.

Beets and Carrots  OK, I really don't buy fresh beets. LOL! I only buy pickled beets to use in the making of pickled eggs.

But I do buy lots of carrots. They need to be kept at a constant temperature of between 32 and 40 degrees F, and at 90 to 95 percent humidity, in a refrigerator, in moist sand or right in the garden. I have plenty of moist sand (Ha!), but I'd rather use the refrigerator. Put similar-sized, same-variety vegetables in a single layer in gallon freezer bags. Remove as much air as possible before sealing each bag. Stack bags flat on a shelf or in a drawer in the refrigerator. Check monthly for decay and use those first. Beets will stay hard and sweet for five months or more; carrots should last almost as long. Should there be fine root hairs or a little decay, simply peel this off; the root itself will be fine.

Avocados Store avocados at room temperature until they’re fully ripe.

You can tell if an avocado is ripe by giving it a gentle squeeze — if it yields to that light pressure, it’s ready to use.

It generally takes anywhere from four to seven days for a hard avocado to fully ripen.

You can speed up the ripening process by putting your avocados in a brown paper bag — placing an apple in the bag will help hurry things along even more. This will usually cut down the ripening time to 1 to 3 days.

Store fully ripe avocados in the refrigerator. Place them in a plastic bag. There, they'll usually keep well for another three to five days. To keep cut-up avocado from turning brown, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap before refrigerating — sprinkling a small amount of lemon or lime juice onto the exposed avocado flesh will also help prevent discoloration.

Stash leftovers in the freezer. Avocados freeze very well, with just a little bit of extra preparation. To freeze: Wash, peel and then puree the avocados. Add to the puree 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice for every avocado used to prevent browning. Place the puree in covered airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags and use within six months for best quality.




Tuesday, April 26, 2011


"Brown paper packages tied up with strings,
These are a few of my favorite things!"

Don't worry, I promise I won't break into song....... at least not where you can hear me.

Why? I got two packages today! TWO! Elizabeth Goudge came knocking on my door in the brittle form of a book (God So Loved The World) from 1951, the year I was born. I was 6 months old when the book was published. Happy dance, happy dance!

At the same time, a second box arrived, with the light meter I ordered. Not as inspiring as E. Goudge, but just as de "light" ful. The plants it helps me to grow this year will be at least as inspiring.

Now the conundrum; herbs to put in their pretty deck pots. seeds to start, meter to play with, houseplants to water and feed and talk to..............

or dishes to put away, floors to sweep, sheets to wash........

What will I DO? What WILL I do?????