Friday, June 29, 2007

Medicine Gardens & Herbalism ....

Sheet Mulching, The First Layer

A couple of weekends ago I immersed myself in a subject I've been drawn to for quite a while ... herbalism. Kathleen Maier, a local herbalist was our teacher. Day one was spent discussing medicine gardens, permaculture and the herbs themselves. Permaculture is a land use system stressing ecological working relationships between all things and is built upon the ethic of caring for the earth. Using principles of ecology, appropriate technology such as solar or wind power, sustainable agriculture and the wisdom of indigenous people, permaculture is a system in which all life can and will thrive.

By using the method of sheet mulching, areas where you wish to plant a garden can be prepared without disturbing the soil by tilling. After choosing a spot for the garden, the area is mowed or weeded, saving the clippings and weeds to add to the sight later on. The next step is to put down a layer of cardboard or newspaper and then to thoroughly wet it down.

Adding Compost And Mulch

The next step is to place the clippings on top of the cardboard and a good layer of compost. Finally a 6 inch layer of seedless straw is placed on top of the site. Through the action of weather and decomposition the site will be ready for planting in about 6 months.

This weekend I will use this method to prepare several sites for trees that I plan on planting in the fall. Once the weather cools I will prepare sites for next summer's vegetable garden, using this years vegetable garden strictly for herbs. I will also fence the new vegetable garden since I have difficulty with our overpopulation of deer who insist upon pruning my tomato plants. I use Irish Spring soap and a foul smelling oil spray to help keep them away, but once they are used to the odor of something, they come right on back. Next time the groomer comes to clip the dogs I plan to keep the clipping to sprinkle about the plants. Maybe that will work better!!

More on herbs another time!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Retreat ...

The View From My Room

Last week I did something I've never done before. I took myself to a lovely inn on the Chesapeak Bay where I spent 3 nights and two beautiful days taking extra special care of myself. The Tides Inn has a wonderful spa where I indulged myself with a deep tissue massage, pedicure, facial and a reflexology treatment. I arrived there feeling sore, old and tired. When I left, I was a new person ... the low backpain was gone and I felt as though I was floating just above the ground. I napped often and sitting in the shade overlooking the shoreline, I read for hours. I walked into the little village of Irvington for exercise and enjoyed eating some wonderful seafood, too.

I'd never had a reflexology treatment before and found that it was just what the doctor ordered. Basically a massage of the feet, hands and a few other pressure points, your entire body benefits. There are points on the feet corresponding to all of the organs of the body and when you are finished everything is back in alignment and functioning well. I am still carrying with me the effects of this deeply relaxing time alone with just myself.

I often have a massage and do the occassional facial and pedicure, but I've never taken time like this before to do it all at once and to care for this shell that I live in as I navigate through life. I may just have to set aside a time once a year to keep up this very worthwhile activity.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Adventures ...

Cyclamen, © Joan Z. Rough, June 2007

I had a wonderful adventure this past weekend learning about permaculture and making medicine from herbs. I'm off on another today. Will be back next week with the details. I feel like a new person starting a new life.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Finding Beauty In Aging ...

Day Lily On A Rainy Day, © Joan Z. Rough, June 2007

Today it's raining ... sometimes just a mist but sometimes heavier with a touch of breeze that sets the trees and flowers to dancing. Day lilies, as their name implies, only last one day, marked by weather and creatures living within the flower's local. At the end of the day, they are finished blooming ... shriveled, twisted into new form with a beauty of their own.

My blogging friend, Deirdre, has written one of the most moving and powerful letters to a young woman about age, aging and agism, that I could ever imagine. Please take a moment to read it here.

Day Lily At Dusk, © Joan Z. Rough, June 2007

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Life Goes On ...

Swamp Magnolia With Visitor, © Joan Z. Rough, June, 2007

I never realized how difficult this time would be ... "Post Mom" is what I call it. I'm completely relieved for both her and rest of the family ... it was a hard, long battle and especially painful for her. When mom was diagnosed with Small Cell Lung Cancer two years ago she was told that if she did nothing she'd have 3 months to live. If she did chemo she might expand that time to perhaps a year. Due to her incredible spirit and chemo, mom doubled that time, but it wasn't always easy. For the most part her sense of humor was intact until she fell twice in December breaking several bones. Until then she was just very tired and a victim of the awful chemo fog that so many chemo patience experience. She didn't like that very much, but after her falls, mom's spirit took a nose dive because she knew she was really losing control. She could no longer be her independent self, needing help with most everything. But thankfully she is not in pain now and is probably giving God and his troop of angels a run for their money.

As for myself I'm doing pretty well. I miss her and that she is gone hits me when I least expect it and am feeling most vulnerable. At first I felt like I'd been laid off from my job. My fabulous managing skills started annoying other members of the family. So, I've quit that work and am now trying to pull my own life back into some sort of managable form! You can hear the cheers in the background, I'm sure! There are the stacks of papers to be filed on my desk, on the floor and in numerous baskets around my work space. There are what seem to be hundreds of beading and sewing projects barely started and abandoned because I didn't have time or needed the excitement of starting something new, rather than returning to the same old, same old. And never mind that I need to clean out mom's apartment and put the remainders of her life in order.

Along with trying to do a little bit of the above, what I'm mostly doing is gardening and trying to spend as much time outdoors as I possibly can before the heat and the humidity of summer hit. I've been planting some new things to see how they grow and doing alot of thinning and pruning. I like the pruning the best right now. Somehow it feels like I'm pruning my life back, making room for my next adventures in "Earth School," as a favorite teacher of mine calls life.

I'm also taking naps most days, finding that after lunch I just can't go on being active. Many who have been in this place before, tell me this is the emotional and physical exhaustion caused by the ordeal of the past few months. They say it will linger for a while, as will the tears, the relief and the gratitude I feel for having been a part of the whole experience.

Lilliput Having A Cat Nap, © Joan Z. Rough, June, 2007

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Welcome To The World Baby Anya ...

Anya Grace Allison Zabski
born 5/30/07
9 lbs. 8 oz., 20 " long

Baby Anya made her entrance on May 30, daughter of my nephew, Jesse and his wonderful wife Amanda. I haven't yet met Anya but hopefully during the next few months I'll have the chance, either here in Virginia or up in New Hampshire where they live. Anya is my brother Reid's, first grandchild and would be my mother's third great grandchild. Too bad Mom isn't here to greet Anya with us. But I have a feeling she is smiling from on high and sending this little spirit her best love. Zoe and Noah, my two grandchildren believe that Grammy Jo, as they knew her, is now their special angel who looks after them. I'm sure she is Anya's special angel as well.

When you love,
you complete a circle.

When you die,
the circle remains.

John Squadra, from This Ecstasy