Someone in this photo is not like the others. Yes, this is a yellow jacket, head down in a honeycomb, side-by-side with hundreds of bees. I watched this scenario for a long time yesterday, with my butt planted on the patio dresser that is right in front of Valentine’s colony that lives in my room.

This bee hive is constructed between two studs in my room, and fitted with a double glass panel, so I am able to observe these bees without bothering them all year long. Right now, with all the smoke we’ve had, and the terrible winds before them that destroyed a lot of the flowers and plants in our yard, I am assisting my bees with food—combs of honey I’ve saved from hives that have perished. In this way, the bees who came and went are helping their sisters in this time of havoc… Continue reading

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Hops Tincture for Good Sleep and Less Befuddlement

Gathering the goods.

I’ve been waiting to gather my hops blossoms, and I missed the peak period for picking because a huge unexpected wind storm sort of blew the peak right out of my flowers, but I am trusting them to be good enough for what I need them for.

A couple of weeks ago, after many weeks of feeling aggressive, impatient, and cranky, I found myself sitting in front of a lovely, steaming cup of fresh hops tea with a splash of valerian root tincture in it. I had been reading that hops might help me with my awful, disruptive mood. And so I sat with that cup in my two hands and did a quick inventory of my feelings: disgusted? Check. Wanting to scream at certain people? Check. Hopeless? Check… Continue reading

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Gifts of the Season: Autumn

I’ve yet to step into the yard in the early morning, and sense that crispness in the air and in the light and shadow that speaks “autumn” to me in so many ways.

But she is on her way. I know this. The plants are telling me. Their stalks, dappled and dry, say “Any day now…” Yellowed leaves at the bottom of the trees and shrubs join in the chorus, “Soon the rain will come.” The hard ground is not so easy on my bare feet as the sponginess of spring soil. “It was glorious,” say the spent flower heads already dropping seeds onto the soil like precious coins. “Thank you…” say the insects in the yard, their soft songs filling me with delight that I have fed them all so well this season. Continue reading

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Chris and the Coop

Chris plays with a tiny bit of straw

I’m sitting on the floor of the duck coop, where I’ve taken Chris outside for the first time. We don’t have an adequate housing for her outside, so she’s been housebound for these first weeks.

Bella, the muscovy, is sitting on eggs in the upper “deck” of the coop, so I’ve shut the door between the two so she can have her privacy. Earl, meanwhile, is standing in front of the coop, watching all these proceedings with great curiosity. Carter, too, is wondering what I’m doing sitting in duck poop, watching Chris… Continue reading

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It feels as if the world has tossed herself up into the air, fracturing into billions of intricate puzzle pieces, all of which are now drifting down among us, asking to be recast into a new picture.

Amidst all the upheaval of Covid 19 and the BLM protests, I have had some upheaval of my own. While it sometimes feels icky, upheaval is always for the best in the end, I say… Continue reading

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God’s Refrigerator

I read a while back that the Dali Lama was stunned when he was told that people in the west suffer from the lack of self-love and acceptance. Since learning of this, he has said that it is vitally important that all people develop this inner source of love, and that until they do, they cannot advance spiritually. One must first be grounded in love of self before one can step up and genuinely love the rest of the world.

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Last Night I Saw Jesus

Last night, I saw Jesus. It was a sweet, uplifting moment that came with the dawn glow over our side fence. Here is the story of sweet Jesus:

For the past year now, I’ve been feeding an unknown critter in my garden shed. I have a little hole in the rear of it, about the size of a cat door, and I set out a bowl or plate of something each night. Sometimes its a scoop of cat food. Sometimes apple cores and peels, or leftovers that have been in the fridge for too long… Continue reading

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Death–the Final Frontier?

This winter, I decided to trim back even less of my garden when all the plants began their annual march from lush abundance, to spent sticks. As the palette in my yard shifted from greens to splashes of gold and bronze, then finally to shades of pewter, brown, and silver, the winter birds began arriving.

I don’t know if they’ve been this numerous in other years. Perhaps so, and I just never noticed it. But this year, I am noticing: juncos, wrens, goldfinches, chickadees arrived in chittering flocks to tease the seed heads of cone flowers and asters, goldenrod and bee balm. Continue reading

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The bare trees clatter their branches together in the strong east winds on this chilly morning. Gone now are the whispered conversations of leaves, the soft hiss of green grasses bending in a summer breeze.

I always keep a handkerchief in my pocket now for when my nose starts dripping from the cold. I set my plans for the winter season almost two months ago, finishing up the last of my summer projects of bees and swarms, flowers and watering, weeding and composting.

The Eden of my backyard is a bit tattered-looking now, the tall grass heads and stands of asters, coneflowers, and black-eyed Susans scrapping their dried brown seed heads together while flocks of tiny birds hop about beneath them. For the birds and the insects, I’ve left pretty much everything standing this winter. I’ll do clean up in the spring when the seeds have fallen, the insects nesting in hollow stems have departed, and the birds have had their fill… Continue reading

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Finding Peace in an Insane World–Part II

When the going gets tough, handcrafts help. Weave, sew, mold, bake…

Sheesh, it took me a long time to get back to this! So, twenty-plus backyard swarms, tomato harvests, bird rescues, bee rescues, and many months of watering later, I am here to continue my reflection on finding balance in an insane world.

As I write this, the Ford-Kavanaugh debacle is in full swing. And it is making me crazy. And I am very frustrated that I have allowed myself to let this affect my mental and physical health, which it has. I even found myself drinking a beer last night (I’ve probably drunk five bottles of beer in my entire life…) to calm my shaky nerves.

I am frustrated with myself because this upheaval is no longer in accord with how I manage to stay sane in an insane world. This is how I manage my life for most-possible sanity and peace on a daily basis:
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