Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ice on the Vines

My vines are coated in ice.  When it thaws, all the leaves will be gone, and I'll prune.  It's a beautiful sight to see them glistening in the evening light.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Waiting to Prune

I will prune my vines for the first time this year.  The last few leaves are clinging.  Once they fall, I will prune vigorously both of the vines.  For now, I'm enjoying resting.  We've had several challenges with the family this fall.  I haven't had the emotional energy to do more than wait for the next cycle.

The two younger children were begging to plant carrots this afternoon.  I took the opportunity to explain to them the seasons of the year.  I taught them about planting seasons versus dormant seasons.  Even though the garden isn't producing vegetables, it is producing educational opportunities for my children.  And, for that, I'm thankful.

Monday, October 21, 2013

As The Grape Leaves Fall

I will be pruning the grape vines heavily this winter.  I wait for the leaves to completely fall before I attempt any work.  I did not harvest any grapes this year.  The north vine produced wonderfully, but life intervened.  I was too preoccupied with other tasks at hand to worry with the fruit.  The vine was healthy enough this year to bear fruit. That is enough.  The children took preeminence.  They required more involved care this summer.

I am happy with things, though.  I needed this season, just as it was.  I don't serve the garden.  It serves me.  I work their for my own pleasure.  The grapes are their own beauty.  One year or one season without maximum productivity does not diminish their worth in any way.  They can grow, produce and not be harvested.  Next year, they may grow yet further.  They might not bear as much fruit.  They still have worth.

I love my garden, just as it is.  It does not exist to show off to the world.  It exists to be my joy.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Deciding Against an Autumn Garden

After much deliberation, I decided against an autumn garden this year.  We are homeschooling the eldest child, and busy with other tasks here at the Cottage.  I used to have Saturday mornings for my gardening.  Earlier this year, we had to change our schedule during the week.  Now, I have to accomplish errands on Saturday mornings, instead of getting them done during the week.  The boys are older, besides.  We've had birthday parties and fun events for them on Saturdays.  I find the window for gardening has closed in a way I hadn't expected.

Also, I've discovered that I enjoy writing far more than as a hobby or organizational tool.  I have been writing professionally.  Between homeschooling, caring for the children, the home and writing part time.  I no longer have the energy for two gardens per year.  The autumn is a busier time than the spring as far as lesson plans.  I am in no way giving up my Cottage Vineyard or the blog, but I am scaling back on the veggies and flowers.

The garden is still producing, despite my neglect.  The beets are flourishing as ever.  The garlic chives continue to expand.  My spinach survived the summer heat.  All the other plants have either died or been harvested.  The grapes thrive.  I will be pruning them severely this winter, in hopes of having an even heartier season next year.

My roses have also been pruned, by order of the city.  They were overgrown.  Due to the children's needs over the winter, I was unable to prune them as needed back in the winter.  They grew over the limits allowed by city ordinance.  I hope all of them come back from the pruning even healthier, especially our Old Lady.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Tiny Life

Here at the Cottage, we are not in for the Tiny Life.  But, we are one step above it.  At 1100 square feet, we are half the average of a new home in the United States.  Across the world, we are well above average.  Five people in a three bedroom, one bath home is plenty.  With a garden - no, with a vineyard and swing set and play yard and a small garden, we have one happy family.

Tiny life is for another set.  We are not about those extremes, as appealing as they may be from one perspective.  Cottage is quaint.  Cottage is old-fashioned.  Cottage is historic preservation.  We are not here for a radical statement against social norms (in most things.)  Our cottage life is not about testing the limits of comfort or solace.  We are a normal family as far as our home is concerned.  Here at the Cottage, we conform to many aspects of normal life, even though we make tweak at the edges.

Cottage is warm, comforting and authentic.  Cottage is not making a radical political or social statement.  Cottage is good.  Cottage is hospitality.  Our little home is a loving place to be.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Late Summer Lull In Gardening Activity

The fall garden is just around the corner.  Planting the fall garden is just around the corner. For the next few days, we have the remnants of summer.  The carrots continue to progress slowly.  The parsley plant is small, but hanging on to life.  I'm enjoying this quiet, and the absence of pressure to get out there and work.  If I don't get the seeds into the ground by the end of August, I won't have a season for the next few months.  I will have to make due with tending the remaining spinach plant, keeping the beets thriving and thinning the garlic chives.

There won't be a grape harvest this year.  None of the bunches survived, and I'm not sure why.  The south plant grew voraciously, but didn't produce.  The glorious abundance of the north vine assures me that the fault in harvesting is all mine.  Had I known better how to manage it, I would have had more lessons to learn this year.  I'll be more prepared next year to harvest.  I was too focused on getting ahead with planting new vines, rather than managing the two I have.  For now, I'm going to allow them their autumn.  After the leaves drop off, I'll prune them heavily.  I didn't last year for fear of killing them before they were established enough.  Now, I know they are ready.  I'll spend some time over their dormant months reading about what comes next for my vineyard.  The hesitancy is passed.  The feeling that it's so fragile and easily destroyed is behind us.

So it is with our boys.  I'm posting more about them on another blog these days.  As far as the vineyard is concerned, our boys growth parallels nicely.  We have a delightful - and concurrent metaphor - in both the boys and the vines.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The New Look of the Cottage Vineyard

It was time for something fresh and new.  Do you like the new format?

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Heavy Pruning After The Seed Harvest

Late last week, I harvested with a vengeance.  I gathered all the beet seed that I desired.  I refrained from harvesting every last seed.  I didn't think the return on my time would be worth it.  I pulled up all the coriander, plants and all.  The spinach seeds went who-knows-where.  I don't know if they were eaten or if they fell off.  The collard seed held no interest for me.  I put the two bowls of seed in the kitchen and let them dry for a couple of days before I put them up into the pantry for long term storage.

Then, on Saturday, I took the loppers and attended to the garden.  I was merciless against the collard plant. I didn't hesitate to pull up garlic chives along with weeds.  I lopped off most of the beet tops, seeds and all.  The compost pile was full.  The only thing remaining lush is the grape vines.  It feels so good to see the garden appearing loved.  It's not a picture perfect place.  It's still a working vegetable (and fruit) patch, not a display for flowers.  I'm thrilled.  I love caring for things.  I love the work itself.  It does me good.

The garden doesn't really care whether I care for it.  The plants grow one way or another.  My efforts in some ways are just a challenge for them, not a destruction (unless you ask the coriander.)  The garden will improve even if it doesn't know what I'm doing is good for them.  If only everything I loved were such an experience.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Wild Place, With Dried Grapes

I am not quite sure what happened to my grapes, although I know very well what happened to my garden.  I allowed it to go to seed, as I posted previously.  Apparently, my grapes decided to go straight to seed as well.  They are either green and lush - weeks away from ripening, or they are seeds, no fruit in sight.  I wonder if the fruit was eaten.  Perhaps the heat turned the fruit to raisins.  The vines look wonderful.  I am amazed how much better the north vine looks this year than I expected it to look.  I will definitely be more prepared to cultivate it next year.  I dream of expanding our vineyard beyond it's little space, as I see how well, if how wild, my grapes progress.

The garden must so offend all who see it.  It's of no aesthetic pleasure.  Only an eye for heirloom seeds would understand how much I love it.  I am taken with the abundance of the beet seeds.  I only wish I had all the time I need to harvest and prepare them.  I am in no hurry.  I have a few weeks to attend to the children's needs before it's time to switch to my fall plantings.  I have harvesting the current seeds, nurturing carrots, weeding and preparing for planting.  It won't look wild for long.  Despite it's appearance, it's not truly wild now.  It's mature and sage and fertile.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Looking to Keep Heirloom Seeds

Looking to the future: I'm watching many of my plants go to seed in the garden.  I am so excited over the prospect.  I'm not concerned with harvesting the veggies for myself, although I'm sure to have my share.  I may not get the cucumber I dreamed of.  I may not feast on heirloom zucchini.  I pause on my desire for a full platter.

However, I would love the prospect of sharing my heirloom seeds this year, above my own palate's satisfaction.  My garden isn't (merely) my vanity.  My garden is about educating the children.  It's about preserving a method of gardening nearly extinct.  It's for something larger than myself.  If all I receive this year from it is the opportunity to share, then my garden is a success.  I know that I won't be limited to that.  I haven't been already.  It will be part of a larger story.  This year will be a harvest primarily of seeds.  Next winter and spring will be about a season of sharing.  For that, I can look forward to a delight.  Normally, my season of anticipation is winter for the upcoming summer.  This year, my anticipation is in the summer for the upcoming winter.

Who knows?  I don't even have the beginnings of the fall garden yet.  2013 may yet be a remarkable year all around.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The End of the Peas

The peas did not last long this year.  Partly, the summer heat after a cool, wet spring was too much for them.  It went too hot, too quickly.  They couldn't withstand the dramatic weather changes.  How wonderful that we were able to get some peas from them.

By we, I mean my four year old.  Ahem - he devoured all but one or two pods.  They were fantastic, and I don't blame him.  I am delighted that a small child could be so enthusiastic over vegetables.  Nonetheless, he essentially destroyed them by harvesting the pods with vigor.  Next year, he will be even more a help in planting, weeding and harvesting.  Perhaps by then, he'll learn to be gentle enough to allow the plants to survive his efforts.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Italian Parsley - Emerging

Just when I was convinced that cilantro was the only herb in the garden this year, I discovered Italian parsley.  I almost missed it.  I was weeding around the spinach and discovered those distinct leaves.  I am enchanted.  My carrots are growing well next to the tiny parsley as well.  I wouldn't have expected anything in that spot, what with the huge spinach plant blocking the afternoon sun.  The spot doesn't have any sun in the morning.  Somehow, without being weeded properly, and no sun, this little herb has fought through the odds.

Alas, the peas were over-adored by the four-year-old.  In his excitement, he decimated the plants to harvest the pods.  Even if the harvest was smaller than it would have been, I can't imagine a pea harvest being adored more.

And the grape vine!  The vine is heavy with grapes: abundant, glorious grapes.  It's extraordinary a plant so small could have flourished so well.  I intend to post a photo I've taken, when I get a few spare moments.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Luscious, Juicy Green Peas

The first vegetable harvested and eaten this summer: peas.  This week we've enjoyed luscious, juicy green peas.  The sublime pleasure of eating raw peas right in the garden has been indulged this year.  My four year old has declared peas as his all-time favorite food.  He ravenously devoured peas too immature for harvest.  He salivated over the fat, juicy ones.  After checking every day for weeks to watch them grow, he relished every morsel of his peas.

The second harvest was a small about of an herb: cilantro.  Exactly one of the plants I thought lost was the second to produce for the table.  I am delighted that the herb part of the garden is doing well, even if it's just the one.  Now, I only need to weed and watch and enjoy the early summer days's growth.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Last Year's Lettuce?

It appears that last year's lettuce has reseeded itself.  While I was weeding the potatoes, I noticed what looked like dandelions.  I pulled up, and realized that it was anything but a dandelion.  It was heirloom head lettuce!  I haven't planted that variety this year.  I only put in one variety of lettuce, and that was in another part of the garden.  Somehow, this variety has been waiting in seed form all this time.  How I'm going to manage lettuce amongst the potatoes, I have no idea.  I'm delighted at the challenge.  So even though this year's variety didn't develop, I'll still have home grown lettuce for this summer's salads.

The carrots continue to amaze.  My beets are also progressing.  And the peas!  They've gone to flower, even the plants that are still short.  I'll have pods in a matter of days.  I think I'll have a nice amount of cilantro.  Perhaps the first cucumber plant will be the only one I have this year.  I don't know if I'll be able to plant more basil in the last of spring.  I think it's my only disappointment with the garden.  All things considered, I can't complain of just one disappointment (and that's not even too late, either.)

At last, the grapes:I am entranced by the beauty of my lush vines.  I can't quite believe how my prayers have been answered here at the Cottage.  They have both prospered so well.  The north vine is heavy with green grape bunches.  I hesitate to think what will happen in the future with them attracting wasps.  We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.  For now, I'll enjoy the promise fulfilled.  We do indeed have a cottage vineyard that actually produces grapes.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Surviving Cilantro

Just when I thought that all of the herbs had failed to sprout, I discovered burgeoning cilantro.  I'll have six plants, so it appears.  My garden now seems to be a greater success than I had anticipated.  I have space for more lettuce, and I'll try the herbs again.  I'll keep trying the lime basil until I have results.  I'm so excited over this variety.  The vineyard still needs some flowering plants to attract bees.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Replanting Cucumbers and Emerging Carrots

One of the cucumbers that I planted a few weeks back is established.  I expect a cucumber or two by early summer.  The down side is that there is no doubt that my four year old decimated the other mounds.  I am reconciled to replanting, and hoping that it's not too late in the season.  I adore heirloom cucumbers, and would love to show these off to the neighbors.  Plus, it's one of the most cost effective plantings that I do in the garden.  With cucumbers, I feel that I'm really getting a savings from the family budget.

The carrots have surprised me with their resilience.  Not only did I get one or two, I have two full rows to admire.  I planned successive plantings anyway, as appropriate to the species.  Now, I can look forward to carrots all summer and fall.  Real baby carrots will be a delight as well.  I don't recall the last time I had the real thing, as opposed to the mechanically processed baby carrots from the supermarket.

The herbs and lettuce continue to disappoint.  I hope that a second planting or a planting later in 2013 will be more profitable to the Cottage Vineyard table.

The grapes on the northern vine continue to stun me.  I am blown away by its progress.  I am inspired to save all those seeds, to have a full working vineyard, years from now.  There's nothing like a taste of success to inspire one to work all the harder.

Peas, and All Their Glory

The peas are growing up the fence with a rapid pace.  I asked my four year old what was his favorite vegetable from the garden.  "Peas!!!" He squealed with delight.  I asked him what his second favorite was.  "Carrots!" was his reply.  We discussed how wonderful it is to grow our vegetables in the garden.  His interest now is plums.  While that would be wonderful for the vineyard to have plums flavoring the soil (and apricots, too,) I don't think he realizes how much longer he'd have to wait for plums compared to peas.  Perhaps I won't have to wait too long myself for such joys, but it won't happen soon.  Trees aren't going to grow in our tiny space without sacrificing the children's play space.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Reviewing Quotes from Mary Wollestonecraft

I spent some time doing a writing exercise this morning, exposition on quotes from Mary Wollestonecraft.  It's an old exercise from school, to get the creative juices flowing.  I was amazed to discover how my opinion on matters had changed since I had originally transcribed the quotes.  I didn't write at all the opinion that I would have expected.  I have changed and grown this year.  I'm shocked at the judgement and lack of charity I had expected to write.  Now, I see life from a more compassionate, more loving point of view.  I'm eager to make new friends to help me grow even further.  I'm not looking for friends to reinforce my own points of view.  I am humbled at how much more love I have to give.  I am humbled by how much more I have to learn.  I reject my smug condemnation of others, that I embraced even a short few months back.  The exercised proved more than just pre-writing creative work.  It reflected a position back to myself that I would no longer claim.  I wish now to approach life from a place of love and faith.

Perhaps I will post my exercise from this morning.  Perhaps I will use this blog for future exercises.  Either way, I see that writing as fitting in here with the gardening posts.  It's all part of my journey back to the fold and back home.  It's part of my journey learning to love others, as I have been loved.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

An Array of Seedlings

So far in the garden, we have over 30 pea seedlings, about 17 beet seedlings and two cucumber seedlings.  The new grape vine has yet to sprout.  The herbs appear decimated by the children.  Last year's spinach plant is thriving, as is a collard that somehow survived my eradication.  The beets from last year are thick and  bushy.  I didn't eat them all.  A plant or two has gone to flower, so I hope to have seeds for myself this year. My garlic chives are doing alright.

I'll be replanting the herbs, carrots and more lettuce.  I can tell if it sprouted or if those are weeds.  Regardless, the lettuce and carrots are best with successive plantings, and I prefer my herbs to have successive plantings.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Cold Snap and a Toddler Attack

We've had unseasonably cool weather here at the vineyard.  We'll even come close to a late freeze tonight.  While there's been plenty of rain, the coolness of the season is going to change the progress of the garden this year.  I hope that the grapes will be nurtured by this weather, and produce delicious grapes.

While the peas are sprouting, I despair over anything else popping out of the ground.  Two of the children have been brutal.  One has stomped over all the garden, just at the time when I expected to see a sprout.  He was particularly harsh on the mounds where I had planted potatoes and cucumbers.  Alas, I love cucumbers from the garden.  The other toddler has almost flooded the seeds with over watering.  We've had plenty of rain.  I suspect that there has been too much water for there good.  With three children, I know better than to plant all the seeds at once.  Beside, incremental planting is wise for the lettuce and carrots.  I may have better luck with the progression over the next few weeks' plantings.  We'll see.  At this point, I'm only confident that my previous efforts this spring will produce peas.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sprouting Peas and Waiting on the Other Seedlings

The peas I planted just a few days ago have sprouted.  While I hadn't planned on two years of peas in this same spot, I have it nonetheless.  I hope that the soil will benefit the future grapes here.  However, I love peas so much, and so does my four year old, that I'd hate to crowd out our little space for grapes only.  Perhaps in the future, I can make a trellis for a spot for peas, and still have the grapes in their permanent spot.

I have planted a seed for one new grape vine.  I decided that it was worth planting directly in the permanent spot, instead of starting it indoors.  If it fails, then I have seeds saved from last year.  If it thrives, then I'll feel confident in planting more.  If I have an abundance of seeds, then I am ahead of the game with seed exchange.  I have no idea if it's an heirloom seed.  I have only faith that these grapes belong here.  Seeing as how that's how the vineyard itself started, I have confidence that we'll see beautiful production in time to come.  I haven't yet seen any sprouts besides the peas and weeds.  We'll be attending their progress.

Also, in the vegetable garden, I've planted bull's blood beets, lettuce, lime basil, Italian parsley, cilantro, baby carrots, potatoes and cucumbers.  I have had good success with the heirloom varieties from Botanical Interests.  While my seeds are not all organic, the method I use for tending my garden is.  I have ambitions of moving toward a biodynamic, or at least biodynamic inspired, garden in the future.  I am not merely interested in withholding petrochemical based pesticides, but in noting all the details of my gardening.  I'd love to see my garden blog expand to note all the details.  I'd love to be able to nourish the soil with a more aggressive composting plan.  For now, I'm working on keeping this blog active with planting dates, and as many details as I can get into it.

I do have concerns as to how accurate my attempts at pesticide free planting can be.  With the cottage garden being so close to our neighbors, I wonder about cross contamination from their pesticide use.  I've planted the peas right along the fence.  The neighbor on the other side makes no bones about her vigorous use of whichever pesticide she may discover.  Can I truely claim an organic garden with a neighbor so close?   While she doesn't spray all the time, how much of her previous efforts still affect my work?  These and other questions may be too difficult for me to answer, but I am undeterred as to my efforts.

Monday, April 15, 2013


My northern vine is already bearing tiny grapes.  I was shocked to see them.  From a few budding leaves, to full leaves to grapes in just a few weeks.  It's not just the one bunch either.  This year promises to be our first real production of fruitful vines.

I expect to plant my third vine tomorrow.  We're on our way to fourteen fruitful vines, here at the vineyard.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Peas: Planted

This year I have decided upon Pisum sativum, or Wando shelling peas for the back fence.  It's an heirloom variety from Botanical Interests.

My second son is delighted, and eager to watch them grow.  The packet provided far more peas than I had expected.  Last year, I had the peas starting at the north corner, then going all along the back fence toward the south.  I expected that this year, I'd plant my grape seeds in the area where last years peas had grown.  I will plant a vine or two, but I have far more peas than I planned.  Partly, I had more pea seeds to plant than I had planned.  More importantly, I had a passionate pea lover in my son.  He, and his younger brother, will be far more interesting in eating the peas off the vine than enjoying the grapes we grow.  But, then, the Vintner and I have different plans for the grapes than giving them to the children anyway.

I'm not sure of the wisdom of planting grapes after two seasons of peas in the years prior in the space where I plant the grapes.  However, since I planted the previous vines with little hope of them surviving, perhaps they will do just fine.  After all, the current vines had no soil preparation.  They were planted on good Faith.  I trust the future vines will thrive on the same faith.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Late Freeze, An Intuition and a Garden Saved

This year I was partially feeling guilty about waiting so long to start my planting.  Am I lazy?  Why couldn't I bring myself to dig and hoe and plant?  Then, we had freezes well past the date I would have planted.  Thankfully, the vines are undeterred.  Both are sprouting new leaves.  The beets loved the cold.  The chives haven't stopped spreading.  The weeds are just as thick as ever.

The tiny seeds?  This year they needed more time.  Much like my children.  They need more time for their physical development.  They aren't on a typical child's gross motor development.  I've trusted my instinct on what do about their education.  This week I found out what the public school system would have expected of my kindergartner in the name of "safety," and it would be detrimental to their long term progress.  They would have stuck us in an unpleasant situation due to expectations on his bowel disability.  We've done what's right for him at the right time, but their timetable wouldn't have done that.  My gardens needed more time this year: both my green one and my kinder one.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wondering When I Can Plant

It's right before the last frost of the season, and I have no idea when I can get planting.  I should have the next few weekends for hours of gardening.  However, I have some things to do for the car and errands and without help on the weekends with the boys.  In the last two years, we had help with one boy because he was tube fed during the day.  The Vintner was agreeable to keep an eye on the other boys.  Now, the boys are orally fed during the day and tube fed during the evening.  The Vintner does not help with this, except occasionally turning the pump off after I got to bed, and flushing the line with water.  I have all of two or three hours between the feedings, and during that time I have to prepare the boys meals.  One of the boys is on a special diet.  We cannot afford to purchase his foods as convenience foods, and must make them from scratch.  I don't mind in the least, and enjoy this, as evidenced by the Cottage Vineyard Kitchen.  However, it takes even more time from other tasks, like work in the vineyard - not that either vine needs much these days, or in the garden.  Really, I have only an hour at a time.  Cleanup and meal preparation and feeding on the hospital regimen can take over four hours of the day.  Then there is my other child, who also needs care. Somewhere during this time, I have homeschooling and housework and driving back and forth to therapy and writing.  What is missing? Care for myself.  Gardening used to be part of my psychological care.

I enjoyed taking a break to watch the blossoms on the neighbors' trees.  I don't know when I can get enough time to myself any time soon, although I know I need it.  No one can continue at a busy pace like this for long.  I do feel frustration at asking for help and only getting excuses: from my mother, my friends, the agency for the employees and the Vintner.  I will appreciate the break all the more when it comes.

Friday, March 8, 2013

On Eating Mashed Potatoes

My eldest son has decided that he does eat mashed potatoes, after all.  I'm so relieved, because I was prepared for it to take four weeks, not two.  At last I can settle into our new pattern at home.  The intense feeding regimen that we began at the feeding therapy program prevents me from attending to other things here at the cottage.  I spend about half of my day preparing and feeding them.  Then, we have homeschooling and other child care.  One day, it won't be quite so all consuming, but that assumes we won't see a progression of the boys medical conditions.  If we do, it may be even busier.  I am prepared to have even less time to attend the vines.  Fortunately we chose a vineyard over a dairy farm.

A Spring Rain on Pear Blossoms

As I sit near the window here at the cottage, I can look across the street and see rain gently falling on our neighbors' blossoming pear trees.  It's beautiful.  We don't have the brutal weather of other places in early March.  I can see a few green leaves budding out, but mostly the trees are covered with delicate white flowers.  Every day they change a bit more.  I wonder how many people don't even notice a bit.  I am certain many people do appreciate them.  We live in that kind of place.  Unlike other neighborhoods I know,  we are surrounded by walkers, cyclists, skateboarders and the like.  So many people are always around us. How much better to have trees and gardens and neighbors than to have landscaping and associates - wouldn't you agree?

A few weeks from now, all the trees will be filled with green leaves.  The blossoms will be gone. The grasses will be lush and needing weekly management.  I'll have weeds to pull out by their roots.  The garden will take up so much of my Saturday mornings.  The grape vines will bud again.  For now, we can enjoy the rain before the rain of work begins.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Thriving Spinach and Beets

Here at the vineyard, spring is just around the corner.  I could, and should, plant cold weather seeds this weekend.  I won't.  I'm too busy with the children and errands.  I'll have another window the following weekend.  Fortunately, I don't have to worry too much about that.  My spinach and my beets survived the winter and look gorgeous.  I even have garlic chives hanging onto their space in the garden.

Fortunately, I have a toddler playing in the garden, digging to his heart's content.  It saves me work for him to  "play" and accomplish the hardest work.  I love having little ones who are happy to work as play.  Not that he doesn't have more than enough toys.  He's a delightful boy who loves to help.  He watches whatever we are doing and dives right in alongside us, especially me.

Both my beets and my spinach are heirloom varieties.  I discovered early in the winter a new garden supply business that features organic and heirloom items.  I have amazing support for my way of looking at the world, and it's all around me.  I appreciate so much how much I have - physical, emotional, geographical, social and spiritual.  Few people get to live in a magical space like I do.  Someone else my not be so fond of my little lot.  They would be missing all the beauty that I'm experienced enough in the ways of the world to treasure.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

My Musings On John 6:60-7:13

In our own time, we can see people who are initially attracted to Jesus become disenchanted and fall away.  Jesus knew more than Judas Iscariot's betrayal.  He was abandoned by many disciples, Jewish leaders and even his own brothers who wanted to distance themselves from him. He knew that there would be those who came to him for his miracles, but couldn't accept all his teachings.  We like to believe that the way we see the world is the way it really is.  We like to believe that our understanding of what is true and good is the whole story.  Jesus was able to see so much more than we ever can.  He sees our struggle with the truth.  He knows how much we want clear rules to follow and simple explanations of things for which there are no simple explanations.

In my own life, I've struggled for many years to be good enough.  If I can just be the best I can be, then that will in turn mean I'll get my needs fulfilled.  Recently, I've discovered that it just doesn't matter.  I can't be good enough.  It's not a matter of being good enough.  I was afraid that if my flawed self were discovered, then I'd be cast out of the life I've spend years building.  Instead, I've found acceptance.  Being the best rule follower and trying to meet assumed expectations only made me unhappy.  While my life was filled with meaning, being a "Good Christian" was creating an impediment to closeness with the very people I needed - especially Jesus. 

Jesus knew, and knows, all of his betrayals.  He still loved the Jewish leaders and Judas, even as they plotted to kill him.  He still loves me, even though I was trying to hide my flawed self.  Being a Christian doesn't mean following another set of rules on top of all the rules in the Old Testament.  It's a new covenant that has nothing to do with earning.  It involves hard teachings that we may not even want to accept.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Standoff

My elder son is pushing back, as they called it in feeding therapy.  He's not having any of the mashed potatoes.  Nope, nada - not one bite.  Otherwise, he's doing well with adjusting to the feeding at home.  He's had a rough day with behavioral problems.  He's testing my limits.  I won't allow for him to succumb to the behavioral adaptations that he previously had.  We've committed to a new protocol for feeding, and we're going to see this through.  I know that we've made the right decision to help both boys reduce their dependence on tube feedings.

Emotionally, I've looked to the vines here at the Vineyard for solace.  They are dormant.  Not one bud of a leaf on either of them.  I can wait.  They will bud.  Then, following the leaves comes the grapes.  The children will grow just as the vines will grow.  My vineyard may not look like another woman's.  However, it's mine.  I don't have to have a thousand hectares of merlot vines.  They wouldn't suit me anyway.  I'm better suited to my two scraggly mystery vines.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Home - To a New Normal

We have returned home from the boys' stay in Intense Feeding Therapy.  The transformation is amazing.  We've gone from two tube fed boys to two boys who eat during the day, with some tube feedings in the evening.  I'm living a life far closer to that of a stay-at-home mother than I have in years.  I see a life that is so easy in comparison to what I used to know.  I didn't think my life was difficult then, but now I look back in wonder.  How did I not collapse?  How could I keep going?  I acclimated; I adjusted.  I accepted it as my life, and did what needed to be done.

Now there is so much more room for Joy.  The Vintner and I have time in the evenings.  I'm not spent and exhausted.  I don't fall asleep in my chair at 9 pm, with my knitting in my hand.  I hold my husband's hand, and we spent the time together.  We laugh; we enjoy our marital life.

I am behind on running the household.  It will take some weeks to find a new routine and a new pattern.  Now my morning prayers are not so desperate for help getting through the day.  It's not clinging to Hope, but  experiencing a small break for Joy and Faith.  There is so much more time to feel the pleasure of Love.  While love kept us going, there wasn't much room for feeling the happiness that it brings.  It was a mature, fulfilling love. Now that we're feeding children, instead of tube-feeding them during daylight hours, there's room for smiles.  Not that one can't smile while a feeding pump is running, but the stress runs so high, that it's all too easy to forget to smile.  Plus, no one really enjoys running a feeding pump the same way they enjoy feeding a child by mouth.  It won't take long for this to feel like the normal life that it is.  From there, the windows will get washed.  The spring planting will occur.  Friends will gather around our table.  Spring blooms but around the corner.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Last Few Days in Intense Feeding Therapy

In the past couple of years, I've only briefly touched on the disabilities of two of my children.  Their needs have been the reason why I've only posted briefly.  I've had very little time to myself.  When I have had time to write, I haven't felt the need to write anything for the public.  The increased attention we have received at the hands of nurses, doctors, therapists and other professionals has made me crave privacy, not explaining to anyone else our situation.  Quite the opposite, I'm exhausted from explaining all day, to so many people.

Now, we are entering a new phase.  My two boys, let's call them Balthazar and Melchior, have entered an intense feeding therapy program.  After a month, they will return home.  We will all be together as a family, without multiple professionals in my home all day, every day.  I'll still have help as a break on the weekends. This will give me time to attend to the things I wouldn't otherwise be able to do, like planting new vines.  It will feel more like the family life we once had, and less like living in a small hospital.

We will also be able to resume a more normal social life.  We'll be able to have help in the evenings, so that we can enjoy the company of friends.  My children go to bed early, so they won't need nurses.  In the past, I've either been awake all night caring for one of the boys, or too exhausted from our days to visit with anyone.  Now that a change is coming, I'm delighted to explore and discover.  I'm glad that I was the kind of person willing to live a quiet life for a time to meet their needs.  I'm glad that I'm the kind of person who will know when that season of life must end.  Now is the time to embrace the change and the growth of a New Spring.

These next few days are about saying goodbye to the hospital and the therapy program and saying goodbye to the last few days of winter.  It's time to say hello to the new buds of spring, and the new buds of our lives.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dormant Vines

During the winter, our two vines are dormant. (Our vineyard is small, hence the name "cottage" vineyard, not vineyard cottage.)  That doesn't mean they are dead or useless.  The season of their lives is a quiet one, restful.  A similar situation has happened between the Vintner and I.  We realize that we are entering a new spring in our relationship.  We've had a dormant time between the two of us, because that was the season of our lives.  We needed to focus on our children and our home.  As we enter into a new phase, we are not changing from who we are.  We are changing from the child bearing years to a different type of production.  We are reaching out in a different way.  I can look to my vines and see that in just a few weeks, they will bud new leaves and begin a new yearly cycle.  In my own life, I had begun to think that winter was Right and True and Good, and how I would always live.  I thought that my social dormancy was some how better, and that a retired life was more virtuous.  This is not true.  "To Every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3.1.  There are other seasons, too.  Yearly seasons, despite their beauty, are not the only ones.  Our lives are so full, if we are not so busy emptying them.  In my own life, I see a budding much like my vines will soon, and it's wonderful!

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Social Time

Here at the cottage vineyard, there isn't much to do during our dark nights.  I have time to get out and spread the gospel.  Not proselytizing, but going forth into the world with fellowship.  Showing people the joy that fills one's heart when one loves Christ as I do.  In the past few years, I've sat at home, quiet, not making trouble, but rather making needlework or yarn crafts.  While there's nothing wrong in a lady staying at home occupying herself in this manner, that's not quiet what it means to be a Christian.  Our deacon ends the service with, "Let us go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit."  After listening to this every week, I think it finally sunk in.  I need to not spend all my free time at home.  Pastoral care cannot be a solitary pursuit.  We are not Christians to be isolated.  Monastery life is not what Jesus had in mind for most people.  Listening to others with radical compassion, patience and love is an amazing way to spread the Good News.  Letting others see just how much joy is available to them in Christ.  Not lighting the candle and then hiding it under a bushel.