Sunday, August 29, 2010

In Too Much of a Hurry.

I witnessed the most appalling exhibition of rudeness directed at a cashier in my local supermarket this morning. It was entirely unwarranted as far as I could tell in that the cashier was doing his best to help this particular customer, but he just wasn't moving as quickly and efficiently as this customer wanted and expected him to.

This event really upset me at the time, enough so that I actually commented to the customer about how rude he sounded which probably wasn't the best idea in hindsight but really, I couldn't help it. As the day has gone on this incident has left me feeling quite sad.

Do we really live in a world where we think it is OK to dish out any amount of rudeness to anyone who happens to cross our path simply because we are in a hurry, or out of sorts, or angry at our spouse, or just having a bad day? Is this really the world we are raising our children to live in? Has it always been this way? Surely not, I seem to remember a much gentler, kinder world not so very long ago.

I am in no way trying to imply that I always behave with the utmost patience and graciousness in every situation, but it does seem to me that we are all in so much of a hurry these days that we sometimes lose sight of so much that is important. Things like patience, and respect, and basic good manners, and gratitude, and just plain kindness.

Am I the only person that feels this way? Is it just me, or do others experience situations like I did today and feel the same sadness I am feeling?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Crazy Storm

We had a huge, and very scary monsoon storm yesterday evening. I watched with the girls as torrential rain was blown horizontally, and as all the trees in our backyard were blown almost in half. Fortunately for us the only real casualty was my little desert willow tree in the front yard that was split down the middle. I think I may be able to salvage it, I hope so anyway.

Others in our area were not so fortunate, and although the damage seems to be completely random and sporadic, it was considerable for many with trees down all through our neighbourhood and beyond. I love to get rain, but I never enjoy the really intense and destructive monsoon storms.

Another minor casualty was this little nest that was blown out of one of our trees. It is the goldfinch nest that was in a tree just outside our backdoor. We all enjoyed watching the activity that went on in and around it earlier in the year as young goldfinches were hatched, and successfully raised from within.

Isn't it pretty! It is lined with the softest feathers. I am always amazed by how intricately birds nests are constructed. So clever!

Life has got crazy this week too. I seem to be totally consumed with school runs, housework, yard work, homework, my job, (although thankfully that is very part time right now), dinner preparation, and volunteering at Kendra's school. I started back at school this week too and am irrationally stressed about it because I am taking math, the last prerequisite class I need, and the one that I have delayed for as long as possible due to my intense fear and dislike of anything to do with math. Occasionally I manage to squeeze in some blogging, exercise, and drumming too. So much for trying to live a simpler life. Is that even possible these days?

Friday, August 20, 2010


Seldom do I hear a piece on NPR in the morning that makes me choke on my fair trade java, but that is exactly what happened today.

Listen HERE !

After doing more research I come to find that this issue is everywhere on the Internet and that claims have even been made that crumpling these packets is harmful to ones hearing. Yes, really!

Seriously? Is this what people are doing with their time these days? Aren't chip packets supposed to be noisy?

For the record, I love your compostable Sun Chip packets Frito Lay! Thank you for taking the time and trouble to develop and produce them, and I will be buying your product specifically for it's innovative and environmentally conscious packaging considerations, oh and because Sun Chips taste so good.

Now I am off to wake up the girls. I think I have a packet of Sun Chips somewhere, opening that up should work......

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Swiss Chard and Pesto

I planted beets, carrots, and swiss chard yesterday. In my opinion swiss chard is one of the very best veggies for us desert dwellers to grow. It grows well in poor soil it seems, and goes on for months if tended to occasionally. I only pulled mine out back in July and could probably have kept it going longer if I had continued to care for it. It is also a very versatile vegetable. I use it many different ways and often use it in place of spinach. It is my absolute favorite vegetable to grow and eat. I hope it grows fast so I have some again soon!

I also made a huge batch of pesto yesterday which I froze. I had enough pesto from last summer in the freezer to last pretty much all winter. Now that I make my own pesto I struggle to eat the stuff that comes in jars even though I used to love it. It is simply not the same as home made.

The weather remains hot and extremely humid. I have never been to the deep south in the summer but I imagine this is close to how it feels. I am constantly sweaty, a feeling I am not used to here in the normally dry desert. We did get some rain the night before last but it didn't bring any real and lasting relief. Did I mention that I am more than ready for this weather to be done?

Monday, August 16, 2010

First Day of School 2010 and Other Most Wonderful News.....

The big day has arrived and both my girls went back to school this morning. After spending almost every minute with them all summer it seems a little strange, but not as bad as last year. I have much I can be doing while they are having fun at school.

On another and most marvelous note, my dear friend Kavita over at BODAAT has a sister called Aarti who won The Next Food Network Star last night! This is amazing, especially as she and her husband have sacrificed a great deal, and worked very hard so that she could chase her dreams.

'The Next Food Network Star': Let's Paarti!

This is truly a beautiful story of dreams coming true, and I couldn't be any happier for Aarti and her whole family.

You can all start watching her new cooking show on The Food Network in a week or so. Whoop whoop!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Companion Planting Confusion

I am feeling much better again the past couple of days. Thanks for all the kind thoughts, it really helps!

My zucchini seedlings are growing very well indeed. They sprouted within about four days and are now bigger than in this picture.

I had a bit of a panic last weekend when I realized I had forgotten to plant cucumbers. The window for doing so this time of year is quite short as with summer squash. So, I ran outside last Sunday afternoon and quickly dumped a few cucumber seeds into the ground.

I generally try to do companion planting and when I checked later that evening I discovered that cucumbers shouldn't be planted near sage. This was a shame because I had planted the cucumber seeds right next to this...

my vibrantly healthy sage bush!

Despite doing more research I couldn't find out what actually happens if you do plant cucumbers near sage, and they seem to be growing vigorously so far. I wonder if sage makes the cucumbers bitter or something?

I asked my Dad what he thought would happen and he said, "I have no idea but I think you are about to find out!" Made me smile. It will be an interesting experiment for me this fall.

Apologies but here is yet another awful picture of my goldfinch family.

The reason I am posting another one here is because you can see a male goldfinch this time. He is the very bright yellow one towards the back of the fountain. I hadn't seen any males before but often see one or two flitting around now with all their ladies. So pretty.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Out of the Blue

It is so strange. Suddenly, and quite out of the blue today I am feeling low, and rather depressed, and yearning to be away from this scorching desert.

I think it is common knowledge that this place is not ideal for me in very many ways. I am not a suburban dweller, and I am not someone who loves the desert, although there are many people who do.

Most of the time though I manage to make do, and I choose to be happy, knowing that it is not forever, and that one day, sometime in the future we will move to somewhere more temperate. A place that has seasons, and regular rain, and chilly misty mornings, and fall leaves that one can scrunch through, and summer afternoons that one can sit out in and enjoy, and a view of green fields, and just plain grey, drizzly days that are perfect for hiding inside with a good book.

For now though I am sad, and I am missing England, and perhaps I just need to feel that way today. That's all.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Oak Creek Canyon

Our final camping trip of the summer was up at Oak Creek Canyon which is in my opinion one of the most beautiful places in Arizona.

It is of course peak tourist season right now and it was very busy, but we had a great camping spot down by the creek, and we did a fantastic hike up into the canyon as well.

It was a great trip, and a fantastic way to end this summers outdoor camping adventures.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Desert Senna

Very occasionally small areas of my yard look close to how I want them to look. I generally go for a wild and unruly style, and this is helped by encouraging native plants that grow well, and require little or no maintenance.

Desert Senna is a native plant here in the sonoran desert and it is looking rather pretty in my yard at the moment. There is brittlebush here too, another native, although that will not flower until next spring.

I only wish the rest of my yard looked as pretty but nothing else is flowering right now.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Low Desert Planting and Harvesting Calendar

I wanted to remind those of you who live as I do in low desert areas that Greg Peterson and Matt Suhr of The Urban Farm have been kind enough to compile and share their Low Desert Planting and Harvest Calendar.

If you have recently moved as I did from more temperate climes you will not be used to the different planting seasons here, and with the Fall planting season almost upon us again I imagine this guide will prove as invaluable for you as it has for me.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lizard or Gecko?

The other night I found and set free not one, not two, but three of these tiny little creatures from our bathroom. I like to think they were geckos although I am not sure why. They seemed to have rather big "fingers".

After a bit of research I found that determining the difference between the two can be difficult without a very detailed physical examination. Whatever they were they were very sweet and I am glad we have them around.

I was tempted to leave them hanging out in the house but was worried the dogs would harm them in some way. Hopefully they will find a good home outside and do their good work out there.

I got the summer squash planted and the yard tidied up quite a bit. What a perfect weekend for weather! Now I need to concentrate on getting ready for one final summer camping trip we are going on this week with friends.

The girls are back at school in two weeks which must mean the extreme summer heat is almost over.................really it's not? Oh well I can always dream!

Thanks to my resident nature expert Jenn I think we have an I.D on these little creatures. They look remarkably like mediterranean geckos to me and I now realize that these are what live in my compost boxes too. Thanks Jenn as always! :)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Mesquite Beans

I had another very productive day outside yesterday. It was very humid, but also much cooler, and it was a perfect summer day for yard work.

I spent some time collecting the beans that had fallen from my mesquite trees.

These beans can be milled into delicious flour and used for "cookies, breads, breading for meats, as a seasoning and in drinks like protein powder."

Phoenix Permaculture Guild have an annual Mesquite Bean Milling Get Together each year for this purpose.

To get beans suitable for milling, one has to be organized enough to collect the beans straight from the tree, or actively shake them from the trees and collect them immediately afterwards. Of course I have not managed to do this yet although each year I aspire to do so. Usually by time I think of it they are already spread all over the yard, and by this time they can't be used for flour.

The second best thing to use them for other than flour I think is compost. I had an entire bin full of mesquite beans from last summer that made great compost which I spread on the garden yesterday. At least they aren't going entirely to waste, and they are going back into the earth to play a valuable role in food production for my family.

I am ready today to sow my summer squash seeds. It feels so good to be back outside playing in the earth again. I hadn't realized how much I have missed it throughout this summer. I already feel a wonderful sense of fulfillment, and am energized all over again.