The little and the simple things

The little and the simple things are what is mattering most to me lately. Going “glamping” at the little house up north for 4 days over New Year’s weekend – with two lawn chairs, carpet remnants, a 50 year old polyurethaned card table, a cooler, and an air mattress. We had so much fun!!!

Seeing the deer tracks through the snow in our small yard for the first time. Taking our dog out before bedtime and walking out to see two deer right there. Driving through changing scenes of thick frost on the trees – in sepia, in green, in blue as the sun hid and then set.

Hearing stories about the well known deer in town. Hearing stories about the apple picking bear in town. Feels very familiar. Maybe there’s a message in there. I just don’t know what it is yet. Grow pine trees? Something will materialize.

He restoreth my soul

Merry Christmas Eve! Our snow has been plowed from the blizzard yesterday here in Minnesota, our sidewalk is shovelled, and I have had my first cup of coffee. I’m finding myself wondering if we should have kept our travel plans to go to the little house up north today, but one never knows. We’ll keep it as is, to stay back and savor some rest. I don’t have any control over weather, but I know someone who does. Even the wind and the waves obey Him. I will take this time to trust and rest.


Today we continue prayers for so many people. What a year! A lot to be thankful for – and to fervently hope for.


I am reminded after a very busy, and at times super stressful, year, it is time to rest. The internal work at the little house up north is at least 3/4 done. Along the way we have been blessed with relationship gifts. God has a plan, and I have a feeling we don’t even really “get it” yet. But I do know I have grown. I have gone from searching for a place we could eventually retire in an environment that restores us, into what I hope is a much fuller person. When we walked in that house I was thrown back 50 years. I was faced with a real wringer washer stored in the basement, rusting metal kitchen cabinets, and one of those metal mail holders that every kitchen I knew while growing up had. There was shag/sculptured carpet, 80s wallpaper, and the light fixtures of the 50s. I WANTED that house, not because I liked all that, but because it warmed my heart. It brought back wonderful memories.

Along the way, we discovered that a family of 5 lived in that home. Mom & Dad raised their three children there. Dad worked at a nearby steel mining plant, the steel that built America, and even the world. And they lived in that tiny little house. Such a big contribution those workers made to the growth of this country, even the world, with provisions that many would balk at today. It confirms in me that somehow we need to find a way to remember what is truly important – people over stuff. And I am sad that somehow this year we find ourselves in a world that restricts in person time in the hope of reducing disease. It is a very tough time where values of family time is being reduced to digital images, and results don’t seem to make sense. I have this persistent feeling we are somehow missing a large piece of the puzzle. Still, we hope and pray, and do our part.

Along the way on this little house up north journey we have met some incredible people – people who survive on way less material things and who lead much simpler lives than what we are used to seeing – and are resilient, and confident, and peaceful. It reinforces in me that more stuff doesn’t mean more happiness. It means more to maintain, and less time to find soul rest.

In a conversation with a new friend we’ve made as a result of our little house up north journey, he shared that he sometimes has to remind himself that Psalm 23:2 says “He MAKETH me to lie down in green pastures”, not he suggesteth or recommendeth, but he MAKETH. Interesting point.

So today, we make time for soul rest, and we pray, and trust.

The hibiscus is still here

Well, the hibiscus is still here. Sunday, it almost went. Our little ladybug is not taking care of the aphids, so I’m spraying it – indoors – in our tiny entry – so it doesn’t get all over the carpet. But that means we have to squeeze out the door to take Sandy (our dog) for his walk. This is not sustainable. But for now, while we are not able to have visitors, and while it is still blooming, the 4′ x 4′ hibiscus stays. One day at a time.

It will definitely get cut back after blooming.

Oh the joys of small home living.

Resiliency

It’s well past garden season (but it’s cozy season). The hibiscus has aphids

(so I moved the shamrock next to it, with its one aphid eating ladybug that came in with it and is still alive). I’m tired of news click bait during this year of unrest and fear (so I need to not even look). I’m even tired of watching you tube (there’s books, quiet time, talks on the phone with family and friends I miss seeing). I’m not even interested in trees with lights this year (but walks in the woods still work). And so this year has been. Too much time separated from loved ones, too much drag me down news, more than the usual dose of needing to deliberately choose what I know nurtures me – and methodically walking away from what doesn’t.

We welcomed two new daughter-in-laws this year – who we dearly love! We are now waiting to meet our first grandbaby! The reno on the little (and I do mean little :)) house up north is almost done. We are healthy. We are very busy at our jobs. And our faith is strong.

So big deal the deer already found my daylilies at the little house up north. I hear they don’t like lupines. Maybe I’ll try those. Maybe from seed? Now you’re talking!

Check!

The To Do list is getting check offs this weekend, with continued attention to decluttering.

Yesterday I wrapped up the final garden cut back – remaining hostas, and the sedum that were a casualty of the lawn maintenance leaf blowing. Every year I keep the sedum that is still standing. The bunnies and birds enjoy them throughout the winter.

Today my To Do list is focused on the nice fall weather sprint wrapping up, and snow in the forecast for this coming Tuesday.

The winter lanterns went out today,

and all the spring and summer decorations I brought in last weekend went into the storage bin. To keep everything all in one place, I also put all the seeds I harvested into that storage as well. Come January when the seeds need to go into the refrigerator (for stratifying), they will all be easily accessible and organized.

Since I only allow myself one bin for garden decorations, keeping clutter out is important. Today I tossed all garden plant information for things that are no longer in our garden, as well as information on spring bulbs that didn’t bloom in 2020. Tulips and crocus both seldom bloom here for more than a year or two. This fall, with so much going on, I didn’t plant any new tulips. Hopefully some will return next spring from my 2019 plantings.

Inside, I did my weekly “gardening” for the plants we overwinter – cleaning up the hibiscus, shamrocks and lavender plants from the die back that inevitably happens as they lose sunlight hours.

For the afternoon, I’m planning on getting all the batteries in the window candles. That is always quite a job. Once that is done, l’ll start putting them in the windows. With the days getting shorter, the window candles bring a cozy feeling.

I hope you have a good week ahead as we move more indoors and start dreaming and planning for next year’s garden!

Huge October

Happy November 1st!

Wow – where do I begin?

October was a huge month for us. Both our sons got married, and we moved into the meat of renovating the new little house up north. Every day was either filled with activities or work or coordinating for upcoming work at the house. It was a time of celebrations and transitions – a time of just being present and not even necessarily being ready to put pen to paper.

Friday night as the work week wrapped up and I looked at options for a quiet weekend moving into November, I began to formalize a project. We live in a moderately sized townhome with minimal opportunity to stow away things and abide deferred decisions. Our laundry room doubles as a workhorse of a storage room. This year it has worked even harder. Everything from extra food storage and supplies to harvested seeds have gone in there from March to September. Then with the October activities, even more items made their way back there. The cluttered state it was in was not good for me – dust catching, unpleasant to look at, and not serviceable to easily access anything. It needed some love – purging and a whole lot of organizing. So you know how it goes – from realization to starting motivation to the thick of it to pragmatism taking over. Today I can walk in there and go “Ahhhhh!” Mid yesterday, not so much. Bonus was finding a 3 wick candle I love, still in the box. Nice!

Today I need to move my attention outside and pull in all the garden decorations. We had a historic (literally record breaking) early snowstorm on Oct 21 and my garden clean-up cadence got a bit derailed. I need to wrap that up before beginning hygge indoors.

My sister put together this wreath for me last year and my mother recently gave me this plate. Going into November, with the temptation to let my energy be pulled away into things that are neither productive nor beneficial, this is a good place to stay grounded.

Hanging on to summer

Last week it felt like fall, but it was still summer. This week it feels like summer, but it is now fall. And so it will go, as the days get shorter and cooler and the gardens here slowly begin their rest. For now, though, the pollinators are still happy – our sedum are in full bloom.

And at the little house up north, five daylilies have been added to a yard absolutely devoid of any plantings. A completely blank slate front, back, and sides. Only an old lawn and a couple trees. Mind is going, but for this year, while other projects are prioritized, this humble fall planting will have to do. A little sunny corner to make a start. Next spring I’ll pull the grass, the first bit of lawn to be replaced by the start of the gardens.

Recycle?

As part of deciding to let our gardening “start” up north naturalize, I am trying to decide if we should pull the steel raised bed garden frames and use them in the garden at the new (to us) house.

There is currently no garden or landscaping at all at the new house.  It is unusual for me to consider a no garden yard, but I’m excited at the possibilities.  There are both sunny and shade covered areas so my current style of sticking mostly to hostas, daylilies and sedum is the plan.  Some grading will be needed, as there are gutters but no downspouts – another unusual idea for me – but I have read that some folks think it is better to even forego any gutters and just grade and rock away from the house.  For us, the gutters will stay, but whether or not downspouts will be part of the long-term plan is not certain.

During this interesting year, it is very hard to find contractors who are not swamped.  People are apparently keeping quite busy with home projects.  The earliest we can get a contractor out to grade and rock is mid-October.  That means … no landscaping up by the house this year.  What to do?

I have already ordered 9 distinctly different daylilies for the new house (couldn’t resist, and I want them in the ground this fall …).  They are all ones I don’t have in our current gardens.  My pending decision?  I’m thinking of pulling the raised bed garden frames from the overgrown – ahem “naturalized” – gardens up north in September, and starting a border garden along the back edge of the lawn at the new house.  Last year we also bought recycled tin (from an old barn roof) for projects up north, and I could continue the metal vibe in the new house garden next spring if I still like it.

So, being true to us, potentially reusing the unneeded frames, testing on a smaller scale before going wider, and using the recycled tin if we like the metal look down the road are all wins.  Now we’ll see exactly how much work it is to implement.  Maybe there could even be a “take 2” on the hugelkulture test?

All just on paper right now.  Implementation is a month out.  Lots of time to consider all options.

Meanwhile, here, the Rainforest Sunrise hostas (some of my faves) are starting to get their scapes, a lovely red with purple flowers.  Out front they are overcrowded.  They need to come out of there this fall and be divided.  Maybe go in the corner of the yard at the new house, where it gets afternoon shade?

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