Waiting on Spring

Last year we were complaining … and worried … about drought. In the earliest days of Spring it was so dry that most mornings came without dew on the grass. Crops around here greatly suffered and many farmers reported a loss.

This year it’s rain. And more rain. And … well, there’s no lack of dew.

“Shoulda been a little more clear when I prayed for no drought this year,” a friend sighed.

Many of us don’t even have all of our vegetables planted yet which is a bit worrisome for these parts. It’s well into June but oh … so wet!

Rain though it may … nearly every day … there’s something pretty much everyone … even the curmudgeons in my circles are on the same page about for once …. we’re drained by the rain … but … there is a consolation.

Isn’t there always if we’ll just give it a moment?

Flowers.

The rain keeps falling … pouring …. Bucket loads.

But the flowers won’t be stopped. Thank God.

For me, Spring flowers are on par with a National holiday. After all, we wait all year for their brief appearance My husband and I may be a little goofy, but we anticipate and celebrate each bloom as if it’s having its own little birthday.

And this is just the beginning of what’s starting to bloom in our yard. All a little miraculous to us as when we moved here five summers ago there was nothing colorful in our yard except some tulips and a rogue hollyhock.

Life gives you rain … nature gives you flowers … or some saying like that. 😁

All photos are property of Sausmus Photography.

October Snow (II)

Where I live is more beautiful than where you live! Just kidding … well … not really …

Where I live is more beautiful than where you live! Just kidding … well … not really …

Either someone put up their Christmas decor a wee bit early and the weather took them seriously, or it decided to dress up as Old Man Winter for Halloween. This wasn’t a hint of Winter … it was a full on, 5 inches and 10 degree Fahrenheit, real deal Winter Weekend. Five days out, and it’s just starting to warm up enough to begin the melt down.

It’s not exactly unusual to get a “Halloween Snow” in Eastern Washington; my childhood friends and I remember crunching through a scant inch, sometimes a little more, rubbing together frozen fingers while trying to grip our candy buckets and not fall on our bums. We were so cold! But we refused to wear a coat over our costumes … because what was the point of dressing up then, right? All this for candy and treats … most candy, that is. I wasn’t a fan of black or orange jelly beans and could never understand why people spent money on anything other than chocolate …much of which was pilfered by my mom … so the more chocolate the better!.

Last weekend’s storm, tho’ … I can’t think of any October snow that could hold its own with this one. Every since COVID showed up in February, every month following has had something insane happen … attempts … I imagine … to not be forgotten against the backdrop of a pandemic. Who knew months were so competitive.

The first two tree pictures (above) are of our flowering cherry plum (my friend calls it our “Plerry” tree) First pic is “early storm” … the second one is morning after”. I went out three times to knock snow from branches … hate to think what would have happened had I not done that.

Moving back home recently provided a whole new perspective on winter weather. It was one thing to experience local winters as a kid. Besides freezing, I remember sled rides and snowmobiling. There were snow angels and being the first one to stomp across a snowy field. Hot buttered rums (sans alcohol for us kids) with the neighbors and daring each other to lick one of the glimmering icicles hanging from the eaves of the house.

Now there’s winter as an adult … an adult in a 100+ old house. The lesson of this crazy early snow is that cheap heating oil may not be the bargain we hoped for.

Our home is heated with a forced air, oil furnace … thus stove oil. I learned last year that when temperatures start dipping below 30 degrees you have to mix the diesel with kerosene to keep the fuel from clouding up and turning to gel … very bad for the furnace. Thankfully, we did not learn the hard way.

Our fuel guy, takes care of all that stuff, BUT when I called him in September to fill our tank, I said, “put in the cheaper stuff. We’ll go for the mixture (more expensive) when the temps drop in Nov. “

“Not a problem,” he responded. “Lot’s of people do that.”

Probably wouldn’t have been a problem in a normal year … but … we all know. There is NOTHING normal about 2020.

So My Guy and I faced a nearly full oil tank (fully exposed to the elements as it sits at the back of our house) in danger of freezing fuel that could damage our furnace. After a $600 dollar repair at the end of last winter, that didn’t sound like a good idea to us. We next discovered that an additive wouldn’t do us much good either. Unless we have a way to mix it in, it will just sit at the top of the tank.

So … we bought heat tape (didn’t even know it existed until today) and the equivalent of a poodle noodle to wrap over the top. Waaa Laaa! Insulation for the pipe that lets the fuel into the house. Here’s hoping it does the trick.

The upside of our storm is that it’s stunning outside. The downside is that trees all across town took a terrible beating. The day following the storm, I watched pickup after pickup creep off the slippery hill behind our neighborhood, truck beds brimming with branches that were being hauled to our town yard waste site. Leaves had just begun to turn color and very few had fallen yet. So with the weight of leaves and heavy wet snow, followed by a strong wind that came at the end of the storm … our trees couldn’t hold up.

Most of these photos are the morning after the storm. It’s truly a photographers wonderland around here. Thankfully, I managed to get out on the one sunny day before the storm and capture some fall color on a frosty morning … before the snow robbed all the tees of their leaves… but those pictures have been pre-empted by these. I haven’t had time to process and edit them, so a future post is all in the making.

I kinda hate to end with pics of broken trees (photos below) but they’ve reminded me of some things. In a world … and a year … where everything feels frightfully tentative … I’m reminded that I don’t get to choose my storms. Storms will come. And I … I will either lock myself away … or I’ll look for the beauty in a storm. Then I’ll clean up and carry on … find something new out of what remains. That’s what we humans do.

As my father would have put it, “How’s the weather faring where you be?” Are you enjoying a beautiful fall or are you enduring one of the storms that seems to have sprung up around the edges of the country?

Thank you for reading “Small Stuff”.  This is the second of two blogs.  You can find more on my thought&faith blog at rashellbud.wordpress.com. Wishing you a beautiful day full of the Small Stuff that transforms life into BIG STUFF.

A note to my “silent” readers … thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read my work. I’ve learned that many of you are shy about commenting or hitting the like button, but I want you to know that I appreciate your visits and invite you into the conversations whenever your ready.

Wishing you peace in all things … Shelly

I shared this photo on one of my Wordless Wednesday posts … too beautiful not to share again.

Garden Confessions

I have a confession to make.

I do not like gardening.

But I like gardens.

It’s complicated.

I like planting things … watching them grow … anticipating color and edible results … taking credit for beautiful flowers and crunchy vegetables.

It’s the weeding, watering, battling bugs part and then wondering what to do with all this green stuff My Guy won’t eat … that’s where the complications come in. I’m also not a fan of being in the garden on windy or wet days … a must do around here if you plan to get anything started in the Spring. Guess that makes me one of those fair-weather variety of gardeners.

HOWEVER …

In a Covid-stained world, a garden … something alive and bright … feels more important to me than my discomfort, so I battled the “Ugh’s” and set to it. Another motivation has been the bareness of our yard. When we moved in, all that broke up the monotony of yellowish green lawn (Can you call it a lawn when it’s made up largely of weeds?) was a smattering of daffodils and orange tulips along the front porch that our landlord kindly planted prior to our arrival. Oh, and two stubborn hollyhocks survived the town maintenance crew’s attempt to recover alleyways by spraying down weeds.

So … short on resources and green thumb magic, My Guy and I have set about adding color and texture to the place. The yellowish green weed-lawn still is the most prolific thing that grows, but you could say that we’re coming along.

Pause button.

There’s one more confession needed here before I share more pictures. Living in a rural community, I am surrounded by amazing gardens and gardeners. Some of them have been kind enough to let me photograph their gardens. I won’t post those pictures this time, because the confession is that these amazing gardens have brought out the competitive side in me.

Maybe it’s a little nicer to myself to say that they have inspired me. The point is, I could never compete with these master gardeners or the settings in which their gardens grow. So, to not distract from our meager accomplishments, I’m not going to post those pictures this time. Yes … this means that my efforts are pitiful next to there’s so I’m not going to highlight it more than necessary at the moment.

It’s going to take a long, eternity-like, long time to create something as serene and awe-inspiring as these garden whizzes around here. It’s fun though, making it our own.

Three Last Confessions:

Garden gloves are for sissies.

I lied about garden gloves … I don’t use them because I’m too lazy to hunt down where I threw them last … even though I own a Costco-load of gloves.

I will put on gloves if it means plucking slugs off of plants … and full disclosure … I have been known to huck a slug barehanded over the fence a time or two. I was aiming for the alley, but with my aim and the ickiness of a slug against my skin … well, I may or may not have populated the neighbor’s garden with a few extra slugs. (Disclaimer: this was my OLD garden back in the city … we do not have slugs here … thank God!)



This is my compost pile. It only makes it into this post because of all the sunflowers that volunteered. Thanks to the squirrels,
the yard is of full of flowers I did not plant. Of course!

Thank you for reading “Small Stuff”.  This is the second of two blogs.  You can find more on my thought&faith blog at rashellbud.wordpress.com. Wishing you a beautiful day full of the Small Stuff that transforms life into BIG STUFF.

A note to my “silent” readers … thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read my work. I’ve learned that many of you are shy about commenting or hitting the like button, but I want you to know that I appreciate your visits and invite you into the conversations whenever your ready.

Wishing you peace in all things … Shelly

No Small Tomatoes

It’s supposed to snow next week.

There’s nothing overly crazy about snow on the Palouse the last week of November, but our little town is still traumatized from the endless blizzard called February and March … a mere eight-ish months ago.  We made regional headlines because the state highway leading out of town got buried by drifts for several weeks.  Workers couldn’t even find the road but had to walk in front of plows with their shovels poking through the drifts to locate the pavement.

That was wild.

We’d thought we were getting away with a mild winter last year … but no.  BLAHM! After weeks of sunny, frosty days, the wind screeched out of nowhere and snow swirled …

and swirled …

and swirled …

and turned into ginormous drifts.

Most of  us are thinking that if we can just please make it to Christmas this year, we might be okay with endlessly shoveling the walks, wobbling like penguins so as not to fall on our butts on the ice, and piling on fifty layers of clothing before sticking our noses outside.

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This is what last winter looked and felt like.  My lazy person’s snowman re-appeared after the thaw took place in March.  Before that, he disappeared altogether under about two feet more of snow.

But the weather man is messing with us, so what am I doing? (And mind you, I like snow … in the “correct” season anyway).

I’m scrolling through my photos looking at all the summer and fall adventures we had, wishing I had started blogging Small Stuff then.  So I’m going to back up a bit … right into our garden.

As soon as that FebruaryMarch blizzard stopped, one thing was on the mind of every farmer and every gardener around here …. PLANT SOMETHING!

Gardens and crops went in late … evidenced by the latest harvest known to ‘most every farmer around.  Combines were in the field in October trying to snatch a few more garbanzo beans, many having lost some of their wheat crops altogether.  And this with snow on the hills from the first freak snow storm of the fall. And as recent as last week (mid-November) we drove by several farmers still doing their fall plowing.  Completely unheard of in “normal” years.

heirloom tomatoes

After the spring that was really a winter, we were just like everyone else and couldn’t wait to dig our hands deep into the soil. At our house, a rental for the last few years, it meant breaking up long ignored garden beds so that we could bring in bountiful harvests.  Our dreams were a little ahead of our energy and actual garden space, but one thing that caught hold of the spirit was the heirloom tomato seeds I started on my own.

Here’s the results in late September.

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This was about a third of our harvest, all from about 8 plants.  This doesn’t include an equal number destroyed by the freak, early snow I mentioned above.  We were gifting tomatoes to everyone we knew. (People turned and fled when they saw us coming at them with a bag in our hand.)

And we ate tomato sauce-included recipes for weeks.  Here’s one such dinner:

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Crazy as my harvest looks, many of the longtime gardeners around here raked in 3 and 4 times the bounty.  They’re hard core gardeners and canners.  I’m not up so much for canning tomatoes as My Guy isn’t so big on tomatoes in everything, but I did manage to learn a few new techniques for perfecting homemade sauce.

I’m still divided on whether or not to peel tomatoes first.  The experts around here don’t fiddle with peeling … they just cook the sauce for a very long time, getting the skins to dissolve.  That worked in the sauce I made above, but not all the varieties I grew were so cooperative.

What do you do?

And do you have any secret ingredients you’re willing to share for the perfect homemade sauce?

I threw in a little brown sugar, other garden veggies, lots of garlic and store bought tomato paste to achieve the consistency and taste I like best.

My garden bed is flattened now, but if the weather man is right, I’m going to be longing for garden beds and spring blooms as soon at the holidays are over.  Here’s what’s shaping up for what looks to be a White Thanksgiving. The weather channel shows the cold front and snow continuing for several days into December, past what I’ve captured in the screen shot of my weather app, taken on Nov. 20.

Show weather in my current location

Here we go again!

What’s winter like where you are?  Are you dreading it or excited … and what are your favorite winter past-times?

Cheers!

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My Guy binge-watched past seasons of Master Chef while I pretended to know what I was doing in the kitchen.  Guess I was feeling a little inspired from the shows. You can see that the other thing that grew well in my garden was Spaghetti Squash.  They were the only plants left when I went to buy squash plants … good choice it seems!

Thank you for reading “Small Stuff”.  This is my second blog.  You can read more about my life experiences and the faithfulness of God towards a simple country gal who took a long hiatus in the city on rashellbud.

Please note that all photos, unless noted, are mine and permission must be sought to use them.

Wishing you a beautiful day full of the small stuff that makes life wonderful and amazing.