We Can’t Even Give Water Lilies Away…

About ten years ago my sister-in-law sweetly shared some water lilies from a small water feature in her yard. I think she gave us five. They’re beautiful. The flowers reach up in graceful blooms during the sunny part of the day and fold into themselves close to dusk.

Despite their delicate appearance, they’re hardy. The original five gradually self-propagated year after year. We can now watch frogs hop from lily pad to lily pad across many feet. We can now see well over 100 blooms. What we now have are too many water lilies.

We’ve tried adding sterile grass carp to the pond because they supposedly eat water lilies. No noticeable effect. We’ve tried raking the lilies to the side to pull out. Not effective enough. We’ve even tried offering them on Freecycle to anyone who wants them. Not a single taker. We don’t want to eliminate the plants, just cut down on the population. Since we’re a pesticide/herbicide free place we have no intention of poisoning them.

So unless you want to come on over for some free water lilies (lots of them) what has to happen is this. We’ll be wading in and digging out as many as we can to toss on a compost pile. Chances are it’ll be scene worth recording because I’m likely to fall down, tip over, and otherwise demonstrate my awkwardness. You will NOT be seeing footage of this!

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New Sculpture From Old Metal

 

Bit of Earth Farm sculpture, repurposed metal sculpture, junk sculpture,

Repurposed metal sculpture from Bit of Earth Farm.

Mark and Kirby just finished this piece, a six-foot-something tall gong repurposed from all sorts of metal. Here’s how it’s done.

 

materials:

1941 oxygen canister

grapeshot cannonball

farm implement disc

leftover steel gas line

steel rod

tow hook

lifting hook

 

method:

Apply welding equipment. Mix in vast amounts of effort, time, and creativity. Add sweat.

Place in garden. Hit gong with cannonball as desired.

 

We’re grateful that our friends (and amazing artists) Steve and Debra Bures will be offering the piece for sale starting this weekend as they celebrate Elements Gallery‘s 25th year anniversary. You’ll want to visit the charming town of Peninsula as well as their enticing gallery. While you’re there, give the gong a hearty cannon ball thwack!

Elements Gallery, Peninsula Ohio

Here’s the gong in place, in front of their gallery.

Bit of Earth Farm, Elements Gallery, repurposed metal art,

Elements Gallery garden now gong-enhanced.

 

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Gee, That’s Huge

Picture this covered by fruit-bearing vines.

The man I love has an odd fondness for doing things in a big way. Not big as in loud or ostentatious. He’s simply a fan of what’s sturdy, made to last, and sized to handle whatever might happen. He’s had plenty of opportunity while fixing up our no longer falling down house. The back porch is now built on 6 x 6 rather than more standard 4 x 4. It has heavy beams and railings, plus a lovely blue metal ceiling. Chances are it’ll outlast the house.

Bit of Earth Farm porch

No photo does this sturdy porch justice.

Years ago I made fun of him for buying several giant stockpots (the largest holds 8 gallons). Turns out they’re essential for autumn canning days when we transform two bushels of apples into applesauce, a few gallons of grape juice into jelly, and the fruits of 30 or so tomato plants into marinara, stewed tomatoes, and salsa. The pot also holds enough chili or mulled cider for giant gatherings we love to host here, holidays as well as Odd Second Saturday Suppers.

One of our smaller stockpots on the right.

Yes, I made fun of the giant masher he bought too. But then, I cook at least 5 pounds of potatoes every time I make mashed potatoes, so it’s entirely useful.

masher

Potato masher that dwarfs a spoon.

And then there’s this mallet. A few more and we could play a Paul Bunyan-sized game of croquet.

mallet

A mallet taller than our fire place.

So when we talked about a structure for hardy kiwi plants known for their vigorous climbing vines, I shouldn’t have been surprised at what he built.

arbor

Drilling post holes.

Putting sides together.

Putting sides together.

Making it level before putting cement around posts.

Soon, hardy kiwi fruits will be ripening!

It’s adorable in a huge way. It’s 24 feet, rising to a 12 foot, 9 inch peak. We call it an arbor, our daughter calls it Kiwihenge,  archaeologists may some day call it “what the heck?”

 

 

 

 

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Perfect Winter Day

Trumpet guy (sculpted by Kirby) still wearing a Santa hat.

Trumpet guy (sculpted by Kirby) still wearing a Santa hat.

I love winter. I’ll take wind and snow over any steamy summer day. I know I’m in the minority here. And I know extreme cold isn’t kind to people and creatures without adequate shelter. Still, I adore the invigorating effect of cold and the way snow enhances the beauty around me.

I also adore how much less work there is in winter. Nothing to plant, weed, harvest, or put up. Just the occasional pleasure of digging up a few rutabagas and sunchokes from crumbly frozen soil when I’m ready to roast them into warm dinner offerings.

Here’s what it looks like on our little farm.

My husband is committed to feeding the birds. He makes his own suet mixture from peanut butter, lard, seed, and dry fruit. In this weather he fills the feeders more than once a day. This time lapse taken by Sam shows bird visits in 45 minutes.

Fence post shadows look blue against the snow.

Fence post shadows look blue against the snow.

Wind has shaken snow’s coating off tree branches.

Our Christmas tree, now designated as wildlife habitat.

The kids made me contemplation stools, the better to enjoy chicken watching.

Years ago the kids made me a contemplation stool, to better enjoy chicken watching. Not using it at these temps.

Chickens emerge from the coop to investigate some kitchen scraps.

 

Isabelle and Clovis chomp on carrots and cabbage.

Yes, Isabelle is still patiently nursing her giant calf.

My attempt at a snow angel. It looks like a snow moth or maybe a snow frog.

My attempt at a snow angel. It looks like a snow moth or maybe a snow frog.

I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show.  ~Andrew Wyeth

In the winter she curls up around a good book and dreams away the cold. ~Ben Aaronovitch

It is a spur that one feels at this season more than at any other. How nimbly you step forth! The woods roar, the waters shine, and the hills look invitingly near. You do not miss the flowers and the songsters, or wish the trees or fields any different, or heavens any nearer. Every object pleases…. the straight light-gray trunks of the trees… how curious they look, and as if surprised in undress. ~John Burroughs

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Politeness Recovery

good girl behavior, too polite, politeness recovery, growing assertiveness,

Politeness is the dodo bird of our times. No one is quite sure what killed off civility but it’s obvious that two-year-olds aren’t growing out of tantrums or a sense of entitlement. Instead they just get bigger, becoming toddler adults. They drive like idiots, foster workplace stress, simultaneously overindulge and ignore their own kids, feed on the negative energy of angry pundits, and blame everyone else for their own problems. They need to learn a little empathy, or at least the rudiments of feigned empathy we call politeness.

But some of us are way on the other side of the spectrum. We’re so empathetic that we tremble with concern for the feelings of other people. And animals. And plants. I even tremble with empathy for spiders. It wouldn’t occur to us to put ourselves first or to act rudely (although I can be really annoying despite my best intentions ).

Some may have been born this way. The rest of us were raised to be too polite for our own good. Right around the time we started crawling we were taught to be respectful and considerate at all times. No exceptions. If asked how we are, we learned the answer should always be affirmative followed by a kindly inquiry about the other person. Never mention any peril you may be in, the object is to focus on others. This means if you’re bleeding, you deny there’s any real problem (oh it’s nothing), don’t bleed conspicuously, and God forbid, don’t complain about whatever caused you to bleed. If you are offered a favor, graciously decline. Even if it’s chocolate. If someone is actively causing you difficulty, either put up with it without complaint or extricate yourself in a way that doesn’t embarrass the other person.

Maintaining this level of politeness rarely permits the most authentically lived life. It’s more like an affliction. We do our best to avoid winning games, getting the best grades, pushing ahead at work, sticking up for ourselves, saying what we mean unless it’s “nice.”  Being too polite actually put me in dangerous situations more than once. Nice at all costs, gotta go. Kind, yes. Honest, yes.

Politeness recovery is a slow process and often difficult. It’s complicated because I’m naturally opinionated, sardonic, and forthright. And sometimes silly. Suppressing that side of myself has never been easy. But I’m not giving up my polite side by any means. Politeness is essential if we’re to live together in any kind of harmony. I’ve found genuine politeness has a surprising way of bringing out the best in other people. It presumes they are basically good (a core principle of non-violence) and many times, that’s all that required. (Now, if only that principle were applied on talk radio and in snarky web threads.)

More importantly, I want to be authentic. Treating people with respect and understanding simply feels right. It comes from true compassion, far richer than any thin soup of poor self-worth. The generosity and love of kindness stimulates more of the same.

I aim to give up only the parts of my Good Girl upbringing that hold me back from my eventual goal of becoming a rowdy old lady. My politeness recovery is still ongoing but my friends are amazing role models. They’re well ahead, evolving before my eyes. Some days I’m swimming in the muck, other days I join them on land. I’m often awkward, occasionally splattering mud as I go, but I’m a creature in progress trying to be polite as well as real, empathetic as well as centered, serious but silly too. Like a dodo bird who hasn’t given up on her wings.

This article is re-posted from Farm Wench’s main site

Posted in honesty, humor, non-violence, optimism, self-reliance | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

My New Book Is Out!

Tending rises from my life on Bit of Earth Farm. Informed by quietly ordinary days, these poems look into the nature of things with questions that circle the stars. I’m thrilled that the cover photo is by talented artist (and my sister) Cynthia Piper.

 

“Laura Grace Weldon employs radical empathy to enter into the hidden lives of rutabaga, cows, the neighborhood bully, and the beating heart of life itself.  Playful, curious, sensual, she aims to open the reader’s eyes and heart.”

Alison Luterman, author of See How We Almost Fly  and The Largest Possible Life.

 

“Laura Grace Weldon’s poems remind us that our world’s necessary brushes between nature and technology, human and animal, are not necessarily ones of friction. Instead, Weldon sees these moments as truly wondrous ones, available to us not only on the farm, but also in the back pocket of a window washer, swinging among the skyscrapers.”

Brad Ricca, author of American Mastodon and Super Boys.

 

“Memory, faith, and the natural world as both witness to the cycle of human life and healer to a questioning heart are at the core of this lovely and lyrical collection of poems. The weather changes, people come and go from cities and towns, babies are born, grow up and depart from their parents’ arms, but still, the countryside and its rituals sustain the people and creatures who know how to read the signs of the seasons. In these pages, Laura Grace Weldon shares those signs with us; her poems are the fruit of a wonderful harvest.”

Eleanor Lerman, author of The Sensual World Re-emerges: Poems and Mystery of Meteors.

 

“Laura Grace Weldon’s poems are concrete, allusive, and rich.”

 Diane Kendig, author of The Places We Find Ourselves.

 

“These are calming poems, set deep in the specifics of this life.”

David Budbill, author of Moment to Moment: Poems of a Mountain Recluse
and Happy Life.

Published by Aldrich Press. Order HERE.

peace in tragedy, energy fingerprint, what we leave behind, act in crisis,

Image:andrewpoison.deviantart.com

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