Are we there yet?


Often these days, the news–and social media–make me feel like a powerless child on an endless car ride through hell, crowded into the middle of the backseat with quarrelsome, nasty little brats fighting on either side of me (“I know you are, but what am I?”), scenes of suffering flashing by the windows, while the car careens all over the road, the adults up front bickering over directions–the driver a nearsighted incompetent, who never took driver training, constantly checking his hair in the rear-view mirror, while driving along a cliff’s edge, with fewer and fewer guardrails, an increasingly bumpy road, and ominous thunderheads ahead.


I alternate between outrage, disbelief, profound cynicism, anger, and, occasional glimmers of hope.  It’s probably just that I’m getting old, but I feel as if we fight the same battles over and over, only now things are taking on weird and frightening new twists, and it makes me weary.


But we are fortunate personally, because the reality of our day-to-day life has stayed much the same, despite the craziness in the larger world.  In May, we reached our five-year mark of living on our beautiful hillside.


We have worked hard these years, front-loading our projects, knowing that our fitness and stamina would be declining and that it would takes years for some things to reach fruition.


At this five-year point, we are really starting to reap the benefits of that early planning and work.  Lazy composter that I am, I finally have a working rotation of compost bins providing much of what I need for the gardens. George has firewood drying according to species, so that it will be properly seasoned when it’s time to burn.


Our slow-to-mature crops are bearing now.


We have rhubarb, asparagus, blueberries, blackberries, honeyberries, elderberries, cherries, and peaches, and are only a year away from pears and apples.


We’re still waiting on the hazelnuts, figs, and northern kiwi—but are getting closer.   My dye gardens are mature—madder (for red dye) should grow for three years before harvesting the roots.


The yellow flowers are woad (for blue) and the plants in the front are madder (for red)

I have planted madder beds every year for the past three years, so will be able to harvest it annually from now on.  The bees are thriving.  We are hoping for honey this year.


We are getting close to our vision for this place—but that vision is always evolving, so will always be a work in progress.


Our spring weather was almost as crazy as the outside world.


April 10th storm

We had two very late snowstorms.


After the snow, the temperatures soared and new growth exploded.   Then we had a hard frost on June 1.


Now, it changes day-to-day, hot, cold, dry, wet, fog—all over the place.


We lost a lot of big branches in one of the late storms, mostly where bittersweet had grown up into the trees and became weighted down with the heavy spring snow.  So, George has been cutting down the bittersweet and opening up areas around many of the old wild apples to allow more light and air circulation.


The bluebirds were peaceful this year—thank goodness—successfully raising a brood.


And the swallows are back in their usual box, babies born, but we haven’t seen their hungry heads peeking out yet.


We had a robin build a lovely, mud-lined nest in our sauna wood box.


We were afraid that it would be within reach of some nestling-eating animals,


but she appears to have raised her brood to fledglings.


A phoebe is nesting under the eaves of a dormer window


and the house finches decided to nest in a hanging basket on our porch.


The male finch.


Female finch checking out the hanging basked from the nearby apple tree.

I didn’t know the nest was there until I used the hose to water it a few days ago and a very agitated bird flew out.


As usual, George is working on building projects,


George enclosed the area under the deck–a huge improvement.

the lower orchard,


the lawns, and maintaining the trails, while helping me finally get the paths in the vegetable garden covered with enough chips to keep the weeds under control.


I’ve been gardening like mad, spinning for summer dyeing, doing a little weaving, sewing clothes from my woven fabric,


and continuing to rescue old wheels.

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We have really missed visits from our kids, grandkids, and friends.  On the other hand, the gardens have never looked better and I’m finding time to blog.


I started another blog as a way to document my antique spinning wheels and textile tools and have been enjoying digging into research for it.  If you’re interested, the link is here: exquisitemachinery. I also finally got started on processing last year’s flax crop and hope to have enough after this batch to spin and weave fabric for a shirt.



All in all, we are hanging in here quite happily, keeping our home fires burning, and hoping the world doesn’t melt down in the coming months.


It feels as if our country may be reaching several tipping points and anything could happen.


One thing that is certain, however, is that our votes have never been more important. Make your voices heard through voting—at every level, local to national.  It’s the most effective way to turn collective grief, anger, outrage, and approval into tangible change.

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And continue to find solace and joy where you can.


Time keeps ticking by.


34 thoughts on “Are we there yet?

  1. Nice to see your post, Brenda, catching up on what has been keeping you busy. Lots as usual!
    After a long, cool spring, it seems that summer weather has arrived at last. The gardens are leaping! Take care and enjoy the summer.

    • Summer left us today. After dense fog this morning, we were pelted with cold rain and actually had a fire in the wood stove. But the rain was very welcome–it’s been quite dry. And if it hadn’t been rainy, I wouldn’t have written a blog post! Your gardens look lovely, as always, Eliza. You take care, too, and stay well. It’s good to hear from you.

  2. Just lovely to hear from you and catch up. Oh, couldn’t agree more with your comments on what happening, it’s weird and keeps on getting weirder!Just wonderful to see what you have created on your land, you are certainly self sufficient! Just love those new wheels and all the nesting birds. Always a treat to

    • I thought of you yesterday because I inadvertently seem to have my own patch of Armageddon potatoes. I rotated my sweet corn this year to the area where I grew flax and potatoes last year. Apparently I missed several potatoes that overwintered beautifully and are now growing like mad amongst the corn. Oops. Your gardens are looking wonderful. I hope you have a good summer–weirdness and all.

  3. My goodness you’ve been busy!
    Our situations are similar and we too have been keeping our heads down and letting the world work itself out. Or not. I find I alternate between absorbing as much as I can from the media coverage and then shutting it all out because I don’t want to know! The UK seems to be on a mission to tear itself apart.
    Love the nest in the hanging basket!
    Keep safe.

    • I’m on the same alternating pattern. I get totally sucked in and then overloaded and have to walk away. It’s fascinating that so many countries seem to be tearing themselves apart right now. Clearly it’s part of some cycle that historians will sort out, but I’ll likely be dead by then! In the meantime, let’s carry on with our heads down. And, speaking of carrying on, you’ve been even busier than we have. I love watching the transformation of your house and gardens. Stay well.

  4. Lovely to read your post Brenda, the world is a strange place at the moment …confusing and (often) depressing for us all, and you have expressed that very well. Your writing on voting should be used as a teaching tool in schools.
    What a variable spring you have had ..the photo of a snow covered garden and bench says it all. However your garden is looking good …and I love your jacket made from your woven fabric. Best wishes with both weaving, blogging and garden projects….And seeing your family sometime soon.

    • Yes, it’s been a variable spring in many ways! Lots of ups and downs of emotions, too. Fortunately the snow didn’t do much damage to the newly emerging plants and the gardens are thriving. Sending warm wishes down to you in Australia and hope that your fall and winter go well. Enjoy your lovely birds–you can see ours aren’t as colorful, but they keep us entertained.

  5. You said what a lot of us are feeling deep in our soul but haven’t been able to express it as well. I really thought it was a challenging period of time we had to work through, and we’d be back to normal, but with each passing day, I’m not so sure. We have been staying close to home and working in the gardens which brings a sort of normalcy and peace although our gardens are certainly nothing in comparison to yours. You have a virtual grocery store right outside your door with the great satisfaction that you have done it all yourself. Applause to you both for the hard work. Your other blog looks great, now if I only I understood the machinery and the vast array of skills needed to use them properly. Hope you find a few more moments this summer to post again. It’s always a special treat to see your post pop up. 🙂

    • It makes you think about what is “normal,” doesn’t it? Things feel very precarious right now–so much can change so quickly–for better or for worse. I’m really apprehensive about how the rest of the year will unfold. Gardening has been a great outlet for my pent up anxiety–we are just about to the point where we have fresh greens all year round. And, since we love to cook, it is such a pleasure to be able to pick our food straight from this piece of land we love. Some things stay the same. I’m glad you enjoyed the other blog–it’s a labor of love. It’s always great to hear from you.

  6. I love visiting your place. Maybe someday in person. I know what you mean about feeling locked in a careening car. Your description is perfect. Voting has never been more important. Glad the bees are happy.

    • We’d love to have you visit–you will always be welcome here. I’d love to sit on the porch and have a good chat with you. One of the most difficult things about watching the events unfold this year is the feeling of utter powerlessness–as if we’re just along for the ride.

  7. Honestly, it looks like paradise: days full of enjoyable work, bird nests, gardening, spinning and dogs. Let’s hope we can all vote in the fall and make ourselves heard.

    • It is our little paradise–we are very fortunate to have landed here. I, too, worry about this fall’s voting. Seeing what happened in Georgia this week is not a good sign. How depressing is it that we are actually concerned that we won’t be able to vote or that the election will be compromised? Dark days.

  8. Your first paragraph is about as perfect a description of our current world as I’ve seen! I alternate between feeling sick at heart and feisty, wanting to fight back. Enjoy your gorgeous patch of the earth, and, yes, vote . . .

    • It’s so wonderful to hear from you Kerry–I’ve missed your posts. I hope that your husband is doing well (and your mother) and that you are weathering all this turbulence with your usual grace and thoughtfulness. Have you had the time for weaving? Take care (and vote).

  9. What an amazing post! Also: lord, you’ve been busy! I am astonished at what you have accomplished. Seems like you must have been working from dawn to dusk. Hope that you get to do plenty of relaxing for the rest of the summer.

  10. 5 years Brenda, it seems those years have raced by and you have achieved so much of your original dream to become self sufficient and at the moment, with the world going crazy, it will be a good thing to be able to pull up the gang plank and stay safe in your own patch of paradise. It was lovely to see how you and George are progressing and the bird photos are charming. I watch in horror as the news over here shows us the terrible time you are having in America. Both USA and uk seem to have leaders who are doing all the wrong things, even hiding their heads in the sand in denial. Your anology of the car ride from hell says it all and I only hope that come November something can be done to help your beautiful country. In the meantime stay safe and well, caring for your lovely land

    • It’s been an amazing 5 years for us–finally having the time and resources to create a little haven. These past months have been eye-opening in many ways. It’s going to be an even bumpier ride in that careening car over the next months. Fingers crossed we don’t go over the cliff.

    • It’s good to hear from you again Steve. I’ll catch up on what you and your dogs are doing. And, yes, I never imagined I’d still be blogging 5 years down the line.

      • That is my old and main blog but today I made a new WordPress blog for a different style …. photos based with an intro paragraph. I really like what you did to your house and property. LOT of work and that is something I don’t miss out here in Arizona. Yard work.

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