Monday, August 26, 2013


The weather turned cooler here in the Northwest--much to my relief! We got rain, pretty normal with the State Fair up and going. 

My gourd vines that were going wild and crazy just a week ago have stopped their incredible growing sprint. The squirrels have harvested most of the nuts off my walnut tree, and the bees are flying low to the ground. Signs of the coming fall are all around. 

I love fall, but don't care for the cold rain and blowing winds that follow in winter. Mild by most weather standards but not my favorite season. 

However, I discovered a web site about self-sufficient living <> that I love! Living in self-sufficient luxury is my next goal. This web site has great, practical articles about the experiences of a husband and wife who made the switch to this lifestyle a number of years ago. 

One of the articles talked about a masonry heater--a huge block of bricks with a labyrinth of flues inside. Build a hot, hot fire for a couple of hours and the bricks will radiate heat for 12-18 hours after the fire goes out. With our changing weather, that sounds like a cozy luxury!

Following the lead of Mother Nature and the wise critters who share our Earth, I'm preparing for the rainy months ahead. Do you have any fall preparations you do? 

Friday, August 23, 2013


The farmer girl in me is loving my wild growing gourds! This was a seed package of what I thought were miniature gourds planted in May (see previous blog post). NOT miniatures! Well, there may be a few hidden in the huge vines that have traveled halfway across my back yard, but mostly these are leaves about a foot across and vines that grow 6-8 or more inches a day. With each section of growth, they bloom and set fruit, leaving pumpkins and a variety of as yet unidentified squash and gourds as they take over the gravel pathways. 

These wonderful plants have encouraged my beans to grow wild and crazy, and intertwine with my cherry tomatoes that are giving me eat-off-the vine fruit every day. :)

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Okay, those of you with big gardens may chuckle, and those who think they don't have room for a garden may take heart. 

I took one more step toward self-sufficiency today and planted my garden. Two tomato plants went into bigger pots (the beige ones), as did some mint (in the blue pot toward the back). And I bought marigolds as companion plants (smaller dark blue pots) to keep some of the insect pests away. 

Guess I have more city ways to unlearn than I thought, since I want instant gratification and not wait for seeds to sprout. Though I did plant beans and mixed gourds (including miniature pumpkins) that will climb up my grandson's twig teepee behind the pots. And this in addition to the blueberry, blackberry and raspberry plants I bought a couple weeks ago. 

Granted, not a huge gardening enterprise, but it puts me in gardening mode and the pots can go with the doggies and me when we move to our farm. 

Yet to plant: lettuce, short carrots and oregano--all in pots so those can also move with us. Loving dirt therapy!

Thursday, May 9, 2013


One of my tasks to complete before the doggies and I move is to clean up my city house and yard. A task that has been neglected for the past few years as I wrote my series of books. I've skimmed along the surface of cleaning and maintenance--at least enough to stay under the radar of the Health Department. :)

Now, I'm serious about spiffing things up. I'm doing this in layers, similar to the process I use to write books. 
--A sweep through to decide what to do with each area/room (like to planning/plotting a book). 
--Taking care of major tasks, such as reclaiming the walkways and getting rid of large areas of overgrown weeds--similar to completing the scene sheets I do for a book to lay out the main points of the story.
--The next step will be going back over the yard and house to pull out weeds that have grown back or were missed in the first sweep, edging the grassy areas, etc. The final edits to a story, so to speak, where I make sure everything flows smoothly. 

I'm in the "major tasks" stage of the house and yard. The front and narrow side yards are looking pretty good, and I've started on the back yard--which seems to get away from me by early summer each year. I'm taking a more casual approach this year. In the areas where grass wants to grow, I'm letting it take over and just plan to mow it instead of struggling to get all the grass and roots out. In places where vigorous flowering plants take over, I'm going to enjoy their blooms, then mow when the blooms fade. (Yes, I purchased a new mower last year and am going to make use of it. :)

To keep myself from becoming overwhelmed, I've been walking through the areas that look pretty good and enjoying the "ahh…" feeling of happy plants growing in beds that have just been watered by the hoses and sprinklers I set up a week or so ago. Definitely an "ahh…"

The photo is one of the side yards where I've reclaimed the pathway and put all the plants in pots to move with us when we get our country property. Ah, progress!

Saturday, May 4, 2013


A few days ago, my dogs discovered a possum under my deck. 

"Leave it" means nothing to a terrier on the scent of a critter, and the rest of my doggie herd soon decided since I was digging in my yard, they could dig up the deck. 


I put the dogs in the house and set about "rescuing" the possum, which was about the size of a large cat. 

My deck sits up about eighteen inches from the ground. On one side the 2x2s of the railing go down to meet the bricks. The 2x2s are close enough together so the dogs can't wiggle under the deck. But I thought if I moved the bricks, the possum could back out. 

Those who know possums are probably rolling on the floor laughing by this time. As I told this tale to my neighbor, he said if a possum can get its head through, the rest of the body will follow. Wish I had talked to him before I performed the remainder of my "rescue."

Well, the possum didn't want to back out from under the deck. And I decided the concrete blocks that held up the deck were too close together for her to escape. 

So I tried a different approach. In front of the deck, I had built up a step by boxing in layers of gravel, sand and paving stones laid on top. Off came the paving stones and I dug away some of the sand. 

Then I saw the little possum "hand." Too weirdly human--like a tiny little old woman with perfectly formed fingers and fingernails. She put her hand out as if asking for help. 

By this time, I had discovered a 2x4 laid down to help box in my step. So I didn't have to dig out the entire eight-foot long step, I decided to cut the 2x4. I went to fetch a saw and, when I came back, a baby possum had crawled out to look around, looking at me as if saying, "Whatcha doin'?"

Great! A mother possum and her babies. I'm obviously a softie and don't like to kill anything. But babies? This made the rescue more imperative!

I had already inserted a piece of plastic gutter guard down between the deck top boards so the possum didn't run to a different part of the deck and get stuck somewhere else. So I figured this would also keep the possum away from the saw blade. 

I warned them this would be noisy, but I don't think they grasped the reality of the noise and vibration a sawz-all makes. As soon as I turned on the saw, the possum family scrambled away, with momma chirping like crazy to round up her babies.

Not stuck at all. Just had a nice cool place to hang out during the hot part of the day.

So you can see why I wished I had talked to my neighbor first. Wouldn't have resolved my need to rehome the possums under my deck, but might have changed my strategy. 

The story might have ended there, but the possums didn't move out and my dogs didn't appreciate the squatters in their territory. 

This morning, we had round two of dogs vs. possums. Only this time, my mighty hunting terrier started digging up my flower bed in his enthusiasm to reach the possum from a different part of the deck. Yes, these are flower beds that "were" looking quite nice because it's spring and the iris are just about to open up. 

Using a different strategy to encourage our possums to move out and discourage my doggies from digging, I banged the broom along the deck boards. 

A bit later, I heard Momma Possum chirping again from a distance away, so hoped they were packing their bags. 

Sadly, not fast enough. When I went out a short time later to see what the dogs were barking about, I found the baby possum, who had been hurt. 

The dogs were put back in the house and I scooped up the little one in a towel. Reiki immediately started flowing from my hands, and I wasn't sure if the little one would survive or not. I sat holding him for awhile and he told me he wanted to be with his momma. 

So I finally carried him over to an opening under the fence that goes to an overgrown part of a different neighbor's yard where I had heard the possums chirping the last few days. Guess I should clarify I still live in a city of over a hundred thousand people. This is not a wooded area, but the critters have carved out homes wherever they can find them.

I checked on the little one a bit later and he wasn't where I had set him. I want to believe he and his momma were reunited. And fingers crossed the possum family finds a cool spot other than under my deck to spend the hot days.

Monday, April 15, 2013


When I brought my Cocker Spaniel home from the shelter, I knew next to nothing about this breed of dog. Quantum Canines was his last chance or he was going to be euthanized for biting, supposedly at everyone and anything.

Well, I didn't know much of anything about the breed. Nothing new there. I've brought home quite a number of different purebred and mixed breeds. The dogs will teach me what I need to know.

One thing I learned was that Cocker Spaniels have a lot of hair! Similar to sheep's wool, but it keeps growing. We had a couple not very positive experiences with groomers, so I decided to get a pair of clippers and try grooming. 

His style may not always be the prettiest, but I get most of the job done and he feels so much better afterward. Here's a photo of him after his latest cut. Yep, more hair on the deck than what's left on the dog. :)

Oh yes, the biting. Raz had been horribly abused, especially around his head. His eyesight also wasn't so good. Have you heard people talk about having wavy vision? That's what was going on with him, so everything that approached him looked like a monster. Of course he was terrified, and biting was the only way he knew how to protect himself. 

Raz and I had bonded before two adoptions that didn't work out. I had picked him up from his neuter surgery, and he rode in his kennel in the front seat beside me and pulled lots of Reiki energy. Well, we stopped for a bite to eat and he got out of his kennel and we communicated nose to nose--the way he always has with me. That way he could tell what I actually looked like. Now it's a way to give kisses. :)

Anyway, my beautiful Stewart (who is now an angel) was Razzle's therapist. Whenever Raz panicked and started biting at everything, Stewart would stand over him and put him in a gentle headlock until Raz realized he was safe and no one was hurting him. When Raz calmed down, Stewart released him. It was amazing to watch these "therapy sessions"!

Raz has been with me and my herd for five years now, and Iook forward to many more haircuts with my beautiful boy!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013



I'm stumbling forward through my tears because my beloved Stewart died suddenly yesterday afternoon. However, he insists I not spend a lot of time grieving because we have much to do. And I am reminded how very fortunate I am to know so many dog lovers. 

Though I live in the city, I have very caring "country" neighbors and we watch out for each other, including yesterday evening when I knocked on their door with an  unusual request to help me with my dog.

I also still have a number of friends at Willamette Humane Society, including BJ, who stayed late to be sure my furbaby was caringly prepared for a private cremation, one of their services. I know many of you have, but if you're looking for a new furry family member, please consider adopting a pet from the shelter. Most of my furbabies have come from rescue situations. Go ahead. Open that kennel door and become part of a miracle. Let a shelter pet rescue you! 

Of course, I always appreciate my adult sons, who still seem a bit baffled over what to do with a sobbing mother who usually cries only behind the locked bathroom door. 

But I don't want this message to be depressing. I've been communicating with animals a number of years, so I know they transition to a beautiful place where they are no longer plagued with the limitations of physical bodies. However, their spirits are always with us and communicate with us when we tune into them. Or, in my case, when I need a kick in the fanny. :) And my Stewart, along with my other angel furbabies, are pushing me hard to keep moving toward our dream of a farm where many animals can find a sanctuary. 

They are telling me we need our dreams now more than ever. When so many things in our society seem to be falling apart, our dreams and our caring for each other--including our fur, feathered and finned babies--will usher in that Age of Aquarius my generation used to sing about. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Those of you with mice as pets probably do NOT want to read this post. 

You would think a household with as many dogs as I have wouldn't have a problem with mice inside, right? Guess my penchant for rescuing critters may have led my doggies to think they should leave the mice alone. 

I think mice are cute. However, I have a major disagreement with them on bathroom and sanitary habits, and do NOT want them in my kitchen and especially not on my counters. 

I've already asked--nicely, mind you--that the mice not come inside the house, or I would have to remove them. That didn't work. 

So I told the dogs they could get the mice or I would have to set out traps. Well, Ebony Rose caught a mouse!

I didn't see her do it, but discovered it when I was going to bed. I was straightening the blankets and discovered its little carcass tucked under a blanket. I don't know if she was hiding her prize from the other dogs or if she was trying to convince me it was still alive but just sleeping. 

But she had a real tentative look on her face like she didn't know if I was going to be mad or not. A bit of backstory--my Ebony Rose is kind of gritchy. If there's a dust-up in our household, odds are my girl is involved. So she knows the time-out room intimately.

In this instance, I made a big deal of her mousing skills and told her what a good hunter she was and that I was proud of her. (I also removed the mouse from the bed. :)

When I came back to get into bed, Ebbie wanted more tummy rubs and figured she shouldn't have to share much of the bed with the human. So I scrunched in beside her and let her sprawl in the middle of the bed. She did scoot over a bit--just enough so I could snuggle a little better. 

She told me this morning she really believed I loved her now. In spite of the squabbles. In spite of her guarding and growling, she realized she really was my adored little girl. 

So, thank you, little mousie, as you continue your journey in spirit, for the lessons you offered through your sacrifice. We all continue to grow and learn, don't we?

Monday, March 4, 2013


I bought an orchid plant to add to my tropical greenhouse once we get moved. For now, it's in my kitchen window so I don't forget to water it. :)

Did I mention the greenhouse will have an automatic irrigation system?

I also bought some seeds:

~Oregano--this will be my first attempt at herbs from seeds. I use a lot of oregano leaves in cooking, so figured this would be a useful one to experiment with.

~Cherry tomatoes and dwarf marigolds to be companion plants.

All will be planted in pots so they can be moved with us!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


We're going to the farm!
After over forty years of living in the city, this country girl is going back to the farm!

For over five years, I've promised my doggies we would move onto some property where they could bark and chase wild critters without worrying about disturbing the neighbors.

Found our dream property and am now making detailed plans while the Universe arranges the funding.

In addition to space to breathe, we are going to live in luxurious self-sufficiency. That means growing our own food, generating our own power, and doing as much on our own as possible--without giving up comfort and abundance. Because I think we can have both!

As the doggies and I prepare for the dream to come together, one of the things I'm doing is gathering lots of ideas and recipes for making common food items from scratch so I know what goes into them.

This morning I made mayonnaise! Took about fifteen minutes, and most of that time was me worrying, Was this going to work?

Too simple! Toss an egg, a dash of salt, a tablespoon of white vinegar, and some mustard powder in the blender. I didn't have mustard powder on hand, so used mustard. The recipe said to turn on the blender and drizzle one cup of vegetable oil--I used olive oil--into the other ingredients with the blender running. That was entertaining because a fine mist of ingredients sprayed out. Put the lid part-way on and added the oil.

Yes, it worked! I was amazed.

However, the oily taste was a bit much for me, so I added some spices--oregano, pepper, and paprika. Still tastes a bit oily, so I plan to experiment with the recipe more.

But this is HEALTHY mayo! Who knew there was such a thing and that it would be so easy to make?

I'll add this recipe to the one for vanilla pudding from scratch--another really, really easy recipe that is so delicious it makes me wonder why I ever ate the stuff from the store.

I'm loving this new world of possibilities where doing for myself is a pleasure and a joy--without giving up luxuries like a whirlpool tub and comfy bed!