Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday’s garden update and feeling a little overwhelmed

The raised bed is not really sitting at an angle. I accidently created an angle when I snapped the photo.
Hello, dear readers. I thought that Monday would be a good day to update you on my gardening progress since I spend most of my time with the plants over the weekend.
Broccoli (left) and carrots.
  We had a heavy rain Friday afternoon. When I went out to look at the plants on Saturday morning, I was glad to see that nothing had been totally pushed down into the dirt, though I thought the lettuce looked a little waterlogged. I hoped the sunshine we received over the weekend would help it.


The plants had progressed over the three weeks since I planted the seeds and the onion sets.
Onions, with radishes on the far side.

And I got a nice surprise. I thought all the cucumbers had been killed with the freeze week before last. But I have some green shoots left. I still want to replant some cucumber seeds, though, along with some other vegetables.

I admit that I felt a bit overwhelmed when I saw the growth of the plants. Suddenly, I didn’t just have seeds in the ground that I could watch slowly push up into the light. Suddenly, I had real plants to take care of.
Things are growing!

My insecurity about my lack of recent gardening experience kicked in, and I thought, what do I do now?

I thinned the radishes, and Larry wondered if I was thinning them too much. I looked at the carrots and wondered if they were too close together. I wondered what I would do if the plants started dying.

Then I reminded myself that I have resources. I have books.

There are many resources on the Internet.

And I have my mother, who was a Master Gardener years ago and could make anything grow. She has retained a vast knowledge, from her studies and from many years of gardening.

I also reminded myself that this first year is an experiment. Larry and I will learn what will grow well, what won’t, what we need to do differently.

It will be OK. Deep breath. Deep breath. Let go of the anxiety.


How do you cope with that feeling of being overwhelmed? And for those who garden, what gardening book or books have you found helpful?



Friday, April 25, 2014

The happy and the sad

  Larry discovered a bird’s nest in the window of a small outbuilding beside his shop. He hasn’t seen a bird around it, but he was careful not to touch it. I was careful, too, when I snapped this photo of it.
  Look how much work went into building the nest.


(c) Tina Fariss Barbour

  Lynchburg is a small city on the James River in Central Virginia. It’s located about 20 miles north of Altavista.
  I lived and worked in Lynchburg for years. When I was a child living on a farm, when we said, “We’re going to town,” it was Lynchburg we were talking about. That’s where we did our main shopping, saw the doctor, etc.

  Recently, out of 189 metropolitan areas in the U.S., Lynchburg was ranked number 37 in well-being.
  To celebrate, the city of Lynchburg made a video of Lynchburg people dancing to Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy.” The video is HERE. It’s a lot of fun to watch. And the song itself is such a happy one.

  Have you ever read an obituary or heard a eulogy about someone you didn’t know and thought, Wow, I would have liked to have known that person?
  I had that experience this week. I attended a memorial service for the mother of a co-worker. She died last week of cancer at the age of 55. I had met her but didn’t know her.
  The service was a sad but still joyful celebration of a life of a woman who, by all counts, was a true blessing to others.
  I wish I’d known her.

  This is a photo of Chase Bird “polishing” the sofa table in the living room.
  When we took in Chase as a stray over six years ago, we discovered that his front paws had been declawed. He rubs and rubs the furniture like he’s scratching it, but he’s really polishing it.
  He’s our sweet boy.

(c) Tina Fariss Barbour

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dogwoods in bloom

I hope you had a good day on Earth Day on Tuesday. As I write this, it’s at the end of Earth Day, and I’m a bit disappointed that I spent most of the day inside, helping to lay out the newspaper for the week.

But Tuesday evening, as Larry and I relaxed with a late supper in front of the television, we found a documentary on PBS that fit in well with Earth Day.

It was an American Masters show called A Fierce Green Fire, a documentary about the history of the environmental movement worldwide. It was fascinating and inspiring. If you’d like to learn more about it, click HERE.

I’m sharing photos today of the dogwoods in our backyard. I took these photos earlier this month when the blooms were a bit greener than they are now.

The dogwood tree is the state tree of Virginia, and I enjoy the blooms each spring.



Did you do anything to celebrate Earth Day?

Monday, April 21, 2014

OCD victory: My hands in dirt


My joy goes beyond my pleasure in watching things grow and the solace it brings my soul to dig in the dirt and interact with nature.

My gardening is also a sign of a victory over OCD.

 One of the ways my OCD has manifested itself is through contamination fears. Basically, I feared germs because of the possibility of spreading them to others and making them ill.

One of the ways I dealt with my obsessions over germs was to wash my hands compulsively. I’ve written about how red and raw my hands and wrists became because I washed them over and over in hot water and soap.

Another way I dealt with my fears over germs was to avoid situations and activities where I was sure to get my hands dirty. Like putting my hands in dirt, on purpose.
  Over the years, I have experienced many victories over contamination fears. When I first started treatment for OCD and depression, I was able to start having houseplants. And I’ve had flower gardens sporadically through the years.

 But this is my first full gardening experience.

It feels good to know that OCD is not stopping me from doing something that I enjoy.

The journey to overcome my contamination obsessions and compulsions has not been short or easy. I’ve taken medication that has side effects and costs money that I would love spend elsewhere. I’ve taken therapy. I’ve read books and put new ways of thinking and reacting into practice.

 I’m not saying that I am no longer affected by my OCD. Each day brings its challenges, some big, some small. But I can more easily deal with the challenges, more easily turn back to what I was doing before the OCD interfered.

 If you have OCD, I encourage you to get treatment, to do the things—and it will probably be a variety of things—that will enable you to overcome the stifling effects of OCD.

 And for all of us who struggle with issues—maybe issues that no one knows about—let’s hold hope and do the work that we need to do to remember the joy that can be a part of any life.

 It’s been worth every penny and every struggle to stand in front of my garden and look at those lovely little plants beginning their own journey.

 What are you now enjoying in life that once seemed out of reach?

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Light

(c) Tina Fariss Barbour


“But I also say this: that light is an invitation to happiness, and that happiness, when it's done right, is a kind of holiness, palpable and redemptive.”

― Mary Oliver


Happy Easter to all of you who celebrate this holiday. And peace and grace to everyone.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Gardening update: The thrill of watching things grow


As I write this on Tuesday night, it’s falling into the 30s outside. There’s a freeze warning, with temperatures expected to be in the 20s by morning.
I didn’t get home from the newspaper office until 9:30. Then I went outside to help Larry put a tarp and other protection around our tender plants.
The little green shoots are so pretty.

Radishes and onions in an open part of the raised bed.

On Saturday, April 5, I planted a variety of vegetables, including two kinds of lettuce, two kinds of onions, radishes, carrots, broccoli, and cucumbers.
Larry did the watering during the following week because work kept me inside much of the time.
On Saturday, I checked on the progress of the plants and watered them.
I was so excited to see the little bits of green popping up.

Radishes on Saturday.

Little onions on Saturday.
Lettuce on Saturday.

I know many of you have gardened for years, but it has been a long time since I’ve enjoyed the wonder of planting a seed and seeing something grow from it. It’s a thrill.

Sunday morning, I watered again and thought I noticed a little more growth.
Monday evening, things needed water, but I knew that the forecast was calling for heavy rain overnight Monday into Tuesday. So I just checked on the progress.
And boy, did I see progress. The radishes had grown significantly, and there were more onions popping up.

Radishes on Monday.
Onions on Monday.

Enough lettuce had grown to see the rows that I had laid out.

Lettuce on Monday.

On Saturday, I feared for my broccoli and cucumbers. But by Monday, little shoots were popping up.



Now if they can just withstand any freezing.

Do you like to see new plants popping up out of the soil? What’s your favorite vegetable to grow?

Note: I am still a bit frustrated with my new computer. Bear with me if this page doesn't look like normal!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Challenges with new technology

Hello, dear readers! I hope you are doing well. I have missed you while I’ve been on something of a sabbatical, at least a computer sabbatical.

As I told you last Monday, Larry and I got new computers, pushed into action because of the end of support for Windows XP.
  My new laptop arrived on Wednesday, and I’ve been navigating around Windows 8.1, not always with a smile upon my face.

 I like learning new things. New computers have never frightened me. I’ve managed to learn a lot of new programs over the years.
  My journey started in 1985 when one of my professors during my first semester of graduate studies in English mandated that we learn a word processing program.
  There was a Mac lab in the library, so I decided to learn on the Mac. I sat down with a book and the computer in front of me and taught myself. I’ve been mostly teaching myself ever since on whatever system I found I had to work with.
  I’m learning Windows 8.1, but I’m not finding it particularly intuitive learning. I’m having to search and search for things, including programs I just downloaded.

 I’ve also found that some of my computer accessories are woefully out of date. My camera software downloaded just fine. But for my printer and even my wireless mouse, I had to download updated software from the Internet.
  My Canon scanner is so old, there isn’t any software to download anymore. My go-to program to process my photos is attached to that scanner. So when I need to scan something, or if I want to use that photo processing program, I have to use my old PC.

All my photos are stored on the old PC, too. I will transfer some of them, but for now, I’m keeping most photos on the old PC, which is set up on my desk for easy reach.

 Larry’s new computer won’t be delivered until April 22. So when he needs to get online, he has been using mine.
  I have to admit I’ll be glad when his laptop arrives.
  Larry and I are totally different on the computer. He likes to understand every facet of things and the whys and hows. He likes finding shortcuts and different ways of doing things. He ends up knowing a computer inside and out.
  Me? I just want to get my jobs done.
  We have agreed that it’s not a good idea for one of us to be on the computer with the other one sitting close by watching.
  Of course, these problems and frustrations I’ve had are minor. I am thankful that I have a computer to have problems with. I’m thankful for good Internet connection. I’m thankful for the help Larry has given me when I’ve gotten stuck.
  And I’m thankful for you, dear readers, for sticking with me while I got settled with my new technology.

I’ll be back Wednesday. I have things to share, including how the garden is doing and my experiments with food choices.

 Do you like learning new technology?


Monday, April 7, 2014

The gardening has started

We now have a garden.
On Friday morning, we drove with the trailer to a local business and bought top soil for the raised bed in our backyard.

Besides the soil, we bought seeds. And I got a couple of pair of new gardening gloves.
Back at home, we looked at the big pile of dirt—about three cubic yards of it—and started shoveling.

We filled bucket after bucket and slowly but surely filled up the bed, including the two end spaces.

My gloves helped to protect my hands while shoveling, but they got pretty dirty because I also used them to spread the dirt and dissolve the big clods of soil.

Our muscles were quite sore after all the shoveling, bending and lifting, but we were excited to finally have the makings of a garden.
And it felt so good to be outside and be busy with physically hard but soul-satisfying work.

On Saturday, I planted sweet onions, red onions, two kinds of lettuce, carrots, broccoli, cucumbers, and radishes. As it grows warmer, we’ll plant some other vegetables.

I’m looking forward to seeing what grows and what doesn’t. We’re keeping records so we can learn about what works and what doesn’t.
What we’re really looking forward to the taste of fresh lettuce and onions and other good things.


On another note, I am going to have to take a short break from blogging because of computer issues.
Both Larry and I fell behind in operating systems, and it reaches a critical point on April 8.
Long story short, we ordered new computers. Mine is supposed to arrive on Wednesday.
Until I set it up and gain an understanding of the new operating system, I won’t be able to be online for blogging as easily as I was. So I will probably be absent until at least the end of this week.
I will try to keep up with other blogs as much as possible with my phone, but it’s harder to leave comments using the phone.
Just know that I’m thinking about you and will be back as soon as possible.

Friday, April 4, 2014

It’s gardening time

Last summer, Larry built a raised bed for a garden in our backyard. He fenced most of it in to try to keep deer and other eaters of vegetables from getting all the food.
Then the raised bed sat and waited for spring to come.

Leaves gathered in the fencing during the fall.

Snow surrounded it during parts of the winter, making it look lonely.

But finally warm weather has come and stayed long enough to ready the bed for dirt and seeds. Today we’ll be busy beginning the work that I hope will lead to a nice harvest later this year.
By Monday, we’ll probably have sore muscles. But I’m looking forward to being outside and getting my hands in some dirt.

What will you be spending your weekend doing?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A study of periwinkle

Signs of spring have been slow to come in Central Virginia. But on Monday, I found a reminder of the season.

Beside our house, a rock wall was installed in the bank by a previous owner. Someone somewhere along the line planted periwinkle around it.
Every spring, I look forward to the lavender petals.

I liked the following description, written by Alex Niemiera, from the website of the Virginia Cooperative Extension: “The plant produces 1-inch blue-violet flowers in early spring that are noticeable upon close inspection.” Yes, I did have to look closely on Monday to see if the blooms had put in an appearance.

What have you studied outdoors lately?