Introducing a New Blog: Tremulous Beginnings

It's good to be back here at rosa-sinensis! I'm here in a new capacity, via iPad and wireless keyboard, feeling so Jetsons and tremulous, which is a weird combination. This whole post is really just a lead up to a new blog I'm starting, the back story because I love context.
The Back Story
So we moved. sort of. it's crazy, because it's the one thing that we don't seem to do: move. I've lived at our present address for 15 years, 700 sq ft which get smaller every year as our family grows. Now there are 4 of us, and we live the Russian Nesting Doll life, everything must stack or nest or deflate in order to remain within the confines of our li'l space. And it's been fine, for a long time. Especially considering how palatial my home is compared to most of the world. And there is plenty of love there, which is the seasoning element which makes the soup of our life so savory. (Not sure about that metaphor.) B especially seems to revel in the challenge of the small space living; he should have worked in railroad car design, he always wants things to fold down from walls, or recess in the ceiling. And we've been up to the challenge. It's been a hobby, in a similar vein with  trying to keep our two aged and decrepit VW Beetles running.  Our small space challenges took up a lot of time and brainpower, not to mention stubbed toes and bonked heads by the children as they would careen through the house, bouncing off table legs and bookcase corners. I salute everyone of our friends living within the confines of a little house, our Small Space Heroes.....but the thing with the VW Beetles? We couldn't keep them running-so in the end, we sold them.
And so, in the back of my praying mind, I've been talking to God about something new. Somehow. (It has been hard not to whine.)
Something New
May 2012, imagine our gobsmacked faces when we got the news that we would be moving, a few blocks away, still within our sylvan burgh to a place that is over 2,000 sq ft! A big, lovely, red house built in the New England salt box style in 1927. There's a remodel in the works that will add 750 sq ft, a literal mother-in-law unit, which will be for B's mom, S. The remodel happens in a couple months, as long as our plans are approved-God willing, and the creek don't rise. Or the oaks fall. But I try not to think like that anymore, this whole thing is a miracle, and I want to act like it.
I've always said that God gives me better than I even knew I could ask for. That has been true with B, and also with my Littles, G & H. And now this. My whiny prayers were for 5 more square feet of storage space, or even a linen closet, and now we've got one whole floor (basement) dedicated to that very thing. I am overwhelmed everyday.
We should be moving into the finished house at the end of the summer. In the meantime, we have been living up at our new place, after furnishing it with odds and ends from S's old house (think French country and toile) and just scraping off the top strata of our life from our old place and moving up. We'll be going back to the old place come March, during the remodel. Which makes for a lot of too-in and fro-ing, but it is so lovely up here, so big and gorgeous under the oaks that we couldn't keep away.
Hey, I'm writing again!
Don't know how long this will last, this combination of time, quiet, computer and mental bandwidth, but while it does I want to chronicle the life of the garden as it comes together. I've started a new blog to do that, with a serious nod to M.I. McAllister for the title! I hope I can keep it up, writing is something I love and miss, (poor old forgotten rosa-sinensis!)
So here is The Oakmantle Chronicles please stop by!


Rosa's Poetry Archives: CS Lewis

Yes, you are always everywhere. But I,

Hunting in such immeasurable forests,
Could never bring the noble Hart to bay.

The scent was too perplexing for my hounds;
Nowhere sometimes, then again everywhere.
Other scents, too, seemed to them almost the same.

Therefore I turn my back on the unapproachable
Stars and horizons and all musical sounds,
Poetry itself, and the winding stair of thought.

Leaving the forests where you are pursued in vain
-Often a mere white gleam-I turn instead
To the appointed place where you pursue.

Not in Nature, not even in Man, but in the one
Particular Man, with a date, so tall, weighing
So much, talking Aramaic, having learned a trade;

Not in all food, not in all bread and wine
(Not, I mean, as my littleness requires)
But this wine, this bread...no beauty we could desire.


Still Here, Just a Little Blurred As I Rush Past the Keyboard

I am on my way out the door to engage in a little of what the ancients called 'tilling the soil.' That I am already tired is neither here nor there. I am a parent! This blog could be subtitled In Which I Escape To the Garden. But I have realized as G begins to read that I don't want her to get the wrong idea. I love my children. I stay at home with them, purposefully, because of this love. I think they will see, when they are grown with children of their own that raising Littles is not for the lazy or half-hearted by any means. And I am feeling the laziness this summer. The push towards indolence, a longing for the days when I could lay on the grass and peep up at the sky between branches, idly wondering when the cabana boy would be by with a refill. (I don't know where the cabana boy imagery came from....) Anyway, there is no grassy lazing these days. The site of a supine Mommy engenders only wild bouts of Mountain Man climbing from the two-year old, that or desperate cries to do something, anything, other than lie down. And most days, I am okay with that. This too shall pass, and probably way too soon. I am trying to glory in the moments of toddler huggies, and the sound of HO singing in the back seat. And G's early morning surprise tea parties. So life is good, especially when I get to do stuff like this:
Wally Wall Pockets for Attune Foods' San Francisco Office
Shabby chic-ing at the Abbey Coffee Lounge, Santa Cruz
I also managed to pick up some clients, somehow making a passionate hobby into a little business. I have used gardening for many things, but somehow I never imagined I could make any money from it! A blessing, indeed, especially these days. So I have started working again, something I haven't done since the littlest Little was in utero. It is tiring, but heaps of fun.
But may it continue to be a source of rich contemplation & worship: the fecundity of the Maker, the joy and vitality found in working the land; the peace & plenty as well as the struggle for life that is sown into every landscape. I am where I want to be.


Storms And A Few Questions For The Panel

I inherited some sort of storm preparedness gene from my dad, or maybe my maternal grandfather. Today marks the beginning of a big storm for our area (maybe snow!) and so this afternoon found me outside in its harbinger: a light sprinkle, pulling tarps over things, sweeping soil off our steep driveway into the beds (so we don't lose any topsoil into the road) & muttering to myself all the garden queries I have compiled of late.
Raincloud to Me: "Catch!"
I have no idea how to do this, other than to stand large vessels out of doors in the rain. But what about mosquito larvae? Should I add a few drops of chlorine to the water to kill anything wanting to take up residence? Will chlorinated water be suitable for plants? Is our water chlorinated already, so this is a non-issue?
And then there is the cold frame. Of what should its floor consist? Gravel? Wood chips? Right now it is gravely, weedy soil and a half-smashed volunteer foxglove. Seedlings in trays are sitting above the ground on cinder blocks, which I imagine create some very nice hidey-holes for slugs and the like. So the blocks should probably go.
Potential Yuck
Also, can I plant vegetables over my septic tank? Should I just stay away from root crops?
A New Lawn, Please!
What is a drought & shade tolerant variety of grass for our latest hair-brained landscaping scheme?
Dew Point
Just what exactly is the dew point? How is it measured? (Acorn cups and fairy bells?)

And when, o when, will the spring come?

Rosa's Spoof Archives: Jane Austen Fight Club

It's the little things in life. And this week it is this.

SO much better than zombies.


I Think We're Alone Now

I am alone. It is a rare occurrence, and something that I cherish. I'm not saying that I prefer a hermitage to the hurricane of activity which swirls around me daily, just that it is nice to get out of the wind sometimes.The Littles are asleep, the spouse is in an undisclosed city on the east coast, (which I will refer to as La Gran Pomme.)

The soundscape of my evening belies my solitude. I can hear appliances, and the noise of my keyboard. Typety-typety. I start to mutter to myself. I putter around in my slippers. Mutter and putter. I am going to make an awesome old lady, I can feel it. Give me some pigeons to feed and joints that can predict rain and I am all set.

I used to think that I liked being alone because I was interesting, introspective and thoughtful. This was also the era when, like Morrissey, I wore black on the outside, because black was how I felt on the inside. I wrote sad poetry. I had lunch in the graveyard across the street from my high school. I was 15, and thought Cafe Pergolesi, Oscar Wilde & the Beat poets were the height-the very outer limits-of cool. I wanted to be Winona Ryder in Heathers.
Now, in my thirties, I know the truth. I do better alone because my brain is feeble and easily distracted. I am constantly derailed by the smallest things, and lack the mental acuity to cope with more than 3 things happening at once. And I find that I cannot complete thoughts over the din of other people's vibrant personalities, brash assertions and needy agendas. And that is just the children.
All kidding aside, it is not until I am alone that I can really begin to process my life, and as I go longer and longer surrounded by people, I find myself unable to answer the following question, thrown at me often, "So-how are you? What's going on in your life?"to which I dazedly answer, "Ahhhh...finejustfine. And how are YOU?"

The youngest is awake now, holleratin' at me, so I guess my time alone is done. Lord, have mercy! (And send B home soon!)


Now We Are Six

Well,that's done. Happy Birthday to our own sweet girl-Little Miss G is six today! And true to form, we went completely over the top for her birthday. But I think it was nothing that a large mug of sweet milky tea and "Tokyo Godfathers" couldn't cure. We're done in! But glad to have parented 'Little Bit' for six lovely years.

Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature

  • A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
  • Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
  • Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
  • RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
  • Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
  • Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
  • Sunset Western Garden Book
  • Sunset Western Landscaping Book
  • The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
  • the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
  • The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
  • The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
  • We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations

  • vespertinus: flowers in the evening
  • vernalis:spring
  • veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
  • superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
  • rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
  • placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
  • nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
  • nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
  • muralis: growing on walls
  • mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
  • formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
  • carpe vitam: get a life
  • Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.