Monday, October 27, 2014

Bottling the Day at Rock Mill Brewery

As I drove the hilly curves outside Lancaster, I could feel her anticipation rising. I was visiting Jess for the weekend after a long work week. She'd come up with the perfect Saturday activity -- a visit to the Rock Mill Brewery tasting room where we could share good brew, beautiful scenery and a gorgeous autumn day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Lesson of the Walnuts

I chose my steps carefully around the furrowed trunk of the black walnut. Ripening husks littered the floor of the Illinois Arboretum nut grove, greasy black flesh waiting to stain a poorly placed shoe.

I closed my eyes and took in the earthy lemon scent that filled the air, a fermented sweetness that fell on the good side of decay.

I remembered the time I was hiking with scouts, and surprised them by finding a just-fallen fruit along the trail. Many of them had enjoyed walnuts in chocolate chip cookies, but wouldn't believe that the green orb in my hand was one and the same. In a moment of lost discretion, I plunged my finger into the flesh, digging towards the hull that would prove to them a walnut grew inside.

Three weeks later, my fingers lost the dark hue of the juglone that stained my hands.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Waking to the Lunar Eclipse

My alarm went off at 5:30 this morning, an abrupt reminder of last night's eagerness to write before the day began. My sluggish hand slowly cleared the sleep from my eyes as my body fought the urge to spend another hour under the covers.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Learning to Garden Again, This Time in My Living Room

When I moved into my apartment a couple of months ago, I was determined to have a garden. My balcony was large enough to accommodate ten smaller containers from my old garden, but I knew that wouldn't be enough to satisfy my plant cravings.

My landscape had changed from a quarter-acre suburban yard to a few hundred square feet of carpet. Indoor gardening was not my wheelhouse; I'd killed more plants indoors than I'd grown. I took what I knew about outdoor garden design and combined it with sage inspiration from friends of mine, who also happened to be indoor gardening gurus and authors.

In Indoor Plant D├ęcor, Kylee Baumle and Jenny Peterson encouraged me to focus on one area at a time. They note, "Group your plant display by your window or your desktop, or hang a grouping of plants in your room."

Steve Asbell, in Plant By Numbers, reminded me that "when larger containers are grouped together, they become an even more realistic interpretation of the outdoors and can even be used to bridge together views from the world outside your window."

Sometimes when we encounter change, we recoil in defense. Change, however, is a wonderful opportunity for growth and learning. With a little push from my friends, I'm learning to garden again, this time in my living room.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sharing of the Little Moments

We've had a string of nice sunrises and sunsets lately, but none of the drop everything and grab the camera variety.

I sat drinking coffee on Friday morning, enjoying the calm before I woke my son for school and I prepared for a day at work. Bright orange sun streamed through my apartment kitchen window, silhouetting the coleus cuttings I'm rooting in a water goblet.

Even from a distance, I could see the sky reflected in the bowl and stem of the glass, despite the windows being fogged with condensation.

I returned to my coffee and my morning news feed with a thought lingering.

I need to share that. 

And so I did. Several of my Facebook friends found the same marvel in the image as I did with my own eyes.

This morning, Saturday, I realized that I'd shared more than ten posts on Facebook before noon. A different thought, one of concern, crossed my mind.

I wonder if I share too much. 

That concern hung with me most of the day, as my posting pace slowed but didn't shrivel. Especially on the weekends, I share with my social media friends and followers much like I'd share in person with a good friend or family member. If I find something interesting, have a question I can't answer on my own, or simply crave some interaction, I share.

While there may be social media strategists who use analytics to optimize the frequency and timing for maximum engagement, I'm not seeking that kind of return on investment.

I'm seeking the connections I have with others. In the sharing of these little moments, we understand one another and start to build our common ground.

Slow Cook BBQ Chicken and Mushroom-Bacon Twice-Baked Potatoes

My son has been battling a respiratory bug for the past couple of weeks, struggling to keep up with a busy school and extra-curricular schedule. Today, we decided, was a rest and recuperate day. He stayed in bed well past noon. I deemed it the perfect day to make the slow cook BBQ chicken that he loves. Instead of the sauteed red potatoes I normally make with it, I had a craving for a stuffed, twice-baked potato as a side.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Back in the Now

Over the last few weeks, I've watched the sun dip below the roof line of my apartment complex, the light through my balcony doors bringing my houseplants to life. My mind knew that same light was illuminating the fields to the west, but my heart wasn't in it. My camera remained tucked in the closet, the golden hour untamed.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I Can Garden Anywhere

With a few quick snips, I cut the tops off a few of the remaining healthy coleus plants in my balcony garden. My overwintered coleus won't be the operation it's been in past years, because I don't have the room in my new apartment for a wall full of plant racks and lights. That doesn't mean I can't grow some of these easily-rooted plants on my kitchen windowsill.