garden, life

July Garden Tour – on two feet ! 💃💃💃

I can walk! After doing the June tour on crutches, I finally got an X-ray and found out that what I thought was a sprained ankle was actually a spiral fracture of my fibula. So, I’m madly rehabbing my ankle constantly and being very careful but I’m thrilled to be mobile again. I have even more appreciation and compassion for people with permanent mobility difficulties. I tried not to whine, really.

Can you say ‘atrophy’?

Vegetables and irrigation

Needless to say, the garden isn’t quite where I envisioned it would be pre-wipeout. Although I give my husband, who is more of a landscaper than a gardener, full credit for managing single-handedly as well as he did. Hand watering the vegetable containers alone could take an hour or more to do properly, so in the last few days I finally built a drip irrigation system. Hallelujah!

It’s not pretty (yet, but the tweaking is half the fun) but it only takes four minutes per zone to get everything watered through. It’s mind-boggling to me, I wouldn’t believe it if I wasn’t seeing it but the plants are showing the difference just from two days watering, and plants don’t lie. Why did I wait so long???

Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, carrots, leeks, lettuce, dill, etc.
Peppers!
Cucumbers and tomatoes. I was amazed at how quickly these tomatoes ripened after I removed the leaves beneath them, and others, in order to direct all the ‘power’ to the fruit.
Onions were not bad, but I think I can do better next year. Leeks still to come though!

The Garlic Experiment

I grew garlic for the first time last year, not altogether successfully. I didn’t know that the ‘flowers’ that garlic throws up are called ‘scapes’, and beyond being my new favourite raw vegetable to snip over my salad, now I know that you need to clip them so the growing power goes into the bulb, not the flower. One of those duh-in-retrospect moments.

This year has been much more successful, due mostly to better planting, fertilizing and watering – and snipping the scapes. There is just no comparison with grocery store garlic when you slice into it. So satisfying!

But check this out, last fall I planted some of my garlic in the ground (left) and the rest of it in half gallon containers (right). I transplanted the container garlic into the ground in the early spring, and the difference was unreal. It was all absolutely huge, whereas the in-ground garlic developed into several smaller heads. I’ll also wait longer to harvest it next year because I just pulled out this monster (bottom right) the other day! I intend to use the bigger heads as my seed garlic in the fall.

And now for the flowers…

The sunflowers are lovely but I’m rethinking my decision to try to use them as trellises. While kind of amusing to go bushwhacking hunting for peas, beans and cucumbers, it’s not especially efficient – or user-friendly. So the vegetables will stay in the containers close to the house in future, and the back garden will be for perennials, annuals and herbs.

Sunflowers everywhere!
Dahlias on Ilam Road, named for our house in NZ where we first fell in love with them.
Gladiolus, here there and everywhere. They always make me think of my oldest BFF, who has given them to me on many special occasions.
Echinacea
Lilies
I would have enjoyed eating this artichoke, but the flower isn’t a bad consolation prize.
Wild kingdom – not ‘the spider on the fly’ but the ‘fruit fly on the crazy translucent spider on the honey bee on the cosmos’.
I grew these cosmos from seed. Check out the mutant on the left – it’s taller than me! Easy for a person, tougher for a flower!
The calla lilies have finally found a home.
This is an orange calla lily that hasn’t flowered yet but I love the sunshine and the petunias surrounding it.
View from the shady spot.

Alright, we’re off to our favourite spot on the west coast for my 50th 😱 birthday holiday. Be kind, stay calm and stay safe.

❤️ Amanda

garden, life

May Vegetable Tour

I can’t believe it’s the last day of May! I wanted to complete my May Garden Tour with a record of how the vegetable beds closer to the house are looking. It’s a crazy windy day – again, ugh – so I snapped them quickly, but such is life.

Unfortunately, the damn deer got in again last night. We can mostly thank our nature-hating, pavement and power tool-loving neighbour for basically killing the hedge on his side. Okay, vent over. Check out the temporary fence – it’s like living in a junk yard! 😂

On the back deck we have potatoes, peas, lettuce, spinach, arugula, leeks, peppers, tomatoes, strawberries and mint. My potatoes have never been this tall before. I’m hoping for a better yield this year, so fingers crossed.

In the raised beds we have potatoes, garlic, radishes, beets, lettuce, peas, carrots, kohlrabi, leeks, peppers, beans and cucumber.

We bought these 20 gallon containers for cheap this year. They’re amazing for tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers and big enough to stuff in some basil, dill, parsley, cilantro, spinach and lettuce.

Tomatoes are so satisfying to grow. I planted these from seed and was horrified when I broke the first one when transplanting. But I pinched off the bottom leaves and stuck the stem deep into the soil and voilà! I also stuck the root ball into the garden and it’s started sprouting new growth. Life will out. 🥰

Alright, I hope this finds you well. Any gardening tips always appreciated!

Be kind, be calm and stay safe!

❤️ Amanda

life, mental health

Learning to Be

The world has stopped. The unthinkable has happened and we’re in crisis mode, trying to get our heads around this ‘new normal’.

I’ve been here before.

No, not exactly like this, obviously. But almost five years ago, my world stopped when I finally admitted I couldn’t teach anymore. I’ve been adapting to my new normal ever since. It’s been a bumpy ride, but there have been many surprising blessings as well.

Learning to be. This is a big one. We are so inundated with messages telling us we need to be doing something all the time. There’s a culture of busy-ness, where the more you’re doing is like a badge of honour. When you have a chronic illness, that’s not really an option because the fatigue, among other things, is so killer that You. Just. Can’t.

So you spend a lot of time at home, sitting around, isolated, without a whole lot of options for entertainment. Sound familiar? I’m sure it’s a new experience for most healthy people, and it can be uncomfortable just sitting in your own skin sometimes. Or maybe that’s just the MS. 🤔

But just being, instead of always doing can be a wonderful opportunity to get real with yourself and figure out what’s really important. We’ve been conditioned to believe we need to be working, be productive, be entertained, be adventurous, be travelling , be consuming, be socializing.

We’ve forgotten that sometimes it’s important to just BE.

When you stop doing and sit quietly with yourself, your mind has space to process. This is why meditation has become so popular. But you don’t even have to be that organized about it. I’m not knocking meditation in any way, I’m just suggesting that you pay attention to whether you take any time during your day to stop doing and just BE.

Staring at nature is my go-to for times when I need to stop and be for awhile, even if it’s just out the window, or the nature channel on TV. I guess that’s technically doing something but the mental health benefits outweigh any slicing of that proverbial hair.

We’ve been running on the societal treadmill for so long that doing nothing, just BEING is a difficult thing for many people right now. I get it. Like with anything though, a shift in perspective can change this strange situation we’re finding ourselves in, into an opportunity to examine our values and decide if we really want to go back to the “old normal”.

As much as I miss teaching, I am grateful every single day for my many blessings. Learning to be comfortable with just being and not doing all the time has helped me enormously in accepting my new normal. I hope it helps you too.

Just be.

Hummingbird in flight feeding
Look what you can see when you stop doing for a few minutes. Just be.
Photo credit: Amanda L. Callin

❤️ Amanda

Health, life, mental health

Love. Not Fear.

View at Medium.com

It has been far too long since I’ve published anything but this article is important enough to share. If you allow your fear to spiral out of control, that lowers your immunity and makes you more susceptible to getting sick.

Stay informed, but focus on connection and gratitude. Turn off the screens and get outside. Wash your hands, and stay home unless it’s essential to go out. Stay safe and healthy out there!

❤️ Amanda

life

Endings and beginnings

He’s off. Settled. Installed at university – across the country.

I’m always a proud Mama, and never more so than when our son was accepted into one of the top universities in Canada. The fact that it’s four provinces (4029km/2504miles) away, is something my husband and I have been digesting, with a smile on our faces, for months.

I’ve just returned from a four day trip to get him organized and set up in residence. It was one of the most wonderful, but more emotionally challenging experiences I’ve had in motherhood.

He’s doing exactly what he should be doing, moving into the next phase of his life with the skills, values and independence we’ve worked to instill in all our children.

But hugging him goodbye and having to leave him there, no matter that I know he’ll do great and be just fine, was almost as hard as when I had to leave him in the OR for surgery on his broken leg when he was six.

I sucked it up (mostly – poor Uber dude) until I hit my hotel room. It was only in writing out all the fantastic details of the day to email his dad, that I got a handle on the Snuffluffagus tears. Writing is therapy.

I flew out so early the next morning, I was hardly conscious. I was one of the last to board the plane, psyched to have an aisle seat near the front. The middle seat was empty and I thought I had it made, despite the huge manspreader in the window seat. (wtf is up with that???)

Then a young mother boarded with her 9 month old baby boy, and smiled at me apologetically. I jumped up to let them in, remembering well my many trips with young kids and the obvious looks of horror from fellow passengers, then realized the father was there too. I offered to move but they said he was in the middle seat at the back of the plane. Yeah – not happening.

I was happy to help her out and thrilled to hold the little monkey. He was such a happy guy, with a shock of blond hair, huge blue eyes and a ready smile.

Then a three year old boy walked up the aisle and spotted the baby. He stood and gazed at him with such fascination for ages, it was adorable.

Do you see the pattern here? Okay, Universe!!!

I didn’t let myself say the usual, ‘it goes by so fast’, ‘appreciate every moment, even the most frustrating ‘, ‘you never get this time back’.

I didn’t want to be that person.

It’s all true though, but you can’t really understand it until you live it. Like everything in life.

I lost it a bit at the airport when I saw my husband, a couple of times on the way home, but walking up to the house was really weird. He’s not just out, he’s away.

So sniffling away in my bedroom, I pulled out my phone, and there was a text from my boy.

I thought you should know, I had tomatoes for lunch.

😂😂😂 Thank god for technology.

And perspective – he’s only away at school, he hasn’t moved out! Home for a visit in two months!

This is not the end of anything, it’s the beginning of everything.

❤️ Amanda