garden, life

June Garden Tour – on crutches 🙄

We all have them. Those moments in life, often a split-second, we wish we could go back and do differently. But we can’t, so we have to chalk it up to Lessons Learned.

So yeah, I’ve sprained, possibly broken, my ankle.

Lesson Learned: Pirouettes and garden clogs are a terrible combination. No matter how chuffed I was that our daughter asked for choreography help for one of her videos, it was just plain dumb. And I will never forget the sound. 🤢

Anyway, the garden has been neglected for several days and I’m not loving the crutches so we’ll see how this goes…

The deck – My poor potatoes have been flattened by the almost constant wind.

Peas, lettuce, peppers and tomatoes

Peppers are coming along nicely.

Holy tomatoes! Some peppers and cucumbers too.

The tomato on the right is the one that broke right off when I transplanted it. So it’s much shorter but still growing!
Carrots, onions, beets and a tomato branch that I poked into the middle that’s now a new plant. Tomatoes are amazing!

The raised beds- The kohlrabi will be ready soon, and more peas!

View from the bottom ‘entrance’ – Check out the spaghetti squash, it’s enormous! These sunflowers (left) aren’t growing fast enough to be trellises for the beans, even though I started them early from seed and transplanted them. Uh oh, could get messy.

The everlasting sweet pea on the driftwood tree needs tying again too. This is the first time it’s been able to flower because the deer kept eating it last year. Yay!

View from the bottom sitting area.

Potatoes, peas, beans, lettuce, kale and camomile.

These sunflowers are doing better, they’re the same height as those first ones but I direct sowed them much later. I think sunflowers prefer not being disturbed. The alstroemeria finally gets to flower too, another deer favourite when they get in. So far so good!

Cucumbers, peas, kale, dill, beans and quinoa.

This bean has the right idea! I’m hoping the sunflowers will be big and strong enough to support the cucumbers growing in front too, but I’m thinking that’s probably too much to ask. We’ll see…

Check out this onion! 😁

Middle garden.

The zucchini and cucumbers are doing pretty well but I’m a bit surprised that the cucumbers are flowering already even though they haven’t grown very tall. 🤷‍♀️ The carrots and leeks will still be a while.

The oldest part of the garden – I plan to make lavender oil with some of this lavender. My first batch didn’t work too well, it smells like pesto for some weird reason. I think I needed more flowers. It’s all a big experiment.

These steps are also the most established part of the garden. The daphne (right) is in full bloom for the second time this season and smells heavenly. I love the tiny light pink flowers.

The other side of the oldest part, and the lily and hollyhock bed.

Calla lilies coming up and bachelor buttons from seed are starting to flower.

View from the other entrance.

The apple tree bed, with the oh-so-attractive, temporary deer fencing. At least it seems to be doing the trick. And the buggers are around, our daughter had to step over a tiny fawn sleeping on our doorstep one night, and got charged by mama another night!

More potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks, kohlrabi and beets. And some self-seeding lettuce that I hope will naturalize in the garden.

Top garden – I’ve waited too long to harvest this artichoke now. Boo. Lemon tree is doing well even though we’ll have an ongoing battle with the crabgrass up here for the foreseeable future.

Blueberries! We’ve had these bushes for almost ten years but they’ve been moved around so much they’ve never really produced. This is the most we’ve ever seen. I’m so glad I got them protected with bird netting before The Incident.

There are more blueberries hiding all over this bush. Yum!

View from top deck.

Buddleais (butterfly bush, right top) are starting to bloom.
The hummingbirds love them!
Cosmos from seed in the planter. Hopefully some flowers soon!
The ‘Ring of Fire’ pepper plant in the tub has tons of blossoms on it already. I’m hoping to make my own chili flakes.

This deck area was the original, overgrown garden when we moved in and we’ve never done too much with it. My husband is finally tackling that project and has cleared out a ton.

This was a full garden bed a few days ago.

Sadly, our previously stunning, well- established, huge orange rose picked up some weird infection and basically rotted away. The stump is still there so maybe there’s hope. 🤞🏻

So there we go, a gimp tour of our backyard. I’m almost afraid of what things will look like by the end of July if my ankle doesn’t start healing faster. X-rays on Tuesday will hopefully give me a better idea of how long I’ll be hobbled. I really feel for people with chronic mobility issues, it’s a royal pain in the arse to not be able to do for yourself. I’m so fortunate, I won’t whine. Much. 😏

Good times.

Thanks for joining me. Wishing you peace and calm.

❤️ Amanda

chronic illness, Health, life, mental health, MS

May Garden Tour

Aloha! Since my backyard urban farm in-development has taken up all my focus and energy and I haven’t been writing at all, I thought I’d share photos of how I’ve been staying busy.

Honestly, it has become a full-time job. There are days when the MonSter awakes and I drag myself out of bed hardly able to face the thought of all the tasks calling for attention. But I make myself get out there every day at least for 20 minutes. Usually that ends up with me outside all day.

Besides the obvious advantages of all that vitamin D and fresh air, I know that digging in the dirt is helping rebuild my immune system and my gut microbiota. So even on the toughest days, I rest a lot but I make myself do the lighter tasks. The trick is to not focus on everything that needs to be done but to put the blinders and just do one, small, task.

Anyway, enough of that. Have a wander through our garden.

Food garden, Lavender , buddleias, wallflower, chives, irises, onions, beets,
10 years ago this was a grassy hill.
Chives,   Snapdragons , lilies ,  succulents , irises,lavender , lilac, buddleia
All the boulders, dirt and driftwood were hauled in and set by hand (and occasionally a rickety dolly with flat tires) by my very determined and creative husband. Those are the boots he wore out during the first few years.
Lilac, iris, lupin,  cosmos, daisies, Corsican mint
We obviously don’t play much bocce ball. 😏
Angelica,  alpine blue,  garden steps
One of my favourite statues because I bought it with a gift certificate from one of my grade one classes.
Rockcress, alyssum, lavatera, wallflower, buddleia, lavender ,garlic, kale, lithadora, ornamental  oregano , snapdragons, iris, strawberries, peonies
The oldest part of the garden. We found the sign buried when we moved in. The alyssum(bottom) reseeded itself from last year.
Petunias, onions, rose, garlic
Pallet deck at the top of the garden.
Hopefully one day a greenhouse.
Lemon, blueberry , kiwi,  artichoke, cucumbers, beans, onions, garlic, carrots, dill, nasturtium , leeks, petunias
Top garden – the Mediterranean garden
Lemon tree, artichoke, kiwi vine, blueberries and apple trees in the distance.
Oh, and that pepper in the tub is called a “ring of fire”. 🤣🤣🤣
Artichoke bud, food garden
Here comes an artichoke!
Daphne, Angelica, garlic, peonies, buddleia, Rosemary, lupin
Mid-garden
New vegetable bed growing zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, leeks, kale, dill, kohlrabi and buckwheat. Little bird was a Mother’s Day gift from my girls.
New vegetable bed beside the rhubarb and
the Nelly Moser clematis(far left) and anemones (right) finally flowering!
Instead of being chowed down by the deer. 🤞🏻👩🏻‍🌾🤞🏻
Apple tree bed growing onions, beets, potatoes, kohlrabi, radishes and carrots.
View from the apple tree bed
Barbie skinny dipping with a 20 year old bath toy.
Hmmm…that sounds strange… 😳
View from the bottom, the newest part just finished this year. This is where we mostly sit because it’s cool and shady beside the cedar hedge.

I know not everyone is fortunate enough to have a yard to garden. But even a small pot on a windowsill can grow parsley, basil and cilantro. Food security is a serious issue that has finally been brought to the forefront of people’s minds because of the Covid-19 situation. Start small and grow your own!

Alright, thanks for joining me. I didn’t even get to the vegetable beds by the house, but I’ll leave that for another post.

Take care, stay calm and stay safe. And garden!

❤️ 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

MS

Raw

I need to know

Do other MSers feel it too?

A sudden rawness

Burning

Tingling

In the tongue

Lips

Palms of hands

Soles of feet

Eyelids

MS?

Is it the myelin being destroyed

By my own cells?

Most uncomfortable

Anxiety-inducing

Go away now.

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