Community Gardening in Montana

When we left Alaska we traveled in the winter – not really a great time to be making a road trip – and arrived in Boise, Idaho to what they considered one of their worst winters in a very long time. The temperature was 22 degrees Fahrenheit and we had left Fairbanks at a fantastic -9 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s all perspective, really. We were in T-shirts as we unloaded our few possessions we carried with us. All of the rest was coming later by moving van. Boise was nice. I made friends. It wasn’t quite the same as the relationships I formed in Fairbanks. There were fewer, but I didn’t really get an opportunity for employment until later in the year. The main reason I ever look for work is for the social aspect.

My husband’s job came to a close – the business he was working for closed their doors – and we moved to Montana after almost a year in Boise. We were there for about a year and a half and then I found employment. In the midst of it all, we joined a cooperative group which owns a plot of land at a local park in downtown Billings. Folks pay a small fee to grow what they wish (with some exceptions) in their rented plots. The rules are a little strict but what do you expect from a government initiative, right?

My husband enrolled us in this co-op – the Amend Community Garden and we went to our orientation and two gardening workshops (one was held before our orientation with another group but we tried to learn as much as we could.) We visited the plot on orientation day.

He studied all of the literature we received, researched the hell out of everything online and drew up a map of our plot.

Planned garden plots

We weeded and seeded. We attended Master Gardener seminars. We weeded some more. We watered. As part of the community we volunteered our time to weed and water and turn compost and tidy up the general area. It was back breaking but then we started to see non-weed type greenery shooting up!

I had no idea which we had planted where but it didn’t matter. Plants came up and kept thriving despite my black thumb. I walked around and looked at the other plots. I admired the straight rows and the “scarecrows” and the way everyone was working together.

We managed to harvest an abundance of zucchini and yellow squash and 2 potatoes. Those were the best potatoes I ever tasted. There’s nothing like food that you’ve had a hand in growing. All he did was wash and cook them but it was heaven.

Community gardening isn’t for everybody. It takes a lot of patience and working with others. On the other hand the rewards are home-grown foods (shared by the whole cooperative), social interaction, seeing the fruits of your labor and feeling a sense of achievement and satisfaction.

Cure Insomnia? How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep

Randy Travis sings, “I’m gonna love you forever
Forever and ever, amen
As long as old men sit and talk about the weather
As long as old women sit and talk about old men.”

A few days ago I was talking to my friend about our husbands. We were discussing snoring. My friend was telling me how frustrated she gets because her husband drops off to sleep within 10 minutes and begins to snore. Even if it doesn’t shake the rafters it still has a rhythm that can be jarring. She gets up and goes to another room to read until she’s sleepy enough to go back to bed. Mine used to snore and sometimes stop breathing. His fatigue and lack of energy led to the diagnosis of sleep apnea and he was fitted with a CPAP machine (Continuous Positive Air Pressure) so the snoring has become non-existent. My deal with his snoring was it definitely kept me awake and I would shake him or push him just to make it stop. Of course those tactics don’t work for very long. This, of course, led to sleepless nights and tiredness and irritability the next day.

Continue reading “Cure Insomnia? How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep”

My First Attempt at Not Killing My Plants

We moved to Fairbanks, Alaska in the summer of 2009. Summertime is bright and sunny and warm – just the way I like my weather. There was a great deal of wildfire, too. The smoke blurred our view as we drove into town initially. Eventually the smoke cleared enough to enjoy the scenery. We drove from Grand Junction, Colorado to Fairbanks – through Canada, of course – and saw nature in its rawest forms – both animals and plant life. Continue reading “My First Attempt at Not Killing My Plants”

Natural Bath and Beauty Products – Handcrafting, Buying, Selling

My quest for all natural beauty products began in elementary school. Let me explain. I made a candle out of a Pringles can, paraffin, string and melted crayons (following a craft teacher’s instructions, of course) and I got excited.

Pringles canCandle wickBroken crayons

I could turn random things into a functional yet beautiful househould item. As I got older I learned more crafty things – sewing, embroidery, crossstitch, decoupage, tin punch, crochet. I sewed a Barbie doll dress. I embroidered a pillowcase. I made crossstitch wall hangings. I decoupaged a trivet tile. I made tin punch Christmas tree ornaments. I crocheted an afghan for my Aunt. Continue reading “Natural Bath and Beauty Products – Handcrafting, Buying, Selling”

Jack Sprat Could Eat No Fat – Keto, Paleo, and Other Diets

Jack Sprat could eat no fat.
His wife could eat no lean.
And so between them both, you see
They licked the platter clean. – 17th Century English nursery rhyme

Growing up I heard this little rhyme and never understood how one person could eat one thing and their companion eat something totally different. My mother wouldn’t have stood for it. Eat what’s on your plate. You’re not getting something different from the others.

Later in life I understood that this was actually a story of politics and the monarchy. The whole “eating” thing stuck with me so let’s talk about the many ways we like to fool ourselves into “licki[ing] the platter clean.” Continue reading “Jack Sprat Could Eat No Fat – Keto, Paleo, and Other Diets”

If you almost die maybe it’s time to make a change…

September 24, 2016

I was in my home office. It was a Saturday. I have two computers – a Windows 10 laptop and a Windows 7 desktop. I was playing FreeCell on the desktop computer. It seems silly but that’s how I was keeping my brain sharp – at least that’s what I told myself. My husband was on the couch and he was looking at something on his computer (which he keeps tied to our smart TV – it serves as a very large monitor.) As I played this silly card game things began to get really strange. To me it looked like all of the cards were bunched up when I dragged them over to a stack. I was puzzled. This wasn’t normal behavior for this particular game. My next thought was “maybe I should log out – or shut down – or something” so I dutifully clicked the Windows key on my keyboard. As an IT professional I am aware that when one clickes on that particular key a menu pops up allowing you to make a decision – log off, restart, shut down – or something similar. In my mind I should have been able to click on one of those and follow the instructions. On this day I became confused. I was certain I could just DO SOMETHING but nothing happened. I kept pressing the Windows key which opened the menu – and then closed the menu – and then opened the menu – and then closed the menu. You see, I didn’t ever take the next step. I just couldn’t. Continue reading “If you almost die maybe it’s time to make a change…”

What would you grow if you had a garden?

I was shopping in Sears, looking for gardening gloves. My husband was looking at gardening tools because we wanted an easier way to remove weeds. As chief weed-puller I wanted pretty but functional gardening gloves. While I was admiring them I told him I thought I might try raising some herbs or vegetables. He looked at me and asked me what I would grow if I had a garden. I told him “maybe some lavendar, or rosemary, or peppermint – maybe tomatoes (I was hungry for a good old-fashioned tomatoe sandwich at the time.)” The next day when I came home from work he had purchased a truckload of lumber and built me a raised bed planter in the backyard. We went to Walmart looking for potting soil and such. While there he picked up a starter tomato plant. Continue reading “What would you grow if you had a garden?”

Going back to my roots

I don’t know why I gravitate to herbal medicine books and crafting spa products. Maybe it was when I had my very first spa experience. I was stationed in Puerto Rico in the late 90s. My friend was young and pretty and of Indian descent. Her name was Shiva. She invited me to go with her for a massage appointment at the resort down the street. The first stop was the registration desk. We were offered slippers and a very plush bathrobe and directed to the changing area. I didn’t know what to expect but I followed Shiva’s lead. I took a shower and used the shampoo and conditioner and liquid soap in the stall. They were all eucalyptus. I wore a bathing suit (at her recommendation) and took a dip in the hot tub. I sat there for at least 5 minutes, sweating and then relaxing. When I got out, I rinsed off with a cool spray and then followed Shiva to the sauna. I was oh so limp. After about 30 minutes we went back to the showers and changed out of our swimsuits into just underwear and the robe. When we finally got to the massage area there was a waiting room. There were lounge chairs and spa magazines and different teas. Shiva was called in first so I drank some tea and picked up a magazine Continue reading “Going back to my roots”