Worms and Flowers

Self-Cultivation List 2

Posted in Inside by Lzyjo on March 27, 2010

When I was a wee child I used to love plunking down on my stomach with the Sunday Funnies section. Now that I am a *little* more grown up I love reading different types of articles and info for entertainment and education. Here are a few of my favorites of late on my never ending journey of self-growth and cultivation.

Diary of a Victorian Clerk

This is a great find from the City of Westminster, who has gone to much trouble to transcribe the 18th Century Diary of Nathaniel Bryceson, a 19 year-old wharf clerk (coal cashier) residing in Pimlico, a suburb in the area designated as Greater London.Photobucket I first read about it on the BBC site in this article. The City posts the entries on an almost daily basis, following the diary as it was written in 1846. Nat, (as I imagine he would be called) talks about everything,  from physics (laxative), wars, current events,  to  what he wore, what he ate, how the weather was, who died, who was born, and so on. He attitude is surprising modern and frank. Here are a few excerpts of interest.

March 12th 1846 Thursday

Shortly after 3 o’clock this morning a fire broke out upon the premises of Mr Kneller, bullion dealer and refiner, 60 Princes Street, Leicester Square.  It originated in the smelting house the back of the dwelling and when first discovered it threatened very serious consequences.  The speedy arrival of four engines prevented the flames from extending further, but the … entirely extinguished … the stock in trade, fixtures, utensils in the smelting house were very consumed …

And just a little reminder of social constants. This one concerns Nat’s female companion, Ann Fox.

February 22nd 1846 Sunday

Walked through Regent’s Park.  Rain threatened, halted, held up again.  Proceeded onwards over Primrose Hill and fields to Hampstead Church.  Rain fell in torrents, rather wetted.  Sat awhile in church; looked over some monuments and tablets.  Proceeded homewards raining very heavy.  Ann got very wet, self fared better.  Got across the fields to a narrow lane with an archway over.  Sheltered ourselves under arch.  Got to wicked tricks.

That happened to be the same day of the so-called physic…….  O_o

Civil War Preservation Trust Discovery Trails

As we well know, the local area here is rich with Civil War history.  Recently a new civil war trail was designated At the Spring Hill Battle Field.

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Rippavilla Plantation Photo courtesy of Kraig McNutt at the Battle of Franklin

The Battle of Spring Hill was the prelude to the Battle of Franklin.  The battle began with cavalry skirmishes. A separate Confederate charge crossed the Duck River to assault the reinforced Federal’s at the Spring Hill crossroads. By late afternoon the Northern troops defeated the disjointed Southern attack,  opening the road to Franklin where the entire army was congregating in preparation for the next day’s massive battle.

The Battle at Franklin, on the site of the historic Carnton Mansion, is known as one of the bloodiest battles (outside of Gettysburg) with Confederates losing six generals. The Union had established “works” previous that they used as protection during the Battle of Franklin, leaving the confederates on open ground. Both sides were evenly matched, but the Confederates losses were three times the Union’s, probably do to the protection that they lacked. Losses totaled over 8,000. Yet the wounded confederates under Hood managed to trudge on to Nashville in retreat where Hood ‘s forces where completed stomped out a few months later in the Battle of Nashville, but that’s another tale.

The Civil War Preservation purchases property to preserve the historic significance. They manage over 600 sites in 32 states from Maine to Florida, and westward. Find a local battlefield or historic site to explore and learn about local history.  Just click on any of the links and select your state to find a battlefield.

Business Education

The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a wide selection of free business training materials on their website. The info there is useful for anyone who wants to start of already owns a small business. My favorite is the step by step Business Plan template, this is really helpful to help you hone your mission statement, see who your customer base is and why your products are unique. This module helped me also see what my goals are for my business. All of their presentations are about 30 minutes long, covering topics for setting up a business to surviving in a recession. According to the website the The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government, to help American small businesses grow. They have field offices in the major cities (Nashville/Memphis) that offer free consultations and advice from experienced professionals. Most large cites also have SCORE offices, (SCORE offers business mentor services locally and online)  States operate small business assistance offices in most cities, Clarksville/Columbia/Murfreesboro. Tennessee calls these Small Business Development Centers. To find State programs where you live,  go to your state’s website  and look for the business section. There you should find a page for starting a business, which includes links to all of the resources. It’s never too late to start, it’s also never too soon. So if you have a small group of employees, are a one person operation or ever considered, imagined, or dreamed of having a business, doing something you love, I encourage you to check out these free educational materials to inspire you and see if you can accomplish your goals realistically.

What have you been doing lately in your personal time?

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Good Beginnings

Posted in Farmer's Almanac, Garden by Lzyjo on March 21, 2010

PhotobucketPhotobucketWhether  it’s education or building a house we know building a good foundation is the most important part. In the garden a good fence makes for a good foundation. I have a large bale of fence hanging around and I used it some last year, but for the first time I unrolled it totally. Now I have a good perimeter about 15′ by 10′ fenced in for all my precious greens coveted by the rabbits. The freshly plowed garden is so nice. I love having a clean slate to work with. The bare ground looks empty though. I’ve fixed that by planting my big bag of homegrown sunflower seeds. I have a good blend of different sunflowers that have dehybridized, which means things will be getting crazy when the multi-headed medusas start blooming. Even the seeds look wild. Mostly purple Photobucketwith some darker purple stripes and the odd grey seed here and there. Hybrid sunflowers are bred to make one big flower on one long stalk. When they revert back to their natural genes they produce flowers all along the stalk. In some cases hundreds of flowers on a single plant. While I was in the process of taking down last year’s fence before the plowing the cows invaded the area, munching everything down to the ground. Even my cabbage was gone. Luckily the Blue Solaize Leeks were still fine thanks to their sturdy “trunks” under the surface. I dug up the leeks and transplanted them to the front flower bed where they can flower and go to seed this summer. I can’t wait! Blue Solaize did really well over the winter for me. They survived our colder than average winter and looked pretty good to boot. So I’m excited to have seeds from them. I so love that blueish- green color of leeks. They’re starting to put out new growth again. Yay!

I’ve plotted the garden on paper in CorelDraw. I like to plot the garden on paper before I plant, but rarely have I followed the plan to a T. As you can see, I am PhotobucketPhotobucketgrowing corn again. Last year was AWFUL for my corn so this year I have decided to grow more! Much more! We’ll see. I choose Silver Queen becuase it fared the best of the three types I tried. I may end up regretting this decision, but I’m going to do a few things differently with the corn this time. Planting using the Square Foot Method and trying a baby oil/mineral oil trick I heard about for keeping the corn ear borers out.

This year I won’t be growing nearly as many hot peppers and I’m not starting any from seed. I have a few overwintered peppers and they should be more than enough. (More about them later.) Good grief, I had way too many last year. A few weeks ago I threw away pounds and pounds of hot peppers that were still in the freezer. I filled an entire white kitchen bag and it was HEAVY. It really smells like spring around here. While I’m weeding the beds the sweet smell of pansies and muscari drifts past my nose. The self-seeded pansies show their splendid variation. Tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths are already up and the Muscaris are blooming. Even the bees are busy, visiting the muscari, chickweed, and all the other flowers that bloom in an early Spring lawn.

According to my Farmer’s Almanac Calendar Friday, March 19th was St. Joseph’s Day, a feast day celebrated by Catholics, Lutherans to honor the father of Jesus, St. Joseph. Some Catholic countries like Spain and Portugal celebrate Father’s Day on St. Joseph’s Day. The Farm’s Almanac included this proverb.

If St. Joseph’s Day [is] clear,
so follows a fertile year.

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Here it was a clear as can be — the clearest weather we’ve had for a long time.

How was the weather on your St. Joseph’s Day? Do you think it’s going to be a fertile year?

Self-Cultivation List 1

Posted in Personal by Lzyjo on March 17, 2010

Have you ever had someone repeat something totally crazy that you said but can’t remember saying at all. When I was 15 I made a quote. “People are like Oreo’s: The cookie is the body and the filling is the soul. It just depends which part you eat first” I have no clue WTHeck that means and I really don’t remember saying it originally.  I’m sure some super-intelligent person somewhere, made some super-profound remark about how the mind/body/soul is like are garden, which needs to be tended to be maintained.

In my opinion it’s important to have mental stimulation in a lot of different ways. As it was recently discussed on Poor Richard’s Almanac, in their post about shrinking brain power (“Not as smart as we think“) we don’t use all parts of our brain at once. We use different parts for different tasks. Senses, feelings, impulses, self-control, etc….. Mental stimulation isn’t just about keeping your mind nimble, it’s about entertaining yourself,  experiencing a variety of things throughout the day. It’s important for widening your world view and for enriching interpersonal relationships, (how long would you last with someone can’t hold your interest, or who can’t carry a conversation on your level?).

When we do meaning-less work to make a living, like data entry, braining numbing activities — mental stressers, we need to sit back at the end of the day and just shut off completely. How else can I explain why intelligent people like me can tolerate shows like Real Housewives, just for example.

Here’s what has been on my mental simulation and self-cultivation list.

The Cove

PhotobucketI don’t usually recommend movies that make me cry, but this is one powerful, mind-blowing film. It won a 2010 Oscar for Best Documentary and Viewer’s Choice at 2009 Sundance Festival. This documentary has a feeling of international espionage, following an undercover team, lead by the former  trainer of Flipper, as they attempt to destroy the dolphin market he helped create, by exposing mass dolphin slaughter in a secret high-security cove in a Japanese town that is not as pristine as it seems. The team is continuously followed by civilian cars, yet they manage to plant hidden high-tech cameras that capture what really happens in the cove. If you’re a fan of Whale Wars, this is a must see, it really shows just how far the corruption goes, from school lunches containing dolphin meat, to bribing third-world nations to support whaling. It’s a ghastly film, not for the faint of heart. It’s the kind of thing that stays with you for a long, long time.

Food, Inc.

PhotobucketTwo of our long time favorites, Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan, join their mighty and monstrous powers to bring us the food documentary to end all food documentaries, the documentary that will surly make you never never eat food again — unless it ‘s grown by a local farmer or in a field you tend yourself. Just kidding, but it will make you count your lucky stars, or socks, or whatever,  that you became a vegetarian when you did. You’ve heard about chickens that grow so fast they can’t stand up, can’t breathe, and their organs can’t support their overgrown bodies, well, now you get to see that and all the horror that goes along with it. I have to say the first 30 minutes is the most graphic and horrible, particularly the chicken footage. As you would expect from the two authors, they go on to explore the meatpacking and slaughter industry, illegal immigration, subsidies, corporate corruption, agribusiness, and a good portion is devoted to the…. shall we say…. a certain corporation who must not be named but begins with the letter M? right……them…..How they make it impossible for a small one-man seed-threshing operation to legally operate. How the big corporations begin lawsuits they can’t win just to make a point. It’s a sickening, sickening, scary film and seems to be virally popular in the blogosphere with the Real Food Challenge and lots of other good publicity.

PhotobucketT’ai Chi

Meanwhile DH has been starting his Tai Chi again. Tai Chi isn’t just a martial it, it combines a lot of different skills for a work out that is aerobic, uses natural body weight, helps with coordination, and improves the chi flow. There are a ton of instructional videos on you-tube. Just go to the site and search tai chi short form.  I’m not so good at taking my own advice, after all I did have a daily yoga practice that I pretty much abandoned. It’s never to late to pick up something new or become re-interested in something you already do or did.

I’ve recently been dealing with a lot of questions that really challenge one’s self-worth. I’ve been looking for a job locally, since before the holidays, but I haven’t even received one call back……that’s really hard. I try to console myself, by considering all the other people who weren’t called back, people who have more of an obligation to support their families, even children.

It’s okay knowing that you didn’t get a job that you felt neutral about, but when it’s a job you are very qualified for and really really want(ed) and can see yourself being great at. That’s the hardest. It makes you consider the old adage, “it’s not what you know but who you know.”  Even when you think of all of these “truths” it is hard to reconcile it all with your ego….

This economy can be really difficult on a lot of personal levels, zapping your motivation, killing your ego, stressing your relationships with constant financial worries. Now is the time to turn that around into something positive. If you’ve seen “Up in the Air” with George Clooney, one of the central themes is about turning job loss into a time for personal growth, rediscovering what you really wanted to do.  Everyday we come up with excuses to put off things that we’ve wanted to accomplish. Why not make time for things we want to do? Ya know write that novel you’ve always dreamed about, start a workout routine, and all that jazz. Self-cultivation is about increasing your self-worth and felling great about everything you are, and knowing that another door will open and another opportunity will come along.

Where for art thou, spring

Posted in Flowers, Garden, Weather by Lzyjo on March 14, 2010

Only six weeks ago the world outside was covered with snow and ice with more layers of ice and snow on top of that. Temperatures have consistently been 10 degrees below average. Now that it has warmed up the temperamental  spring weather has set in. Read, thunderstorms, hail, 25-mile-an-hour winds, and a threat for tornadoes.

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By mid January local schools had run out of snow days…..I have to laugh becuase they shut down when it’s cold and they let drivers decide whether they want to go out or not. But that’s another story. The only good part about an ice storm is it’s beautiful, if only for a few hours before they sun begins melting it off, drip by drip. In the Northeast you are expected to drive  in 6+ inches on snow, but here that’s nearly impossible, mostly becuase they don’t have the type of road crews like in the NE. I saw one ice truck and it went by three days after the storm when the road was already clear. Oy.

I’ve already been planting peas, but I fear it’s too cold. On the bright side the lawn is definitely turning green from the spring rains and it won’t be long now.

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Here’s what’s happening at CasaLiz. The frigid-looking pansies are flowering more and more, buds are swelling — leaves ready to bust out. Bulbs are coming up all over the place. Somewhere I expected, others in more surprising locations. Jumping-Jimminy, it’s exciting.

What’s been happening in your gardens?