Oct 112016
 

pink-cone-flower-bloom

Well, Dear Readers, most of you were unaware that I was actually gone these past several days, but that is what happened.  Last week, I loaded George and Jack up into the car and drove almost half a day to visit family for 6 days (which included 2 days of traveling).  I am pleased to say the trip out was uneventful and actually pretty easy.

The trip back was also fairly easy, if you do not count the side trip where I took way too long trying to find a road with no sign.  All’s well that end’s well, and I got to have a brief visit with a friend who I may not see again for quite some time.

The middle of the trip, though, that was the interesting part.  The plan was to visit family.  Simple.  What happened was visit family and have my body decide to do its own intense cleanse … of all food inside of it… for over 24 hours.  Yeah, not a fun.  Can I call it ‘organic’ as there was nothing chemical about its induction?

Day 1 of the cleanse I wanted to be completely out for the count, but knew that was not an option.  Thankfully the zoo does not take too much effort and behaviors were held in check very well.  Or, at least I thought so.  We have not seen these particular family members for a few years so they did not know what they were potentially missing on the ADHD/anxiety front.  🙂

Day 2 I was able to keep down liquid but not exactly full of energy.  “You want to play on your cousin’s iPad for 6 hours? Sure, go right ahead.”  “You want to play in the (fenced in) backyard unsupervised? Go right ahead.”  Everyone survived and no iPad was thrown.

Day 3 I felt back to normal and we headed back home.  🙂

Today, we are home.  I am exhausted, yet can not sleep.  My brain is moving on to a big event coming up, something for which I need to be preparing in many different areas.  While I have been making vast progress in all of the areas, I am not quite there yet and need to keep moving.  My dad is coming by to help for a few days.  This should aide in knocking off those last few items on my list – I hope.  I really, really hope.

Dec 292015
 

first 2013 produce stand

This past year was harder than I had anticipated.  Though I will further explore that statement later, I want to talk about one aspect in particular relating to this past year – the street-side produce stand.

Since 2009 I have put a small stand out in front of the house.  It started with extra produce which was more than I could give away at church.  The idea was to charge less than Small Town Grocery, who is expensive and has a poor selection,  but enough to cover my gardening costs.  I was not in it to get rich.

Over time I have come to realize how much my neighbors appreciate the close availability of fresh produce.  The working mom across the street would send her kids over for peppers to make with supper.  The assisted living residents would stop by for a tomato or a hanging basket of begonias, as those were one of the few plants able to grow in the limited light of their apartments. Someone canning and needing just a few more tomatoes knew were to stop. The family with only a few dollars to spend on fresh produce could make their money go further.  The neighbor across the street bought me out of bedding plants to complete her yard work.  The mail carrier needing a few things, but no time to run into the store after work.  As time went on, I began to get a feel for the community, realizing what a blessing this was for people.  That is one thing I would remember when I needed the extra energy to keep it going.

(Side note: my husband recently shared with me that at least one person stopped and bought from the stand assuming we needed the money. “Why else would someone do it?”, they reasoned. )

cart of produce auction hay tomato apples

The stand was started before we became foster parents, before the loss of my husband’s father, before the loss of someone close to me to suicide, and before other trials in our lives. It was one of the things I would do to keep my sanity in times of otherwise emotional chaos.

Over time, my friendship with my neighbor grew due to the time we spent on gardening related activities, including running this stand together.  Without her, I am not sure I could have seen it through that first summer with George and Jack.  The following year she had some major medical issues that kept her from gardening at all, let alone helping with the stand. I was able to pick up things and still help her family have some of the fresh produce they had now grown used to during the summers.

processing tomatoes for spaghetti sauce dinning room table

Having the produce stand has also resulted in some unintended opportunities.  It has allowed my neighbor-friend to realize another area of need outside of our community that provides better income on a more consistent basis, during the summers, with not a lot of extra effort.  I too have begun noticing other areas of opportunity and have had the confidence to try them.

When this past Spring was approaching I knew I had to say “no” to more things in my life due to new priorities.  It was going to be for a season, but it was still hard to accept. The produce stand had become so second nature I was not sure I could stop. It had become a part of who I was. “My house is the one with the produce stand out front,” was often how I explained to people where I lived. It had also started taking up more of my time and mental energy.

My biggest worry was how to share this with my neighbor-friend. My second thought was for those who had relied on the stand as a source of affordable fresh produce.

When I shared my conclusion with my friend, her reaction was a sense of relief. Not at all the reaction I was expecting.  She too had been trying to figure out the words to use to say that she could not do the produce stand this year.  Her family responsibilities were going to be increasing, taking up more of her time. We both had been worried about letting the other down when in reality it was not the right season for either of us.

large white pumpkin at stand

As Spring turned into Summer I had several people ask about the produce stand. While they were disappointed, I assured them it would be for a season, not permanent.

It was the right decision. As Summer went along, it was very obvious I could not have done it all. I did not want to do it all.  While we missed the extra cash flow, it was not something we were relying upon to make ends meet.

I did not even need it as a source of extra produce to preserve, as that was something else to which I had said “no”. It helped that I had canned a lot of extra the past 2 years, enough to see us through on several different items.

What started out as an act of desperation when I had begun to feel overwhelmed, ended up being a very healthy thing. It allowed me to step back, re-evaluate if this was something I wanted to keep doing, to spend my time on, or something I needed to let someone else take over. (Several other gardeners had begun doing the same thing in the last year or two.)

Farmer's Market Stand

While I see myself picking it back up this coming summer, I also see myself setting boundaries.  We had both begun feeling as if we had to put the stand out, not because we had extra produce but because people expected it to be there. It was becoming more of a burden than a blessing.

Having the extra time this past year has allowed flexibility in deciding what was best for our family at this time.  Even that has changed several times as various needs have come and gone.

While I wish I could say, “This is what is going to happen, this is what is going to work for us in the upcoming 12 (unforseen) months”, I know better.  Forget about His laughing at my presumptions, I would do it for Him.

So, for now, I see that this past year was only “for a season”. Whether my forecast is accurate or not remains to be seen. I now know that I can let go and still be Me, that my identity is tied to more that something I happen to be doing at this time, even if it is something I greatly enjoy doing. This is a lesson I seem to have needed reminding of yet again.

 

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May 222012
 

Note: I know several of my posts recently have not had to do with gardening exactly.  However, I find there to be more to a garden than just the plants, and more things affect gardening than just the weather.  This morning for example I felt free to be in the garden, or rather planting cucumber that were hung near it, because I knew that my house was in decent shape.  Beds were made, dishes were done, the kitchen counter was basically clutter free and a load of laundry was started.  Toys were decently picked up and the trash was not over flowing.  Having a morning outside in the garden allowed me to be more relaxed at lunch and nap time.  This in turn resulted in one of the easiest nap times I’ve had recently.  Now to go back out to do more gardening.  If I can get it all prepped right, then I can garden while the kids ride their bikes in the side yard.  It is all interconnected.

Recently on a local radio show there was a guest talking about gardening.  It was a good program that was at the basic level.  No complicated topics were talked about, just how to start a basic garden or what to do if you didn’t have room for a garden.

One of the questions asked was, “Should I start a garden?”  The answer to this was not quite what I would have thought of.  Thinking on it further, though, I thought it was a great response.  The gist was that if your  house is not clean, then you should not have a garden.  The reason?  If you can’t keep your house picked up, what then would make you want to go out and keep a garden watered, weeded, and harvested?  Now, I unfortunately don’t remember which radio show this was on.  If you however happen to know, please leave a comment and tell me.

At the same time, Money Saving Mom was doing a series called “4 Weeks to a More Organized Home“.  Now, I didn’t participate at that time, but I was seeing these posts almost daily.  It was bound to have an effect. Part of the daily assignments was decluttering 7 items.

Between the two of these, I got the urge to finally declutter some things around the house.  Something also happened in my life that finally allowed me to declutter a section of stuff that, up until that time, I had been required to hang onto.  Last week felt great.  My goal had been 7 items for 7 days.  I didn’t make it 7 days but went well above the 7 items each day.  Here is a bit of what I was able to get rid of.

Day 1

A pile of 7 shirts, two books and an old suitcase that is starting to tear where the handles attach to the body.

Day 2

3 books and a pile of kids clothes

Day 3

A pair of roller blades (that look new and barely used), a pile of old belts, two fake tattoos, a book, two dresses and two shirts, and a well loved old truck.

Day 4

Day 4 was by far the largest and took the most time.  However I felt the lightest afterwards.  Pictured are 38 pieces of clothing and a rubber mop/sweeper/scrubber item (an extra to one we already have).  Not pictured are the paper bags (2.5) of clothing I plan on taking to the consignment store to see if they can try to sell.  Any items they won’t take will be put into the “yard sale” pile.

 

I wasn’t able to follow through with 7 days, but it was a start.  Even know I am still seeing items that can be put in either the “to give away”, “to throw away”, “to consign (take to the consignment store)” or the “yard sale” piles.  Okay, the “to throw away” pile is actually the trash can.  The “to give away” pile is the free table out front or my neighbor’s free table.  One of us has one every so often if we have several things to just plain give away.  If it is for someone in particular, they get a paper bag with their name on it and the item(s) for them goes in it.  No hanging about on the shelf.

I plan on keeping up with this.  Already today I saw two things to add to the yard sale pile and two things to take to the consignment store.  Now I just need to put those 4 items in the correct spots and find 3 more.