Saturday, January 30, 2010

Turning Wheel Moon

I know the Moons are called by many things, depending on the culture...

As I looked out to see the huge, bright light illuminating the fields and banks of snow (beautiful and newly fallen, it had blown and drifted leaving areas of the earth bare and filled in others...changes of hue and tone in the monochromatic landscape that accented the turning of the Wheel.

Just a few days ago, our misplaced (too late) and unseasonal (too warm) "January Thaw" took our snowpack average from 12" to a mere 2, showing furrows in the fields and garden, turning the lane to mud and leaving shrinking banks of black and brown much more suitable to March than January.

But as I contemplated by the Moon last eve, this Moon came by the name of "Turning Wheel Moon." The dark banks, not obscured, but accented by the forcefully drifted snow, and the patches of bare, muddy earth -- with footprints frozen once again in place -- spoke to the "hope for a good season" that fuels green-thumbed folks to pick up catalogues, place orders, and even begin tucking early seeds into pots warmed in the windowsills.

And the glistening, pristine drifts filling the distant lane and undulating across the fields told stories of more time for contemplation, preparation, thought and rest.

I love February. Not, as many say, because it is short and quickly over, bringing the overly anticipated spring. No, I love it because it eases us gently into the busy days of summer, giving us plentiful times for "catching up" on the winter's rest -- which often seems delayed by holiday madness in our modern world.

Candlemas, Groundhog Day, Imbolc, St. Brigid's day... whatever you call this time of the year, it IS a time of change. Here in the Northlands, the sun is rising visibly earlier each morning and lingering longer in the afternoon. For me, it rises now before 7 am, which means before long it will be awakening me, not the other way around, as I feel during the winter season. These holidays, spread over a few days in early February, accent for me the tidal nature of these seasonal changes. As the sun does not wake up one morning and jump over the horizon an hour earlier, neither do the changing seasons turn on a moment, or a day.

The feelings of change rise from twinges that motivate me to remove the holiday greens and douse the yard lighting, to joy at seeing jonquils and daffodils, harbingers of the growing light, lining florist shelves. The garden plan is in process, and I anxiously await the first early order of seeds -- leeks and lettuces, broccoli and cabbage -- for the window sill. The second order -- for later indoor starts and the first direct seeding in the ground -- will go out this week.

And I stand under the Turning Wheel Moon and hail the tides of change with the hope for a good season for all.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

and it begins again...

We'll be picking up wood in town today for not one, but TWO custom 4' hex signs. The order includes two smaller ones (20 inch and 24") that I'll start next.

This has been an expected order, somewhat delayed on account of (take your pick) Mercury having been retrograde OR the incompetence of the city post office employees. hummmm... that's a tough choice. LOL Anyway, regardless of the cause of the delay I did make contact with the customer again yesterday. We had been talking (yes, on the phone, blast it... ) and by post for some time, working out the details of his design and sizes but he had said that he would be away for the month of December and would be back in touch after the holidays.

Turns out, he sent a check and some other material to the PO box early on in the month of December, apparently just before leaving on vacation and it was returned. That is odd, because I had been getting orders by post there all through the holiday season! But I had fielded a phone call from someone in Maine state government earlier in the week saying something had been returned to them that was sent to Dutch Hex Sign at that address... So I guess I will inquire today when I am in town and really beat the issue later when I receive the package from the new customer (who is sending the whole shebang here to the studio).

In any case, I am glad to have this commission, glad it is continuing into the new cycle. I have been working a bit to connect up the web site with other sites that many generate local traffic (business directories for the Bangor area, etc.) and have done so with the design company as well. I am planning to put up the design "shingle" on the side of the garage as soon as I can reasonably get there, and still have in the back of my mind painting the building barn red to put a large hex on the west end.

Also after discussions with my friend with whom I co-marketed last year, I am ramping up the branding of Stone Soup Collaborative produce over the next few weeks.. We are considering adding some markets... we will see how that goes. I am interested in attending any that I can that will allow craft as well as produce and we have looked at one in Brewer...But it will have to be worked around everything else, of course.

And everything else now includes a standing counseling appt for K on Thurs AM. I will let them know, eventually, that if they get an opening on TU we would like to switch. That will make it easier.

One thing I can't do, though, is complain. I have work -- new work for both of my businesses. Could there be a bright light that is NOT a train, at the end of the recession tunnel?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hope for a Good Season

Farmers and fishermen have something big in common... The Hope for a Good Season that keeps us coming back, be it to earth or to sea. (PS... the author of that wonderful book is a friend from NC).

So, once again I prepare to come back to the garden. This year the seed orders are going in piecemeal, in bits to get them here in time for planting.

Thus far I have ordered from JUNGS, three cauliflowers: Cheddar (a yellowish-orange head) Graffiti (purple) and Panther (green head, but cauli, not broc.) Did this order online. None of my caulis did well this past year, but I will try again.

Monday I will get the $$ out of the CU (from savings) for the FEDCO order, which is much larger and includes (this time)
LEEKS Lincoln (which I am hoping to take as early, small gourmet "bunching leeks" to the Thursday market) and Bleu do Solaize, which is touted as having decent overwinter survivability even here in Maine with only straw for protection. I would like to hope it is possible... the freezer full of leeks, even though they are sealing securely in freezer bags, is giving a taste or scent of leek to things that should not have it, such as MooseTracks ice cream, according to K. Now, I haven't any confirmation of that...but then his senses are so over the top I am not sure it would be an issue to anyone else. But still, fresh leeks would be nice...

LETTUCE (a passle of them) a Summer mix which is supposed to stand into July without bolting (going to seed), a Winter mix that supposedly has the potential to overwinter with protection (motivation to get some sort of tunnel system going) as well as some of our usual favorites: Black Seeded Simpson (the old standard green leaf lettuce) Slobolt, Royal Oakleaf, Cardinale (red Batvian variety) and Summertime and Webbs Wonderful as attempts at head lettuce once again. Last year they all rotted due to too much rain, but were good early on as I picked outer leaves to add to the lettuce mix for market.

BROCCOLI -- I ordered a mix this year, to see what will happen and save a bit of $$. This is just for our eating.

PEPPERS Klari Baby Cheese (supposedly good for the "pepper challenged" to grow, and that includes me) and Peacework

TOMATOES the Heirloom mix (again for variety to experiment with and save $$) as well as Bellstar past tomato and Oregon Spring, Ida Gold (yes, a tomato with the same name as the potato) to lean a little heavier on the early varieties. Oregon Spring has grown well for me in the past.

CABBAGES: Golden Acre (early, round variety) Bartolo (late variety that is touted for storage as one that "will hold and hold") and the savoy variety called Frigga, just because I had to!

... and it begins...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Finding Abundance in a $25 stove

The way I live, the way I work, there is no separation, no difference between material and spiritual. To me, that division smacks of being a "Christmas and Easter-" ( or even just a Sunday-) Christian. I guess that might translate to a Samhain and Beltane Pagan?

Any way, in the veins of As Above, So Below and the converse, I have been mulling about the recent demise of my oven and my search for its replacement, which will not be another wall mounted oven (which is not good for a short old cook, as climbing ladders while hoisting heavy fowl, roasts or even pans of batter is NOT FUN.) Instead, I have opted to replace said oven and the island with cooktop with a standard, everyday gas (propane) range. This will likely give me a larger oven, as well as one more in keeping withe my stature.

The "gotcha" in all this is, of course, there was no "replacement stove" category in the budget and no slush fund that could be shoveled over to fill that missing category. We ain't hurting, we ain't broke, but extra money... well it's in a bit of a short supply... so off to hassle the Ethers I went with emphasis on "cheap" or "free" via such venues as Freecycle and Craigs List. One thing I noticed straight off -- all of the used stoves I found on by any of the second had resources were listed at $300 or more. Yikes... at that price a bottom of the line NEW one would be pushing into the picture!

Then I found one, on Craigs list (which is normally a total bus for me) for $25. Not a half-dead near antique, either (I asked for a photo) nor clear across the state, it looked quite perfect to fill the bill and we were even able to negotiate pick up for this weekend, rather than last, which was the sellers' preference. Yeah, I need a stove but not bad enough to push it in predicted blizzard conditions.

An email to a friend was all it took to secure loan of a trailer to pull behind the Subaru for transport (even if the farm truck was safe and legal, stove is outside the roaming distance for legal farm truck operation, and with a PayPal transaction, the deal was sealed.

And then another friend showed me a new listing in Uncle Henry's for a FREE one... at about the same distance.

What does this tell me?? It shows me that abundance IS INDEED manifesting in my life. I did not need to wait for the free stove to appear, nor did I have one moment of regret over having "missed" that deal. No, that stove is undoubtedly destined for someone for whom $25 would be a big deal... a deal breaker big deal.

And my new stove will come home on Saturday.