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Close to the Dirt, Far From Normal

Confession ( or rather, Stating the Obvious): I’ve been lax about finishing that pesky “About” page. I haven’t yet organized my blog roll. And there are a couple of reader awards that I was delighted to receive, but less enthusiastic about writing the acceptance notes. I intended to participate in at least one WordPress writing challenge per week, and haven’t been consistent.

If the rest of the things on my To Do List received such blatant prompting as the ones I’ve been getting for my blogging, I would be a super-achiever, with a spotless home, flourishing seedlings, and a productive studio. Also, my abdominal muscles would ripple as I accomplished all these things with grace and serenity.

Truly, I do not always arrange the day's harvest in such an artistic manner.

Truly, I do not always arrange the day’s harvest in such an artistic manner.

But the universe today, via the WordPress elves, has asked me to share Six unusual things about myself. Acceptance of the Beautiful Blogger Award requires sharing Seven unusual things about myself. I’m not going to wait for the postman to request Eight items before handing over the mail. I get the message.

The No-Acre Homestead is firmly planted in middle suburbia. On 1/10 of an acre, we have our house, driveway, walkway, two sheds, deck, and patio. And in the spaces in between, we grow as much of our own produce as we can. Year-round, and camouflaged to conform to the community covenants.

The pride of the Homestead is our compost. We add all of our kitchen scraps. Even the dairy and meat. The rule of thumb is to keep those last items out, but we have a secret ally in composting. To our delight, last year we welcomed our first visit of the Black Soldier Fly. Their young, the less-attractively-named Compost Maggot, will eat Anything. I never thought I would love a maggot. But now I think to save some fat or fish heads for them when I am cooking, much the same way I save special tidbits for our other pets.

Do not look away!  There is a hidden beauty in this pile of kitchen waste.  Compost maggots!

Do not look away! There is a hidden beauty in this pile of kitchen waste. Compost maggots!

My favorite scent is clean, rich soil. In fact, that’s the smell of true compost, and the reason that we have been able to have such a huge pile of “garbage” piled between neighboring townhouses. Healthy compost smells good. I don’t think our neighbors even realize that our kitchen waste is piled just a few feet from their deck.

I’m a total convert to raised bed planting. Container gardening works for our tiny nooks and crannies, but the raised beds, made of recycled plastic and filled with our homemade compost, are almost magically productive. I’ve been able to harvest herbs and greens all winter, with pathetically little effort on my part. In fact, by all rights, that parsley should have smothered under the ice-covered plastic sheeting. Due to health issues, I never got around to making cold frames, so things just piled up.

Raised beds and good compost create a productive garden in a tiny space.

Raised beds and good compost create a productive garden in a tiny space.

Health issues aside, no matter how rough I feel, I always wear lipgloss. Even if i am still wearing the sweatshirt I slept in, that spot of color goes on. No matter how busy I am, the lipstick gets reapplied. No matter how dirty I get in the garden, my lips look glamorous. Is that the artist in me, seeking to create a spot of beauty? Or am I channelling my Grandma, who “dressed for work” in a 1950s era department store every day of her life, despite changing styles and her retirement many decades earlier?

As I look out the window just now, I am happy to see the garbage truck come by. And the recycling truck. Every week, I am again grateful for them. I’ve lived in rural areas where I had to haul my own trash ( although some neighbors stored it, or burned it). I’ve lived in cities where the negotiations to dispose of trash were convoluted and expensive. So it may be a bit strange that trash trucks make me happy, but I’ve got my reasons. You’d think that after a couple of decades of living in this County that I’d be over the whole curbside waste perk, but it still delights me.

So there you have it, folks. Another little smidgen of sharing on my part. Eventually, I’ll have enough to write that “About” page without too much effort. And of course, I’ll be wearing gloss on my lips, and have dirt on my hands.


Award process: step 1,share 7 things about myself. Check. Step 2, post the Award image. Check. Step 3, nominate more blogs…check back later on today! The pup needs her walk Right Now!

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From “Cauldrons and Cupcakes”, Happy Groundhog Day!

According to Nicole at “Cauldrons and Cupcakes“, the energy shift that marks the start of 2013 actually begins on February 2 this year. Quite an auspicious day, as in this part of the world, we officially start looking for signs of Spring. And 2013 promises to be a turning point for the better, according to Nicole’s projections for us all: “This year you are being empowered to make your life work, and for it to look more like the life you dream for yourself.”
Good stuff!


Keeping warm at a Groundhog Day celebration early this morning in Pennsylvania. (photo courtesy of The Daily News)

Update: once again, after I posted this, I received the Daily Prompt from WordPresswith a cue to ‘write a post connecting  a global issue to a personal one’.  Global= energy shift, local= Groundhog Day celebrations, and personal=Happy Birthday to me!  How’s that for a slam-dunk on the assignment?

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I Want To Thank You…

With all the issues needing urgent attention in the past few weeks, I admit that my faith was wavering a bit in the department of “You Are Never Given More Than You Can Handle”. Especially given the irony that my upper body strength was plummeting…just one more piece of baggage to shoulder that I couldn’t even grab hold of. Not that all the life changes that are happening are bad, but all of them do require attention and persistence, like a litter full of hungry, wiggling puppies. You just can’t pick one or two to devote time to, and hope the rest will voluntarily enter suspended animation until you have the energy for them. So I admit to feeling run down and less-than-enthusiastic about even the simplest activities. Keeping with the hungry litter analogy, even snuggling in to get puppy kisses involves somehow getting down on the floor without crushing any puppies, and strategizing a way to get back up again…looking for the good in this recent batch of Life Stuff has been exhausting in itself.

Gratuitous puppy cuteness.

Gratuitous puppy cuteness. Bouncing = Happiness, although unstable surfaces can be a bit unsettling.

So I’d like to thank the strangers who have conspired with the universe in the past few days to make it So Darn Obvious That Life Is Good, that I haven’t even had to look twice to see the truth in that.

For example, there was the manager and technician at the local radiology center, who gave up precious time on Christmas weekend to work past business hours, and probably against policy. During an urgent-but-not-emergency procedure, the fire alarm went off. Although it was found to be a malfunction and not a danger, the department was still required to be evacuated. Unfortunately, the maintenance staff had already left for the holidays, and no one else had the code to shut off the sirens and flashing lights. After waiting outside for 30 minutes, the staff was officially free to go. I thought we’d never come back from that one before Christmas, but understanding my anxiety, the manager found ear plugs for us all, and the technician volunteered to sneak back in to finish the procedure in the dark. I can’t begin to describe how grateful I was to have one less unpleasant task looming over the holiday.

Thank you to Terry, a fellow WordPress blogger, whom I have never met, for sending me personal notes of encouragement just when I needed them the most. Despite, or maybe because of, all the changes going on in her world right now, she noticed that I have been a little less effervescent lately, and reached out to me. It’s nothing short of amazing to me that a total stranger would not only read what I have been writing, but also what I have been not writing, and wonder about it enough to ask.


My imaginary friend Terry, and her brother Al. This picture gives me the warm fuzzies. (photo courtesy of Terry1954)

And thank you, too, to Sue in Australia, who writes The Crafty Pioneer. Out of the blue, she nominated Beyond Back Creek for the Versatile Blogger Award. Is it too trite to say “I’m so honored”?  I love Sue’s blog, and all her adventures in crafting.   (I am especially tickled by her Yarn Bombing tale…I’d never heard of this before, but I admire the idea of guerilla art-making! It seems especially meaningful, given recent events, to rekindle the sentiment of ‘Make Love (or  more generally, Create Love), Not War”

Yarn bombed tree - Hampton Street

Yarn-Bombed Tree. I am in awe of the work involved.  And I have so many questions.  Do you take measurements of the tree and knit at home?  Or do you brazenly make this out in the open?  (photo courtesy of The Crafty Pioneer)

So, long way around, here is my acceptance of the Versatile Blogger nomination, wherein I am strong-armed (a funny word for me, lately) into sharing seven things about myself as one of the rules of the game.

  1. I have a 2-burner range and no dishwasher. My longest run of countertop is 18 inches.  Don’t let a lack of kitchen appliances get in the way of home cooking!
  2. I truly love people, their stories, their mannerisms, their customs.  But I am happiest spending an evening in peace with a cup of herbal tea to drink and an old English mystery to read.
  3. I don’t believe there is such a thing as Too Much Pizza.  Even gluten-free.
  4. I prefer well-mannered dogs to rambunctious puppies. (Odd, but true.)
  5. If there is a ‘next life’, I hope to come back as one of my own cats.
  6. I still haven’t decided what I want to be when I grow up.
  7. I prefer sunrise to sunset.

As part of paying it forward for the Versatile Blogger nomination, I would like to share the following blogs that have inspired me over the past year that I have been blogging.  There are many others that I admire and follow, but I have tried to pick some undiscovered writers that have not gotten a lot of recognition already.

Chesapeake Journal (this is the first blog I ever read, and I still look forward to reading Kathy’s view from across the Bay. {Waving at you from Annapolis}.)

Putney Farm (yeah, they may be Big Time. At least, they were featured on Freshly Pressed.  But the recipes are so relevant, and so do-able.  How could I resist the subtitle ‘Get some good food.  Cook it. Share with friends. Have a cocktail.’ )

Stefania Wine (yes, there are wineries on the East Coast.  But I actually know these people.  Paul and Stefania are wonderful human beings, and they make award-winning wines, the old fashioned way.  Yes, I mean stomping on grapes…)

Ian Rodger Photography (no matter what he takes a picture of, I find it soothing.  Something about his perspective makes me slow down and take a few deep breaths.  Ian…hint…post more often! The world needs more occasions for serenity.)

Things My Belly Likes (another gluten-free, food-adoring soul.  But so much more than just healthful recipes. Can there be too many gratuitous cute puppies in one post? No, I think not.)

this pretty much sums up my Christmas

“This pretty much sums up my Christmas” as per Cat (photo courtesy of Things My Belly Likes)

Outlaw Garden (the second blog I ever discovered.  Cristina, I found a kindred spirit in your adventures in front-yard gardening, despite the rules and regulations of the community association.  Sister, please keep writing about your subversive vegetable-growing deeds!)

There are so many more bloggers that have inspired me this year.  I sincerely promise to revisit this list and add to it.  But at this point, I suspect I am straining the tolerance of the most avid of readers.  (If you are anything like me, you are eager to move on to the food and libations portion of the evening.)  So, I raise a glass to toast my fellow bloggers, this writing community, and share my gratitude for your acceptance, and my wishes for a joyful New Year.






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