Do NOT Copy

Do NOT Copy

A Gardener's Work is Never Done

Last summer was a rough and busy year not only physically and mentally for the people, but the landscape and gardens too.  We didn't have much time or money with all of the running to job interviews, doctor visits, helping MIL, and all of that to keep anything close to what I normally like to so.  You can really tell the toll the relative neglect has played on our landscaping, on our raised vegetable beds especially.

I wasn't around enough to keep them as weed free as I normally do, and now the grasses have claimed my wonderful soil and sent their tendrils to take over entire beds.  I have wished many times that I had gotten all of them mulched that lay dormant last year, but with all of the chaos and confusion I guess I wasn't really thinking of future gardening here.  We got the place ready to sell, convinced that we would never be able to stay in the place we had called home for 8 years at that point.

So now ahead of me lays the task of getting the beds weed free, dividing perennials to fill in gaps in the landscaping (I'm pretty sure the critters dug up and ran off with some of my plants), moving bushes and shrubs (that must have been planted in the wrong places because of labelling issues), and a long list of other maintenance issues.  It's almost like we moved to a new place as long as my list has become once again! I'm sure there are some out there who can relate.

So, in the coming weeks I will be posting some before and after pictures as I work my way around the garden (again).  I love to chronicle my yard with pictures so I can look back at how it has changed over time, don't you?  My memory isn't as great as it used to be.

Thank you for stopping by to chat with me. Please leave me a message. I'd love to hear your thoughts! Cindy

Preparing for the Upcoming Gardening Season

Many of my non-gardening friends think that we gardeners have nothing to do in the off season gardening months, but they couldn't be more wrong.  Actually I think the off season is busier for some than the regular season depending on your gardening style.

This is the time of year that we research new techniques we have yet to try and make tweaks on things we have tried but want to change.  There are so many excellent ideas out there right now that there is no way that anyone can have tried them all successfully.  Each year I hear about something new, be it hydroponics, square foot gardening, lasagna style beds, composting, vertical gardens, beds for small spaces, companion plantings, integrated pest management, I could go on and on.  Even as a more experienced gardener  I am still trying something different each year.  I am not sure that any gardener ever gets everything completely down to perfection.

It is a time that we gather our information of what worked and what didn't work last year.  Some gardeners are actually organized enough to take notes about their gardens as the season progresses.  When they started their seeds, what they used to feed their plants, how they amended their soil, when they hardened and transplanted their seedlings, how often they watered, how often they weeded, what kind of harvest they got,...  Maybe someday I will be organized enough to do that, but I do write down what I remember though.  I am thinking my blog would be the best place for me to take those notes.  It's rather easy to lose a notebook, but how could anyone misplace a blog?

At this time we plan what we will do this year.  We don't always plant the same things every year.  For example, if I have a bumper crop of green beans and have a 3 years' supply then I don't need to plant that particular item.  Likewise, if I ran out of tomatoes 7 weeks into winter then I need to plan to grow more tomatoes.  If we know we have a major event or trips planned we may chose to plant differently than if we are staying close to home all summer.

Many of us figure out a plan of what we will plant where this year.   Anyone who has grown plants knows that they need to rotate crops if they want the best performance and the least problems.  I like to create a map from one year to the next as to what seeds I planted in which plots.  Some seeds followed by a different one the following year gets more benefit from the soil, while others should not be planted in the same plot as a veggie from the same family because they have similar nutrient requirements as well as similar pest problems.

Pouring through seed catalogs is a favorite pastime of many gardeners.  The descriptions of plants are just dreamy.  It's almost like reading a romantic novel really.  Just thinking about sinking your teeth into a large, ripe, purple tomato is enough to get some gardener's toes curling.  The hardest part is limiting the number of seed packets you buy.  I mean, these things are SO tempting who can blame anyone for buying twice as many seeds as they actually need?

If we start our own seeds, we also need to plan when to plant those so they are ready for planting to get the earliest possible start.  I know there are many who think it is just way easier to just buy their plants from a nursery, but in my experience it is much more satisfying to plant my own.  I mean, if you buy seedlings from someone else you are limited to growing whatever they decided to plant for you.  Planting your own seeds opens the possibilities to just about anything you might want to grow.  You would also know of they are GMO, if they are organic, and all of those other buzz words that people worry about.

As you can see, there are plenty of activities to keep us busy even when the snow is on the ground and the dirt is frozen solid.  Most of all though, I think we dream of the sun warming our faces, butterflies and bees flitting from flower to flower, and picking basket after basket of produce to nourish our families with.  Think spring!

Thank you for stopping by to chat with me. Please leave me a message. I'd love to hear your thoughts! Cindy

My Newest Hero

I have been researching my family tree since my father died in 2006.  Family has always been very important to him, and what greater tribute could I make to him than to find out about our relatives and share their stories with future generations?

My grandma Sylvia Ronan
and her Aunty Olson
by her home in Duluth
Over the years I have discovered a wide variety of interesting people in my history.  Many had jobs that anyone would be proud to tell others their relatives have held.  Firemen, teachers, school principals, police officers, military personnel, farmers, I could really go on and on about all kinds of honorable professions.  I have never felt the rush that I felt today as I was finding facts though.  I think that is due to the fact that I found online news articles that tell me about the part that my relatives have played in actual events.

It all started when I was looking through my mom's pictures.  She told me the story of how Aunty (her grandpa's sister) and Uncle Olson put her mom through college in Superior.  It distressed me that I did not know their first names, but mom did know that Uncle Olson was a police chief, she figured probably in Duluth.  Having a little bit of knowledge, I set out to find out their names if possible to honor them for the help they had directly lent to my grandma and her family.  I imagine they wanted to help the family after her brother died.  It was the Great Depression and without the main wage earner to support the family they would need some way to get through.

After looking through some pictures and articles online, I decided that his uniform  matched the look of the other uniforms that I saw on Duluth's website .

Superior Police Captain Ole T Olson 
Next, I did a google search to find out some of the police chief's names.

Before I got to his name though I found out about the 1920 Duluth lynchings.  I had no idea that they happened, nor did my mom.  I was so excited when I read about Oscar Olson the jailer trying to protect the prisoners from a mob of 10,000 people only using a fire hose because they were ordered to holster their guns so they wouldn't hurt any white people.  I wasn't 100% sure that he was the police chief I was looking for, but I was captivated by his heroism.  I have always believed in doing the right thing even if it isn't the most popular choice.  You can read about the event  here.

The third page of the article said the police chief's name was O.G. Olson.  I sent a link to contact the city of Duluth to find out if the museum curator may be able to add any more to the stories that I had already discovered.

Just to try my curiosity, I clicked on a link to find out which police officers in Duluth died in the line of duty.
Sadly, I discovered that he was among the 8 who have died on the job. He was shot by a suspect who had holed himself up in his home that he was trying to arrest peacefully.  Here is a short excerpt tribute .

Sadly, his death was also unknown to my mom as was the fact that they had children.  I was able, through finding his death record, to then find census records that contained both his wife's and child's names.  Through his tragedy, I was able to pin a name on someone who was my hero before I even knew he was also anyone else's hero.  Hopefully I will yet be able to find someone of his lineage remaining whom I can thank for his bravery and sacrifice.

Thank you for stopping by to chat with me. Please leave me a message. I'd love to hear your thoughts! Cindy

Update 6/22/2015:  Upon further exploration, Oscar Olson is not related to me, but he is still a wonderful hero.  I saw that he (or another man the same age and name) lived with Ole Olson in Superior in 1910, so I am wondering if he is possibly related that way?  The man in this picture is Ole T Olson who was a police captain in Superior, WI.  Many thanks to the people in Duluth public library who helped me find out the true identity of the man and woman in the photos.

I have also since been able to find his census records and found that his wife's name was Selena.  I found the census record in which my grandmother lived with her in Superior as well.  I went there this spring and found out both of their parents' names thanks to their marriage records I found there.  I also saw that they had no children of their own, but adopted one that I am still hoping to find though I do not know what became of him.  I have found where they were laid to rest, when they died, and have created find a grave memorials for them so others may find the story of the quiet heroes who are buried there.

Loosing of Half of our Income: The Journey Back Begins

With all of the financial issues people are having these days I decided to share our story.

For almost 16 years my husband dedicated himself to building a career in a big box store.  He gave, and gave, and gave and never got anything back from them.  They put us through more hardships than you can shake a stick at including not giving him time off when his dad died, forced relocations without compensation, always having to work the overnight remodels, a forced commute when we couldn't sell the house, bankruptcy, foreclosure, and they turned him down for a promotion because of their own stupid rules even though.  He really deserved it, was requested, he would have done well at it too and they were ready to give it to him before they realized his store hadn't made profit sharing 11 months before that. You didn't dare say anything to them because of a fear of losing your job, they fired people for really stupid reasons.  (And then they wonder why they can't find employees willing to do into management with them?)  Talk about stress!

His job paid well and he doesn't like to start over all the time.  He liked the job for the most part until the latest boss arrived and made his life a living hell.  After several years of the same treatment and no changes occurring even when he told their untrained personnel manager (who didn't report this to corporate), he couldn't take it anymore and he quit without having another job in place.  It was such a hostile work environment I really couldn't blame him, though it would have been nice to have a plan in place before it happened.

Since it was ruled that he quit (even though we tried for hostile work environment) there was no unemployment either. Because his job paid well I didn't need to have a job prior to this happening.  (Except for when they made our tenant move from the home he was renting from us, or the time they made us pay hundreds more in commuting when he was "promoted" with no pay raise, or the time they didn't make profit sharing so we had no way to pay off the credit cards we had been relying on to pay for his commuting expenses.)  That made it really hard to struggle through several months of having no income at all.  Thankfully, we had finally gotten enough of a handle on our budget because of our past trials that we had been able to save some money which got us through the jobless period.  I applied for food stamps and badge care right away even though they had treated me extremely rudely the last time I had been in the office.  Our mortgage company set us up on a forebearance plan that allowed us to pay $25 each for both our first and our second mortgages so our main expenses were paying for gas (to see his mom who was failing in health as well as driving for interviews and such) and my car payment.

Now, we need to adjust to living on less than half of what he made last year.  This is where the real struggle begins.  With a couple of months of work at his new employer in place we are really hitting the budget juggle hard.  We have a brand new car that I bought a little over a year ago, a house payment, 2 kids, 2 cats, and we live in the country about 12 miles from town.

So far his new employers have agreed to pay for his gas, we have applied for a loan modification, and are getting the food stamps and medical assistance that we were getting over the summer though we get much less in food this month and now have to pay a monthly payment for our insurance.  We have many more changes to try to do too in order to come up with a balanced budget as well.  Hopefully we will be able to refinance the car to bring that payment down, I am praying that our mortgage company works with us so we can keep our home with a much more affordable payment, we found a less expensive phone plan, and I will be looking around for cheaper insurance.  I also applied for energy assistance though I have yet to hear back about that.

We have already cut WAY back on energy usage, we rarely ever eat out, we don't exchange gifts with adults so we only have the 2 kids to buy for, we don't attend away sporting events unless we can hitch a ride with someone else who is going, we never go anywhere except to buy groceries or the occassional splurge allowed because we sold something, we never buy anything unless it is either used, practically free (those mail in rebates can come in handy sometimes!), or off the 90% off clearance rack (Man, I have had to wear some very ugly clothes because of that one!).

I will fill you in on some other changes we do as time progresses.  Right now I guess we are still on the forebearance program at the bank until they tell me what my loan modification payment is going to be.  I have been through this process before.  You have to pay EXACTLY what they tell you to (not a penny more or a penny less) by the due date or they will kick you right off the program.  It can be extremely stressful for sure!

Wish us luck and prayers for us would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you for stopping by to chat with me. Please leave me a message. I'd love to hear your thoughts! Cindy

Unexpected Benefits from Tough Circumstances

My husband has never not worked since he was 16 years old.  After he graduated from college he worked even harder.  We got married when he was 23 and he has worked very hard ever since to be the provider for our family.  He started out working 40 hours a week, but most jobs require more than that.  With the recent job situation his employers had decided not to give him a raise in ten years, so he began working more and more each year to give us enough money to live on.

Well, as we all know, working more and more every year is only sustainable for so long.  He had been working the equivalent of 2 full time jobs at one employer, between the hours he put in at work and his commuting time and it just wasn't worth it any more.  We never got to see him, he had to take care of everything at his work because his boss was lazy, he wasn't able to get a decent night's sleep, he was usually so busy he skipped meals eating once per day, he was getting scheduled so he only had 4 hours to sleep between shifts, and it was just getting out of hand.

Lately we have been exhibiting some health issues.  While they don't sound incredibly serious and most people just write off things like fatigue and sleeplessness as aging, I think it is something more.   I am convinced that he has adrenal fatigue, I have hashimotos, my son is pre-diabetic, and so far our daughter seems unaffected.  It is amazing that my research points to all of these issues having the same root causes and treatments for these issues.

I think quitting his job is a way to get him out of an impossible situation that he would have never left if his boss hadn't been such a total and complete ass.  That is the biggest benefit I can see from this situation.  If you add to that the fact that we now feel free to cut back in so many areas we never felt completely comfortable giving up before, we are doubly blessed.  Having so little has taught us to do without so many things that we refused to let go of.

Cheesehead is slowly recovering after changing some long standing bad health habits that he picked up because of his hectic work schedule and the unrealistic expectations that he put upon himself.  I am glad to help him to become the person he was meant to be. I will use all of my years of study and knowledge to help our family along this path to better health.  I will keep you informed of what we do and the progress that we make.

Our first steps are to cut back further on drinking soda, eat less simple sugars and processed foods including gluten containing foods, and keep to regular schedules including meals and sleep times.  We have also been visiting a chiropractor as well.

Thank you for stopping by to chat with me. Please leave me a message, I'd love to hear your thoughts! Cindy