Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Let Every Breath Be a Whisper of Thanksgiving

The days grow shorter and cooler.
  The trees are bare and dark against the brilliant blue sky.
Gloves and warm coats are brought down from the attic.
The summer birds are long gone and only the sturdy blue jay and the bright cardinal remain to keep the finches and the sparrows company and to add some color to the drabness of winter.
The market is filled with the abundance of the autumn harvest and preparations have begun to celebrate the most American of all holidays, Thanksgiving.

What am I thankful for? Who can adequately answer this question?
Naming everything that excites feelings of gratitude would take until the end of time.  I am thankful for my eyes to see the sunrise in the morning and notice the bright sparkle in my spouse's eyes when he laughs. And for  the ears to hear my grandsons squeal and giggle, seemingly consumed with the joy of living, exploring and tasting the world. I am thankful for the sweet tartness of the apples fresh from the local farmer, and for being able to feel the smooth richness of chocolate and smell the fresh mint in my tea. My legs give me the constant pleasure of taking me wherever I need to go. I am ever grateful for them. I am filled with the joy of thanksgiving when the ones I love are near and I am grateful that the ones I love who are far away are safe and happy. I am moved to tears of gratitude by the sun and the moon and the stars and the rain. The vastness of the universe, filled with mystery, fills me with wonder and gratitude.  I am thankful for friends who warm me, cheer me on and pray for me.

Oh God,  let me join the psalmists, the monks and the poets, rising
early each day to praise you and thank you for this abundant and stunning life. Let my every breath be a whisper of thanksgiving, Lord.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Exercise Update - Moving Right Along

   My activity level is nearly back to normal four months after surgery and I'm kicking my exercise program into high gear.  It was very surprising to find that it takes a lot longer to regain strength after surgery than I had supposed it would.

    It is just this past week that I have felt as though I could pick up a bit of speed in my walking.  I have been lifting (light) weights for  about three weeks now and I can feel the difference already!


    My regimen is fairly simple. I started with 2 pound hand weights and I do six exercises with the hand weights 10 reps x 2. Next I do three exercises with ankle weights (4 pounds on each ankle) Then I do 20 chair stands and 20 toe raises.  I follow this with a few simple yoga poses for balance and flexibility.

  I learned weightlifting technique from three books by the same author. I highly recommend them to anyone interested in weight training for strengthening or weight loss. The main difference between getting strong and losing weight is the number of days you devote to weightlifting.  Twice a week is fine for strengthening. For weight loss - it is three times a week.

   The books are 'Strong Women Stay Slim,' Strong Women Stay Young,' and 'Strong Women and Men Beat Arthritis,' written by Miriam E Nelson Ph.D.

The woods where I do most of my walking 

  I have been walking pretty consistently since the week I got home from the hospital and it was a shock to me that it took several months for the feeling of weakness to go away. I am up to three miles now and have just begun to pick up some speed.  My walking pace has been a modest stroll until a few days ago. (I think the weight-lifting has helped me in this.)  My plan is to walk  60 minutes a day five or six days a week, walking a bit faster each week. At this point I would rather count minutes than miles!

I felt like my regimen needed a theme song so I chose "Movin' Right Along' from the original Muppet Movie. Although Kermit and Fozzie are in a car the song just makes me happy enough to lace up my sneakers and get moving! 

Things I learned after surgery: 

         Be kind and gentle to yourself.

         Be patient  - the weakness does go away.

         Start walking immediately - even if it is only a few laps around the house.



Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ode to Orange

Oh, there is nothing quite like orange, 
shot through with sunlight,

 bursting with the flavor of autumn
 against a dark blue sky,
opening the heart to a wild and wondrous dance.

Oh, there is nothing quite like the orange leaves,
bright flags the color of pumpkins and popsicles,

begging us to wander the woods to stare,
hoping our eyes remember
 the glory of orange
once winter gray arrives.

Oh there is nothing quite like burgundy,
or gold or rust or yellow fringed with chocolate brown,

to set off the orange 
and make the heart sing.

So grab a bit of orange,
keep it in the pocket of your heart,
ready to unwrap
on a dark day in winter,
when it is cold and gray and drear,
let it set you on fire,
so you can hear the rhythm
of orange
and dance again,
 a warm and wild autumn dance! 

©2013 BK

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Introducing African Blue Basil

  A few summers ago, I bought variety of basil called African Blue Basil.  It was billed as an annual that promised to be more ornamental than culinary.  It smelled wonderful and, although the leaves were similar to basil leaves, they were bluish and much smaller than my Genovese basil.

  This plant grew happily all summer and every so often I cut pieces of it to add to bouquets or to scent a room in the house.  It was a wonderful plant, flowering repeatedly and seemingly impervious to  drought, disease, bugs and neglect. It grew to be about 3 feet tall and perhaps 2 feet wide and it added color to my herb garden.

  This year I bought another African Blue Basil and guess what?  I discovered there is even more to love about it.  I brought in a few sprigs at the end of September, thinking the plant would die soon.  I put them in water to enjoy for a week or so.  I noticed that the bouquet was not wilting, so I kept adding water.  Lo and behold, the cuttings rooted!

 I planted them in a pot and put them in a sunny window on the porch and I'm hoping the plant will winter over.  It will be  so nice to crush a fresh leaf and enjoy the scents of summer when the snow is flying outside!

  This plant performs beautifully in the garden and I plan to use it in my sunny garden to attract bees and butterflies and for some lovely bluish purple flowers all summer long!

  I will still reach for the old fashioned Genovese basil when I'm ready to make pesto, though.  The flavor can't be beat.  And if I want a cup of basil flavored tea, my first choice is an Indian basil called  Holy Basil or tulsi.  It is wonderfully clove- scented,  and is a healing herb widely used in India. I find it a soothing addition to my herbal tea pot when I feel a cold coming.


late autumn-
I vie with the plants
for a square of sunlight



Monday, November 4, 2013

Taking a Ride 'Out East'

 Riding out to the east end of Long Island in autumn is a treasured event for us and we try to go out several times if possible.  The landscape, although changing, is an idyllic throwback to how the rest of the Island was 50 years ago.  

One of our favorite places to stop  and linger, is the Peconic River Herb Farm in Calverton, pictured in several photos here. 

 In addition to having a wonderful selection of plants   and garden accessories, the Peconic River Herb Farm has evolved into one of the prettiest places I can imagine.  

Over the years, the owners have lovingly landscaped the gardens and they now rival  many of the country gardens on 'Gold Coast' estates.

I used to dream of owning an herb garden business in my younger days.  Alas that was not to be.

 Instead, I visit this lovely place, wander around for an hour or two, buying lots of plants and goodies for my tiny garden, and pretend that I have a 12 acre farm.

  It doesn't matter what direction one looks in, the view is terrific....... is the selection of perennials, herbs, annuals, shrubs and there is even an entire barn filled with all manner of delightfully kitschy accents for the garden.

Another wonderful place to visit is the lovely Lavender Farm called Lavender By The Bay located in East Marion. It has to be the most wonderfully scented place in the world!

There are lavender plants in every variety available for sale as well as lavender scented gifts and bouquets galore.

The lavender fields , shown below, in late afternoon, provide all the lavender one could possibly want.  I grow my own lavender, but that doesn't stop me from finding something pretty to take home.

Fifty years ago, the main crop on the North Fork of Long Island was potatoes.  Since 1973, when the Hargraves began growing wine grapes and producing wine, the North Fork has become a wine-making region. Wineries dot the area and wine tasting tours are very popular. We usually stop to buy a bottle or two.

And to take a few photos, of course!

I could almost believe I was in Italy!

  If you find yourself on Long Island, be sure to plan a day on the North Fork.  It is lovely! And follow the links above to find the hours of operation and get directions.

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