Posts tagged ‘#atozchallenge’

April 16, 2013

Living Like It Didn’t Happen


“Oh, my God!”  I gasped.

“What, Momma?”

Without thinking, I quickly responded.  “Someone bombed the Boston Marathon!”

I looked up from my phone to eyes filled with fear, questions and concern.  My heart sunk.  “Shit.” I said under my breath.  I did it.  I broke all of my rules.  With all the tragedy of late, my husband and I decided to protect our son from it.  We didn’t talk to him about the shooting at the school in Connecticut or the shooting at the school in Colorado and I didn’t mean for him to know about this either.  My goal has always been to protect his innocence at all costs, let him be a child.  Kids grow up way too fast these days.  They’re exposed to so many things that never even existed when I was his age.  And now I did it.  I scared him and stole some of his innocence along with it.

“Our marathon, Momma?  Do we still get to have our marathon?”  At 8, he occasionally still calls me Momma.  A reminder of his innocence and that he is still my little boy even though he tries so hard to be grown-up at times.

“I’m sorry, honey, yes.  It’s fine, it’s not here.  Our marathon is fine.”  Quite honestly, I had no idea what marathon he was referring to, I think the Twin Cities Marathon, but in order to pull out of the conversation as quickly as possible and un-do what I’d done, I diverted.

I found out about the bombing in Boston as I popped onto Facebook from my phone to respond to a friend’s message about something entirely different.  The TV wasn’t on, the radio wasn’t on.  I was caught off guard and I reacted.  I was horrified, as much as the rest of the country was.

After trying to repair the damage I’d done, and return our afternoon to homework and snack, I immediately texted my friend from Boston to make sure she and her family were okay.  Thankfully, she responded with, yes.  She’s on a trip in New York and her family is fine.  Relief.

I went through  the list of friends and family who have become runners, trying to recall whether any of them were going to run the Boston Marathon.  I couldn’t think of any. Again, relief.

The rest of the day I avoided turning on the TV.  I knew the bombing would have full coverage on every channel.  Thankfully, we’re not a big TV household so that wasn’t too much of a challenge, but I didn’t want to take any chances so the TV was off-limits.

After my son was in bed, we turned on the news.  The footage, the pictures, the stories of the newest national tragedy filled the screen and my heart ached.  With an 8-year-old son of my own tucked safely in bed, it was hard not to imagine being in the shoes of the family who just lost theirs.  I would be devastated.

I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the whole event.  It’s so senseless.  Why?  Why there?  A marathon of all places.  I don’t get it.  They say they will figure it out.  They will find out who did it and why.  But does it matter?  We can’t go back.  We can’t un-do what was done like I can try to un-do the fear and confusion I put in my child’s mind.

I won’t speak of this with my son again, unless of course he remembers what I said and has questions or hears about it in school and has questions, but hopefully neither will happen.  When he is around we will be living like it didn’t happen, trying to protect his innocence just a little bit longer.

But my heart goes out to Boston where people, like my friend, cannot live like it didn’t happen because it touches her life directly and she has to try to explain to her children something that is inexplicable.

So, please take a moment, if you haven’t already, to stop and pray or meditate or just think about the people effected by this sad event.  They need our love.


April 15, 2013

Keeping The Balance


Last week I reached the breaking point.  I could no longer keep up my current pace with business, classes, meetings, the school garden, planning a family reunion, writing and normal daily activities.  Something had to give. I’d like to say that I was so self-aware that I’d figured this out right away and handled it, but the reality is that often times it takes me a while to realize what is happening and instead I end up being in the middle of a full-blown stress storm, with my arms outstretched, fingers grasping for anything to slow things down, spinning ever faster until I have a breakdown.  Then, and only then, will I realize that it’s time for me to take a step back and make changes.

In any case, in the midst of my breakdown, I found myself reading a post from Kayse Pratt titled “A Life of Rest {Embracing Rest : Day 5}”.  Just the title alone made me laugh because the timing was spectacular.  In this post Kayse talks about what a life of rest would look like.  She’s not talking about lying around eating bon bons, instead she says:

A life of rest, I think, looks like your life, slowed down.

Your life, simplified.

It’s shedding the non-essentials and making the time for those things that truly are essential.

She continues:

It won’t be as easy as it sounds, no. Keeping your focus and shedding the rest will be painful and difficult. Going the opposite way of the fast-running crowd, well that will create some dissension.

What I’ve realized in the past few days, however, is that the dissension is not coming from others, as I’d expected, instead the dissension is coming from me.  When I mentioned to others where I’ve been, what I’m doing and where I’m “at”.  They haven’t scoffed, disagreed or argued whatsoever.  They haven’t acted like my choice to cut things out is lazy or unreliable.  No.  They haven’t done that at all.  Instead, they have been completely understanding and supportive, almost as if they were thinking, “You finally figured it out!”.  What I realized through this process is that it was me, keeping me in that place.  I’m the one who thought I was being lazy if I needed a break.  I’m the one who felt like I was not following through on a commitment if I took a step back from planning.  I was the one who thought I was being unreliable if I changed my mind or acknowledged that I had just taken on too much.  I realized that the only one preventing me from keeping the balance in my life, was me.

Please accept my apologies for the tardiness of “K”.  It’s late because I seeking balance in my life.  A balance I hope to regain and to retain going forward.


April 11, 2013



Oh, Java.  Where would I be without you?

You always perk me up on even the grumpiest of mornings.

You’re tall, dark and strong, a girl’s dream come true.

The slightest whiff of your scent makes my heart race, my blood pulse.

You’re always by my side, whether it’s ridiculously early or brutally late.

Just  hugging you with my hands, warms me all over.

And in the afternoon, when I’m feeling run down, somehow you manage to pick me up.

How do you do it, Java?You have some kind of crazy hold on me.  Things just aren’t the same when you’re not in my life. You really are like no other.

Oh, Java.  Where would I be without you?


Kate 😉

April 10, 2013

Insects – The Good, The Bad and The Really Cool, Geeky Stuff


In high school I tried not to stick out.  I tried to blend in.  I didn’t want to be too smart, too dumb, too fat, too thin.  I wanted to just be me, without really letting others get to know me.  (Because what if they didn’t like me?!?)  So I was quiet and shy.  Except around my closest friends, who knew me for who I was, who knew that I loved school, tried hard and took pride in doing well.  Around those same friends, I could inhale as much flavored popcorn as I wanted and let the effenheimers fly.

That was twenty years ago.  And while I still love popcorn of nearly any flavor and still drop an occasional f-bomb, over time I’ve learned to truly embrace the rest of “me”.  I’ve learned to embrace my strengths… and my weaknesses.  And I’ve learned to love my inner nerd.  And now I really don’t care who knows about it.  I don’t hide the fact that plants and soil and insects all fascinate me and that I wish I’d dug into this stuff way earlier in life.  I don’t hide the fact that I really like to know what makes nature tick.  I love learning and understanding nature’s symbiotic relationships and I find it so fascinating how everything is woven together and how the slightest change can cause an enormous chain reaction.  I love that when I learn something it makes me want to learn more.  And the more I learn, the more I realize how little I really know, how little any of us can really know.


And I love that I’m going to share one of the coolest, geeky things I just learned.  It is about insects.  More specifically, the life cycle of insects.  Why should anyone care about the life cycle of insects?  I’m so glad you asked!  If you are a gardener, a farmer or food eater, you should care because insects can both help and harm our the food supply.  However, knowing the life cycle of an insect helps us learn how to work with it, or against it, depending on whether or not they are beneficial.


Ten years ago I took a course on Insects and Diseases, and while I learned some pretty cool stuff about insects at the time, what I didn’t learn was about Degree Days.  What are Degree Days?  Let me tell you… Degree Days are basically the sum of the number of days that an insect gains energy.  Think of it like charging a battery.  Your car battery is dead.  You connect it to a charger.  You leave it charged for a few minutes and try to start the car.  It won’t start.  The lights turn on, but they’re dim.  You connect the charger for an hour and try again.  This time the power locks, windows, windshield wipers and radio work but there still isn’t enough power to start the car.  So you leave it a few more hours and finally have a full charge.  The car starts and you’re back in action.


Well, the same works for insects, only heat is their charger and the units of energy are Degree Days.  When it’s cold, insects shut down and stop moving.  When the weather warms up, they start “charging” and start moving around in the soil.  But they don’t start charging the second we get a “warm day” because cold days and warm days are all relative to each other.  (A 40 degree day in the fall is “cold” compared to a “warm” 40 degree day in the spring after a long, cold winter, but realistically both days are 40 degrees.)

So Degree Days are determined by a calculation:

(The high of the day (in F degrees) + the low of the day (in F degrees) /divided by 2) – 50 degrees = Degree Days (units)
Example:  80 degree high + 50 degree low= 130 degrees/2 = 65 degrees – 50 degrees = 15 Degree Days

Each day insects accumulate Degree Days (but only when the Degree Day is greater than zero).  So let’s say we had a week of exactly the same high and low, each day, the insect would accumulate 15 Degree Days, by the end of the week the insect would have accumulated 105 Degree Days of charge. (15 Degree Days x 7 days = 105 Degree Days)


Each insect, like every car, is different and therefore each insect needs a different amount of Degree Days (energy) to become active and another amount of Degree Days (energy) to begin reproducing and so forth.


Why do we care?  Well, if we can look at our daily temperatures and determine the Degree Days in our area in relation to the life cycle of a particular insect that may be attacking our garden, or our farm or our CSA’s farm, then we will know when the insect is in each stage of its life cycle (egg, larva, pupa, adult).  Knowing this means that if we are trying to get rid of that insect, we know when, for example, they are laying eggs which in turn means we know when to release beneficial insects to feed on their eggs, or we will know when to apply milky spore on the soil, or we will know when we need to apply an (organic) spray or worst case scenario, if we have to resort to using chemical sprays, we would know when it would be most effective to apply it and cause the least amount of damage.  It’s like the difference between playing darts with a blindfold on or playing darts after doing target practice.


If we can determine what to do when, then we will use less time, less money, fewer resources and fewer chemicals chasing down and attacking “the bad guys” and more time hanging with “the good guys” and enjoying our garden or our dinner.

Swallowtail on phlox... again

Pretty cool stuff, huh?