le Jardin

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My salvaged window box herb garden.

I don’t have much yard for a garden.  And I don’t have a green thumb either.  But last year I did try my hand at some containers on my deck, mostly herbs and a few flowers. I used my herbs to cook with all summer and they did great. But I also started with two heirloom tomato plants as well but they sort of fizzled.  One just grew to a spindly 5 feet tall and bloomed a bit, but produced no tomatoes.  Finally, in frustration I hacked it off and tossed it.  The other one produced a whopping total of three tomatoes.  One we ate. The other two the rabbits ate before I picked them. (Honestly, it wasn’t worth the time and cost of water, food, pots, and the plants themselves!)  I had planned to bring my herbs in for the winter but that didn’t happen either.  I ended up trapped in Germany for six weeks and by the time I got home in December, they were dead.  (All except for my chives…they survived winter in the pot and came back!)

So this year I started over.  Bought more herbs: cilantro, basil, sage, rosemary, lavender and thyme.  I totally LOVE the smell of the rosemary, lavender, and thyme.  My neighbor was throwing away and old window box that I snatched off the curb and gave a coat of fun pink paint called Italiano Rose with some black lettering. It’s the perfect little herb garden.  I have two more tomato plants that honestly look a little funky this year too.  Not heirloom this time, just plain old Heinz roma tomatoes.  The leaves look a bit strange and crinkled (like they sat too close to a fire or something) and I don’t have any much hope for them.   I water them appropriately and feed them.  I even TALK to them. . .well, sort of- it kind of goes like, “What the hell is wrong with you two??”   I just don’t get it.  But I have decided that If I don’t get tomatoes this year, I’m giving up on tomatoes and will just stick to herbs, Boston ferns, and one of my favorites, Gerbera daisies.  They all seem to like me!

One of my favorite flowers:  Gerbera Daisies.  And I haven't killed them yet!

One of my favorite flowers: Gerbera Daisies. And I haven’t killed them yet!

Thought for the day:   Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.

Which, I only find to be half true!

Inspiration

InspirationFour years ago when my son was just starting his college days, he was assigned a book to read over the summer. The entire incoming freshman class read the same book.  Being curious about what the college found important,  I read the book.  Then my husband read the book.  And kiddo?  I think he read most of the book.  The book forever changed the way I look at the world.  I’ve recommended the book many times.  I’ve loaned the book out to friends.  I’ve even done a talk about the book for an organization to which I belong.  And when the college brought the author to campus, I was there to hear him speak.  The book?  Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

Half the Sky

The book’s focus is on girls’ education, sex trafficking, maternal mortality, sexual violence, and microfinance.  Carolyn See, the book critic of The Washington Post said in her review: “‘Half the Sky’ is a call to arms, a call for help, a call for contributions, but also a call for volunteers. It asks us to open our eyes to this enormous humanitarian issue. It does so with exquisitely crafted prose and sensationally interesting material….I really do think this is one of the most important books I have ever reviewed.”  I couldn’t say it better.  It’s one of the most important books I’ve ever read.

The authors challenge readers at the end of the book to make a difference in any way they can.  For me, that was done by spreading the word about the book to friends and making micro-loans.

Microfinance is an assortment of financial services that includes loans available to poor entrepreneurs and small business owners who have no collateral and wouldn’t otherwise qualify for a standard bank loan. Usually microloans are given to those living in still-developing countries.  Recipients work in a variety of different trades, including carpentry, agriculture, and arts, food and clothing sales, etc.

Typically, microloans are small, not usually more than a few hundred dollars and don’t require collateral.  Repayment schedules range from a few months to a year or so.   Examples of uses include money for tools to start work in construction, supplies such as yarn or metal for artists, or funds for livestock, seeds and such for farmers. In some cases the loans may provide educational opportunities or improve the quality of health for individuals, families, or communities.    Two-thirds of microloan recipients are women.   Ultimately, the aim of microfinancing is to provide individuals with money to invest in themselves or their business to help get them out of poverty.

I make my loans through Kiva.org, an organization that provides lending opportunities in 85 different countries.  The smallest loan amount is $25.  I made my first loan in early 2012.  It was repaid and rolled that same $25 over into a new loan.  Lenders have the option of donating the repayments to Kiva for costs or keeping the money and re-lending.  Since then, I’ve added a few other loans and have also re-loaned them as they are repaid.  Lenders can read the stories about the people needing loans and Kiva provides updates to lenders about the recipients.  So far, I’ve loaned to people in Armenia, the Philippenes, and Indonesia.

One of my loans was to Diah, a young woman from Indonesia who makes jewelry to sell.  You can check out her jewelry and read her story here at Novica.  Her loan was repaid, but you can still help her out by purchasing her jewelry.   She’s very talented, and it’s quite beautiful and very affordable.

EarringsSo.  Two final things.  I hope that my post has inspired you to make a difference in the life of someone who needs it.  And read the book.  It’s truly a life-changing experience.

Dalai-Lama-on-Helping-Others1

Hawks Win!!

My beloved Blackhawks won last night. (And it gave my my “H” prompt – for my 26 blog posts.  I’ve been stumped on that letter and I have NO idea why.  But I digress. . . .)

As a young girl, I am told I loved football.  My parents said I even kept asking for my own football.  I hate football now – as I find it to be about as boring as watching golf (another “sport” I loathe).  But what I DO love is hockey.  This came a surprise to my husband and son a few years ago when they started watching and I was able to discuss players of old.  Thankfully, I grew up without a television until I was in high school when my parents were gifted a TV or we probably wouldn’t have had one then.  What we did have though was a great stereo (complete with a set of musical soundtracks) – almost always tuned into KMOX radio in St. Louis. I’d bet money that my parents clock radio in their bedroom is still tuned to this station.  Anyway. . . the result was the I listened to almost every single Cardinals baseball game (football Cardinals too in the days before they packed up and moved to Arizona) and every single Blues hockey game.  By rights, I should be a Blues fan.  I say they are my “second” team but in all honesty, I really don’t like them that much for a variety of reasons.  I guess I’m, at heart, an Original 6 girl.  Specifically the Chicago Blackhawks!   Readers who watch hockey will know that “my” team is in the Stanley Cup playoffs fighting for the Western Division Championship.  So for a few random thoughts on Blackhawks hockey:

Overtime.  It seems that the Blackhawks have a knack for taking games to OT- several times.  In round one against Nashville, it took three overtimes.  By the time the winning goal was scored just a few minutes into the third OT, it was already 1:00 a.m.  Last night they did it again with the Ducks.  But the winning goal came much later into the third OT.  And I stayed up to watch every nail-biting minute of it.  Until Kruger ended it with a win for the Hawks.

Andrew Shaw.  I love this kid’s grit and spirit.

And this goal brought a cheer from my living room even though it didn’t count.  I love watching #65 play.  You can’t blame a kid for trying though.

Beards.  I read an article a few years ago that called the playoffs something like “men in beards playing hockey into the wee hours”.  Just what’s so great about a playoff beard?  Well it just happens that research has shown that women like them.  I’m sure that’s not why they grow them, but I’d bet it’s why many seem to sport a beard year round now. There are entire articles and blog posts about the playoff beards.

So, on this lazy, sleepy Wednesday morning, I leave you with this thought:

just a GLIMPSE

My son is graduating from college next weekend.  It seems like I just moved him into the dorm and now it’s time for him to move on to the next part of his life.

So I offer a little visual trip back in time of some of my favorite pictures of him.

JoyThis is one of my most favorite pictures of Levi as a little guy.  Covered in spaghetti, he was having a great time eating lunch. Spaghetti stuck to his chest. . . well at least I didn’t have to work to get a shirt clean!  Technically, I shouldn’t have used the flash, but I was still learning then – and it was in the pre-digital age.  In color, it was just a bit nasty.  But I love the infectious grin and the joy that he exudes.  It still makes me smile.

Little ManSlightly older and wiser little boy looking very thoughtful.

Pout like you really mean it!

Another favorite.  Can you see the tears threatening to fall?  I’m sure he was angry with me for capturing the moment, but it’s a classic to which all parents can relate.

New Orleans 2005 - before Katrina

New Orleans 2005 – before Katrina

Such a difference a few years can make.  I love this picture and page.  His beautiful green eyes really stand out.  It was a quiet moment at the zoo.

AwesomeThat last picture was 2005.  This is from fall of 2010.  I took most of his senior pictures myself and these were three “attempts” at nice shots while he was acting goofy.  It was only like 105 degrees outside so I’m lucky he was smiling at all.

Graduation 2011High school graduation.  It seems so far off on that first day of kindergarten, but is sure creeps up on you with record speed.

Since then . . .

He’s been to college.   He’s ridden his Harley.

Saturday Afternoon Ride

He’s grown a beard.  He’s studied abroad.

On the Mosel in GermanyAnd he’s grown into a man.  I’m not sure when it happened.  I think I must have blinked and missed it.

But I confess that sometimes when I see him sleeping, I still that little guy that stole my heart so many years ago.