Category: Gardening

second installment Aristotle for Everybody

by Andrea Elizabeth

Is it art or nature? Aristotle says art unless it occurs in nature by itself. A fire started by lightning is natural, a fire purposely, not accidentally, started in a fireplace is art. The author says Robinson Crusoe pitted man against nature, but Aristotle was more interested in man with nature. I wonder if this was due to there being less technology in Aristotle’s day.

To me the lines are more blurred. Some houses are natural, which Aristotle denies, such as caves and beaver dens. And even man-made houses use natural materials, so art is more about organizing and controlling¬†nature than making something unnatural. Then what is the difference between a city, a farm, and an uninhabited natural area? I would say the amount of human organization. The science behind skyscrapers utilizes a more atomic understanding of nature than that behind farming, but atomic processes, albeit not understood, are still occurring in cultivation. This is evident in the author’s discussion of green vs. red tomatoes. A natural process, but what if a man shines an ultraviolet light on tomatoes without the sun? Art, right? But it’s the same chemical process. Metallurgy and gunpowder concocting are natural processes. Glass made when lightning hits sand is an example of how new substances can occur in nature. Volcanoes also make new things. So acts of God can be similar to acts of man. The Calvinists would say that acts of man = acts of God. I am not sure, but since God made chemical properties, did he also mean for all the combinations to be discovered? Possibly, but man’s free-will purposefulness is the balancing component. What is unnatural then? That which is bad. Lightning hitting a dry forest can be considered bad, as can lava flows, but forestry is now understanding that fires can be beneficial. And Hawaii is a beautiful place. Historically man has respected where “dangerous” processes occur and avoided them. Recently man says he can control nature with dams and earthquake proof structures in the midst of them. It is pretty amazing how relatively few casualties occur in America with these acts of God.

I suppose with the population as it is high tech resource management is necessary. But I think a necessary evil because it is soooooooooooooooooooooooooo depressing. This is why good stories have a non-tech setting, such as Harry Potter and Revenant, which I still haven’t seen. And Star Wars is cool because of the force and Luke ditching computer guidance.

Crops Rotated

by Andrea Elizabeth

The last part of that section is very pessimistic! Down on marriage, friendship, and social position. This is written by A, the aesthete, so grains of salt must accompany, but still there rings some truth. Between the lines I hear someone conscious of being trapped. If one views marriage, for example, as being forever chained to someone else’s moods and persnicketyness, then that should be avoided. When people say marriage is becoming one, I don’t think it should be one or the other dominant personality. Oneness is a goal reached by two perfect people. One’s prevailing selfishness drags them both down into a false, unequally yoked unity. All that achieves¬†is disconnecting one from the One.

dogs and gardens

by Andrea Elizabeth

Inspiration for today from The Prolog from Ohrid:

Venerable Mark the Ascetic

Mark was an ascetic and miracle-worker. In his fortieth year he was tonsured a monk by his teacher St. John Chrysostom. Mark then spent sixty more years in the wilderness of Nitria in fasting, prayer and writing many spiritual works concerning the salvation of souls. He knew the entire Holy Scriptures by heart. He was very merciful and kind. He wept much for the misfortunes which had befallen all of God’s creation. On one occasion, while crying, he prayed to God for a blind puppy of a hyena and the puppy received its sight. In thanksgiving the mother of the hyena brought him a sheepskin. The saint forbade the hyena in the future to kill any more sheep of poor people. He received Communion at the hands of the angels. His homilies concerning the spiritual law, on repentance, and on sobriety, etc., are ranked among the first-class literature of the Church. These works were praised by the great Patriarch Photius himself.

Venerable Hesychius the Faster

Hesychius was born near Brusa in the eighth century. He then retreated to Mount Maion which had an evil reputation because of demonic apparitions. There, Hesychius built a hut for himself and a chapel dedicated to the honor of St. Andrew the Apostle. He surrounded it with a garden which he cultivated in order to live by his own labor. By his prayers he performed many miracles. Hesychius prophesied that after his death a convent would be built on that place. A month before, he foresaw the day and hour of his death. At midnight on the foreseen day, some men saw his hut glowing with an extraordinary light. When they arrived, they found him dead. Hesychius died peacefully and was received into the kingdom of His Lord in the year 790 A.D. He was buried in the church of St. Andrew. Later, Theophylactus, the Bishop of Amasea, translated his body to Amasea.

Annual perennial post

by Andrea Elizabeth

The daffodils have burst forth despite the drought last summer.

And the bluebonnets are coming soon!

Spring’s already here, at least this week

by Andrea Elizabeth

While the poinsettia’s fade before the ever-green and flowering mural painted for me by my friend,

the frostbitten daffodils emerge

as do shoots of a longer stemmed variety

The germinated bluebonnet plants are raring to go as well.

(click on the bluebonnets to see the thousands, maybe millions, of white outlined, five-leafed groupings)

I’m going to try to pick up some vegetable plants to put inside the western facing upstairs barn window until Pascha/Easter, when danger of frost is usually passed. I’ll just have to lug up some water every day because of its already present, un-air-conditioned greenhouse effect. I’m hoping that getting a head start this year will help me yield more fruit before the scorching heat begins.

Experimenting with the zoom lens

by Andrea Elizabeth

I found a couple of flowers I neglected yesterday. It’s fun looking up the names.

This one has a cool name, Skeleton Plant! I didn’t see the little bugs at first. The detail you can see when you click on these a couple of times to zoom further is amazing. Fuzz and tongues!

We know this ubiquitous flower by now, but what about the butterflies that like it? This is a Red Admiral butterfly.

I think this is a Cabbage White

And these humble, low-lying Ratany grew naturally here before we bought this acre.

Summer fruits

by Andrea Elizabeth

On this lovely day I took some pictures of my little meadow wildflower garden.

This part of the yard is taken over by horse mint and brown eyed susans. They may have taken off from a wildflower mix I sowed about 3 years ago.

This is the general area I sowed some Indian blanket seeds I collected on the side of the road last year, so I reckon that’s their babies coming up with the horse mint. Also shown are the remnants of the Indian paintbrushes that blew in. I can’t find the name of the yellow flowers with the longer stamens on my usual Texas wildflower ID sites.

The Mexican hats are new this year.

These wild tomatoes always come up by our roadside every year.

Lone thistle plant on the corner.

Meadow pinks sprang up by our driveway this year. Another surprise.

Here’s my bluebonnets gone to seed among the horsemint, and more meadow pinks.

Meadow pink with brown eyed susans

Not quite so wild tomatoes, though some are volunteers from the compost pile. I thought tomato plants were hybrids and wouldn’t produce fruit, but these are. Also shown are green beans, basil, pumpkin, and maybe okra, I forget. The radishes are hiding in the back.

Summer fun.

Lastly, I’m really happy about how well the vinca that I transplanted from the front to this shady area in the back is doing. The St. Augustine didn’t like it there so much. In a couple of years this whole area should be green.

Catching drops of water before they fall to the ground and disappear

by Andrea Elizabeth

Margaret’s post made me think about the value of a little sheet of plastic wrap. The peanut butter cracker packet box was empty (sooner than I expected, but with four teenagers in the house…), and the plastic covering was still mostly in tact. The open but partially used noodle pack could fit in there, so I accommodated it. The bean sprout noodle bag is now in the peanut butter cracker packet box.

What does one little piece of plastic, or one thin cardboard box bottom matter? Why not use a new zip lock gallon bag? Tons and tons of plastic wrap are made and used every day. One sheet is literally a drop in the ocean. Who would miss a drop in the ocean? Do little drops matter? What if a person left the water on when brushing their teeth while they kept a tiny drop of ocean water in a little shrine on the counter? A person can go crazy obsessing about such things. I wrote a while back about not wanting to throw left-over coffee down the drain. We’ve gotten a lot of rain lately so I’ve actually let it get dumped. Since we have a septic system, the clover in the back yard seems happy about it. But what about the coffee I poured in the garden and the compost pile last year? Confession time.

My tomato plants ended up getting fried even though I spent a lot of time turning the water softener off and on to water them. I read that the salt can kill them. Maybe too much coffee does too because they ended up with brown spots all over the leaves and branches. I probably got 10 tomatoes out of the four plants all year. Only one pumpkin survived as the rabbits punctured the rest, ending their gestation in a lump of gray goo. That pumpkin, btw, which is about 6 inches in diameter, just now turned orange on the dining table. All winter it’s been this beautiful dark green, then it got orange spots, and now is very bright orange. Is that normal timing? Do they use last year’s pumpkins for Halloween?

Everything else died. The cilantro, the chives, the mint, the radishes, and the okra – after one edible one that wasn’t as cellulously fibrous as the other two. I watered them all a lot, but we had a hard, hot, dry summer, and I don’t think gardens like to be watered solely by a hose. As a result, this fall and winter I’ve not composted except for coffee grounds which don’t go moldy and smelly and grow fruit flies in the kitchen if you don’t empty them right away.

However, the left-over seeds that have been sitting on my counter for a whole year are calling me. I wasn’t able to plant the spinach and cabbage last year because I discovered too late that in my zone they’re supposed to be planted around March, which is now. I had planned on abandoning the garden and using the compost for my languishing St. Augustine which only has a few patches left right next to the house. I guess I’ll give it one more shot and go turn the compost into my garden boxes, plant these dern seeds, and dare them to come up and make something of themselves.

Not today though, because it’s Ben’s 19th birthday and I need to go get the cake makings and maybe stop by Isaac’s grave which also has this date on it.

It Feels Like Autumn

by Andrea Elizabeth

We have received an unusual amount of rain for late summer. As a result, I have not had to refill the swimming pool, our grass is greener than it was in spring, the Crepe Myrtles are blooming more lavender flowers than I have ever seen them do, and I’ve not had to water my garden which is producing its fourth through eighth tomatoes as we speak. For this I am very thankful.

Last Tuesday night we went to hear Terry Brooks speak in Fort Worth. Pro – he is a testament to avid reading, enduring enthusiasm and hard work. Con – His favorite writer is atheist Phillip Pullman. Brooks’ Shannara books were lent to us a few years ago and enjoyed by my older children. I am not an avid reader, so I did not preview them beforehand, nor have we discussed them afterward. I don’t know if it would have made much difference if I had, except for my warnings about fantasy. But if I stick to my ideals, then my kids would not be allowed to read anything. Austen indulges too much in romantic fantasy and elevates suffering for suffering’s sake too much, Shakespeare’s characters are too passionate, Cyrano and Quixote are battling impossible figments of their imagination, Lewis is too speculative and trying to please everyone – as long as they’re traditional, Plato is too rational, etc. Spiritual writings even need to be read under advisement. I’ve come to the point of believing there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, except in Church. We must stay alert and vigilant with everything. Sit back and relax? With X-files maybe, but that show isn’t relaxing.

At lunch I lectured my children, one of whom was reading a Terry Brooks story while eating, about being addicted to fantasy, action and adventure. I speak from experience as I’ve recounted elsewhere about romantic literature. People don’t know how to be quiet and peaceful with themselves especially nowadays where instant excitement and stimulation is only a button click away, or a turn of the page, or in the refrigerator. (I’m starting a low-carb diet today, btw, Lord have mercy – I love chips!) Terry Brooks says that one reason he keeps writing book after book, besides always wanting to improve in his craft, is because he gets grumpy when he’s not. Sign of addiction, if you asked me. The only thing we’re supposed to be addicted to is prayer and the Sacraments. Everything else can pass away without eternal consequences.

So why read? Because the Church recommends it mainly. It also unites us to other humans, and we are a people of language. Using language is a skill that I and my kids definitely need to improve in. A skill all of the above authors excel at, among others whom most people are acquainted with better than me. I’m also sure that there are legitimate things to learn and be amused by in everyone, as I don’t believe in Total Depravity. So I’ll not forbid them to read Terry Brooks until I hear of something that I believe will damage them like too graphic violence or sex. I was encouraged to get lost in books while I was growing up, and even though we sometimes can be transported by a well-crafted tale, we still need to know what to guard against like unrealistic expectations. So I hope that having critical conversations with my children will be enough to protect them from getting lost in these fantastic other worlds.

Meanwhile, I’ve barely begun C.S. Lewis’ third in his Space Trilogy, That Hideous Strength, which hasn’t offended me yet. After that I may read some Chesterton. I don’t know when I’ll get back to Plato. And for Spiritual reading, I feel drawn to The Prayers, some of which are linked in my previous posts, as a way to try to get my mind, which is too far ahead of my heart and thus crippled, into the latter.

A couple of preliminary thoughts on THS, I think Lewis brings up a good point about the collegiate discussion regarding the repair of the wall around the well. He laments that the discussion in days past would have concerned the preservation of beauty. While that is a loftier goal than utility and economy, beauty on its own can be too subjective and one’s appreciation too subject to the passions. By stating that Bracton College “was founded in 1300 for the support of ten learned men whose duties were to pray for the soul of Henry de Bracton and to study the laws of England”, Lewis highlights for me both the common lineage of orthodoxy in early England and where they started to go astray. But even the common part in the Church of England has faded into the background with the Protestant Reformation. He also brings up Cromwell’s purges and how Merlin’s well was saved from it by a martyr. I am not sure of Lewis’ sentiments regarding the “popery” of praying for the dead and keeping holy places consecrated, but at least he notes how tradition is being threatened.

Back to the weather, we are experiencing unseasonably cooler temperatures, a perfect 72 degrees at present, so I have sent the kids out of doors before they do their homework. Hopefully they are clearing the path in the woods of fallen trees and branches and will play Hide and Seek with Rebecca and Pippin (our Corgi). We have still not gotten to Lively Latin or History Portfolio as their Abeka takes up most of their day, and 9th grade, without the Bible video, hasn’t been too disagreeable so far. I’m not having Rebecca read their depressing readers, though, and since she read The Magician’s Nephew over the summer, I’ve not pressed her on extra reading yet. Jeremy and Rachel are both reading, from Sonlight recommendations for their book reports, The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, which I have not read but have seen the movie. They usually write thoughtful reports, so I will wait for that.