30 January 2013

La Belle's Hobby Farm: Savoring Winter

Winter is the time of promise because there is so little to do - or because you can now and then permit yourself the luxury of thinking so.
 ~ Stanley Crawford



 inter is a great time for relaxing one’s grip on the never ending to do list.  There are no weeds to pull, no stems to prune (unless you have fruit trees), nothing to harvest. However, gardeners don’t passively relax in the winter.  There are some tasks we can do that are meant to savored.

While the ground is slumbering, I walk around and test the light and ask myself questions: where does the sun shine the most?  What parts of the land are in full shade?  Are there too many trees around that will siphon all the nourishment away from the vegetables and herbs?  How much work am I willing to do and how much time can I spare on the garden?

Answering these questions now will help determine where the garden will be, how big it will be, and what I plant in it.  Once I figure all that out, I can then look at what needs to be planted inside first, and what can go directly into the ground.

I relish this peaceful time with the land, knowing that this year, I will be ready for Spring.

Oremus pro invicem,

~ Mikaela

What winter tasks do you savor?

28 January 2013

The Authentic Artist: Is Honesty Really the Best Policy?

Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom. 
~ Thomas Jefferson

f my personality type was a religion, authencity would be one of the founding tenets.  When someone is not being authentic and true to themselves, it sticks in my craw like yesterday’s spinach.  And when I’m not being authentic and true to myself, I feel like I’ve kicked a two-week old puppy.

But is honesty and authenticity really the best policy when it comes to art, and in particular to writing?

Case in point: I was laid up for the better part of a month because of medical issues.  Conventional blogging wisdom says that I should have had several posts/articles on back up to post when my brain wass not in the position to write and post something on my normal Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  On the one hand, I see the wisdom in that.  I follow blogs and authors.  When they don’t post in weeks, I wonder what’s going on.  I wonder whether they’re sick, going through family troubles, or just have a major case of writer's block.  And I know when I’m unable to post, I feel guilty, like I’m letting my readers down ~ like friends I'm suddenly not speaking to anymore.

On the other hand is authenticity.  And scheduling posts feels like I’m letting my readers down in a different way, as if it's deceitful to post something that I may have written months or years ago.  Yes, it’s still me, still my thoughts, still my opinions.  But it doesn’t seem gritty or real enough: "Hey!  I’m dying over here, but I’m going to pretend like everything is peachy keen and normal.  You won’t know a thing is wrong because posts keep getting published."

Then again, perhaps I'm overthinking this.  It won't be the first time I've been accused of that.  But I think it's a valid question: how real do you want your artist/writer to be?

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
I would love to hear from both artists and audience on this question.

25 January 2013

Top Five Friday: Let It Snow, I've Got My Seed Catalogs to Keep Me Warm!

“It always amazes me to look at the little, wrinkled brown seeds and think of the rainbows in 'em," said Captain Jim. "When I ponder on them seeds I don't find it nowise hard to believe that we've got souls that'll live in other worlds. You couldn't hardly believe there was life in them tiny things, some no bigger than grains of dust, let alone colour and scent, if you hadn't seen the miracle, could you?”
~ L.M. Montgomery


inter doesn't bother me.  In fact, I love the snow ~ as long as I'm off the roads and in my cozy bed with a hot cup of tea and a good book.  And as January creeps into February, the books I love to read the most on days like today are seed catalogs.

Yes.  That's what I said.  Seed catalogs.  The Fifty Shades of gardners everywhere.

But it can't be just any seed catalogs.  Too many mad scientists and money-grubby corporations have poked, prodded, and genetically modified and otherwise sterlized many seeds.  If you haven't heard of Monsanto, you must be living in a Barbie world and think that food comes from the grocery store. 


All food comes from a seed or a bulb.  Well, all real food that is: fruits, vegetables, grains.  And the best food comes from organically and sustainably grown and harvested seeds.  Also, not necessary, but definitely fun and useful to grow are heirloom seeds: seeds that come from strains of fruit or vegetables grown by our great-great-great grandparents.  Think lumpy, bumpy heirloom tomatoes.  I dare you to eat a GMO'd tomato (even right out of the garden) and then eat an heirloom tomato and tell me they are the same.  There is no comparison.

All five of these seed companies or exchanges sell organic, non-GMO seeds.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
High Mowing Organic Seed Company
Sustainable Seed Company
Seeds Now
Botanical Interests
Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
Are you planning your garden yet?  Try Mother Earth News' Garden Planner ~ it makes it easy!

23 January 2013

La Belle's Hobby Farm: Moving Back: Was the Sacrifice Too Great?

A good friend is a connection to life - a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world. 
~ Lois Wyse


oving back to the country was the right decision.  But it came with its share of sacrifices ~ the greatest one being the increase in physical distance from my community of friends and neighbors. 

It took me over ten years to build a strong support system and while my friends are still here for me and I for them, the amount of insane traffic in between us, not to mention our busy schedules, make frequent face to face meetings near impossible.  Some would say this should make the friendships all the more precious.  And it does.  But lately, I find the distance  depressing.

When you only live a few minutes from one another, friendship and community thrives on the little things:

-         The spontaneous phone call or text that says ~ “What are you doing right now?  Wanna grab a cup of coffee and hang out?”
-         The unexpected knock on the door and invitation to walk around the block.
-         The spur of the moment movie night

Don’t get me wrong ~ planned get togethers are great too; it’s just that the spontaneous aspect is completely gone and the planned outings are few and far between.  What good is being out in the country, trying to live a local, peaceful, sustainable lifestyle when your friends aren’t around to pour the Fair Trade tea for?

The Winter Garden 
My garden is a reflection of my heart ~ a sad, little weather-beaten plot, a dull brownish grey, covered in last year’s leaves and yesterday’s leftovers.  The one bright spot: a lone rosemary plant standing brave and tall and lushly green and fragrant. 

Rosemary for remembrance. 

Remembrance that winter doesn’t last forever.  That all that dead and decaying leaves and compost that looks so ugly on the surface has actually enriched the soil, kept the bumblebees warm, and protected last year’s seeds, making this year’s harvest more abundant and sweet. That I can use my garden’s dormant season to plan and buy seeds to plant in the spring.

The heart also has its dormant season ~ a time to rest and contemplate and just be.  I tend to ride the social merry-go-round without ever taking a break, and for my personality type, that’s destructive.  As much as I hate it, I need to hibernate from time to time so I can re-center and remember who I am and what’s important to me.  And what’s important are strong supportive relationships.

So maybe it’s time to start tilling new ground, while not forgetting to weed the old.  Maybe it’s time to grow some new old friends to add to my heart’s garden.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
Do you make your friendships a priority?  If not, why?  And if you do, what are some things you do to keep the path of friendship well-worn?

18 January 2013

Top Five Friday: Who I Discovered on my Sick Bed

What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers. 
~ Logan Pearsall Smith

ne of the side effects of undergoing emergency surgery is that it necessitates staying in bed for two weeks.  At least that’s what happened to me. And since I tend to ride the social merry-go-round without always scheduling down time, this is a good thing.

Not so good: the post-operation pain that also necessitates heavy pain medication.  I know ~ everyone says a drunk Ernest Hemingway was a better writer.  But seriously, a doped up Mikaela D’Eigh was No. Writer. At. All.

I am, however, a voracious reader.  And discovered a genre I thought I'd never get into: YA Paranormal.  The operative word here being YA.  I mean, I not exactly Y anymore  Although sometimes the A seems pretty remote too.

But the two of the five authors I’m going to introduce to you today go beyond the YA box; they are simply great writers.  And all five have detail-oriented editors: no misuse of words like alter vs. altar, then vs. than, or - and I’m appalled how often I’ve seen this – peace vs. piece.  Misuse of words is a pet peeve of mine and I shall rant often about it when talking about books and writing. 

So without further ado, I give you the five lovely ladies who have won my writerly, readerly paranormal-loving heart and my respect for their incredible skill as storytellers. 

Everyone cries foul on Amazon ~ and trust me, I buy local 80% of the time ~ but I have to say, Amazon has been a boon to indie and self-published writers.  And Amazon “recommended” this series based on my previous purchases and reviews of other paranormal books.

Okay, fine: also, the cover has a hot, dark brooding guy on the cover with wicked green eyes.  How could I not purchase it?! 

Warning: I don’t know how far along Ms. Armentrout is with the 4th book in the series, but I am in agony after the ending of Book 3.  But it’s so worth it – get this series.

Wow.  Just, wow.  I loved this series so much I read the whole series in five days (remember, bed rest) and then re-read it twice right after that.  Yeah, it’s that good.

One word why you should read this series: soulmates.  Come on, you can’t tell me you haven’t dreamed about finding yours.  We may settle, but we never complete forget the ideal.  I think I’ll wait for my Caleb.

Bonus ~ there’s a movie version coming out.

After Caged, this was the second paranormal series I bought.  It has a gritty feel, so if you are uncomfortable with cussing and sweaty love scenes, then maybe this isn’t for you.  But I loved it, gritty urban scenes and all.

My one issue: Book 3 seemed cut and pasted together.  A small thing, but I did have a couple of scenes where I went: Huh?  But she already did X in Book 2?  Why is he now saying she doesn’t do that?  However, this wasn’t enough to make me fall out of love with Silver, Justus, and all the other characters.

My one word for you here: Logan Cross.  He makes me wish Chitah men were real.  Also: soulmates.  See?  Every woman dreams she has one!

Gritty. Dark. Horrific. Real.  Karina Halle is not afraid to tackle some pretty heavy subjects in this series.  And she does it with a well developed plot (I really envy her brain), and Perry and Dex are characters you can’t help but invest in and hurt with.  Again, I am in agony waiting for the next book to come out, but it is so worth the pain.

Caged was one of the first werewolf books I downloaded on my Kindle app.  I know ~ I’m such a book traitor! Argh!  Anyway, I lucked out on my first try:  the dialogue flows naturally and sounds real;  the characters are well developed (in more ways than one, haha), even the ones that play seemingly minor roles; and most importantly, the plot makes sense (well, as much a werewolves shifting, killing, and getting’ it on makes sense) – someone must have done story boards or spread out chapters on her living room floor.

Do yourself a favor: wait until February to read Books 1-4.  Number 5 is set to come out in March.  You’ll be glad you didn’t have to wait as long as I am to find out the next chapter in Ruby’s life.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
Do you have any favorite Paranormal (YA or otherwise) titles you'd like to share?

04 January 2013

I'm Not Dead. . . Yet

The wound is the place where the Light enters you.
~ Rumi



lthough apparently on Sunday night, I did go gently into that good night for a few minutes.  Note to self, remember to let the nurse know that a double shot of dilaudid equals a quick trip to the pearly gates.  Thankfully, my mother was with me and realized that not breathing and having the skin colour of a zombie is probably not normal.  And so, I woke up from a really deep snooze, surrounded by frantic nurses and doctors poking and prodding me and shouting at me to wake up.

I really hate to be woken up.  Even from the dead.

But I suppose the good Lord isn’t finished with me yet and I have still have miles of mischief to make, so here I am – alive and with one less organ in the new year.  My holistic side is very disappointed in me for not keeping my gall bladder another year.  But honestly, I was just tired of ending up in the hospital yet again with pain that would make the Pope apostatize.  It is still early in my recovery to see whether I will be one of the 34% who still have pain and can’t eat fried food (if that happens, I may lose my Southern membership card.  I will however, be going back to my 75% raw food lifestyle and have already purchased the Sticky Fingers sweets cookbook to celebrate my return to the land of the vegan living.

Which is the long way of saying – this is why you haven’t heard from me for over a month.  It has been a month of pain and slow healing, and pain dries up my creative creek.

Here’s to a new year of a raging river of creativity and no excruciating pain.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

P.S. Thanks for the all the well wishes and prayers posted on my FB page.  Y’all are the best!