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My Garden Is CLEAN! (and other updates)

With J’s help, I’ve finally finished cleaning up my garden. Whatever weeds are left have been left on purpose; I believe it’s important to have a few wild places in a garden to harbor the beneficial critters. It also provides visual diversity.

Where the ground is covered with carpet, it is either a path or a place where I plan to grow things using the Kratky method. Where it’s covered with cardboard, I think that maybe I’m going to eventually use the space for in-ground growing.

Here’s the area around the keyhole bed, which had lately had weeds come up around it:

This is the area next to the keyhole bed, which used to be covered in weeds (the bushes in the background at the left are blueberries):

The area in the following photo used to be a strawberry patch. No more!

This is the view of the same area, looking toward the asparagus.

Orchard cleaning

Check out the next two photos. The first shows what the second used to look like, right next to the orchard wall, inside and out. The second shows what the first will eventually look like:

J is doing this project, because the grass growing along the edge of the orchard has become so well-rooted that it requires the hand tiller to get it up. Not that I can’t use a hand tiller, but my lower back doesn’t like me to.

He is also the one who has traveled an hour to fill up the car with old carpet (the only dumpster diving we do) and cut all the carpet pieces. Yay, husband!

Other garden updates

I don’t remember planting more than six sweet potatoes in this area, but you wouldn’t know it by the vines!

You have to understand that I’ve trimmed off some of the vines, and others have flipped backward to keep them in that garden bed. But still, they creep onward.

Check out how tall the broccoli plants are:

Still no florets, but like I said earlier, the leaves are more nutritious. Why do the stalks look so naked, you ask? The lower leaves we’ve either gradually eaten, or I’ve had to remove due to worm or aphid infestation.

Three plants have died thanks to harlequin beetles, which I didn’t realize were dangerous pests (they kill plants!) until it was too late for those three. Live and learn. We still have plenty of leaves for eating.

The next photo shows B’s favorite part of the garden:

I like it, too – a burst of color from the zinnias with a wall of green (mostly red malabar spinach, with some kiwi vine) in the background. Next year, I will not let zinnias grow in this area, nor will I let nearly as many malabar spinach plants get big. Believe it or not, I pulled out probably at least dozen of each zinnias and malabar spinach early on – and still I ended up with a crazy amount!

Did I tell you that I haven’t planted either one since our first year here in 2014?

And now, the Kratky tomato:

I recently had to refill the bucket with nutrient solution. And the tomato protested so much I thought it was going to die! The next couple of days, it wilted something awful, and I thought I had failed. I even began to plan how I was going to grow things if not via the Kratky method.

But as you can see, it recovered. Apparently the roots just experienced some stress when I lifted the bucket lid to pour the water in. However, the plant now has some yellowing leaves:

Whether due to the refilling, or for some other reason, I don’t know. But the plant is now growing several bunches of tomatoes and is replete with blossoms, so I’m hoping my experiment will start paying off pretty soon.

Here’s something crazy. When I severely pruned the grape plants around two months ago because the plants had developed black rot, a few weeks later one of the plants decided to grow more fruit:

Who knows if they’ll ripen, or if they’ll ripen before our first freeze. And, who cares? Not me! What are there, maybe seven or eight grapes in that bunch? Not worth fussing over.

One more note of interest before I go: the two (of three) goji bushes that have produced berries, are now on their third wave of production! (Sorry the photos are blurry.) This photo shows a flower and some green berries. The next one, two ripe berries.

I have no idea if this is normal, or if it’s just due to the mild winter that got them started early and the mostly cool (below 100 degrees, LOL) temps we’ve had this summer.

Pretty soon I need to take some photos of my indoor garden. Until then! 🙂


I Am Extreme

The perfect attitude for ill health

“I know there are foods that I shouldn’t eat, but I eat them anyway because I like them.”

I try my best not to stare, dumbfounded, at the person who said this. Let’s call the person L. L is a well-educated woman who is married to a physician who has been trained in functional medicine. That is to say, he is one of the few medical doctors who understands the critical and unbreakable connection between nutrition and health.

In other words, L should know better.

Several years younger than my forty-seven, L has been suffering from perimenopausal symptoms that have yet to touch me (such as migraines and hot flashes), and other symptoms I have now just begun to deal with she has already been dealing with for years (such as super-short menstrual cycles). She has chronic inflammation that is causing her chronic lower back pain, more gray hairs than I, and is probably twenty pounds overweight.

I am healthier than she. Yet, she won’t hear any advice I have to give about healthy eating.

“Maybe it’s just her genes.”

Confession time: L is my youngest sister, four years younger. And we are very much alike (looks, natural abilities, etc.) in many respects. So, it’s not genes, folks.

No, wait: THIS is the perfect attitude for ill health

“Do you know when you are going to die?”

My gut clenches with frustration when E asks me this question. Eighty years old, E is blind in one eye due to macular degeneration (and doesn’t have great vision in the other eye), suffers from osteoporosis, is feeble, has ghastly liver spots on her face. Her question comes after a discussion we’ve had about diet, nutrition, and health, the implication being one that I’ve heard before: “You shouldn’t be so picky about what you eat, since you don’t know how long you’ll be here, anyway.”

You may be thinking, “Gee, Emily, give her a break! She’s eighty years old.”

So is Ruth Heidrich. Actually, she’s eighty-one or eighty-two by now. If you don’t know who she is, watch the following video:

This video is an eye-opener as to the human potential for aging with great health, as well:

Now, back to E. She has been consuming the standard American diet her entire life, including consuming about three glasses of beer every evening. Lots of grain and animal products, not a lot of fruits and vegetables. Plenty of processed sugar as well, especially in her younger years.

How do I know all this? Confession: E is my mother.

She does not suffer from macular degeneration, osteoporosis, or physical weakness because she is eighty years old. She does so because of consuming a not-very-healthy diet for her entire life.

Who’s the extreme one?

People consider me to be extreme. I no longer consume any grain or animal products (and for years, only consumed a small amount of each on a daily basis). For the past ten years or so, I have consumed around ten servings of fruits and vegetables per day (and ten years before that, I was consuming more than the “five a day” recommended by the USDA). I have rarely – and I mean rarely – eaten any processed foods (including homemade stuff like cookies) since the age of twenty-five.

I consume the original diet as prescribed by the Creator in Genesis – and what many non-Bible-believing anthropologists believed our oldest ancestors consumed.

Therefore, I am extreme.

I feel and look much better than my three siblings, who are all relatively close in age to me. Based on the  wrinkles on my face and the gray in my hair, I look much younger than most women in their late forties. As a matter of fact, on a whim a few months ago I asked someone who didn’t know me how old she would guess I am.

She guessed somewhere in my early thirties!

I am extreme.

At least, according to probably 75% of the Western population. They consume (fake) foods that have only been around for 150 years. They eat according to taste, then suffer pain, misery, and debilitation as they grow older (some not very old – I once knew a 38-year-old woman who had a stroke; and we all know of young people who have battled cancer). They die relatively young, well under the 100-120 years that are easily possible for humans to achieve – barring fatal accidents, of course.

But they are not the extreme ones. I am extreme because I hope and plan not to be a victim of a fatal accident. I am extreme because I eat and live in a way that dramatically reduces my risk of developing all manner of illness and disease.

No, Mom, I don’t know when I am going to die. But I am not going to plan on dying young! I have a choice on how well I am going to age. And I choose to age as slowly as humanly possible, with as few health problems as possible.

Yep. I am extreme. And I am happy and healthy because of it.


Excuses, Excuses

Without being too TMI, my reproductive cycle is totally whacked this month. Basically, after having a week of regular menstruation (followed by a relatively long thirty-four day cycle), I had two super-short cycles resulting in a total of three menstrual periods this month.


Younger ladies, just you wait. Hitting your forties will be a blast.

Uh-huh. And my name is Queen Elsa.

So, I’ve been grumpy and mildly depressed the past three days. This morning, I woke up with an icky taste in my mouth. Wasn’t hungry at all, even by the time I’d fixed my smoothie by 6:45. I’m usually scarfing down almonds by five o’clock, I usually feel so famished (yes, we are early to bed, early to rise people). My stomach also felt off. Not queasy, but just off.

Then when I went to put my mid-morning snack smoothie in the cooler, I realized that I’d forgotten to change out the ice in the coolers* yesterday (all the ice was melted – if I’d changed it yesterday, only about half the ice would have been). This, after saying to myself early in the afternoon yesterday, “Oh, I haven’t changed the ice out. I’d better do that.”

Apparently, five seconds later I’d forgotten.

Grumpy mood. Weird digestive issues. Memory problems. And not too long after waking up, when I went to empty my bladder, I discovered I’d started my third period this month.

I put two and two together and told J that’s why I’d been feeling so grumpy. And that must be why my digestive system was on the fritz.

A little later I discovered the melted ice. “I blame that on hormones, too,” I told my husband.

And then I had an idea. “Until I hit menopause, I’m going to blame all my misbehavior and physical maladies on hormones,” I announced. “And then afterward, I’ll blame everything on old age.”

Matter settled. Nothing I do wrong, or any ill way I feel, will ever be my fault again.

WHEW! Is that freedom, or what?

Oh, I get it. No wonder so many people refuse to take responsibility for the consequences that follow their choices and actions. And most of them aren’t even perimenopausal women.

No problem is ever anybody’s fault. It’s their genes. Their dysfunctional family. The devil. God’s will. Fate. A black cat crossing their path.

Hormones. 😉

Later, ‘gator. I’ve got some ice in the coolers that needs changing…


*We do not have a refrigerator. Instead, we have three coolers and a large chest freezer.


Every Day Is Groundhog Day

I recently had this revelation: every day is Groundhog Day.

No, I don’t mean that the date every day is February second. Nor do I mean that every day is bleak, cloudy and cold.

I’m talking about the old movie, Groundhog Day. Remember, the one that starred Bill Murray? The one where the guy enters his own personal Twilight Zone because every single morning he wakes up – for months, maybe years? – it’s February 2 and the events of the day are exactly the same as the day before? And the events are mostly not all that enjoyable.


Except after several days of waking up and getting to the point of being bored out of his skull – not to mention discouraged by the way his life is going – he realizes something. He realizes that he can use repeating the same day over and over to his advantage.

He can learn from his mistakes, and improve.

And so that’s what he does. He starts to implement small changes that affect the various events that occur on that day. And with each passing Groundhog Day, he learns, tweaks his approach, and improves the negative situations until by the end of the movie he is can play the piano at the level of a concert pianist and he has the woman of his dreams.

(There are other several other areas of his life in which he has made vast improvements, but for some reason those are the only two I remember. Probably because I only saw the movie one time. If you remember more, feel free to enlighten me down in the comments.)

The movie ends with Bill’s character finally waking up to seeing his alarm clock displaying the date as February 3. Time finally begins to move forward…and he is living his dream life.

Your days are basically the same

In real life, none of us will ever experience time standing still like that. However, chances are huge that your days are fairly predictable. You have basically the same schedule and face similar routine events. You usually encounter the same people. You incorporate the same skill sets into your daily work and recreational activities.

In essence, you have the same opportunity to improve you life as Bill Murray’s character did. In essence, every day is Groundhog Day.

My life as Groundhog Day

Like most people, I have room for improvement in every area of my life. Like most people, I have unfulfilled dreams. Specifically, I have always wanted to sing professionally. And although I would love to be proficient in both instruments, I have been a beginner guitar player and beginner piano player since my teens.

People, I’m forty-seven years old as I write this post.

So, since having my Groundhog Day revelation, I have taken action to improve a myriad of skills, as well as increase my knowledge base.

**Every day, I work on improving the functionality and production of my garden.

**Every day, I work on being more loving and more giving to my son and husband.

**I am working on being more outspoken with others about health and diet.

**I set up the Tuff Shed so that it is spacious enough and comfortable enough for me to work in.

**I now practice the guitar (in the Tuff Shed) and the keyboard (in the house with headphones on) for at least thirty minutes each every day – and have made significant improvement in both, even in just the few weeks since I started.

**I have begun singing again. Right now, I spend about fifteen minutes with vocal warm-ups and fifteen minutes singing songs – again, in the Tuff Shed. As my vocal chords get used to being used again, I am going to increase my singing time.

**I have begun writing songs. My plan is to eventually start a YouTube channel where I will play the guitar and sing, a mix of my songs and others.

**I am working out an exercise routine that will keep me fit as I grow older, and my back feeling good. The back stretches and core work-out exercises that Bob and Brad recommend have been a wonderfully helpful starting point. My lower back is feeling much better than it did several months ago, and I am finally able to work for long intervals in the garden without hurting for the next three days!

Unlike Bill Murray, sure, I’m getting older as I improve my skills and work toward fulfilling my singing dream in a modified way. But it’s like that story of the forty-year-old who finally had the money and time to get a medical degree who said, “But if I go to medical school now, I’ll be fifty years old before I become a doctor!”

To which the person’s wise friend replied, “And how old will you be in ten years if you don’t go to medical school?”

The person went to medical school and became a doctor.


Want a better life? Turn it into your own personal Groundhog Day…and let me know your goals in the comments below!


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