Belting It Up, Blooming Out

From Sasha
It seems to me that a good belt is hard to find. A girlfriend of mine who has the best collection of Western and Hippie leather belts revealed her source: fashionable ex-boyfriends! (Not much help to me, since I've been married seven years!)
Over time I have finally built up my collection of Cool Belts so that my cup begins to runneth over... now when I find a killer belt, like the one below, it can actually end up in the store!:
(Before you get too attached, I have to tell you that it sold within hours of being posted! Sorry! But I promise I am keeping an eye out for more...)
Amber found this super unique belt.... I love the psychedelic stained glass effect:

When I was buying this one, another woman in line was admiring it and told me it reminded her of things she used to make at camp in the 60s. People used to know how to MAKE these? Man, I made friendship bracelets in the 80s, but that was nothing compared to doing beadwork!:


Another thing I seldom find is purses. Now I have a confession to make, that could shock some of you... I do not carry a purse, whenever I can avoid it! I am a pirate at heart, and when I go out at night I like to put my valuables safely in my boot. I've always been that way (and always worn boots, too, with only a recent foray into sassy high heeled ones). When I do have to tote a bag around, it is an embroidered over-the-shoulder one from Mexico that is completely falling apart, completely in need of a cleaning that I will never give it, and beloved to me as a favorite teddy bear. I have bought-- and have been given-- nicer, cleaner, newer bags, in an attempt to replace it, but nothing is knocking it off of its throne. So that means..... more purses for you! Like this one, made of perfect white leather, with an amber lucite handle:


Here I am, trying to demonstrate "street fashion" in the middle of a field. Ha ha!

I don't just stand around playing with my hair when I am at home, though, oh no! I also build fences by hand. Well, you are going to have to broaden your idea of a fence a little bit...

Here's the deal: I was actually in line at the hardware store with metal stakes and a roll of plastic mesh fencing, all ready to make my fenced-in veggie garden the regular way, when I suddenly got cold feet. In my mind, it was going to cost me $20... as if anything at the hardware store costs $20! But my total was over $100, and I just couldn't do it. Instead, I decided that I would somehow, ahem, "find stuff lying around" and make my fence.
Now I have a landlord who seems to think that every man's trash is his potential treasure, and there is a metric ton of "stuff lying around" our property. The problem is that it is HIS stuff, so even if its covered in blackberry vines and two decades of cobwebs, we can't really use it. The branches he pruned last year and never hauled away, on the other hand, were fair game! I dove in and started pulling them out from a tremendous pile, and weaving them together in an approximation of a circle around the spot I'd cleared for my veggie garden. The weaving has not stopped yet, since the more I work, the more agile the marauding deer become in my imagination, and the more I feel I have to add height and reinforce. It is hard, sweaty work, but hey! I saved $100! Here's a detail of the progress thus far:
Meanwhile, in the non-fenced part of the garden-- the one full of herbs that don't tempt hungry deer--things are blooming out in a big way. The Lavender is super happy:

From front to back, we have Feverfew (for headaches and fevers), Lavender (the ultimate nervine, and plant of a thousand uses-- I always keep lavender essential oil in my purse, since it comes in handy for everything-- calming, as an antiseptic for cuts and scrapes, and even as a healer for severe burns), Yarrow (a genius herb that will stop excess bleeding and get stuck blood moving, and is also a great energetic protector, acting somewhat like a force field around a person), Vervain (the witches herb or Druid's herb, one of the most sacred plants to my Celtic ancestors, who used her for trancing and journeying in the spirit realm; used in modern times as a nervine), and Yellow Water Irises (not a plant I have used medicinally, except of course for the medicine that is Beauty):

This is the first year my Comfrey bloomed! Comfrey is also called "knit-bone", which tells you what it has traditionally been used for. Use of the root is controversial in the herbal world due to potential liver toxicity, but the leaves are used externally as poultices or salves for a thousand purposes, including speeding up cell regeneration.

Here is my beautiful Clary Sage, a gift from a friend, now going wild in the garden. Her potent smell is sharp and musky at the same time, and utterly unforgettable. Her essential oil is used in treatment of women's hormonal imbalances, and her effect is just as her name says: she "clears". She is a potent opener of the third eye, so much that she can overwhelm me in the concentrated essential oil form. In the garden she hangs out and looks beautiful, and her scent travels through the air like a husky Gypsy song.

Here is my Water Iris again... this is the first year she has bloomed! I poached a few of these from a place up the road where there were literally miles of blooms filling every stream and creek, hummingbirds at every flower-- a breathtakingly lovely sight. I thought that she might not be getting enough sun to flower in our little holler, but I guess she just needed to put her energy into her root system for a few years. Now she is really expanding, and I hope one day the whole length of the stream in the holler is filled with these incredible blooms!


Here's my little Riparian Restoration project seen from another angle-- this might look wild to you, but it is actually a careful recreation of what Should Have Been. When we moved in this little creek was being used as a trash heap, and it was covered in generations of yard waste and rusty bedsprings. Only the toughest weeds were making a living here. Chris and I put in a lot of blood sweat and tears pulling out the blackberries and the trash, and I restored the area to its natural state, using local plants and a few non-native herbs that I love. Now it is a thriving mini-ecosystem, and where there once were only crickets, there are now dozens of kinds of cool bugs and butterflies and bees!
If you look closely you can see Horsetail, several varieties of Mint, Mugwort, and Lemon Balm, among other things:

While this scene is lovely in any context, knowing that all this beauty is the result of my labor and love is sooooooo satisfying...

A scene from near the front steps, of Oregano, Sage, Woodruff, Serpentine rock, horns bought from a yard sale where two burly Harley motorcycle fanatics lived, and a mysterious alien ship given to me as a birthday gift by my friend Tammy:

Blackberries are the delight and the bane of country living. They grow fast, get everywhere, are hard to get rid of when you don't want them, and a tangle with their briars will leave you torn up like you were in a fight with ten cats. But the fruit... oh, you cannot deny the appeal of the fruit. Looks like it's gonna be a good year for the berries, which is awesome. Blackberry is in the same family as the Rose, which you an see from the flower (and the thorns!):

The hardest thing for me about living in Grass Valley is... well, the grass! I am incredibly allergic to wild grasses and always have been, so I spend a few weeks in the spring with a stuffy head and puffy eyes. My allergies are a hundred times better this year because I did a test to find out what foods I was allergic to (eggs and garlic! can you believe it) (it's based on white blood cell response to these proteins in a sample of my blood, and if you're interested you can do this through a Naturopathic office like the one I work at) and took them out of my diet so that my general histamine (the makes-you-sneeze-and-puff-up chemical in your body) response could be lowered. I also eat tons of liver-friendly foods and try to avoid fried foods and too much cow dairy and wheat. Still, I get a little wheezy in meadows like this, but I can't help but find grass exquisitely beautiful...



Here's a little friend in the meadow, vibrant Vetch:


What country scene would be complete without a vintage car? This is Chris' 1970 BMW, which has been through major reconstructive surgery this year and is ALMOST road ready. I think it is so freaking cute:
Last but not least, this is where you will find us on a summer day, if we are lucky. Sometimes we even manage to squeeze both of us and the cats on here!

Hope your summer is off to a wonderful start, and congrats to all of you who have finished the school year, helped a child finish their school year, or even graduated yourself. Hooray for lazy/crazy summer days!