Summer travels, journeys, discoveries and destinations……

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. – Marcel Proust

It’s official – it’s summertime. The temps are swinging, and so are the flip flops. Many indications are all pointing to it…

Memorial Day is behind us
July 4th is around the corner
Baseball season is full swing
Flowers are blooming
Landscapes are lush and green
Schools are wrapping up for another year
Vacations are happening
Gardens are being planted
Gardens are being enjoyed
Farmers Markets are popping up
There is color everywhere
Biking, Hiking, Sailing, and all kinds of games abound
…Yep, it’s summertime!

off we go!

Do you have discovery plans? Do they included long distance travel? Maybe local adventures? Dreams-count too!

I think  Proust had it right. The joy, the reason, the adventure, the growth of travel, and in every day, is in how we see it.

What do you want your eyes to be seeing these days?
What are your hopes for your eyes this season?

Jot down your secret dreams for the summer, check back in September and see how you did.

 

Changes: “Life is a series of surprises.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

First I was going to write about a topic that has been fascinating me since I heard a TED Talk  called How to spot a liar” by Pamela Meyer. It’s about trust, deception, and our society’s propensity for lies. It’s compelling, and I recommend using 18 mins of your life to listen to it. However, I moved on to topic #2. That was to be Clutter – Clear the clutter, clear the mind. Goes with new beginnings and one of my favorite topics-Letting go! Although those words and thoughts take up a LARGE portion of my mind these days, it was too much, too complex, and more than I wanted to share in words. Therefore, it was shelved for “later.”  Topic #3 was intriguing when I wandered over to  the word of Friendship. However, as I sat down to write I changed my mind again and indeed the topic I have settled on is CHANGE. Particularly , change with Botanical Beauties and Beasties.

The Quote below is from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Essays and Lectures. “From a layered and immeasurably insightful 1841 essay titled “Circles,” exploring the pillars of personal growth and how we can learn to stop resisting the very things that help us transcend our self-imposed limitations.” I found it on a site I read regularly called Brain Pickings. Click for the full story.

Every ultimate fact is only the first of a new series… The new statement is always hated by the old, and, to those dwelling in the old, comes like an abyss of skepticism.

[…]

In nature every moment is new; the past is always swallowed and forgotten… Nothing is secure but life, transition, the energizing spirit. No love can be bound by oath or covenant to secure it against a higher love. No truth so sublime but it may be trivial to-morrow in the light of new thoughts. People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.

Life is a series of surprises.”

Surprise # 1:  I might have mentioned to you I am changing the tag line of the business. I am thinking about simplifying things across the board. In life, and so in my business as well. That means change. The tag line has been “Live Kind. Live Green. Live Creatively .” When I do shows those words will continue to serve my story verbally and I still believe in them wholeheartedly. However, I have been thinking for a couple of years now, If the world were to be a bit more “evolved” then Live Kind, Live Green would be one and the same. If we are to truly live within Kindness, that translates  into kindness for self, others, and the world around us, including the planet we all share. So, in the hopes of evolution of us all, and in the process of simplification…. the new line is …. are you ready?…. drum beat please…. Kindess. it's always the bottom line.

As for the third part,  i.e. Live Creatively …Well that most surely continues. Creativity comes in many forms and sizes mostly as words, images, motions and thoughts. We (society) need much help if creativity disappears. For me it is important that I utilize my creativity often, when I don’t my mind gets (even more?) muddled. My thoughts are far enough off the beaten road at times without adding any extra curves! But, I’m also glad about that-without those thoughts, ideas, and imagination the Botanical Beauties would never have been created, launched or shared in any manner. I hope we all agree that would be a shame.

The next step is to figure out to keep moving forward and what’s up next. New paths are ahead, changes are ahead, but I am not clear yet on what, when, where, or how. I continue to work on learning the how, and simultaneously, trying to do (!) the writing and illustrating of  my children’s book. The book has totally changed recently. I will share the New Book when I get a better grip on it.

If anyone has any solid ideas about good marketing, or paths to follow for the Botanical Beauties and Beasties, by all means, please speak up! New crossroads, new thoughts, new directions are indeed what I am looking for!

Surprise #2 – Well, time will tell.

 

Zoie and Kindness

What’s behind those Foster Grants?

A lot has happened in the past month or so. A constant thought has been an awareness that I/we often don’t really know what’s going on with whomever is front of me/us. What’s the back story? Is their a cause and effect? Am I missing something? Do they have a “truth” that if I knew would cause me to understand or perceive something, or them, differently? Creating a different interaction? Changing the outcome of an event? This happens everyday, small events and spreads to gigantic events that can effect many.

As I often do, I was listening to NPR en route to work. This week had two particular interesting pieces to me with my Things are not what they always appear to be mindset. The first-

Ollie and The Thunder Lizzard
Who’s behind those Foster Grants?

 

“Is It Time To Resurrect The Brontosaurus?”

The Brontosaurus may be back.

Not that it ever really went away, at least not in the minds of generations of people who grew up watching Fred Flintstone devour one of his beloved Brontosaurus burgers.

But, if you’re a scientist, you have to stick to the rules, and in 1903, the name Brontosaurus was struck from the record. That was when paleontologist Elmer Riggs deemed that the Brontosaurus was really just a different dinosaur, Apatosaurus…..As NPR reported in 2012, the tussle over naming the dinosaur goes back to the so-called Bone Wars of the late 1800s, when rival fossil hunters raced to name new Thdinosaurs. Othniel Charles Marsh led a team that found the skeletons of two creatures….

The first was found in 1877 and named Apatosaurus. But, as the story says, “it was missing a skull, so in 1883 when Marsh published a reconstruction of his Apatosaurus, Lamanna says he used the head of another dinosaur — thought to be a Camarasaurus — to complete the skeleton.”…The second dinosaur, found in 1879, was named Brontosaurus, or “thunder lizard.”… As Smithsonian notes, “The fate of Brontosaurus now relies upon whether other paleontologists will be able to replicate the results, as well as what those researchers think about the threshold for when dinosaurs merit different names.”

It’s taken more than 100 years, but the Brontosaurus may be on the road to redemption….” To read the whole article, click here. 

The part that actually thrilled me was the sub name for Brontosaurus, of “thunder lizard!”  A giant, long-necked, heavy bodied, swamp-dwelling, 15-30 ton, well loved by many small children, and movie goers, creature possibly never even existed and is a lizard?!!!! Who knew lizards could be have such a breath of size possibilities? It was news to me. No wonder the word THUNDER is in its name! The need to make lots of noise and be heard seems clear for the cause. Where is the truth? What’s the real story? What’s the back story?  In the name,  it seems that someone had either a great imagination, or sense of humor, with the words THUNDER LIZARD? The pairing of those two words seems incongruous and yet somehow wonderful! This delights me. Who’s behind those Foster Grants-a giant thundering big stomping dinosaur? A scampering tiny camouflaged quick creature? A minister of truth? A 1879 Brontosaurus? A few bones here or there, a skull-for sure they all make a difference, I get it but….There always seems to be a back story-even in science!  There are at least 1/2 dozen articles this week on this issue-it’s big news in the Dino world. Who would think in spring 2015 the Brontosaurus would be prime time news?  In the words of Abbott and Costello, Who’s on First?  Does it matter? Who’s behind those dark glasses? It all mysteriously ties together for me. Does it for you?

As for the second piece of NPR that drew me-well, you will have to wait until next time. This is plenty to think about for now… Stay tuned and enjoy the very welcome warmth and sunshine of springtime. Today, up here in NE, we are finally getting to see, and feel, a bit of spring. Flowers should start popping out soon-thank goodness for small miracles of nature!

  Calthia is created from the first crocus of springtime. Her job is Clean Air. Seems suitable as she helps blow away the dregs of winter!!
Calthia is created from the first crocus of springtime. Her job is Clean Air. Seems suitable as she helps blow away the dregs of winter!!

World Water Day 2015

Today is a holiday to celebrate water! Yesterday, I got to see the Atlantic Ocean and water everywhere-it was wonderful. Water has a way of southing and nourishing my soul, my spirits and my heart all at once. We are lucky here and water abounds. I drink many glasses a day of water. Water flows out of the spigot easily for so many uses almost as if by magic. It’s without much thought to the availability, and ease, of that fabulous water that my daily routine flows each day.

However, World Water Day is a serious issue. I like the way Time Magazine featured it-so I will give you the first bit here, and then send you all over to the article for the rest. 

A holiday for H2O

Sunday is World Water Day, a United Nations initiative to celebrate clean water and bring attention to those who don’t have enough of it. A new report released ahead of World Water Day warns about a looming shortage, and centers on this year’s theme: water and sustainable development.

Here are five ways to celebrate World Water Day….

http://time.com/3753021/world-water-day/

(I’ll give you a hint as the five: food, females, and of course- poop- but it’s not what you think. By the way, on the last one, check out the astronauts, they and Bill Gates have this “recycle” process in common!) 

Another great site and easy to absorb (ha ha) info is from UNWater. It’s a great presentation of water and the worlds needs. http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday

I close this post with MOE- Botanical Beauties Minister of Clean Water.

He has water-breathing gills and can travel in the seas for as long as needed. He and his family can adapt to sea or land as needed. This makes Moe’s job as Minister of Clean Water a natural for him. As he swims, he performs water tests, makes notations of underwater spots of beauty and reports on problem areas. Unfortunately, these areas are more common than he would like to see. He strives to help in any way he can, for he is aware that it all starts with ONE person, or in this case one Botanical Fish. 

Moe, Our Minster of Clean Water
Moe in his element WATER.

Positivity – It’s beginning to look like December.

HolidayJuliaVaboom

North of here there is 18″ of snow and winter for sure…South of here it is no doubt warm and sunny…Either way, there is no uncertainty that this is “The Holiday Season.” There is a very loud hum, almost a world vibration, of messages, products, sounds, scents, and traditions. A never ending fascinating topic to me is the world of advertising and how it plays upon all our senses and how it communicates messages. Communications must have two parts. A sender and a receiver. We, the consumers, are clearly the receivers. The senders, the advertisers, seem to think we are like sponges, waiting for a new liquid to absorb. The messages are so strong, and relentless, that most of us can’t help but soak some in!

The first thought was to find the origin of the word communication.

communication (n.) late 14c., from Old French comunicacion (14c., Modern French communication), from Latin communicationem (nominative communicatio), noun of action from past participle stem of communicare “to share, divide out; communicate, impart, inform; join, unite, participate in,” literally “to make common,” from communis (see common (adj.))” http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=communication

If we use the above, then, the advertisers create their message to share, to impart upon us, and invite us to participate in the fantasy/reality of their products. Fair enough-that’s their job, and many do it extremely well. As the receivers I would like to think we could be a bit more discriminating, but it gets tougher with the constant bombardments. The bottom line of all the holidays, despite your “given” religion, is a good one. A message of unity, peace, and joy. The candles and lights do indeed brighten up our minds and hearts. The greens are pleasant scents in closed up tight winter homes. Giving to others is encouraged. Advertisers want us to buy, but the bigger message of generosity, and sharing is a good one. The IDEAL is a good message. The world the advertisers are creating is not real, but the underpinnings of those symbols, the signs, the traditions in their purist form, those are good things. Maybe that’s why the advertisers can “get away with it” so blatantly? They know, we all know, what matters are the underpinnings.

The above Botanical Beauties are Vaboom and Julia. Vaboom (left) is the keeper of words. Her favorite words are ones of kindness. She offers you kindness. To the right is Julia. She is the community healthy food chef and baker. Food is an easy way to share, often bringing people together. Food is nourishment for the body, and sometimes the soul. Food goes with the art of communication; i.e., discussion. For those of us up here in the colder parts, a hot beverage is always a welcome treat. When it involves chocolate, it’s a extra delight! Julia has two mugs of hot cocoa to share. You can add whatever you would like to yours! … These two Botanicals join me in my personal communication to you. It is simple. I hope this message finds you with health, happiness, joy, and peace in your lives. May kindness rule, may whatever is causing you trouble find its way to your past, and may your future be bright….Add more kindness, add more hot chocolate, and with a little magic you will be guided through the winds of December. Hang on tight, sometimes it’s a bit blustery and gusty!

Time, a precious commodity.

Ollie and time
Time and Ollie, The Minister of truth holding time.

 ~ The greatest gift we can give is time. ~

It happens to be Daylight Savings time this weekend. However, that is not really why I am writing about time. It just coincided perfectly.

It’s natural as we get older to think of time with more respect than in our younger days. The real difference now is that I am very aware of the use of my time and how it is divvied up. I am careful, and conscious, of whom, what, when and where gets my very precious time. There are surely many things, and actions, which are “have to’s” and some even overlap into the “want to’s” that must occur and use up some of my time. The top of my personal list, for my desire of how I want to use my time these days, is to spend time with the people I really want to. I sqeeze in the other “good stuff” I love to do as well…and then I squeeze some more into the mix with the “have to’s”..Right now, I am of the belief system that my inner circle, i.e. the friends/family that truly matter in the long run, are amongst the more important uses of large chunks of my time.  No, if you are wondering, or worried, that something awful has happened to my health, the answer is thankfully no. However, I am acutly aware of how tenuous that can be, as dear friends, and extended family, are not all so lucky. So—spend time with those your love, those you want to be with, and those that make you happy. While your there, let them know that they are important. Time can indeed slip away in the blink of an eye…

Live in the Today.  Be present.  If not now-when?
and of course  “Be here now”-Ram Dass

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.“- Carl Sandburg

Time does not change us. It just unfolds us”. – Max Frisch

Falling leaves, Slippery leaves.

Ollie in the fall
Image from the BBB3 archives

 

Here in my little corner of New England the leaves are close to peak, and indeed it is beautiful to see. Fall is in full swing with all its transformations. I have been thinking about the change of seasons and all that entails, both externally in the natural world and internally to us as human beings. In the ancient Taoism/Daoism seasons, we are in the season of Gathering and these three months of autumn are about Containment and Balance. It’s the time to draw our energies inward. Now (not January 1st) is the time to start laying down the paths for a healthy and happy new/next year. “It is time to still our hearts and minds and to gather and collect the spirit and the qi 氣 (energy).” (further reading) … so, how does this fit into my mind, to our everyday lives?

Are you ready? Ready for change? Ready for a new season/year that is quickly approaching? Ready for an open mind? Ready for a new whatever it may that you might be seeking? Look around yourself NOW. Temps are falling. Light is dwindling. Flowers are fading. Trees are having one last glorious blast and then letting their grandeur drop to the ground. Nature is preparing to go dormant for a winters rest. It is a time of gathering nutrients and strength for a rejuvenation that pops in the spring. The ever so obvious natural message to us is:  We too need to let go, drop our leaves, let go of what ever we have been carrying/holding that is no longer of use, or beneficial, to ourselves. (So we are back to one of my recurring themes of letting go.) In the above referenced article it reminds me that “BREATHING is a very powerful way to let go of our tension, whether it is physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. It is one of the primary cycles of yin and yang in the body. Having inhaled we must let go of it before we can take any more in.” I like that, it resonates with me. If your lungs, mind, bodies, heart, are filled with the “unneeded,”  maybe its old dusty air, or “bad”/ugly/painful/sad thoughts, or maybe it’s just plain old unhealthy air/thoughts/actions/patterns, how can that possible be good to hold inside? Mind you, I am not saying it is a piece of cake and all you have to do is breath deep and exhale all the “crap” we all collect right out of our cells. If only it were that easy!

However, all this does tie into another topic I often think about these days that is called “mindfulness.” To me mindfulness is much like awareness but with an extra dose of consciousness. It seems that with awareness you notice, and hopefully make a note of whatever “it” is. With mindfulness you have awareness combined with additional thinking, and hopefully acting upon the thoughts, from your awareness. Make sense?  The yin and yang of life….Let in (how about WELCOME IN) the good, breath out the unneeded, the painful parts that are holding you back. Gather yourself up, let go of the frenetic (although often full of fun) summer energies, unfortunately we lose that summer warmth as well (now we have to recreate that artificially.) Calm down those long list of “things I should do” that pop up so often in the fall. Start gathering that which nourishes you and strengthens you. Small moves in perceptions, actions, can make for enormous changes later. Do it now, while they are tiny, this keeps some of the drastic melodramatic changes away and so a smoother road ahead. And really, do you want those big rough bumps on your road?  Most of us do not. “Chart the difficult when it is easy, act on the great when it is tiny.”  … “Act when something has not yet come to be, regulate when it is not yet disordered.” (Laozi chapter 63 and Chapter 64.) Again, as I sit here writing, I think, if only all, or even part, of this all was easy!

You may be thinking, wondering why the title of this posting? Falling leaves—it’s about letting go. Slippery Leaves—that one makes me smile. It’s a phrase that came to be a gazillion moons ago with a group of very good friends. We were doing our usual hanging out. It was in the fall season with indeed slippery wet leaves all around us. Someone stating the obvious said, “Watch out for the slippery leaves” (I think we were walking?) The response was something like, “Hmm, think so? I think I had figured that out all by myself!” It was not snide, mean, or an unfriendly response. I think we all burst out laughing at the ridiculousness of stating the ever so clear fact. It has become a phrase in my personal lexicon that has transpired a bit and come to mean generically, watch out for the obvious. It can be physical, mental, intellectual, emotional, it doesn’t matter, we often do see, and know the obvious BUT, we also sometimes MISS the obvious—and occasionally our friends do have to help…mindfulness is key.

So, in this season of transformations, let go of what you don’t need and be mindful of all those slippery leaves!

Holidays, Alzheimers, Exercise for Brain Health Research, and the PCT

As we here in North America settle into Labor Day Weekend, I will use these “holiday days” to post a tribute to my friend, and his labors of love for his wife and their cause.

You may (hopefully) remember my post of the introduction of Diggerfoot and so my friend Kirk. Kirk, his daughter Charissa, and his wife Cindy, are hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) with, and for, Cindy’s bucket list. Cindy has Alzheimer’s. The couples core is as long distance hikers, or as they seemed to be called, thru-hikers. As a couple they have traversed the country (The Continental Divide Trail,) hiked the Appalachian Trial and this is Kirks second time on the PCT. Compleating the three is called the Triple Crown. It’s a desire of Cindy’s to have that accomplishment, matching her husbands. As Kirk so clearly stated on his website, and I want to remind you…”We will use the hike for a mission to spread Hope for Alzheimer’s.  The first avenue of hope is with Cindy’s journey, demonstrating that people with Alzheimer’s still can pursue their dreams.  The second avenue of hope is through raising awareness for how lifestyle choices can improve Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers.  The most important of these lifestyle choices is physical exercise, the only “treatment” show to halt and even reverse brain decay.  The third avenue of hope is through Exercise for Brain Health Research, for which we are raising funds.  To see how you can help us spread Hope for Alzheimer’s please visit that page.”

Cindy-and-Charissa

Flowers-Sierra2

I will take two consecutive posting here on The Botanical Beauties & Beasties site to try to recap some of what I found the enticing tidbits of info and fact from the first two months of their journey. These two postings may be a bit longer than usual, but I hope you will find them compelling and that they tempt you to connect to Kirks blog and find out more about their cause and journey. (http://www.humanityhiker.com/) ~

The hike began at Snoqualmie Pass. This pass is about 45 minutes from the Seattle Metro area and is part of Rocky Mountains. It was a little tougher than expected the hikers had a false start. From Kirk’s blog -“We spent our whole first day in the snow, also struggling to find the trail. The day never climbed above freezing…” So here in MA we were enjoying all the summer trimmings and they were in snow! For a few reasons, Kirk makes the call and they turn back. He decides “We would go further south to start our hike north to the Canadian border, precisely at Mackenzie Pass in Oregon. I also resolved that we really had two goals. One was to get Cindy the Triple Crown. The other, and more important, was to enable Cindy to enjoy life, even at the cost of the other goal.”

With this change of their plans they have created  “a “flip flop” thru-hike in order to stay away from snow and make the hiking easier for one not as sure of foot as she once was.….Our first day out from Mackenzie Pass, after first hiking through a lava field reminiscent of a moonscape, we encountered over a mile of hiking on snow, followed by burned forests littered with extensive blowdowns. This was not making hiking easy for Cindy but I made the call to go on this time because the snowfield was on gentle slopes, no steep traverses, and burned forests don’t go on forever.”

Sonora-Pass-View2
Panoramic views!

Now, they are on track, up at 10,500 feet, they have climbed out of Sonora Pass and have an amazing panoramic view. Sonora Pass northern boundary is Yosemite National Park, and it also where the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crosses Hwy 108 for those of you who know roads! With an elevation of 9,620 feet, it is the second highest paved pass in the Sierra Nevada range. By early July the gang is in the S. Lake Tahoe area. Kirk is running support and a self-appointed Sherpa to make this journey possible. He says in his posting that “I think is one of the most beautiful stretches along the PCT, the Desolation Wilderness.” I read that the temps are in 80’s, I haven’t read bad words about snow for a few postings now, and the trip seems to be moving along. I am glad for them.

A July posting is called Collapsing Tent Poles. Cindy is struggling with daily tasks and  towards the end of his post Kirk says- “At times like this you wonder why you would continue with this. The answers come from Cindy. We are always meeting other hikers and tell them something about what we are doing. To one group I gave the report on how exercise is the only thing shown to actually regenerate brain tissue. Cindy chimed in cheerfully: “Yep! That’s why I’m out here! …. Well, and I love hiking.” The positivity that Cindy demonstrates, and the strength they all show, is proof of the wonders of the human spirit when we, as people, need to call it up, somehow it seems to rise to the occasion! If you are mindful of it, you can witness this all the time in our daily lives. The struggles are unique to our own paths, and each one is equally important to the individual facing the challenge.

A few days later and the group is about 10 miles N. of Sierra City, headed over to hike the Sierra Buttes section of the PCT. “As we descended into Sierra City we finally got down low enough to be out of the snow.” (Amazing out here on the East coast we were enjoying a very lovely summer! Sun and no snow thank goodness!)…By mid July I am seeing posting that mentioned Cindy and her gang are hiking 20 miles a day! Impressive!

SNOW!
SNOW!

This posting is from Kirks blog on July 26, and the three hikers are back close to where they actually tried to start their hike originally. Remember that a 10 mile snowfield turned them back around to begin elsewhere!  “We were just a few miles into the Three Sisters Wilderness…As we tackled this section south of Mackenzie Pass on July 22 there were no ten mile snowfields. Indeed, I failed to remember how spectacular the scenery was through here, a source of continual awe were it not for being focused on the footpath. The lava fields made for some tough footwork for Cindy, as did the snowfields. For though they did not last for ten miles the patches occurred frequently over such a length.” Day two of that section, and thunderstorms hit…rain, drizzle, and cold, created this sentence. “All rain gear not made of rubber, to my knowledge, have a saturation point. Ours had reached that in the continuing rain. Wet and cold, I knew Cindy faced hypothermia conditions. After only three miles I knew I had to find a campsite soon.” As expected, they weathered the storm … one of the most heart warming moments in my readings of Kirk’s post is what he wrote after setting up a campsite, cold, wet, and in that storm – “This was the essence of us as a couple: content in our sleeping bags after a day’s hike, weathering the storm. This was normal for us; the way things should be. I looked over at Cindy and absorbed the music, knowing just how fleeting such “normal” moments now are. I wanted to freeze and hold onto that moment forever.”  http://www.humanityhiker.com/weathering-the-storm/  As Kirk stated, the experience had created a new normal and they had gotten thru it all. An interesting question for us to think about. That concept of “normal” and how it is really a very wide dynamic range for most of us and pretty much most of the time! Do you have a new “normal”? Is yours ever evolving? I know mine is.

So I will end this post here – and in a day or two, I will ”recap” the best I can the August postings! Catching us all up-to-date, and hopefully a little more “aware.”

As I write those words, I can’t help but also be reminded of all the awareness that the Ice Bucket Challenge has brought to the ALS issue. There are so many important places, things, and issues that call for our attention and awareness these days!

 “Slowly, I witness the constants in my life fade around me. All things must pass. I just wish we could have more control in the manner of their passing.” – Kirk Sinclair

 

It’s always a good thing to join in and help others.

This post will begin a new mini series for us.

Tractor
Heirloom Charlie on his upcyled, recyled tractor getting ready to do some organic farming!

Last year we tried to help out with the use of Heirloom Charlie. He was introduced to you all in May 2013, and with each sale of an Hieloom Charlie product I stated I (as The Botanical Beauties & Beasties) would donate 15% to Long Life Farm. The hope was to help out a family in need to be able to obtain a CSA farm share within the Long Life CSA program. This translates into the ability for a family to eat fresh organically grown vegetables that has been grown locally without the use of chemical pesticides or herbicides. Well, last weekend I am proud to say I did indeed write a check for the intended purpose. I was not able to raise enough to buy a whole share, but Laura (one of the owners and farmers of Long Life Farm) told me that the Botanical Beauties check brought the total up to the needed $ amount to indeed obtain a share for a lucky family. Other shareholders had also donated monies, and this check just happen to be that last part. I find that wonderful in a strange and magical way. I am thrilled to be able to help out in this small fashion.The website for Long Life Farm is http://www.longlifefarm.com. I  find the site engaging and hope you take a minuet to check it out. It is filled with all sorts of good information! 

Another cool piece of this story is that Heirloom Charlie is also a main character of our new book! The book is coming along nicely-I think we may do some test marketing at The Hopkinton Farmers Market this summer. (Sundays 1-5 Hopkinton, MA.) If you are interested, and particularly if you know anyone in publishing, please let me know! Heirloom Charlie now has a new nick name- the (working) title of the book is The Food Dude!

Now, on to one last piece of business for this post.

Our helping this summer will come as blog postings and a new character called Diggerfoot. Diggerfoots purpose is to help a friend of mine who’s name is Kirk. He, his wife (Cindy), and a daughter (Charissa) will start hiking the 2,666 mile Pacific Crest Trail in a few days. Cindy has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In his own words- from his website http://www.humanityhiker.com“We will use the hike for a mission to spread Hope for Alzheimer’s.  The first avenue of hope is with Cindy’s journey, demonstrating that people with Alzheimer’s still can pursue their dreams.  The second avenue of hope is through raising awareness for how lifestyle choices can improve Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers.  The most important of these lifestyle choices is physical exercise, the only “treatment” show to halt and even reverse brain decay.  The third avenue of hope is through Exercise for Brain Health Research, for which we are raising funds.” To see, how you can help us spread Hope for Alzheimer’s please visit his website. Kirk will naturally be writing about their hike, my postings will be an additional outlet to let more people follow their path, and raise awareness of Alzheimer’s. Naturally, my post will link to Kirks site which has a plethora of resources and a place where one can donate if you care to help the cause in that way. So get your hiking shoes tied and get ready for a long distance hike from Canada to the Mexico boarder! Next posting on the trip you will get to meet Diggrfoot and see how the trip is going. These post will be peppered into the “normal” Botanical postings, and DIggerfoot will be acting as an interviewer looking to share a bit of the adventure with you all!

Growing, people and our business

A few weekends ago we (that would be I and the gang of Botanical Beauties) were off again to a pretty special little town called Sharon Springs NY.

First, a heartfelt thanks and a nod to Cobbler & Co. located on Historic Main Street in Sharon Springs. They are now on the list of places you can walk into a brick and mortar store and buy Botanical Beauties & Beasties cards! It is a delightful store filled with wonderful treasures. Straight from their website- “Cobbler & Co. is a twelve-room eclectic gift shop. We offer an ever-changing array of gifts for you, your family, your friends, your home and garden and all of your entertaining needs...Take a look around our store and remember, we can ship anywhere!” (www.cobblerandcompany.com/index.html If you find yourself in that neck of the country I highly recommend a visit. For that matter, there are quiet a few stops worthy in Sharon Springs and the nearby environs.

Botanical Cards in the store.
Our cards displayed in the Cobbler & Co. card room. Hurrah!

Which brings me to Sharon Springs generally. The 2,000 census counted the population  as 547!  Sharon Springs NY is up in the Mohawk Valley, not too far from Cooperstown for you baseball fans. The countryside is beautiful, the wonderful Adirondack Park and Catskill Mountains are close by borders giving you some idea of its beauty. The ride is about 3 hours for me, the people I meet are always warm and friendly, meaning both the town folks and the fair attendees. Although I am lucky to even get close to breaking even when I am done with gas, lodging, fees etc I find myself returning each time. Why? What draws me to these shows 2x a year? The annual Garden Party (as the spring show is called) and the Harvest Festival (as the Fall show is named)- it seems like a crazy idea to keep going? So, why do I keep returning?

All this brings me to the words of hope, fascination, and charm. I think these may be the hidden charms of Sharon Springs?  There is something a bit intangible about it all, but it is contagious. I never know whom I will meet, but they are inevitably interesting people at these festivals. Some of it is plan old small town living, some of it is who these festivals draw in, and some of it Sharon Springs and its community. Granted, The Beekman Boy’s name is behind these fairs, it was fairly predominate, now it is a bit obscured. (Their FB page.) As a matter of fact, ETSY will be running the fair in the fall, so well see how that plays out. Regardless, The Beekman Boys are still a “draw” and fans come out to play!  There is a tour their home (a separate but planned extra if you so wish) and a fun array of other scheduled events happening on these weekends. For sure, it is a fun “weekend get-away” for many. I have decided to add to my weekend routine…after the arts fair is over on Saturday, I walk over (about 500 steps) and have a lovely cool cocktail on the amazing front porch of the American Hotel. Totally relaxing after a long day.  One never knows who might turn up there to chat with, and I like that! It is what I consider a quintessential front porch, and I met the nicest folks last time.

The American Hotel

Part of what is fascinating about Sharon Springs NY is its history. Here is a brief glimpse.  At one point, about 1836-1860, Sharon Springs was well know for its mineral water spa, with multiple large grand hotels and boardinghouses. By 1841, the village had become world-famous as the social elite came to take the waters. Magnificent large hotels and forest-like parks graced the village landscape. During the second half of the 19th Century, Sharon Springs was home to over sixty hotels and rooming houses accommodating over 10,000 visitors each summer. By the early 1900s… the summer clientele with the influx of European visitors (had become) primarily from Judaic tradition.” (more info.)  “Thanks to its sulfurmagnesium, and chalybeate mineral springs, Sharon Springs grew into a bustling spa during the 19th century. At the peak of its popularity, Sharon Springs hosted 10,000 visitors each summer, including members of theVanderbilt family and Oscar Wilde (who gave a lecture at the now-demolished Pavilion Hotel on 11 August 1882).” (more info) Sharon Springs also had a great location – in the 1800s two major paths (turnpikes and canals)  were constructed and Sharon was connected to Albany as well as larger cities like NYC easily. Farmers with cash crops of wheat and hops were now well positioned to thrive. To add to the good fortune of Sharon, the Delaware and Hudson Railroad open a spur thru Sharon, and the age of the spa was pretty well golden! Eventually, as family (and so spa and hotel proprietors) aged, fires, a hops blight, Prohibition, plus a few more national factors, Sharon Springs thriving success was brought to a halt. Here’s an interesting tidbit According to a NYT article (26 August 2000) “After World War II, Sharon Springs got a second wind from the West German government, which paid medical care reparations to Holocaust survivors, holding that therapeutic spa vacations.” More info.) In 1994 Sharon Springs, and its Spa-related structures were added to the National Register of Historic Places and Sharon Springs became a Historic District. The walking tour and the accompanying plaques were created to guide visitors through our history. The plaques showcase the many buildings, some still remaining, some long gone and put them in their historical context.” (Here is  a link to a brief, but complete  story of the fascinating history of Sharon Springs. More info. 

In todays, world Sharon Springs is again picking its self up and seems to be a story of revitalization.  There are charming stores and delicious restaurants to peruse and enjoy.  It appears that growing communities of artisans (both material and culinary) are living, and moving to the area…and don’t forget-I always seem to meet nice people there! Need a break? Try out a visit during the Fall Festival Sept. 20 & 21, 2014: Arts, countryside, amazing food, fun, frolic, and pretty much guaranteed a pleasant time.

Sharon Springs Collage

Leaving the heavy load behind. Be Here Now.

Each season the earth, the plants, the sky and all its parts have to LET GO of some parts, and make room for change and whatever is next. We are part of the “parts!” The season of spring is full of expression, full of things popping and regaining a foothold in the earth. It can be hard for us to slow down, change gears, and realize that maybe that flower appears to “popping” out of the ground but to remember that same flower has spent the winter regaining its nutrients and replenishing as needed. Remember when we “chatted” about doing your work in the winter? We often feel as though we have a million things to do today, so much to do to “be ready” for whatever is next. Slow down. Breath. Maybe even re-evaluate. Next will happen no matter how fast you may be running to catch up with it, or away from it!  The days will spin by whether you are watching or participating. Summer will be here before you know it-and that season always seems to zoom by (especially up here in NE.)  How about we all try to Be Here Now, be here TODAY, and enjoy what we have right now. Not what we may have tomorrow. Not what we lost yesterday. Sounds as though it should be a cake walk…we all know it’s more easily said then done. Let go of what is dragging you down, lighten up the load, and be strong and present for the day you are in now.  I just looked up the famous words of “Be Here Now”(Wikipedia) (Be Here Now (or Remember, Be Here Now) is a seminal 1971 book on spirituality, yoga, and meditation by the Western-born yogi and spiritual teacher Ram Dass.)  …I didn’t remember, maybe never even knew (?)  the book was divided into four sections. The first one is the journey (we all know it’s all about the journey) – the second one is the “Core Book” – the third one as called “Cookbook for a Sacred Life: A manual for Conscious Being” -and the fourth one is “Painted Cakes Do Not Satisfy Hunger.”  I think I will be ordering, and reading- a little refresher course would be a good thing for me. How about you?

This is Boubolicious (Boubo for short) cutting the strings of some of the things that are holding him down.  His role in the magical land of Botaniumas is a wise soul and knowing creature.  He is Ambassador of Wisdom. (Just because he is wise doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to work at it at times — that is WHY he is the Ambassador of Wisdom!) 

Cut the strings
Cut the strings that hold you down. Leaving the old parts you don’t need anymore behind.