Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Signs of Spring

I love living in the Pacific NW. I feel so grateful right now that I am not even torn up that we have had to put off indefinitely our trip to Barcelona and Marrakech. Holiday sales just weren’t very robust this year, our property taxes more than doubled, and there have been some extra dental and veterinary costs.

Last week’s devastating earthquake in Haiti really hit me emotionally. I listened to the heartbreaking news while working in the studio, until all joy had left me. My work seemed pointless. I felt that everything we did was overly-indulgent, like, how can I possibly eat this fine Indian meal while people are suffering horribly? It definitely puts my life into perspective when I am confronted with tragedy. But then I turned on my ipod and stopped listening to NPR when I realized that I was of little use to my family in my depressed state. I was dwelling, and it wasn’t helping anyone, least of all the Haitian earthquake victims. I sent what we could spare to PIH, a reputable organization already on the ground in Haiti, and began to pull myself out of that hole. Now, I listen in spurts, and try to focus on the signs of recovery and resilience, and to appreciate my life.

Back to that: Since the cold snap in early December, we have had (knock on wood) a remarkably mild winter, reminiscent of those I remember from the 1990s. There has been a lot of rain, granted, but no flooding and temps are very comfortable. Today it is going to be 57 degrees, which is warmer than usual. And here is the thing I love so very much about living here: Plants are sprouting! Buds are budding! Every January, there are small signs of spring that coax us through the rest of winter. We can feel it coming, so we are already planning, weeding, choosing which seeds to order, talking about how to be more resourceful and efficient this time.
We are going to order bees and use a hive system developed in Africa. We are buying potato starts. I’m going to sprout some kale indoors this week. Our food stash is getting depleted, but the cycle is about to begin again.

Here is what is coming up in the garden: garlic, leeks, chives, and rhubarb.
Here is what I made for dinner on Sunday: Creamy pasta primavera with roast chicken. I used our own frozen beans, peas, broccoli, and zucchini, roasted a chicken purchased in the Fall from Barnyard Gardens (from our freezer). I used our garlic and herbs. From the store: flour, organic milk, olive oil and pasta. It was quite good, if I do say so.

Along with spring comes more work. I will need to devote many hours to weeding and planting in the coming months. We still have to finish the greenhouse, build those hives, and we have plans to construct enclosed ranging areas for the poultry. My work usually picks up this time of year also. I have a sale in early March and three commissions to complete by about that time. I continue to shun grout, and I just finished an un-grouted representational piece. It is more painstaking, because the pieces need to fit very precisely. But, when it is done, that’s it. All done! And, there is one more cement-product I don’t need to use, adding to the sustainability factor. This only works under certain circumstances, but I will be going this route far more often.

One more thing: I’m teaching a mosaic workshop at Hexen Glass Studio in Olympia, WA on January 30th 1-4pm, $70. To register call 360-705-8758 or email staff@hexenglass.com.


  1. Great post, J. I'm glad that you were able to step back a little from the overwhelming mess of Haiti. We help better when we're strong ourselves. Your pasta dish sounds yummy!