Merlot Mudpies

Can a blog be about gardening, cancer, family, food and life all at the same time? Oh good.

The Lost Caterpillar November 2, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mary @ 11:05 am

Last week I bent down to water my parsley pot and thought with surprise, “I don’t remember snipping that much parsley for the soup!” And I hadn’t. Rather than suffering from faulty memory, my parsley was suffering from hungry caterpillars. The gardener in me was immediately set to kill. And yet…

Something about their orange spots and alternating green and black stripes made me pause. How clever of them to dress in my two most very favorite colors. Something about the resignation to “Mom the Caterpillar Squisher” in my son’s eyes while he gazed at them gave me more pause. But really, we’d tried to keep some other caterpillars earlier this year and they nearly ate us out of tomatoes. And! And! They had to burrow in dirt to hatch and then they just became ugly moths. You just can’t keep a random caterpillar or five.

“Eamonn,” I declared, “I will look and see what they turn into, and then MAYBE we can keep them. But only maybe.”

“Okay, Mom.” He had his hopes up. I could tell.

To make a long story short, the colorful worms turn into beautiful swallowtail butterflies and we kept them and I actually BUY parsley to feed them now because they ate all of mine.

But one of the ungrateful critters escaped the other day. (Ryan told me that he was trying to and to cover the jar but I didn’t listen. We won’t get into that. It was clearly providence. I am exonerated. And if you follow that logic allow me to tell you some time about why pie is a perfectly acceptable breakfast….but I digress.) I looked all over for him. Another had done the same the first day we’d caught them before we got them into a jar and just had them in a box. He didn’t make it, and I was worried for this one as well. I couldn’t find him anywhere at all, not even in the fruit basket.

“Well, Eamonn, at least we have three more!” Eamonn looked at me, unimpressed. (Fine, no pie for breakfast for HIM!)

A couple of times I prayed for him. It’s silly, I know. But I want a dead caterpillar in my kitchen as little as the next lady, and really the things have sort of grown on me. But I didn’t expect much. I mean, I had searched EVERYWHERE.

And then, I decided to make a second pot of coffee yesterday morning while on the phone praying with a friend. And much to my delight, there he was! Attached to my coffee press handle — just hanging there by a thread sort of curled in on himself.

And that, friends, is how I came to have a chrysalis in the process of metamorphosis in my mug cupboard.

A swallowtail chrysalis hanging from a coffee press handle

French presses...not just for coffee anymore!


Delicious January 14, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mary @ 11:56 pm
Tags: ,

This is my first post from the phone. Really. What on earth can’t I do on this thing?

Today was a fabulous day. It was sunny, clear, warm without being hot. Oh goodness I am SO ready for spring. To aid in abating some angst I dug in the dirt. Lots. What is it about digging that makes me feel so quiet inside? The whole process is just silent no matter what is going on around me.

And the soil. Oh, the soil. It’s delicious. Just the smell of its richness makes me imagine what is going to come out of it.

Today I started the worm bin (finally), planted Rosemary and parsley in pots, seeded three others for basil, chives and garlic chives, turned two beds with compost, manure and etc. and planted broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and Chinese cabbage.

In my front boxes I have red lettuce, romain and arugala in one and asparagus, brown and red onions in another. I have one asparagus spear peaking through and one boldmonion peering out already.

Oh I love it. I just love it.

Now we are getting ready to start seeds. I’ll share my tomato list and other starts tomorrow.

One thing I want to grow again is purslane. I wonder where I can get it! It’s really considered a weed here. Perhaps it’s worth a trip up to Ivey ranch to see if any is growing that the gardeners there are willing to part with. Perhaps.

Rambly phone post complete. Now, bed.


The things we must have January 13, 2011

Filed under: christianity,Faith,grace,hope,rambling thoughts — Mary @ 12:02 pm

I was struck this morning in Genesis as I read the account of Jacob conspiring with his mother to steal Esau’s blessing.

Isaac promised Esau the blessing he knew God had reserved for Jacob (in spite of the order of the twins’ birth) because the old man thought he had to have some of the food Esau made from the wild game he hunted. He thought he loved the food so well…and yet his wife was able to deceive him with food from an entirely different source. So while the thought of the food ran him more strongly than his desire to honor God, he couldn’t even tell the difference in a counterfeit.

Man, I’ve so been there.

I think the things we must have, unless that thing is God, often deceive us. And it makes me stop and wonder, “What’s running me right now? Am I answering to God? Or am I answering to the things I think I must have?”

Perhaps some of why this stood out so strongly to me this week was David Fandey’s excellent sermon on Hebrews 6:13-20 on Sunday. Abraham was run by his desire for a son — God had promised him one! He believed and yet, he found it hard to rest in God’s perfect timing. In an effort to speed things up a bit, he took Sarah up on her offer of her slave girl to bear a son and he sired Ishmael…but as God made clear, Ishmael was not the son of His promise. So much heart ache and hurt resulted from that “workaround” to God’s seemingly slow movement. So often that’s the case.

But God DID come through in His perfect timing, and by the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, an Jacob, he blessed all the peoples of the earth because through that line came the Messiah — the Forever King!

God is faithful and his timing and his ways are perfect.

Lord…I believe! But help my unbelief.


You thought a roach motel was bad… January 12, 2011

Filed under: garden,Gardening,learning,Organic Gardening — Mary @ 12:06 am

How about a worm palace? I’ve got one!

So a cool tidbit of information for those of you in North County: Most likely, your city will subsidize the purchase of a worm bin for you. The Solona Center seems to be the place to go — I had about three people tell me about it when we began to plan our move and my experience there was a breeze. If you have proof that you live in San Diego County, you can purchase a bin for $40.00 cash or check.

I forgot to bring proof of my residency, but the cuteness of my children convinced them I had to be a good egg and they gave me mine for the $35.00 for Encinitas residents…Adorableness pays, my friends! (I also got a discount at the post office today because, I quote, “That is a sweet cute baby.” But that’s another story.)

Ahem…back to my worm bin.

I was excited to get my bin home

Then I started to read the instructions and got a little worried I was in over my head

But reason prevailed and finally, finally, I had the worm bin put together
(this was so pitifully easy…I really got confused before I needed to.)

Tomorrow morning I will go to Jan’s house. Jan is a lovely lady I stopped at Home Depot to ask about raspberries. This is something I love about gardeners. They love to share their excitement and help you get started. In conversation I mentioned that I was going to be getting a worm bin (not knowing she had one of her own). She immediately offered me worms. How’s that for some light introductory conversation? “Hey, I have worms! Want some?” However, given the fact that a pound of worms from a supplier is $25.00, I’m thrilled to take free worms!

I’ll post the introduction of our new little pets into their home tomorrow morning. I’ve already been instructed by Ryan to keep my worms to myself. So clearly he wants me to blog about them instead.


Keeping with the theme of things in my car… January 9, 2011

Filed under: garden,Gardening,Organic Gardening — Mary @ 11:43 pm

When my mom died we had grand schemes to offer her unused pots on craigslist or something, but we never did quite get around to it. I consider it providence because I’m so happy to have a good number of those pots here with me now in our new home. I really should start a category titled, “What I can fit in a 2001 Honda CR-V.” Man, I love this car. If not for the fact that we are at max capacity for seats with two small kids, I’d go right out and get another when this one eventually gives up the ghost. What’s in there, you ask?

  • a baby crib
  • a mattress
  • a jumperoo
  • a carnation crate (best kid’s planting box EVER)
  • 12 bricks (i’ll explain later)
  • two rocks i remember digging out of a river bed for my mother when she was on chemo (i think i’ve written about that, i’ll have to check.
  • about 12 giant pots
  • an herb box
  • Hmmm…I think there’s more that I’m forgetting but let’s just say pulling into my driveway was more of an adventure than usual and that my car kinda squeaks when it’s loaded super heavily. You learn something new every day!

    I now have pots large enough to plant my dwarf meyer lemon and dwarf lime trees for our front patio. I have pots for just about anything at all I don’t want to plant in the ground and more where those came from. Dad, my mother-in-law and I spent a happy hour cleaning them all off and loading them into my car.

    Eamonn, delighted with the Carnation crate, helped me turn soil in our two front planter boxes in exchange for a box full of soil and compost. As I scooped it around I asked, “Eamonn, did you know this soil is actually poop? Cow poop, actually.” His eyes got large and happy. What was this? Mom talking about poop?? Poop being openly discussed outside of the bathroom where normally all poop talk is imprisoned? A banner day! “Really? Gross….why??” I explained that it’s good for plants. And went on to explain, “And then worms will eat in it and they’ll poop it too…so it’s like double poop for our plants! Cool, huh?” He was an old hand at that part…darn PBS Kids for stealing my thunder. “Oh, yeah,” he said, just on the verge of sounded jaded at 4.5 years old, “worm poop is tooootally good for plants. I know all about that…”

    He spent five minutes dumping a full packet of sunflower seeds and carrot seeds into his box. Oh well, something’s bound to grow…right?

    In the meantime I’ve got my red, romain, and arugala starts in. I alternated with rows of seeds so we can work on having a continuous harvest. Now I have to figure out my other box which I think will contain asparagus, onions and garlic which I seem to recall should do well all planted together…I need to verify that.

    Pictures of all the “befores” to come along with my plans for both front and back planting areas along with desperate pleas for help with roses which I now have but have NO idea about. All I know is they’re horribly overgrown but wonderfully fragrant.

    And oh boy, wait until you see the baby in her jumparoo.


I stopped at Home Depot to buy a hose today…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mary @ 1:04 am

I’ve gone through one growing season without a garden plot and let me tell you…it stunk. I’m realizing now that I sort of just shut down my need for plants. I didn’t peruse seed catalogs, I didn’t wander plant stores, I didn’t even go to a farmer’s market. But we moved recently after adding one more little person to our family. Along with another room, I got two patios, a small yard, and 5…count ’em! 5 glorious garden boxes.

My seed list and my imagination are likely too big for the space I have…but darn if I won’t be cramming edible plants into every single corner I have and posting verbose raptures online to boot. Just watch.

My very sweet mother-in-law didn’t even cringe when, pushing our two carts out to my car, I began leaping in the air and clicking my heels. I’m BACK, baby, and my nails will be grittier than ever.


Real Repentence is Hard February 26, 2010

The thing about change is that it requires you to give yourself over to God’s intent for you and forces you to let go of some things you might feel entirely entitled to otherwise.  Giving yourself over and loving like God requires, in fact, that you give up many of what society tells you are your rights. This morning when I woke up — again in a funk and with the last vestiges of anger clinging on when I rolled out of bed — I happened to run accross this article when I opened my email:  Anyway Love.

I’ll take you to the heart of it:

In Luke 6:32-36, Jesus says we shouldn’t love because. We should love anyway. If we love someone because that person is good to us, or gives back to us, or is kind to us, we’re acting no better than anyone else. In essence, Jesus is saying you don’t need the Holy Spirit to love a man who remembers every anniversary – not just the anniversary of your marriage, but the anniversary of your first date and your first kiss. Any woman could love a man like that. Or if you love a wife who lavishes you with sports gifts, who goes out of her way to make you comfortable when you get home from work and who wants sex anytime you do – well, you’re doing what any man would do. There’s no special credit in that!

But if you love a spouse who disappoints you, who can be a little self-absorbed – now you’re loving anyway. In doing that, you’re following the model of the heavenly Father, who loves the ungrateful and the wicked.

This is so true. It is perfectly right. There is no arguing it. And yet, it is so, so hard to take from your head to your heart.  And this is where I find much of my walk falls down.  Sitting and reading this article my whole being resonates with the rightness of loving as God has loved me.  As the article puts it:

Christians are called to anyway love. That’s what makes us different. That’s what gives glory to God. That’s what helps us appreciate God’s love for us, because God loves us anyway. He gives and gives and gives – and we take Him for granted. He is eager to meet with us, and we get too busy to notice Him. He is good to us, and we accuse Him mercilessly when something doesn’t go just the way we planned it.

But God loves us anyway. To love anyway is to love like God – and to learn about God’s love for us.

Every fiber of my being knows this is true. But when I stand up, when I walk through my home, past messes, through rooms that overwhelm me, and listen to requests from the people I love, I sometimes want to stop and cry or scream. Sometimes I DO stop and cry or scream. And I know in my head that this flies in the face of how I should love and how I should respond. But getting from knowing to doing is hard. Right now I feel trapped between “SO HELP ME…!” and “Oh, Jesus help me.”

And I need Jesus’ help. In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul talks about “taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ,” which means to me that our thoughts can be disobedient to Christ when we do not work to bring them into line with what we know to be true in God’s word.  Right now my thoughts and my heart are very undisciplined.  Can you think, for any of you who are perhaps struggling in a place of resentment and anger as I am, of the last time you felt at the end of your rope?  Can you track back your thoughts and their course?  I can because I’m in them right now.  I won’t detail through them again — it’s the last thing I need.  But I can tell you the general course:  I begin to fume and fester over whatever has made me upset that time and then, like a magnet attracting metal shavings, every other resentment comes to the fore and I find myself attaching the worst intentions, the greatest wrongs, remembering old hurts and seething until the entire situation is blown completely out of proportion.

I used to think that some of Paul’s language was a bit overblown in passages like these but here, thinking and asking for God’s help in understanding, I begin to see that facing my own undisciplined thoughts really IS like facing an army arrayed against the truths of Godly love seeking to make their way from my head into my heart and out of me into the way I deal with my family and my home. I’ll be honest, if that were the only hope I had, my ability to overcome my own sinful heart and desires and actions, I’d throw up my hands in despair and I’d have no reason to hope that this will change.

But I don’t only have myself to rely on.  I have the Holy Spirit, and I have the faithfulness of my Savior to trust in.  My hope is not in my ability to get up, let it all go and move on by the power of my own strength.  Rather, I am reminded of my real hope, the hope the author of Hebrews wrote about in chapter 10:

19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

He who promised is faithful.

I don’t sit here needing to find the perfect exercise on my own. Rather, by His grace, I’m reminded of God’s grace and that changes something in my heart, even now as I write this. It doesn’t mean I get to just sit. But it does mean that as I look toward some of the things I need to accomplish today, and am reminded of who it is I really serve in serving those I love, and whose love causes me to love…it all seems less onerous. And that means something has changed for me today.

The end of that passage from Hebrews says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” So as I get up to make my way into my day, my responsibilities and relating with my family, I urge any of you with whom this resonates to plead with God to touch your heart and remind you of all he’s done for you. He did it while we were undeserving. He did it while we were lost in sin. He did it while we resembled nothing good, nothing worthy, nothing beautiful. Ask him to make that the starting point for your heart change.

Nothing around me looks different. But that isn’t the point. The point is Jesus. I have dishes to do.


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