Love Offering

July 3, 2016 wet garden 026

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The day I began this ‘Forest Garden Blog‘ we were still a bit in shock.  Our front garden was filled with three fallen oak trees.

Chainsaws whined hour after hour, cutting them apart into smaller bits, drowned out only by the grinder pulverizing piece after piece of our beloved trees.  Heavy orange earth movers made trip after trip into the yard, completely obliterating the little sapling Mountain Laurel shrubs we’d planted the year before.  But who could possibly see them under the tons of branches and leaves fallen in an instant during a summer thunderstorm?

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July 8, 2016 sky 009

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It was late afternoon when it happened.  A sudden thunderstorm had blown up off the James River and it was raining hard.  Bright white lightening flashed, thunder clapped and the wind blew sheets of rain across the yard.

I stood at the window, trying to understand the changed landscape before me.  It took some time for me to make sense of the towering walls of wet red clay and mangled roots risen in front of us, blocking our view of the upper garden.

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June 13 storm damaged trees 001

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While we counted ourselves blessed that the trees went down away from our home and cars, we were not quite sure what to do about our trees now filling, and blocking, the street in front of us; lying neatly in the opening of our neighbors’ driveway.

The storm was still thundering around us as we inspected the damage.  Neighbors showed up with chainsaws, rakes and offers of help.  An arborist, checking on a nearby customer, saw our distress and pitched in to help clear the street.  Help was there that evening when we needed it most, and each day following, until the clean up was handled.

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June 13 storm damaged trees 004

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But the garden left behind was shockingly different.  The hot summer sun beat down where once we enjoyed deep shade.  Deer happily explored the new breaches in the fence, discovering full access to the garden we’d worked so hard to cultivate.  In all, five trees were completely gone and many more left severely damaged.  Shrubs were shattered, our light post crushed, the drive caked in mud, and everywhere lay browning leaves, small branches, and pulverized bits of our beloved trees.

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June 16, 2013 tree clearing 014

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This was the second time oaks had fallen in our garden in our four years in this home, leaving some portions forever changed.  I was feeling very edgy the day “Forest Garden” was born; at loose ends to do something constructive inside, away from the mess; away from the crews of strangers wielding chainsaws in my garden.

And so I sat before the computer and began this blog.

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June 16, 2013 tree clearing 018

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My purpose was mainly to reach out.  I wanted to connect with other gardeners, and hopefully share a little of what I had learned with others who felt as frustrated gardening in a forest, filled with unplanned surprises, as I was feeling.

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June 16, 2013 tree clearing 017

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I had this list of plants I’d been compiling for a few years already, and I wanted  to publish it for others whose yards are grazed by ever-hungry deer.  Friends and I had been keeping records of what the deer didn’t eat, and I hoped someone else might find that useful.

And I wrote about what it means to me to garden in this historic place near Jamestown Virginia, in woods once belonging to the great chiefs of the Algonquian nation.

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July 20, 2016 sky 005

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I used this blog as a ladder to help myself climb back up from sadness and self-pity over what we had lost, and were losing, that June of 2013; towards something brighter and stronger and more useful than I was feeling in that moment.  And eventually I used ‘Forest Garden’ to help define my own philosophy and style of gardening.

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July 20, 2014 hummingbird 006

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And never once did I entertain any thought of trying to turn a profit from it. 

Now please understand, I’m a child of the 60’s, coming into this world along with the early Peace Corps and Beatle Mania. I was born in the era of man’s first flights into outer space.  Maybe if I’d been born in the age of Reagan or the Bushes I’d have a different outlook on things.

But the work I do on this blog I do for myself, primarily.  And I’m happy if what I write is helpful to others; but I do it in a spirit of sharing, not of seeking profit.  You may think I’m hopelessly naive.

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July 8, 2016 sky 010

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‘Real’ artists and writers expect to profit from their work.  Photos sell for hundreds of dollars.  Maybe I need to wise up, and publish an e-book rather than publishing each day, freely, on the world-wide-web.   But I get the greatest feeling of warmth and connection when I see comments left by fellow gardeners and seekers. 

I love to respond to others facing similar challenges and thinking similar thoughts in England or Australia, Brussels or Massachusetts,  Oregon or Florida, Indonesia or on an island in the Mediterranean Sea.  I take great pleasure in watching others’ gardens grow through the photos they publish, and finding new ideas in their experiences.  That is priceless experience to me, and I would never risk alienating my fellow bloggers by suggesting they should donate to support this joyful work I do.

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August 13, 2016 morning garden 070

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Do you see this differently?  If you have a blog of your own, have you considered asking for financial support?  How do you feel when you see a ‘donate’ button on someone’s blog?

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August 13, 2016 morning garden 071

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Perhaps if I truly needed to ask for financial support I’d see this question through a different lens.  But I am blessed, and have achieved a stage in life more focused on giving to others than on ‘earning my keep.’  And every photo that I take and prepare for publication is an act of love, a meditation on the beauty of the world around us.

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August 13, 2016 morning garden 076

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I am deeply grateful for our garden, for the creatures who share it with us, for the changing seasons and the endless opportunities to learn.

I am deeply grateful to the staff of WordPress for this online platform, and for the technology which makes it possible to share thoughts and photos with the world each day.  And I am grateful to have the time, the energy, and the ability to make a little contribution to the online conversation.

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August 13, 2016 morning garden 027

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I hope that everyone who visits ‘Forest Garden’ feels enriched in some way by that experience.   I am ‘enriched’ through the process, too.  And that is all I need to keep going with this blogging adventure.

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August 13, 2016 morning garden 050

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It has been a little more than three years now since the day our oak trees fell in a summer storm.  In that time, I’ve published well over a thousand posts, returning to the writing that was once such an important part of my life.  I’ve had motivation to read and study, to experiment and observe.

I’ve found great joy through photography, maybe gotten a little better at it; and I’ve discovered scores of ‘expert’ bloggers ready to help me learn about any subject I can think of.  All I need do is search them out and click freely through their many pages of instruction, insight and advice.

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July 27, 2016 morning garden 006

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That is the magic of this ‘blogosphere’ we love.  It is inspiring.  It is always fresh and new.  It offers endless opportunities to learn and to explore.  It harnesses human creativity in so many novel and uplifting ways.  And it is free.  It costs nothing but time, once we have the technology to access the world wide web.

I sincerely hope our blogging community remains a non-commercial exchange of ideas and a not-for-profit love offering to humanity.  If it can, then we have found a way to elevate human society; to evolve a more peaceful and interconnected community which benefits us all.

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August 10, 2016 River at dusk 013

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Woodland Gnome 2016

 

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All In the Family, or, September Garden

Butterfly Ginger Lily

Butterfly Ginger Lily with Black Eyed Susans and Blue Mist flowers

Friends and followers might have noticed that my posts have been few and far between recently.

I’ve not been a faithful visitor to friends’ blogs, and it has taken a bit longer than usual to answer comments.  Even my local friends haven’t gotten much love lately!  I intend to soon do better.

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September 14, 2015 garden 031~

Lately, there has been a lot on my plate, and most of it good, actually. 

But it hasn’t left much uncommitted time for me in the garden, with the camera, or at the computer.  And it hasn’t left much time for my treasured friends.   All of us who blog for more than a few weeks find ourselves with stretches when our time is committed elsewhere.

But then things slow down, and we find ourselves with enough time to  visit and to construct our usual posts again.

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September 14, 2015 garden 032~

And then there is the story of my ‘Mother Board.’ 

A seemingly minor computer problem led us to The Geek Squad early in the summer.  They suggested a new Mother Board to solve the problem….    I ordered the part they specified, and let it sit…

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Echinacea

Echinacea with Catmint

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I was afraid to take my computer back to them for repair after the major problems I had re-configuring everything last time they worked on it.  It took me a day to realize they hadn’t re-set the correct date and time, and that is why websites wouldn’t load….  The computer was telling websites it was still stuck back in 2008…..

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Begonia

Begonia

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I assume that if you are reading this, you understand the trauma involved.  I use my computer for many hours each day, for many different applications.

Having to recover ALL of the settings, passwords, configurations and files is a tremendous task.  Especially when all of those things were set up bit by bit over the last many years!

I don’t like buying new technology.  Rather, I’d rather keep my comfortable and familiar set up going as long as it fills my needs.

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Moonflowers

Moonflowers

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And so when I finally brought a few key projects to a close, I decided it was time to hold my breath and let my trusted brother, who has been building and re-configuring computers since he was about 10, install the new Mother Board.

Let’s just say we have been spending a lot of quality time together these last few days.  As of late Saturday evening, when he finally closed everything back up and left, things looked pretty grim.  My camera couldn’t talk to my hard drive.  The printer was a lost waif.  No sound was uttered by the speakers.  And the USB ports were all dead.

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September 14, 2015 garden 022~

But, the internet worked…. slowly.  And so we limped along until everything crashed yesterday while ‘essential updates’ loaded.

But I was away for the day and not here to even push the button to power off.  My partner was left with that grim task.

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September 14, 2015 garden 020~

But my beloved brother returned today with his laptop, restoration disks, spare memory chips, tool kit, I Phone and confidence that he wouldn’t leave until my computer was restored.

We tore everything back down to the Mother Board again, reconnected it all; and then began building up again from a new operating system right through all of the little drivers, settings, software downloads and back-ups to get me operational again.

He is simply amazing.  And I learned so much just watching him work.

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Hardy Begonia

Hardy Begonia

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And that is why my post tonight is about technology and not gardening.

Sure, I’m sharing garden photos with you that I’ve been taking since Saturday.  We couldn’t download them until late this afternoon.

But there has been no ‘Vase’ today, no ‘Sunday Dinner’ posted while I was traveling yesterday.  And truthfully, there hasn’t been much gardening going on these last few days here, either.

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Pokeweed

Pokeweed

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But we’ve had cool nights and delicious rain.  Our weather has shifted to feel like the beginning of autumn.

I hope that blogging life will soon come back on schedule, and that I’ll soon be a faithful visitor once again.  At least I was finally able to log back onto WordPress and write a post.

And so for tonight, I’ll hope you enjoy these few photos of our garden after the rain.    All is well in my world, and tomorrow is another day….

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September 14, 2015 garden 012~

Woodland Gnome 2015

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September 14, 2015 garden 026

 

The Price of an Education

February 6, 2015 Amaryllis 008

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The price of an education is experience.

Which means, I’ve earned a tremendous amount of useful information over the last day while dealing with the challenges presented by the plagiarism of my posts from Forest Garden.

First, the thank-yous:  I appreciate each and every person who has contacted me over the last day by phone, email, and comments to commiserate, offer support, and to make helpful suggestions.  One friend expressed, ” …”hell hath no fury” like a woman plagiarized. ”  More on that in a bit.

I also appreciate Christine at Bluelime Media in Vancouver, BC, who very calmly let me know that no, her company had nothing to do with the offending site; other than having produced the theme which farmersmiths.com pirated.  Her company develops themes for WordPress, and she helped re-direct my efforts towards finding those who needed to be found.

And I appreciate those involved with farmersmiths.com and related sites who voluntarily removed my content from their pages last night.

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February 6, 2015 Amaryllis 025

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I also appreciate the WordPress platform, because it provides help on just about any blogging related topic one can need.  Their article about content theft provided a list of actions to take, and the links I needed, to figure out how to handle this situation.

WordPress makes our everyday publishing so easy that we can produce endless content with a minimum of technical know-how.  To solve this conundrum yesterday, it was necessary to dig beneath the surface of things to hunt for clues.

But this has been far from an easy process.  In fact, it is a very frustrating, time intensive scavenger hunt of clues and dead-ends when one enters the shadier reaches of cyberspace in search of hard, actionable information.  That is where the ‘fury’ part comes in handy. 

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February 6, 2015 Amaryllis 026

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The first meaning of fury, in many dictionaries, has to do with a wild rage.  That is superbly unhelpful in a case such as this.

I prefer the more ancient meanings of fury, which is derived from those loveable Furies of Greek literature.  Do you recall them?  It is the energy of the anger, the fury, which is useful when once needs to get something done well, and done quickly.

So for the second time in a week, with apologies, I’ll share with you some bits of information which you might find useful.  It is very hard to stay out of the garden this long, but we bloggers must help one another from time to time.  Here are the highlights of what I’ve learned:

1.  Keep an eye on ‘your brand.’  A blogging friend tipped me off that she had found my content on another person’s website unattributed.  Had I searched in Google or Bing for my own blog post titles I could have discovered the miscreant myself.  But I didn’t think to do that.  Late last night I did search for several recent posts, and found the link to the miscreant site listed on the list of returns, above my own….

2.  Theft of published content is an international crime, with protections outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  It turns out those who stole my content are based in Australia.  One begins to request restitution with a DMCA notice directed to the domain and the domain host.

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February 6, 2015 Amaryllis 027

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3.  One begins with an inventory of exactly what has been stolen.  This includes taking screen shots of the offending website.  One may also copy and paste from their site into a word processing file.  The lovely thing about most word processing software protocols is that they reveal a great deal of information not visible on a ‘live’ website.  Since theft is very much a crime, even online, collecting this data first, before doing anything else, ensures you have the evidence you need on down the  line.

4.  One can also get the full details about any website through a Domain Search.  No, I hadn’t heard of it either, until last night.  Here is another useful resource to combat internet plagiarism, with the links you need to begin the search.

5. Explore every link on a questionable site.  By clicking one of the photographs on farmersmiths.com, I found a link to a related business, also selling gardening products.  That business had contact information, and there was even a gmail address for a person connected with that business.  A friendly email to that person, requesting their assistance in contacting ‘Farmer,’ who signed his name to my posts reprinted without permission on his site, was fruitful.  She managed to locate him and pass on the message.  I appreciate that.  My plagiarized posts came down within the hour.

6.  Finally, publish an ironclad disclaimer statement on your blog.  Hugh Roberts directed me to an excellent post on crafting your own personal disclaimerSerin’s post explains why this is essential for every blogger, and gives excellent links to additional resources on blog security.

7.  Maintain an attitude of gratitude.  I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to publish each day, and for those who join with me in this adventure.  It is life’s challenges and frustrations which force us to climb those steep learning curves in our daily lives.  Have you noticed? 

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First Forsythia of the season....

First Forsythia of the season….

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I’ve learned a good deal from this experience.  And I hope the miscreant who thought he or she would quietly get by with ‘lifting’ my work each day, through some as yet undiscovered pipeline through cyberspace, has learned a bit over the last 24 hours, as well.

And I hope that you, whether you write a blog yourself, or not; might have learned a useful trick or two through reading about my experiences.

Thank you for visiting Forest Garden today, for your wonderful comments, and for giving me a very good reason to spend time writing and taking photos each day.

Woodland Gnome 2015

 

 

 

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