Archives for category: gardening

I am relaxing on a summery afternoon, sipping blackberry flavored fizzy water. I check the label. “Natural flavors”. Sure, okay, but… it doesn’t really taste like blackberries. I mean… it wants to. It fails. Real blackberries have a certain something to their flavor that must be very difficult to capture, preserve, or duplicate. I search my recollection for any commercial product at all that really tastes like blackberries. I don’t think of one. I let it go. Life has a few mysteries, perhaps this is one? Regardless of the lack of real blackberry flavor, the fizzy water is cool and refreshing, and not so much fizz as to feel sharp or unpleasant on my tongue. I sit with the experience a little while. It’s enough to enjoy the pleasant moment on a warm spring afternoon.

I listen to the traffic on the busy street at the end of the driveway of this rented duplex. The paperwork is done. The appointment to sign this and that is set for a day next week. The weekend ahead feel relaxed, and purposeful. I smile at the moving boxes, and look over my “to do list”. I won’t miss the traffic, the busy street, or the noisy neighborhood.

I don’t have to miss the roses; my container garden will move with us. 🙂

I take a moment for fond appreciation of the human being that is my Traveling Partner. He’s done much to make this move organized, and comfortable. He knows how much moving disrupts the routines that support my day-to-day emotional wellness and preserve the general appearance that I adult skillfully. It’s not that I don’t, I guess generally I do, these days. It’s nice to have some help with the busy-ness and clutter of life, though. He makes a point of reminding me that now is time to finish up the packing and organizing. For a couple week’s he’s been tenderly reminding me to take a breath, and slow things down. Timing matters. He gets that for me it matters a great deal, and doesn’t tease me over it. (Well, maybe a little…) He’s considerate and caring, and the moments when we frustrate each other have been few. This is certainly an easier, more emotionally comfortable, move for me, of all the moves I’ve made since… yeah. Since ever, I guess. I don’t have a recollection of a move that has been more organized, settled, or joyful. It’s pleasant. Like this blackberry fizzy water; it doesn’t need to be explained or solved. I remind myself to enjoy the experience, and sit quietly with my gratitude, for a bit longer.

The titular moment I’m waiting for is that moment ahead. The one with the signing? No. The one with the house keys. The one when I park my car in my driveway – our driveway – for the very first time. Home.

Home

…There’s a new garden to plan. Roses. Dahlias. Maybe jasmine and honeysuckle, too. Herbs in pots, and summer veggies in raised beds… I feel happy tears well up, and a smile so big it makes my face hurt.

My sigh fills the room. The sound of contentment. Another glance at my list of packing tasks I plan to tackle this weekend. Another sigh. Less contented, more resigned. I’m reminded briefly of the work involved, by the physical pain I am in. I shrug it off, unconcerned about that. The work involved is worth overcoming or enduring it. It’s a very human experience. Fucking hell, I’m so glad I’m not doing this move alone, or having to impose on friends, or hire strangers. This move feels intimate, connected, and shared, in a different way. I think back on other moves – was I adequately grateful, and did I say so, all those times I’ve imposed on friends for help, when I moved? Maybe not… I haven’t always been the woman I am… hell, even now, it’s often a solid real-time effort to be the woman I most want to be… a very human experience, indeed. I add “say thank yous for past moves” to my list of things to do. Dear friends have sometimes traveled great distances just to help me move. I am beyond fortunate.

…I remind myself to spend a day writing letters to friends and family from the new address, once we’re moved in. I took a handful of days off to do the move – more to give myself a chance to get used to the new space, new routines, new sounds and new shadows, than anything to do with unpacking boxes. I’ve learned a few things about caring for this fragile vessel over the past decade. There will certainly be time to write a few letters. 🙂

I listen to the birdsong and the breeze, and wonder what songs the birds will be singing (or, more accurately, what sorts of birds will be singing their songs) from the new deck, looking out into a different wood. I think about the walks I will take on new trails. I think about what the change in perspective may mean for my journey. I remind myself, as I have so often before, to “stay on the path”.

Seems to be very effective so far… probably doesn’t hurt that the path is mine, and that I choose it myself.

Maybe it’s not too late in the day, on a Friday, for another cup of coffee…? Certainly, it is not too soon to begin again. 🙂

It’s a lovely drizzly Saturday in the Pacific Northwest. I ventured out for a walk along the bank of the Columbia, this morning. Lovely. First decently long walk at 57 years of age.

I’ve walked this path before, but may never walk it again. Somehow that makes the journey feel significant. 🙂

My birthday was yesterday. 57. Not a “fancy” sort of birthday, and it didn’t need to be at all. It was quite special without a lot of frills or elaborate plans. It was warm and intimate and joyful. I hung out at home with my Traveling Partner, who made his schedule work out specifically to be home with me to share the day. We talked about the upcoming move… Different community. Different views from new windows. Different view from a different deck. Different walks to be taken, down unexplored paths and unfamiliar streets. In 14 days we get the keys to a different house, we move to a different address. 🙂 I’m more excited than anxious, more eager than fretful. This is a change I’m delighted to embrace. A new home. Our home. At long last, a place that is truly ours (mortgage and all). It’s very exciting, and very busy. 🙂

…So much paperwork…

I look over my “to do list” for the weekend. I’ve committed to packing up the studio this weekend, and preparing the container garden on the deck for one more move. I’ve moved, now, 3 times in 5 years. 5 times in 9 years. Too much moving. lol. This move, coming up, though, amounts to “a promise kept” – to myself. I won’t need to move again for a long while, maybe not ever (although, change is, and one never knows where life’s path may lead). I hear my Traveling Partner’s voice in the other room, playing a video game online with his son. I smile. I enjoy the sound of his voice. I feel wrapped in love, and the promise of a shared future, together, feels safe and warm and full of fond conversation, affectionate teasing, and shared moments.

I think of the cynical 14-year-old young woman I once was and shake my head with a sad, tender, forgiving smile; she knew nothing of love, and could not have fathomed this feeling – or this moment. Her life was mostly about pain, and survival, and her bitter resentment was only exceeded by her impotent rage. There was little room for love to find a foothold in her wounded heart. I find myself wishing I could have “been there for her” then, as the woman I have become, now… She could have used some compassion, and empathy, some real concern, some reliable emotional support… from the woman staring back at her from her mirror. I’m still smiling; we enjoy this moment together. I’ve come a long fucking way from 14…

…57 feels very different indeed.

The shoreline has been lost to recent rains. Change is.

I walked along what was left of the riverbank. Most of the soft sandy beaches are lost to high water, after weeks of rain. I’m okay with that. Water levels rise and fall. Seasons change. Flowers bloom, then fade away. I walk, with my camera and my thoughts, enjoying a view I may never see quite this way again. I ponder how often that’s true, and I think about change.

I see blackberries blooming and think about the summer fruit that will result.

I smell the wild roses blooming on the bank, and wonder for a moment specifically which species they are, and whether they are native flora, or later arrivals, brought by travelers.

I sit for a few minutes on a damp log at the top of the bank, watching a passing barge.

I took time for me, to breathe, to reflect, to consider changes to come, and the relative value of preparedness (in moving, and in life). Nothing complicated, although there were verbs involved (and choices). Safely home once more, showered, and dressed in soft comfy clothes, I sit smiling with my thoughts and pictures. It’s enough. 🙂

 

Small changes add up to big changes, over time. Some of the small changes I made are a goodness, and result in improved quality of life. Some of the small changes I make are less so, and create potentially problematic circumstances – sometimes entirely foreseeable conflict results. Humans being human. Some of the small changes that are made around me manage to also improve my circumstances. Some, though, are a bother. It is what it is. Not all the small changes are mine to make, or made by me. Not all the small changes that occur are even about me.

I sip my coffee and think about changes.

This morning, there are three less aquarium fish in my tanks. The difficult thugs that were creating so much difficulty have found a new home. I hope it works out better for them. They were certainly too aggressive for my tanks, here. It was a poorly chosen small change to bring them here. I am feeling fairly confident that it is a beneficial small change that sees them on their way elsewhere.

Small changes involve verbs. This morning I broke down boxes for the recycling. Definitely a positive outcome as small changes go; boxes were piling up, and the clutter was an aggravation. This morning? Less clutter. Less aggravation. In the process, I got a paper cut, from a bit of discarded paperwork that was stuffed into a narrow box. Pulling it out, definitely a small change, resulted in blood loss (not much), and a very irritating sensation in the crook of my hand, between my thumb and fingers. Ouch. Annoying. Not a small change I’m super eager to embrace; I’ll have to keep my hands out of the aquarium water until it heals, for sure. I love my aquariums, but let’s be real; it’s not a great idea to immerse an open wound or cut in aquarium water. It’s definitely full of a variety of bacteria.

I remind myself to wash it, again; it bled more, and there’s dried blood all over my hand.

I look around at the many small changes that have resulted from prolonged staying-at-home over the past handful of weeks. There’s more I could do, particularly here in my studio, but wow – so much has already been done.

I finish my coffee, thinking about other small changes I could make to improve my quality of life. I think about spring. I think about the garden. I observe the morning sunshine illuminating the bedroom window, through the blinds. I pause to savor this quiet moment, before I begin again. 🙂

This headache I woke with is no joke. Ouch. Too real. I woke later than usual; sleeping in is one of my favorite “day off” experiences, and I’d taken today off. I woke gently, bumbled around haplessly a bit, made some coffee… felt a bit “off” somehow, but didn’t clearly identify the headache as the cause for some minutes. I wasn’t quite awake enough, yet.

…I definitely “get it” now. :-\

I sip my coffee, and plan my day. This is a relaxed, quiet morning, no work pressure. Feels good. I’m thinking I’ll spend the day tidying up the studio to be more work-ready (for painting – it’s plenty ready for working). Later, a delivery of livestock for my aquarium will arrive (lots more delivery options than there used to be; no one wants to shut their business down, no one wants people in the shops), and I’ll spend the afternoon getting them settled in, and enjoying them. 😀

I make a point of continuing to clearly distinguish between work hours (and days) and non-work hours (and days) – healthy boundary setting remains an important practice for long-term quality of life. I see how easily work could become a solution for boredom or confinement stress, but also recognize that succumbing to that short-cut would likely reset expectations long-term regarding my willingness to work through my leisure hours, or at the convenience of my employer without regard for my own needs. I think I won’t do that. 😉 No, not even now. What I want and need from my own life, and leisure, for myself, remains of value to me.

Pulling my focus away from the morning news, to sit a few minutes and write, while sipping my morning coffee, seems to be a worthy endeavor; the headache seems to have lessened, and has begun to fade into the background. Looks like today is not the day to involve myself with the news. Less screen time, more aquarium time. Less “content” more housekeeping, perhaps. Be here, now. This is a relaxed, quiet morning, no work pressure. Why add media chaos to this chill vibe? Meditation, instead of news headlines – that sounds lovely. A second coffee, and some bird-watching, as spring unfolds in the strip of forest beyond the deck, perhaps. Confinement in the time of pandemic feels less confining, and more like a leisurely day at home, if I stay focused on these small delights, and refrain from involving myself in the concerns of the media (which, truly, are already very well-covered, and rather unchanging, at present).

I smile and finish off this first cup of coffee, eager to get on with the day, eager to see new fish swimming in the aquarium, and familiar squirrels on the deck. Eager to begin again – right here at home.

Sipping coffee on a Friday. Not thinking thoughts so much as relaxing and watching fish swim. I’ve somehow managed to start a second aquarium, on the work surface next to my desk, in my studio. lol I’m not unhappy with this, just sort of surprised that it a) happened and b) happened so fast.

…It started with my own “eagerness to please”, and my Traveling Partner’s purely observational comments about the peaceful community aquarium in the living room. I got the impression he wanted some specific change in type/color/size of fish in that tank, and I added a couple new residents with that in mind. It ended with the bullying that ensued; those new fish were not good neighbors/roommates for my peaceful community tank, and they were hassling the shrimp and the betta on the regular.

Tiny thug.

My partner and I started talking about “what to do about” those rude little bullies. Over a couple of days and several conversations, we settled on getting a small aquarium, and setting it up in my studio (where there is a place one could be set up fairly easily). The conversation had much of it’s basis, good-idea-wise, in the low cost; I had a spare heater, filter & pump, and light, left from upgrading the equipment on my peaceful community tank in the living room over the past couple weeks. Easy. Cheap. Why not? 🙂

Getting a new tank started, and preparing the water for livestock.

Yes, well… as it turns out, the small tank was easily set up, and the water prepared and ready to go quite soon… but it was so bare! So… I got some plants…

…And some shrimp…

…And a piece of driftwood…

…And a couple snails…

The view this morning is rather more like an aquarium, and less like a tank full of water. It’s a process.

…You know… that light I’m using isn’t really ideal for a planted tank (that’s why I replaced it)… so… (after some careful online shopping) the new light is on the way…

…and, um, damn, that filter/pump is pretty noisy… and takes up a ton of space in the small tank… and the heater hanging there is not all that aesthetically pleasing… so, I also found myself shopping for suitably small external canister filter-heaters. lol Oh, my.

…Looks like I have two aquariums! Each quite different, with unique characteristics (and residents), and individual charm.

Having this particular project going, while restricted mostly to life on the social-distancing-stay-at-home plan, has kept me from being “under foot” while my partner also explores his hobbies, projects, and long-term interests, himself. We each need that “bit of space”, even while enjoying the additional closeness and opportunity to connect more often, more continuously, and more deeply. We still need our “me time”. We still have our own lives. 🙂 It’s a challenging balance to strike, sometimes, but so far this feels pretty good. 🙂

I glance at the time, and at the aquarium, and then into the cold dregs of my nearly empty coffee mug. It looks like time to begin again. 😀