Archives for category: Love

I am sipping coffee on a Sunday. Good coffee. Pleasant Sunday. I am reflecting on what makes some moments “special” and others so seemingly “ordinary” and wondering if there is really any difference outside my own subjective impression of each moment.

I recently went to the seashore for “a bit of a break” and some “me time” away. I walked the beaches and nature trails. I took pictures. A lot of pictures. Many of those were pictures of entirely ordinary birds standing or walking along the beach, or parking lot, or some strip of not-quite-lawn. Why did I bother? They weren’t special or fancy birds… just gulls, crows, jays, and little brown birds of a variety of sorts. What’s so special about those birds? Nothing, right? It was getting the picture at all that was special (to me) – taking pictures of birds is hard. lol

A dandy gull strolling along in a parking lot. He was aware of me, and unconcerned, just walking along.

Were the moments themselves particularly “special”? I don’t actually recall them as unusual moments in any way, aside from being part of this particular beach trip. If I were to glance quickly at one of the many hundreds of beach photos I’ve taken over the years, I’m not sure I could easily identify one trip from another. They illustrate a more general experience of “going to the coast” and “being at the seashore”. Special inasmuch as it is not the routine day-to-day experience of life…but often very similar to each other (if for no other reason that I am always me when I go do these things, and generally I am doing them with similar motivation and goals in mind).

This crow was not interested in being photographed and quickly walked away when it noticed my gaze.

In a certain sense, isn’t every moment “special”, in that there is a predictably finite number of them for any one of us? We don’t even have the advantage of knowing in advance how many there will be – only that they will eventually just run out, often unexpectedly.

Even for little brown birds on mellow summer days; moments are finite and limited.

It seems far more likely that all moments are special than to assume no moments are special – it’s easy enough to identify one or two special moments (just look for lingering significance or fond memories!), which immediately debunks the proposition that “no moments are special”. So… moments are special in a quantity somewhere between “some” and “all”. Tough to know going into a particular moment how special it may prove to be, even immediately afterward. Some moments are so spectacular it’s probably obvious that those will become lasting fond memories for someone (or recollections of profound tragedy – “special” isn’t always “good”, right?).

Thoughtful? Distracted? Just having a moment?

This last beach trip was special, for sure. I was out on the coast giving my Traveling Partner room to work on complicated CNC build details without me being underfoot, or becoming a distraction. That’s not what was special about it (for me), although it is always wonderful to know I am missed when I am away. What made it special was the combination of finding new awesome locations to take pictures, new trails to wander, and also – that’s where I was when I got the call from my new employer with their offer, and knew that I would be returning to work soon.

I got the news sitting in my car, parked, watching the waves roll in, just after getting off the phone with my partner, after receiving an automated rejection email sent in error. lol

When I was mired in the worst of my bullshit, baggage, chaos and damage, I often felt as if “nothing is special”. That feeling (and experience) has a name, anhedonia. Life feels gray, meaningless, and very much as though nothing matters and no effort will change that lack of meaning. It’s grim. It’s bland. It’s very hard to pull oneself out of that pit. I had it wrong. I mean, obviously (anhedonia is an experience of disordered thinking/feeling). It’s just that I’m sort of blown away by how wrong I’d gotten it (as a result of poor mental health) – because it’s apparent now that the truth is so much closer to “everything is special” (even to the point of potentially numbing us to the “specialness of the ordinary”).

I smile and finish my coffee. I’m happy to be where I am these days. I delighted with the pictures I’ve been getting of birds. I’m okay with the birds themselves being entirely ordinary. Most things are. Moments, too. I’m done with insisting that anything “special” also be entirely out of the ordinary – that seems, now, to be a needlessly high bar to set for what is special to me. Sure – love is special, and very much out of the ordinary… but a great cup of coffee, a picture of a bird that turns out well, or a gentle relaxed Sunday morning are all pretty ordinary experiences – and also comfortably special. I’m good with enjoying the specialness of the ordinary, and embracing contentment and joy.

It’s time to begin again.

I sat down with some water, to write and reflect. My first week at a new job wrapped up quite pleasantly and productively. I’m listening to Lizzo remind me “It’s About Damn Time“. I’ve got a little stack of flower seeds for fall sowing. It’s time to decide specifically where they go and put them there. Other fall seeds are sown in modules, waiting to be planted in the raised bed. Summer-sown veggies are sprouting in the autumn sunshine. We got our first real rain of the fall this week, too – so lovely!

While my Traveling Partner’s son visited us, I made a short trip up the road on a wee adventure to look at garden statues and the sorts of dΓ©cor suited to turning some corner in a garden and discovering some delight. Why not? It’s the sort of thing (for me) that daydreams are made of. I went to Dundee Garden Art, and wandered their lovely collection of things for gardens. So worth the visit!! I see several things I want for my garden… but this is where planning and dreaming collide; the moment of whimsical speculation, the “what if…?”, the temptation, and the wondering. I don’t need to rush this, or take any sort of immediate action. This kind of aesthetic detail, I find, benefits from some time and consideration. I’ll daydream about it awhile, and eventually probably do the thing that caught my fancy first. lol

Quan Yin is surely worthy of a place in my garden.

My Traveling Partner asks for my thoughts on some upgrades to the shop. His business is developing, and already the small CNC machine that was “enough” when he got started is no longer enough machine to do the jobs he needs to do. It just can’t be counted on to get the job done. We sit down and look over his plan. This is no time for daydreams; we are practical and cautious, with an eye on hopefully just doing this the one time. (Things don’t always work out that way, particular now that so many items have to be purchased unseen, from an online store. Return-and-try-again is a real risk.) Our results vary. We roll with it. Talk it over together. Finalize a plan. Take action.

The Autumn sunshine sneaks through the blinds, filtered and softened. I smile. We’re in a good place together. Sunshine and love.

The new job is hard to assess from the vantage point of the first week. I’ve been doing “onboarding” tasks, and tackling various “annual compliance training” modules. No daydreaming. No planning. Just action, a bit of task processing and box ticking. I’ve got a checklist. πŸ™‚ I’m enjoying the vibe, though, and the company doesn’t waste time on excessive meetings. It’s nice to have the time to get real work done, even if I’m just onboarding right now. πŸ˜€ In all identifiable respects, so far, this is a great job for me. I enjoy the team I’m on (and I’ll get to meet them in person next week), and there are enough familiar faces around to feel very much “at home” with my peers. I’m even having fun. No complaints. πŸ˜€

Time passes. I’m not the woman I was at 21 (I’m fairly sure I would have found her insufferably arrogant, and doubtless she’d have viewed me similarly harshly). Am I a better person than she was? A better human being? I can’t be sure of that, but I know I am happier, more content, more resilient. Finally. All those new beginnings have gotten me somewhere… and I didn’t even have to give up my daydreams. πŸ™‚

It’s time to begin again; my path does not end here. I think I’ll have some tea. πŸ™‚

Note: I’ve referenced a bunch of roses by name in this one, without adding pictures (in most cases) – it may be interesting to open a second tab and google them to see what they look like or to read more about them. πŸ™‚ If you put the word “rose” in front of their names, you should get images that are the correct rose without a lot of b.s. (I didn’t feel right linking to point of sale pages on all these, as it might have given the appearance of an endorsement.) Ready?

In my garden, the roses (and some flowers) are selected with great care to fit a theme. The theme? Love. Passion. Romance. A story of lovers over time. So, a rose named “The Alchymist” (a Kordes cross of R. eglanteria and a climber named Golden Glow from 1956) lives in the garden representing my Traveling Partner (it makes sense if you know him). “Baby Love”, (Scrivens, 1992?) was a gift from my Traveling Partner when we moved in together and he started a wee garden for me out on our balcony – “baby love” is also one of his pet names for me. So sweet. πŸ˜€ This year, close to “The Alchymist”, I’ll be adding “Baltimore Belle” (Feast, 1843), a nod to my home state of Maryland and recollections of many happy visits to “Charm City” in younger years.

Over the years, roses have come and gone. My first roses were “inherited” when my then-spouse and I bought a little house in Texas. Later, my first “proper” rose garden started with a Jackson & Perkins collection, before I had discovered the robust lasting beauty of roses on their own roots.

As gardens came and went with various moves, only those roses that could survive well in containers stayed “in my garden” as it moved from place to place, but I knew what I wanted, and the vision lingered. I want a garden that wraps me in love. πŸ™‚ So, the roses are selected with great care, right down to the names. “The Alchymist” and “Baby Love” are currently joined by “Nozomi” (“Pink Pearl”, Onodera, 1968 – the rose that has been with me longest), and “Easy on the Eyes” (Carruth, 2017 – my “youngest” rose), and “Sweet Chariot” (Moore, 1984 – one of the first miniatures I ever purchased). I had a few others suited to my theme at my last address, but they weren’t doing well, and I decided not to haul their fungi, pests, or health issues to the new address. Starting fresh seemed the wiser choice. Some I’ll for sure replace (I miss the lovely “X-rated”, “Irresistible” and “Ebb Tide”) others maybe not (many of which I suspect just weren’t a good choice for container life…). We’ll see.

Soon three new roses will arrive: “Baltimore Belle”, along with “Golden Opportunity” (Carruth, 2012?), and “All My Loving” (Fryer, 2011). Roses have more than beautiful forms and captivating scents – they have provenance, history, and stories to tell. Some of my fondest favorites achieved their place in my heart because of the stories they have to tell. R. gallica, for example? It’s the oldest known rose, ever, anywhere. Wow, right? What must this rose have seen of human kind and histories gardens? I often consider planting her, just because… “history“.

I have a two long-time favorites I may never plant into this garden. They’re huge. Truly grand in size, and both are very thorny, too. I don’t have the space without a lot of strict pruning two or three times a year. lol One is R. eglanteria. One of my fondest favorites (also called “sweet briar” rose) she smells of green apple, and has so many adorable “wild rose” type flowers in a cute pink color. I often think that the Sleeping Beauty’s thorn-bushes were likely a mix of wild blackberries and R. eglanteria. πŸ™‚ It’s a whimsical notion that delights me. The other? “Sombreuil” (unknown breeder, 1880, and previously sold as “Colonial White” in the US) – a massive and impressive climbing rose with enormous saucer-sized white blooms that are exquisitely fragrant and temptingly numerous – she guards them fiercely with her plentiful nasty thorns. Every year that I owned her, my arms told that the tale of keeping her pruned back. lol Worth it, though, and I daydream of adding her to my garden for that heavenly tea rose scent. She really doesn’t “fit the theme”, though… but oh I do miss her so!

…I could add either or both, but I can’t do so without acknowledging the challenge involved in keeping them to a manageable size in this climate; I’ve experienced that first hand. They were genuinely too big for container gardening, and I knew that back in 1998, when I moved them from Fresno, California, to Portland, Oregon. Back then, I had a community garden plot in the big community garden on the campus of Reed College. So… I planted them in my community garden plot. Why not? Well, I’ll tell you why not – about 7 years later, the college decided to reclaim the space the garden occupied to build new dorms. Those two roses, by that time, were so insanely large I could not move them at all! The college “kept them”, and indeed they are growing in the locations they had been planted (at least that was the case last I saw). My R. eglanteria was easily half the width of my plot (about 5′ wide) and twice that high. “Sombreuil” was similarly wide, on the other side of the plot, and far taller, with long sweeping canes curving downward gently, extending her visual width, each cane weighed down heavily with those big blooms. I only have one “sensible” location for either (or both) of them here, and that would be just on the other side of the retaining wall, instead of those invasive non-native blackberries (although that would be replacing a non-native with non-natives…so…). Then I could just let them do their thing over the years, taking space and being lovely. Getting them planted there, though, would require many days of intense labor clearing out those fucking blackberries by hand. Worth it? Maybe not…?

Where was I going with this? Love. Gardening. Roses. There are definitely roses I’d like to add, but limited space and a thematic commitment shorten the list quite a bit. πŸ˜€ What do I have in mind, as of this one moment on this particular summer day?

Love at First Sight – I mean, yeah, our “origin story” has a real hint of that “love at first sight” kind of experience.

Ebb Tide – the tides come and go. Emotions, too. That, and my Traveling Partner is a Navy veteran – there aren’t many roses with nautically relevant names. lol

Bliss – because love can be so much bliss, for real. πŸ˜€

You’re the One – well, yeah, that’s how it has played out for both of us. This unexpected lasting commitment and affection for each other has been significant.

Crazy Love – also, yeah, we both bring the fucking crazy to this rollercoaster. LOL

Orange Honey – okay, so, not “on theme” but another rose that was one of my earliest choices for my first rose garden. I fell in love with the trailing habit, the sweet fragrance, and enjoyed my friendship with the breeder Ralph Moore. It’s just a rose worth having. πŸ™‚

Cutie Pie – my partner is my best friend, my “prince charming”, and for sure a “cutie pie”, so this one makes sense to me. πŸ˜€

Realistically, I have doubts that I could fit another 10 roses to my wee garden, after the 5 I’ve already got, and the three that are on their way right now. LOL I could probably do 10-12 (total), though, without looking like a mad woman… So, as with so many things in life, it’s about selection. Choices made with care. It’s about sufficiency. “Enough”. It’s about overcoming a very human inclination to acquire and to accumulate. Greed is not a character trait I want to develop (quite the contrary, I practice sufficiency).

How best to narrow down my list of 10 to 3-4? Well, one way I do that kind of thing is to let circumstances call some of the shots; I go to the website that I’m shopping from, and narrow things down (see list above) based on what fits my theme and appeals to me… then, that is likely further limited by what is still in stock. LOL This is how I selected the three that are headed my way now! If I look at the website this morning at my wishlist of 10 roses above, just two of them are actually available. This is sometimes frustrating, but it also prevents my garden from being too structured by introducing a certain not-quite-randomness. It also slows me down quite a lot. I’ll just add the three I’ve ordered for the 2023 garden – next year I’ll be looking over the options available then.

In the meantime, I entertain myself thinking about gardening and roses and searching for just the right rose to add here or there… and wait for new roses to arrive to be planted. Each one is a new beginning all its own. πŸ™‚ Roses and gardens make beautiful metaphors. πŸ˜€

I’m sipping my coffee feeling fortunate, this morning. I feel fortunate most mornings, these days. I am lucky enough to be in love with my best friend. It’s lovely. At this age, I am sometimes less than ideally fit to indulge rapacious lust, and we’re not ducking off to a quiet spot for a quick romp as often as when we first got together (nor as often as we’d probably like). The aches and pains of aging and health-related matters sometimes get in the way of sex. You know what they don’t get in the way of? The love.

“Contemplation” 12″ x 16″ acrylic and iron oxide. August 2011

My Traveling Partner – and titular dream lover, and best friend – steps into the studio and plays with my hair for a moment while I write. It’s a sweet romantic moment. I feel loved. Soon enough, he’ll be in the shop with his son working on this-or-that, and I’ll be on with the day tackling an errand or some housekeeping. Eventually, we will connect again – on a break, or with a question, or simply seeking each other out for a moment of connection without an agenda aside from love and loving. It’s easy in these easy moments to think love itself is easy… there are still verbs involved. There is the ongoing need to practice deep listening, to respect and care for each other, to put in the effort when circumstances are difficult…

…Like this morning, actually. I woke with a ferocious headache that feels a bit as if my brain stem is just… on fire. Yeesh. The pain is an unnecessary complication, and I resent having to deal with it. I manage, however, not to drag that into every interaction (so far), and just deal with it quietly in the background without turning it into a thing all its own. Win! πŸ˜€

I woke this morning with this fucking headache, the awareness of which interrupted a lovely dream that I was in my partner’s embrace, entwined naked in bed, sleeping in each other’s arms… yep. I was sleeping, dreaming of sleeping. What the hell? LOL When I woke, though, there was – in spite of the headache – a lovely all-over sort of awareness that I am truly loved. I don’t have the words to describe the emotional context in which I woke – it was wonderful, and since that moment, headache and all, I smile every time I see or interact with my partner. I love that guy. lol πŸ˜€

Sweet moments matter. It’s so easy (too easy) to put all the focus on tragedy, drama, and pain, or to become swamped by life’s inevitable chaos. This morning, I let the moment be what it is, and sit with my coffee and this smile. Those matter far more than the headache I woke with. Soon enough, I’ll surely begin again – for now? This moment, this lovely late summer morning at home with my partner, is quite enough just as it is. πŸ™‚

I’m sipping coffee on a lazy Monday – feels luxurious, and I’m very much aware that in just a couple weeks my Mondays will once again be the start of the work week. I am thinking about life and relationships, and how to enjoy the best possible experiences day-to-day, moment-to-moment, event-by-event. This? This “now” right here? It’s “my time”; I’ve accepted a job offer. Put things around the house in order with the help of my Traveling Partner. Helped him with things in the shop. I am now enjoying some unfettered leisure time, and the presence of a house guest (my partner’s adult son). It’s a good time to reflect on what precisely makes the very best experiences in life…

…and then do those verbs…

I already know quality of life is not “a money thing”, because there are certainly plenty of privileged or affluent people in public spaces being fucking miserable, or miserable to be around. So… okay. Not about the money (although having a little goes a long way to purchasing nice-to-have goods and services!). I think about my time on the coast. The hotel wasn’t fancy – just a seaside hotel; a little costly considering the amenities, but a great location and an ocean view are among those “nice-to-have” items. The room was a bit old. A bit “tired”. The in-room coffee machine did not work. The lobby was clean but not particularly well-appointed (it wasn’t bad, either, just ordinary). Still – I loved my time there and I am eager to go back. Why? What made last week’s coastal adventure time so exceptional? I think it comes down to something really basic and simple and, amusingly, free if one cares to have some. People were nice. That’s it. People were nice. Why were so many people so pleasant and considerate? (I think that’s how I personally define “nice” – pleasant and considerate.) I suspect because I was being nice, myself.

I greeted the receptionist at the hotel as a person, with respect and kindness, and with no expectation of being treated better than anyone else, no insistence, no urgency, no impatience. She was clearly quite busy. In return for the small investment of being nice, I was able to get a last minute room for the night, at a very reasonable rate, and even got checked-in crazy early which let me enjoy the day so thoroughly with great convenience.

I greeted the domestic staff when I approached my room, and then on my way out to grab my stuff from the car I made a point of expressing my appreciation for the obvious care they had taken to ensure the room was clean and ready for a new guest. In return, they smiled each time they saw me (for the rest of my stay) and were pleasant and pro-actively helpful – one of them even made a point to take her cigarette break out near the beach, where I was sitting, taking time to show me where the high tide would be, so if I wanted to come out to the beach in the moonlight, I would not be at risk of drowning. This after just a few words about looking forward to taking pictures while I enjoyed my stay and asking how her day is going, earlier.

I was pleasant and patient with the hard working waitstaff at various eateries. In return? I got great service, with a smile.

Simple things. Yes, yes, I know – these folks are working, and their job is to provide customer service. That isn’t a guarantee or requirement that they do so pleasantly, patiently, helpfully, or kindly, and I know that if someone treats me in an unpleasant, inconsiderate, or unkind way I know I am personally less likely to deliver my best, or to be my most pleasant and “nice”. Just being real. So much of life we get back from our experiences what we bring to them. If we’re hateful, other people seem so as well. If we’re rude, other people are more likely to be rude right back.

Be nice. Damn. It’s not that hard. (Why should you have to be? You don’t. I’m just saying, you may get better results from your relationships. It’s worth a thought.)

Now, before there’s howling from the devil’s chorus on this, I’ll just say that I’m not suggesting being a doormat, or allowing other people to tromp all over your explicitly-set boundaries, or undermining your own emotional wellness by being a “people pleaser”. Not at all. I’m just saying… be nice. Practice Wheaton’s Law. Assume positive intent. Don’t take shit personally. Be kind. Be welcoming and approachable, generally. Treat other people well (and yeah, treat yourself well, also).

I’m eager to get back to the coast, at that same pleasant seaside hotel near that very nice coffee shop with the cool baristas and great mochas. Eager to enjoy a meal at that restaurant with the very pleasant and efficient waitstaff and great food. Eager to walk the beach and talk to those very nice folks fishing about their catch and the weather.

Now? I’m eager to begin again.