Archives for category: Metaphors

I got a walk in this morning. The mornings are cooler. The sun rises later. I felt rather as if I “slept in”, but it’s more that the sunrise has shifted and affects my timing. I haven’t used any sort of alarm, not even my artificial sunrise on Home Assistant) since I left my previous job. It’s lovely.

Tuesday sunrise.

I sat for a moment watching the sun rise. Today is a work day. No need to rush, though. I have a handful of meetings on my calendar, related to onboarding in this new job. It’s a relaxed, very organized experience without being stifling or rigid. Yesterday was excellent as first days go. There’s a lot to learn, a lot to sort out and understand more deeply, and quite a handful of new tools to msster. No objection from me; there is a lot of opportunity for growth in this.

So far, this is a very good week in a choice new role. Lovely morning, too.

…This cup of coffee is about gone, and I would definitely like another. Sounds like a reasonable point for a new beginning…

The sun rises later these days than it did back in June. The Autumnal Equinox is tomorrow. It’s quite early and I am at a local trailhead adjacent to a meadow, not far from home. I am waiting for the sunrise, drinking coffee, yawning, and wishing I had slept in. I’ve got my camera ready for my morning walk.

My morning camera walks serve a purpose; they get me out of the house with my camera for a bit of fun, exercise, and “me time”, and they also give my partner a shot at some deep sleep. (When I am asleep I sometimes snore, and when I am awake I am often a bit clumsy and noisy at least until I am fully awake). This approach works for us, but tends to be a seasonal solution. Already I have begun to resist waking up so early, where in past weeks I struggled to sleep during these early hours. The later sunrise is the culprit.

…The early hours betwixt day and night are a good time for meditation and reflection.

An orange glow begins as a thread on the horizon, becoming a sort of messy smudge as minutes pass. Still not enough light for my lens, and the trail alongside the park and meadow, which passes through a vineyard, is still quite dark. I wait. I yawn. I tried to snatch a few minutes of nap time for myself, but the mornings are now also too chilly and I don’t even doze off for a moment – I just yawn. lol

Waiting for the sunrise.

…I think about work and routines and future mornings and finish my coffee. I develop a cramp in my right foot and shift in my seat until I can easily massage it until the cramp eases. The western sky takes on hints of ultramarine and dark lavender. The eastern horizon becomes more peach and tangerine, with swaths of gray-blue clouds sweeping across the sky. This is not wasted time; I love watching the sun rise.

The dawn of a new day.

The sun is up. The coffee is gone. I’ve gotten a good walk in and snapped some pictures. My Traveling Partner sends me a message; he is awake. The day begins in earnest. I have no idea what today will bring… looks like it’s time to get started and find out. 😁

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. 🙂 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. 😀 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. 🙂 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. 🙂 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. 😀 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. 😀

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. 🙂

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

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. 🙂 Roses and gardens make beautiful metaphors. 😀

I’m sipping coffee and thinking over my actual garden, while also entertaining the notion of the garden-as-metaphor. It’s a lovely summer morning. My Traveling Partner and his son are in the shop together, doing shop things. I’m in studio thinking about bulbs, roses, and garden paths. Nice start to the day.

This week I’ve been out in the garden more, now that the worst of the heat as abated (at least for now). First year in the lovely raised bed out front that my partner and I built (celebrating our anniversary, back in May). I love it… but my results were less than ideal.

  1. My melons all failed, mostly due to the neighbor’s cat using that side of my raised bed as a great new litter box. I think I’ve now successfully discouraged that bullshit. (Also, I’ve never had luck with melons ever, in the Pacific Northwest, but that could be due to being a fairly half-assed, kind of terrible gardener…?)
  2. My beans gave up a great little harvest. By great, I mean quite plentiful and tasty. By little, I mean just the one harvest.
  3. When it gets seriously hot, I am inclined to be absent from the garden when it needs my daily attention most. I gotta work on this!
  4. The container, grow bag, and hydroponic gardening are relatively high maintenance here in the this location, and a bit distant from anything like “convenient”. They are a poor fit to the gardener that I clearly am.
  5. I love fresh produce. I really like things that are “easy”. These ideas do not complement each other.
  6. My carrots, radishes, and daikon were awesome – until they bolted in the heat while I was sick, in July. I managed some further success by harvesting the resulting seeds. 😀
  7. My eggplants are doing super well, but they don’t have much fruit on them (see “heat” in item #3). The couple of fruits maturing on them now look like they will be excellent.
  8. I have a lot to learn.

I think that last item is my key takeaway; I have a lot to learn. Working in the raised bed is easier, for sure. Having the gardening all right out front is very convenient. No real excuse not to get the work done; I walk by the garden multiple times each day, and I think I need to rebuild old habits of deliberately visiting the garden each day, in the morning and in the evening, just walking, looking, and taking it all in. Being “present” in the garden requires me to be literally present in the garden. lol No surprise there.

In the heat of summer, I let the lawn die back rather than use the quantity of water to maintain it that it would require. It comes right back with the rain in autumn.

I spent the week tidying up the garden beds, and adding fresh compost before doing some fall planting. I find myself thinking over low-maintenance garden paths (reduces the amount of wasted space given over to lawn grass, too). I think about where the next raised bed could go, and what it might look like. I consider the question of whether to cover the raised bed to keep things going through colder months, and how best to do that without looking messy. I’m inclined to provide cover for winter… extend the growing season, and get a better start to the Spring growing season here in our chilly-Springs climate. There’s time to figure that out to ensure I also maintain a pleasant curb-appeal aesthetic (that matters to me).

I pause my writing to enjoy a break with my partner and step-son, then head out into the sunny garden to water and look over “next steps” – time to prune the roses, and there is some weeding to do. Probably a good time to sow more Russel’s Lupines in the bed under the kitchen window (I’ve apparently settled on lupines and nasturtiums for that one…).

Gardens are very much a “I get out of it what I put into it” sort of thing. The effort I make on things like weeding, watering, giving seedlings the very best start, and pest control, directly effect the outcome at harvest time. That’s just real. Being there, present and engaged, observing and aware, makes so much difference. I make a point of walking the perimeter of the garden and flower beds as I water. I look at weeds and reflect on pulling those out – but no amount of reflection or observation will change the number (or vigor) of the weeds in those beds. There are verbs involved. I’ve got to do the actual work required to get the result I most want. True in life and in gardening.

It’s time to begin again.

Queen Elizabeth passed away today. Good long run. An impressive legacy. She didn’t quite make it to 100 years. Seems like more people may be able to in the future, though, and perhaps longer if medical science continues to progress… how amazing would that be?

Juan and Marisa, in love on the beach in 2022… where will they be in 2083? Will their love last? What will they do with their lives? Will they be remembered?

I “went coastal” yesterday, to give my Traveling Partner (breathing)room to work on a complicated project without the unintended distractions of me just being around in the background. I don’t grudge him that time and space, and I genuinely enjoy getting away for a few solitary hours with camera in hand, walking new trails, seeing things from another perspective, and breathing the sea air. It reminds me of my Granny, and the many visits together to the seashore, or along the marshy estuaries of the Chesapeake Bay. I miss her greatly, and most of all when I am “at the shore”. Any shore. That was “us” – long car drives filled with conversation, and sunny hours “at the shore”. Fuck I do miss that woman. Often. I think maybe she would be proud of how far I have come.

I feel for the loved ones of Queen Elizabeth. They didn’t just lose a monarch – they lost their mother, grandmother, great-grandmother… they lost someone truly dear to them. That is painful stuff.

Traffic on the way home.

Yesterday afternoon I returned home, but my partner wasn’t finished with the work he was doing, and my excited-just-got-that-job-offer energy was definitely a distraction. After some testy unsatisfying exchanges that were well-intended and heartfelt, but painful, I suggested that I return to the coast today, and he was totally down for that. So… I did. Later, he indicated (text messaging for the win!) that he would need more time, really. So… I got a room on the coast for the night and went back to walking the beaches, stalking the birds with my camera, and feeling the sea breezes muss my hair. Frankly, I left the house this morning prepared for the potential usefulness in making a night of it, and I made a point to tuck the needed medications into my gear, and made a point of having alllll the batteries and devices charged up, and even took my laptop along with me (figuring that might be handy on an overnight). I even remembered spare socks and underwear. 😀 I didn’t go as far as packing an overnight bag, though now I wonder why. LOL

Oh… Yes, I got an excellent job offer from a company I’m eager to work for, on a team that looks like a great fit for me. I’m excited about it. It’s just not really the most important thing today. Honestly, neither is the death of a distant monarch (however badass she was, and omg she totally was a major badass). Today is breezy, relaxed, and sunny, and I am enjoying everything about that. Doing so while also being 100% certain I am not distracting my partner while he is working? Extra good. It’s enough. More than enough. It’s quite choice, and I am enjoying the day.

Where will I be in 2083? In my grave? Forgotten? Still alive, and so old that no one around me remembers that I was once a badass? My legacy forgotten? Alive and lively, loved and cared-for, with the kind of vast historical perspective that results in day-time news shows wanting to interview me about what I personally witnessed of history? Will my Traveling Partner and I continue to travel life’s journey together through all those decades ahead? Will we be little old people slowly walking the neighborhood holding hands and talking softly, laughing loudly? The future is not written, and this journey has no map…

The journey is the destination.

My thoughts come and go like the gulls beyond the balcony rail. They appear, they pass by, leaving only the recollection of a moment. I breathe, exhale, and relax. It’s a lovely moment for contemplation.

One of the things my partner and I were discussing last night was my anxiety. For sure my PTSD and my chronic anxiety issues are pretty well-managed compared to where I was 10 years ago…but… I still struggle more than I’d like to, and it affects my quality of life – and his. I guess it’s worth doing something about that. I feel a bit stalled and struggle with the learned helplessness that inevitably results from dealing with a chronic condition for a long time. I already know, though, that there are steps to take and things to do. It’s time to step through those, and try some things differently. It was one productive outcome of our conversation; a sense of focus and purpose, and an idea of direction. That’s not nothing – it’s a place to start.

It’s a good time to begin again.