Archives for category: Roses

I’m counting the days until my birthday, like a kid. Just 24 days to go, and I’ll be… 60. Wow. I’m still pretty astonished by two things about this:

  1. I’m turning 60 (at all).
  2. 60 doesn’t “feel old” from the inside.

I sip what’s left of my iced coffee. I got a 20 ounce coffee this morning. Extra shots. I’m still pretty groggy in spite of that, and in spite of the sunshine streaming in through the windows reminding me that summer is very nearly here. I’d love to have slept longer. I woke up, and I’m “awake” for most values of being awake – I’m just struggling to fire up some sort of lively sense of engagement with the day (and the work ahead of me). I suspected that might be the case, and I sort of abstractly ascribe it to the combination of seasonal allergy symptoms and general fatigue from poor quality sleep. I don’t know how accurate those assumptions are, but I’m satisfied that the truths revealed are at least feasibly accurate. Mostly. Probably? I’m for sure still feeling stupid and fuzzy-headed, and lacking the clarity of mind that I want to expect (and most likely should not wait around for, based on how I am feeling right now). I’m stuck betwixt having awakened and also feeling like I never completed that process fully. lol

Twice I’ve had interesting (to me) ideas to write about. Twice those have slipped away leaving behind only a recollection of having been interrupted in the middle of a thought. lol

…There’s damn little coffee left in this cup, and the local coffee shops here in town won’t open for another 10 minutes. I’ve already had 20 ounces of coffee as it is. Enough for the whole day (served in a single cup – how convenient)! I don’t really need more.

Roses blooming in the garden.

I let my mind wander to the weekend… beautiful weather in the forecast. What will I do with the time? Garden? That sounds likely. Maybe go for a drive with my Traveling Partner? Shop? Tidy up my studio? (It sure needs some attention.) Make a couple batches of shower steamers? Get some romantic sexy fun time going with my partner? Read a book? Sit around watching my partner play a video game? Write letters to old friends? Some of all of these things?

A jay checking on my gardening.

Here it is a new day… a blank page… choices to choose and opportunities to accept or to disregard… and it’s time to begin (again).

I’m sipping my coffee thinking about work. Thinking about life and love. Just sitting here thinking. Yesterday wasn’t a great day… but it also wasn’t actually a bad day. Neither my Traveling Partner nor I had slept well the night before. We were both more than a little cranky as a result. We managed not to snarl at each other to the point of being insufferably unpleasant, though we were also not super cheerful or inclined to be close, and it showed in our interactions. Prickly. Terse. Irritable. We could have done better. So much better. Even after a decade of living and loving, we have room to improve on how we treat each other, how we behave under the influence of stress or fatigue, and how skillfully we heal and soothe each other. Still, we spent much of the evening hanging out together more or less contentedly. That was nice. Looked at through a different lens, it was actually a pretty good day, generally.

Another sip of coffee, my thoughts turn to work. Sometimes I love this job. Sometimes I see myself as just another “corporate whore” making a go of it, earning a paycheck, and keeping that going to keep bills paid and food on the table, doing my best but also understanding that it’s a paid gig because I would not stick around doing this shit for free. Practical. Pragmatic. Still doing my best, because that’s what I’m paid to do.

“Baby Love” in bloom, May 15, 2023

I think about how far I’ve come, for some minutes. 15 years ago, life did not look like this. I lived in a seriously run down apartment in an area characterized by economic struggle (and mostly inhabited by students, and people who could not afford a nicer place or something closer to work). I had a job with a title that sort of impressed me when I took the job, but turned out to be camouflage for dirt wages and a toxic work culture. I was surviving, but definitely not thriving. My mental health was in bad shape, and I was pretty heavily medicated without great results. My relationship(s) were suffering my lack of good mental health care. My self-loathing and despair had become a quagmire of sticky trauma preventing me from making changes. Change was coming… but I didn’t know it, couldn’t see it, and for sure was in no condition to make wise rational choices about how to best move forward from where I stood. My life had reached some sort of steady-ish equilibrium of misery that had enough to sustain itself for whatever remained of a lifetime, and I had mostly sunk into a deep apathy about it – the resulting persistent anhedonia and general misery oscillated with occasional (frequent) explosive tantrums.

15 years later, I barely recognize myself as the same woman. I have a nice little house in a pleasant suburban neighborhood on the outskirts of a cute town in a country county. I’m surrounded by good neighbors, working-class skilled laborers, machinists, makers, professionals… you know, people. Good-hearted people, mostly kind nice people. Good neighbors. It’s a nice town. My job title? These days it rarely reflects the complexity of the work, and it doesn’t much matter; I’m paid fairly for the work I do. I work for companies, generally, that treat folks well. My mental health is in a great place, relatively speaking. I could be healthier. I could be “saner”… incremental change over time is still something I count on. Slow progress, steady progress. I feel hopeful, generally, and positive. I make changes fairly often, rarely really large changes – doesn’t seem necessary, generally. Small things make big differences. There’s no “equilibrium of misery” – misery feels incredibly shitty these days, because it is rare. I’m fortunate that I’m rarely miserable. Anhedonia? No thank you. Explosive tantrums? Rare enough these days that they are not a feature of my experience, just an occasional and unfortunate circumstance that trips me up when shit goes sideways. CPTSD. It’s not going to “go away”, it just gets better, slowly. 🙂 I’ve got better tools. So many tools.

…Then there’s love. This partnership. One of the best “tools” in my toolkit is my partnership with my Traveling Partner. Healthy relationships may not “fix” everything… but unhealthy relationships? Surely capable of destroying progress and emotional wellness! I’m glad every day that I’m so fortunate to have this partnership. I feel cared-for and supported day-to-day. We’ve got our issues and challenges; we’re still human primates, we still lead with our emotions, we still fuss over vexing bullshit and blow small stuff completely out of proportion now and then.

It’s been a hell of a journey. In May, we celebrated love together, 12 years of it. In June we’ll celebrate that I’ve stuck around to see 60 years of sunrises. Wow. That feels like a bigger deal than 21, 30, or 40, by far.

…I guess the entire point here is, taking things a step at a time becomes, at some point, an entire journey. Choices, verbs, steps, decisions, circumstances, events… time passes. This too will pass – whatever “this” is. The journey is the destination. There’s value in trying to make it a good one, one change at a time, one choice at a time. Begin again.

I am thinking about journeys, and maps, and preparedness, and how different life feels at each different “stop along the way”. Just a few more days – mid-June – and I’ll be on the other side of 60. Wild. At 25 I wasn’t even certain I’d see 30, with any confidence. I can’t honestly say that I’ve been a skillful or well-prepared traveler in life, either. I sort of stumbled on down the path wherever it led, and I’m fortunate to be where I now stand. (Well… actually, where I sit, as in this moment right now, I’m sitting at my computer with a lovely hot cup of tea, after a day in the garden.)

I’m enjoying this cup of tea, feeling my muscles a bit stiff and achy after the gardening. Lots of stooping, kneeling, leaning, and of course, occasionally standing back up. lol It was a good day of gardening, and I’m pleased with the results; peas and beans planted, the neighbor’s cat (hopefully) quite discouraged from my vegetable bed, a wire trellis added for the peas to climb, and some new herb plants tucked in here and there in the flower beds among the roses (some French tarragon, lemon thyme, and a curry plant). It has been quite a lovely day.

One sunny corner in my garden.

I love the garden as a metaphor for life. Is it perfect? Nope. I sure don’t have either that kind of money or that kind of time. I work on things over the seasons, adding something new, making some little change or improvement, enjoying what I’ve done, and starting all over again each Spring. Eventually, I know the primroses will fill in that corner they occupy, though they haven’t yet. I know the lupines will bloom sturdy and bold, in their own good time – they’re still quite young and are still developing strong roots. I know that eventually, the neighbor’s cat and I will achieve some sort of acceptable understanding of our mutual boundaries. Next year, the blueberries may have fruit, but I know they won’t this year. Still, season after season, year after year, I make improvements, and I enjoy the results. I make a point of spending more time appreciating what worked out nicely, and the veggies that ripened to maturity and yielded good harvests. I don’t spend much time thinking about the entire row of gorgeous seedlings that damned cat dug up, or the unexpected freeze that killed an entire crop I planted too early. I take note of the things that went wrong. I’m observant of the things I failed at. I just don’t get mired in those details or spend much time dwelling on those. It suits me to spend more time on the delights of the garden, and my great joy to be there.

…Life also seems to benefit from that approach; I let myself soak in the joys and celebrate the small wins. I face my failures with measured calm, and an observer’s gaze, without getting stuck there. I mean, that’s the goal. 😀 I’m still ever so human. lol

I saw a small brown bunny today, nibbling my neighbor’s lawn while I worked. I enjoyed a chocolate donut in the passenger’s seat of my Traveling Partner’s new truck, as we headed home from running errands together. I breathed fresh morning air, and enjoyed afternoon sunshine. It’s been a thoroughly lovely day – it doesn’t need anything more to complete it. It is… enough.

I sigh, and sip my tea. It’s warming and quite nice, smelling of pine and forests. I feel chilly; it’s just fatigue. I contemplate a hot shower – that would feel pleasantly warming, too. Sometimes the simplest things are quite enough.

My Traveling Partner and I have been enjoying happy hours discussing camping trips and discussing the gear we have, the gear we need. The truck is a lovely addition to future adventuring, no doubt, and we found ourselves short a few things to camp together or go overlanding. Almost all my gear is specifically selected for solo camping, and intended to allow me to travel light while also ensuring I can get a good night’s rest, enjoy a cup of coffee, and apply first aid to a blistered foot if needed. Together? Hmm… we’re more about the glamping and the really getting away, you know? LOL There are new trailheads waiting! Another useful metaphor for living; traveling. Solo or in the company of a friend, traveling benefits from a bit of planning, and from being prepared. There’s value in bringing a map…but… sometimes, we really do have to blaze our own trail, and become our own cartographer. (I know, I know… helpful to have an emergency beacon, GPS, a trail app… it’s the 21st century, and we have so many more options in life – and in metaphors. 😉 )

…I find myself thinking back on a wonderful camping trip I once took with a dear friend. I don’t recall quite where we went, only how lovely it was. I took a wonderful walk, though I wasn’t really certain what to “do with myself” – I was too recently returned from deployment, too recently discharged back into civilian life… I did not know how to camp recreationally. LOL I kept trying to find something to do… kept an eye on the horizon, listening for certain sorts of noises… hilarious looking back on it. I also made some sketches, wrote some poetry, read awhile… It was a good time, and I’m glad I have it to look back on. I sure wish I could remember where that was…

A nice way to coast into the evening. I smile, finish my tea, and think about love. It’s time to begin again. There are adventures yet to have, and my birthday is so close! 😀

Some days “enough” really is enough. Today is like that. It’s an ordinary Sunday. I slept well and deeply and woke to my Traveling Partner’s gentle touch. My coffee is good, and the morning is pleasant. It’s a rainy day, and I still managed to spend some short time in the garden, planting early germinating cooler-weather seeds. Nice morning for it.

I hear the washing machine in the background, and the steady whir of the computer fan, even over this video of rain sounds I have on in the background. It is raining, today, but I rarely hear that from inside the house unless there are open windows, or it’s rainy wickedly hard. In the bathroom, the rain falls hard enough to sound like a small steel drum perched on the roof, or a distant wind chime. Pretty.

I breathe, exhale, and relax. It’s a good day for relaxing. I mean… Easter Sunday, you know? I’m for sure not planning to go to any retail spaces; the few that open will likely be quite crowded. Why bother with all that? Home is cozy and warm, and the companionship is genial. No stress, today, just quiet joy.

Shrubs removed, blueberries planted – but still so small they are barely visible against the fresh compost.

I spent yesterday in the garden. I got a lot done – like, everything on my list for the weekend, really. 😀 My Traveling Partner cut down the shrubbery I disliked, and even dug out the roots. I feel very cared for and supported; it’s a busy week for him in the shop and he still has time for me. I loosened the soil in the bed, pulled out what remaining tangled shrub roots that I could, mixed in generous amounts of well-aged compost and good quality soil and planted the blueberries I’ve been planning for since we moved in. So exciting! It feels like a milestone. I’ve got roses (8). I’ve got blueberries (6 bushes, 2 each of 3 varieties). I’ve got a raised bed veggie garden. I’ve got a plan. It feels good.

My wee balcony garden, in 2011.

I think back to my Traveling Partner and I moving in together. Our apartment had a balcony, no yard. I had a handful of roses in containers. He helped me build my garden, there, surprising me with deck-rail pots, and soil, and then too… I felt so thoroughly loved. Love can endure. Like a thriving garden, it needs care, attention, effort, and good quality “seeds” and “soil”. I smile thinking about my many small container gardens over the years, and my one previous, long ago, “garden at my own home” – a garden built in the midst of terror and chaos, stressed by Texas heat and lack of skilled care. It didn’t do very well. I wanted to force it to thrive but that’s not how gardening – or love – works, at all. I learned a lot… sometimes that’s the most we can get from an experience.

I’ve got a long-ish list of things to do today. Chores. Laundry, dishes, vacuuming, that sort of thing – nothing at all fancy, just routine shit I need to get done to prepare well for the upcoming week. All good. I’m not vexed over it. Not fighting the necessity. It’s just the day ahead of me, and I’m enjoying it as it is. That feels pretty wonderful.

I smile thinking about my rainy day garden, and the robins out there enjoying the freshly turned up earth and easy-to-reach worms. I wonder if this is their favorite time of year, and whether they have any sense of our human “seasons”. Things I think about over coffee on a rainy pleasant Sunday, before I begin again.

…I’ve got a list…

This morning I woke early and got a walk in along a misty vineyard path. It was lovely. I was rather damp by the time my Traveling Partner pinged me a cheerful greeting alerting me he was awake. My arthritis has been a serious nuisance for days. I feel it. Try not to bitch about it too much – just deal with it best I can. Today it’s pretty bad. I take my medication early, and a hot shower after I return home from my walk. I feel it, though. I breathe through the pain, aware of it, letting it go, moving on to other things. I do this as often as it crowds its way into the forefront of my thoughts. I have other shit to think about today.

…Spring is coming…

I reflect on impermanence and think about the new year of gardening ahead. I managed to grow some tasty vegetables last year. Not enough to “feed us”, but enough for a taste, and that felt like a win. It’s at least a beginning. I like beginnings (you may have noticed). So, I sit down this morning with my garden map, my pictures of last year’s gardening, my thoughts and a cup of coffee. Where will I begin this year? I know that the amount of preparation I put into my garden will make a difference to the outcome. The quality of the seeds and plants, and the skill and labor I put into it will matter, too. A lot.

…It’s a metaphor…

If I approach my garden haphazardly, with poor quality seeds strewn hither and thither without any effort to “make them comfy” and give them a good start, then give them no more attention than an occasion sprinkling of water on a hot afternoon, my results will likely be minimal germination, weak thirsty disease prone seedlings that produce little fruit. I’ll be disappointed. How do I know this? I’ve done it. LOL

If I plan with care, choose good quality seeds and varieties that are known to do well in my climate, plant them in prepared soil that is in good condition with real care, watering them in properly and tending them as they break ground by removing competing weeds and thinning to prevent over-crowding, I’ll likely see robust seedlings that thrive to become strong plants that fruit well. How do I know this? Well, I could point to many videos and books… but I’ve done this, too, and so I know the likely outcome.

Sometimes the effort involved in getting a great result seems like… much. Even “too much”. The thing is, the results don’t care about my subjective experience of the effort involved. It’s true that the feelings are only that; feelings. Sure, sure – feel those. I mean, how else? Just don’t expect your feelings (or sensations, or emotions) to change the results of your effort. That’s now how it works. So, commit and do it, or don’t – your results will vary based on the verbs you’ve used, the skill you applied, the materials you made use of, and … yeah… some luck. And help. Probably. For real. Life and the results we get are not truly 100% within our own hands – we don’t get where we’re going alone.

Ask the questions. Do the verbs.

I smile and think about the day my Traveling Partner and I built the raised bed planter. What a lovely surprise that was, and what a delightful anniversary. Every day that I go into my garden, I am reminded of his love. He’s not “into” the gardening itself, but he loves me, loves that I enjoy the gardening, loves to make it easier for me to do more (and more skillfully), and enjoys helping me figure out various challenges. He clearly gets something out of making things for me and seeing me delight in using them. I think about the new year. I’ll be asking for a second raised bed planter this year, to add to the first one and extend the garden a bit. The practical details of love – and cooking! I enjoy growing veggies that later make their way onto our table.

I think about last year’s failures. Those are more valuable right now than the successes; they tell me what and how to change. They are what I learn from. I consider the total failure of gardening efforts out in the back, beyond the deck. It’s just too shady, and it’s frankly a bit hazardous getting up and down from that garden space on the earthen steps, which are often slick with dew, or muddy from recent rain. Less than ideal, and I ended up putting in less than the necessary effort down there. So. Not again. Nope. My Traveling Partner called it correctly the year we moved in; that space is not well-suited to gardening and should simply be kept tidy and free of clutter. On it. I turn my attention to my “to-do list” briefly and add some items about clearing away all remnants of gardening attempts back there. Restore order. Move on. That was the big failure. The other notable “failure” honestly has to do with a neighbor… the orange cat next door that digs in my raised bed. If it were just the digging, I might “look the other way” and shrug it off, but he’s pooping in my damned garden. That needs to stop. I contemplate what an easily removable wire cover might look like… and think creatively about what other solutions I may have. (I tried just asking him to stay on his side, but I clearly have not gotten through. LOL)

It’s a lovely morning to think about gardening, to plan, to prepare, and to seek solutions to ongoing challenges. That’s probably true of more than gardening. If nothing else, it’s a good morning to begin again.