Archives for posts with tag: in the garden

I don’t think I actually ever gave thought to how often, or how much, “suction” place a role with regard to the general state of a human mouth. lol Having a molar extracted, and the resulting perforation of my lower facial sinus, with all the requested after-care that follows, is definitely an education in maintaining mindful awareness. The balance between “aware” and “self-conscious” – the latter of which tends to cause more moments of “sucking on my teeth, in some fashion – is, itself, a very new thing to explore (all over again). It generally… um… sucks.

(I’m aware of how dreadful that pun was, and nonetheless I spend five minutes wracked with mirth, trying not to laugh literally out loud, nor to stifle my laughter in any way that might result in disturbing the healing of that tooth socket, with the realization that my situation literally illustrates the point I was making the first place driving still further laughter. What a morning. What the fuck is the point of “uncomfortable merriment”? Why is that even a thing? lol)

Eating is complicated. Drinking is a major challenge. Even sitting around, generally, reading, watching a video, or just being thoughtful, seems to continuously put me at risk of subtly (or less so) “pulling” at that wound in my mouth with some quantity of suction unintentionally. “Rinsing” my mouth requires a rather delicate approach, since any sort of “swishing” technique likely involves – you guessed it already, I bet – suction. It’s not the very firm sucking-suction of deliberately sucking on something (like a straw) that trips me up; it’s the common everyday rather mild suction of things like holding my tongue to the roof of my mouth, or drinking from a container with a small opening, or… swallowing. lol That last one plagues me – it is unavoidable. I’m not bitching, I’m just saying; there are techniques involved that I did not already know.

I woke to rain. I find myself wondering how the Praying Mantis hatchlings are doing. They hatched yesterday, from purchased egg cases that I put in the garden in the spring.

There appear to be hundreds of wee mantises on this one rose bush, basking in the sunshine.

The dense foliage of the reliably well-leaved out rose bush on which I placed them offers a lot of places to hide safely, and with my container garden being very near a forested green space, and birds coming and going at the deck feeder every day, there is plenty of food for the young mantises – and plenty of predators to be concerned with. I spotted them fairly quickly, when I went out to water the garden.

I watched them for awhile.

I watched several quite skillfully avoid a largish, probably quite frustrated, garden spider who had also taken up housekeeping in the rose bush. I was feeling certain that sooner or later, the spider would have her meal, when a young mantis turned the tables on the predator-prey narrative, and began to enjoy her first meal – of spider. Wow, Nature, way to present a life lesson!

I watch awhile longer. Choices. Verbs. Sunshine. Moments.

I felt huge peering down at the wee creatures in my garden. Some of them stared seemingly fearlessly, curiously, back at me. I felt a tickle on my arm, and notice that one, then several more, have jump from the bush to my arm, and my hand, as I held my camera outstretched for a closer shot. I use the opportunity to give them an easy ride, slowly, around the garden. It delighted me to see each jump off to a new location in a hanging basket, potted salad greens, a bucket full of blooming flowers, or another rose. I remind them to watch out for spiders, before I go back inside.

I woke this morning to rain. It only makes sense to wonder how the little new comers are doing. Coffee first, I decided, and here I am – with a drink bottle (selected specifically for the size of the mouth of the bottle) partially filled with cool-not-icy-cold coffee, listening to the rain and the sound of my fingers on the keyboard. I give some thought to where I might take my walk today; it’s the weekend, and I’ve been enjoying being out on the trail again, rain need not slow me down (it’s not rainy hard, just sort of dripping gently). Muddy or slick trails would be less than ideal… maybe along the waterfront? The well-paved trails are popular, so it’s not likely to have the same “away from it all” feel as I might experience on a wilderness trail, or even a suburban forest trail miles in, further along than an easy walk with a child would take one – still a lovely walk, worth taking. The city is reliably a beautiful and varied view.

Some other rainy morning, along the waterfront, and a view of a city I love.

…I keep coming back to this not-excessively-painful-but-definitely-wholly-uncomfortable-and-quite-inconveniently-tender-complicated-to-care-for wound in my mouth; it distracts me. I also find my thoughts returning to the wee newcomers in my garden. I can’t do much about the extracted tooth; the jaw and gum need time and care to heal. I can, however, satisfying my curiosity about the mantises – verbs are required. A moment of action is all that is necessary…

The smell of freshness, summer rain, and petrichor fill my senses when I step out onto the deck. The sound of rain on the big leaf maples is musical. It isn’t raining hard; just a steady misty drizzle, barely hard enough to be explicitly rain. I check “Baby Love”, the rose on which the mantis young found themselves on their very first day, eagerly seeking signs that “the kids are alright”…

Petals have fallen in the rain, but the wee mantis young take the rainy day in stride.

I spot first one, then another, then several, then, as my eye begins to calibrate to their shape and color, their plentiful numbers are revealed. Most have simply stepped around to a convenient underside of a leaf, or even the narrow protection of a stem. A few just stand out in the rain, damp, seeming unconcerned.

They are everywhere I look. A good metaphor for so many things I sometimes struggle to see that are “right in front of me”. ūüôā

A few minutes of writing, some coffee, a rainy morning… I’ve been most particularly tempted by this deliciously rainy summer morning… I think I’ll begin again. ūüôā

In the garden, or on the trail, it’s a lovely time to embrace this “now” moment. (Your results may vary; there are verbs involved.)

After numerous flight delays, I finally reached my destination, and a taxi. I was one 40 minute cab ride away from home.

My driver made the trip in a heart-stopping 24 minutes!

My driver made the trip in a heart-stopping 24 minutes!

My homecoming was delightful, warm, loving, supportive. I know we hung out for a little while, I know souvenirs were brought forth, shared, discussed. There may have been an anecdote shared, or two. ¬†I think we ‘got caught up’. I didn’t stay ¬†up late, but I didn’t rush to bed, either; Las Vegas got me used to just going and going and going…ending the evening and going to sleep was challenging, in spite of obvious signs of exhaustion.

Yesterday happened. Most of it involved sleeping. I woke in the morning, too early, had coffee and started an argument. It hadn’t been my intention, and in-the-moment I wouldn’t have described the circumstances that way, but looking back, the step-by-step process of ‘starting shit’ was evident, and well-followed with considerable precision. I was still so incredibly fatigued that I was highly volatile, and that’s a poor moment to attempt conversation about political matters – ¬†important or otherwise. This was not ‘important’. I was just killing time, waiting for an entirely other sort of moment, actually, and my choices were poor. ¬†(Not surprising, really, my decision-making when I am fatigued is often quite peculiarly poor, and I suspect it is due to the specifics of my TBI.) I went back to bed, once it became clear I just wasn’t rested enough yet to be fit to interact with human beings.

Yesterday I slept 16.5 hours, waking 4 times for various reasons, and durations of time. I managed to drink about 128 ounces of water (thank you Hello Kitty water bottle!). I even managed to fit in some meditation, some yoga, and a couple short walks. ¬†Apparently that is what it takes me to recover from 4 days in Las Vegas. lol (I think we could all have done without including a nasty tearful temper tantrum, next time I’ll try that.)

I am excited to be home. I am rested. Life feels very good.

Today is a good day to garden.

Today is a good day to garden.

Today is a good day to notice small delights.

Today is a good day to notice small delights.

Today is a good day to enjoy simple things.

Today is a good day to enjoy simple things.

Today is a good day to love without reservations.

Today is a good day to love without reservations.

Today is a good day to change the world.

It was an interesting weekend. Hormones, a homecoming, and the fun of a traveler’s tales wove a narrative with some ups and downs, some challenges, and some real delights. Spring in the garden and along the shorter walks I can manage on this knee gave up some wonderful pictures to enjoy, and some perspective on what matters most that helped me stay balanced and grounded as much as I could manage with the choices I made.

The loveliness of spring is, whatever else may also be.

The loveliness of spring is, whatever else may also be.

I am an imperfect being, human, alive, and more fragile than I expect to be. I suspect we all are. ¬†I don’t make my best choices under stress; more stuff causes me stress than seems rational, necessary, or wise. From a distance it is comical, up close it is as likely to provoke tears of frustration. Hormone hell? Yeah, I still deal with it. I’ve got just 55 days now until I can ‘officially’ say I have ‘gone through menopause’. More hilarity; that doesn’t actually offer any real guarantee I won’t ever ever ever have a period, or that my hormones won’t turn some invisible corner and wreak havoc in my life for hours or days… just that it is less likely by far, and I am easily labelled ‘past my child-bearing years’. lol. ¬†Not a great demonstration of medical precision. Still… 55 days left, and I am eager to be done with it.

A single raindrop doesn't say much about the weather.

A single raindrop doesn’t say much about the weather.

I’m excited that my partner returned from his getaway with restored enthusiasm for getting out into the world, into the wild, for hiking, camping, fishing… and I’m jealous, more than I want to share, more than seems fair. ¬†I’d like to share those experience with him. ¬†Arthritis. Knees. Ankle. I’m struggling with pain and mobility on a level that would likely make any sort of challenging hike not even a little bit fun for either of us to ‘enjoy’ together, at least for now. ¬†The irony of it seems more than a little cruel to me. Damn, though, I love seeing him interested in something fun and energetic, and ‘all his own’. Newness and learning open the doors to fantastic conversation and connection; everyone needs to have their own thing, their own experiences, otherwise – what is there to ‘share’?

We serve love best when we are more than a reflection of each other.

We serve love best when we are more than a reflection of each other.

I approach life more fearlessly these days… which apparently has a down-side I had not anticipated. ¬†For so many years I’ve kept my anger in check with fear… so… now what? It’s a scary question with some amount of urgency behind it because… I’m angry a lot. ¬†I’d like to think not abusively so, but… anger is nasty shit. How is anger ever not at all abusive? I don’t know many people who don’t find someone else’s anger at least uncomfortable, and often ‘too much’ or ‘inappropriate’ to the circumstances or magnitude of the event. So… it’s now time to work on anger, and not just that, time to work on Anger, too. The big A. The anger that doesn’t die. The Anger that has festered over years. The Anger as a meta-emotion. ¬†Rage. Fury. The thing that takes over and escapes my control; now is the time to unchain the beast and teach it some manners.

Stormy weather...

Stormy weather…

It’s a little scary to know that it’s time to face the Anger, best it, and move on to other things. Like a fearless hero in a legend, I am facing a foe and uncertain of the outcome – this is the big one. This is the demon I must conquer to take a next step to healing the worst damage, because that ‘worst damage’ to which I refer is the source and well-spring of that vast untamed sea of Anger. To set foot on that damaged shore, I must find a way to safely navigate that sea.

Vast, but sometimes not everything it appears to be.

Vast, but sometimes not everything it appears to be.

I wanted a more relaxed, gentle, calm weekend than the one I had, however as a student of life, and perpetually a beginner with practicing mindfulness, I value the lesson. I benefited from the opportunity to examine old problems from new angles. ¬†I appreciate the real experience of being supported by my partner, and also seeing what that demands of my partner and that there may be more I can do for myself to alleviate the burden. A weekend with less easy delight and charm that I allowed myself to look forward to (and expectations are the motherfucker of all good times, without question), and a lot of¬†intimacy, vulnerability and depth of connection, and opportunities to share, get close emotionally, and talk through hard stuff. ¬†I’m inclined to call it a ‘great weekend’ in spite of the opportunities for tears. ¬†Anyone taking the quantity of my tears personally, who wasn’t around in the 60s, 70s, and 80s is probably missing the point of my tears.

In general, life is quite lovely.

In general, life is quite lovely.

I miss my other partner, and it’ll be nice to have her home and hear her tales of adventure in the big city. ¬†I allow myself to look forward to it with real delight, in spite of that wee demon whispering in my ear about things and other things. ¬†We choose so much of our reality. Today is a good day to choose joy. Today is a good day to choose compassion. Today is a good day to remember – every time – that we are each having our own experience, and the irritability of that person over there (whoever, wherever) isn’t about us.

Perspective. Mindfulness. Sufficiency. Savoring the small delights more than I rail about the disappointments makes an important difference.

Perspective. Mindfulness. Sufficiency. Savoring the small delights more than I rail about the disappointments makes an important difference.

I feel pretty close to understanding something…

My work in the garden continues. It’s mostly ‘winter work’; tasks that get the garden started in spring, like pruning, getting beds ready for bulbs, cleaning up this and that, making room for my hopes and dreams, and seeing my vision of the garden come alive as the weather warms and the days grow long. I spend so many gray winter hours leafing through garden catalogs, scribbling on graph paper, asking partners odd questions about colors, forms, scents, and placement. I garden all year long.

Gardening has a lot in common with self-growth. This year I explore so much more of this with my eyes wide open, aware, observing, learning. I’m not going after some illusive standard of perfection; I love having my hands in the soil, connecting with living things, and simply enjoying the timeless wonder and delight of the garden. I have roses, herbs, bulbs, vines, trees, things for sun, things for shade, things that bear fruit, things that fill the air with wonderful fragrance…and two little chairs and a small table. On pleasant days I love to sit with my morning latte as the day unfolds, listening to peeping little frogs, chattering squirrels, the strident cry of the neighborhood hawk, and the songs of assorted little birds. It’s all very ordinary, I suppose, certainly the words don’t tell the tale with any power to really connect to the experience.

There have been years of my life when my garden was the entirety of my fragile hold on sanity. It isn’t fair to make a small plot of earth and a few vegetables and flowers do the heavy lifting involved in keeping me connected to what is good in life, but my garden has been there for me when I needed it, and never failed me. The garden connects me to my Granny, a woman of incredible will, wisdom, and humanity. It connects me to my Dad, too. I have no idea how old I was the first time I pulled weeds in the garden, but the first summer I did so for my Dad was early in 1973, I think. I remember sitting on the recently tilled ground, fretfully crushing clumps of dirt, instead of weeding, when I thought no one was watching – and mumbling about indentured servitude. I wasn’t exactly a fan of manual labor, and preferred the quiet of my room, and the excitement of a good book. ¬†When adulthood hit me with tsunami-force after I joined the Army, it was the gardening that I yearned for, it was the gardening that I sought out for solace, and time and again even my life overseas found me with my hands in soil – potted plants on apartment balconies, tiny window box gardens, or a tree in a pot on a patio.

Seeds, like ideas, begin so small. They sit quietly, without evidence of their future size or usefulness, and wait. They wait for their moment. They wait for conditions to be right. Timeless and impersonal, they are still and small, all potential.  I love planting by seed.

The front garden is nice. Trim and pretty tidy, with a bit of brick path, another bit of slate path curving around the side, some shade, a lot of sun, and the small patch of lawn that is the suburban hallmark of home ownership. I brought in more (and different) roses, colorful wildflowers, pots of herbs, more roses, and feeders for hummingbirds and songbirds. ¬†I love taking a garden space, and seeing it change over time as plants, and ideas, are added. ¬†This spring I started big. Along the brick walk has been a low evergreen hedge of heather, and I like it ‘well enough’ I guess… perhaps not in that location, or maybe not so much of it, or…

Heather. Lovely, evergreen, not what I want in that space.

Heather. Lovely, evergreen, not what I want in that space.

As pretty as it is, it’s rather taking over that space, and just isn’t what I’m looking for in that spot. So… it’s out. I had a plan, before I got going…

Change presents so many opportunities.

Change presents so many opportunities.

In the dim light of dawn, early yesterday, I looked at the bare earth where the heather had been, and I felt just a bit sad for a moment, thinking of the experience of choosing to cull some living thing from a less than ideal circumstance, for lack of aesthetic, usefulness, or quality of character. I thought, too, of the experience of being culled…laid off from a job, fired, divorced, or any number of similar unexpected changes of life that I’ve faced. How easy it can be to take it very personally.

I considered my plan for that garden bed, clearly no longer ‘a hedge’ of any sort at all. I selected flower seeds with care; a variety of colorful California poppies, hybrids and fancy ones, and I chose some dark leafed kale for dense green vegetation – pretty and useful – and planned groupings of gladiolus with their bold colors and ‘reach for the sky’ approach to life. I’m hoping the new plantings are light-hearted and fun, a playful foreground for my Graham Thomas rose in the background. This year he will begin to stretch out in the front bed, reaching for his full size. I enjoyed putting down the earliest seeds in the afternoon…and like a little kid, I’ll check every day for seedlings, even though I know it will be days. ūüôā

There is always more to do in the garden. Each year I get started at the end of February, thinking for just a moment “am I starting too soon”? It seems to work out just fine, though, and surely the slugs are already busy… they know spring when they feel it. lol.

Slug life... there's probably a metaphor here.

Slug life… there’s probably a metaphor here.