Archive for June, 2010

One of my new garden friends, Diana from Porterville, Western Cape, South Africa, has asked me to blog post about my header. I though it would be the perfect post for one of those nights when I’m pooped and headed for bed early or unable to focus on more. Tonight is definitely that night. So:

A couple years ago, I was hanging out with my friend Andrea. Andrea is a kindred garden spirit, so we were probably wandering aimlessly around a nursery and we were talking about all the stuff she had accumulated in her garage. There’s an annual yard sale in her neighborhood and she mentioned something about pulling some old sash windows from the back of her garage to sell. My ears perked up and I laid claim on three of them right then and there. There was no plan for what to do with them, but the juices were flowing and, well, I just had to have them.

I ended up painting them with glass paint and hanging them on the back fence, gallery style. Not a perfect job, but my favorite of the three are the mermaids. Since I’m a Pisces, I figured I would go with whatever lore was there as inspiration. Two fish, swimming in opposite directions, finally at peace in the garden – it became a self portrait of sorts. They also have red hair and are more than mildly top heavy and have big rear ends. I suppose I took creative license with the long tail fins but hey, whatcha gonna do!?

she sells seashells by the seashore

I glued shells and “jewels” on the bottom of the sill and hung them on the fence with a planter underneath.

dill and feverfew seaweed

Eventually the plants filled in and the mermaids appeared to be swimming through seaweed.

Happy Cats

The other two are a kitty with Moon painting on black background so it has a mirror effect and one with an Aristotle quote: “In all of nature there is something of the marvelous”

the backyard gallery

They’re great because they keep the eye from wandering over the back fence into the neighbor’s back yard which is full of some very strange ugliness indeed. An old RV that doesn’t run, a blue water tank wrapped in insulation that blows in the wind, some lean-to’s that are more “lean” than “to”, and they spruce up the huge expanse of plain brown fence too. They’re easily changed when I get bored – just scrape with razor blade and wait for ideas. (I’ve never been happy with the Aristotle one so I’ll re-do it soon) Plus, they make me think of Andrea and all the fun we have combing through nurseries in the spring. Thanks, Andrea – and thank you, Diana from South Africa!

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“Tell me what you feel in your room when the full moon is shining in upon you and your lamp is dying out, and I will tell you how old you are, and I shall know if you are happy”

~ Henri Frederic Amiel

There are moments, increasingly frequent moments, when I’m absolutely positive that the modern world has passed me by. Evidently, this is a common problem among “mature” folk, but I wasn’t quite prepared for it to happen to me this early. Yes, I made fun of my parents when they didn’t understand cordless telephones and insisted on standing next to the cradle while they were on the phone, not wanting to walk too far away from the phone’s ‘mother ship’. Now, I struggle to figure out all the features on my ‘smart phone’ and half the time I forget to turn the ringer on and I miss phone calls. Mostly from my kids – sorry kids, you know I love you, I’m just a complete dork. Also, I’m not quite sure what a widget thingy is or why there should be one on my blog. Most of my blog entries are still not categorized because I forget that part and only the other day did I figure out I was supposed to be tagging the posts so random people could find my silly thoughts on the inter-webs. Point me to the dirt and I know what I’m doing, plop an electronic gadget in front of me and my breathing becomes shallow and my heart rate goes up. Give me one more “username and password” to think up for a new website and I won’t need to do cardio anymore. (not that I’m all that fond of cardio in the first place)

Grape Vines

It’s enough to make a girl from the country, who moved to the city, go crazy and want to move back to the country. Until, of course, I want to order a pizza or hop into “Happy Nails” for a manicure without an appointment or drive up to Los Angeles with Tom for a romantic weekend getaway. What about the late night chocolate craving that only gets satisfied if the liquor store down the street is open? When I lived in the country, there was a drive through liquor store down the highway, twenty minutes down the highway to be exact. Paying my bills online takes me two minutes and I don’t have to file anything. My algebra homework is all done online these days and I can watch a little video on the website if I need help: instant and free math tutor with a rewind and mute function – awesome!

Because of modern technology, I can take 161 photos of a flower in my garden every single day and by the evening they are on my PC ready for use, the camera is recharging its batteries for tomorrow, and it was all free of charge. Remember the days when you took your film down to some ‘one hour photo’ place and waited? It was expensive and you looked at half the photos when you got them home and went “eww” – now I can hit delete if I don’t like a pic and it’s over!

the center of a morning star

There is nothing like a modern nature documentary in HD or a cooking show to teach you how to do something our mothers had to figure out on their own or from a dusty old black and white cookbook or worse, index card recipes passed around at church picnics, scribbled with Gran’s terrible chicken-scratch handwriting and always calling for “oleo” – whatever the hell kind of concoction that was.

Passion Fruit flower with ant

Now we have stem cell miracles, almost a cure for cancer, people who are actually surviving HIV, and the successful creation of synthetic life. You can learn anything you want to from television or internet. ANYTHING! It’s amazing – especially if you can remember back to times when you had to plan ahead to go down to the grocery store to rent a VCR and some videos so you could watch a movie at home over the weekend. My first VCR/video rental was the movie “About Last Night” with Demi Moore and Rob Lowe. My parents were out of town that weekend and I had to get everything turned back in before they discovered I had rented a “Rated R” movie and it took me forever to hook the thing up and I almost broke our TV in the process. Now, we have Netflix. Yay for Netflix!

Agapanthus by the garden gate

The downside of all this modern age business is that you are constantly bombarded with all of the troubles and silliness of the world – the ENTIRE WORLD!!! Yes, we all care about the news. But, if looking at images of the BP oil spill (don’t you love the diminutive language they’re using?) makes you cry or get angry, you should stop doing it all day every day. Every time a senator whips it out and gets caught at an unsavory moment, the world thinks I need to know about it. One of Kardishians or Hiltons or Lohans farts sideways in China and I need to get an email about it which ends up on my cell phone and therefore in my pocket while I’m trying to relax and enjoy a little peace and quiet in the garden. In bed with a good book and suddenly your cell phone vibrates to tell you about an email from Victoria’s Secret selling you a newfangled push-up bra when it’s the absolute LAST thing you need and before you know it you’ve lost your center. The flotsam and jetsam factory is out there trying to ravenously suck up your center and destroy it, throwing you off balance and out into the maelstrom. It wants YOU!

Ivy with blue blue sky

Do you remember your center? Have you been there lately? That place or feeling deep inside that is you and only you. Undisturbed, dark, quiet, steady and sure of itself. There in that quiet place lives the version of you that is hidden away when the world goes crazy and takes you with it. That’s where my favorite “me” lives and the “me” I don’t feel often enough. You know when you’re off center because you’re kinda grumpy, have a “tension headache” and your shoulders are up under your earlobes. Traffic pisses you off, noises are all too loud, you suspect yourself of being a misanthrope and the doorbell makes you cringe. If you’re an introvert like I am, all of above is amplified. So, what takes you back to center?

Nasturium with rain

For me; yoga and pajamas, potatoes and chocolate, red wine and fluffy pillows, dark curtains and blankets, lots of milk in my coffee and rubbing Peanut’s belly. Tom. The garden. Silence. Following the Moon across the sky every day. When the Moon is almost full, I start leaving my bedroom curtains open at night so the Moonlight floods my room. I lay in bed, maybe listen to my Ipod (another favorite gadget that at least I have figured out) and I clear my head, searching for center. There, in the “witching hour”, there are no voices but mine, nothing to be done because nothing can be done until tomorrow. Center rises and expands and inhales: she is free and wise, strong and beautiful. She is full of light, waxing and waning with the steady rhythm of nature, yet always the same and always there, even in darkness.

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Poppies - June 2010

Yesterday, I finished up at work and then Tom and I went out to a late lunch. We like to do that on Saturdays whenever possible because it’s the end of our work week officially and sets the tone for unwinding a bit. It was lovely and romantic and delicious and yes, there was wine. When we got home I changed into my ugly clothes and headed out to garden. We’ve had two or three sunny days in a row and I’ve really been itching to get out there.


So what happens when I finally do have some free time on a sunny afternoon and all the universe is supporting my efforts to dig in the dirt? I didn’t feel like it! My body felt heavy and tired and my spirit was not in it, my spirit was twitchy and yelling at me about the laundry or something equally urgent yet utterly unimportant. It would not shut the hell up!

Artemesia - March 2010

At a certain point I gave up and just plopped down in the grass on my back and gazed at the clear blue sky above me. It was not a graceful move, more of a trip and fall incident and then I just stayed there, my legs unwilling to do anything for me and me not giving a crap.

During that time our yard filled with birds, a butterfly fluttered over about four inches above me, Peanut came and draped herself over my leg. Nature took me in, almost immediately. The Earth felt solid below me and it was warm from the Sun. It donned on me that I never actually sit on the Earth any more. A chair, a chaise, a hammock, a couch, a bench: all designed to keep you off the ground, off the Earth and away from its energy. It felt right, solid and powerful under my spine. A feeling of inner calm settled in on a level that was much more primal than a couple glasses of wine will do. This laying or sitting right on the Earth was something so simple and so utterly free and renewing, I have promised myself to do it more.

My favorite Mermaid

Sometimes you’ve got to do that I guess. I mean, isn’t that why we tend places? So we can have a welcoming and comforting place to go and sit, to be at peace? How many times do we clean our house and then never sit on the damned sofa and just enjoy it? It’s like getting your car washed and never going on a joy ride. When you do sit down you have something with you to keep your mind occupied, busy, productive. It never – ever – just – stops.

Edgar watches the clouds go by

It’s harder than you think because your mind is telling you ‘ok good for you, now go do the next thing on the list’. I dare you to do it, sit and do nothing for ten minutes – no TV on or book or human with you, no paper to make notes or lists, no inner planning (and absolutely no phone!) – and see if it doesn’t make you mildly itchy. Sit down in a place that you clean or tend or organize or decorate or walk through on your way to the car every day and just do “NOTHING” but sit there. Enjoy the fruits of your labor and nothing more. Let your mind go wherever it wants. I did and it immediately went to “what shall I do next?” and it was a struggle to stay HERE. Look around and see your space with eyes and mind that are fresh – I’m always amazed at how much of my stuff I don’t even see any more, besides that it’s dusty or needs water, and much more amazed at how much my mind actually races about going nowhere and everywhere until I’m exhausted from the inside out. So, sit and do nothing? It’s more than mildly frightening, which is exactly why I’m going to do it again, sometime today!

Apple Blossom - June 2010

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There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling. ~Mirabel Osler

A busy day and weekend planned. No time to write today! Sharing a garden photo and a link to a fabulous website. Welcome to summer – hang on, here we go!

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Royal Burgundy Bush Beans is wine box

The Moon moved into Virgo early this morning, which means I absolutely must garden this evening after work! My almanac, “Guided By The Moon” by Johanna Paungger and Thomas Poppe, says Virgo days “are the best days for almost every type of work in garden, field, and forest that is connected with setting, transplants and new planting.” (the only exception is lettuce, which will run to leaf too quickly) The seeds I planted on the last full moon are ready for permanent homes and some plants are not doing well in their spots, so transplanting and new planting is exactly what I’ll be doing. I don’t have a lot, but having Moon where it is was the perfect excuse to plan my evening for that. And, lo and behold, Sun is actually shining today. We have had so much coastal cloud cover this year that I’m planning a separate post just to list the plants that I lost due to lack of Sun, in San Diego!

I hope she doesn't eat much!

Yesterday, I harvested my Royal Burgundy Bush Beans. We only got a small bushel but it was enough for Tom and I to have a good side dish at dinner. They are beautiful and delicious and a little Gothic looking. I will be growing them again next year for sure. Not the same feelings for the Yellow Pencil Pod beans I grew at the same time. They didn’t do as well and the color was kind of anemic and not terribly enticing, except to our snails – ok by me because they stayed away from the purples.

Royal Burgundy Bush Beans

The camera, trooper that it is, didn’t really capture the luxuriously deep purple of these beans. When you break them open, they’re bright green inside and they cook to a regular ‘green bean’ color. We roasted them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

Wicked looking beans ready for roasting. Bwahahaha!

Next year I will plant more of these and I know now they grow best in the meditation circle. Most things do, to the point of leaving me no room to sit on my bench, which is presently covered with grape vines. Oh well, I don’t have time to meditate much these days anyway!

Hydrangea with droplets

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It is good to be alone in a garden at dawn or dark so that all its shy presences may haunt you and possess you in a reverie of suspended thought. ~ James Douglas

Yesterday, we were visited by a rabbit. There are no words that adequately describe this little poofy thing’s cuteness. I mean, it was soooooooo CUTE! It was almost in the house before we saw it, hung out on the patio for a while then hopped around the yard, ate some carrot tops and grass, hopped a little more. Then, it disappeared down the stepping stones toward the artichokes. We thought it was gone but a few minutes later it hopped back out and decided to head down the path into the meditation circle. Maybe it had some thinking to do. We didn’t see it after that, but it was in the backyard for an hour or so just hangin out. It really made our day so much brighter and reminded us why work at home.

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Nasturtium, Alyssum, Evening Primrose

“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature.”
~ Alfred Austin

the ever grasping nature of all living things

“Exclusiveness in a garden is a mistake as great as it is in society.”
~ Alfred Austin

Layers June 2010

“Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are.”
~Alfred Austin

Datura reaching for Sun (2010)

“There is no gardening without humility. Nature is constantly sending even its oldest scholars to the bottom of the class for some egregious blunder.”
~Alfred Austin

Cupid with Basil

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