Archive for July, 2010

Rose/April 2010

Life While-You-Wait
by Wislawa Szymborska

Life While-You-Wait.
Performance without rehearsal.
Body without alterations.
Head without premeditation.

I know nothing of the role I play.
I only know it’s mine. I can’t exchange it.

I have to guess on the spot
just what this play’s all about.

Ill-prepared for the privilege of living,
I can barely keep up with the pace that the action demands.
I improvise, although I loathe improvisation.
I trip at every step over my own ignorance.
I can’t conceal my hayseed manners.
My instincts are for happy histrionics.
Stage fright makes excuses for me, which humiliate me more.
Extenuating circumstances strike me as cruel.

Words and impulses you can’t take back,
stars you’ll never get counted,
your character like a raincoat you button on the run –
the pitiful results of all this unexpectedness.

If only I could just rehearse one Wednesday in advance,
or repeat a single Thursday that has passed!
But here comes Friday with a script I haven’t seen.
Is it fair, I ask
(my voice a little hoarse,
since I couldn’t even clear my throat offstage).

You’d be wrong to think that it’s just a slapdash quiz
taken in makeshift accommodations. Oh no.
I’m standing on the set and I see how strong it is.
The props are surprisingly precise.
The machine rotating the stage has been around even longer.
The farthest galaxies have been turned on.
Oh no, there’s no question, this must be the premiere.
And whatever I do
will become forever what I’ve done.

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Thursday afternoon: no algebra classes for 3 days. There will be stacks of paperwork to catch up on and a Saturday morning yard sale to prep for, a test on Monday morning which will require a few “practice runs.” The lovely thing is that I’ll be able to pace myself through instead of rushing like I do all week, and also have a glass of wine here and there…mostly here.

All week, I’ve been planning my next posting – yarrow – but first, there is something spectacular to celebrate; my Hollyhocks. Not sure if you’ve noticed, but the name I use for my posting sites is “1hollyhock” and here’s the story behind that:

When I was just a little kid, we moved from northern New Mexico where we always had a garden, to Phoenix, Arizona where we always had rocks. Dad would rake rocks, water rocks, stack rocks. He moved rocks from one place to another in, what seems now to me, an almost Zen-like ritualistic way. I think my parents tried to garden once, but there were always just rocks. Even our tap water tasted like rocks.

One day, when I was about 14, I decided I was going to grow something in the middle of our rocks. It would be my first gardening attempt since those bean sprouts we grew in recycled milk cartons as a class project in 2nd grade. (I totally adored my bean sprout!) Somehow, I had acquired and hoarded a wrinkled envelope of Hollyhock seeds from a box of ‘hand-me-down’ items our church ladies always passed around. So, out I went to the rear of our property, brushed aside some dry chalky dust that was our excuse for soil, plopped my seeds down, covered em back up and poured a glass of water on top. No idea whatsoever what I was doing, but those procedures seemed to make sense and maybe I learned something in 2nd grade after all, even if it was only bean sprouts. Every day I went out in the sweltering heat and watered my little mound of dirt and waited for something to happen. Weeks went by and nothing, more nothing.

Then, one day there was a sprout. One single Hollyhock seed found life under the worst possible conditions. I have never forgotten the feeling I had that day, as if I had performed some Goddess maneuver that had never been done by anyone else in all of natural history. It was awesome. It was a powerful moment in my life. That one Hollyhock was the beginning of a love affair that has only become deeper and more enchanting with passing years. It has also become somewhat of a metaphor in my life.

A few years ago, my dear friend Andrea gave me an envelope of Hollyhock seeds from her garden. Yes, it did look like that other envelope so long ago…I planted them and they came up…all of them pink and fluffy, glorious in their healthy splendor, unlike the one from my youth that withered to black ash the moment temperatures rose past 110 Fahrenheit. These Hollyhocks from Andrea’s seeds have been making me smile for years. The darker Hollyhocks have been on my wish forever: they are considered a black flower (even though there is no such thing and yes, I know I always say that) and I love the really dark colors the most. So, I kept trying with more seeds and I even got some “Black Beauty” seeds from Lucie for my birthday. They all got planted along our side fence so I could see them out my office window. Still, nothing but pink. (not that I am complaining in any way)

Until this week! This week, while I had my busy little nose to the grindstone, my dark red/black Hollyhocks bloomed and I didn’t even know they were there! Along the fence, they show up as the same color as the wood stain. They’re beautiful and I can’t even explain how much of “full circle” feeling I have right now. Even better, I don’t know if they’re Lucie’s seeds or Andrea’s seeds but they are definitely from someone who loves me right?

at long last

So today I celebrate the will of a seed to rise above its circumstances and grow to full potential, the magical ways Mother Nature sees fit to reward effort on her behalf, the sheer persistence of life to do what it does, and Hollyhocks.

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“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”
~ Rabindranath Tagore

“Trees are Earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.”
~ Rabindranath Tagore

“Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf.”
~Rabindranath Tagore

“By plucking her petals, you do not gather the beauty of the flower.”
~Rabindranath Tagore

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Summer set lip to earth’s bosom bare,
And left the flushed print in a poppy there.
~Francis Thompson

my favorite Poppies return every summer

Ahhhhhhhhhhh….that’s the sound of me exhaling. Finally.

Mini Roses from Lucie...thank you!

July, so far, has been a very busy month for me. Lots of algebra being crammed into my gelatinous brain, oodles of paperwork in the office…comings and goings from near and far, hoozits and whatsits…then, suddenly on Friday evening around 5:30, it all came to a screeching halt. It was a difficult thing to accept for a moment: I checked my lists four times to make sure I wasn’t forgetting something. Nope, I was done for the day and could relax. I took a blanket out to the garden chaise, Tom brought me a glass of champagne. Open in front of me were several books about herbs as I gather info for a future post here….yarrow maybe? Who cares, I was happy and relaxing in the garden after a really satisfying week of stretching my wings and getting things done. It was the best feeling and under all of that was the suspicion that I may be getting an A in Algebra after my last test. teehee!

Blooming Onion

There hasn’t been much in the way of gardening lately, but the garden doesn’t seem to miss me much. It’s wild and feral and happy, everything is crowded and fat and bloomy. The Sun finally came out with a vengeance and I swear every living creature and plant is out there dancing around in it, getting Sun-drunk. It’s a happy place.

Tiger Lilies in the early morning

Also, I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge Lucie, Dottie, Keewee and Rose, for the comments on my last post. There isn’t always the opportunity to come back in during the week and answer, but I read the posts on my cellphone during break at school and it makes me really happy to have those friendly and supportive voices with me. We are all in this “life” thing together and it’s the camaraderie that gets us through the rough spots. 🙂

Sunbathing Tomato

Artichoke Flower

Endive going to seed with Cattails

Miss Peanut helps water in the earling morning before class

So, another week under our belts, another summer passing into nostalgia in slow-motion under the heavy air and sticky heat. Flowers bloom and fade, vegetables appear in the foliage and fleas hop onto kitties. Evenings become the thing we live for. Sweet, cool, breezy evenings full of crescent Moons and sparkly stars….and a glass of Pinot with Tom because Monday does not exist yet. Ahhhhhhhh…..

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So, what happens when you throw summer school into an already busy life? Crazy acceleration! My summer algebra class started June 22nd and runs through August 16th. My daughter in law, Emily, said it would be a difficult schedule but worth it since I’d get a lot done in a short amount of time. That sounded great to me as I’m already going to be 50 before I get my degree. I’m “burnin daylight” as my Grandfather would say! She’s absolutely right though: I’m very happy with getting an entire semester under my belt in two months and will probably do it again next summer.


So far, I’ve done just fine with the class and am keeping up with my business as well. Everything else, including the garden, has fallen by the wayside for the most part. Yoga class will be there when I’m ready to go back and my friends have all been understanding. Tom has filled in where he can: I never miss a meal even though I could probably stand to skip a couple. teehee. Even the garden is holding steady on her own.

2007 Summer Solstice Moon

Oh, how I miss the garden! When I go outside these days, I have just enough time to make sure everything is watered and not being eaten alive by snails, then it’s back in to do homework or something equally “chore-y”. There hasn’t been much sunshine in my San Diego neighborhood for the last month or so, so things are ripening but doing so a bit less aggressively than usual at this time of year. It has occurred to me that this may be a gift in disguise…nature slowing things down so I can catch up? Why not!

Rose with dew

The downside of the cloudy/fogginess has been that my squash aren’t doing well at all and my tomatoes and roses are getting mildew. But for now, I’m going to trust nature and wait. The sun will come out eventually and she, in all her wisdom, will compensate with extra good sunshine love. All will be well and I needn’t interfere. Right?

There was a moment a week or so ago when I panicked and threw one of those ‘inner temper tantrums’. Questioning myself; why did i take all of this on? can I pull it off? what was I thinking? everything is going to die off in the garden and my orchids are turning yellow and all because I overextended myself. my clients will suffer and my husband will run away and my friends will hate my guts! when will I catch up? NEVER! Then I realized I was being a big whiny baby and told myself to shut the hell up.

purple Iris

Am I not the woman I wanted to be when I was little and tried hard to see my future? There’s a business that I enjoy with my husband, a family that loves me, faithful and supportive friends, a home I’m proud of and a garden….the garden. I’m in college now and fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, getting a degree. None of this came out of giving up or being a wimp. I’m all grown up…so shut up and deal with it and trust yourself. Be patient with yourself and try to enjoy the journey for a change! I had to tell myself these things out loud because the noise of my doubt was drowning out the peace of mind I should have had. Then, I came across this article and the picture made me laugh. Are you the person you always thought you wanted to be when you ‘grew up’? How far off are you? Is it better than you ever dreamed of? It’s not too late to congratulate yourself or get back on track. It’s never too late to believe in yourself, especially if you think you’re all grown up…which you never really are, are you?!


So yes, it’s been quite challenging…But, I can do whatever the hell I set my mind to if I’m willing to work hard enough, and I am! So there, Self! Neener Neener! Time to look those challenges right smack in the eyeball and tell em how it’s gonna be! and then go to bed early….


* all of today’s garden photos are from 2007, one of my favorite summers in the garden.

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