And within the course of a week life went abruptly from this

butterfly2016

 to this

staypositive

This was the first summer in a bunch of years I didn’t teach a summer course, which freed up a considerable amount of time, energy, and brain power. I know exactly where all that extra time, energy and brain power went because I am still keeping my weird little daily spreadsheet to track the time spent on my goals/resolutions.  For the month of July it went like this:

  • 24 hours PRACTICE MANAGEMENT — This excludes the time spent in sessions with clients. I recently started tracking this because I was curious how much unbillable time I spend doing things for the practice. Now I know.
  • 20 hours DANCING — Teaching, practicing new choreographies, reviving old choreographies. This includes drills, exercises, rehearsals.
  • 16 hours GARDENING –Watering, weeding, harvesting, planting, watching butterflies, cutting flowers. In recent weeks there has been a lot of  violent killing. I have fed literally hundreds of Japanese beetles to the ducks and chickens. I have squashed squash bug daddies and mommas and their babies while cursing their ancestors.  No poison was involved; I didn’t want to accidentally kill the good bugs or bees or do any damage to the birds or frogs, so the violence has been all up-close and personal. It’s a terrible thing and I’m not proud of it, but it happened. This whole garden thing is probably wreaking havoc on my karma. But I give away a good portion of the spoils, so maybe it all balances out?
  • 12 hours RESEARCH for the book I’m writing and 8 hours of WRITING the book. I really need to increase the time spent actually writing.
  • 10 hours COOKING…pickles. Yes, it was all spent making pickles from the garden cucumbers.  I canned some bread-n-butter pickles last Thursday. The horrible squash bugs completely wiped out the squash plants before I became aggressive with them. Now they have found their way to my cucumber plants, so that may be it for pickling this year.
  • 4 hours MEDITATION.

When I showed El-D the spreadsheet last night he said, “Geeze, you could work for the government. The engineers would love you.” They really like spreadsheets too apparently. And then he asked, “How many hours did you spend putting numbers in your spreadsheet?”

Hmph.  A couple seconds a day!  The spreadsheet, as lovely as it is,  isn’t the goal, it’s just a tool to help me understand where my time and attention go. It also gives me insight into how I flow across time.  For example, fifteen minutes of meditation is forever long. Sitting around doing nothing but listening to my own thoughts is horrendous most days. Truly. Sitting down to write at a computer – not much better and sometimes worse. Sitting down to write on paper, doable and sometimes enjoyable, and sometimes absolutely necessary. I flow way differently in the garden. I’ll set a timer inside then step out the door and become completely absorbed by everything until I get hunger pains or it starts raining or somebody shows up and stares at me expectantly, or something else happens that draws me back into a world where there is such a thing as a clock ticking.  Today I disappeared into a game of peek-a-boo with a praying mantis for who knows how long?  Anyway, I guess the point is time is a weird concept. Or maybe it’s that spreadsheets are great.

“You haven’t the time? Time is all you have, your life energy to spend as you will.”

–David Ross

 

This book was not my idea.  Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was one member’s choice for next month’s discussion in a book club I was recently asked to join.  This is exactly the sort of reason I generally avoid clubs: people inevitably want you to spend a whole bunch of your time doing stuff you don’t want to do…like reading about a high school girl dying of cancer. But I begrudgingly decided to just do it because I like these book club people and because I am working to expand my repertoire of kidlit.

The story revolves around Greg (the “Me” in the title). During his senior year of high school he is guilt-tripped into hanging out with Rachel, the dying girl, by his mother who is friends with Rachel’s mom. Then Greg’s best friend and “co-worker” in film-making, Earl, starts hanging out with them too. Hilarity ensues. They begin working on a new film, but after several false starts, one involving sock monkeys, they decide to take a different approach:

“We were inspired by You Tube. God help us. Like whiny boring people all over the world, we decided that the best way of expressing ourselves was just to stare into the camera and talk.”

The whole book was delightfully funny.  On purpose, even. It had this whole meta-analysis narrative embedded in the story that fixed a lot of the problems that a book about a dying girl is bound to have for the reader.

The author, Jesse Andrews, nailed the description of the social atmosphere of high school. There was a fight scene — well if you could call it that; it was more of a get-beat-up scene — that summoned images of Lord of the Flies in my mind. It managed to be both oddly disturbing and amusing. The characters, even the minor characters, were quirky, multidimensional and layered. The view of other characters from Greg’s eyes were along these lines:

“Mr. McCarthy had a look on his face of deep concern. It was definitely out of character for him and it was sort of distracting me. It was like when a dog makes a human-style face at you and you’re temporarily thrown off guard by it. You’re like, “Whoa, this dog is feeling a mixture of nostalgic melancholy and proprietary warmth. I was not aware that a  dog was capable of an emotion of that complexity.”

And speaking of emotions of complexity, last night as I finished the book, I sat in bed a confused mess – literally crying and laughing at the same time over the ending while marveling over life and death in general.

And this is exactly the sort of reason I join book clubs.

My pickle journey began on a crisp January day this year. I was flipping though Annie’s Heirloom Seed Catalogue, while fantasizing about warm weather and all the stuff I wanted to grow in the garden.

Me: “Hey! We could grow corn and make our own popcorn!!”

El-D Squidward: “No.  The deer will eat it.”

Me: “Then we need to plant enough for the deer to eat too! What could be better than homegrown popcorn!?”

El-D Squidward: “Being dead…or anything else.” (ok, maybe he didn’t say that part exactly, but the sentiment was expressed in the look he gave me.)

I continued flipping pages in the catalogue and came to the page with cucumbers.  Homemade pickles! I kept this thought to myself, lest I be told a plague of cucumber-eating locust were expected this year.

I pondered pickles for few months, then ordered the seeds for Boston Pickling Cucumbers.  The date was March 24th.

I planted them on May 6th. Little fuzzy plants began pulling themselves out of the ground a few weeks later.hanging on

 

El-D saw them coming up and built them a fancy trellis.  On May 11th it occurred to me that  I really needed to be growing dill if I was going to make pickles, so I planted some.

As the cucumber blossoms started turning into fruit, I realized  that this pickle thing might acutally happen.  The search for recipes began in earnest. I watched the Good Eats episode on pickle making as part of my research because Alton Brown is THE MAN.

cucumber 2016

After painstaking research, I finally decided on  Curbstone Valley Farm’s Classic Dill Pickle recipe.  Four stores later, I had managed to acquire almost all the ingredients.  (Where the heck does one find juniper berries??).

Today, pickle preparation began. Today alone was a 5 hour labor of love.

pickle fixins

I have the scalded skin to show for it.  Seven months after the pickle idea popped into my head, I have this…

pickles

<cue angels singing here>

 

 

Sing it with me y’all!

…and now I only have three weeks to wait.  This batch will be ready August 2. *sigh*

When not summoning sea creatures, El-D has been in Artist mode, busily creating music this week. When not in the garden, the Linguist Yogi has been busily badgering the Artist with relentless questions about his compositions:

What are you trying to communicate?

Is it a worthwhile message? Is it good? and/or is it true?

Are you expressing your message fully and clearly?

Is it being understood by your listener in the spirit you intended?

Will you take feedback into account to modify your message?

There have been intense philosophical debates about whether such questions are relevant to the creation of art. The Artist proclaims that art is what it is; what flows through is what flows through.  Listeners will interpret as they will, so the message itself is of little importance.

The Linguist Yogi maintains that authenticity take a lot of time and work. One must consider the noise and distortions that get in the way and lead to confusion. Clarity in the head and heart of the Artist is the fine-tuning of the instrument. What flows through the fine-tuned instrument is refined, pure, and more potent.

~~*~~*~~*~~

 Two versions of the same song are here for your consideration in this debate.

First is Emeli Sande’s  “Where I Sleep” as it was originally sung by the song-writer.

And here is a very different interpretation remade by Voces8:

Where I Sleep

There’s nowhere that I wouldn’t follow
There’s nothing that I won’t do for your kiss
I love you like there’s no tomorrow
Cause nothing ever felt like this

There’s nothing I won’t steal or borrow
I’ll travel on a boat or aeroplane
I’ll explore a world of sorrow
Cause when I find you I know, I know I’ma be OK

See the times are changing
And I’m sure of nothing that I know
Except this is us, and this is love, and this is where I’m home

In a world that’s breaking, where nothing is for keeps
Oh this is us, this is love and this is where I sleep
This is us, this is love and this is where I sleep

I’m from a generation undecided
I’m restless and I can’t help changing lanes
But in all the noise and the excitement,
you’re love is all that will remain
I’ve said all of my goodbyes to ego
I gambled all I got, there’s no plan B
It’s the first time that I’ve learnt to let go
It’s the only place I feel, only place I feel like me

See the times are changing
I’m sure of nothing that I know
Except this is us and this is love, and this is where I’m home

In a world that’s breaking, where nothing is for keeps
Oh this is us, this is love and this is where I sleep
This is us, this is love and this is where I sleep

This is us, this is love, this is where I’m home.

Emeli Sandé

We’ve been on staycation for the last week. It’s all my fault. How can anyone be expected to vacate when the moonflower is unfurling all her Love across the fence? I mean really!

moonflower 2016

the moonflower leaves sweet Valentines

I can’t possibly tear myself away from this. Someone must remain present to witness it all.

 

Time tending the garden must be subtracted from time in transit, from time absorbed by electronic screens, and from time preparing agendas and itineraries.

Planning a vacation sounds like work in comparison when there is a Magic Queendom just outside the doorstep…

squash 2016

a squash blossom forest

 

…amusing sights abound at every turn.

cucumber 2016

this from a tiny seed dropped in the dirt!

 

Ants parade around accompanied by birdsong bands. A lizard mama skitters away-quiet as a whispered secret-when the hiding place for her glowing eggs is suddenly revealed to a startled human female, who quickly restores their cover.

lizard egg

Over the course of the week, we did venture a short distance from home. Just around the corner is an enchanted land where fairies frolic and gnomes make homes.

Sherry's fairies

And just a little further out, though still remaining firmly rooted in the City of Kings,  there was another garden to visit.

20160705_130440_resized

El-D commands the sea creatures

 

And that is what I did on my summer staycation.

 

 

 

 

 

EarthdeerHobbit1 (2)Fairy.jpg

In the days and months following my father’s 2014 murder I heard one phrase uttered time and time again: Please understand. The killer’s probation officer who failed to stamp a piece of paper in time, a police force who let an active arrest warrant sit meaningless on a desk, a District Attorney who didn’t want […]

via Orlando, Please Understand. — the ramblings

hanging on

You reach out with any little part of yourself and rise from the dirt to be what you are.  How you make my heart ache with your sense of belonging.

Vanity of vanities!  We all have the same breath.

(Solomon was right.)

 

 

 

6-11-16

roses & arugula intermingle

cucumber6-1-16

cucumbers bloom

blackberry 6-1-16

blackberries ripen

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