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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

 

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*

photo (4)

Me: Wait! Where are you going?

Him: To pick lettuce.

Me: What?! Do you have your lettuce picking kit?

Him: Well, I have a knife…what more do I need?

Me: You need scissors and you need a bowl.

Him: How much lettuce do you think I need?

Me: It’s not just about you anymore. I need lettuce too.

Him: Well get your stuff.

Me: Ok, but I need light. There’s bugs. And I can’t see in the dark.

Him: Whoohoo! It’s Friday night, let’s go pick lettuce!

Me: I need the light here! EW! LOOK! SEE? There’s a nasty slug slime-ing up my
lettuce! GROSS!

Him: Well don’t pick that piece.

Him: This is cool…go out in your back yard and get your groceries….

Hobbit (wings a-fluttering): ER-er-ER-er-ERRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!

Me: He’s such a good boy.

Him: We have a watch rooster.

Me: Yeah, he makes me feel safe. Nobody is gonna sneak up on us!

20160413_151641

 

In the language of flowers, lily of the valley signifies the return to happiness.

It’s about time.

2015-07-14 08.16.55

 

7 a.m. Sunday morning.

Gardening is a never-ending labor of love I muse as I begin gearing up for the ritual. I don the white vestments, the boots, gloves, hat, glasses, and braid. Only then I am ready to meet the Mistress. I open my door to a surprised hummingbird. We regard each other a moment before she flits away. I gather supplies and materials while the wasps and bees still sleep. Time and other trappings of the world recede until there is only the dirt and the things in it, living and dead. Weeds are ripped from the earth; the worms beneath them churn wiggly and wet. Beetles and spiders run for their lives.  Secret ant cities are uncovered, their nurseries revealed. The ants abandon whatever plans they had for this day to grab their babies and rush them to safety. The whole colony fights for survival in this sacred space where love, duty, and instinct meld into one indistinguishable force.  Blood is spilled over the roses, a sacrifice they demand regularly as thorns prick and stick fingers through gloves. God is in Her place.  All is right with the world.

 

There are some things you can only do with love. You will know that you have love when you do one of them.  --Walter Anderson

There are some things you can only do with love. You will know that you have love when you do one of them. –Walter Anderson

July & August Garden Goals

  • Plant the seeds for the fuzzy pink flowers in the front bed and containers.
  • Split and replant zinnias.
  • Prep the raised beds (weed and add compost).
  • Plant rainbow chard, musclun lettuce, kale, collard greens, arugula, and romaine in the raised beds.
  • Plant oregano, cilantro, borage, bee balm, and chives in all the right places.
  • Weed front flower bed,  cover with weed fabric, and mulch.
  • Plant garlic?
  • Water, water, water

 

Dear Garden People of the Internet: What wisdom regarding growing garlic can you impart? The spring’s attempt did not work!

 

~*~

The Garden

The cherub and the virgin Mary,

the Buddha and the garden gnome –

all the garden statuary –

talked in spring of how things grow.

Buddha said, “From compassion.”

Mary said, “The Lord above.”

Gnome replied, “It must be magic.”

Cherub sighed, “It must be love.”

And it rained then

in the garden

and they all stood ’round

and witnessed in stillness

and listened to that lovely sound.

And St. Francis in the corner

spoke up the gathering.

“Peace,” he said is most important,

“Peace for all the living things.”

And the stars burned,

and the earth turned,

and the sun shone down.

And they knew then in the garden

Life was stirring in the warming ground.

And St. Frances stood entranced

as Cherub watched beguilded.

Gnome’s hands laid on his sharp spade.

Mary gave thanks

and Buddha smiled.

–Peter Mayer

Yesterday, I planted a hibiscus outside my bedroom door. I pulled some weeds, rearranged a few planters, fully immersed in my happy little zen place. As I was positioning a little garden angel to better rest in the imagined spring violets, I felt a sudden white hot stab of pain in my hand. A moment later an army of wasps rose menacingly out of the little angel. I didn’t stick around to see what would happen next.

I was wearing what I normally wear when I garden, which is basically the equivalent of a space suit. By now I’m familiar with the routine of everything in my garden trying to kill me, so I was shocked that the little bugger managed to stab me clear through my thick rubber gloves. He got me on the right hand, just under the knuckle of my ring finger. Today whenever I try to curl my hand to do things like open the fridge, get the peanut butter jar, turn on the kitchen sink, type, grab my phone, brush my teeth, read my book, or well, anything, there is a bone deep ache in that joint. A preview of coming arthritic attractions, I suppose. How something so small can wreck such huge havoc is quite the mystery, and also possibly the hope for us all.

Meanwhile, the bruised universe on my leg appears to be expanding. The swirl of amethyst is now dotted with peach pinpoints, while the periphery is a nicotine-yellow haze. On the whole, the bruise bears a resemblance to the melting face of a swamp monster – the sort of thing you would see chasing a panicked Scooby Doo.

9-3-13 001

Here is a list of stuff I’ve recently traded for the fresh eggs of Myrtle, Pearl, Gertrude, and Freebird:

1. two jars of homemade pickles

2. a loaf of whole grain organic bread

3. two hands full of home grown green beans

4. a bag of home grown cucumbers

5. a bag of home grown jalapeños and bell peppers

Also, a friend recently offered to house/dog/cat/duck/chicken sit if and when I ever go out of town again, in exchange for fresh eggs.

Personally, I find this an impressive list given I’ve had the girls less than a month. The farmy bartering makes me downright giddy. Let it go down on the record that I have not eaten any of the eggs myself. I gave up eggs January 11, 2011 as a strange experiment with “enlightenment.” On a side note, when I just went back to find the link to the first blog post in which I announced this decision, I realized that the date translates to 1-11-11 . I suppose I won’t be forgetting that date again. It wasn’t an intentional “oooh-here’s-a-date-with-a-buncha-ones-in-it,-let’s-do-something-crazy” sort of decision.  But apparently it was a good date for new beginnings, especially since the post I wrote right before that one was aptly named Conflict and Crisis.

a mama carrying her silver orb

a mama carrying her silver orb

On another tangential note…2 years, 10 months, and 1 day after beginning my enlightenment quest, my mother and I are still driving each other nutters. (Hi Mom!)

Looking back, it’s funny to see all the obvious patterns you missed as you’re moving through a life unfolding in real time. It’s also a little embarrassing. There I was, ego bare, for all to see.

And here I am still….

*TaDA!*

I wonder what obvious things I’m missing even now that I will look back on someday and snicker about.

duck eggs

duck eggs

The self-imposed egg prohibition was largely a symbolic gesture, which I attempted to explain many times to others (and to myself), as in the post: The Incredible Inedible Egg.  In spite of all this, it has never made much sense to any of us I’m afraid.  As a result I caught a lot of flack from family members who were baffled, horrified, or just plain outraged by my perceived havoc-wrecking habits on our family feasting functions.

My life is so different now from when I started all this. I am different. And I am the same. As life continues to unfold in real time, one pattern that has not escaped my notice is the irony.  For someone who has worked so hard to avoid eating eggs, I’m now surrounded by them being laid before me on a daily basis.  This certainly wasn’t planned, but it is welcomed.

 

darkness

A spiritual practice is one that brings us full circle – not to a new self, but rather back to the essence of our true selves.                                                                   

-Rolf Gates

 

may 27 2013 026

True love is inexhaustible; the more you give, the more you have. And if you go to draw at the true fountainhead, the more water you draw, the more abundant is its flow.

–Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Today I am thinking about water.

Throughout the rainy month of May we collected rain water in barrels for the flowers, vegetables, and ducks. Last summer I

flowers 025

just turned on the waterhose or sprinkler and went on about my air-conditioned business inside the house, usually forgetting I left the water running or  that I even had flowers.

With the rain barrels I have to physically walk the water around the yard to give each plant a drink. Oddly, this seems like less of a chore than turning on the water hose.  For one thing, it forces me to spend more time outside actually looking at the flowers and appreciating them.  It’s certainly friendlier than shooting at them from a distance with the hose’s handheld nozzle like they’re zombies I’m trying to keep at bay.

With the watering can it’s all intimate. We get upclose and personal; we talk.

We have had little rain this month.  The hot air is perfumed with sun-baked roses. The waterbarrels are empty.  When El-D suggested we start getting water from the pond for the garden I looked at him like he’d grown two heads.  Dude, that pond is WAY back there and our flowers and vegetables are WAY up here, and-and-AND we DO have running water!

But it made me stop to think….

What if we didn’t?

june 6 026

There are plenty of people who don’t.

Fortunately, I have people in my life who remind me on a regular basis to keep my over-priviledged head on straight, like my friend Amy, who is a teacher-from-the-heart.  Every year her school does a “World Tour” during which each class studies a country.  They make displays and put on performances to share what they learned. Her class studies Kenya every year.  This year they watched a video about the life of a young Maasai boy.  Her students are always struck by the fact that his mother and sisters have to walk every day to get water from the same water hole the animals use.

This year they decided to do something about it.
 
Their school is fundraising through Charity: Water to try to get clean water to developing countries. Their goal is to raise $1000 by July 29.  The link below shows the school’s progress to date.  There is also a video at the bottom of the page that will give you more information about the water crisis.
 
 
Please donate if you love water!
 
We’ll have a donations-based yoga class next Monday evening for all who want to contribute both to your health and to that of others.
 
yoga-waterforyoga

May 13 2013 017

How I would love to tell you that life has been all roses and frolicking this week.

That is but a fraction of the story.May 13 2013 019

In the last couple days alone the farm has seen accidents, injuries, delusion, anger, bloodshed, exile, and multiple deaths of various creatures.  If it sounds like Lord of the Flies, it has been to some extent. In fact I believe one creature’s tailless corpse may still be wedged between two bricks in the sunroom now that I think about it. Yip, Moon Pie, and Nickel are savages in their play.

Still, we haven chosen to celebrate in spite of these things.

The voices of three generations rose up to sing gospel hymns and children’s songs.

We honored mothers.May 13 2013 021

We created new things from old things.

We fixed broken things.

We marveled.

We broke things that really needed fixing.

We recoiled in horror.

We stared too long at train-wrecks.

We cried.May 13 2013 023

We simultaneously understood and didn’t understand.

We accepted that this is all part of the giant whirlygig.

…and then we went back to the roses and frolicking.

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