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All the fresh spring growth has me thinking of the garden and remembering this post today.

My Little Spacebook

hanging onYou 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.)

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What started as an urge to try growing corn (again) became an obsession when I learned of the Haudenosaunee tradition of the “Three Sisters” crops.  In this centuries-old system, the three sisters (corn, beans, and squash) are planted in concentric circles successionally.  The big sister, corn, is planted first and provides support for the second sister, beans, to climb. The bean sister hugs the corn and helps to keep her upright against strong winds.  Beans also provide nitrogen in the soil to help her sisters grow.  The baby sister, squash, is planted last.  Her wide leaves shade the ground and help choke out weeds so her big sisters have enough to eat and drink.   The plant sisters are kind to people too, in that they provide a complete and balanced diet of carbohydrates, proteins, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.  Other sisters can live in harmony with this mix – sunflowers, melons, amaranth. It’s a beautiful thing.

In past years my failed attempts at growing corn resulted in sad plants that dried up and blew away. This year I was determined things would be different. I did research, I took notes, I drew up plans and I made appeals. Then I drew more pictures and decorated them with washi tape, like so:

Three Sisters Garden Plans

I remember asking nicely.  I might have begged.  For sure I pleaded.  I even attempted bartering. All to no avail. Finally, I  commanded: Earth be tilled!

And so it was.

With 12 x 12 feet of tilled earth at the ready, I could map out the physical space and layout the mounds.  Armed with chopsticks, plastic spoons, and a measuring tape (of the sewing sort) I set to work! Maybe these are not the traditional tools of the trade, but this is what I had on hand to make things happen.

I wound up planting corn, sunflowers, zucchini, crooked neck and straight neck squash, acorn squash, loofa gourds, pumpkin, a watermelon, beans, and peas.  Two interloping tomato plants joined the party of their own accord, apparently from seeds tossed out in the compost.  My three sisters garden turned into an extended family.  Or maybe a commune? I don’t know what to call it anymore, but let me tell you, there’s a lot happening out there. Well here, I’ll just show you:

sister garden

The day I stood in the garden and unwrapped the husk from the first ear of corn, I cried. Actual tears. It was quite suddenly and unexpectedly overwhelming. There was the quiet murmur of tassels, leaves, silks and stalks rustling in the breeze. There was the soft hum of the bees on the sunflower heads above me – all our faces raised to the sky. There was a caress of leaves.  There was a knowing of the circles and cycles, extending away in ever-widening ripples. There was row after golden row of kernels linking one generation to the next. There was something wild and free and profoundly life-force-y let loose in the garden. 

corn

And then, as suddenly and unexpectedly, there was just me again, standing there mundanely amid the corn sniffling and wondering what sort of problem I was having now.

So, I went inside and googled it.  Yes, I did.  That’s when I learned of Hun Hunahpu.  Life is weird.

Harvest

The corn, zucchini, and sunflowers in the picture above were picked this week from the sisters garden. The butternut squash and cucumbers are from the raised beds garden, but that’s a different tale for another day.

Hi! I’m still here poking around in old posts trying to figure out what this blog is about on its 10th anniversary year.   Creativity? Collaboration? I don’t know — I’m still working on it! I don’t have a master plan here. That’s probably why so many people that have blogs with posts on the topic of things like, “Make Money with Your Blog” like or subscribe to My Little Spacebook —  it’s painfully obvious I have no idea what I’m doin here. Despite my planners and goal trackers, I’m not the sort of person who has a 5-year plan. I’m just trying to get through today so I can give myself a gold star.

But Look! Here’s dance video of a duet we worked on for a bazillion hours. I haven’t shared this one yet. Hope you enjoy.

Mystic River Dance presented this dance in the show “Nature’s Rhythms” (February 2019, Memphis, TN).

Music:  “Mergence” by Safaa Farid’s Orchestra Negum (edited), and “Shimmabulous” by Issam Houshan,

Choreography: based on Ahmed Hussein, adapted by Jasmine, Sameera, & Valentina

Dancers: Mystic River Dancers Sameera & Valentina

Over the course of the last several weeks, in order to remain a functional human being, I’ve had to put myself on a strict media diet and step away from the computer, the Internet, and what Abha Dawesar refers to as thedigital now.”  The analog here-and-now, with its bicycles, trees, rivers, paper, pens, and printed words on actual pages in books with heft and texture and scent, has been grounding.  There I spent time self-soothing with the words of Mr. Rogers:

“The media shows the tiniest percentage of what people do. There are millions and millions of people doing wonderful things all over the world and they’re generally not the ones being touted in the news.”

Like many others this year, I’ve found myself in new and uncomfortable roles with my regular routines disrupted as a result of the pandemic. Though not dubbed “essential” in any official capacity, staying home has not been an option. I have been out and about throughout the quarantine on a near daily. In the last three months I’ve made more trips to various hospitals and clinics than I have in the previous four decades of my life combined – and that includes the time I spent interning in one. I’ve seen for myself that there are many people doing wonderful things right here in my own city.

“As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has – or ever will have – something inside that is unique to all time.  It’s our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression.”

–Fred Rogers

Coming off my blog hiatus I discovered that My Little Spacebook turned 10 years old this week. One decade and 542 posts later and I’m no closer to understanding anything that’s happened.   As such, this seems an opportune time to drill down and do some retrospective and reflective work to figure out what exactly I’m doing here; with this blog, I mean.

I will say, the media diet has made more space for silence and wonder, for creation, and for appreciation of beauty.  I think Mr. Rogers would be proud.

“Our society is much more interested in information than wonder, in noise rather than silence…And I feel that we need a lot more wonder and a lot more silence in our lives.”

–Fred Rogers

Iris

And the answer to the cake question is a resounding, “Yes.”

“When jarred, unavoidably, by circumstances, revert at once to yourself, and don’t lose the rhythm more than you can help. You’ll have a better group harmony if you keep going back to it.”

-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

…or in other words….

“I feel better when I’m dancin’! Yeah, Yeah!”

-Meghan Trainor

 

Dancing on the Beach 3

~*~

My little world has changed a lot since my last post. And the big world has too. One thing that hasn’t changed is my obsession with plants and flowers.  I’m still doing weird stuff like this…

Garden Journal

That’s my garden journal and bed mapping system.

There is a newly-tilled bed out front that I’ve mounded for a “Three Sisters” garden. I seeded it over the weekend with corn. This is my first serious experiment with a sisters garden. I will keep you posted on further developments.

In other news: nearly eight years ago, a friend gave me a small prickly, pokey yucca plant. A few weeks ago, quite unexpectedly – KAPOW! – this happened…

Yucca Bloom

For the first time ever she bloomed a stalk of soft white blossoms nestled in her fortress of spikes. It seems my yucca is not a little girl anymore. I kind of/sort of knew yuccas could bloom because my grandmother, Kiki, had a couple yuccas in her back yard and one year they bloomed unexpectedly.  Kiki was all beside herself about it in a way that I didn’t understand then, but that I totally get now.  It strikes me as odd that some part of me held this memory seed below the murky waters of consciousness. When I received this plant as a gift, I knew it was special. I also knew without looking it up that the plant was a yucca – just as well as I knew my own name, because that’s what Kiki taught me.  But somehow this plant needed to show its petals for the details of the memory to fully bloom in my own awareness and understanding.

The lamb’s ear in the sensory garden is also doing a new stalk-bloomy thing that it has never done before…

 

 

Lambs ear

 

How can you not love this plant’s architecture?  Just look at the symmetry, the geometry, and the texture! Every time I pass this bed, I want to jump in and roll around in it…which reminds me: I have sweet nothings to whisper into the little lamb’s ear.  Until next time!

when he brings you a bouquet of wildflowers and a hungry bee.

flowers and bee

 

@~~’~,~~~

 


 

tulip

The first financial bubble on written record occurred in the Netherlands in the 17th century, as Tulipmania swept over Holland.  During the peak of speculation, a single tulip bulb cost more than an average home.  Bulbs for “broken” tulips, like Semper Augustus and the Viceroy,  were very hot commodities and went for a fortune. A broken tulip had a striking pop of color that contrasted the base hue of the flower’s petals.  The color break was caused by a mosaic virus (of all things), spread by myzus persicae, a type of aphid.  The infection weakened the bulb and slowed the plant’s propagation.  This is why varieties like Semper Augustus and the Viceroy no longer exist. When an outbreak of the plague prevented a bulb auction, a cascading effect of other cancellations rippled outward, which eventually lead to a collapse in the market in Holland.  Many tulip traders went bankrupt.

“…any tulip thus changing its original colour is usually ruined afterwards and so wanted only to delight its master’s eyes with this variety of colours before dying, as if to bid him a last farewell.” 

–Carlus Clusius, Botanist

Today,  the tulips that have a broken effect are cultivated without the virus. These flowers are known a “Rembrandt tulips,” after the artist.  You can see a broken tulip in Rembrandt’s portrait of his wife painted as Flora, the Roman goddess of Spring and flowers.

I was inspired to plant the orange lovelies pictured above late last November after reading Michael Pollan’s chapter “The Tulip” in his book The Botany of Desire.  As Pollan put it:

“…the wayward color loosed on a tulip by a good break perfected the flower, even as the virus responsible set about destroying it.”

–Michael Pollan

birdhouse

A bluebird couple caught my attention yesterday with their noisy fighting and flapping above the birdhouse. The male flew off to perch on the trellis several feet away. He lodged his complaints to the raspberry vine in a grumpy sequence of whistling, squeaky chirps. The budding vine listened patiently. Bluebird arguments are adorable.

IMG_3090

Um…hello lettuce, you little renegade. That is not where I put you to bed.  That sneaky wind put you up to this, I bet. You are thriving in the rocks and sand, of all things! I didn’t even know that was possible. And yet here we are.

IMG_3088

I’m pretty sure that yellow-flowered plant is spinach. At least it tasted sweetish and spinach-like even after it bolted and bloomed.  It looked like it could be broccoli when it started bolting. On my garden map I wrote “beans” in that location.  It’s definitely not beans.

flowers

The best things are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of God just before you. Then do not grab at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things of life.  

–Robert Louis Stevenson

What are ya’ll making out there?

dot journal march

That’s the start of my dot journal goal-tracker and summarizer for the month of March. I’ve been doing Julia Cameron’s 12- week program, The Artist’s Way, since December 21 and I have just under two weeks left to complete it.  It’s been ridiculously effective, centering, fun, and challenging.  I don’t want it to end! So I’ll probably just keep going…or see what else she has to offer.

Also, it’s garden time again!   I’ve already gone crazy stocking up on flower seeds and bulbs.

The kale, arugula, and lettuce planted in September are showing their colors – purple, red, and green – so pretty! The thyme and lavender survived the winter. I apparently planted something else that is also doing great — I thought it was spinach upon first sight, but it looks suspiciously like broccoli at its center. I don’t remember planting broccoli in the fall.  I’ll have to consult the garden journal to confirm what was planted in that spot.

The Lenten roses and the daffodils with small blooms have been showing off for two weeks now and the crocus are in bloom.  The big-bloomed daffodils are about to pop open.  The pear tree is a big show-off with all the white flowers festooning the branches.  The key lime tree, an anniversary gift,  survives winter indoors. She bloomed a couple weeks ago and smelled amazing. Two key limes now grace her branches! That’s the first time that’s happened in the three years since we got her.

I planted microgreens indoors yesterday. I’m so ready to get outside and play with the worms in the dirt.  It’s still too muddy though, so I guess I’ll break out the graph paper and start dreaming and scheming on how to flower up my world today instead.

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