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There is some chemistry that happens when a spring shower dampens the earth bringing forth the scent of damp canvas. Whenever I smell it I am transported to Conconully Lake where my family tent camped and fished in the mid 1950’s. At first we all slept in Dad’s Army surplus tent; tall enough for adults to move about, and spacious enough to sleep a family of five comfortably. Even after Dad and Mom bought a travel trailer, we kids slept in the tent. That smell evokes memories and feelings of a time when I felt safe and loved.
There are two people who have made it possible for me to establish my blog: my husband Creighton, who insists I have the best possible computer and software to accomplish my goals, and my friend from high school, judi goldberg, who introduced me to wordpress.com and continues to encourage me.
Why I am reticent to put my work out there for the world to see is complicated. I know in my heart it is good, but I fear anyone who doesn’t know me will not value it. There is no space left in my heart for such pain.
There are no school buses navigating the neighborhood this week. As spring break hits the half way mark, I ponder how I used to feel at this point in a vacation week, when I had to return to work in four days.
I remember telling myself,
it’s not the end of the world, just the end of your break. If things don’t get finished, they will still be here next weekend, next break, next health day...
No longer do I feel the sad tug of despondency as the week flies forward with winds and rain pelting and melding.
my hands pull out the dead shrub
I pour water into a hole in the earth
plant a life form
birds twitter above
the universe opens
in a heartbeat
stories around night fires
seek to explain
if not understand
let alone comprehend
the mystery separating
what is certain and
the wholly unknown
stars rewrite the heavens
fear and reverence twist within
we knit the distance between
find safe haven
love and be loved
to realize our individual truth
the essence of being
and wonder at the sheer immensity
of it all
Loose ends are almost taken care of in the gardens. Still there are a few that require cleaning out, but all my bins are full so that will have to wait. The Mantis tiller I borrowed from Dad is hard for me to start so Creighton does the cranking and I do the tilling. Otherwise I wear myself out just trying to get the damn thing going. But it does a fantastic job in my raised beds. And that’s another project I am overdue on; making a raised bed for roses. It is almost - but not quite too late.
Poor Josie was so disappointed! I hadn’t taken her to the dog park in a couple weeks, and when we arrived today it was closed. Bummer. We went for a walk when we got home so she is somewhat appeased. Afterward I dug out the drain line from where it is broken to the curb (about five feet) and replaced the old with new. I was up to my elbows in mud but it is fixed now. Creighton keeps saying,
I don’t know how you do it - you amaze me.
I don’t know either - I just do.
A cool day, but not raining - showering - not the same. Just can’t stay inside all day when there is light in the sky so I attacked the driveway with cleaning solution and the power washer. Two hours later I was once again mired in muck and shivering in the cold damp wind. This is when a hot shower is my favorite thing, followed by a warm fire and having a beagle snuggle up beside me on the couch. Time to read, talk, write, and nap. Tomorrow is the first Monday after spring break when I will be happily home.
It is intoxicating when one of my blogs catches the attention of many and I am liked several times by people I have never met but who either truly appreciate the message I’ve placed, or hope that by liking mine, I will wander into and like or subscribe to theirs. A marketplace that I tiptoe through, eyes somewhat averted. Still, it is a thrill to have another blog re-blog me - which is to say my post was re-posted on another wordpress.com blog. It is affirming, satisfying, feeds my ego’s soul. Then I wonder,
what am I doing?
I answer that question with an affirmative; I am being me. Letting my creative juices flow when they are ready and it feels mighty damn good. And today that energy is directed toward constructing my raised bed for roses. Not a kit - my own creation using landscape timers, flat metal fastening plates with screws, and imagination. LT saw me and came over to consult. He suggested I use a plumb line to level the timbers relative to each other since the ground slopes toward the street. Good call. A few more fastening plates and it will be ready for dirt.
It is always wise to let a project rest for a day or so to determine if it looks right and is going to function as I imagined. This morning it was obvious my new raised bed was not OK. At twenty-four feet long, four feet wide and eight inches high, it was way too long and far too shallow. I decided to reduce the length by a third and use those four timbers to increase the height on the remaining structure. It looks much better. Now, what to do with that remaining eight feet of potential garden wonderland?
A BIG rock that’s what I want to anchor the corner, to landscape around and unite the whole space. Something one can sit on and smell the (yet to be planted) roses. Another adventure; Josie and I at the Rock getting place. I saw one I liked. There were several options for getting it home: have it delivered and placed $150.00, have it delivered and dropped, $75.00, or I could take it home and the guys could come by after work and wrangle it for $50.00. Deftly it was loaded into my truck on a palette.
With neighbors who are willing to help, and a desire to keep the expense of this thing down, I opted to haul and drop the rock myself. On my own I backed the truck to the garden space, removed the tailgate, and shimmied that palette with my five hundred pound rock out over the edge of the back of the truck bed. When I was sure it would clear the bumper I got into the bed and gave the palette a heave ho. Gravity took care of the rest. So for thirty dollars and some sweat equity, it is here.
I remember one time being at your house on Fisk street with Karl and seeing on the kitchen counter a bowl filled with red wine and cubed beef.
“What’s that?” I asked as he guided me toward the parlor where Dvora’s beautiful piano took center stage.
“It’s beef fondue - our dinner tonight,” he answered, pausing briefly as I took note.
A country girl used to large portions of meat, this small bowl of marinating steak looked like slim pickings for a family of six.
“It’s really good,” Karl assured me, “and fun too.”
One summer evening, when Mom was in the midst of painting our Pullman farmhouse, I offered to help her as she stood at the utility sink cleaning her brushes with turpentine.
“Your grandpa Low taught me everything I know about painting,” she said smiling. “He was a master with paint, in all its uses. He told me I must always use excellent brushes - they are essential - and buying the best paint (even if I couldn’t afford it) was next. And above all else, at the end of the day’s work, to thoroughly clean the brushes. It’s imperative.”
“What time is it?”
“After four - I was thinking - maybe I could join you for dinner? I can drive home afterwards. By then rush hour will be over.”
“I’d like that.”
Dad savored every bite of his Snowcrab legs, shrimp, clams and other assorted dishes. As he blew out the one candle on his piece of chocolate cake, I made a wish too.
“Time to hit the road.” I announced.
“Yup, time to go,” he echoed.
Before leaving I hugged him closely.
“I love you dearly Dad.”
“Love you a whole bunch too sweetie. Bye bye now - drive safe.”
in an instant
metal mania strips flesh from bone
fit legs, pushing to the finish
bone and sinew stewn
lightning strikes the marrow
in an instant joyful hearts
pumping to complete
pulse with shock, horror
minds in the moment
defy reason rush to rescue
slow motion gravity
souls spun from breath
lift into the universe
in an instant
the mist of scattered blood
engenders primal resistance
roots deep in the rocks
refuse to budge
not for an instant
On the sixteenth anniversary of my mother’s passing I start the day quietly in The Keeping Room - a second bedroom that is tranquil and welcoming. Sunlight breaks through the early morning fog, feeding the flowers on the window ledge and healing me. My laptop open, I review Dad’s depression years stories I shared with my reading circle yesterday. It is rough, and I received quite helpful feedback. Editing comes easily as I see what is redundant, awkward, unnecessary, and add transitions to keep the piece flowing.
Afternoon I plant five healthy, lovely rose bushes. Mom always loved roses.
Dandelions reign in the open fields, their bright yellow faces staring down the sun, daring the world to eradicate them. Never. And why would we? With edible greens, a friendly daisy blossom, and always the fascination of children to see the quartered stems curl like Little Lulu’s hair. Yellow, a primary color, one of the triad that paints the world we see; yellow, blue, red. Yellow + blue = green. Yellow + red = orange. Blue + red = purple. That’s it - the rainbow. All that remains is the light from the sun to lift our eyes from shades of gray to living color. .
And then there is pink, or red, maybe purple or lavender. All of them popping from green stalk: Dogwood, Cherry, Tulip, Azalea, Lilac. Lifting their blooms to the sky, perfuming the air, announcing to any who have not yet noticed - spring is here. And my heart goes dancing because it is totally gorgeous outside.
And my heart stands still as I think about the pain, the awful loss others in my country and the universe suffer today. Though on this day I am spared personal grief, I send prayers with every shovel of dirt I move, each plant I place.
Orange. Yellow and red blended to a bedazzling, heady brew of sunset, sorbet, salmon. And warm - inviting - alluring in its peachy sweetness and delicate coral softness. How light plays with the palette of this universe and in so doing delights my eyes and soul. Huechera (Coral Bells) come in many shades: chartreuse, dark purple, dark green, lime, silvery veined, and peach. Such a versatile plant - able to thrive in sun or shade. A steady grower, with evergreen leaves and dainty late spring flowers.
Such is the mystery of color; its power to create a delightful sensation in brain and heart
Blue. A primary color and hard to get true in blossoms though there are a few that stand out. Hydrangea in particular, and this sweet little Corydalis curviflora rosthornii aka Blue Heron, a native wildflower I purchased last year that is blooming right now. Small and unassuming, it bears a true blue flower.
And then there is the sky which has started to clear again and the promise of a week of sunny days gets me making lists and reveling in my freedom to play outside every day that comes my way - rain or shine - but shine is my favorite.
Earth Day dawned cold. As the sun warmed the air, I ventured out for a walk. There was one dab of a white cloud in the sky. It looked almost lost; perhaps wondering where all the other clouds had gone. Under a tall Aspen tree, I looked up to see its leaves framed against the bright blue sky. As long as I can remember I have loved the sight of spring green leaves upon a blue sky background. What makes the sky blue? Molecules in the air that scatter blue light from the sun more than they scatter red light.
We also celebrated Josie’s birthday. She is three now (as best anyone can say) and she came to her forever home on Earth Day last year. We made sure to love her just that little pet more with every touch.
LT came over to check out my progress with the rose garden and liked the layout.
“Is that where you want that ROCK?” He asked.
“Not exactly. It is where I was able to drop it out of the truck on my own.”
“You should have called me.”
“You were gone, or I would have.”
“We can fix this.”
Sweet sister Diana, what a lovely note of love - for me and for birds. Thank you. I am sitting on the love seat by the pond and about four feet up and over my right shoulder a gorgeous Anna's Hummingbird just came in for a sip. The light on its back showed off the bright green iridescence.
It is hard to comprehend how much our sister is in a state of flux. I remember being up-in-the-air prior to my thirty's. At fifty, though life was no cake walk, I had a home and a mostly stable future.
The rose garden is shaping up nicely - just a few more companion plants and one rose bush to go. And, the adjacent BIG rock garden also is beginning to show some character. It was shady until I took a pruning saw to a branch of the flowering plum to provide the roses more hours of sun. Now I need to find new homes for the Hosta LT donated, and some ground cover that will fry in that much heat. A work in progress, but well on the way to being finished. Once the roses begin blooming - it could be stunning.
High morning fog had yet to burn off as I drove North, then West to Patti’s home near Ridgefield. I was on time and she was ready to go to the Garden and Idea Fair at the county fairgrounds - a straight shot East. This was my third year shopping there and her first. What fun to go with a girlfriend who loves the outdoors, gardening, and exploring as much as I do. I came home with gorgeous shade loving perennials, and we bought matching hanging baskets - so beautiful. As they grow and bloom we can remember a special day.
One vendor specializes in shade perennials; Seabright Gardens. They have Hosta’s you cannot find in most nurseries, and chartreuse ferns that bring light to dark corners of the garden. The market had just opened when Patti and I wheeled our rented red wagon up to their space. While she investigated other vendors, I chose one after another lovely find: Cyrtomium Fortunei (Hollly Fern), three Hosta’s - War Paint, Dancing Queen, and Mouse Ears, and Cornus Canadensis - a compact evergreen, ground cover with white flowers in summer and edible bright red fruit in fall. Now to find their perfect placement.
Sisters. I have two. We have sometimes been at odds with one another which kept us physically and/or emotionally separated for months or years while we protected our particular grievance and safeguarded our pride.
When Mom died, I shed years of resentment toward my younger sister - in an instant - life lifts to the universe - sisters bond as close as conjoined twins.
When Diana told me she cried today because she wished I was with her to watch all the beautiful birds in her back yard, I knew she had shed the last vestiges of an unspoken animosity toward me.
The weekly photo challenge is to provide one image that exemplifies the theme; Culture.
Not the culture that occurs in a petri dish, nor the cultivation of plants, not even the arts or other displays of human achievement, understanding or appreciation; what I need to show is culture having to do with social institutions, particular peoples and social groups. The only culture of this kind I can find in my life is that of people and pets at the dog park, or the culture of old people shopping early on week day mornings. The dog park would be more photogenic.
I type with one hand as dear Josie demands the attention of my other to scratch gently under her back legs; a ritual she has perfected by alternately lifting each leg so I can give her a ‘scritch scritch.‘ Several times a day she leans into me and asks me to do this, and it seems to calm and reassure her. Now she circles around to offer first one, then the other ear for a good rubbing, and then my fingers massage her neck. She sits, then slides down beside my chair. What love and joy she brings to me.
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