Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

pits, stakes, live tigers

No pictures yet, though, Gentle Reader.  We’re working on it but Technical Stuff appears to be in the same spot behind the barn door as everything else right now.

Not that it hasn’t been exciting.  A dozen fire trucks raced over our dirt road a few days ago after we heard a loud explosion.  The Partner saw smoke, and all of it was less than a mile away from us.  Seeing as how we were already surrounded by fires it was, as I told a friend, just the tiniest bit unnerving.  However, the fire people around here are probably stuffing their wings into their fire suits, is all I can say.  Once again they saved us.  Once again I felt exactly what it’s like to have overwhelming fear just materialize like a giant fug in your face, and also exactly what it’s like to say, not right now, fear.  I’m still rattling around a bit but ….oh well.

Shortly after that I found a frog atop my anti-depressant meds, and I thought, oh, my.  Even the frogs need help around here.  Or perhaps the frog was just saying, I’m coming with you.  FROGS PANIC TOO.

Meanwhile, though, the gardenia has bloomed and we’re already casting around for the hundredth zucchini recipe, which is all wonderful.  Beans are flowering and there’s a chili on the way.  The rhubarb plant appears to be on its last legs, but you can’t win them all- it’s been over 105 here every day and probably that is just more than a rhubarb can take.  The garden continues to be what keeps us all more or less sane, I think.  The Dog loves to eat mint and rose petals, the Partner manages and creates magnificence, and I find myself roaming around in it when my mind is so unsettled I can’t sit still.

Which, let’s face it, has been the norm of late.  I had to make a very difficult personal decision which, while the correct course of action, broke another piece of my heart.  Reality bites, in short.  But, I made ice cream (successfully caramelizing sweetened condensed milk in the microwave, miracle of miracles for me anyway) and salsa and marinades and zucchini 800 ways (new favorite: slice zucchini, place in oiled frying pan and let caramelize, about four minutes a side.  You put inch long pieces of scallion and a bit of salt on top.  When it’s all brown and great, remove from pan, remove oil, and place a tablespoon of red wine vinegar in the still hot pan.  Put squash back in, make sure it is mixed completely with vinegar, and toss with shredded fresh mint.  Let come to room temperature.  Eat.  Heaven.).

It’s not enough to keep the World at bay though and once again I am really, really wondering what to do since periodically it seems to me that all the meditating and right mindedness attempts are not even close to enough.  I don’t know how it is other places in this country but here? It couldn’t be more unfamiliar if one landed on a distant rock in space.  People are behaving beyond badly, and of course are given the example and go ahead by an individual who pretends to be President.  And we all know all the rest of it, of course, and how ANYONE can sleep knowing what is going on at the border (however much the doers of this resort to the Bible), how much money the for profit prisons are making both on incarcerating terrified refugees and the other huge percentage of American citizens they house, and how many people are about two weeks away from being out on the street, how the very air we breathe is being poisoned….   it is like a continuing gash in one’s entire being.  This is not OK, not any of it and I am at a loss to understand just why it continues.  This country is now being “run” by a crew of individuals who would probably be better placed in Pelican Bay.  And, yes.  It’s change, the cosmos is moving and shaking, shi/f/t happens, what you detest in someone is present in you also. Still, one really must not collaborate with what is poison, thinking it will be OK.  Even the Buddha said that.

The comparisons people make to the 60’s and 70’s  make me wacky too.  It is not the same and pretending it is seems to me to be the worst sort of magical thinking .  People had some heart in those days overall and were prepared to take a stand when things were clearly wrong even if those things didn’t seem to immediately affect them personally.  And there were consequences for those stands.  But things did change: civil rights, environmental rights, women’s rights.  Abortion, for example.  If you’re opposed to abortion then one must assume you’re opposed to the death penalty and war as well?  Roe v Wade showed that it was reasonably clear that a woman should not have to die either figuratively or literally (which DID happen) because she becomes pregnant unintentionally or unwillingly.  No other person really should be able to say what remedy is available and what isn’t based on their supposed reverence for life, or assume that all women are fluff brains who don’t know what they’re doing- along with all those miscreants in the hood who clearly need to be put in custody.  And why do we even have to call being treated with a sense of dignified equity a RIGHT?  How has it become a right not to be shot by over militarized police because you don’t straighten your legs out on the curb?  Or a right not to have your boss overcome you physically? And while we’re on it?  What the hell is sexual assault?  I looked up the words rape and assault in the dictionary and roared.  Assault is taking something (note: THING) by force.  Rape is “illicit carnal knowledge of a woman without her consent.” ILLICIT CARNAL KNOWLEDGE? Consent? Consent is not  saying yes so you won’t be killed. And, rape is not about sex aka carnal knowledge, which is a first step in dealing with it in a cultural context. It  is about power, control, and pain. Just like capitalism turns out to be for the most part unless you’re part of the tip of the pyramid.

Oh, dear Gentle Reader.  I do hope the zucchini recipe balances the excess verbiage.  And after all.  Mexico lost out in the World Cup, but the recent elections look most promising- even if you have, up to now, had to listen to Telemundo to find out they even happened.  Meanwhile, we pin our hopes on Uruguay, maintaining some level of balance and common sense, and send you blessings and thanks as always!

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life, with Dog

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We’ll get the unpleasantness out of the way first: the lentil plant croaked.  Otherwise the garden seems to be shaping up splendidly, even in our now 100 degree f. heat.

Yesterday was the Dog’s birthday and another opportunity to see just how much he teaches me all the time.   The other morning we had an Unfortunate Occurrence….I had my back to the Thing in the moment since I was making something to eat, BUT.  I heard the Partner exclaim, No! NO! Oh GOD!!!! NOOOOOOOOO…..Since I wasn’t altogether sure if this was a Tottenham Hotspur malfunction or the Sheriff showing up I didn’t rush to turn around, but when I did?  There was an absolute steaming volcano of dog barf on the rug.

Of course, I am a pro at this now.  Show me your dog barf, pee, or poop! Go ahead! So, whipping out the always useful AARP magazine, I shoveled the stuff up, washed the area, mollified the Partner and babied the Dog.  I realized that since we found ourselves recently calling him the Bottomless Pit Bull, probably a ramp down on the food was in order.  He is a consummate pro at just…..staring….at you……until……you…….crack! and give him food.  He immediately races around whenever I even step into the kitchen, forget what happens when I open the refrigerator.  In short, he was playing me like Paganini.  Then again, the hummingbirds play me.  I just have to feed whoever’s around.  This turned into a really good opportunity to look once again at that still large matched set of emotional baggage and see that really, it is OK! I am not on a parole that will be revoked the minute someone doesn’t get waited on or fed, especially since I’m the one who passed the sentence.  And, especially since we know for sure that the Dog will eat until he explodes.

Traditionally (he’s three now after all. History, Gentle Reader!) he’s gotten a very tee-tiny (organic) turkey (nothing else) slider for his birthday.  This year I didn’t have turkey and he had to be content with what is probably going to be my crowning achievement for the summer: butternut squash popsicle cubes.

dogtreats

Success there, all around.  Even if when I made the first batch somehow the immersion blender tipped over the container and……created an impromptu kitchen sterilization episode.  Anyway, bucked up by receiving all this Dog Teaching, I was somewhat surprised when after inadvertently watching the “news” my head exploded and the poor Dog found himself in the position of having to lick my tears and murmur therethere in my ear.  Now that you’re on the floor with me, aren’t you glad you cleaned all that stuff up? He is nothing if not ultimately practical.

In the end it all goes back to feeling one MUST DO SOMETHING whether it be to offer food or end single use plastic. The absolute self absorbed idiocy that passes for discourse, information, public policy is so disturbing on its face that it’s hard to believe people aren’t rising en masse against it.  My egoic self with all the luggage feels that the world has been destroyed by a bunch of jerks, and casual observation does nothing to dispel that thought.   Then again, that itself is a thought, right? A separating sort of thought, too. And most of the difficulties in life come from separation, from not allowing love in to one’s life and being.  I had the oddest set of realizations that night, after the restorative power of Dog Licks (and Partner applied cold compresses!).  Perennial philosophy, let’s call it, discusses both the necessity of disentangling oneself from the glamorized and/or apocalyptic apparency of things, and to put in practice a radical kind of acceptance of what one encounters.  Not accepting abuse or radioactive stupidity at all, but extending actually the kind of….warrior power? of love.  Let me take that thorn out of your paw before you shoot me, sort of.  Then we each go on our ways, thus fortified.  Anyone can do this.  So I at long last incorporated this information: that we are all holy, so to speak.  The Teachers just all passed this way before we did, yet we are in the end all one and the same. We may be defiling ourselves by our actions (may????grrrrr……) but that can always be stopped because there is always a choice.  So.  Although I am driven close to mad when I see the suffering caused in this world today by stupidity, greed, selfishness and fear, and grasp my own powerlessness to “do” anything about it…..at the same time I am increasingly more sure that there are such things as truth and beauty, and that they will prevail as long as there are those to show them in the tiny spaces that often get overlooked.  Like, you know.  Gardeners and cooks and poets and people who hold the door open for you wherever it may be found.

Plus, I think I finally understand gravity.  And: the bug spray is in beta testing.

Blessings and thanks, as usual and always!

rising and falling and rising

Well, yes, it’s been Quite Some Time since I’ve been here Gentle Reader.  AS always, don’t think it hasn’t been fun.

Aside from the cursor on my laptop deciding to continuously pretend it’s actually a member of Cirque du Soleil and toss things around the big screen wildly and erratically and immovably, the main reason was that in a crescendo of awfulness, my hands, wrists and elbows all decided to shriek in unison for about six weeks.  Years of overdoing turned into the tendonitis/bursitis bout from a previously unknown circle of you know Where.  In short, I couldn’t do a damn thing.  I can report that CBD oil (I made a mix with a wood essence) does help with this, as does the TENS thingy you can get at a large pharmacy.  And doing nothing- this would of course be more fun if one didn’t keep thinking about What Has To Be Done.  Still, I managed to restrain myself and healing actually has happened.  But it took a long, long time.  With NO LIFTING, or typing, of any sort.

Other things demanded attention, of course.  Like someone hacking my bank account and subscribing me to cable TV in sub-Saharan Africa.  So not too long after the ongoing no phone- no internet- snafu return of equipment- yadda yadda, we then had no bank and no money for a while.  Then I got to laboriously change all my payment methods to the new account, right? and then? find that none of them had gone through and things STILL bounced.  But this is just “normal life” now, and one can give oneself a hearty and careful handshake for navigating it without undue injury to self or others.   And, fortunately, it so happens that tequila has been on sale lately.

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(image courtesy of the always wonderful TERRIERMAN’S DAILY DOSE)

SO.  Part of what went on also was a kind of shift.  Not just because pain does something to a person. But.  This picture really spoke to me, and after I stopped laughing it made me think more deeply about how our lives get structured. Because, really, rabbits do not need Freud.  And too much Freud can really screw a rabbit up royally.  Especially if the rabbit isn’t clear about exactly everything having hopped  briskly up to now, along with not being altogether clear about just how big that inner brain/library/dance hall is and how in going from one end of it to the other things can be lost and found…at the same time.  What shopping list?, sort of.  Which all added up to a much bigger sense of the continuum of things and a stronger sense than before that if…..really, IF….we can all shift our thinking just a bit about the things that bedevil us, those things shift and when that happens it does have a sort of boat lifting effect.  Mysteriously, but there it is.  Anyway it’s an idea.  And so far, all the horrible things people were going through around me have gone their course and we’re all still here.  In terms of the larger picture? Hard to say but surely goodness and mercy triumph ultimately- at long last?

In other parts of the empire, our seeds for the garden are sprouting very well indeed.  Melons! tomatoes! a cucumber! Lettuces! We got a lentil plant! (Photo below of one of our recent nursery expotitions) Raspberries and rhubarb! Figuring out where to put it all has been interesting and after all my laborious charting this season? The Partner has been repotting, hardening off, and generally beavering away….and moving things so I have no idea what they are once again.  Then there’s which things can be by fennel, and which can’t.  drivingoses The roses have outdone themselves, too- there are over 100 blooms on the big pink one in front, picture I hope to follow.

Meanwhile:

roses.jpg

So perhaps what it amounts to at this point is: we’re enjoying the chaos a bit more than before.  It’s a start.

Blessings and thanks!!!

the love project continues

glimpsedeepintoyreyes

And, probably, we need say no more.  But when the cursor allows it, we spring in to action and TYPE.

On the one hand, things appear to be hurtling toward hell in a handbasket.  On the other, essential reality and truth are seeping ever farther into the picture rendering the handbasket a bit smaller each day.  I mean, for the most part, I think things will turn out just fine, the News of the Day aside both political/personal, and personal.   There’s not much point in grousing, after all, however NECESSARY it may seem.

On the positive side, a lengthy sojourn of weed pulling and clipping and advancing into the impenetrable center of the garden (where I found blooming camellias!) did not result in career-ending back pain.  The asparagus plant has sprouted again, the plums are  looking strong, the peach is in full leaf, the pomegranate is leafing out AND the fig tree has both leaves and the initial early First Fig forming.  Clipping errors on rose bushes became propagation projects.  The grapes are legion, and the Fo Ti  has taken a grip on things that will take some time to unravel.  My laziness will have to be set aside so at long last, the roots of same can be tinctured in September (which is about when I’ll probably find them, too) and provide us with medicine which was, of course, the initial idea.  I think it’s called Hou Shou in TCM, a kidney and overall longevity remedy, which right about now seems quite appropriate. ( Otherwise, a word to gardeners: Fo Ti is a great plant but it’s like kudzu.  One little sprig will take over everything and I do mean everything.)  There’s still plenty of excavation to be done prior to planting the actual vegetable garden but it all seems, in this moment, Promising.  The black rufflled hollyhocks survived the winter so I am looking forward to blooms…..and sunflowers……oh boy!!!!

Also? the Partner hooked up the turntable for my birthday and I am once again reunited with my (large, sigh) record collection.  It’s almost…..overwhelming.  I mean, it’s been eight years here and….well. The dust situation is daunting, and the heat has burnt up two CD players already, but: MUSIC.  I’ve yet to find Coltrane and Bob Marley but they are in there, T. Monk, Bach, dance music of every description, in every language almost, oh! and! SALSA! which I have also not found yet….but.  Look out neighborhood, all I can say.  No longer do I have to satisfy myself with blasting out pow wow music and Femi Kuti from the car!!!! The Dog is adjusting fairly well, too, especially considering this is the first he’s ever heard of this sort of exact thing.  We’re listening to the Rolling Stones and he’s stretched out on the floor, head cocked and smiling.  And now? the tail is wagging and he and the Partner are dancing.  He also appears to have decided that I’ve had Quite Enough Time to Write This Whatever It Is and Someone Has To Go Outside When The Song Ends…..

So.  Setting aside  fears of disaster (although really- so much has happened already by this time I should know better), which are actually intrinsic to being human and thus can be assigned a proper size,  there continues to be reason for cautious optimism.  It really does come down, over and over, to choosing open over closed, love for all over #@@$$@@##!!!.  and also, when the mind spirals into the panoply of how many ways things can go sideways? Just turning around and facing the opposite direction.  Where you can actually See.  Which is, I think, what Creator (however called and named) wants us to do.

Blessings and thanks! as always.

 

 

 

hope springs eternal

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Upside down but there it is.  Hope, and cake.  A totally decadent Julia Child flourless chocolate thing, just chocolate, whipping cream, eggs, a little sugar and rum, vanilla.  A raspberry sort-of-coulis underneath with a honey simple syrup.  And yes, it was for my birthday.

WHICH I ONCE AGAIN SURVIVED.  Quotidian notwithstanding.  And even though I fell into a bit of a mood-hole today, all is very well, and we even got out of it without bringing in a backhoe for extra fun.  We’re clearly in a time of change, Gentle Reader, which is thorough going and leaves nothing untouched.  That can be a good thing when it’s the old callused habits that get scraped off, even though in the moment one is thinking, ouch? OUCH? THIS AGAIN? ANYTHING BUT THAT…..and if is of course yes this again because dear heart you did not deal with it before.  All those things we all become entangled with in life as we pass by that we shouldn’t dally with, old relationships, old shapes we wanted to squish ourselves into……not to mention the moving storehouses of everyone else steaming by with hooks, barkers, enticing offers…..  And of course it turns out that the way out is through, right? Oh, goody.  But it also turns out that a heart oriented personal system of not doing anything to someone else you wouldn’t want them to do to you does work.  Even if what it does is make that Other dump you like a hot potato, or alternatively make you realize that “one should never be where one does not belong”, or, perhaps most challenging, make you realize you’re here now and it IS what it IS.  And you, darling little speck of light and energy, are one piece of a very big thing, so do try not to be the tail wagging the dog.

There’s a lot to getting along in this life and a big part of it is not-doing.  So, it’s a good thing indeed that it is Spring and in my ongoing not-doing epic, the garden now needs attention and I can just say, well, kid! go pull weeds! later for all that other stuff and DO quit worrying about whether the whatever it is got mailed/done/answered/ordered/handled.  First project will be cleaning the Dog’s Bathroom which is now the entire garden area.  (Why is there nothing productive to do with dog poop???? This seems like a huge oversight on someone’s part.)  Second will be figuring out a less byzantine system of seedling organization than last year.  Not that the color coded pots weren’t fun but the handwriting on the “key”….well, it got wet and then Somebody Chewed It…..so it was the usual  I guess we’ll see what this is in a week or so……..the Partner was VERY not amused.  o-PHOTO-BOOTH-DOGS-570.jpgAnd, given the enormous amount of love and support and being there he provides? The least I can do is make it possible for him to know what…well, what it IS.  And, apparently the Universe is saying, what it IS? is go wash dishes and I’m going to insert this picture here no matter what you think.  It is a really good picture, sort of a words to live by thing, and now….off to it! Blessings and thanks.

yet another palimpsest

Well, sheesh Gentle Reader.  The normal torrent of words flying around my brain has slowed dramatically of late and writing, which is usually fairly easy? has been like pulling teeth.

However, I decided to take the position that this is a Developmental Phase and inspect all the words that DID pop up along with their associated…associations.   All while fairly major things were transpiring, as usual.

I’m slowly investigating things now that make my stomach upset.  Realizing at long last that stomach upset is, guess what? a SIGNAL that something isn’t right, I’ve been thinking about how many times I’ve disregarded my inner voice, self, whatever you want to call it, in favor of the opinion of the Other.  And how in the process I internalized that Other Opinion.  Which has pretty much been a huge mistake every time.

It has been a mistake because in those moments I relinquished my authority over myself and set it outside.  This sort of thing always leads to the same place, which is nowhere you really want to go and often includes the permanent installation of that stomach ache.  You think, of course, at the time, that it’s a good thing and this other person knows more than you do and all the rest of the malarkey that goes alongside.  It turns out that generally not to be the case, and people who insist you take their opinion as Fact do not for the most part have your best interests at heart.  The sad thing is they may think they have THEIR best interests at heart, and that isn’t true either.

Net net, after all this sitting still and observing things, something big happened.  I accepted myself as IS, and yes, not a moment too soon.  Early in December during a massive flood of unpleasantness, someone came over to our house and proceeded to tell me in a very patronising way that the work I do, what I do…none of it works and it’s just silly.  This pretty much covered everything from gardening to my remedies. I looked at this person and thought, wow, you must really feel like crap to attack me like that for no reason.  Then I thought…whoa! this isn’t the first time at this particular rodeo, kid.  People have told you this over and over.  Intellectually I know it isn’t true and those uttering such sentiments speak from ignorance and limitation,  but….and there’s the but.  I saw that I doubt myself.  I decided to just try to nip that in the bud each time it poked out and wow, was THAT a full time occupation.  The way I spoke to myself for most of my life was in a manner continually anticipating some sort of ghastly failure.  Admittedly there is some historical basis for such a concept- but not all the time.  The countervailing force of “stay in the now” saved me but also caused a lot of cognitive dissonance, i.e. stomach aches.

Anyway, in taking the long view it became clear just how much magic and goodness filled, always, my days and how that, in fact, kept me afloat in a world that seemed not to wish me well.  Balancing the necessity of living in that world with the necessity of staying sane while so doing has finally paid off, however.  I recently had two powerful and really, incontrovertible, instances of where my work and remedies made a big and sustaining difference in people’s lives.  It was an amazing experience, like fireworks were going off all around me and I’d finally come up to the surface of a deep lake from the bottom, spluttering and shaking water from my eyes, to see….myself, waiting for me.  No division, no stomach ache.  Challenges for sure….but the knowing that they can be met.  So, it IS true.  Once you believe it, you  see it, and not in the sense of seeing what you expect to see, but in the sense of removing constricting information from your viewfinder and turning the darn lights on.  It can be done!

As a reward for your patient reading of this:

bloodoranges

Aren’t these AMAZING? Given the harshness of the climate here, the fact that this little tree produces this much magic fills me with joy.  Plus they’re totally yummy.  Blessings and thanks!!!!

well…….

Who knew that screaming would be totally out of the question so soon after I mentioned it here?  We became engulfed, enrobed we can say even, in smoke about three weeks ago.  Thus turning my life into one long Inhaler episode, removing any ability really to speak, or go outside. Or sleep, or breathe, or any number of things.   A bit of a fugue state, it has nonetheless allowed me to catch up on The New Yorker.

During which of course enough disasters have occurred to make a person wonder if it might not really be some kind of…something.  But what? Apocalypse? End of the beginning? Beginning of the end? We can see the fine hand of the forked tongue in the non-pictorial non-coverage of what’s gone on, at least on network TV.  The same pictures were shown over and over both for Harvey and Irma, but none that really showed what was happening and to what extent.  Nothing at all of the first earthquake in Mexico or hurricane information, either. The recent event in Mexico City is so big I guess it cannot be ignored but even so unless one watches Telemundo there isn’t much real information.  Likewise no film has been shown here, really, of all the fires that caused the above enrobement…because? Initially there WAS one news clip but OMG.  What was that in the picture there kids? It was a lot of marijuana plants, in an undoubtedly (due to size) illegal grow.  No aerial footage whatsoever after that, and barely even a mention of what was making the air yellow and solid either.  Ignorance is not necessarily bliss.

However, as usual, the kitchen has offered some solace from all this.  I finally may have gotten sauerkraut to work.cabbage1

And also, the butternut and other squash went insane to our amazement, and we’ve now got close to 30 butternuts stacked up for winter.  So that’s a good thing. Also a very good thing in that butternuts are something the Dog can not only eat, but goes cross eyed with bliss when he sees some in his bowl.  I also made a pickle from some of our never ending lemon squash so we’ll see how that comes out- curry flavor, and some prudently saved brine from prior pickles worked just fine.  It’s the Partner’s un-birthday tomorrow, so chocolate gelato seemed in order.  Fish tacos and homemade tortillas.  No singing but what can you do?  In other exciting news, we were reunited this week with the wonders of having a rear view mirror.  Readers may recall the funfest involved in obtaining Rear View Mirror Adhesive.  However, there was more.  This stuff could only be used between temperatures of 55 and 72 degrees F.  The people around here I told that to got hiccups from laughing.  So, they said, when hell freezes over, or February? Turns out it was 70! the other morning for about two hours so the Partner sprang into fixative action and I must say, it’s quite nice having that thing back.

This not being able to breathe business has, however,  made me feel even more grateful for all the good things in my life, and the ever present Bigger Picture of all of us on this planet.  Assuming, as I do, that improved functioning will resume sooner or later for both my lungs and the world in general, it’s given me an opportunity, lying flat and all,  to think about everything in our days with appreciation, instead of what was starting to loom which was more like $$%%!!!.  Still haven’t vacuumed but one task at a time, right?  I continue with redoubled effort to pray for some kind of sanity to envelop Washington DC at the same time as I think just how wonderful it is to have a garden and Nature to talk to, work with and in.  And a dog.  And a Partner who’s having an un-birthday.  Blessings and thanks!