Category Archives: reminders from the natural world

Recalibrating.

How do you make a decision?


Or is it that decisions make us?


Is there a subtle compass point within us pointing in a particular direction? Guiding our steps? 


In that same way that roots know to go “down”…?


Every decision has consequences. Some more impactful than others.

“Risk itself is a process of constant unfolding. And taking risks is the process of peeling back the layers of what you are and who you want to be.” – Phoebe Eng


What if you were offered an opportunity, that would support a long-time dream/hope for your life, which would call for a great leap of faith (and a lot of hard work), but would require you to leave all that has been familiar?

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.” – Thomas Merton


I have lived through enough changes in my life to know that not all decisions I’ve walked towards have felt like “good” ones. That some have felt like flat out “mistakes”.

Enough to know that sometimes, things working out the way you hoped isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

“When God wants to punish you, as Isak Dinesen declared, He answers your prayers.” – Barbara Kingsolver (from Animal Dreams)


Or, reframed euphemistically:

I’ve had quite the many learning experiences.

“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” – Pena Chodron (from When Things Fall Apart)


I could stretch this further, and even say that reflecting on the past number of years, I can see how it all seems to be a set up for this very moment. 

“The real voyage of discover consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust


It’s tricky, this weighing of pros and cons…

this heart gets so attached to certain beings.


It’s an unfamiliar practice to simply rest in an uncertainty, and not try to force an answer. To step by step, keep responding as things unfold. Neither avoiding, nor pushing.


I’ve never been much of a planner. And I suppose I’m still not. But I’m noticing it’s like there are two forks in a road, and I’m treading tentatively down both. It’s like having two “plan b’s”.


I’ll follow up when the next step becomes clear.

Till then, wishing you all a many-moments-of-joy-filled-and-long-steady-Spring.


PS – I’ve never chosen a word for the year, though I’ve read a number of blog posts which speak to such a thing. The word “recalibrating” will be one for me this year to roll around in my mouth-mind like an apricot pit.


A few things.

Hey folks. 

I know it’s been a while.


Last time I posted was in Autumn.

And I happened to be in a ‘Verizon zone’ and was able to post from my phone.


An Autumnal moment in the cathedral. I admit to rarely taking the time to walk around the farm to visit everybody. 

‘Everybody’ being all the babies, all the seeds I happened to have the good fortune to touch and plant some time before.

All the plant-beings in the cathedral I planted.

I write that to remind myself, because I find that I forget. And start to doubt my doing any things of benefit.


Although it’s raining as I poke at my little phonefacekeyboard, this photo was taken after the first big snowfall on November 22nd.

We got more snow during that snowfall than the entire last Winter.


I’ve housesat for various kitties…


Some who love their kale…


Some who like their space…


Some who look very sweet, but are like the The Oatmeal’s whiskey cat.

I’m very grateful for the cozy homes, for the use of laundry, for the connections over the years.


And as I watch the miles tick on, I’m ever grateful I was able to purchase a car back in 2001 that is still running.

Many miles gone by, many years… learning to drive standard in hilly Ithaca was humbling, and driving out to California cemented the training.

It’s been over 10 1/2 years since returning to Ithaca.



There’ve been many jobs.

After one of my employers was suddenly let go after a downsizing, I was laid off this past summer soon after moving.


It really knocked me out of orbit. Seeding (and cats. and family. and friends.) was one of the few things that helped keep me (sorta) steady.

(That’s me, btw. It was taken by one of the on-farm interns & he shared the photo with me.)

And that’s Sebastian, the ginger tabby with the tiny meow and a huge purr.


I applied to a LOT of jobs. 

Some of which I was qualified for, some not.

Eventually I picked up part-time work with a friend who grows sprouts.


These usually live outside in a greenhouse, but there was below-freezing temperatures, so inside they came, where they got ‘a little leggy’.

Still just as tasty, though.


It seems to be a good fit. 

It’s mostly behind the scenes, and all three of us get along, and it’s pretty mellow while all the work gets done.

The above photo is along my most favorite (and to my mind, most beautiful) road in the county back in October.


I’ve been trying to ‘get behind myself’, and so despite all the inner-critical-voices/chorus, I had cards printed up of some of my artwork…


I worked with a woman-owned printing company in town, purchased 100% post-consumer content recycled envelopes…


Found some nice glassine sleeves (which were probably meant for candy…) to protect each card & envelope pairing…


And with some freely offered new (recycled content!) food containers & paper, made up some packages to sell at the credit union’s holiday craft fair.

I didn’t take a photo of the table with all the cards, unfortunately.

But to my surprise & delight, with an email and two Facebook postings about the event, a whole bunch of friends came out to support my work.

I was really blown away by all the visits & support.

I’ve never really had faith in the artwork that comes through me.

But I started to question: what if I just trusted it… let it be what it is…


It’s far too easy to compare myself to classmates who have work at The Whitney, or The MOMA. Or places like that.

The art that comes through me simply isn’t like that.


I’ll admit, I still think of leaving. Of moving somewhere else. Try to find a place where the rent isn’t so high. Or where I don’t have to run into people who aren’t really friends anymore because I said something or did something that upset them.


I’ve thought of moving to go back to school… maybe for biology… or phytotemediation… but that takes a lot of math & chemistry. Which I basically suck at.

And the truth is, i love seeds.


Maybe that knee-jerk reaction will always be to move, to run.

Aversion is so my go-to habit.

I’m so grateful for the friends who are still my friends despite my (very) imperfect ways.


I wish I was perfect, but I’m not.

I’m trying to befriend myself, with all of my imperfections.

This year I’m going to try to drop the whole trying-to-be-perfect thing. It wasn’t such a conscious thing, and I’m not succeeding at it anyhow, and the attempts at it seems to just create more tension inside.

A sort of letting-go practice. Or allowing. Or awareness, I suppose.


To quote my Yaya, “who needs it?”

Anyhow.

I know I’m leaving out a lot, but engh. It’s okay.


This is one of the cards that didn’t make the cut. But it’ll become mail to someone.

Wishing you gentleness and steadiness, a sturdy ballast for all to come.

Thanks for reading, for your encouragement, and for whatever acts of creativity you can get behind yourself for.

(Or with. Goodness I was never good at grammar…)


Wishing you all well.

May the planets smile kindly on you all through 2017.


Happy Anniversary.

That’s a Spring Beauty from a couple weeks ago.

It’s Spring Ephemeral season. That brief stretch when the forest floors have light and some warmth & these lovely beings emerge, bloom, fade, and sinense as the leaves in the high canopy unfurl and gather light from the Sun.

A woods walk was in order.


Miraculous, and thankfully perennial.

Spring Beauty and Blue Cohosh.

(Blue Cohosh sticks around for longer, but emerges with the others)


In an earlier stage of life, Blue Cohosh shows up a gorgeous deep dusty plum color, shifting to green.

(I wish my vocabulary for the various greens was extensive & specific… I’ll need to work on that.)


Hello, Hepatica.

Notice the three-lobed leaf from the previous season… Three lobes corresponding to the three lobes of the liver.


You can see this season’s leaves, fuzzy & unfolding in its time.


Dutchman’s Breeches.

Such adorable blossoms. They are nearly exclusively pollinated by bumblebees. 


Double (flying) Dutchman’s Breeches?… Anyone else play jacks as a child? My sister taught me how to play when I was 8 or 9 years old. Double Flying Dutchman was one of the most challenging levels.

(Thanks M!)


Trillium.

Only a few were blooming the day I went for this walk in Late April. Many were in bloom the following week (on a phone-less walk).


I just love this plum-green stage in the Blue Cohosh plant…


This is not Oni, my cat of 10 1/2 years. (He’s all spirit kitty now.)

Please say hello to Nemo. Who could be Oni’s distant cousin.

Fortunately I was able to be with Nemo for a stretch of time in March.


(Black kitties is da best.)

So today is my tenth year since returning to Ithaca, after four years away, with my cat, Oni.

Happy Anniversary!

11 & 1/2 years is the longest I’ve lived anywhere as an adult (if you count the time before I left…)


It’s my fourth season with Nook & Cranny Farm.


Spring shares just began this past Sunday, May 1st.

It caught me by surprise. I’m in my own little seeding & transplanting world most of the time I’m there.


For me, the season began in February, seeding Alliums.

Shallots, Onions, Leeks, Scallions.


And greens, after being transplanted into high tunnels, were harvested just days ago.


Infant spinach that now waits for me to sauté with last season’s garlic. Tonight, after work.


Another image from February. We tried a new method to keep track of the many Allium trays.

I don’t have an image of the trays in their current green stage, but they’ve began to be transplanted last week. Tonight they’ll complete the rest of the trays.

This method was too complicated, and spray painting edges of the trays will likely be next season’s method.


I hope to blog a bit more this season & dye paper again. It’s been a while.

We’ll see how things unfold.

Till then, happy anniversary day & wishing you all a joyous, long slow spring.


known & unknown.

(please pardon the blurred photos to follow – they are from 2009, taken on a flip phone, & are slowly being downloaded from my Facebook account which has served as a photo album between 2009 and 2014)  
I know how to see & recognize beauty in this world.

I try to expand this notion of beauty as a practice.

Sometimes I fall into rigidity, sometimes, I stretch this seeing.

  
I try to honor life in all forms.

Sometimes I fail to see my actions, sometimes I can be gentle with this life so-called outside.

  
It’s easier to encourage others, harder with myself.

  
(Don’t worry, Mom & Dad, I didn’t get another tattoo – it’s the forearm of an acquaintance)

🙂

But it’s great for me to see. 

  
I’ve written before that I tend to forget, which is why I write things down.

But what do you do when there’s an unknown to step into?

  
Like beginning graduate school

  
When telling yourself “I can do this” feels like a lie

  
Where does faith come from?

  
I lean on my friends when the voice of “who do you think you are?” presses on like a broken record.

  

They say things like: “have you talked back to that voice question? Tell it who you think you are!”

This has been helpful.

  
Plants, like this late Autum Sedum already sending buds forth before the long Winter, anticipating Spring.

I can learn a lot from plants.

I have learned a lot from plants & this world continues to be one of my greatest teachers.

  
So, I’ll keep on, like the sedum, beginning, again.

& heading in a direction…

  
…like the Red-Winged Blackbirds migrating…

  
With whatever is luck…

  
…and whatever is faith…

  
To challenge the voices, (or even simply turning my attention elsewhere, dropping the habitual thought, as suggested to me) 

Sensing the world 

  
And challenge myself to step into the unknown.


Home.

  


The day after, with Penelope & the Passionflower.

 

…aaaaand the day after

  


Penelope & House sitting, & a Passionflower blossom.

  
This is Penelope.

She was given to me back in 1995 by my Shiatsu mentor, Nini.

She presents the major meridians used in acupuncture, acupressure, & Shiatsu.

  
Penelope’s usually the first belonging-thing that I put up whenever I move.

I’ve moved a lot in my adult life.

No doubt, less than some, & more than others.

  
Though I’m still house sitting, I went home yesterday before work to water the plants & collect my mail…

The Passionflower bud was closed – & I thought that I had missed it blooming, as they only open for a day and a half… And never more than two days.

Passionflower, indeed.

  
It’s a mixed blessing, house sitting.

I enjoy it. For a number of reasons.

The quiet, the solitude, the animals…

   
 

It’s a bit disorienting, when returning home… 

Maybe because another place has “become home”…?

I don’t really know.

Transition days are usually “raw days” where I always feel a bit off-kilter & vulnerable.

  

I was completely surprised when looking over at Penelope & the bud, about 20 minutes after watering the plants…

To see the bud had opened into its gorgeous blossom.

  
I got to them see how quickly my mind went to disappointment.

But it had happened before… 

That is, a bud had formed… I’d gone off to house sit… Then returned home & I’d missed the blossom.

(Que disappointment violas…)

  
And I had been watching the tendril grow towards Penelope & seen the bud as it grew…

Yesterday, there was disappointment & swirl. There was surprise & delight. Then I got to watch the habitual mind patterns.

Getting to know “the field of weeds” so-to-speak.

Getting to know my very own mind-meadow.

  
I wonder what will happen today?


Photo-string from Nook & Cranny, Fall seeding, cleaning green garlic, & gratuitous kitty photo.

  
It’s been warm.

& I’ve either been slacking on the photos or more focused on the work – depending how one looks at it.

  
This was from last Sunday’s harvest.

  
I swing between being present with what’s in front of my eyes & swirling around with what’s behind my eyes

Looking up & out at the sky, feeling into my body & breathing helps return my awareness to what’s in front of my eyes.

  
Opening the gaze from focusing on seeding & internal thinkings.

The habit of being in story (behind the eyes) is SO strong. SO ingrained.

  
I keep hoping I’ll “get it”, that is, be present all of the time, no longer in story.

But then I laugh at myself, remembering that it’s a practice.

Thank you, Sky.

  
From earlier in the week…

  
Bob, ever scanning the beds & overseeing the great ship called Nook & Cranny.

  
First eggplant came in!

  
Fall seeding well underway…

Yesterday was similar, minus Broccoli, & with the addition of Sorrel and Watercress.

  
The trays, once seeded & watered-in, are kept in stacks on the cool barn floor & need to have an eye kept on them for the first emerging seedlings

Here’s spinach just popping up

  
Then out it goes into the Big World behind the greenhouse & seedling tunnel

Along with beets, basil, & lettuce.

  
Basically anything that is not a Brassica (like Cabbage, Kale, Broccoli, & Cauliflower) which would be landed upon by the lovely cabbage moth, then rapidly munched down to misery by the cute-as-a-button larvae.

  
Garlic is coming in from the fields, too.

(That sounds like it just up & walks its way to the barn…)

  
It’s still “green garlic” at this point – which is before the stem has fully dried down.

People either hang or stack in it such a way that it allows for good air flow for the stalks to fully dry.

Garlic keeps better this way.

  
This is not my ship, & I’m not out in the field harvesting it, but for the record there’s less cleaning later if this soil had been brushed off in the field.

But, it’s unavoidable if it happens to be a rainy, muddy-muck day when the garlic is harvested.

  
Either way, soil gets brushed off with an opened palm or a brush of some sort.

  
Then clipping the roots

  
Peel the outer, dirt-stained layer/s of skin

  
All purty & ready for market.

I was trained to clean garlic this way at Sara’s farm, where I interned in 2006.

Next Sunday is the Garlic Pull at her farm, Earthly Mirth. I’ll be sure to get some photos that day to share.

A half-acre of garlic!

  
Finally, a gratuitous photo of my favorite Shoofins, Sophie & Izzy.

(Photo by Jenny – thank you!)


Knowing, not knowing, & sensing things.

  
 I have no idea of the endless number of things that I don’t know.

  
Like the number of stars in the country sky on a clear moonless night…

Or the number of waves in the ocean…

That sort of uncountable number.

Unfathomable.

Immeasurable.

  
And

There are some things I’m coming to know.

  
For example, It’s impossible to anticipate all outcomes.

  
And, I tend to forget what I learn.

  
And, I need reminders.

  
That the practice of being patient, especially with myself, is a worthy effort.

  
(Thanks for the photo, Jenny-la.)

  
& Knowing my mind-eddies or pitfalls is helpful, so as not to become discouraged & give-up when they arise.

  
That every choice has a consequence. Sometimes it’s feel-good-ish, sometimes it’s ego-scraping. Either way is an opportunity for benefit.

  
& That a flower, with the help from a honeybee, warmth from the sun, & rain to nourish the soil, can eventually become a pea is a Miraculous Thing.

  
Of course, there are other things

But these are the things on my mind…

As I sense a shift in my life

  
Maybe a shift/choice, that’s been brewing for a long while.

  
It’s time for an effort to be made to head back to school.

  
A big step for me, as it will require much effort as I challenge a lot of old beliefs I’ve had about my level of intelligence, & scholastic abilities.

  
But I sense it to be the best next step in my life, & find energy coming into me when I focus there.

 I don’t know how it will go

  
As I move towards getting a degree in mental health counseling, with a focus on grief & end-of-life issues.

 There are many steps yet to take in the application process.

  
But I’m game to journey that proverbial “thousand miles” & begin.

  
More to come.

  


Harvest day at Nook & Cranny Farm.

yesterday was harvest day for the CSA pickup

  
It was hot, but thankfully the sun was sometimes obscured by a thin layer of clouds

Also, there was a gentle breeze

  
The building up of a box

  
I thought I’d be transplanting the last of the Cauliflower & Broccoli, (& documenting the box as vegetables were added to it)

but a few workers are enrolled in the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine

They are away for about a month practicing their herbal first-aid skills & learning more about plants & harvesting (& probably a lot of other things)

So I got to head out to the field & harvest 61 bunches of Basil

  
(I know, these are Snap Peas, not Basil… But I didn’t take any pictures of the Basil)

I tend towards not-doing-great-in-the-heat, so I just focused on harvest & drinking water

  
The bounty of July 12th…

  
There’s some Basil… blocking the view of a banana-box-full of the greens & beans & all of the goodness listed on the chalkboard…

Then I set out to transplant the Brassicas

  
Do you know that (marvelous) children’s book – The Very Hungry Caterpillar…?

That shit is for REAL.

Do you see the munched out parts on the leaves & stems?

Some leaves are completely GONE.

  
“Everybody’s hungry”

– a phrase which me and my friend & farming mentor would say when we’d find plants munched down…

*sigh*

No point in getting grumpy about it.

If the plant still had it’s growing tip, It would be potted-up. If not…, to the compost pile.

  
Finally, I found one of the very hungry caterpillars.

Or, Imported Cabbageworms.

They’re really cute.

The adults are white butterflies that are beautiful, & perhaps tasty bird food?

  
I found 6 others in the tray of Broccoli.

They were fed to the laying hens.

“Everybody’s hungry”