Category Archives: reminders from the natural world

Lumaca.


Reflecting a bit about My Elder/s.

I remember the first day I worked for my Elders

  
– though I didn’t call them that then.

It was November 2009

  
And I remember feeling nervous.

  
Nervous that they wouldn’t like the lunch I had made…

Nervous that we wouldn’t find things to talk about…

  
Nervous that I wouldn’t be smart enough to hold a conversation with them…

I had met them in the Spring of 2008 while working on a landscape gardening crew – and we tended their beautiful perennial garden.

  
It’s funny to reflect on that nervousness now, because over time… week after week after week, their lives became a huge part of my life.

  
There was a kind of braiding together

Nervousness gave way to a sense of ease

They became my anchor.

  
Through changing homes, relationships, and a variety of other part-time jobs… They were my one steadiness.

  
I came to love them & their dog

They came to know me & my quirks

Their home became familiar territory

  
And as I look through the rooms

I’m reminded of them, of conversations, the many meals, hugs, mannerisms & habits I had the honor to witness & be a part of for the past almost 6 years.

   
 “Would you like some black pepper?” I asked, lifting the pepper grinder

& was told early-on “fresh ground black pepper”

And so, at lunch, went the question: would you like some FRESH GROUND black pepper?

Nearly always, the reply was YES

  

Markers of time, reminders are everywhere 

His chair where he sat

Her chair where she sat

The clock with large numbers, easier to read, marks the time after his surgery

  
A stuffed toy left on the floor, a moose chew toy belonging to Bentley, the ancient puppy

Pinching salt in a dish

The ubiquitous box of Kleenex 

  
Wedding invitations from a grandchild

A pile of letters from another grandchild

Well-worn sweatshirts (which I feel compelled to wear, though I stop myself…) 

  
There are numerous photos, the smell of cigars & cinnamon, and long-lived plants (a few which have stories told about them) like this Hoya now after 19 years, in bloom…

  
For this past week, my elder was home, surrounded by family, lovingly tended to, & there was only breathing…

  
And though I have no sense of what it was like for him during that time 

(He stopped speaking at that point)

It was an honor to simply be with him 

  
A sacred time

  A slow unbraiding

Even now, sitting here, pausing now & again to look around & really take in the surroundings, a swirl from past moments floods my mind

& then coming present, that sense of honor… What an honor it is to have gotten to be in these dear people’s lives over time

  
We got to really know each other.

“We’re such lucky, lucky people” she would say.

  
There will likely be other posts reflecting on them, & my time working for them…

It’s all kinda fresh, still.


Web of sadness, Anchor’s away, & the unfolding of things.

i try to respect the privacy of people.

Even my own – but it’s a strange line, especially when there’s this mix of shyness coupled with a curious desire to simple say what’s so

Check out the awesome socks!

Hand knit by my Elder’s eldest daughter.  
My Elder, my Anchor is away

He’s been away at times – and his body is wrestling with brain cancer.

A brilliant man, an honored Physicist.

He gave me his blessings to write about it on the blog

But I haven’t, really.

I feel sensitive to how it will land, what I’ll likely forget to say, or what I’ll write & how that will land

  
Here’s his ancient puppy, Bentley

I love them both

My elder & his dog

And this family has been my anchor for the past 6 years of my seemingly-ever-shifting life

He’s still Here, but I miss him when he’s away.

  
My mind knows

The nature of coming & going

Not unlike the inhale & exhale

  
But this knowing doesn’t keep the heart from feeling a deep sadness

  
Connecting to a larger web of sadness as thoughts of Nepal, and boats filled with migrant people comes to (heart)mind…

Connecting that to my own family line who left their countries in an attempt & hope of escaping prejudice & violence not all that long ago.

 
The hummingbirds have returned

Two (well, four, really) Dear Friend’s will soon give birth to life anew

  
And life continues to unfold.

Some

Heading out

Some

Coming in

  
I know I need to find my own anchor within

 
It’s a challenge for me.

Guess it’s time for more walks in the woods.

   


Friday photos from N&C farm, and thinking about ANWR.

It felt good to get back to work at the farm yesterday

The leaves have unfurled & there was a nice rain in the evening 

A new high tunnel is under construction, which will allow the plastic to be removed from the Cathedral – giving the elements of Sun, Rain, & Air the chance to work their gifts in clearing & breathing the soil which has been under cover for 5 years

  
Bean seeding day!

These are Romano beans, and I was to use up the rest of them 

  
12 trays in all

  
Then another variety, purple, called Amethyst

  
Pardon me while I marvel once again at the beauty & diversity of bean seeds…

Swoon

  

In they go!

Chioggia Beets, & a New Zealand Spinach variety were also seeded.

Then onto a few herb & flower transplants

  
Rosemary

  
With the help from Sebastian

  
Bob grows many varieties of Peppers, & does the transplanting of those to be absolutely sure he’s sure that the hot & sweet types are clearly marked

 
These piles of markers were assembled during a conversation with one of the on-farm interns

I didn’t notice their construction, as I was filling trays & my eyes were focused on my hands’ actions

But it was a delightful surprise to find later – simple creations of beauty

  
Across the road, Bob set to applying composted manure to some beds awaiting 3 varieties of Kale

  
The hens were moved there to work up a site for future planting

 
(Feel free to add your favorite Why did the chicken cross the road? joke in the comment section…)

 Yesterday evening, as I drove home with the radio tuned into the local, independent station

I heard about the go-ahead to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

If nothing else, please scroll down & read the Wikipedia section on Opposing Views and the position of the Native Alaskan Tribes.

(The fact that I was driving my car at the time was not lost on me…)

*sigh*

  
The ANWR was what I woke up with in my mind.

The Porcupine Caribou calving grounds are there

People are still thinking they are not of this place

  
Why else would such a go-ahead be made?

 
What would the whales say, if we could ask them…?

  

They see the world in a different way from us humans

We humans think we know what’s best

  

But I’m not so sure of that

What if the Caribou could be asked 

And the Native Treaties honored

I think a lot of things, like most humans do…

  
I donate money to the NRDC, with the hope that they can do something to protect this place, our place, this Us-thing-place we call Earth

But donating money isn’t enough, & I don’t donate a ton of money either.

(After meeting someone who worked in a non-profit that often went to court, she said that even $5 helps pay for transportation…)

  
How does one really stop a tide of greed & shortsightedness & a massive corporation like Shell from doing something…?

What if the guide was truly: what is for the benefit of ALL beings…?


Ocean visits.

O the ocean

There is nothing like the Ocean.

  
It has been a long long time since visiting Florida ocean

Nearly 30 years…?

& my first time to the Gulf Coast

  
There was a dolphin feeding nearby

& it was heart-lifting to catch glimpses when it surfaced 

People were fishing off a pier which stretched into the water 

There were numerous Pelicans!  
This trio in flight was taken the evening before the above two photos, at a different beach

  
O I do love the majestic Pelicans

  
As the sun made its way West, more humans gathered to watch the daily sort of miracle – as the Sun disappeared into the Ocean 

 

It struck me, this gathering of people, coming to celebrate a poignant moment of the day

  
I was more taken by the waves & the shore birds

 Sunning at the beach isn’t my joy, but walking in & along the surf sure is.

Everything about it, I love.

The feel, the smell, the sounds…

 

It’s cliche, I suppose, to speak of the immensity & power of the ocean…

But that’s what got to me…

This steady, massive inhale & exhale – with all its responsiveness to weather (& other factors) still speaks to me

  White Ibis were feeding

Maybe Ibis have always been in the South West Coast of Florida, but just seeing them in real life, & knowing that they were so significant in Ancient Egypt sort of blew my mind…

 Beauties!!

 A group of Ibis may be called “a congregation”, “a wedge”, or “a stand”

  
They eat crayfish & crabs, which eat fish eggs, so Ibis help keep the fish population up.

Thank you Ibis!  

 

Gratitude & Blessings on the Ocean


late night ramble on farmish things, emotions-n-stuff, grumps about humans, & the joy of cats.

This past Sunday was the first harvest day at Nook & Cranny

  
Greens, greens, greens 

Spinach, lettuce mix, broccoli raab, arugula, & mustard greens

All from the three smaller hoop houses

  
(And eggs from the many hens)

  
While harvest went throughout the morning into the early afternoon, I seeded & transplanted in the greenhouse

   
 

Basil coming up nicely… 

 

It was a bit overcast & chilly outside, but cozy inside the greenhouse

Soon it will be too warm for me in there & so I’ll do the seeding outside

  
This was from the past Friday when it snowed a bit

The farm slowly is unfolding it’s shape as each new bed is tilled & planted

(I didn’t take many photos again, because there were 25 trays to seed, others to move, & 100 eggplant plants to be transplanted)

Say that three times fast:

…Eggplant plants to be transplanted…

  

(Thankfully this photo was NOT taken at the farm)

Sweet earthy groundhog looking for its breakfast this morning

  
I went across the road to where my garlic was planted to see if it was coming up… And it is!

  
Hello! 

 

Here’s the lovely nearby pond

(From the evening before)

Showing water’s amazing reflective capacity

  
I’ve been marveling at water lately.

It can be a mirror at times, clear at times, and obscuring at times.

And sometimes all at the same time! …depending on ones position relative to the body of water

 
(A vernal pond from last month after a freeze)

I was recently on a walk & passed a parent & child walking in the opposite direction

We were all passing a (thawed) vernal pond at the same time

I overheard the child say “ewwww that water is gross” & then the parent agreed with that sentiment…

I felt saddened by what had just transpired… In my view, it was a missed opportunity to open a narrow opinion

Vernal ponds are teeming with life… Frogs & peepers & insects…

*sigh*

  
But I guess I get sad easily.

I feel sad when great trees are cut down, even if they could pose a threat 

  
Critter activity!

  
I don’t know what was going on today in the world, but it seemed that many people were driving aggressively.

Ultimate example:

I was driving past an elementary school (where the limit drops from 45 to 35 during school hours) and a sporty sports car passed me, crossing a double yellow line.

OMG people…?!?!

What is all the hurry about?

Could we all try to slow down a little bit…?!?

  
Thank goodness for Izzy.

(Thank you Jenny, for the photo)

Nighty night all.


Flowers & cats: what’s in your self-care kit?

part of my self-care kit

Is going for walks

Sometimes without my phone

& sometimes with – then I can capture images to add to my kit

  

Spring, for most of my life, has been a challenging time

  

Hello, Crocus!

But going for walks in it, & noticing the small changes is helpful

  

I’m always grateful for a slow-coming spring

As it has been this year

  

Please say hello to Scilla siberica

  

It is not native to Siberia

But to Southwestern Russia, the Caucasus, & Turkey

Blue flowers are some of my favorites.

  

Cats, too, (especially Shoofins) are part of my kit.

Here is Sophie being Small.

  

& here is Izzy making a beeline for my oatmeal 

  

(Successful cat trapping by Jenny)

  

And then there are stripes.

What is it about stripes?

I do love finding stripes in the natural world

  

As well as unique messages…

  

Blessings on the simple things

  

May you find beauty & joy in the small things on this very Spring day

May you come to know what stirs a sense of kindness in you

  

Wishing you in touch with your sense of wonder.


Worrying, taking time, & kitties.

Yesterday’s work day began later than usual

For one thing, I had an appointment to keep in the morning.  

And when I see things like this, I feel compelled to pause & laugh & take a photo to send to a loved one

You know, Share the delight 

   

I’m a fan of moving slower

& not a fan of rushing

(Though zippy-doodle will at times occur…)

  

By the time I arrived at the farm

The weekly seeding was nearly done

– Attended to by four capable hands.

As their workday soon ended, mine just began.

So I set to transplanting two flats of broccoli & early cabbage

  

As I worked, I began to notice myself in a state of worry.

familiar weather, worry.

The worry du jour was about the amount of time I take to do things.

In particular, at the farm

  

I try to be efficient, and find that I do get into a groove once I get going & practice the method necessary for the task at hand.

A system that works for this body is found & my movements become more effortless

  

Granted, when I pause to get more soil or more pots or go to pee, a photo might be taken…

– Like this early Spring view from just outside the greenhouse.

(Aaaaand all the following photos…)

Although I’ve received a blessing & go-ahead to take photos here at the farm through the day, a habitual groove of thinking gets going…

  

So I paid attention to the broken record spin of worry that was playing in my mind, 

and by paying attention, 

could see/feel that consequently, 

my breathing became shallow & I stopped seeing what was in front of my eyes

Like being blinded by an internal sandstorm of worry  So to remedy this, here was the practice du jour:

Whenever my mind went from an awareness of things at hand 

to the thinking & spinning mind of worry, 

I would keep taking deep breaths, and really turn my attention to what I was doing & feeling, 

Instead of the loud thoughts in my head

Returning, returning, returning.

Being able to distinguish between awareness & thinking feels like a big step for me.  

Take notice of the slightly yellowing seed leaves (or cotyledons) on the cabbage seedlings (below & above)

“Pleeeease pot me up!!!”

When roots find their way to the far edges of their potting soil world, it’s either time to pot up (transplant into a larger container) or transplant into soil out in the bigger world.

  

Since two seeds germinated in this cell, & both plants are healthy, they are gently pried apart

  

And set into larger pots which have some fresh potting soil in the bottom

  

Then more fresh potting soil is added up to where the cotyledons attach to the stem

And gently pressed down to settle in the plant a bit, but not so much that it compacts the soil

  

Once a tray is filled, it is watered under a fine spray of water

Which further settles the soil around the roots – and allows for the contact roots and soil want together.

75 Broccoli plants & 80 Early Cabbage plants were potted up.

155 plants in all.

It took me 3 hours to do that.

  

Izzy was intrigued by my hands after coming (housesitting) home from work

And she didn’t mind that it took me three hours to transplant 155 plants.

Bob seems to be patient & tolerant of my pace, but I still sometimes question if I really “fit” at the farm.

*Plagued by Doubt*

– no doubt, triggered by a mere (yet impactful) comparing thought.

  

A friend said to me today, “cats are unapologetically themselves”.

Even plants grow at the pace that they grow.

At the farm, moving at such a slower pace than all the others, it takes an amount of mind-effort to not apologize for myself.

To honor the animal that I am & just do my work.

A part of me thinks: o there’s something wrong, maybe I should leave, try to find a place where I fit in better.

  

But maybe the lesson is right here, to practice “standing inside myself”, and to learn something from just this.

Not become caught up in my own tangle of comparing my relative snailing pace, to just let that wild-bird-thought fly through.

I guess if I trust the wisdom of the unfolding of my life, & attempt to keep my eyes open to what is right here, I’ll get the opportunity to learn whatever it is I’m supposed to learn.

 

These are the steps where I slipped as I rushed down them one snow-covered-icy morning in February 2012 which shifted my life

This being one of the numerous incidents where I’ve thought privately or said out loud “but it wasn’t supposed to be like this”

But really, who am I to argue reality or try to control such things…?

I’m trying to integrate the unfolding of things, trying to relax…

I’ll finish this post with a poem by Marie Howe

The Gate

I had no idea that the gate I would step through 
to finally enter this world 

would be the space my brother’s body made. He was 
a little taller than me: a young man 

but grown, himself by then, 
done at twenty-eight, having folded every sheet, 

rinsed every glass he would ever rinse under the cold 
and running water. 

This is what you have been waiting for, he used to say to me. 
And I’d say, What? 

And he’d say, This—holding up my cheese and mustard sandwich. 
And I’d say, What? 

And he’d say, This, sort of looking around. 
  
Maybe this will be the memorized poem for 2015…
Wishing you all a good night
& a happy Spring


Weather, some walks, Kitties, & Sunday seeding.

Waking each day in one mood or another  

I try to begin each day with a thanks-for-this-day feeling in my heart

Then step into the day.

Today began uneventfully.

  

Then

Upon putting away a photo of my elder…

(which I had set out for her yortzeit last week, but yesterday & today kept getting the strong push to put it back where it usually sits)

…i found a letter from the person I was beginning to love this time last year.

There was a photo of the two of us, a note from his last visit, & just seeing the handwriting triggered a squinchy feeling in my chest.

  

And just like that 

The weather changed

Right before my morning sit.

  

I didn’t know what to do with the letter, so I set it down & covered it with an image of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

I didn’t want to sit with that weather, with those feelings. I didn’t want to feel what had arisen

  

Lately, I keep hearing Jack Nicholson’s voice from the movie A Few Good Men barking “you can’t handle the truth”

Which feels like a meanness, but I’m trying to just notice that critical voice (which may well be true)

  

I was glad to get to work, to focus on other things, like chopping vegetables & listening to podcasts on my headphones.

  

This is from a walk the other day to the lower end of the lake.

  

And this is from a walk today after work

On the Western side & towards the upper end of the lake

  

It’s good for me to remember that weather changes.

Just as the feelings came & went by the end of this morning’s sit  

Grief continues to visit & can feel very intense at times, still.

I don’t yet understand why – I’m just trying to make room for its passing through.

  

I haven’t wanted to write much about it

I think I’ve been ashamed of it, wanting to hide its lingering presence.

  

Thank goodness for kitties.

Here’s Sophie  

(All photos of Sophie & Izzy are from Jenny)

  

Here’s Izzy  

  

I love to receive these photos

They do brighten my day

As does visiting the babies

  

They are getting so big

  

This past Sunday the greens & brassicas went into the hoop houses 

  

(Please note the rolled up balls of remay towards the back of the photo…)

But first they waited in the barn as the hoop house soil was readied further 

  

In order for me to do more seeding, the alliums had to wait outside for a spell until all the many trays of greens had a suitable place to sit in the hoop houses

  

This photo makes me smile

The dances done, working things out, imperfectly, but workable.

   

(It’s in the 20’s outside, and warmed to the 30s that day, but relatively warm in the hoop house)

This is the first hoop house in process

And this is what happens when I walk into the greenhouse

 

Steamy

(It becomes even warmer when the sun shines…)

 

  

Joining me in the greenhouse was a small flock of Barred Rock chicks!

  

Peeping & chirping & napping

  

I really enjoyed their company

   

 

The usual Sunday spring seeding… Beets, Raab, Spinach, Lettuce, Cabbage, Scallions, Chard, Kale, Broccoli, Mustard, Brussel’s Sprouts.

  

27 trays in all

Then I went to see the hoop house action

  

The view from the first hoop house towards the long hoop house

  

Steam rises from the cold water on the  warmed soil inside

  

Here’s that wall of remay balls…

  

And the barn-dwelling kitties

  

Hello, Sebastian.

  

Hello, Other.

  

Hello, Nook & Cranny Farm.

On my walk today after work, despite not being able to hike the trail due to icy conditions…

 

There are signs of Spring

  

Swollen fuzzy buds

  

I feel a sadness when a great old tree is cut down

  

Over 140 years old…

  

There’s snow on the ground, but basically it was one huge ice sheet underneath

  

Wishing you patience & kindness with all of your weathers

Blessings on the day.

  


Scars on plants & hearts.

Today at work, the hoop house was readied



The greenhouse is quite full, overflowing with life



Stacks on the floor & on every surface



Next week the babies will be ready to be transplanted into their new home





The greens are coming up nicely 



As are the alliums



Every variety is doing well

Feels really good to tend to these lives



This beauty is a close-up of a kohlrabi

(Grown last season)

Such geometry…! The wonder…!

The leaf scars are formed when the leaf breaks free

The dots are from the vessels that used to be connected which carried water & nutrients through the body of the plant



When the leaf breaks free, the area left open heals over, & it leaves that distinctive mark.

Seeing this, I think of the heart

And the scars from grief

Scars enfolded within ever-enlivened muscle tissue



I met my elder in 2008

Incredibly kind, warm, & generous – today is her yortzeit

(From the German word “yahrzeit” which means “anniversary” or “year’s time”)

An avid gardener & lover of plants – She would appreciate the beauty of the kohlrabi