Saturday, March 20, 2010

The "good" ache after gardening..

Freshly cut budding branches make for a good Easter Egg Tree...

The glorious sun
Stays in his course and plays the alchemist,
Turning with splendor of his precious eye
The meager cloddy earth to glittering gold.
William Shakespeare (sonnets)

What a glorious day of sunshine we had today in the Pacific Northwest.. I gardened happily for hours, enjoying the warmth on my back. Weeding, weeding and more weeding and planting sweet peas with Caelin's 10 year old daughter Kaleeya, who's gardening expertise is "watering." Its her very favorite thing to do, no matter what time of year, she's ALWAYS ready to grab the hose and water something!

So I weeded the spot where I thought the sweet peas should go, dug the little seedlings in and watched Kaleeya do her watering. She did a very careful job, understanding that a full on downpour would break the little stems, and that they needed a little stream close to the soil line. I'm very proud of her..., she can be my garden water fairy any time:)

After a couple more hours outside, I decided to call it a day (well actually my back did!) I peeled off my garden grime in the laundry room and jumped in a hot bath..., ahhhhhhhh... I ached in a good way, I felt good for getting the beds weeded and mulched. I get such great pleasure from completing work in the garden. I love to see individual mounds of weed free plants lovingly wrapped in chocolate brown mulch, watered, fed and put to bed.. paths swept.. ahhh, its been a good day.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Summer Sweetness

Know what these special little gems are???

Seedlings of Lathyrus odoratus - Commonly known as Sweet Peas.

They happen to be one of my very favorite flowers, and apparently they're one of the top three most popular flowers grown in England, where they've been cultivated since the 1700's.

With deliciously named cultivars such as "April in Paris," "Perfume Delight,"
"Raspberry Ripple," "Chiffon Elegance," and "Incense" to name just a few, is it any wonder that Sweet Peas are so beloved.

I once read that they are self pollinating, which means that their exquisite scent and attractive flowers are not for the benefit of attracting bees and other pollinators. Perhaps they're used to attract and seduce people instead and make them fall in love with them? - Well,, it works for me. I can't imagine summer without their heady, sensual scent filling the house, and I've never given a bouquet of Sweet Peas to any friend without receiving a wonderful smile in return, (usually followed by their nose plunging into the midst of the flowers taking in a big whiff of their famously nostalgic perfume.)

Every year I make room in my already overstuffed garden for Sweet Peas. These beautiful annual climbers, always play a prominent part in my summer garden.

If I had to make a choice I would have to say that early morning has to be my favorite time of the day during the summer. I like to get up while the house is still asleep. Make myself (yes you guessed it,) a cup of tea, and take it out onto the front porch, where I put on my clogs and grab my pruners. I take a few sips of tea and stare out over the flower beds, and ...... well...., do nothing. For several minutes on end there is a special kind of peace. Its as if my brain goes into slow motion. ....., I taste the tea, I smell the dew soaked flowers, I hear the birds singing joyfully, and my eyes are filled with love for the flowers and nature that I am blessed to be experiencing, and I know that for just a little while, I am in heaven.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A recipe for relaxation..., take one steaming cup of tea..

I have come to cherish those special quiet moments in my busy week when I can make time to relax.

This photograph says it all - a cup of tea in my VERY favorite mug of ALL time (a wonderful Christmas gift from my dearest friend Gioia) - Made by Emma Bridgewater, with beautiful English Robins painted all around,, somehow tea ALWAYS tastes best in this mug.. (by the way, did you know that English Robins are quite different from American Robins?? I might perhaps cover this subject in a future blog, as I love and miss English robins.)

Anyway, back to the recipe for relaxation... Mug of tea,, yes,,, favorite squishy chair by the window, sunlight, birdies singing in the trees, oh,,, yes and the latest copy of the most lovely "Country Living" magazine from England. Oh, I almost forgot, some tasty sweet treat, like a nice cookie or scone (Gluten Free of course, and made with Almond Flour - Yum!) Ahhh, favorite pair of reading glasses..check, slippers on... ahhhh... perfection:)))

How do you "Relax?"

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Little Pink Slippers..

I made these little pink ballet slippers about three years ago and I can honestly say, I was excited by how they turned out. They were my first attempt at felting.

A while after I finished them, my favorite yarn store Churchmouse Yarns on Bainbridge Island held a competition which I entered with my slippers. The theme was "Hands & Feet", and so, anything that could be knitted or crochet for either was applicable. After a month of being on display in the windows of the store, and being voted on by the public, the winner was announced - I won.

I was quite stunned, and so very thrilled, as this was the first and only time in my life I'd won anything.

I looked at all of the other entries, some were incredible works of art, some must have taken weeks (months?) to create. At first, I thought there must have been a mistake . Until I went to the store and shyly asked to pick up my slippers. I was presented with a generous prize of a gift certificate and was congratulated by the store owner Kit.

I'm telling you this story, because over and over again, I have and am still learning that unless I give myself permission to jump right into something, I will always believe that "those things" are for other people to achieve. If I hadn't started my first felting project, I couldn't have won the first prize, until I signed up to run that half marathon I would not have experienced the sheer exhilaration of running with thousands of people, and the feeling of self power and achievement of the experience.

Until I committed to myself that I would write this daily blog about FINDING LOVE, I would never have known that I could a) write down my thoughts and feelings and put them out into the world b) have had so much LOVE come right back at me. ( I had no idea just how much love, kindness and support was/is there just waiting.)

All I/We have to do is remember to always say "Yes" to our dreams...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cheery little birds...

Meet Carpodacus mexicanus, also less exotically known as "House Finch." He and his friends are regular feeders at our deck. They stand out even on the most wintery, grey days because of their lovely vermillion red coloring. I love to hear their happy warbling, it warms my heart on a cold day, so much so that I have to pop outside and sprinkle them some fresh seed.

I put seed out at least once a day for the birds, especially when its cold, and I usually do so first thing in the morning, but..., sometimes on the days when I'm still half asleep, I like to sit for a while, with a cup of hot tea (Earl Grey please with a touch of half and half.) I like to take a few minutes to ponder life's many mysteries.. (or, more likely to try and figure out the weird dream I'd had during the night!)

But its not long before I get the feeling I'm being watched.., usually Caelin (sat clutching his cup of hot Earl Grey,) will say.."they're looking at you," or "their waiting for their breakfast." I turn around slowly in my chair and find half a dozen pairs of beady little eyes staring at me , looking down at the empty feeder, then back up at me. Then, perhaps they'll hop a little further along the deck, look down.. oops! seed, then look meaningfully back at me... This goes on for a few minutes.. (I can't take the guilt for much longer than that...) About this time, I get up, and they get to pretend to be afraid of me, and fly off to a nearby branch, (where they can still keep a close eye on me) as I clomp my clogs on and go out to the bin where the seed is stored.

At this point they all start chattering furiously between themselves, I imagine them saying..., "about time" and "I thought she was never going to finish with that cup of tea" and other such things, and before I know it all the trees are full of chatterings (news travels fast in the woods.) I fill the feeders first, at which point, (usually) a black-capped chickadee (too ravenous to wait) will swoop down, give a quick "dee, dee, dee," grab a sunflower seed and zip off again to a safe post. I then sprinkle seeds along the railing, by this time, the gossip in the trees is quite raucous and they are all positively besides themselves with anticipation... So I click the bin shut "click, click" and head inside. By the time I've taken my clogs off, warmed up the remainder of my tea, and taken my post at the chair by the window... we have a host of little winged treasures, just like the one pictured above, happily noshing down their breakfast at various speeds, talking between nibbles, arguing as to who's got the best spot and so on...

Its my favorite way to start the day...,,, what's your's???

Monday, March 15, 2010

What To Remember When Waking

David Whyte is a favorite Poet of mine. During a recent visit to my friend Ruth's house, I
was reminded again of his amazing talent when I found a copy of his latest collection of poetry.
"River Flow, New & Selected Poems 1984-2007." His words take my breath away.

Today I'm including one of his poems, "What To Remember When Waking." I particularly love his lines - "You are not
a troubled guest
on this earth,
you are not
an accident"...

Read it if you feel like it, I think you'll see what I mean...

What To Remember When Waking
by David Whyte

In that first
hardly noticed
in which you wake,
coming back
to this life
from the other
more secret,
and frighteningly
where everything
there is a small
into the day
which closes
the moment
you begin
your plans.

What you can plan
is too small
for you to live.

What you can live
will make plans
for the vitality
hidden in your sleep.

To be human
is to become visible,
while carrying
what is hidden
as a gift to others.

To remember
the other world
in this world
is to live in your
true inheritance.

you are not
a troubled guest
on this earth,
you are not
an accident
amidst other accidents,
you were invited
from another and greater
than the one
from which
you have just emerged.

Now, looking through
the slanting light
of the morning
window toward
the mountain
of everything
that can be,
what urgency
calls you to your
one love? What shape
waits in the seed
of you to grow
and spread
its branches
against a future sky?

Is it waiting
in the fertile sea?
In the trees
beyond the house?
In the life
you can imagine
for yourself?
In the open
and lovely
white page
on the waiting desk?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Our Lady of the Kitchen Sink Altar

It started when I was cruising the "ethnic" aisle at our local Safeway, she was just beaming down at me - The Virgen de Guadalupe candle.I had to have one. I brought her home, unloaded the rest of my shopping and gave her space right in the middle of my small and very crowded counter top, where she had to keep company with a juicer, kitchen aid mixer, bowl of apples, basket of vegetables, washing up liquid, pot scrubber, hand soap, recipe keeper... (you get the idea?) But, she didn't complain, she just said, "light me." So I did, and you know what..? I instantly felt calmer. I began to put some food away, pull out other food from the refrigerator and started dinner. I kept her lit whilst I made dinner, and for several hours afterwards, she added a certain peacefulness to the kitchen. The next morning I lit her up and again, I felt the same quiet and calm, and for a couple more days, I kept her lit whenever I was home.Today, I decided to give her AND myself some space. I looked at everything on the counter and asked myself, "do I need this, do I use this, do I want this?" If I was answered with a clear "yes." I knew that I had to keep it on hand, everything else got put in storage, or under the sink so as to be easily at hand.The Virgen de Guadalupe was given place of honor, then I thought, hmmm, I think she'd like some flowers (she agreed.) Then a little bowl of potpurri and a couple of extra candles (she liked the extra light.)I took a step back, turned off the kitchen lights, and drew in my breath.I had shifted the whole feel of the kitchen. A place where I spend a great deal of time.The simple act of taking away "things I (thought) needed" and then l-i-s-t-e-n-e-d to what to do next.....I was able to bring peace, beauty and calm into my kitchen