Category: Gardening


Healing Garden


Well, it’s been just over a week since the cat died. I feel much better today than I did a week ago: I cry a little less each day. I planted a whole garden a couple of days after we buried him, and now the seeds are coming up. I go out to water them every day and I always say hello to his little mound by the cat statue.

In his absence, his sister, Samadhi (sah-mah-DEE correctly, but we’ve always said it wrong and accent the middle syllable: oh well), has taken up his old habits and sleeping spots. Not all of them, but enough for me to notice that her behavior more resembles YinYang’s than it did before. Which strikes me funny, because she’s never really liked him, nor him her. Not that I don’t have pictures of them sleeping together, but they did have a classic sibling rivalry going on throughout their lives. I’m sure she misses him in her own way. Though I think both she and their mother knew far before I did that he was on his way out of this world and said their goodbyes a long time ago. It occured to me later than neither of them had really spent any time with him at all in a couple of months, and it was odd for his mother not to tackle him every now and then and give him a bath. Something else I didn’t notice and am trying not to beat myself up over.

Back to the garden, though. I think I may have mentioned before that I’m planting a “Three Sisters” garden, the traditional Native American combination of corn, beans, and squash. You can use any vining vegetable, not just squash, so it’s filled with pumpkin, gourds, cucumber, squash, melon, and watermelon. I have several seed varieties of midget melons, which will be perfect for our three-person household. The plans I’ve read call for planting the vining plant seeds in groups of three, and vining seeds are usually planted three at a time anyway, so there are three groups of three in each area. Some of them have three different things growing out of them! Or will, anyway. So there will be about ten different things growing out there, hopefully, and not too much of each thing, so we won’t have to worry about wasting a lot of fruit.

There are also four kinds of beans and two kinds of corn growing. There’s some colored corn, like you can get in the fall, and also broomcorn, which should grow in a bunch of different bright colors and can be tied into bunches for decoration. If there’s enough, I’ll be gifting some of that to my friends. I’ll be gifting *any* leftovers or extras to my friends, for that matter. Anyway, the beans. Two bush varieties and two climbing varieties. One of the bean varieties is called “yin-yang” because they’re black and white swirled together. I thought that was fitting. ūüôā The others are “dragon’s tongue”, pretty purple beans; Hidatsa, a brown traditional Native variety; and “mother stallard”, a red-and-white speckled bean. Two of them are for drying, the others for eating fresh.

I’m very interested to see how this garden patch turns out! I’ll be posting pictures as soon as there’s anything to take pictures of. Elsewhere in the garden, the Mediterranean herb patch is growing extremely well. I’m already pruning back the various oregano plants so they bush instead of sprawl. Next year I bet it’s wall-to-wall oregano and thyme at that end of the raised bed. At the other end, the rosemary, lavender, and Mexican tarragon are all doing great. I’m pleased to be successfully growing a rosemary plant! And it will *stay* there. I’ve killed them before by trying to transplant them. They just don’t like it. I’ve also killed them by overwatering them. All three of those plants will thrive in poor, relatively dry soil with infrequent watering and fertilizing. In fact, they prefer it. So they’re at the other end of the garden bed where they’ll get less water than the rest. I’m also eager to see that end bush out nicely. And today, I got a blood orange tree! ¬†I *lovelovelove* the way citrus flowers smell. ¬†I’m *so* looking forward to it blooming and making oranges for me.

Got back to work on Tuesday. There were many emails awaiting me. I spent most of my shift just catching up. The next day I went to a social media marketing seminar, which sounds incredibly boring (and was for a couple of hours: I know how to use Facebook better than most people already), but gave me a lot of information I can use at work. That seminar combined with another about non-profit marketing strategies and a book about non-profit sustainability gives me a whole lot to work with in terms of better promotion of the school.

I really enjoy my job. I haven’t really enjoyed a job since I worked at the bookstore way back in the mid-to-late 90s. I’m quite passionate about books and am also an organizing nut, so things like the Dewey decimal system and bookstore sections get me all hot and bothered. It was very hurtful to me when politics and personal drama seemed to overtake the mission of the store¬†and I eventually had to move on. I’ve been looking for something that really fires me up ever since then, if not in exactly that way. I think I have it now and hope I have the privilege of staying on for a good long time.

Right now, though, it’s my day off. Time to resume wasting time on the internet. ūüôā

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It seems to me that there are probably as many ways to pray as there are people on the Earth. ¬†We also seem to group together according to how similarly we pray, I’ve noticed.

When first I asked the question of myself, “How do I pray?”, the answer was, “I don’t.” ¬†Immediately followed by, “Bullshit.” ¬†I don’t think it’s possible for someone who proclaims to feel spiritual energy as readily as I claim to,¬†not¬†to pray. ¬†There must be¬†some¬†way that I pray, however subconsciously. ¬†I need to expand my definition of what “pray” means.

At its most basic, “praying” is whatever method I choose at that particular moment to try to speak to God. ¬†I have used many methods of prayer over the years. ¬†There’s the regular verbal kind that most people think of, of course, though I don’t see that as the most fulfilling, personally. ¬†There’s the musical kind of prayer, with which I am the most familiar. ¬†I can play saxophone, flute, and a variety of hand drums, and any of them has felt more like praying than any words than I have ever used. ¬†There’s the artistic form of prayer, with which I was intimately familiar for several years until I tried to mix prayer with business and turn my art into a way of living. ¬†That turned out badly on both fronts and I have only recently begun to use art as prayer again (due in no small part to Spiritual Nomad).

Gardening is a form of prayer to me, as well as a form of meditation (so is fishkeeping). ¬†In fact, music and art are also forms of meditation to me. ¬†Maybe that’s why I have found both meditation and prayer so difficult whenever I have tried to pursue each one individually. ¬†I think something needs to serve both roles in order to be a truly fulfilling exercise. ¬†In any case, yes to gardening and fishkeeping as forms of prayer and meditation. ¬†They’re also the things that put me into closest touch with my primary aspect of God, which is Nature itself.

I also pray like a scientist, which is something of a paradoxical notion in our society. ¬†Science and God seem to be mutually exclusive in America, and perhaps the Western World in general. ¬†I see no difference between the two, though, and am constantly frustrated by the world’s attempts to keep the two separate. ¬†We could do even more amazing things if we stopped trying to keep the two things apart. ¬†To me, a tornado is not just a series of mathematical equations that describe atmospheric shear, turbulence, potential energy, and wind speed. ¬†It’s one of the most powerful forces on the face of the planet and almost certainly ranks up there with the other great meteorological forces of the solar system. ¬†Yes, it may just be an artifact of rising and sinking airmasses combined with the Coriolis effect, but that does not diminish its power or beauty nor the feeling in my heart when I see one (though to date I’ve never seen one in person: I’m not sure I need to to appreciate its grandeur). ¬†If I had to call a single place on Earth my temple, it would be The Sky.

Two other forms of prayer and meditation: cooking and baking. ¬†Each is slightly different. ¬†Cooking is more intuitive and is open to the “dash of this, bit of that” method of kitchen things. ¬†Baking is less forgiving and is more like chemistry to me (probably because it is). ¬†Both demand healthy helpings of love for optimum taste. ¬†If you can’t taste the love, I didn’t do it right (read¬†Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel for an excellent fictional treatise on the magic of food). ¬†There’s a great deal of peace and calm that come from slowing down enough to really enjoy the processes of cooking and baking. ¬†If they’re hurried and are done only for the purpose of physical nourishment, there’s not so much energy in that. ¬†We don’t usually enjoy those meals very much.

A form of prayer and meditation that I am remiss in not mentioning yet is karate. ¬†It’s difficult to describe the seemingly conflicting energies of force and calm, but there’s a push/pull kind of thing going on that is like waves lapping on a shore. ¬†There’s a rhythm at work that will break me if I work against it, but propels me if I don’t. ¬†Karate’s very much like yoga in that way, which is yet another form of meditation and prayer that I very much enjoy. ¬†It even involves a bit of prostration, which feels a lot like bowing in karate and is calming to me. ¬†It is enjoying these two very physical forms of prayer that makes me want to explore yet another physical way of praying and meditating: dancing.

Dancing scares me in much the same way that singing does, though even moreso. ¬†If I am frozen into silence by the sound of my own voice, I am petrified to stone by the thought of moving my body in a rhythmic way. ¬†I’m not sure what about dancing is different from karate and yoga, though I’m guessing the former is much more freeform and less rigid than yoga and karate forms. ¬†And I do have trouble operating without guidelines, which is what dancing seems to demand. ¬†Rules and dancing seem diametrically opposed, even though I don’t dance (yet).

So those are more hidden forms of prayer for me. ¬†Dancing is also there, but I haven’t used it yet. ¬†Unlike the form I am currently using: writing. ¬†If writing is prayer, I pray at least every other day, if not more. ¬†The more I write, the more I want to write, and the more I like what I write. ¬†I use it so often that it now defies description, unlike other more obscure forms of prayer that aren’t hidden to me, but are less well-used: exercising and running. ¬†When I do those things, I can feel the rusty bits fall off the cogs and can see down the path to where they can take me, but I do them so infrequently that they never gain any momentum. ¬†That’s going to be one of my goals this year: practicing my more physical forms of prayer as often as I can. ¬†Of all of them, I feel they’re the best for me in all aspects.

Other ways that I have prayed before are by using mudras in yoga and meditation. ¬†Mudras are essentially meditative or prayerful hand gestures. ¬†There are tomes filled with the different ways the Hindu deities as well as Buddha will hold their hands, each signifying something different. ¬†I’ve also read Tarot cards, though that is another method that doesn’t get used very often and probably should. ¬†It’s not such a hard thing to draw a card a day to meditate upon. ¬†Along those lines, astrology can be a form of prayer for me if it’s done as a daily reading. ¬†It’s a way of opening myself to whatever the energies of the day might bring. ¬†Over time, it’s just a generally good method of keeping myself “open”. ¬†Which is a good thing for someone who gets really rigid sometimes. ¬†I also very much enjoy walking meditating/praying. ¬†I can do this with or without a labyrinth. ¬†It’s all about putting one foot in front of the other and nothing more.

Perhaps my most powerful method of prayer in the past, has been to do nothing. ¬†Others would call it meditation, but either the descriptions I have read of meditation fall as short as my own do, or I’m getting to a place that neither meditation nor prayer can reach by themselves. ¬†I have to be in the right space to do this, and when I am in that right space, it happens automatically. ¬†I have experienced this in fleeting moments, all in Nature, but every one of them perfect wells of peace, calm, and oneness. ¬†I have wished I could bottle those moments and take them with me, they are so perfect. ¬†And they are why I yearn to travel to the distant and isolated corners of the world, because that is where those moments happen. ¬†In a Texas field devoid of sound save for the blowing wind. ¬†In a car bespying distant, purple-hued mountains for the first time. ¬†On a plane to a new place and seeing a lightning bolt jag from the sky to a spot on the shore left blazing by the light. ¬†Driving through ancient, wet, green forests, or the endless expanse of the desert. ¬†They just happen, like striking the edge of a singing bowl and reverberating for days past their experience.

Perhaps I have not been as bad at praying as I thought I was. ¬†ūüôā


I’ve been neglecting my little blog here. ¬†It started as a way to explore my particular spiritual journey and then morphed into a venue to spew my thoughts about being diagnosed as bipolar. ¬†That was just over a year ago. ¬†Since then I’ve found a set of meds that really help but don’t cause any side effects, that I can tell. ¬†My job is more stable and steady now that I’m not having to essentially create it out of whole cloth (I’m the first official employee at my dojo: everything had been mostly done by our Sensei, who isn’t exactly thrilled about administrative work). ¬†I’m even (gasp!) saving money! ¬†I’ve been taking money out of each paycheck and stowing it in the savings account so that the next time something big comes along (like the terrible squealing noise my husband’s car is making) it won’t be a financial crisis.

Now that things in my life are a bit better, I’m trying to pick up the writing habit again. ¬†So I’ll be using 750 Words a lot more and posting what I write there, here, depending on the day’s topic. ¬†With a typing speed of 80-90wpm, 750 words only takes me about 15 minutes to write. ¬†I know I can make 15 minutes available every morning.

With that in mind, here are today’s words:

My hands and arms are a little sore today. I spent a couple of hours yesterday trimming the neighbor’s peach tree, pecan saplings, and Lady Banksia rosebush that were all intruding upon my yard and shading the grass so much that it died. I’m not quite done with the project, either: there are still several tendrils of the rosebush waaaaay up in the pecan saplings (I don’t know if I can still reasonably call them saplings if they’re 10-15′ high). I’ll try to finish that today, but I’ve noticed that now that I’m a little bit older, I can’t just launch myself into a project for days at a time, every day. I have to have at least a little rest. ¬†That could be because my fitness level isn’t what it should be right now, and I’m still quite overweight from last year’s spate with various medications.

Speaking of work and rest, I wish I knew why I can’t just pass out at the end of a day of hard work like other people seem able to. I can whack bushes all day long, but at night I’m still doing my usual routine of watching tv until I fall asleep around 1 or 2 in the morning. Which Reid tells me is a bad thing to do to my brain. I wish I didn’t like tv so much! I really like watching shows and movies, though I admit that I should probably watch less and read more. In fact, I just gave ‘read’ a point bump in Joe’s Goals so that I have more incentive to do just that. It’s not like I lack for books!

I’m considering doing something similar to the Julie & Julia blog, where I slowly go through ALL of my books and blog about each one when I’m finished with it (or chuck it aside in boredom). Obviously I won’t be reading a book a day (though in the absence of anything else to do, I can) and it will probably take me at least two years, if not a great deal more, to get through our entire collection. Some books I won’t care to read, like my husband’s Christianity books, but others I really do want to read. I have an astounding collection, compared to most, of spirituality books of a wide variety, not to mention several Stephen King books I have yet to read (bad fan!). During this time, I really should refrain from checking more than one book out from the library, and only when I really need a book on something that I don’t have in the house, which shouldn’t happen very often.

Something else I’ll be doing every day, hopefully, is writing about the Spiritual Nomad series I’m taking from my friend¬†Sylvan. There are lots of assignments and projects to do, and we are encouraged to blog about them so she can link to them. So I’ll be trying to re-establish my writing habit that lithium killed, while expanding my spiritual horizons at the same time.

In the meantime, I still have a shitload of gardening to do. There’s the aforementioned tree trimming that needs to be completed, and the fence needs to be “shaved and topped” of the shrubbery that has grown out of control in the presence of too much sun, now that those giant trees behind our house are gone. ūüė¶ I still have a whole garden bed to plant, and it’s going to be filled with the “three sisters”: the Native American tradition of planting corn, beans, and squash together. The corn goes in the middle with beans surrounding it, and then squash (or melons) around all that. There’s supposed to be a minimum of 4′ of space between each corn hill, which I have in one direction, but in the other it’s only 3′. I hope that’s not a problem later on.

The only thing I’m really worried about garden-wise is the wildlife. I have squirrels all day long, and then at night there are possums and raccoons. All of which are happy to divest me of my vegetables, usually before they’re even ripe, little fuckers. I’m trying to figure out how to protect the plants from the critters while still letting in the sun and making it easy for me to get to the plants. I think I’ll probably wind up going with the PVC-in-hoops method and get bird netting. I don’t want to block any sun to the beds, so shade cloth will obviously be too much. Though we’ll have to see how the summer pans out. If it’s too hot and dry, I may very well need shade cloth. ¬†Yay Texas! ¬†:/

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