Tag Archive: gardening


2012 in Review


Time to review the year to see what I was up to. Let’s see here:

January
*had nice Christmas
*terrible trouble with daughter’s teacher
*husband’s wisdom teeth out
*worrying about the cats: getting old

February
*really worrying about the cats, particularly Babalon
*trying to get my shit together on the home front, organization front, and health front
*still working on a suitable med regimen for the brainmeats
*want to go to annual women’s camping trip but am really over the woman-power thing

March
*despairing over continued brainmeat trouble
*despairing over my weight
*annual depression over daughter getting older
*gardening

April
*daughter turns 9
*lost best friend when she suddenly frittered her children away to another country, as did daughter
*yet another break with my brother
*more weight loss stuff
*more crap with daughter’s teacher
*more gardening
*miss women’s camping trip, rue loss of connection to pagan-ness
*begin Spiritual Nomad
*writing more
*car trouble
*watching Star Trek: Voyager start to finish
*realization Babalon is dying

May
*more Spiritual Nomad: serious re-organization of every spiritual surface and object in the house
*serious house flensing/culling of stuff
*YinYang dies unexpectedly: absolutely breaks my heart

June
*Babalon begins winding down and dies a month after YinYang: long time coming but no less hurtful
*get very upset with vet when they bungle Babalon’s death by not cleaning her up after her euthananization or taking her pawprints like they did with YinYang
*hit critical self-loathing point with body image

July
*working on book projects hard again
*seriously grieving over the cats, feeling guilty about not being able to save YinYang
*daughter loses two friendships, one in RL and one online, when their parents let their personal feelings overrule what’s good for the kids
*adopt a new cat, Alex, who turns out to have pneumonia and dies a week later on our bed in front of all three of us: good times
*begin fostering cats: will have six by the end of the month
*adopt two kittens, Shadow and Zen
*begin using new attendance tracking system at work: will take at least two months to implement

August
*get call from niece’s mother asking if she can come to live with us: she retracts her request a week later
*work like a crazy woman on my book: get a nice copy of the 4th draft printed out

September
*terrible brainmeat trouble: anxious, noisy head, mood swings
*realize it’s because of sporadic Wellbutrin intake due to putting off filling the scrip
*get my first foster cats adopted out: bittersweet parting
*very stressed out at work trying to do two major things at once
*begin watching all of Star Trek: Next Generation

October
*finally implement new attendance system at work after some serious stress and tears over setting it up
*continued brainmeat trouble: angry much of the time
*trouble relating to daughter: a lot of strife in the house

November
*siblings-in-law visit from out of town
*adopt out two more foster kittens: leaves just one, whom we consider adopting
*hear scary things about nearby middle school daughter might attend: think about moving
*go to 11th Rush show with daughter and husband: her 2nd and his 1st

December
*adopt last foster kitten: name her Bhakti (devotion)
*decide not to foster any more cats for a little while
*discover that B vitamins and a multivitamin do incredible things for my mental health
*get back on the exercise wagon

My repeating themes seem to be body image and weight loss, personal organization and improvement, mental health management, and cats.

I can’t believe I had three cats die this year. I can’t believe YinYang died. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over that. It still breaks my heart to think about it. And I still feel guilty about not being able to save him. All I can think about is every financial decision I could have made differently in the months before he died that might have freed up more money, or if I had gotten him to the vet sooner, maybe he’d still be with us. I know I shouldn’t think like that, but I can’t help it sometimes. I just loved that cat so much. And it’s the first time in my life that anyone close to me that I cared for so deeply has died. The fact that he only weighed 12-18 pounds and had four feet doesn’t make any difference. We still ‘spoke’, and he was my friend. I miss him so much.

That’s what I will remember about 2012 the most. I’ll also remember how good it felt to turn right around and help out cats in need by fostering them. I fostered six cats this year and found homes for five of them. The sixth one wound up staying here. I adopted four cats myself this year, though one wound up dying. I was a bit of a crazy cat lady for a little while there. I liked it though. It was great fun having so many kittens in the house. They were just darling. It was good to have the life energy after so much death.

It’s hard, though. Particularly if they have any medical problem that needs medicating. I hate medicating cats, especially adult cats. Poor Evelyn absolutelyhated my husband because he was the one who held her while I gave her meds. Kittens are easier. Ringworm is a bitch to kill. It takes a long time.

At the end of the year, I’m finally getting back into the swing of being healthy and exercising. I’m just going to focus on the exercise for the moment and worry about the diet later. I can only do one thing at a time. I’m happy to be down to around 230, which is about 14 pounds lighter than at the beginning of the year. I’d like to get back down to below 200. Then clothes are easier to find and I don’t feel so chunky. Yoga is easier to do. Exercise is easier. Everything is easier. And I feel better about myself, which is the most important thing. Maybe more important than the physical health benefits.

My big goal for 2013 is to finish my book and farm it out to memoir publishers. I have this inner critical voice that keeps scolding, “What makes you so special that you think people are going to want to read about your life? What have you really done with your life?” Well, I’m still upright and breathing, which considering what I went through, I think is relatively remarkable. And for the most part, I haven’t succumbed to the same demons that plagued my parents and the people before them, and the ones that do plague me, I can’t do anything about except manage them (namely, having bipolar disorder). And I won’t know if anyone thinks it’s worthy of reading until I put it out there. I’ve already had a couple of friends read it and they basically said, “Wow.” I’ll take that and run with it.

After all of the death and strife of 2012, 2013 has to be better.

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Head Down


I haven’t written in three weeks, not since the post I wrote about the third cat of the summer dying just a week after we’d adopted him.  I can’t imagine why I might not have been feeling very ebullient.

I did throw myself into a project, though.  In recent months, I’ve been working on my memoir, which will in all likelihood go by the same title as this blog.  It’s a story that’s impossible to tell without delving deeply into the nature of family relationships.  In the instance of my own family, the relationship between myself, my mother, and my grandmother in particular.  That was a story unto itself, so I outlined it with the help of a shitload of letters that I came into the possession of when my grandmother’s childhood and beyond best friend had them sent to me.  They spanned from 1940 to the mid-2000s and told quite a tale that told me a great deal about my grandmother and how she may have contributed to the troubled relationship she had with my mother.  I put all that together with what I had of my own material in the form of photographs, memories, and genealogical data to piece together a century-long tale of adventure, sorrow, intrigue, despair, and resolve.

It’s early yet, so I don’t know if it will be something that stands by itself or if it will be part of the memoir, which now needs its second serious editing pass.  That will take a while and will be an interesting exercise in seeing how good I am at slowing down enough to really analyze my own writing well enough to significantly cut it.  Right now it’s like a music piece with too many notes, so it sounds busy and muddy.  Some of them have got to come out.  I do think that if each project were edited properly that they could be put together, and that along with all of the photographs, letters, and genealogical data I have, it could be really really cool.

So that’s what I’ve been working on.  And when I’m working on a big project, everything else slides.  Including my blog.  I needed something to work on, though, to get through the stress of the cats dying.  After the first cat died, I planted a 6’x8′ garden with corn, beans, and squash that is now (mostly) looking pretty darn good.  The broomcorn is blooming and there are baby melons on some of the vines.  The beans are flowering, too, so I expect some of those soon as well.  The whole thing needs fertilizer, a tilling, and mulch.  It’s somehow comforting to see the continued result of something that I planted while deeply in pain and attempting to manifest life after experiencing death.

After the second cat died, I finished up the first editing and collating pass of the memoir and sent it out to anyone who had expressed interest in looking at it.  It was much cleaner after I had taken out some travelogues that should really be appendices or a little book of their own.  I also fixed some of my attempts at playing with writing in third tense rather than first.  It was fun, but sounded pretentious and removed my ability to use that device when I needed to fill in important events that needed describing in that sort of style.  Plus, it’s my story: I should write it from my perspective.  Then the third cat died and I worked on the family history project.

So here I am with a lot of potential, and a lot of work.  One of my oldest and best friends who also has an English degree has been graciously lending her help to me on this project and was kind enough to let me know that my request for editing help was a little premature, but gave me enough to work with using my introduction to allow me to do the same to the rest of the book (and to the other one, now that it’s been written).  Fortunately, I have the ‘problem’ of having to take words out, rather than put them in.  No teacher has ever accused me of using too few words!  I should just make a list of rules to follow and get to identifying everywhere they’ve been broken.

Back to cats, some good did come out of the whole situation.  In an effort to make me happy and to save face for the organization, the people who adopted the sick cat to us in the first place graciously adopted the two kittens we were fostering to us for free.  So we are a three-cat household again.  Our existing cat has warmed right up to them, incredibly.  We thought that she might not, given that she’s so old.  Indeed, she was quite upset for several days, particularly because we had moved her food dish to be closer to theirs so they could get used to each other’s smells.  Once everything was back where it was supposed to be, she was happy again and they’re all getting along fine.  And of course, kittens!!!

We’re still fostering cats, as well.  At the moment, we have a mama and her two young kittens, about 5-6 weeks old.  Which means they’re stupid-noises cute.  Mama’s still a juvenile too, and has a high-pitched chirrup-y meow that is also incredibly cute.  I’m looking forward to finding homes for them, despite my fondness for them.  I’m sure there will be some heart-tugging when it’s time for them to go, but I’ll be happy when they find their forever-homes.

But wait, there’s more, now how much would you pay?  Today, I’m picking up a set of 3-week or so old kittens to live in our back bathroom.  If they weren’t begging for kitten fosters at the moment, I wouldn’t, but I have the space and it’s hard for me to ignore emails telling me that if they don’t foster kittens, others will be euthanized.  Yes, I’m that sucker, but it’s me and suckers like me that are attempting to keep Austin a no-kill city, which we (mostly) are.  So having an extra set of kittens is a trial run.  If it’s just too much to handle, we won’t do it again, but hey, it might be fun and it’s a good thing to do.  The only drawback so far is the increased expense in cat food and litter.  And having to sanitize our hands constantly, at least for a couple of weeks (standard initial isolation procedure).  On the upside, kittens!!!  🙂

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. 🙂 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. 🙂


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.  🙂


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. 😦 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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