gardening, holidays, nature, photography

An Amethyst Cap for the New Year

“If you don’t have a song to sing
you’re okay

you know how to get along
humming . . .”

“Waltz (Better Than Fine)” — Fiona Apple

On the last day of the year, an Anna’s Hummingbird appeared, perching gently on the edge of a cut rose bush stem. I loved the way The Cornell Lab of Ornithology described them “no larger than a ping-pong ball and no heavier than a nickel . . .with their iridescent emerald feathers and sparkling rose-pink throats, they are more like flying jewelry than birds.” Their Anna photos also use a thorny perch and float on the edge of a twig.

“Anna’s Hummingbird was originally named Ornismya anna by René Primevère Lesson in 1829, based on specimens collected by Paolo-Émilio Botta and owned by the duke and duchess of Rivoli. Lesson regarded it as one of the most beautiful hummingbirds, on account of “the bright sparkle of a red cap of the richest amethyst…” on the male’s head, and so named it after the duchess of Rivoli, Anna de Belle Masséna. Gould (1861) placed it in a new genus, Calypte, for “not only the throat, but the entire head as glitteringly resplendent as if they had been dipped in molten metal”. Calypte is greek (Кαλυπτη) for covered or hood (Holloway 2003), a reference to the male’s iridescent crown. Males turn their head from side to side as they sing, flashing the brilliant iridescence as a signal to other hummingbirds.”

I leaned against our window into the garden and took a few photos as he visited the rosebush and feeder.




gardening, language, nature, poetry

Interpretive Word Clouds


Algorithms and word clouds are good for poetry. This one is supposed to represent my most frequently used words on Facebook in the last year.


His name,
David
at my center,
dark blue time to my left and pale blue thing to my right,
years gone sideways.
Below me,  the entire garden and found light
in flowers and forest.

A wolf person producing water
underneath home goldfish, dolphins
a language dance, deep and large
life

love

work
and a word so small, I cannot interpret it.

Clinton / Sanders campaign
a paper cowboy picks freedom
country and world float above golden choice
news morning:
people and change loom large in violet
with small and dark floating thoughts
species turned
feel good song,
drunk and pretty.

feminism, gardening, interviews, music, relationships, Vortex Music Magazine, writing

Moorea Masa & The Mood: ‘The Garden’ [Song Premiere]

On Moorea Masa’s debut collaboration with J. Most, she moves into her R&B realm with a clean, crisp, almost symphonic song with plenty of room for fingersnaps, strings and sumptuous harmonies. Finding space to grow, listen now and stay tuned for more new sounds from Masa.

Every garden goes through its cycle of life. There’s the zenith of growth in summer, a gentle decline and falling away in autumn, a death or mere sleep in winter, and rebirth again in spring. So it has been for folk-soul singer Moorea Masa herself and her newly released track, “The Garden.”

Seeds of this song have been sown in various forms beginning with an acoustic performance set in a field of wildflowers as part of Chuck Johnson’s Humboldt Live Sessions in the fall of 2015 . . .

READ the rest at the Source:  Moorea Masa & The Mood: ‘The Garden’ [Song Premiere]

food, gardening, home, pets

Cat Poetics

I think our cat is trying to communicate with us, but he is a fierce lover with a filthy mouth. Our fridge is covered in magnetic poetry. Nouns, adjectives, verbs, prepositions, and articles all crammed into a word salad. Xander, our sweet, special, nervous OCD Bengal cat likes to pull down scraps of red and white words while we cook or watch tv. It’s often just the word of the day, but he does occasionally get ambitious in the middle of the night and I wake up to a confettied sentence on the floor just begging for sense to be made out of it.

He can’t help that his assistive device / sometime Ouija board is a mix of two magnetic themed setsthe Romance edition, and the Sex edition. Plus a few random cat words like MEOW. So we get oddly accurate things like “MEOW babe” “pussy voice said milk” or experimental poetics like, “please spray the bright.” Sometimes, straight up fuck poems such as, “finger her paradise world” or simple nonsense like “ready my beach.”

But the first of September arrived bringing cooler rainy weather with it, and as I packed my breakfast and lunch for work, Xander scratched off an extremely apt poem:

summerover-shudderfluff

That night, I came home and lit candles early to fill the house with warm light and scent as I cooked and he delivered “candle dinner” in red, which was a bit eerie.

Today my mother had major abdominal surgery. We all texted and called and prayed and well-wished until later, I was relieved to hear her voice—groggy, but chuckling, telling me in small voice that she loved me. Wrung out with worry, I headed out to the garden at dusk for a late summer harvest of tomatoes. Xander meowed, fished three times, and softly commented, “empty our soul.”

education, gardening, travel, weather, work & employment

moving on . . .

Yes. I know. It’s been since February . . .  but let me explain:

We’ve moved our home from Southwest to Northeast Portland
(from the South Burlingame to Irvington neighborhood).

I’d barely finished Winter term when Spring Semester was
already bursting through the ground (like those new black
and red tulips I left behind and the compost bin I had going.)
that would’ve come in handy for some fresh gardening.

And soon, I will be helping my boss to move our office . . .
Does the fun ever end?

i’ll tell you all the rest soon!

books, food, gardening, love, nature, photography, travel

Back To The Garden

::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: :::

We are stardust, we are golden,
We are billion year old carbon,
And we’ve got to get ourselves
back to the garden.

~ Joni Mitchell

::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: ::: :::

I know, i’ve been remiss at posting. But it’s been for good and happy reasons. It was months packed with gardening, visiting gardens, hosting a Pagan Potluck for Easter, reading, cooking, eating, drinking, berry picking, jamming, canning, beach vacationing and when i wasn’t too busy doing all that – i took some quiet time out for the Ancient Forest at Opal Creek.

Hmmm . . . so because i’ve been immersed and seeing and doing, what’s the best way to describe the last couple months of activity?

Visually! Of course . . .

In My Garden

(see the full set on Flickr)

closed mouth

Spanish Lavender & Bumblebee girl & boy hydrangea

view from the gargen 2 hearts

poppy Clematis

 



Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

(see the full set on Flickr)

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden 003 Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden 010

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden 024 Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden 008

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden 027 Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden 035


 


Holden Beach, NC

(see the full set on Flickr)

hat day rainbow umbrella

gaillardia in hand squiggly sand

snail 3 painted lady on my finger

seagull in the sky lizard

snail shell full moon on the ocean



Opal Creek Ancient Forest

(see the full set on Flickr)

so clear 1 view from the hammock 2

pile up Antique Truck at Jawbone Flats 2

woodsy ornaments hiking elf

more soon.

again.

i promise

food, friends, gardening, music, nature, technology, travel, weather

Soil Soft as Summer

:::   :::   :::   :::

The open palm of desire
Wants everything
It wants everything
It wants soil as soft as summer
And the strength to push like spring

~ Further To Fly by Paul Simon

:::   :::   :::   :::

A few nites ago, a wicked rainstorm, which usually puts me to sleep or better – makes me feel lusty, instead put me in a most melancholy mood. Also – the lightning was wild and plentiful, flashing on and off like a constant power surge, as if someone were flicking the light switch in my room, keeping me half-awake for hours. i rose reluctant and weary, bleary-eyed, trying to recall twisted dreams.

It has been raining on and off now for 3 days and no sign of it letting up. the forecast for the next week reads like an incessant moody blue cloud of a poem:

Showers and thunderstorms.
Some thunderstorms may produce heavy rainfall.
Torrential rain will be possible with these showers.
Mostly cloudy with a chance of showers and thunderstorms.
Cloudy. A chance of showers and thunderstorms in the morning…
. . . then showers and thunderstorms likely in the afternoon.
Tonight – showers and thunderstorms likely.
Showers and thunderstorms likely in the morning…
Flash Flood Watch in effect through this evening…
Mostly cloudy with a chance of . . .
Partly cloudy with a chance  . . .
Mostly cloudy.
Mostly . . .
Likely.
Rain.

Along with the rumble in the sky, the neighbors have been building something. Again. Last time it was 5 days of clunking and knocking as they installed new flooring. The whole house reverberated with the swing and mark of two hammers hitting wood. His and hers. For the last three days, it’s been tentative tapping somewhere further off in the house. (maybe since the last time i banged on the wall at 8am when i found this to be an unreasonable hour to make so much fucking racket.) But i can hear it whether i’m in bed, at my desk or downstairs cooking eggs. i’m beginning to think they are elves and cobblers. Ruummmmble roll, crackle, tap tap tap tap tap tap. This beat of rain and thunder and punctuating hammerstrokes is droning on and on and on and maybe, just maybe i’ll go mad.

Two nites ago i drank, i think, too much wine (if that’s possible for me) in late celebration of my birthday (week) with a few friends. One bottle was sent to me from a friend, Drew, in California, a Pinot Noir from Willamette, Oregon. i had come home in the afternoon in between shifts on a 12-hour double and there was this package with Happy Birthday in black sharpie written on the outside. it reminded me of a flower box, long and deep, and then i unwrapped the label “Sass,” and had a good snicker to myself. how appropriate. His prelude message read: “You are the anthropomorphic embodiment of this Wine’s Color, Size, Disposition, and Flavor. Hope you like it.”

i liked it alright; it was ruby, dirty, fruity and chocolate goodness. And as always, good wine spurs good conversation and with three wise women, Nicole, Lesley and Jean it went on to waxing love’s philosophies until Nicole, in an emphatic discussion, toppled her wine glass and we shuffled about cleaning as Jean and Lesley (both of whom work too early to conscionably get loaded) took their leave. Nicole convinced her boyfriend Brian to make homemade biscuits and gravy and soon enough we had a slightly over-baked but warm and edible version of breakfast. i poured myself out the door at 4am and found myself weeping a bit openly and unexpectedly as i drove in the rain amidst my thoughts, thankful for at least, a talkative cat when i arrived home. it can get so lonely, even when you’re surrounded by friends, which is to say – i get lonely. And then, you know – i get it in my mind to initiate a bit of a drunk dial, only to find disconnections of not-oft dialed numbers and eventually a sleepy, but willing voice. Thank all good graces for my friends.

But i should move from this grim business of rain and drunkards and think about sunshine and music and poppies and light again on the goodness of friends  – even ones i don’t know in this disembodied, alternate state of conscious living, the online community. Some of these friends seem to know me and my tastes better than people i spend most of my direct and physical days with, and that’s fucking impressive.

i have known some of them for the better part of 8-10 years and only recently had the opportunity to meet a handful of them in the real. some people i only know through their writing or their photography or comedy or art or music or whatever it is they do to create and express. And some of these people have imparted on me inspiration, cheer, well-wishing, encouragement, down-right deep flattery, and the most apropos gifts at the most unexpected intervals.

i’m waiting for Monday – for a day off to sit around and package things i’ve meant to be packaging. i truly enjoy sending gifts to people when they don’t expect it. so much better than obvious holidays or birthdays. i take great care in accumulating little things and cards and glitter and confetti and stickers and specialty paper and then i put on music and think of them opening it and enjoy the whole process.

Most recently, me and 6 photographers on deviantART who have never met did a mix CD exchange where we picked 100 songs that somehow define, illustrate, or describe us in some way. Also a great way to acquire new or old music we may have forgotten about and to learn a little about each other.

i picked the number 111, as it has a mystic quality to it. i’ve always liked it better than 100 and also, i’m miserable at sticking to explicit directions. (Like the one where Drew included two books in with the wine and instructed me to choose one, finish it, then open the other.) Of course, i just ripped right through the tissue paper into both of them like a cat into a grocery bag, turning the titles over in my hand, reading the descriptions and accolades on the jackets. As it is, i have 6 books piled on my nite stand with bookmarks at various places and two audio books on my iPod i’ve been listening to in my car and in bed, plus two more audiobooks to rip on my computer desk.

i like visiting different spheres and stories as my mood calls for. i am in constant flux, a multi-tasking motherfucker of the highest degree, horrible at sticking to one idea or project and often finishing 3 or more at once as their immediacy and priority call for. Ask me to tell you my favorite anything and i’ll give you at least three choices. Tell me to compile a Top 10 list on any subject and i might just burn a hole in my brain. At dinner, i often consider two small meals out of liking both and not wanting to decide on one taste alone. Gemini nature? mayhaps . . . more that i don’t want to pick/play favorites in foods, color, pastimes, friends or anything really and i don’t like to issue hurt feelings or choose something final.

Well – unless it’s love, and boy howdy, having tasted a whole lot of that in drams and dumps in several mildy satisfying configurations and variety packs over the last year, it’s safe to say i’ve become a nit-picky connoisseur bitch about that category.

But we’ll come back to that . . .

June 6th through the 8th i convinced Meg, Megan and Michael, her brave husband (in a car with 3 women) to take a short jaunt out to Pittsburgh for the Three Rivers Art Festival, primarily to see Andrew Bird (here on MySpace and his official site). He is a Chicago-born classically-trained violinist borrowing sonic everythings including Swing, Appalachian folk, Gypsy music, Jazz, Brazilian sounds and the Blues. He is parts Beck, Jeff Buckley, Devandra Barnhart and Rufus Wainwright.  He plays violin, guitar and glockenspiel all the ever while looping, even live, to create textures and whistling, warbling like an eerie, otherwordly bird with a Theremin or a UFO for vocal chords. even so, the parts he plays are spare and atmospheric but densely textured and made all the more lovely, delicate and moody with his intelligent lyrics steeped in myth, brilliant observation, whimsy and word play. His music is penetrating, magical and haunting. i’ve known nothing like it. And i wasn’t about to miss it, so we trekked out to Pennsylvania to see him perform.

We started the day early with greasy biscuit bombs of eggs and bacon and cheese plus coffee (jet fuel). On the way up we listened to comics like Dane Cook go through their routines, laughing with tears in our eyes and taking photos of each other and the passing scenery until we couldn’t, that is to say i couldn’t allow us to pass this beautiful field of red poppies dotted with velvety shoots of royal purple flowers. Simply magnificent to behold and to photograph.

me in a sea of poppies

We stayed at a beautiful Bed and Breakfast, The Arbors on the North Side, five minutes over the 6th street (Roberto Clemente) bridge and we were right in the heart of the city and festival. Jim, our illustrious host upgraded us to the Timberline Suite with a bedroom and adjacent sitting room (which i offered to Megan and Mike for a little space and privacy) and Meg and i stayed in the Sunset room. The sun was peeking through here and there when we arrived and the place was so comforting and homey, we decided to take in a day of rest and make use of the kitchen, the sunroom, the garden, and the beds for a nice afternoon nap. We took a little walk with umbrellas when a light rain began through the quiet, steeply hilled neighborhood and found the whole area flanked by cemetery, making it quite peaceful.

We took a few meals of salads and sandwiches from the cooler Megan packed and had access to the fridge and pretty much, run of the house. Jim left in the afternoon after laying out continental breakfast and we turned the place into one long pajama party. Jim baked wonderful treats; mango muffins one morning, coffee angel food cake another, fresh fruit, cereal, juices, and good coffee and teas. We drank several bottles of good wine, ordered out food for delivery that was plentiful and cheap, soaked in the hot tub room, listened to music, had wonderful conversation and restful sleep.

The second day, we made it out to the Andy Wahol Museum (a 7-floor prolific extravaganza), and The Mattress Factory (a two-building art installment). From Wikipedia on the Warhol: “Opened on May 15, 1994, the Andy Warhol Museum is the largest museum in the world dedicated to one artist. The museum’s collection includes over 4,000 Warhol art works in all media – paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculptures, and installation; the entire Andy Warhol Video Collection, 228 four minute Screen Tests, and 45 other films by Warhol; and extensive archives, most notably Warhol’s Time Capsules. While dedicated to Andy Warhol, the museum also hosts many exhibits by artists who push the boundaries of art, just as Warhol did.”

And in the basement, a photo booth, which we spent some time goofing off in. i have decided i’d like one installed in my home, as a sort of guestbook. Something magic about the way they produce photos that everyone looks good in with perfect contrast of black and white.

4 in a photo booth

It was then on to the Wednesday nite main event, the main impetus for the trip (other than to celebrate Megan’s and my birthday in tandem) . . . to see Andrew Bird LIVE. We sat right up front near the stage in folding chairs provided by the venue and the mini-magical micro-climate allowed the weather to hold out, though it had been threatening rain all day. In short, so as to not gush – it was everything i imagined it would be. i shot 60 great photos of him, picked up a rare CD and a t-shirt, got to meet him, thank him for his beautiful music and hand deliver a piece of writing that his music inspired in me.

After a couple days of filling our eyes, ears and hearts with music and art, and our bellies with wine, baked goods & cheeses (my GOD the cheese we ate!) we decided to go a little low country. We picked up some 40 oz beers (MGD & Heineken, we stayed away from Malt Liquor and brown bags) and we ordered 3 large containers of various flavored hot wings and had a ghetto feast. Later, we all piled into one bed in the suite and for the second nite in a row, attempted to watch Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil on the DVD we borrowed from our host Jim, but Meg and Megan crashed out both times, leaving Michael and i to declare bedtime for all us bonzos.

Wednesday, the last day of our trip, was full of activity and pleasant surprises. We ended up with a super-deep discount on the stay. We were to receive the weekend rate of a 2-nite stay for $195, so two rooms, 2 nites, 4 people, $100 per person for accommodations. Jim only charged us for double occupancy of the suite at $145 / nite, thus we collectively paid $300 for all of us! We left him a thank you / love note and tipped him $40 for his kindness, generosity and the time he spent sitting around talking to us, giving us directions and highlights of the local things to see and do. It was one of the most pleasant stays i have ever had, anywhere.

In the afternoon, we headed down to the actual Festival to walk around the city and take in all the local booths of jewelry, sculpture, art, crafts and food. After a couple hours and some lunch, it was time to take our rock show tour on the road. We drove back to Maryland, changed clothes and headed out to DC to the 9:30 club to see KT Tunstall. It was being filmed and it was a fantastic show with a wonderful crowd. All the people around us were fun and friendly, receptive, polite and out to have a good time.

And here’s the best part – the next morning, my friend Mike, a local guy who records sound for a number of local venues dropped a 2-disc recording of that very same show in my mailbox (as he’s also the local carrier!) what a treat to get to hear it all over again! Not only that but Michael, Megan’s husband called to see if i’d be home, dropped by my house and left me a bouquet of gorgeous flowers that included Stargazer lilies with a note thanking me for planning the perfect road trip (and declaring that i was “the poop.”) My friends are truly amazing and thoughtful people. i am gifted by graces and for lack of a better term, blessed.

3 friends, 3 days, 3 rivers, 3 bottles of wine . . . it was one of the best 3 days in memory.

By the next week when my real birthday rolled around, my friend Tiffany came in from Oregon to visit, i showed her the huge terracotta pot she had left me which i thought to be empty but was suddenly blooming blissfully orange Tiger Lilies against the “Love Lies Bleeding” Amaranth i had fertilized and planted. We put on swim suits, crawled up on my 3rd story roof, drank a bottle of wine, laid in the sun and talked about work and all things “boy.”

The day before, 12 of us went to an English High Tea at Reynold’s Tavern on a Sunday. i wore a beautiful white linen dress with gold and green floral and ivy accents, borrowed from Nicole (and breaking tradition of my usual black wardrobe.) And we picked through three tiers of scones, clotted cream, strawberry preserves, finger sandwiches, tarts and a variety of tea cakes and pastries. Everyone gave the perfect gifts! A moonstone toe ring, a book of Polaroid art photos, wine napkins, a book to log all the wine i taste, funny fridge magnets, cards with faeries and of course the gift of their attendance and company. It was so civilized compared to the next evening of debauchery . . .

Monday, i started out my day easy with sticky rice, coconut milk, fresh mango and Chicken Satay with peanut sauce and cucumber salad. Nothing like Thai to get your day jump-started. i went to get a manicure and pedicure, complete with salt scrub (a gift from my boss and his wife) and i drove home through a light patter of rain, laid down with my iPod and went down for a gorgeous disco nap.

When i woke up, it was still raining, but i was not to be deterrred . . . Jean, my roommate Andrew (who gave me a bouquet of flowers when i woke!), Nicole and the more than half the bar that i knew (including the Band, The Mike McHenry Tribe) celebrated in 5 rounds of shots and two beer style. Despite the rain, i donned another fabulous dress, a halter number with tangerine, red, browns and gold. i warmed up with a plate of potato skins to soak up the alcoholic gravy i was about to imbibe and the nite was underway. Nicole and i hung out for the long haul and danced until the lights came on. the band sang me happy birthday, played all my favorite songs with sweet wishes and dedications in between. Both my email and my cell phone were blowing up all day with calls and text messages! it was incredible to be so thought of; i felt so loved.

And so boys and girls, we arrive – skidding the car back into the topical station and everyone get the hell on board for the messy, dizzying, head-spinning, scream-inducing, laughter-lust, flights of fuck-fancy, hands-in-the-air and NOT safely-in-the-car-at-all-times rollercoaster of L-O-V-E.

i reflected on where i was last year how on my birthday i was unceremoniously dumped by my love of 8 years. it’s all fine now, really: his mother is still my friend and psychic (she even attended my tea party), his father, my mechanic, his brother, my concert buddy, and Brooks, still my friend after all the hurt subsided. i have said it before, and i will say it again, my life has opened up so much since then.

what i will say, as i am a pretty private sort and since this is a small fucking town i will put it simply; i have a heart-wrenching love affair in mind, a summer or beyond romance i seem to be hanging my hopes on. Those who know me will nod, as you’ve already been informed, those who know me peripherally, may simply wonder and offer unsolicited advice but trust me i know.

In a pre-birthday strangeness, while listening to Andrew Bird in Pittsburgh, one of the biggest fantasy-type, love hopefuls erupted back into my life with a barrage of “can i see you,” type text messages. We met for a drink and a talk and all the connection and fire was still there between us as it always has been despite the respective relationships we were in at the time we met several years ago. mine ended and his, is about to self-destruct and so, i suppose he found himself reaching out to me in possible hopes that i was still there, still available.

After than initial time spent, the details of which are mine to own, he’s either buried in moving out and hurting or gone the other direction into reconcilliation with her for all i fucking know, but he’s somewhere out there with his tail between his legs, licking his wounds and not at all interested in answering my syrupy, lustful, hopeful text messages. This, since the last thing i told him when he cancelled for the evening (again) and at 7am to thoughtfully allow me to alter plans for the day, that i recognize the potential for me to be seriously disappointed but that i wouldn’t hold back my emotions or reservations for fear of rejection from him.

i told him i was tired of being careful, and i meant this in general and in emotional terms, that i wanted to be his friend and his lover, eventually, whenever, but that i would protect myself until he gets things figured out. really – it’s nearly impossible to hum a dirge while singing a new love song. He should be noticing this right now. he has no real business tangling with me, since i am ready, willing and knowing but he has barely begun to land or recoil from the shocks.

it could all be so romantic – requited love long in the waiting, but then . . . fucking timing. always.

In the same theme of getting messy and misunderstanding or running away in fear . . . my friend who i know by his persona, “jesterday,” wrote to me recently on the difficulties of courting and pursuing love. he admired a girl on the city bus, wanted to express how beautiful he found her and so wrote her a poem:

. . . I had to spent several weeks to chase around, trying to come across her, while skipping busses that come and go when it was freezing outside. Finally, I managed to sit next to her, and try to talk, and hand her this handwritten piece. She got a little nervous, and asked if she could read later. Yes. It took me several weeks more to get “feedback.” “It’s nice”. She said she had a boyfriend, so end of story.

I am 25, living as an expatriate in cold Scandinavia. People are quite different here than what I am used to, even quite different compared to the US. For the better and for the worse, just different, the culture and relationships having been sort of shaped by the climate.

As they say for the nordic region, that ‘the seduction process is short here, it starts with liters of beer in the evening, then ‘your place or mine?’ at night, ‘who are you?’ in the morning and then they start dating.’ I think it was quite unusual and uncalculated what I have done. I’m still proud of myself for that, for being a romantic in these ages and in this geography; however, it hurts that this girl whom I called as the nordic elf, Majbritt (/my-brit/), does not even look at my face when I come across occasionally. And I just walk away, trying not to bother. Would you believe that I have no idea how her body looks like, i.e., in common terms, I never ‘checked her out,’ as I couldn’t move my eyes from her face, eyes, and hair, which looks like a little bird’s nest.”

He had sent me the poem he gave to her to read, to critique really, and it was near my birthday, so i took it as such, but then, having “elf” in the title, i also misconstrued as being intended for me, an accidental if not bold assumption. We were both a little embarrassed, but as i am never one to kick love in the teeth, no matter where it comes from, i am kind enough to entertain any affections until it seems incongruous – a bad match.

i am never misled – only slightly confused sometimes, but it never stops me from acting accordingly or expressing thanks. and the beauty in the language is this: it could be taken to heart by anyone. and if it does what it is good at doing, a poem makes you think deeply on things and perhaps, even wish you had written it yourself or that it was intended for you.

:::   :::   :::   :::

Nicole called a little while ago. She wanted a recommendation for a wine that pairs well with ham.

“Riesling or Beaujolais,” i suggested.

“Oh,” she asked suddenly, changing the subject, “do you like carrot cake?”

“It’s my favorite,” i chirped excitedly, thinking of moist orangey cake with cream cheese frosting.

She giggled in such a way that it sounded like she had chosen wisely and had a good secret or a pleasant surprise.

“It’s the one thing i do really well,” she said offhandedly, “and i’ve already shaved the carrots so i’m going to bake three: one for my mom, since she’s coming to dinner, one for Brad’s family, and one to split between you and Genna.”
My friends are so good – i finally get my birthday cake . . .

To tie Pennsylvania, love and friendship, food and the quality of life into one neat package, again, i give you what jesterday had given to me:

“Andrea, you know I like squirrels very much from my days in Pennsylvania, that you even posted the Berry Squirrelly for me. So here’s a quote from translation of a poem from my favourite Turkish poet:”

Living is no laughing matter:
you must live with great seriousness
like a squirrel, for example-
I mean without looking for something beyond and above living,
I mean living must be your whole occupation . . .

~ Nazim Hikmet

Please take the time to read the poem, On Living, in its entirety HERE.

It ends this way:

This earth will grow cold,
a star among stars
and one of the smallest,
a gilded mote on blue velvet-
I mean this, our great earth.
This earth will grow cold one day,
not like a block of ice
or a dead cloud even
but like an empty walnut it will roll along
in pitch-black space …
You must grieve for this right now
-you have to feel this sorrow now-
for the world must be loved this much
if you’re going to say “I lived” …

now you’ve been properly instructed,
get out there, and do some living. . .

education, gardening, marriage, nature, photography

Smithsonian Sunday

:::   :::   :::   :::

Yeah, it will be ok
Do nothing today
Give yourself a break
Let your imagination run away

~Sunday by Sia

:::   :::   :::   :::

Cinnamon rolls are baking somewhere downstairs and the smell has roused me from sleep. the windows in my room are open, it’s 67 degrees, the birds are singing, Odin is sitting on my desk watching them flit by as i type this, and the sun pierces everything in my room, lighting up the coronas around the sunflowers in a vase nodding behind me. Anemone ‘De Caen’ are beginning to bloom as the purple crocus fade down and the yellow daffodils stand up. My Apeldoorn Elite Tulips are starting to shoot buds our from their curled, green rabbit ear leaves. i know all of this because i just wandered out in my cat pajamas, barefooted to see what is coming up out there in my garden. now i’m just waiting for that last frost to seriously be done and i’ll put the seeds in. sometimes it snows in April you know . . .

i move slow on Sundays, meditatively so. i am just now contemplating a shower after daylight savings time forced me to look like i woke up uber-late this morning at 11. there are so many silly little tasks to do . . . but first, i think i will go eat some breakfast and drink some tea and then come back to work on a few things. ALL of them involve my computer and various applications for managing money and photography, which is an interesting theme lately.

my forest is painted RED

i am thrilled to announce, (if i haven’t already told some of you) that i placed in Smithsonian Magazine’s 3rd Annual photo contest with my forest is painted RED. 7,500 photographs were submitted from around the world and 10 Finalists in each of the five categories were chosen: Americana, The Natural World, People, Altered Images, Travel and you can now view those photographs HERE. i am prominently featured in the Altered Images Category.

The Grand Prize Winner and the five Category Winners will be revealed in the August 2006 issue of Smithsonian so if i win in my category, i will go to print in the magazine and win $500 plus some other non-cash prizes. i don’t think i’ll win it, but check out what The Grand Prize is . . . no matter what happens, it’s good press as well as a great opportunity for me to be seen and all under the guise of an institution i truly respect. The Smithsonian Institution is “America’s national educational facility with 18 museums, 9 research centers and 120 affiliates around the world.” It was a gift from James Smithson, a British scientist who willed his estate “to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge . . .” i encourage you to read the history.

These last few weeks have been crazy busy with work and little bits of photography. i went to a seminar hosted by Blue Pixel and Nature’s Best Photography which featured Daniel J. Cox, a well-renowned nature photographer featured in National Geographic.

He covered:

  • the issues involved in nature photography, from trip planning to capture to workflow, travel to distribution
  • tips for entering and winning nature photo contests
  • the importance of conservation and photojournalism
  • the differences between JPEG and Raw workflows and how to manage color and exposure in each one
  • how to make effective and accessible archives of your valuable digital negatives

His discussion began pretty pedantically really covering some of the more pedestrian aspects of photography (depth of field, focus, shutter speeds, light metering) that i assumed most would know there. But, his talk on natural conservation and his own photography, lifestyle and travel experiences were wonderful. Some of his knowledge of media types, storage, software, color management and technology were a little behind the curve, but he produces incredible work.

Saturday morning, i shot a very last minute wedding on The Black-Eyed Susan, a paddlewheel riverboat “custom designed for social, corporate, and private entertainment” docked in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. i was only available for the ceremony and a few formal shots. having NEVER met the bride or groom or wedding party, it made for quite a challenge. i don’t typically do these thrown together things . . .  i have a contract and a must-have photo checklist. i typically meet with the couple and the person paying for the photography to get a feel for what they want and what kind of people they are. i like to be prepared and comfortable in my surroundings. this was NOT the case for this event. in fact i found myself crawling over life preserver boxes and behind people, playing “crouching tiger hidden photographer” to get some decent shots.

it’s a real trick to NOT be obnoxious and all over the wedding party when the “stage” for the ceremony is as small as it was, and forget about room to take pictures of the processional and recessional people always forget they are being photographed and walk WAY TOO FAST! i haven’t had the time or the desire to go through the photos yet, but i am hoping i produced something of merit and charm, all things considered. All i know is the whole wedding party lined up on the back of the boat and waved to me on shore as i shot some final photos of them floating off into the harbor. But i wasn’t done . . . then i drove 45 minutes back to Annapolis and went to work at the restaurant and waited tables; a private party of 17 plus a few extra seatings and all in a second floor dining room. So up and down the damn stairs all nite with heavy trays of food and dishes. By the time Sunday arrived, you can now understand why i take them so slowly.

As for the rest of this Sunday . . . i took myself out to breakfast, did some shopping, bought a pair of gauchos and a skirt, took myself out for thai flavored dinner plus a beer. i got a fair amount of reading done at both meals with excerpts from Girl With Curious Hair by David Foster Wallace and Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. All the while amazed at how friendly and warm people are when the weather is pleasant, even the animals are in a good mood. i walked along past a group of men outside a local pub having some beers and hot wings and i turned to smile and wiggle my fingers, waving down at one of their dogs, a gorgeous white-faced Staffordshire Bull Terrier who in turn sat up, nudged me and licked my fingers gingerly as i walked past.

People seem to lose their damn minds when it’s sunny. on Main Street, a young man was sitting on the sill, legs dangling out his second story window singing to no one in particular and in fact, was making up songs for the passerby. later on West St., i was talking casually to my friend Paul when a truck drove past and a blonde-haired girl squawked into a CB radio as if campaigning, somehow broadcasting “HEY PAUL!” from the passenger seat. Paul responded by stopping mid-sentence, skipping out to the middle of the street, throwing his arms into the air with ROCK ON horns poised on each hand, yelling “WOOOO-HOOO!”

something about a sunny day, a Sunday and all its simple pleasures; sleeping in, familiar faces on walkabout, good food, good news, a good read, pretty things purchased, a nice stroll down streets lined with gardens newly in bloom, phonecalls and messages from dear friends, freshly washed bed linen to lay your head down later.

i understand why people go to church, why they don’t want to work, why they choose forced respite on Saturday or Sunday. as midnight approaches, bringing to close a full day lived and loved, greeted and embraced, photographed and written about, documented, cherished and learned from, i see the world as my church and the amazing places, people and things in it, all beautiful, meaningful and deserving of reverence in their own godlike ways.

dreams, family, friends, gardening, health, love, nature, pets, photography, psychology, travel

Lust globally, make love locally

Listening to: Let It Die – Feist

:::   :::   :::   :::

I’m tired of screwin’ up, tired of goin’ down,
Tired of myself, tired of this town.
Oh my, my, oh hell yes
Honey put on that party dress.
Buy me a drink, sing me a song,
Take me as I come, cause I can’t stay long . . .

Last Dance With Mary Jane ~ Tom Petty

:::   :::   :::   :::

My first act of 2006, at the stroke of midnite, I chased my birth control pill with a glass of red wine. I sure hope that is some funky premonition for love, protection and celebration. 2 weeks into the New Year, I saw a Friday the 13th followed by a Full Moon Saturday – what a witchy week! And no winter white in sight. It’s been strange weather in the high 50s to 60s some days, rainy with a thin veil of fog and this strange wind coiling, whispering around the boat masts, whipping the lines to into clanging night bells, making the canvas into flapping voices. Then this wicked cold moved in, more high winds and sleet, but NO snow. Global Warming anyone?

Seriously, we just don’t have winters like we used to, but the Farmer’s Almanac claims it’s coming . . .

The nitelife here in my “home-for-now-town” is, umm – interesting. I am living in (as the locals paste on t-shirts) a drinking town with a sailing problem. Midshipmen on the wander, plus drunken, bloated congressional types and supposed professionals making laughable passes at me, wearing striped shirts and power ties, riding power boats, power mowers and eating power lunches while I try to escape and go take a power nap.

But there is an artist conclave here – some of them are advertising successfully, playing music, photographing, sculpting, painting, recombining, pack-ratting, twisting and forming new shapes. Some of them have already slept with everyone of the same ilk, hacking the local six degrees of separation down to a fearsome three or two.

Then there are people like me, or what I imagine to be the way i am perceived by the way I project myself. Living in Maryland eight years, a few interesting jobs, a little bit of recognition in the photo department via contests and small tea house for sale hangings. I garnered a good collection of friends and acquaintances, spurned a few, stalled a few others, gave more still gigantic berth and avoidance and still, I don’t feel like a townie—like I belong here utterly. my sense of here and now and then owing only to the people I love and who love me in return. When I wander down the street, we familiars nod to each other. We may not have broken bread or put down a bottle of wine or shared a secret, but we know each other’s faces.

I know I’ve been less involved, but as I’ve sort of stated prior, my real life outside of my online community involvement has been so full, full of changes, and engaging.

changes and growing bring in new things while simultaneously initiating a whole exodus of others. also, i have come to realize, though it has pained me to be so upset, that i have had to go inside and question myself about all of it – particularly the recent issues i’ve seem to run up against with personalities and people whom i’ve previously counted as friends. i have concluded that it is largely THEIR problem and not mine. all the little insults i’ve been experiencing in my life recently, the little setbacks, i now view as some sort of cosmic insistence nudging me to get out of my brain, to finish my journey within and start implementing the change without. That is to say, recognize the things i have been and gone without and the necessary psychic changes i need to achieve balance again: such as a job where i feel appreciated, friends who i respect and who love me as i love them, the places and people with which i conduct business and pleasure. some of these things have changed or evaporated or fallen away or have demanded my immediate attention over the last 6 months since my life imploded last June. oddly enough, most of this inspirational need for balance arrived as a sort of vision as i lay in shivasana, or corpse pose, after a very hot and strenuous yoga practice. during meditation, the instructor encouraged us to find and practice strength and balance both on the mat (in here) and off the mat (out there) and to remember to breathe deeply through the difficult places and painful times.

i have allowed myself the time to heal, to adjust, to date, to make a mess of things and to make sense of others, to get my head screwed on straight and the new self-focus has been challenging, but re-defining in a good way. it has been mind-blowing at times, mind-bending at others, and still mind-numbing further on. it has been terrifically magical. it has been terribly lonely. it has been encouraging. it has been disheartening. it has been more living than i have done in quite some time and i am grateful for whatever force took my little snowglobe world into their hands and shook the unholy fuck out of it to see how i would deal with the fallout. it has snowed powerful weather down on me. it has grown still. i have begun digging out and winter isn’t nearly over. i don’t want to be cold when i stand up. i don’t want to have to lay down and curl inside to feel warm. i am weary of turning on my side, of laying between two pillows like an infant with bumper pads in my crib bed to prevent me from hurting myself or in my case, to feel like no matter which way i roll over, there is always someone there. i fall asleep clasping my own hand in front of me like a prayer to myself, like a pleading gesture to the world. i find myself waking in tree poses, with one leg drawn in and knee cocked out forming a triangle, a branch to crawl up on. i’m tired of sleeping just so i can dream.

i am not utterly disenchanted with my beloved Maryland, but lately, i have toyed with the idea of moving far far away from here and wiping everything clean to get that needed change. and why not just change everything? i don’t have a mortgage, i don’t have children or a mate. i have no real ties. i can travel, i can make a plan, i can set up shop and re-invent life anywhere. i can succeed so long as i define success by tangible, meaningful terms.

Hope explained to me once that black flies, those things that are dark and draining are attracted to the light. i have always tried to maintain my childlike approach to things, to live lightly and to be a beacon of positive energy for myself and for others, to truly believe that i lead a charmed life no matter how high or low i exist, and to understand that all things come to me and through me when they are needed, even minor and major tragedies are blessings and have reasons. this is so much easier and sweeter than spitting in the face of fate and choosing to NOT imbue my life with meaning. people who don’t appreciate my honesty, my kindness, my bluntness, what i consider my lucky charm, my good fortune, my powers of gentle persuasion and genuine openness, my willingness to accept, to forgive and also – my occasional quick-snap judgment when i remove someone from my life because they cause me grief or harm me – i do this now to protect myself. like a mantra i have to tell myself i am not a bad person. i do not need to be punished. i am good and worthy and deserve more for myself and i expect others to treat themselves the same way. anyone who chooses to be a victim, to victimize themselves, to victimize ME and to make anyone in their surroundings miserable as a result needs to get the hell out of my way and off the path i’m cutting.

I have no need to take on broken people as pet projects, as I am my own work in progress. I studied psychology to understand human behavior, to avoid the pitfalls of lower thinking and feeling and to learn to be more human, more flexible and better adjusted, and how to recognize when someone is NOT and to escape those trappings. Though I often attract friends and lovers who need fixing by some general impetus that drives me to help and to heal, I still prefer people who can swing with it and be happy in themselves, and NOT blame me for their own social/emotional shortcomings when things don’t work out for them.

People are generally uncomfortable with bearing their emotions and being honest with others, especially themselves. There are, however, exceptions to the rule . . . there is a website that updates every Sunday called Post Secret. Frank Warren, the man who created the interactive art project began by printing 3,000 postcards with a message that invited their finders to write a personal, anonymous secret on the blank side and mail it back to him. He left the postcards in art galleries, restaurants, between pages of library books and on subway seats. And as the postcards started trickling back to his mailbox, he began posting a few of them each week at what has become one of the web’s most popular blogs. (Ranked 55th among BlogPulse’s top 10,000 blogs.)

Even after they 3,000 were in, they still kept coming. They arrived from all over the world in many languages – even in Braille type. The project combines art, poetry and psychological candor in ways that few other endeavors have, and that’s what makes it so fascinating to Warren, a self-described “accidental artist.” (Some secrets on the blog, where about 20 new cards are posted each week: “By the time you read this, I’ll be drunk again.” “I’ve been giving oral sex to a pastor for the past 5 years. He’s married. I don’t believe in God.” “I am a breast cancer survivor. Sometimes I wish the cancer had killed me.” And on a New Yorker subscription card: “I think it makes me look smart to subscribe. But I only like to read the cartoons!”).

He still collects them, and continues to invite people “to anonymously contribute … secrets. Each secret can be a regret, hope, funny experience, unseen kindness, fantasy, belief, fear, betrayal, erotic desire, feeling, confession, or childhood humiliation. Reveal anything – as long as it is true and you have never shared it with anyone before..”

Instructions are to “Create your 4-by-6-inch postcards out of any mailable material. If you want to share two or more secrets, use multiple postcards. Put your complete secret and image on one side of the postcard.

Please consider mailing in a follow-up email describing the effect, if any, the experience had on your life.

Tips

Be brief – the fewer words used the better.
Be legible
– use big, clear and bold lettering.
Be creative
– let the postcard be your canvas.”

Post Secret Exhibit

I go to the PostSecret website every Sunday like a newfound religion. Recently, the cards were assembled into a book: PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives and then put on display as an exhibit in Washington DC.

Getting into Georgetown on any given evening around happy hour to park and entertain oneself is always a logistical nitemare. And the nite was already a carpool all over town posse, picking up friends who had other commitments for dinner and nonsense later in the evening. But I rolled up and got rockstar front row parking, then we looked at the 2 block long queue stretching around the building. The two women I was with who lived 30 mins away in Annapolis balked at the fact we’d probably wait over an hour to get in and move through the exhibit. I frowned and said, “right, well, I’ll take you all home and come back myself.” I was dead serious. This was my mission now.

This mission had a hitch when I realized I was low on fuel and got a little twisted around on the way back (DC will disorient you). I coasted into a station on fumes, got back on track and continued my necessary & epic journey. I tore ass through the neighborhoods, made rolling deliveries of my stunned friends who were muttering soft apologies as i waved my hand away and dumped them at their doors. Then I high-tailed it back for the last hour of the exhibit and by then, the line had become manageable.

It was a moving exhibit beginning with cards posted 3 deep and many across on two stretches of wall, then hanging on clothesline, snaking around like dirty laundry left out to dry in the open air, some of them were printed big as billboards, 4×6′ canvases hung in adjacent cubbyhole-like rooms, shouting at you along the way. in these rooms people sat at a line of tables under the big canvasses and wrote down thoughts and talked together. this opened up to a squared off area where the secret postcards hung four or five high on string and several deep, twisting in the air as people walked in between them, turning the cards to read them, looking up at them, into them like a dark rainy sky full of questions and answers. Finally there was a wall crowded with all the envelopes the secrets had arrived in to protect the artistically done post cards. There were two tables nearby with flipboxes full of post cards that people sat at, looking through them like recipes from their grandmother’s kitchen.

Near the exit, there was translucent mailbox created by Washington DC artist Mark Jenkins where people could hand deliver a personal secret. And at the last long table, a book where you could leave thoughts and reactions to the exhibit just as fascinating as the display itself. Frank Warren himself sat there. It was the last day and the last hour of the exhibit and i don’t think anyone recognized him as who he was. I wandered over, said hello and he struck up a conversation with me about the bag I was carrying.

I have a black and red tote bag bearing the picture of a little girl yelling “F*CK F*CK F*CK!” He asked why I had an angry bag and “where are all the joy bags?” so I explained myself.

My sister, Racheal had sent me the tote after after Brooks broke up with me. Inside was a card she had sent that reminded me how we all carry baggage but should do so lightly and instructed me to “Carry your anger inside the F*CK bag. Leave your shit in there, not inside.”  I carry a regular purse most other places, but I take the anger bag to Yoga with me, where I unload the little daily insults, bad thoughts, pains, pressures & residual griefs and so I thought it would be appropriate to take it with me to the PostSecret exhibit where I could air out and relate my emotions to some of these brave, beautiful and creative people.

Frank Warren inscribed my book for me. It reads:

To Andrea,

Sometimes art and healing are the same thing.

Be Well,

Frank

:::   :::  :::   :::

Creativity and sharing love with people is what makes life purposeful for me. Through a friend, Andreas, I had the rare opportunity to go see Bono speak on Friday, February 3rd at the Washington Hilton & Towers as part of the 2005-2006 Nation’s Capital Distinguished Speakers Series. His theme was The Future in Front of Us: Living a More Involved Life.. He shared the cover of TIME magazine with Bill & Melinda Gates as Persons Of the Year. He didn’t sing, but instead took the stage to talk. the blurb i read about it on the informal side stated, “His topic is quite simply the future of the planet. This is nothing new for the U2 lead singer. He regularly consorts with the Pope, the President of the United States and other dignitaries. He is that rarest of rock stars, one who can change things in the real world too. Bono’s activism is directed against the AIDS epidemic and reducing the debt burdens of the poorest countries. Like a rock and roll Robin Hood, Bono doesn’t take money from the rich and give it to the poor. Instead, he tries to assist the rich in changing their world view so that they realize that to help the poor is, in fact, to help themselves. Join him at the Hilton where he will talk about how one can have more of an impact by living a purposeful life.

He said he had come to talk about three things rarely in balance with each other: “music, politics and business.” And also of “tragedy, opportunity and adventure.” He described the “kafka-esque labyrinth of NOs” that we run into everyday of our lives an what we can do to turns those walls and boundaries into YESes. he talked about the situation of starvation, poverty, AIDS and death in Africa, likening it to the Holocaust and how we can choose to effect change on such issues. He was very specific to differentiate that it is not a “cause” but an “emergency” he is discussing and advocating. he said that all the attention of the death toll in the recent tsunami happens every month in Africa – one tsunami a month worth of deaths and it goes uncovered in the news. he was funny, serious, compassionate, told anecdotes about Bishop Desmond Tutu and President Michael Gorbachev and snickered, saying that when sitting between President Bush and several priests, monks and holy figures he ordered a Bloody Mary. he talked about Ireland, about his love for America not just as a country, but as an idea, about ways we can make ourselves shine again in the world community.

At the end of his speech, there was a short question and answer session as taken from a box left out front of the venue. He was very delicate about religion and politics being in the nation’s capital, made jokes about lobbyists and when asked what the role of god and religion took in his music and activism he said he didn’t trust anyone who talked about god too much, that it is a private matter and that he wasn’t particularly the poster child or advertisement for such things. “what if i were snapped crawling out of a club my hand and knees, I am after all a rockstar.” his comments were met with loud applause and laughter.

A question came from a 14-year old girl who asked what young people can do to bring awareness to AIDS, poverty, Africa free market trade, and debt forgiveness of poorer nations. Bono asked her to come up onto the stage, he kneeled, kissed her hand, hugged her to her great surprise and told her and the rest of us about The One Campaign. whether or not you agree with Bono, his vision, his politics, his movement to help, whether you see him as a saint or an annoyance, a rockstar with a big mouth or a person who is using his position to inspire goodness and action, indeed, he is leading an exhaustive and purposeful life.

I bought tickets to go see Feist on Wednesday, February 8th at a club in DC called The Black Cat. I also won tickets from my local radio station, WRNR to see her as part of their Emerging Artist Showcase. it’s an afternoon, pre-show private performance before the concert that evening. Feist’s big song is called “Mushaboom,” and she’s also played with Broken Social Scene.

lately i’ve been dreaming of kissing strangers, of sitting on the curb while i watch my house and all the things in it burn in leaping, licking, gorgeous, garrulous red flames; i’ve seen myself changing faces by pulling them out of white porcelain basin, a bowl of water. clearly – something needs to move in my life. something is requesting to push through. something is asking to be destroyed and to be set anew.

Odin in the Ivy

I started with my houseplants. I cut a few back pretty hard and they responded with new, bright growth. The space around my desk looks like a little jungle now. Even Odin leaps out from around the pots and green plants, stalking like the wild thing he was and still is, somewhere in there.

me and the orchid

I also bought a beautiful orchid. it’s an Oncidium Intergeneric called “Pacific Sun Spots.” brick red, deep orange and butter yellow.

Oncidium Branch

Pacific Sun Spots

like a California sunset . . .

. . . which brings me to my trip to Los Angeles February 17th-21st to see my sister, Racheal. I’ve never seen the Salton Sea or a Joshua Tree in real life. It’s time I took some of my own photos. I’ve never taken a wine country tour as an adult, and this time, Ithink we will go not to Napa, but some place small and eclectic—to Santa Barbara. Nothing sounds finer to me in the midst of a cold winter month than to take in some breathtaking visions of desert sand, sea foam, waving palms and sun glinting off all things while I sip wine and release the shutter, both on my self and my camera.

dreams, family, food, gardening, music, nature, technology, travel

my garden kicks ass

What would it take for you to see
What i have got?
i’ve got more than you know
Open your eyes, i cannot be – what i am not

i’m not what i used to be, i’m not what
i’m not what i used to be, and i
i don’t know myself – from anybody else
i’m not what i used to be, i’m not what
i’m not what i used to be, and i
You don’t know what you have done
My frame is here but the mind is gone – gone away

So stay awhile longer
sweet tongue of  fur and feather
Don’t cut the white breast
i’ve been waiting for you here

i’m not who i used to be
Bigger and better and faster and wetter
And bigger and better and faster and better . . .

Superheroes ~ esthero

:::   :::   :::   :::

The last week of dreams have been dark, light, moody, and marked with memories and prophecies. in one, i dreamed i was a child, though in my mind i was an adult. i was small with pale arms like strands of pearls that hung around the neck of my grandfather, Andrew, who i was named after and who held me like a little monkey slung at his hip. i was naked and clung to him as he walked through a garden that was in the backyard where the crabapples used to fall from the tree and scatter – tart, green bombs for greedy birds.

He pointed here and there at flowers and i named them, remembering specifically, a bright orange blossom which i called, nasturtium, because it was and he nodded approvingly.

Yes – you all know how much i love nature and appreciate all things growing and alive, but pardon me while i geek out over the next few paragraphs about my newest adventures. Some strange thing in me has had the urge to garden. With all that space in the woods where i used to live, some things simply wouldn’t survive under all that cover – i would have to trek to the top of the hill where there might be some incidental sun, carve out an area in the tall grasses and cut away, deep into the ground until i made something suitable to plant in. A sanctioned area where things could grow. Now that i live here in this new house where the boy roommates are so busy and mostly MIA (one even works for the most beautiful & profitable garden center around which is fortunate), i took one look at that tangled back yard and overgrown garden box and felt the need to create something.

Yes – i know, the last years have been bug chasing and moth rearing but, now i am building a habitat for my little creatures to come to me, which is a far more exhausting, but rewarding an endeavor.

Over the last 2 weeks, three times i have come home, changed into some gardening clothes, pulled weeds, hoed the garden box for fall down to a good 12″ plus, which is rather like hacking at the ground with an axe, then i tore the ivy away from the strangled hostas and ferns and out from the cracks in the brickwork, mowed the lawn with an old-fashioned pushmower borrowed from the neighbor (how environmental!) raked the area, and wore far more Deep Woods OFF insect repellant (chock full of DEET) than is probably recommended by any medical professional. It was that or wear the big red bumps on my cheek, neck, and legs as i swatted furiously and futilely. We have a water view just down the path and thus, the mosquitoes are utterly vicious! West Nile Virus is probably just the tip of what these blood-letting bastards are armed with!

i bought seeds for Spring to include some plants that will attract butterflies and ladybugs. Van Gogh sunflower mix, Amaranth (Love Lies Bleeding), Mahogany Nasturtium, Pink & White Swan Echinacea, Cornflower (Black Magic Bachelor Button), Cosmos, Baby’s Breath, Coreopsis, Gaillardia, Siberian Wallflower, Forget Me Not, Bergamot, Rocky Mountain Bee Plant, New England Aster, Black Eyed Susan, Sapphire Blue Flax, Oriental (red) and Shirley Poppies, Rockcress, Royal Scarlet Sweet Pea, Kniphofia (aka Red Hot Poker, Tritoma, or Torch Lily), Yarrow, and Chinese Lantern.

tulip center purple crocus nasturtium

Of course, to look at the seed packs you will note i bought a healthy dose of RED but i have mixed in white, golds, oranges, violets, blues and many other lovely things i plan to rake through so i have a proper selection of wild flowers. And i really didn’t know much about Fall planting other than bulbs, so i did some reading and some research and bought some burgundy and orange and yellow pansies and mums and installed them, or rather, gave them some ground to eat which seems more organic in language than say, software put into the earth. Before i did any of this, there was the aforementioned hoeing (hacking) that went on plus adding a good 4″ of some fresh soil, fertilizers and compost. i also planted bulbs, added bulb food, tilled in some mulch for cover and protection and now, i wait for Spring when they come up: first the purple crocus, then Apeldoorn Elite Tulips, which are red with a defined yellow edge and some lovely things called Anemone ‘De Caen’.

Under a heap of cut branches and trimmings from the trees against our back fence (which i plan on bundling and removing), i found a pile of brown and grey flagstones, presumably left overs forgotten from the neighbors patio project. As deep as they were buried beneath the thorny branches, i am assume they will not be missed as they are now lining a newly-created crescent-shaped garden patch next to the box as well as circling the line of ferns and hostas across the way.

i installed a sturdy black wrought iron plant hook next to this crescent space, buried in ivy which now holds a large green watering can but i can imagine it holding a birdfeeder instead someday soon, so i can watch some winter birds . . .

There is a rabbit that hops through the yard occasionally, and i am hoping he/she will not unearth my bulbs and make Autumn snacks out of them before they have time to meet Spring. Oh – and did i also mention my two new plant friends who have joined my ivy? One is called a Polka-Dot plant, which comes in white, pink or in this case, red splotches on bright green leaves, honestly – looking rather like something has bled onto it. i planted it in a bright metallic red pot and adding to the red, i also pot-planted a big Amaryllis bulb called a Red Lion. i can’t wait until it starts to grow and bloom, which should be in time for the Holidays and it does perfectly well indoors in the Winter!

The strangest thing is now that i have been working so hard out there, and the season is cooling ever so slightly, the window AC is out, the adjustable screens are in, i can hear crickets as i sleep and oddly enough, the ladybugs HAVE indeed come . . . there have been three or four of them trundling along the walls and ceiling in my room and it drives my kitty Odin wild! He bats at them lightly and they just crawl back up. The other nite i reached over to pull the chain on my nite table lamp and a little red ladybug was hanging from the end of the silver ball! What do these little visitors mean?!?!

Now that i think of all this – i should’ve taken before and after shots of the yard before i went out guerilla gardening, but for now, i will venture out and document the semi-fresh, partially naked ground and keep a photo diary of my garden’s progress. And i found a really fun website with an accompanying book that has really inspired me despite the silly title of You Grow Girl. My mother always had the best luck with plants and the most beautiful garden on the block with honestly, minimal effort and fuss besides planting, watering, fertilizing 3 times a year and waiting for growth and beautiful blossoms. i will say that i have some monstrous plants on my porch that i have had now for several years, carried around, re-potted several times in progressively larger containers, some of them more than four years old with tiny beginnings, one i inherited from Marcy which has gone wild and lovely. These include: Golden Pothos (Devil’s Ivy), Nepthytis or Arrowhead vine, a Heart Leaf Philodrendron, and two coleus, one dark red, one red-green and both, oddly enough, plucked from the sidewalk and rescued from a dying arrangement now flourishing.

And then there’s this bushy and resilient white petunia that Megan gave me just before i moved, which has somehow managed to survive having all of its leaves being chewed down to stems by invisible green caterpillars. i say invisible because i saw their frass (little black dust specks of bug poo) and then, once they got big enough, i plucked them off and put them elsewhere in the wild and off my precious plant. it’s even started sprouting new leaves so it can collect the sun and feed itself again. what can i say – caterpillars are not pests to me after having seen them sprout eventual wings. maybe if i had tomatoes, but even then – i don’t know. everything in its place in the cycle . . .

it had been a long time – a few years since i visited the Maryland Renaissance Festival and it was SO much fun and the weather was perfect for it. i bought some Thistle honey, while my friend, Andreas bought Killer Bee honey. i took in some scheduled shows featuring jugglers, contortionists, aerial dancers, sword swallowers as well as some non-scheduled public displays featuring general drunker merry makers. i also went on a mission to find some new silver jewelry. i never know what it is, but it always turns out to be something magically suited and in this case, something fae – an ear cuff with a faerie on it which now clings to my left ear and quite honestly, i was in the market for a new moonstone and something to go on that naked ring finger on my left hand which i constantly twist for the missing pear-shaped diamond when i wash my hands, dismayed and saddened to no longer see it. i did, however, find a dainty little ring with a blue-coloured rainbow moonstone with two silver balls, one dropped to each side, small as period punctuations and the stone is delicate, tiny, reflective and shaped like a teardrop. i am now married to myself and i stand to NOT be disappointed.

i’ve been listening to a lot of internet radio and stumbled across a wonderful place run out of the basement of a nice man named Michael near my home town in Michigan. It’s called auralgasms, and i encourage you to LISTEN! (top left you will see “Listen” then click “Launch Radio Player” and select your connection speed, keep the main page open along with your player as it will update, or refresh if you like and you can see what you’re listening to)

Speaking of music, i am making a road trip out to Detroit to see my family for the Fall, drink some apple cider, eat some fresh fried donuts, crunch my boots in the leaves and ok, also primarily – to take in a concert at one of my all-time favorite places, St. Andrew’s Hall. There, in an intimate concert venue that holds a mere thousand, i will see Imogen Heap, Butch Walker, Cary Brothers, Peter Searcy, Jim Bianco, and all of these collectively under a show called The Hotel Café Tour. i am supposed to be accompanied by my friend Shane, but i am starting to worry . . . he’s been so busy he hasn’t really confirmed with me, so i may be flying solo.

This is of course, all fine and well. A 10-hr drive consisting of me, my iPod, some foggy radio stations, a packed cooler of goodies and some alone time should do me some good. As i have driven it, navigated it, watched it out the window or slept through the trip more times than i care to count, i should arrive safe and sound to the mothership of Destroyit, (to quote my friend and former bandmate Jim Flynn) a new coined term for the city of Detroit. He has promised me dinner at my pick of restaurants and i am sure to host a barbeque of some sorts to gather my friends close to me at my old house one of those fine nites.

Speaking of eating and thinking of bounty . . . lately, i have been eating the spectrum of simple foods that bring me comfort like pierogies with sour cream and applesauce then ranging into the rich, gourmet and elaborate like fried tofu, sushi and lobster, duck with blackberry sauce . . . On one occasion i was invited to a benefit dinner at O’Leary’s Seafood where half the proceeds of food and beverage sales went to New Orleans for relief from Katrina. It was good to simultaneously eat, indulge and allow someone else, perhaps to eat, rebuild and possibly enjoy the same things i am so grateful for lately – good food, good wine, good books, good music, good friends, good times, and a garden that kicks ass.