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.

family, nature, photography

homeland, heartland, the story & image

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I will tell you something about stories,
[he said]
They aren’t just entertainment.
Don’t be fooled.
They are all we have, you see,
all we have to fight off
illness and death.
You don’t have anything
if you don’t have the stories.

~ Leslie Marmon Silko – Ceremony

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god is RED

My mother has an affinity for the Native American People. As her daughter, i felt the same connection to the earth beliefs of those tribal people: the interconnectedness of all things. i was born on Whidbey Island near Mount Baker and a reservation. The first shoes i came home in from the hospital were moccasins, and in my travels, i remember the pair of fawn-colored moccasins my mother used to wear. My mother had long auburn hair that swept the back of her thighs and the wind pulled it behind her like the dark, red scream of a horse’s mane. i remember driving across country, kicking up sand, looking out over desert and prairie. Looking out for rattlesnakes.

My mother recently visited me here in Maryland after the holiday and before the other and final one just passed. She brought my little sister Angel, who is now 13. We visited The National Museum of the American Indian, a most impressive circular, curving structure Situated on a 4.25-acre trapezoidal site, and new in the Smithsonian area on the Mall. So much care was put into the 15 year planning of the structure and design, i encourage you to read about it . . .

We watched some native dances, with accompanying drumming and singing. This took place in the Potomac, the central gathering place in the museum’s entry point which soars 120 feet to the top of the dome and spans 120 feet in diameter. All the way up, curving stairwells are lined with the heads of people, peering over to watch the presentations & dances. The word Potomac, which comes from the Piscataway word meaning “where the goods are brought in,” honors the Native peoples from the Washington, D.C., area.

I watched several dances including the Welcome Dance and a Fancy Dance. In some dances, performers imitate the movement of warriors sneaking up and killing an enemy or of them – Counting Coup, which was a way of bettering an opponent, almost teasing him, sneaking up on him, frightening him without killing him. The children volunteered to line up in a circle as a dancer performed the Counting Coup, startling them when he leapt in front of them randomly, then taking a “gimme five” slap to show they stood their ground and did not move. The act of touching a live enemy and getting away from them, touching rather than killing the enemy, was a way to show bravery. This was called Counting Coup and Eagle feathers were awarded for this act, the Grand Coup.

WWII

The WWII Memorial, newly erected in Washington, D.C., was something my mother wanted to see especially, out of all the monuments. Her father, my grandfather, Andrew Joseph Paull, who i was named for, would’ve been thrilled to see such a site, finally honoring those veterans. He was a POW in Tunisia, North Africa for two years before he finally came home. From him, my love of music, my knowledge of the guitar and Blue Grass, love for gardening and nature, the sour taste of crab apples, the sweet taste of creamed coffee and pancakes, buttered corn on the cob, and falling asleep to John Wayne Westerns.

Remembrance

Every time i visit, Arlington National Cemetery, i see and learn something new about the place itself and about American history. How “the remains of the Vietnam Unknown” at the Tomb of the Unknowns “were exhumed May 14, 1998 and based on mitochondrial DNA testing, DoD scientists identified the remains as those of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, who was shot down near An Loc, Vietnam, in 1972.” (the year i was born) He is no longer a soldier “known only to god” as the white marble sarcophagus declares. Of course we visited the Eternal Flame where John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis lie, flanked by two of their children, and the simple white cross at the Robert F. Kennedy gravesite. Something i had not seen before was the Nurses Memorial. A bone white, smooth granite statue of a nurse in uniform overlooks a rounded burial plot, her hand gesturing lightly from beneath a cape as if to say, “look at all these women who served alongside and cared for you.” The plot of grass where the nurses are buried is curved and concave, like a spoon where medicine is delivered, a bowl where food is given, a basin where the body is cleansed, a cupped hand to hold the head and hand of the dying, and a womb, a place to hold you and deliver you back.

My mother loves the Native American people and its history, my mother’s father was a WWII veteran, my mother treats men who are veterans at the VA hospital in Detroit, Michigan, my mother, the nurse – i wondered if she saw all of this.

All creatures great and . . .

There were birds: geese flying over the frozen Reflecting Pool before the Washington Monument and black squirrels everywhere we went on the path to the memorials. On the way back to the Metro a boy and his father sat on a park bench. My eye was drawn to the small, brown mouse sitting between them, eating a tiny, gold ball of caramel corn, shuddering. “His name is Buster,” said the boy smiling, “i think he’s cold,” he then said, adding a frown.

As for me . . .

This year. Wait. Last year. Right, the day has past already. All is quiet on New Year’s Day. This will not be my Year In Review, but more my time for reflection. It was a year for growing, for losing, for gaining. I lost three friends – i gained three others back. i lost a beloved pet, i welcomed a new one to love.

My Photos. My Pictures. My Scrapbook. My Informal Online Gallery. i am not brave enough to use phrases like my “work” or my “art.” Eugghh . . . no offense to anyone who feels comfortable with that sort of language, but i would just see myself as some wildly pompous assclown to go around touting myself as some grand photographer. I don’t even get PAID to do this stuff unless it’s a wedding. And i intend i think, to keep it that way, unless i sell it to someone who truly enjoys the image enough to hang on the wall, fridge, bulletin board, etc.

Have i gotten any better? i think so. And more – i SEE things better now and understand the tools and am getting better at conveying the basic and emotional element contained in the images i see and try to capture. Which means with more time (and MUCH more $$$) i will go about improving the tools i have to truly render the images i can see, but not perfect.

i try very hard to explain why and what i see when i take a picture as sometimes, the content is not fully expressed until perhaps you know what you are looking at and why. “Why did i want you to see this?” and “Do you see what i see?” is a game i play with all of my photos.

There’s not enough space or time here, but in my next rant – i will be sure to tell you what i think photography has done for me (and others) as an [art]form. People like to squawk about that one, and also like to argue about how digital technology is an abomination to the process. Lest we forget, any artform is documentation of the human experience and the human experience is a vast story book upon which everyone wishes to scribble on the pages. It is all proof we existed.

You don’t have anything
if you don’t have the stories.

family, health

bi-directional intrusions

my boyfriend’s grandfather suffered a minor heart attack 2 days ago.
he went into invasive triple-bipass surgery yesterday.
meanwhile in Detroit MI,
my grandmother had trouble breathing,
they hospitalized her,
drew fluid off her lungs,
she went into Atrial Fibrillation
she went into renal failure
she went into dialysis,
her potassium levels went up
she stabilized, best she had been in months
but somwhere during AF, her body threw off blood clots
one of them wended its way up
she suffered a stroke.
she speaks slowly she speaks nonsense
she does not swallow
she may not recover
she may not live.

i do not know where to be right now.