My Favorite Things

I responded to a friend’s internet challenge, to post a list 3 positive things a day. When another friend started as a result of my challenge, I committed to an additional seven.

Here’s the first batch of positive things, and I hope they brighten your day.

josh waiting 1

Day 1:

  1. I’m grateful to my son who mowed the yard even feeling crappy and in intense humidity — it was a pleasure to drive down the street to home.
  2. I’m happy that I knit. I could give all 21 slots with a knitting related post.layout2_r1_c2
  3. I’m with Kim that cats make me smile. The world is better place because of our feline companions.

Day 2: 

  1. My garden has given us fresh tomatoes, potatoes, and zucchini, as well as lots of Tomatoesonvine2basil.
  2. I am lucky enough to have a granddaughter.
  3. Evenings are getting cooler in Asheville–so much less need for AC, and more chance for open windows, bird song, and breeze.

Day 3:

  1. machine-bestI appreciate breathing…all through the night. I got a loaner C-PAP machine and sleeping is true rest again. What a joy!
  2. I woke early this morning, and one of the first thoughts was “what am I grateful for?” — I attribute that lovely waking to this challenge, which has re-focused my mind on the positive in life.
  3. I’m grateful for metaphoric and literal “off buttons.” There’s a time to walk away from drama and ugliness (as well as a time to act) and knowing when that it lifts a weight and frees the mind and heart. That’s a miraculous thing.
  4. –Oh, and a bonus 4) — I’m grateful it’s Friday after a good week at work.

Day 4:

  1. beautiful bird croppedBirds — when I step out my back door each time I leave the house, there are always birds there — in the trees and scrub, on the feeder, winging by. Bird song and that exquisite flash of upward wing never fail to make my own spirit soar. What a gift that is, through good and bad times, just a bird can make me smile.
  2. Jon Stewart is always guaranteed to make me laugh. He reminds me (in a good way) of my late husband, Dennis, who also could always make me laugh.
  3. barilla3Good Gluten-Free Pasta is no longer a contradiction in terms. There are several mainstream brands making gluten-free versions and this puts some old favorite dishes back on the menu.

Day 5:

  1. zen051Celebration (1)Friends! I could leave it at that, but especially the unexpected close friendships of adulthood. Good friends laugh and grieve with you, make meals, trade favors, secret jokes, and masses of understanding and acceptance. God Bless Good Friends.
  2. With said friends, we drank a bottle of cheap (3.99) red wine that was good!
  3. There’s a new produce stand in my neighborhood. An enterprising older man from the Islands, or even perhaps Africa (lovely lilting accent, gracious and warm manners) has taken a vacant building and desolate lot over — he’s put up a large roofed area and has tables and tables of beautiful fresh produce. I stopped for the first time yesterday and bought 4 tomatoes for $2! We talked about things for a bit and then he gifted me with a giant organic tomato and wished be a great evening.

Day 6:

  1. I love the way Facebook helps reveal social connections and make them visible in ways I never paid attention to before social media. The spread of this lovely challenge and the interesting variations it has taken fascinate me. Like an old-fashioned game of telephone, spreading the message changes the message and the messenger.telephone game (237x136)
  2. When I stop and think of it, I realized I have been much loved in my life — many of those have left the planet now, but the love doesn’t go away. It lives in me and my memories and I can continue it on by loving others. What beautiful magic that is!
  3. It’s Monday morning and I feel no dread or sorrow or anger at the prospect of going to work this morning and the rest of the week. That’s a blessing — if you’ve ever experienced those feelings in response to work week, you know. It’s also a privilege to have meaningful work in a pleasant setting with good co-workers. It’s one I pray every worker can have. When I center myself around the thought of how blessed I am to have that, I feel the glow of gratitude and joy seep through me and a smile spread across my face.

Day 7:

  1. Gorgeous George

    Gorgeous George

    Pretty much the whole internet agrees with me that kittens and cats are an endless source of fascination: more personality and energy packed in those springy bodies than can be contained, so it leaks out in extreme cuteness and apparent wisdom. When I need to laugh, a silly kitten attacking something harmless with such zeal can always do the trick. And isn’t it great that there’s no prescription cost, or anything….

  2. It’s the last few days of August and I’m not dreading September. Between world events and personal losses, the 9th month had assumed a pretty bad rep in my mind. This year, it’s pretty much just another month — I’m excited to see fall arriving while I mourn the loss of fresh tomatoes and basil. I see the sky lightening in the morning a few minutes later each day. But I don’t want to take to my bed with the covers over me! There’s a song “Wake Me When September Ends” that used to match my feeling, but now it’s just a song again. Since I loved September and its promise of autumn and new starts, I’m grateful to have it back.
  3. Sisters. I have only one official sister, who I love and adore and hope to continue laughing, playing, cooking, knitting, arguing and hugging for decades yet to come. I also have several sisters of the heart that joined my inner family over the years, and they too are a whole bouquet of graces.


With special thanks to Kim for starting me on this, I say with joy, And So It Is.

Stealth Healing

dennis flowersSometimes we know we’ve healed by what hasn’t happened.

Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of my husband’s death. And I didn’t grieve.

I still think about him often, still cry occasionally, miss him frequently, and love him always. But I didn’t grieve his loss yesterday. Instead, I bought flowers.

Healing is as natural as blooming and dying, and just as intense or gentle depending on the moment. Sometimes it slips upon us unawares.

Thanks Dennis, for the good and the less-good, for the happy and sad, and for the intention to love always and to strive for the best in us all.

Enjoy your flowers.

Farmville

After succumbing to the lure of Facebook–and reconnecting with old friends who live far off –I took it one step further and fell to the enticement of games.

I happily play Wordscraper with my stepmom in Florida. This makes sense — it’s fun, stimulating and allows us to share something even though our lives and daily duties means we’re playing at opposite ends of the day.

But then, for reasons unknown to the logical mind, I responded to a link from somebody I know (can’t recall who) and tried Farmville.

The simple and sad truth is — I’m hooked.  This silly little, pointless, frivolous, useless game! It’s just a lot of fun. I plant things. They grow and look pretty. I harvest them and get money. People send me gifts, I send them gifts. My points get higher…. etc. 

So if you’ re wondering where I am, why I haven’t posted, and what the heck happened… come over to Farmville and visit. Maybe you can buy a bunny.

My Second Lavender Festival

Sunday, after two days of tending a yard sale in 90+ degree heat, I headed up to Burnsville with my friend Carolyn, for the Mountain Farm Annual Lavender Festival.

The sun was shining, the hills were alive with lavender, butterflies and bees.

We walked the lavender labyrinth, bought lavender herb mixes, and drank lavender lemonade. Across the road and up the hill is Blueberry Cottage, where was great local music, a delicious lunch and several craft and local farm vendors.

I purchased wool/angora blend yarn in lovely purples (what else?) while Carolyn received a 10-minute massage.

Then we picked lavender and headed back down the hill towards the cars. I waited by the lone chair in the driveway while Carolyn trekked the final hills to the parking lot. Here’s my traditional Festival tote from the 2010 event — I’m declaring that twice is enough for a new tradition. All in all we had a mellow and relaxed day — just a lovely  time.

Here’s the picnic sight in the late lunch hour, with just a few folks enjoying their meal and the surroundings.

Finally, some additional photos to enjoy. I hope your weekend last week, and this upcoming one were as happy and beautiful as mine.

Part of the Labyrinth

My Festival Goodies

A Busy Weekend Coming

Wow! I’m not going to have a minute this weekend. In addition to our Yard Sale on Friday and Saturday (oh what a ton of work we’re in for), this weekend is the annual Lavender Festival at Mountain Farms in Burnsville. 

I went last year and had the most lovely day (see here and here).   I hope to make it up there on Sunday with a friend or two in tow.

The Mountain Farm website had the loveliest photo. Can’t you feel the breeze and smell the lavender?

Lavender Festival Girl

Just Being

Yesterday I had the privilege of being part of a Native American Pipe Ceremony.

The setting was a beautiful piece of the Blue Ridge Mountains on a breezy Spring afternoon. Every element conspired to raise us all up to a high level of awareness.

We all wandered off to experience the mountain in our own ways — I was drawn to the small pond a little ways from our circle.

I stood by the water, just being: feeling the breeze against my face, the slight moisture from the earlier showers; hearing the high cry of a hawk, the drumming of a woodpecker, the creaking of branches against one another; inhaling the sweet tang of apple blossom; seeing the young reeds dancing in the water ripples. 

Just being: part of it all, feeling it all, loving it all.

What a blessed day!

The Osho Zen Tarot card Experiencing, captures the day perfectly.

You just look around, look into the eyes of a child, or into the eyes of your beloved, your mother, your friend – or just feel a tree. Have you ever hugged a tree? Hug a tree, and one day you will come to know that it is not only that you have hugged the tree but that the tree also responds, the tree also hugs you. Then for the first time you will be able to know that the tree is not just the form, it is not just a certain species the botanists talk about, it is an unknown God – so green in your courtyard, so full of flowers in your courtyard, so close to you, beckoning you, calling you again and again.
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  aaaaa                 [from] Osho Dang Dang Doko Dang Chapter 2
 
Commentary:
An “experience” is something that can be filed away in a notebook, or captured on film and pasted into an album. ‘Experiencing’ is the feeling of wonder itself, the thrill of communion, the gentle touch of our connectedness with all that surrounds us.
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The woman in this card is not just touching this tree, she is in communion with it, she has almost become one with it. It is an old tree, and has seen many hard times. Her touch is gentle, reverent, and the white on the inside of her cape reflects the purity of her heart. She is humble, simple – and that is the right way to approach nature. Nature doesn’t bang any drums when it bursts forth into flower, nor play any dirges when the trees let go of their leaves in the fall. But when we approach her in the right spirit, she has many secrets to share.
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If you haven’t heard nature whispering to you lately, now is a good time to give her the opportunity.

Mid-April Madness

Just a few days ago I took the picture of the magnolia tree in flower that I posted. Now the flowers are all spent, the tree has greened up, and the next stage of Spring is here.

Mid-April madness is a mind-set that always comes upon me at this lovely pause in Spring’s sweet progress.

Spring in the Blue Ridge

Things are green, but still slightly golden around the edges. Flowers are still tender — not yet having achieved the profusion and brilliance of a southern summer.

The Blue Ridge Mountains are not yet deep green (they are still pale along the high ridges, where Spring is running a week or so behind).

Misty mornings still hold a touch of frost behind my house, though the birds wake me earlier each day.

I’m still filled with the enthusiasm of Spring. Once Summer arrives in earnest, I wilt way too easily to enjoy the gardens I plan at this time of year. I will soon seek the cool dimness of air-conditioned rooms, instead of baking in the garden’s heat.

For now, though, grandiose plans are the order of the day.

last summer's garden

I visualize spilling containers of herbs, brilliant pots of petunias and zinnias, hot pink roses, and climbing trumpet vines with dancing hummingbirds.

I imagine cool, deep green shadows under arbors heavy with grapes… my magical garden that needs more sweat and muscle than I can provide.

But, I’ve got a plan!

I cook.  In fact, I cook really really well. 

So, I’ve lined up garden and yard work on the barter system for this year. 

One friend to mow, one to trim hedges, one to weed and mulch, and so forth. I’ll make gallons of red sauce, quarts of chicken in wine sauce, pots of vegetable soup, pounds of artichoke salads, baked ziti, casseroles, stews, stir-fries — you name it, I’ll cook it. 

My garden elves will be well-fed, and I’ll finally have the garden my mid-April madness and imagination dictate.

Buon Appetito, garden crew!

Coming Back to Flower

I spent some time in the backyard today, just sitting and enjoying the mild spring air.

I even managed to distract myself from the ton of yard work that needs doing. Why is there always more work to do than time to enjoy? 

I made a resolution to balance more effectively between the two. I’m going to limit my personal to-do list to three items a day.

It occurred to me that I overwhelm myself unnecessarily — long complex to-do lists that never get done only make stress and self-criticism. If I make a 3-item list, there’s a much better shot at getting it done, and then enjoying the satisfaction of  crossing things off said list.

It leaves time to smell — and photograph the flowers

Lunch Time Moments

I’m lucky enough to live only a mile or so from work, so I often come home for lunch.  My arrival home today was an opportunity to just marvel at some the changes these last two years have brought.

I used to come home filled with anxiety — what would I find?  Dennis’ depression was so unrelenting the last few years of his life that I often encountered a dark house, with hungry cats, dishes in the sink and silence fraught with misery.

I would be momentarily afraid he’d done it — killed himself — and would gird myself to check his room.

Dennis, Christmas 2007

Dennis, Christmas 2007

By 2007, it had grown seriously scary.

One time, I came home at lunch to find food in the bathroom sink, his tobacco rolling equipment in the refrigerator, the front door open, and the electric stove on — with a paper plate inches from the coil. 

When I found him in his room he was so out of it he didn’t know what day or year it was, and had no memory of any of his actions of the previous couple of hours.

In November of 2007, Dennis moved into a group home because it had become so clear that it wasn’t safe for him at home any longer. 

He died in his sleep September 20, 2008. 

For many years, he’d been the light of my life, and I of his.

The darkness of bipolar disorder, anxiety and various other mental and physical issues robbed us both of that long before he died.  His death finally freed us both from that despair.

patio pots, July 2009

patio pots, July 2009

So, today, I came home  for lunch and picked flowers from the garden. Leftovers are reheating in the microwave, and I’m posting these reflections.

I don’t suppose I’ll ever stop missing the Dennis I loved all those years. My best  friend, husband, and partner.

But I do know he’d be really glad I’m out there picking flowers.

Garden Bargains

"dead rack" specials

"dead rack" specials


I needed to fill in a couple of bare spots in my container gardens, so I headed out after lunch to hunt-and-gather. I just love getting what I want!

I raided the “[near] dead-plant rack” at the local garden store this afternoon. Most were  a dollar or less, and I think they can all be saved easily. Just some trimming, dead-heading, good soil, and a little TLC. They should bloom for me all summer.  I remembered to grab the camera for a couple of “before” shots.

I’m taking a break to cool off a little, wait for a shower to pass and post this quickie. I just l-o-v-e  a good bargain.

Here’s a bonus shot of the beauteous and cantankerous southern belle, Little Miss, looking annoyed by the boom of low-flying fighter jets. Thank goodness these are not an everyday occurrence.

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an annoyed Little Miss

Oops, my break just got longer. The rain is suddenly heavy. I don’t think it’s going to last very long. Alas, I guess I’m doomed to sip my lemonade and browse the ‘net for a little while before I return to the garden.

Isn’t life great?