Saturday, July 19, 2014

Daily Routine

Sometimes I find myself getting out of sorts. This week it happened because of a combination of dehydration causes by the high heat, fatigue, plus the thick smoke that enveloped our place set off my allergies. My energy waned when I returned  home from teaching each day. I also suffer from depression. It crept in this week also. Rolling all this together put me out of sorts.
I knew what I need to do to lift myself up out of the cloud of sadness when I returned from teaching each day. It is always so much easier to hide inside while trying to beat the heat and keep hydrated. Keeping a routine is what allowed me to keep moving ahead during a week like this. Folding laundry,taking naps, making a bed, photographing flowers, feeding the cats, sweeping spilled pills, making to-do lists, filling up water dishes for the dogs, praying,and reading uplifting words. The routine tasks help.

When I stumbled across this poem today by Naomi Shihab Nye it made sense to me. She poetically spoke what I was attempting to say. I love a daily routine.


-Naomi Shihab Nye
These shriveled seeds we plant,
corn kernel, dried bean,
poke into loosened soil,
cover over with measured fingertips
These T-shirts we fold into
perfect white squares
These tortillas we slice and fry to crisp strips
This rich egg scrambled in a gray clay bowl
This bed whose covers I straighten
smoothing edges till blue quilt fits brown blanket
and nothing hangs out
This envelope I address
so the name balances like a cloud
in the center of sky
This page I type and retype
This table I dust till the scarred wood shines
This bundle of clothes I wash and hang and wash again.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Flower Gardening: Giving Up Control

In planning  flower gardens I  think about what perennials will grow the best, what is the best location to plant them, is there unique foliage, and how do textures work together. Often color is the last thing I think about. From the first blooming bulbs in the spring until the last standing mums in the fall my gardens take on different color arrangements depending on the plant, season, and weather.

In spring this year I was surrounded by lots of yellow, purple, and orange. I have tried to select a variety of colors of spring bulbs, even though red and yellow always announce spring brightly.

The next cycle of spring includes more purple and pink. I think every iris I own has turned to purple. They are pretty, but I do like some variety. Somehow the strongest surviving roses have been pink and trees bloom in pink. Columbines are now mostly purple.  Of course the lilacs border one large flower bed with different shades of purple.This creates an English cottage garden look that I like.

Right now the gardens are showing off in white. Once I tried to have just a white garden. I think they look cool and peaceful. That was early in my gardening career so the place was not good that I chose. Many of the plants are spread around now. I did have fun last night just photographing just white flowers.

 I use more planning when purchasing annuals for pots and planters around the gardens. This is where I can mix it up a bit. Some years I want a whole theme... like purple and orange or blues and whites. I did quite a mix this year, but tried to grow as many red flowers as I could for an upcoming family wedding.

A few years ago I let go of the idea that I could control what happens in my gardens. I can't.  I can give plants what they need to grow and bloom, but that is it. Sometimes that doesn't even work. That is the beauty of gardening. Plants change colors, some die while stronger ones emerge, and some disappear only to return a few years later. It is a mixed up mess, but I love it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Let Evening Come

 When I returned home today in the afternoon I cooled down with a an icy drink and AC. It was almost a hundred degrees. A tour of the garden was in my plants, but it would have to wait.  After some reading, writing, a short nap, and dinner it cooled down. I enjoyed running the open hose on pots of flowers, letting my feet get soaked.  The cooler air helped. It reminded me of this poem, one of my favorites. While this hot spell is happening I think I will chant these three words every day. Let evening come.

Let Evening Come

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving   
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing   
as a woman takes up her needles   
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned   
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.   
Let the wind die down. Let the shed   
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop   
in the oats, to air in the lung   
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don’t   
be afraid. God does not leave us   
comfortless, so let evening come.
Jane Kenyon, “Let Evening Come” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by the Estate of Jane Kenyon. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota,

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

1,915 Blog Posts Later: A Makeover

The sweltering heat kept me inside during the afternoon hours today. I cooled down the house and revisited, revised, and spruced up my blog. It was fun to do a makeover. I purchased a template from Etsy and the designer was patient with my questions about links, buttons, and html. I was so concerned I was going to erase everything. The number 1,915 is the number of posts I have written since February of 2007. After all my work today they are still here.I had fun revisiting photos I have posted through the years. I selected some favorites to add to this post.

  I discovered many blogs I had never read before also today. As I blogsearched around the web I loved seeing how other people arranged their blogs, used photos,and shared information. I really enjoyed studying food photography. Bloggers with a focus of food can take a frozen ice cream bar or a bowl of cereal and make it look suitable for framing.

I still practice food photography, but I have a lot to learn. I want to return to carving out time for reading others' blogs. I discovered lots good writing today and hope to return to those blogs In the next few weeks I will share  some of the blogs I stumbled across today.You can see some of them on the right sidebar.

 Now I need feedback. How does the blog makeover look? What works for you? What needs fine tuning?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Teaching From Home: Four Books for Retreating

It doesn't always work to get away to retreat to another location. In my previous post I mentioned that retreats can be in your own yard, a campground, or in a quiet room of the house. When I can't get away to retreat, I rely on books to guide and inspire me to renew and refresh myself. Here are four books that have guided me during my own life, a work in progress:

Living Live in Full Bloom by Elizabeth Murray. Murray focuses on four pathways to cultivate your soul These include Gardener, Artist, Lover, and Spirit Weaver. One reason I was drawn to this book was the way it was organized. It has short daily practices and the reader can move around and focus on specific interests. I was also drawn to the book because of her writing about her photography and the practice exercises included.  Her photography is beautiful also. You can read more about Murray and the book on her beautiful website here.

A Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson. Anderson had reached a point in her life that she had lost her purpose. She spent a year at Cape Cod in retreat. In this book she shares the difficultie and the triumphs. Many women can relate to her experience and use this book as a guide for ours.She continued in a whole series of books after this one along the same theme. She holds retreats for women to provide a structure for their journeys. You can read more about Anderson and her retreats here.

Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. First written the year I was born in 1955 this timeless classic has great and simple wisdom with the theme of the seashore. I first read this while recovering from surgery over thirty years ago. This book has traveled with me all my adult life and when I need to feel centered and find simple wisdom, this is the book I turn to. A good article from NPR about the book can be found here.

Still Writing, the Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro. This is the newest of my  inspired readings. This book explores the creative life through other writers, her observations, and her search for the creative process. She emphasizes that need to be alone with self, which is the theme that resonates through each of these books. You can read more about her, her books, and her blog here. 

 If you have any books you would like to recommend, share them in the comments. Also, what other topics would you like to read in this series?

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