Weeds

Every spring we plant a garden. Tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash and peppers are regulars.  We did this year as usual, along with eggplant.  We had greens earlier in the season. Every year, I promise myself I will keep up with the weeding.  And every year, I don’t.  Including this year.

I spent time yesterday trying to restore order from the chaos among the tomatoes and peppers. I will work on it some more over the next few days.  I ask myself why I even bother to plant.  Of course, we have fresh vegetables to eat.  Usually we have enough to put extra in the freezer.  I always make pickles.

Along the same lines, I got a dozen herbs and potted them. During the days of neglecting the garden, I also neglected the herbs.  I didn’t get them watered in time and lost a couple.  Why?  I ask myself.

It is because I don’t keep up with the weeding and watering. I let the grass grow in the tomatoes and the pots go dry on the carport and my life get overcrowded and parched as well.

So often I plan a project, prepare for it, launch it, progress with it. Then suddenly I look up and it has fallen by the way and been overrun with weeds.  In the past few years, I have been less productive. I have also launched fewer projects.

My main project at this point is editing. Even with the garden and flower beds and yard care, I am working toward less to maintain.  I am looking for beautifully streamlined set ups.  Yard care, home care, personal care, self-entertainment.  Streamlining and editing the things that must be done to make room for the things that are a joy to do.

I want my house to be tidy and clean all the time. I want my flower beds and vegetable garden to always be in great shape. I want my chores and personal care to be perfectly current.  I want time to read and watch movies.  I want to cook delicious meals for him.  I want to feel energetic and enthusiastic all the time.  I want time to paint my walls and redecorate my house.  I want time to fish and to go swimming. I want time to go visit family and friends.  I want to visit museums and parks and go to the zoo.

I want so much and reach for so much, I don’t have time or opportunity or energy to keep up. The weeds invariably grow in some areas.  Streamlining.  That is my current project.  I am streamlining as many processes and areas as possible.  Get rid of this to make time for that.  Weed out this just because it isn’t worth the place it takes in my home or my life to keep up.  This includes hobbies I thought I wanted to pursue.  I have gotten rid of more arts and crafts things.  I do still backslide in this area. But, I am quicker to notice and redirect my path.  Even getting rid of or returning items I have purchased very soon after acquisition.

Weeding. My life, my home, my heart, my mind.  Digging out things that don’t belong and making space for things that bring forth fruits of joy and satisfaction. I am happy with my progress.  I see more and more ways to make a difference, to improve my allocations of resources.  I enjoy the process of housekeeping.  I simply want to be sure the house I am keeping is one of my choosing and not what I have allowed to creep in like the weeds in my garden.

There is a reason growing in California to increase my rate of progress toward my goals these days. I need to get my life, my home and my resources in order. She won’t be here in this house for a good long while. But, she is already taking over my heart and my mind like a weed!  She is one weed I will keep!

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Rats

I have delayed long enough.  Time to restart my posts.  I did not intend to take off this long.  I was going to post in January and in February.  Here it is March and I am just now getting something going.

I had a rat turn up in January. Literally.  I have a small storage shed in the back yard.  I used to keep my “attic” boxes in it.  I didn’t have an attic at the house where we raised our children.  He bought me a building in which to keep Christmas decorations and canning jars and odds and ends.

After we moved to this house, I have an attic and more closets than I can keep up with.  I have actually forgotten about a closet on occasion when trying to remember where I stored something!

I didn’t need the shed any longer.  I thought.

He used it to store feed and seed until the mice drilled a few holes and set up housekeeping.  So, we emptied it out, moved it closer to the house and I started using it to store yard tools and ice chests.  Mouse-less as far as I could tell.

This past Christmas, getting things down from the attic was more challenge than this fifty year old self wants to face.  I decided I could clean and rearrange my little shed and use it for my Christmas decorations and things again.

I did not know that it had become a pack rat condo. Not the human kind of pack rat.  The rodent kind of pack rat. Corn fed fat. Literally. A mostly empty bag of deer corn was left on one of the trailers parked near the shed. He found it.  I know he did, because there was a lot of it inside the shed where he dropped it.  In the process of clearing out my things, I came across the loose corn and very large droppings.  Knowing it was not simply a mouse, I continued cautiously clearing things.  Finally, I realized where his nest was located. Right in plain sight. But, camouflaged with flowers he had scavenged from the ones I had laid on the shelf previously.

He finally appeared when he was between me and the door. I did not know if he went out the door or behind the ice chest below the shelf that had become his condo.  Well, he didn’t go out the door.  That is how I saw him creeping his obese self along the back wall of the shed.

I called him on the phone to tell him to not forget to get chupacabra poison. Not just mouse poison, RAT poison.  He assured me it was already in the truck.  The creature does not appear to live there now.  He consumed a large quantity of the bait.  I presume he went on to his reward.

I have let other rats set up housekeeping in my life. The rat of uncertainty.  The rat of laziness. The rat of self-condemnation.  The rat of insecurity.  I have set out poison for those rats, too.  His Word is good bait to get rid of those kinds of rats.  I must keep feeling my way along, even when I don’t have “enough light for the step I am on”.  Even in the darkness of indecision, I can press on.  Do what I have been doing until a new way opens up.  Just keep going along until the path is shut off and no passage can be found.

I don’t have to know the way. I don’t have to know the how.  I just have to show up at the appointed place at the appointed time.  Where is that place?  On my spiritual knees in prayer to Him.  Seeking the Spirit’s guidance and strength and wisdom and discernment.  But, then get up and do the thing that is due.  Without any idea of outcome or expectation of satisfaction.

For me that seems to be here at this keyboard. Typing. Or even in my journal. Scribbling. I just scribble a million thoughts one after the other.  I hope someday something cohesive might come together.  But, if not, the scribbling helps me be better able to meet the world with compassion and understanding.  And the typing connects me to a few people I love more than my very breath.

The rats will keep coming. I will continue to battle them.  I am so much stronger than I thought.  I am going to keep fighting, even in the dark.  Against the rat of doom that sometimes makes me feel life is too sad.  Against the rat of sorrow that threatens to set up a condo in my heart. Against my own rat of attitude when my compassion fails and I just want to make my nest tight around be to ward off people who make me sad and angry.

He went in the shed and got the rat condo out for me. He put it on the fire pile and burned it to ashes.  He does his part to help Him take care of me.  Even when I act like a rat, piling things up around me to keep myself insulated from the world.  So far neither of them has decided to use “bait” on me!  I must still have some redeeming qualities or some certain purpose to fulfill. I will ease along then.  Seeking the next step to take no matter how small.  And if I stall like I did with my posting, I will get them to help me clear out the rat’s nest in my mind and heart and get moving again.

 

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Fashionista….not me…

 I am not one. My mother was one and was always sewing. She wore out three or four sewing machines in my lifetime. It was her passion, along with cooking. She usually made outfits for everyday wear, but could certainly sew anything on which she decided. She loved to sew pant suits to wear. She made them for both of us. She would make dresses for the two of us out of the same fabric. She taught me how to sew. When I got to be a teen, all I wanted was jeans and tee shirts, so she let me wear that. But, whenever she could, she would sew up a dress and put me in it!
She loved to dress up. She always wore her beautiful brown hair short and curled. She didn’t wear makeup, except lipstick. Her olive complexion allowed her to wear an outrageously bright shade of orange lipstick. So she did! Orange was her favorite color anyway.
I asked her why orange one time and she just said she didn’t know why, it just was. In May, after we buried her in April, I found one pair of orange sneakers at the store. Just the cheap lace ups I always used to wear. Only one pair in orange and they were my size. I bought them and wore them all summer. I know why orange was her favorite color now.
I always take off work on my birthday. A few years ago, I was off and prowling around resale shops. I found a McCall’s magazine with Natalie Wood on the cover. She was wearing orange with an orange backdrop. The issue was July 1965. The month and year I was born. Needless to say, the magazine now hangs in a frame on the wall. It was a “birthday card” from my mother. Yes, I call it supernatural and not coincidence. It was her reaching out to touch me.
But, about fashion, she may be why I struggle so with what to wear. My friends may not think so. They always love my outfits. They get tickled at me because most of my clothes come from Goodwill or a cheap consignment store or a church resale shop near my home. I avoid having to pay full price for anything. I do buy all my shoes and undies new and spend good money for them. I try to have a coupon or find something on sale.
When I was little, double knit was the wonder fabric. My mother loved it. No ironing, easy to sew, easy to fit. Every color, pattern, texture. If I could find it in any real selection of colors and textures, I would probably buy up a big pile and try to sew my own clothes, too.
But, the reasons my mother caused me problems clothes shopping are these: she often shopped from the catalogs. You remember when three certain stores sent two inch thick catalogs in the mail twice a year and a few smaller ones seasonally? She could find something she liked for each one of us and buy one in every color. We only went to the store to shop when I needed a new coat or some shoes. I didn’t have any experience shopping for clothes off the rack. I had to make myself learn some skills. I prefer the resale type shops, though. If I find something there, it is one of a kind on the rack. If I find myself at a retail store looking at things, I want to buy one of every color! In fact, I did that a couple of years ago buying tee shirts. I bought a half dozen at once. Thank goodness they were only five bucks each!
Another obstacle she inadvertently created was by the following comment: “We can make this cheaper than that price.” And she could. She could get a pattern and fabric and notions and in two or three hours have a new outfit of better quality and fit at half the cost or less. I cannot do that. I can sew. I can sew well. But, it creates anxiety for me. I don’t get the outfit completed. These days, the pattern, fabric and notions far exceed the price of most ready made things anyway. If I am not going to enjoy the process, why should I try to do it? One of those “should want tos” I have had to overcome.
But, I do love to dress up, too. My work place has limitations on what I can wear. I don’t have to wear a uniform, but there is a very strict dress code. That leaves the evenings and weekends. My activities require rugged outdoor wear for fishing, hunting, cattle handling and such. Not much room for glamour. I have a closet full of clothes that I don’t get to wear very often. I kept trying to make myself get rid of them. I don’t think I will, though. Rather, I will wear them anyway. Who says I can’t slip into a favorite dress to sit on the porch and write or go to the kitchen to stir up supper? The one I am wearing now walked me along Waikiki and the streets of Honolulu.
Mother implied through example and dressing me that one should complement ones fellow man by looking as well turned out as possible. There have been many times I failed on this task. I intend to keep trying. I passed some of this on to my daughter. We have a common thought about a commercial on television. The young woman is upset because the wind blows up her skirt on wash day or something and she isn’t wearing cute undies. Pam and I said to each other: if you always own and wear only cute undies, there is never an issue! So Mother, I guess I did okay with her. Even though she wouldn’t wear the little pile of summer dresses you made for her second birthday, she wears the cutest outfits all the time now and she loves to sew! I would rather you had been here all these years helping me raise her and her brother. But, I know you reach out to me often and show me things I need to know. Even when I don’t know it is you showing me.

From the back porch, where every day is Mother’s Day,

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Raining Orchids

What does “Raining Orchids” mean?

I love orchids.  I haven’t been successful growing orchids, yet.  But, I love them none the less. 

In my mind, the orchid is the true queen of flowers.  Delicate, long lasting, fragrant, exotic.  Less common than roses.  Very desirable and lovely. 

The idea of orchids relating to life was inspired by Marjorie Hillis’ 1937 book:  Orchids On Your Budget.  She explains the balance of budgeting for the happier things in life such as hosting parties and enjoying entertainments among other things.  She also touches on the idea of making do and being truly happy about it. 

If you are familiar with the phrase “raining cats and dogs”, translate that image to “raining orchids”.  Orchids rain onto my life.  Not in the sense of endless loveliness and happiness, but of blessings sometimes outright and sometimes disguised by difficulty. 

This past weekend, I got to visit with my loved ones.  I was able to cook copious amounts of food to serve them.  I had some time with friends.  We remembered the Easter promises.  Yet, I thought about my mother, gone 16 years, yesterday.  How much I miss her in so many ways. My heart aches for her and so many others gone. 

But, my heart rejoices in the company of my great nieces!  Age three and age 2 months, they bring a kind of joy only little ones can.  And yes, I still get a thrill to see my adult children.  Three of the most wonderful people on the planet.  Period.  And then there is him.  He guards me, supports me, brings orchids into my life every day.

So many orchids in my life!  People and circumstances that create endless love, happiness, and blessings, both outright and disguised. 

Despite the books on growing them, I have lost the live orchids I had.  These silk orchids on one of my treasure tables will have to do until I figure out how to grow the real things.  Meanwhile, I will revel in the symbolic orchids raining throughout my life.  Him, family, friends, a table of plenty, a Risen Savior. 

 

 

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P.S.  65 is the year I was born.  I am too glad to be alive to worry about anyone knowing my true age!

 

Things to Do

What really important thing am I forgetting to do?

I have that question written on the icebox. There are so many levels to the answers for it. From simple chores to life purpose fulfilling goals.

The forgetting part is the tough one.  I feel I can’t quite remember what I am supposed to do or I haven’t quite found the answer. It seems like I am looking through a veil. That if I could ever get the veil open or if the fog would lift I could see clearly.

If I could ever get to the top of that magnolia tree, I could see the answer:  What really important thing am I supposed to be doing? When I was a kid, there was a huge magnolia in the edge of the woods near the top of the hill overlooking the river valley. I never was big enough, strong enough, or brave enough to climb further than the lowest limb. I always believed that if I could get to the top and look out, I would have the answer. I am not even sure of the question. It may not be what am I supposed to be doing. Maybe it is something completely different. Maybe there isn’t really a question, just a clear vision.

I am not talking about finding a cure for cancer or making a major discovery of some sort. I am talking about my life here in my world of Town Bluff. Right here at this place I call home. Maybe I’m not really forgetting. Maybe I am doing most of it. Maybe there is no clear vision to be had, but rather a learning to seek without fear and without reservation.

Gardening, canning, cooking, reading, writing, growing houseplants, painting, coloring, cleaning, mowing, raking, tending flower beds, making a pretty garden, raising cows, tending to dogs, cats, fish. Spending time with my family and friends. Entertaining. Movies, games, fishing, hunting, swimming. These things are my life, now.

The magnolia tree is gone. There is no longer a place to climb to see the answer. I will have to keep seeking the answer from right here on the ground. What am I supposed to be doing? Am I doing today what will grow me rather than crush me? Am I creating today the life I want to lead? And then tomorrow, I will have to create it again, building on today. One beautiful present time. One beautiful moment connected to the next. Living is what I am supposed to be doing.

Living, loving, giving.