Category Archives: reminders from the natural world

Recalibrating.

How do you make a decision?


Or is it that decisions make us?


Is there a subtle compass point within us pointing in a particular direction? Guiding our steps? 


In that same way that roots know to go “down”…?


Every decision has consequences. Some more impactful than others.

“Risk itself is a process of constant unfolding. And taking risks is the process of peeling back the layers of what you are and who you want to be.” – Phoebe Eng


What if you were offered an opportunity, that would support a long-time dream/hope for your life, which would call for a great leap of faith (and a lot of hard work), but would require you to leave all that has been familiar?

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.” – Thomas Merton


I have lived through enough changes in my life to know that not all decisions I’ve walked towards have felt like “good” ones. That some have felt like flat out “mistakes”.

Enough to know that sometimes, things working out the way you hoped isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

“When God wants to punish you, as Isak Dinesen declared, He answers your prayers.” – Barbara Kingsolver (from Animal Dreams)


Or, reframed euphemistically:

I’ve had quite the many learning experiences.

“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” – Pena Chodron (from When Things Fall Apart)


I could stretch this further, and even say that reflecting on the past number of years, I can see how it all seems to be a set up for this very moment. 

“The real voyage of discover consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust


It’s tricky, this weighing of pros and cons…

this heart gets so attached to certain beings.


It’s an unfamiliar practice to simply rest in an uncertainty, and not try to force an answer. To step by step, keep responding as things unfold. Neither avoiding, nor pushing.


I’ve never been much of a planner. And I suppose I’m still not. But I’m noticing it’s like there are two forks in a road, and I’m treading tentatively down both. It’s like having two “plan b’s”.


I’ll follow up when the next step becomes clear.

Till then, wishing you all a many-moments-of-joy-filled-and-long-steady-Spring.


PS – I’ve never chosen a word for the year, though I’ve read a number of blog posts which speak to such a thing. The word “recalibrating” will be one for me this year to roll around in my mouth-mind like an apricot pit.


A few things.

Hey folks. 

I know it’s been a while.


Last time I posted was in Autumn.

And I happened to be in a ‘Verizon zone’ and was able to post from my phone.


An Autumnal moment in the cathedral. I admit to rarely taking the time to walk around the farm to visit everybody. 

‘Everybody’ being all the babies, all the seeds I happened to have the good fortune to touch and plant some time before.

All the plant-beings in the cathedral I planted.

I write that to remind myself, because I find that I forget. And start to doubt my doing any things of benefit.


Although it’s raining as I poke at my little phonefacekeyboard, this photo was taken after the first big snowfall on November 22nd.

We got more snow during that snowfall than the entire last Winter.


I’ve housesat for various kitties…


Some who love their kale…


Some who like their space…


Some who look very sweet, but are like the The Oatmeal’s whiskey cat.

I’m very grateful for the cozy homes, for the use of laundry, for the connections over the years.


And as I watch the miles tick on, I’m ever grateful I was able to purchase a car back in 2001 that is still running.

Many miles gone by, many years… learning to drive standard in hilly Ithaca was humbling, and driving out to California cemented the training.

It’s been over 10 1/2 years since returning to Ithaca.



There’ve been many jobs.

After one of my employers was suddenly let go after a downsizing, I was laid off this past summer soon after moving.


It really knocked me out of orbit. Seeding (and cats. and family. and friends.) was one of the few things that helped keep me (sorta) steady.

(That’s me, btw. It was taken by one of the on-farm interns & he shared the photo with me.)

And that’s Sebastian, the ginger tabby with the tiny meow and a huge purr.


I applied to a LOT of jobs. 

Some of which I was qualified for, some not.

Eventually I picked up part-time work with a friend who grows sprouts.


These usually live outside in a greenhouse, but there was below-freezing temperatures, so inside they came, where they got ‘a little leggy’.

Still just as tasty, though.


It seems to be a good fit. 

It’s mostly behind the scenes, and all three of us get along, and it’s pretty mellow while all the work gets done.

The above photo is along my most favorite (and to my mind, most beautiful) road in the county back in October.


I’ve been trying to ‘get behind myself’, and so despite all the inner-critical-voices/chorus, I had cards printed up of some of my artwork…


I worked with a woman-owned printing company in town, purchased 100% post-consumer content recycled envelopes…


Found some nice glassine sleeves (which were probably meant for candy…) to protect each card & envelope pairing…


And with some freely offered new (recycled content!) food containers & paper, made up some packages to sell at the credit union’s holiday craft fair.

I didn’t take a photo of the table with all the cards, unfortunately.

But to my surprise & delight, with an email and two Facebook postings about the event, a whole bunch of friends came out to support my work.

I was really blown away by all the visits & support.

I’ve never really had faith in the artwork that comes through me.

But I started to question: what if I just trusted it… let it be what it is…


It’s far too easy to compare myself to classmates who have work at The Whitney, or The MOMA. Or places like that.

The art that comes through me simply isn’t like that.


I’ll admit, I still think of leaving. Of moving somewhere else. Try to find a place where the rent isn’t so high. Or where I don’t have to run into people who aren’t really friends anymore because I said something or did something that upset them.


I’ve thought of moving to go back to school… maybe for biology… or phytotemediation… but that takes a lot of math & chemistry. Which I basically suck at.

And the truth is, i love seeds.


Maybe that knee-jerk reaction will always be to move, to run.

Aversion is so my go-to habit.

I’m so grateful for the friends who are still my friends despite my (very) imperfect ways.


I wish I was perfect, but I’m not.

I’m trying to befriend myself, with all of my imperfections.

This year I’m going to try to drop the whole trying-to-be-perfect thing. It wasn’t such a conscious thing, and I’m not succeeding at it anyhow, and the attempts at it seems to just create more tension inside.

A sort of letting-go practice. Or allowing. Or awareness, I suppose.


To quote my Yaya, “who needs it?”

Anyhow.

I know I’m leaving out a lot, but engh. It’s okay.


This is one of the cards that didn’t make the cut. But it’ll become mail to someone.

Wishing you gentleness and steadiness, a sturdy ballast for all to come.

Thanks for reading, for your encouragement, and for whatever acts of creativity you can get behind yourself for.

(Or with. Goodness I was never good at grammar…)


Wishing you all well.

May the planets smile kindly on you all through 2017.


Happy Anniversary.

That’s a Spring Beauty from a couple weeks ago.

It’s Spring Ephemeral season. That brief stretch when the forest floors have light and some warmth & these lovely beings emerge, bloom, fade, and sinense as the leaves in the high canopy unfurl and gather light from the Sun.

A woods walk was in order.


Miraculous, and thankfully perennial.

Spring Beauty and Blue Cohosh.

(Blue Cohosh sticks around for longer, but emerges with the others)


In an earlier stage of life, Blue Cohosh shows up a gorgeous deep dusty plum color, shifting to green.

(I wish my vocabulary for the various greens was extensive & specific… I’ll need to work on that.)


Hello, Hepatica.

Notice the three-lobed leaf from the previous season… Three lobes corresponding to the three lobes of the liver.


You can see this season’s leaves, fuzzy & unfolding in its time.


Dutchman’s Breeches.

Such adorable blossoms. They are nearly exclusively pollinated by bumblebees. 


Double (flying) Dutchman’s Breeches?… Anyone else play jacks as a child? My sister taught me how to play when I was 8 or 9 years old. Double Flying Dutchman was one of the most challenging levels.

(Thanks M!)


Trillium.

Only a few were blooming the day I went for this walk in Late April. Many were in bloom the following week (on a phone-less walk).


I just love this plum-green stage in the Blue Cohosh plant…


This is not Oni, my cat of 10 1/2 years. (He’s all spirit kitty now.)

Please say hello to Nemo. Who could be Oni’s distant cousin.

Fortunately I was able to be with Nemo for a stretch of time in March.


(Black kitties is da best.)

So today is my tenth year since returning to Ithaca, after four years away, with my cat, Oni.

Happy Anniversary!

11 & 1/2 years is the longest I’ve lived anywhere as an adult (if you count the time before I left…)


It’s my fourth season with Nook & Cranny Farm.


Spring shares just began this past Sunday, May 1st.

It caught me by surprise. I’m in my own little seeding & transplanting world most of the time I’m there.


For me, the season began in February, seeding Alliums.

Shallots, Onions, Leeks, Scallions.


And greens, after being transplanted into high tunnels, were harvested just days ago.


Infant spinach that now waits for me to sauté with last season’s garlic. Tonight, after work.


Another image from February. We tried a new method to keep track of the many Allium trays.

I don’t have an image of the trays in their current green stage, but they’ve began to be transplanted last week. Tonight they’ll complete the rest of the trays.

This method was too complicated, and spray painting edges of the trays will likely be next season’s method.


I hope to blog a bit more this season & dye paper again. It’s been a while.

We’ll see how things unfold.

Till then, happy anniversary day & wishing you all a joyous, long slow spring.


known & unknown.

(please pardon the blurred photos to follow – they are from 2009, taken on a flip phone, & are slowly being downloaded from my Facebook account which has served as a photo album between 2009 and 2014)  
I know how to see & recognize beauty in this world.

I try to expand this notion of beauty as a practice.

Sometimes I fall into rigidity, sometimes, I stretch this seeing.

  
I try to honor life in all forms.

Sometimes I fail to see my actions, sometimes I can be gentle with this life so-called outside.

  
It’s easier to encourage others, harder with myself.

  
(Don’t worry, Mom & Dad, I didn’t get another tattoo – it’s the forearm of an acquaintance)

🙂

But it’s great for me to see. 

  
I’ve written before that I tend to forget, which is why I write things down.

But what do you do when there’s an unknown to step into?

  
Like beginning graduate school

  
When telling yourself “I can do this” feels like a lie

  
Where does faith come from?

  
I lean on my friends when the voice of “who do you think you are?” presses on like a broken record.

  

They say things like: “have you talked back to that voice question? Tell it who you think you are!”

This has been helpful.

  
Plants, like this late Autum Sedum already sending buds forth before the long Winter, anticipating Spring.

I can learn a lot from plants.

I have learned a lot from plants & this world continues to be one of my greatest teachers.

  
So, I’ll keep on, like the sedum, beginning, again.

& heading in a direction…

  
…like the Red-Winged Blackbirds migrating…

  
With whatever is luck…

  
…and whatever is faith…

  
To challenge the voices, (or even simply turning my attention elsewhere, dropping the habitual thought, as suggested to me) 

Sensing the world 

  
And challenge myself to step into the unknown.


Home.

  


The day after, with Penelope & the Passionflower.

 

…aaaaand the day after

  


Penelope & House sitting, & a Passionflower blossom.

  
This is Penelope.

She was given to me back in 1995 by my Shiatsu mentor, Nini.

She presents the major meridians used in acupuncture, acupressure, & Shiatsu.

  
Penelope’s usually the first belonging-thing that I put up whenever I move.

I’ve moved a lot in my adult life.

No doubt, less than some, & more than others.

  
Though I’m still house sitting, I went home yesterday before work to water the plants & collect my mail…

The Passionflower bud was closed – & I thought that I had missed it blooming, as they only open for a day and a half… And never more than two days.

Passionflower, indeed.

  
It’s a mixed blessing, house sitting.

I enjoy it. For a number of reasons.

The quiet, the solitude, the animals…

   
 

It’s a bit disorienting, when returning home… 

Maybe because another place has “become home”…?

I don’t really know.

Transition days are usually “raw days” where I always feel a bit off-kilter & vulnerable.

  

I was completely surprised when looking over at Penelope & the bud, about 20 minutes after watering the plants…

To see the bud had opened into its gorgeous blossom.

  
I got to them see how quickly my mind went to disappointment.

But it had happened before… 

That is, a bud had formed… I’d gone off to house sit… Then returned home & I’d missed the blossom.

(Que disappointment violas…)

  
And I had been watching the tendril grow towards Penelope & seen the bud as it grew…

Yesterday, there was disappointment & swirl. There was surprise & delight. Then I got to watch the habitual mind patterns.

Getting to know “the field of weeds” so-to-speak.

Getting to know my very own mind-meadow.

  
I wonder what will happen today?