"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Painting, Gardens and Jam

Our first crop of arugula has turned into a fluttering cloud of white blossoms, like a flock of little cabbage moths, levitating next to the hose reel. I need to put in another crop of spinach, (maybe some malabar spinach for hot weather?) and a new block of carrots. The boys have been so excited about our first round of carrots at this house that they have been pulling them as little finger sized snacks and munching them before they get any chance to get big and hearty. Love that delicious, culinary impatience.  Need to remind myself that they do indeed love things that are good them, in addition to the pizza and chips that magnet all kids right in. I tend to blow the negatives bigger and discount the positives and end up with a nicely lopsided view of what really happened with my kids.

The whole house smells amazing tonight. I just batch cooked some apple muffins to put in the freezer (flour and sugar free!) so that those junk food loving boys have something sweet to grab for a snack. There is also a second big pan full of cherry plum jam bubbling away in the back burner. It smells tangy sweet and I have added just the right amount of sweetener to leave it zippy in the back of the mouth but still sweet in the front. Love me some sweet tart flavors. The first batch was made with greener plums that were still pretty firm but had all fallen anyway. This round, the plums were all making big cranberry colored splats on the sidewalk when they fell, finding ones that were still whole and hadn't squished on impact was the trickiest part. They have more natural sugars this time and when you pop them in your mouth raw, the skin slips off and leaves you with a big juicy mouthful. So delicious!

I haven't been painting so much this week but, I am chewing on a couple of ideas and am hoping that the long weekend will be a chance to pull out my brushes and sit in the sunshine and drip some art out through my fingertips. Recently, I saw the good friend who spoke painting prophetically into my life and convinced me that I was a painter when I thought I loved art but only knew how to draw. I am so grateful for her insistent warmth and pushing.

 So much happy that this habit bloomed out in my life and I had a time when I shared art days with her. She still lives in New England and I had a quick breakfast with her while we were in town, its so amazing to see my art on her wall and come home to see hers on mine and know that we have entered each other's lives and flavored each other's world's so sparklingly. Good friends are the type who make you a better person for their having been in your life. She qualifies.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Rattlesnaking Along

I saw my first rattlesnake this weekend. Our family found a baby one, not quite a foot long, frozen in the middle of a fire road we were walking along. It was determined to pretend it was a stick and just stay there stiff and hopefully invisible. We gave it wide berth and tip-toed around behind it to continue on down the road and when we came back, it has disappeared into the safety of the grass or the rocks or wherever it is that a baby rattler runs when they are scared and done pretending they are a stick.

Its so interesting to live in a place with one venomous like this. Its a serious thing, and a real thing but I know panic doesn't help. Its tempting to be paranoid or fearful of the trails and the grass. I keep reminding myself that all things have their place and that this snake is fearful of me too. I am trying to teach the boys a respectful wonder of the animal. To learn to responsibly identify them, to know their use and value and to stay calm and gentle in their presence. Not that we are getting a lot of practice....we mostly see little fence lizards and harmless gopher snakes, but I practice the ideas with them.

Two of my boys are quite worried about snakes. One of them waffles between obsessed and fearful and the other is terrified and culturing the beginnings of a phobia. The other two are fascinated and oblivious.

Growing up, I was never super fond of them but felt they were kind of spooky, I'm sure partly influenced by my Papa's active terror of them. I never saw him run and scream, but I saw him blanch a few times and I never saw him touch one, or willingly be near a snake. The things we see rub off on us.

I am scared of bats myself....figure that one out. And leaches. And dead animals. Those three things don't make me scream, but they'll make me leave the room or avoid a creek or take a different route. I want to understand fear, feel it and learn that its just my body telling me that this thing makes me nervous, not necessarily actually saving my life. Tough to learn to master my own squeamishness and teach my boys that they can too. Little icks can destroy wonder and calm and our own larger understanding of the place of all things. Hoping this rattler is only my first brush. May there be more, may there be bats, may there be leaches....may I stand in the presence of the things that make me quake and learn to be still and brave and wise and come out whole.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Fear of Fear

I have been thinking a lot lately about how I always self-label as "conflict averse." I love resolution, communion, co-work, connection and warmth. I really dislike conflict. I know that lots of people don't like it and isn't easy kind of by design....but I have a true deep fear of conflict. I don't know how to openly disagree with people, I am not very much able to defend myself or those I love from anyone but the most intimate of my people. (Like A....that's about it. Often not even to my own siblings or parents.) I have been working on personal growth for years, seeing my weak spots, admitting that I am in process and making shifts and seeking out knowledge for my gaps. This is one that's been a blind spot though.

I have known for a little while that I need to learn to be assertive....which a piece of the conversation. I need to be able to say what I think, to correct wrongs, to stick up for those I love...etc. But suddenly, I'm standing on the edge of this yawning maw with fangs and horrible breath. Its bigger than that.

I need to learn to be uncomfortable. Maybe not to enjoy discomfort....but I need to stop patting myself on the back because I run from it. I need to stop handing t-bone steaks to my fear demons, bragging about my preference for the easy life and learn to see my own fear as blinking light that indicates a place that I can learn bravery, can see that I am bigger than my own fight-or-flight stories and can develop a muscle about feeling fear and seeing it and choosing to live where it is and not hide or block or cover with it with sparkles.

I want to be wise, and listen to fear when it is my survivalist counselor but learn not to stifle it with giant gag rags and live my life on a chloroformed haze of avoidance. I want to see that fear is real, normal and that I can survive it. I was raised on this....my mom knows this kind of thing. She's the wise kind of mama who raised her girls to stop squealing and never glorifyied being a wimp....she always told me those kinds of things. That's why I'm a survivor...I'm not afraid of dirt, I can clean my own fish and I know how to handle blood. Still, somehow. the nice girl in me got kinda stuck on dealing with the emotional pain. I'm great with childbirth, not with suspicion that someone might think I'm a bad person. I can handle a zombie at the door, but I fray real fast about being looked down on condescendingly. If things I am uncomfortable with come up....I run. I do things that make me happy, I avoid those people, I skip those topics, I get extra sleep, I will always laugh instead of cry. The trick is, I think I've built a muscle for paranoia about emotional pain. I don't know how to feel alone, or irate or grossed out and stay present and not be drowned by all the feels.

I have no idea how to do this yet. Its just a thing I realized needs doing.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Persimmon Secrets

This is a persimmon blossom.

I never saw one before, because I never had a persimmon tree. We have two trees in our backyard here at Orange Blossom Cottage which were loaded with fruit this past fall. We had so much fun eating them all autumn, its amazing to see this delicious, unknown to me fruit in all of its stages.

I love that the blossom only has four petals, that its got thick, stiff, waxy petals that are gently tinted orange like a hint of the fruit that will come next. I also love that the flower is displayed in that great platter of a green sepals. Its like a giant medieval ruff around the blossom! So small and secret, tucked under the much larger and more prominent glossy leaves....but there it is, the beginnings of our fall harvest and a new experience for me, all in one tiny, thumbnail sized bit of wonder.