Making Hay While the Sun Shines

Like a miracle, yesterday the sun appeared for a few hours in the afternoon and I seized the opportunity to mow the knee-high grass. The only problem was my lawnmower was barely functioning last Fall and had been sitting in the garage all Winter. I know there’s Spring maintenance necessary – out with the old gas, in with the new, etc. but I don’t do mechanical very well. I knew that since the thing is a bitch to start at the best of times, there was no way I’d get it to start up for me. But tucked further in the back of the garage was what I call the Barbie mower. It’s electric, very light and plastic like a toy- not a machine. Like if Barbie were to have a lawn mower. A kind neighbor showed up with it a few years ago when I’d asked for help in getting the gas one going. It’s not as powerful as the gas one and the whole extension cord thing is a real pain. But Barbie mower works. In fact, it works very well for my purposes. It’s basic and barrels over everything.

I wanted to mow my lawn is because I needed to add to my ‘lasagna’ plot but don’t want to ask for grass clippings from someone else as most of my neighbors and friends fertilize and use chemicals on theirs. I do not. I am not ashamed of my patchy lawn. You can eat from mine. And that’s what we plan to do.

After mowing, I did something I don’t ever do: I raked up the grass clippings. I usually leave them on the grass as mulch but I bagged yesterday’s bounty and took it to my plot to add another before the rains came. Today it’s been torrential and I don’t mind, imagining my lasagna garden cooking up nicely with yesterday’s added ingredient.

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Fragrant Evidence


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Screen time

I came home from work and started binging on the Netflix Series, ‘Dead to Me’ – a dark, funny, thriller. It’s smart and on the mark about complicated grief, relationships, forgiveness.

“If he did, I didn’t see it.” Boy does that line ring true. Deception is also a theme. Oh, so much deception! I’m ruined for writing anything tonight. Beware of losing many hours of productivity – but seriously- watch it!

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Bloom Report

There’s a crabapple tree in full bloom at the end of my driveway. Out with Rufus for our morning walk, I pause under the white petals just beginning to fall like snow. The daffodils are mostly shriveled but the few tulips that survive the squirrels are sticking around a little longer this year due to the chilly days. But it’s these delicate blooms completely covering the tree that give me a pang, a sense of time moving too quickly. I could spend a day just watching, inhaling the pink tinged blooms. Is The fragility moves me and how their disintegration is so visible. By the end of the weekend I suspect fallen petals will carpet my cracking driveway.

I feel sentimental about lilacs too. My love of that flower inspires me to be a thief. I am planning my flower heist. Neighbors I don’t really know who live across the street have a wall of lilac shrubs. They are out of the country and the tenants they are renting to have yet to move in. I can see from my window they aren’t quite ready but in a day or so I’m going to wander over with my clippers and grab an armful of those beauties. I don’t think they’d mind, do you?

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May 1 – Fifteen Years Later

Neil in Bosnia

Bosnia 1992

I am grateful it is a dreary morning on this May 1. Such a different day than fifteen years ago. That morning the temperature was warm and the early light, spectacular. And that morning, I found my husband.

May 1 – a day celebrating workers, over the hump into a month that really feels like Spring with the promise of flowers from the April rains. A happy day but for those of us who lived, laughed, fought with, prayed for and will always mourn, the loss of Neil, it will always be a sad day: the day he gave up and left broken hearts behind.

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Tuesday Morning Chill

A grey morning but for the glow of the newly green trees visible from my window. I peek out through half opened eyes but the desire to keep sleeping overpowers me and I slip down against the pillows. It’s tempting to go under for another dream but I allow myself only a few minutes before getting up to walk Rufus. I pull on a hooded jacket over a sweatshirt. Rufus pulls on his lead. The birds are singing Spring songs but my breath lingers as a visible cloud. It’s cold and it rained last night. I think of my garden plot across town and am glad I got the cardboard and newspaper down in time to capture this stretch of wet weather. I hold the memory of that work in the ache of muscles in my back from pulling the wheelbarrow through mud. I hear a woodpecker in the trees two blocks over. I love that sound as long as it’s not my house they’re drilling holes into. Rufus does not like a wet day. We turn and go back home. A short walk and glimpse of Tuesday morning.

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Filling Emptiness

I woke from a dream somewhere in France to thinking about the blank page. I spent years studying, thinking about, staring at empty spaces – canvas, paper, blocks of wood and stone. Waiting for magic. Whether working from a live model, landscape or still life, I rarely made a mark until I felt the piece inside me, with a sense the mark, the chisel stroke, I made was already there. I aspired to this state of creativity but sometimes I was lazy or distracted and worked mechanically, just ‘making’ shape, light, dark with shallow results. But working from a deeper state – sometimes called ‘flow’, my teacher called ‘being’, resulted in my strongest work. Writing, I realize, is no different. What interests me is is still what comes from deep within. The mechanical difference for me is that I cannot stare at pages or my computer screen, waiting for words to appear. With writing I must dive in and start. Still, the meditative state is key. And these days, with this practice, I’m finding it easier to carry with me throughout the day like a sweet secret. This is the closest I come to a spiritual practice – writing begins to feel like a kind of prayer.

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Walking the Blog

I left this late – procrastinating with a lot of nothing and a little reading on a cold and dreary day. Then when I tried to get into my usual blogging portal I received an error message. Even after multiple tries, I couldn’t get in. Well that’s that, I thought, can’t write anything tonight. All day (well…every once in awhile) I’d thought about writing so part of me felt disappointed I’d be breaking my streak. So I’m in from another window.

The lazy sloth part of me thought, oh good, I’m off the hook – I can’t blog today and I didn’t know what I was going to write anyway. In truth, it almost always starts that way – staring at this blank screen with a big question mark. And that’s one of the points of this practice I’ve assigned myself: getting it done, working the muscle. So many excuses I can conjure here and for anything I don’t really want to do. This space is like my dog making me get up and out for a walk on a rainy cold day when I’m inclined to stay in my pajamas all day. Instead, he and I walked along the river bundled up against the cold and I was happier and healthier for the jaunt just like I am with little bit of yammering on here. Good night!

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The Plot

A rain-free Saturday so I went to check out the plot I’d signed up for at our city’s community garden because there’s not enough sun at my place and I like the idea. Community. And dirt. It’s windy with gusts moving clouds through the sky so fast that one moment it looks like it’s about to rain and the next, the sun is bright.

My plot is in a lower field that right now is very very very wet. Please note puddle behind me. (thanks, Judith, for the great snap!) And it’s wet where I’m standing too. Lucky I wore my rubber boots because the water is over my ankle in places. When I’d imagined my little garden-to-be I envisioned a nice raised bed in need of a little soil and compost. Ha! It was a shoulder high weave of thick weeds. (to my right is the plot before) After attempting to yank and pull the plants out, I recalled the joys of lasagna gardening. I went home and retrieved cardboard and all those newspapers I was telling you about. I filled a few bags with the leaves I’d raked against the hedge in a bern and drove back to the garden. I spread the paper and a layer of leaves, (I should have brought more – please note the exposed cardboard still left to do) and then compost and some soil. There are more layers to add but it looks good, don’t you think?

Navigating the wheelbarrow full of mulch and soil through the thick puddles of mud was a challenge. I had to pull, not push, the wheelbarrow through the worst of the muck. It was quite a sight. Especially when one foot got stuck quicksand style and I almost landed on my ass. So close! I knew it was time to quit. Still, not a bad days work, eh?

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Friday and Plans for the Weekend

Friday’s are lovely. While I hate to hurry the already quickly passing days along even more, I’m always glad to see the weekend. My job is great but days when there is no claim on my time are the best. This weekend is one of those. It’s even supposed to rain freeing me up from garden guilt. The grass is almost up to my knee but it’s wet so there’s nothing I can do about it. I guess I have to read the Mueller Report. (free download at B&N btw) I’m kind of joking. I do think it’s important to read it for ourselves rather than trust a 4 page assessment so I will give a shot between the blackened lines.

I’m also reading a book my friend recommended written by someone she knows who lost her brother to addiction who came back to speak to her. I never stop wondering and looking for insight about my own addicts and losses so I read on although I am not completely drawn in to her story. Death and beyond (or not) interests me and who am I to dismiss any of it? Light energy is certainly a recurring theme in religions and supposed reports. I’ll take light.

On my longer drives for work I am listening to Rachel Cusk’s Outline and find it beautiful although I sometimes get distracted by the different accents the reader adopts with mixed success. I find Cusk’s writing evocative of Virginia Woolf who I read obsessively in my late teens. I’d tried reading Outline when it first came out but didn’t have the appetite for it – nor would I for Virginia Woolf right now – but listening to it while driving through the streets of Connecticut is lovely.

Knocking on my guilt-door on weekends is always the New York Times. I never get all the way through it and have the magazine sections piled up from months. I keep thinking I’ll cancel and then decide I must support the important work of journalism while it’s taking a beating so I keep at it. And I do like seeing that blue bag at the end of the driveway on Saturday and Sunday. When I’m done with the newsprint I use it to start my fire in the wood stove when it’s cold and to layer over the weeds in the summer.

Forecast is rain all weekend and since I already cleaned my closet it looks like I can read. Are you reading anything good?


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