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Happy Monday, dear reader, and welcome to our June 2016 garden! Though, it would be far more accurate to say our 2016 weed patch. A very small portion of the plants here were anything but the insidious and horrible little boogers. This was after pulling the mega weeds that were as tall as the hubster and filled one third of an equally mega dumpster with their remains. It is before we replaced the cool looking but falling down and totally lacking in privacy fence or jack hammered the hideous and quite unsafe patio. And people wondered why we weren’t inviting them to tea. Our house was a shit hole, that’s why.

Here we are a couple of weeks ago, with all the latest plants in the ground, and the majority of last year’s (seen here – scroll down a bit) doubled in size.

Fifteen TONS of rock delivered!

We got super serious and rented a Bobcat! As you can see from the photo above, it was a rather spritely one, the actual smallest of the lot, at 36″ wide, but perfect for maneuvering around plants and in and out of our back gate. In a hindsight is 20/20 world, we would have done this first, but honestly, the thought never occurred to us before our backs were sore and tired of digging. Hopefully I am now saving you much, much time, and aches and pains, of the bodily and pain-in-the-ass to shovel variety.

The dumpster was 4.5 feet tall, 8 feet wide, and 18 feet long. We filled it about one-half of the way, mostly with rock from the unsafe patio. It was a LOT of trips down the alley. A LOT.

This morning, under the shade of our neighbor’s massive cottonwood. The paths are made from the rock we had delivered. It’s called Sunset Breeze, and we are both super pleased with it!

In front are my hail-mauled peonies, looking rather sad. The two patches of crocosmia are going like gangbusters and making our resident hummingbirds (Rufous and Calliope, mostly the latter) very, very happy! Also pictured, but not easy to discern: milkweed, horehound, foxglove, yarrow, iceplant, mallow, feverfew, honeysuckle, red birds in a tree.

I really couldn’t be more in love with the way it’s coming along and delight in thinking about every plant growing bigger and even more beautiful. Our red hot pokers, for instance, only made five flowers last year. They’re on their way to more than fifteen this time around! It is worth every bit of effort to walk along the freshly laid paths and admire the flowers teeming with bees and butterflies and to watch the scores of birds, squirrels and rabbits flitting happily about. As our friend Travis says, “It’s like a Disney movie!”

There is still much to be done, like moving the rock that delineated the paths before the addition of sunset breeze, putting weed barrier and rock down in the fenced garden, planting more plants, moving a couple shrubs, finishing the woodwork on the patio, building a shed for our bicycles (currently stored in the basement), and possibly getting a wee patch of grass for Juniper Beulah to roll in. Soon, I hope!

Ambition

After much consideration, I believe I have finally, at least for now (life is fluid, after all), come to the point where I understand my purpose, or at least part of it (I am open to more). It’s to be as kind and generous as possible, open heart, open mind, and to love everybody. EVERYBODY. The easy people and the difficult people. Do not confuse this loving with letting everybody treat me how they wish, however. I gave up my doormat status.

The actual shape this is taking? I am choosing to recognize the humanity in all of us, the utter miracle of our sometimes deeply flawed creations. We were born! We are alive and breathing thanks to a million operations occurring simultaneously in our bodies. Blood pumping, cells dividing, lungs breathing, neurons firing. What beauty!

It is my great ambition to not let politics or cruelty or whatever else might cast serious shade on another person hamper my enthusiasm for the fact that we are each of us wonders. I may not like you, but I  T R U L Y love that the universe brought you here to teach me. Patience, gratitude, resilience, and maybe even resistance. A million thanks!

With two famous suicides in the news, I have been thinking, even more than I normally would, about mental illness and suicide. And since I have been plagued by what Winston Churchill called the “black dog” since I first tried to kill myself at age eight, I have a bit more than two cents to offer on it. I’ve got a whole dollar and what I anticipate being a lot of swear words. Because I am pissed.

First off, for nearly every person I have heard comment on how important it is to talk to you about my depression, because you really care. Mean what you say. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this line, then attempted to get my head in a safe space only to be on the receiving end of bullshit like:

  1. How could YOU possibly know about depression? You’re my cheerful friend! Just because I work my ass off to keep it positive absolutely does not mean I have not visited or sometimes resided long-term in the pit of despair.
  2. Here’s what you should do! Yes, I have seen a therapist. Yes, I’ve read books. Yes, I have tried exercising more (an hour every day) and yoga and meditation and eating differently. Yes, I do take note of small miracles and kindnesses (bees! a smile from a stranger! that cloud there, literally floating!), of how TRULY great my husband is, AND how lucky I am. And yet, none is a cure. My brain is still broken.
  3. Oh, well then, maybe drugs are the answer. I tried them, multiple kinds and doses. They only made it worse, physically and mentally, so I quit them.
  4. I’m super uncomfortable. Let’s talk about something else.  If I am feeling brave enough to share my anguish with you, a person who is supposed to care, I am going full narcissist and only want to talk about my shit. Shut up and really listen. It is being heard, admitting openly (sometimes only in a whisper to myself) that I am hurting and my suffering is bordering on self destruction that I am saved.

Finally, should I ever choose suicide, know that it isn’t because I think it will make me happy or that I don’t have a fierce love or genuine concern for the feelings of my family and friends. It will be out of sheer exhaustion and a sincere desire for relief. My body aches with depression. My head, my heart. It makes me vomit while shouldering the crushing weight of mountains. It fills my mind with terrible piercing screams, of the horrible and unspeakable that exists in the world, of my own foibles – all that I am not, all that I cannot do and be and see, of the utterly stupid and trivial. Some of it is true. Much of it is not, but still, it continues, and I along with it, for how long I cannot say.

But, because, miracle of miracles, I remain an optimist, I have hope that it is ages and ages.

Appreciating the efforts of the labor movement by showing my own work – I made soap! Clockwise, starting at the top left – chai pumpkin (with actual tea and pumpkin puree), ginger calendula, goat milk & oatmeal (which the hubster suggested I call goatmeal, but I worried it would sound a little Sweeny Todd-ish), juniper forest, minty-mint, and avocado (with avocado puree). What an education I’m receiving, and part of the reason I am getting schooled! Soap making is one part dreaming, two parts science. So, as one would imagine, the dreamer in me is having to hold back on my “What if I…” questions a little while I figure out the nitty-gritty of the rest.

For instance, the color of the soap. I honestly have no idea what each batch will be. Take the avocado – my blend of oils was quite yellow with a very green avocado puree, and it turns out that beautiful creamy color. It also has an avocado shaped spot in the center where the soap turned to jelly while it was saponifying.

Saponifying! Where you mix room temperature water and lye to get a 180 degree chemical reaction (then cool), to which you add oil and whatever else strikes your fancy (well, almost), which gets crotch pot cooking hot, yet again, before turning into soap. It’s science! It is also crazy caustic in the nascent stages, so I wear an actual lab coat and safety goggles and gloves, oh, and garden clogs to keep the tootsies safe, too. The hubster loves my costume. Science is cute! Who knew?

And the results? Toot-tooting my own horn here, pretty damn snazzy! Of the seven I’ve made, only one batch turned out less than stellar, a lemon coconut milk, because I didn’t know (and the recipe didn’t specify) that milks need to be frozen because they are super-heated by the lye and can burn. Like I said, I’m getting schooled.

Fragrances fade or don’t come out at all as expected. The juniper forest (a nod to our sweet girl) was supposed be reminiscent of a forest hike but smells like something else entirely. I don’t know what, exactly, but I like it. Fresh! Colors are unpredictable and also fade. Texture can be tricky, too. Next time I make mint, I will puree the leaves, so that everything is super fine. No clumpy clumps of mint to drop in the sink. But goll-ee it smells delish (yeah Grandma, that’s a nod to you), and they all feel lovely from head to toe. So far so good! Closest friends and relations, get ready for the gift of soap.

And my other bit of schooling? I got a job! Who knew it was even possible after the hundreds of rejections I’ve received over the years. I caption calls for the deaf and hearing impaired. We call ourselves professional eavesdroppers and basically repeat, word for word, everything that the person (or machine) says to the hearing impaired into voice recognition software. It pops out on a nice little screen in the homes of countless thousands. It is super challenging and equally satisfying. Without our service, our clients would be drastically cut off from the outside world. I just need to sharpen my speed talking skills. Wowie, do people, myself included, talk nineteen to the dozen.

Good Monday to you, dear reader. Hello from Saturday’s March on Colorado Springs, where seriousness and a bit of levity walked in harmony. We represented pretty well for a smaller sized city, with about 7,000 women, men, children, and pooches marching proudly for a shared love of our fine nation, the rights of ALL people, and the sacredness of our one Mother Earth. Praise be!

Some highlights:

The black mother and her children, walking with signs that said, “I MATTER!” and the myriad people giving them the thumbs-up.

I (and many others) thanked every police officer present for helping keep everything orderly and safe. Their response? “Thank you!”

The sweet family handing out bagels. The hubster and I shared one. YUM!

The girl gazing at the crowd in awe and exclaiming, “This makes me so happy!”

The signs: The Fempire Strikes Back :: Don’t Tread on My Rights :: I’m Here for the Women! :: Girls Just Want to Have Fundamental Rights :: My Daughters Deserve Better :: A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance.

Our signs were less creative, but no less sincere: Power to the Peaceful! :: Justice * Equality * Prosperity – FOR ALL.

For those who share the opinions of Christy and Chondra on Facebook who felt the march was foolish and are privileged enough to live with security, comfort, and choice, I pray that, should your bubble ever burst, you fall gently on the shoulders of those marching for the rights of us ALL and not in the pit so many of our less fortunate brothers and sisters are currently attempting to climb from.

We are peaceful people who marched to send a clear message to the Administration. We will not normalize misogyny or sexual violence. We will not normalize racism. We will not normalize homophobia. We will not normalize xenophobia. We will not normalize blatant lies disguised as “alternative facts.” Period.

And a final word on No. 45. If he honestly exhibited respect for truth and dignity and TRUE Christian values, I would gladly support him. Over his 70 years on the planet, he has only demonstrated otherwise.

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