Thinking

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I am not a religious person, but a very, very spiritual one. And though my Dad has read the bible daily, for as long as I can remember, I have never had the desire or inclination to do the same. I’ve found people’s interpretation of religious texts, and religion, as a whole, to be more dangerous to the general population than not. The Crusades, Islamic terrorism, Hindu & Buddhist extremism, the sexual abuse of priests and pastors on the innocent, the list goes on and on and on.

That being said, there are two very powerful notions of God that are with me daily. That he or she resides within every body and especially that a person can encounter God any place, any time. I always had difficulty believing this when encountering the cruel people of the world. Why would God reside there, when there are far nicer places to be? But then I thought about the awful person being an instrument of teaching for others, for me. God works through that person to show me how NOT to be. What to stand up for and rise against.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about how when I was little and would see a brilliant sun beam, I believed God was shining a light on a person in need. How the thought left me joyful. The sticky bit was in wondering if the person knew it. How often are we aware of that brilliant light shining on us? How often do we take the time to recognize the beauty and love around us? I think it’s time I do more to seek that awareness. That presence.

And a perfect tie-in to the photo up yonder. When my Great Aunt Mary died, my Grandma Tess found hundreds of Catholic medals in her room. I took maybe a quarter of them and fashioned a necklace with a few of them a while back. I liked the spirit of it, of having metal worn by her prayerful hands, but the look wasn’t quite right. I took it apart and made this one, with all my favorites. It jingles and sings, speaking loudest of her, while buoying my spirit, too.

Sunrise and steam rising, last week before the heat, before, sadly, having to turn the A.C. on before lunch or risk melting into a puddle. I partially blame the hormones, though. Slick of moisture glistening on my now alien brow. It’s why they are called flashes. But then, the garden – plants and sprouts, doubling, even quadrupling in a matter of days.

High summer is what it is. And my complaint is only minor. For the starlit walks are gleeful and quiet, shirtsleeves and sandals, the whoosh and tinkle of neighborhing sprinklers. Dogs bark and headlights rush, linden flowers scent the breeze. All good, all good.

And our Fourth of July bunless burger, topped with a green chile cream cheese conconction and dashes of chipotle Tabasco. The fries, oooh, the fries! First boiled, then broiled to get that crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside texture of perfection, at least for us.

I hope you are surviving and even thriving, in the heat, in the uncertainty, in these often dishearteing times of illness and joblessness and racial inequality, with hope, always, hope, for a better future for us ALL.

Isn’t fascinating how stripping an image of its color reveals the essence? The soul? A secret springs forth, a wrinkle, a knoll.

I read once that a person can see a dog running away for three days in New Mexico. The views are so long. Look for it now. It’s there for you to see.

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Once, lying in bed in Portland, I waxed poetic on the unpredictability of life, more specifically, how we could die literally at ANY moment. Greg balked at the notion, stressing that we were safely tucked under a heap of warm blankets. I countered with the story of a woman and her infant child killed when a fighter jet malfunctioned and crashed, leaving nothing but a shock of smoldering embers where their house once was. One moment safe and sound the next simply gone.

My Grandfather Herbie, when he was only a young father himself, died in a horrific motorcycle wreck. He’d survived his plane crashing in the throes of World War II, the associated gun shot wounds, mile upon mile of the Bataan Death March, making due on virtually non-existent rations and cock roaches in prison camp, even tuberculosis! Then a doctor, blind in one eye and wholly unseeing, took his ninth life, mere days before my Dad’s seventh birthday. A tragedy.

Our dear friends’ son nearly died in a car crash last month. A bright, kind, super talented spark of teenage boyishness saved from a frighteningly smashed Toyota. He’s made great strides, but a long road to recovery remains ahead, a new normal of scars with stories to tell.

My Uncle has terminal brain cancer. The last I saw him was at his grand daughter’s eighth birthday party. All was cheery and copacetic, until it wasn’t. He’s seemingly lost all ability to form new memories. His life, in how brief a span, will be just that, memories?

I write of all this, not to be gloomy, but to flesh out the transient nature of life, the constant reminders of fragility and change and my utter befuddlement and wonder. What a lack of rhyme or reason! How impossibly out of our hands. The universe reminding us, to surrender, to ride the waves, to truly appreciate each end every moment, and cease grasping for control. We are mere passengers, intent on our destinations, yet completely subject to the capriciousness of the road.

A chickadee nest taken from our bird house, the majority of which, I believe, was made from Juniper’s fur. So cool!

pavement rose – an unfortunate name for a stellar scented shrub

lamb’s ear

traditional hyssop in blue and pink

Jupiter’s beard

dianthus

yarrow

showy milkweed

opuntia

pink evening primrose

callirhoe

rose that came with the house

purple cranesbill

Hiya! Welcome to more encouragement for turning a lawn into a xeriscaped oasis. First off, look at the variety of flowers currently blooming in the front yard. Do you notice a theme? I didn’t want to feel overwhelmed by color in either garden, so I chose to have only pink, white, purple, and blue out front; and red, orange, yellow, and white out back. Though there are a couple of aberrations, the opuntia (I thought it was pink) and the rose, which was one of the few plants that came with the house. Perfect in its imperfection.

So, aside from all the beauty and color, another great reason to consider a garden is the cost. If you’re lucky and have a well cared for lawn from the get-go, this may be of little interest. Since our back garden was such a mess of weeds, we would have needed a lot of pricey mediation to get it right. And at about 5,000 square feet, the minimum price to tear out the weeds, prep & grade the soil, and install a less thirsty sod would have cost about $25,000. Who knows how much it would cost to water, either. One neighbor said she pays about $200 a month. As our friend Sean would say, “That’s A LOT of cabbages!!”

Not to say we haven’t put a chunk of cash into the garden, about $10,000 for the front and back, but that is for everything – 15 tons of rock, hundreds of feet of edging, rental of the Bobcat, the cost of hauling away the old patio and associated garbage, more than 40 yards of mulch, and all the purdy plants, trees, and shrubs. But, as I mentioned in my last post, our maintenance costs are next to nothing.

I can’t imagine how much more we’d be paying to keep a lawn looking nice. All that crabbiness from moving the hose hither and yon surely would have led to a sprinkler system, which, for our large yard, would cost about $5,000 – 6,000, not counting annual maintenance. Maybe we’d upgrade to a riding mower ($1,200 – 2,500!) to cut down on the hour-long mow, too. So many cabbages!

So, yeah, we’re pretty happy with our choice to have flowers, shrubs, and trees over a lawn. It’s easy and pretty and so filled with life!

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