Gardening Rituals

You don’t have to be a gardener to benefit from these rituals, they will fit almost anywhere.  In fact, they already reside in kitchens, business and just plain daily living. They are born from common sense, you remember that right?

Start Early

If you’re going to get anywhere in the garden, or any of the above alternatives, you’ve got to start early.  Plant at the optimum time.  Seeds and seedlings (or ideas for that matter) have an optimum time to go in the ground not just to survive but to flourish.  It makes no sense to defy your cleared frost date or you’ll find yourself starting again.  It makes no sense to plant fall crops at the beginning of spring.  You’ll want a progression that builds on the changes of the growing season (or the market…) to take full advantage of the varied conditions.

You’ll also want to start early in the day.  Before the sun beats on your back and exhausts you and burns you (or burns you out).  Pace yourself to the environment you’re working in, be aware of the changes and use them to your advantage.  For example, get your plants in before the rain so they get a good soaking and weed after the rain when the soil will yield to your hoe.

Gardening Mise En Place

There is no difference between kitchen mise en place and gardening mise en place.  Everything must be in its place in order to conserve your energy, insure good flow, prevent injury, and make this gardening work a pleasure.  Another part of mise en place is to clean as you go.  At the end of your morning in the garden when you’re done you’re done, no back and forth and diminishing the joy you’ve just experienced with gathering and cleaning the multitude of tools you’ve used.  More than anything this insures nothing will be left behind in the garden. There is nothing worse than wondering where the hell that damn trowel went…

Protect Against Intruders

In a community garden there are a different set of intruders.  There are the rabbits.  There are the deer.  There are the birds.  There are the residents…and yes there are the other gardeners.  It’s true there are times we just can’t help ourselves.  Just one seed pod.  Just one cutting. Just one clump of this overgrown name the perennial.  We don’t mean to steal, in fact I don’t think any gardener considers this stealing but just the same we sometimes forget to ask first.

Fencing becomes one of the most popular ways to protect against intruders and many a community garden becomes strewn with ingenious and elaborate fencing. Most gardeners prefer not to use chemicals to keep pests away, especially if they are growing edibles, so any number of home remedies can literally stink up the place.  This too might keep away the human poachers.

Rest and Pace Yourself

Gardening, especially at the beginning of the season, can be back breaking work.  I’ve learned from the elder gardeners to set small tasks for myself and assign them over the course of different days. I can see the changes in their gardens each week when I return.  It is incredibly hard to do but in the end it prevents me from becoming debilitated too early.  I do get there eventually (not debilitated)…and by that time the garden just needs occasional grooming and then of course harvesting.

Sing

This is the equivalent of whistling while you work.  Gardening is like many pastimes in that it is at once joyful and frustrating, you know like golf. But occupying all the areas of the brain can reduce the frustration part of whatever pastime you call your own while increasing the joy centers. Science says so and despite the recent maligning of scientific findings, I still believe in it wholeheartedly.

This woman was clapping her feet together to release the dirt from within the treads of her shoes just moments before I took this picture.  All the while singing in her native language delighted that she had completed her morning in the garden.

Our lives are full of rituals, they are a combination of habit and proven technique.  Without them we just go face first into one thing or another without a compass or guidebook.  They are ordinary and brilliant and give us comfort and guidance especially if they are handed down by those who have become experts.

Enjoy your week.

 

Happy Mother’s Day From A Father’s Daughter – 2017

 

Happy Mother’s Day Rere

I wondered if this had changed in the four years since I first wrote it.  No, not really we are still, my mother and I, something…best described as comfortably, and now mutually, respectful.

She is now soon to be 87 years old and my father has been gone 12 years…12 years still seems like the day before yesterday and I remain very much my father’s daughter. My nest egg has grown and her’s remains wonderful as some frugal habits are hard to relinquish.

To her credit, and her benefit,  the one time she didn’t start from no, didn’t say no, resulted in the love affair of the decade.  She has developed a true and deep love of an old dog.  She and Toti Nonna continue to save each other each week since Lina died.  They are the reason each looks forward to the weekend.

I’ve had a new string of wonderful young people cycle through my life and on to live their fullest lives and I fully anticipate this will happen again and again.  There is something to be said for being once removed from family where one can stamp their feet and empty their angst while filling their stomachs.  I’d like to say I’ve perfected that particular method of being available.

Previously published in 2013:

 

She loves her Chinese food, me not so much.  She has a million quips and quotes that somehow grew us up and we remember to this day.  She is eighty three and like most people her age she concentrates on herself, some amazing survival instinct of the aged. She truly made a silk purse from a sow’s ear, she scrimped and saved and has a wonderful nest egg, me not so much but she is generous.

In the eight years since my Father passed we have become…something.  Something more than we were and less than we will ever be.  I have developed a certain respect for her charm, her ability to bring people to her and to make them feel…something.  Loved, important, heard, special.  She has a long line of people who will always remember how she made them feel.  Including me.

But she and I couldn’t be more different in many ways.  I am hopeful that I’ve been able to cultivate that ability of hers to bring people to me.  Maya Angelou said today that her second greatest blessing has been her ability to turn people into children of hers.  I’ve had a string of people that I believe turned into children of mine but have now moved on into wonderful and satisfying lives through new jobs, new relationships or reestablished relationships with their own mothers, and new…something.

You never really know the effect you’ve had on people, there are no Mother’s Day calls when people have taken your love and lessons and moved on to send those lessons into their own worlds.  You can be grateful for the love and lessons you’ve received from a Mother you’re only now getting to know, love and respect.   I am grateful for both the sending and the receiving.

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all.

What You Don’t See

 

When someone is kind enough to stop you before you head out to shoot.

They mention the skies and how they might affect your images.

They mention there might be a need to make adjustments.

And I hear them.

And I thank them.

And off I go.

Somehow I get caught up in the enormity of Storm King, which really can’t be described, and I begin thinking about scale.  And composition. And conveying interest. Then somehow every time I view the play back I’m pleased.  I looked at what I captured but I never really looked at what was missing.

Even after I was “cautioned” in the gentlest way.

By someone who knows.

The sky was blown out of nearly every image and I never even noticed.  Not until I sat with my images and prepared to edit. Which got me thinking, was this the only place I was missing what I couldn’t see? How often have I been concerned with the scale, or composition or interest of situations or things but not the light?

Hindsight and the benefit of editing don’t always make themselves available. My post-production mentality might not always work to repair what reveals itself in hindsight.  However, there are times when what you don’t see initially provides a happy surprise.  Some of it will require much editing and afterthought, while some of what you don’t see simply turns out to be a blessing.

Learning to look beyond the scale, composition and interest for the light may be the bigger blessing. This was indeed about light, too much light and not paying attention to it.   They say that living in the light equals enlightenment.

What does not seeing it at all mean? Only that there is more awareness required and a balance of the seen and unseen. After all the light is always changing why shouldn’t I.

To see more of this photo walk click here!

 

emerge

I had the pleasure of participating in another Liberated Lines this week.  emerge was hosted by robin e. sandomirsky and Alisha Sommer through Instagram and a private Facebook page.  They bring a synchronicity of purpose, beautiful and thought provoking questions and a safe place.

They make use of one of my favorite things, food for thought. While their gentle hand was guiding us along I realized I was decades beyond this group of soulful women.  Decades in the literal sense.  I realized that I had indeed emerged without realizing at what moment that might have occurred but it was long ago.

While I enjoyed the week immensely I was mindful and heart struck at the reminders from another decade being searched and soothed by the others.  Decades I had long ago resolved and, yes emerged from, not unscathed but certainly the wiser. Their context was no longer my context.  Where we converged was at the corner of I-know-like-I-know and I-don’t-know-what-I-don’t-know.

I was grateful to get to know these women and thankful they were strong enough and open enough to find themselves immersed and on the verge of emerged, at whatever time that might happen for them.

I embrace a beginners mind and my curiosity, also known as slinky syndrome, is never satisfied so I also found myself in a photography class……shooting in manual. And again, I was reminded that I love photography but probably not in the way one would expect. Most of what I enjoy is the anonymity of being behind the camera and lurking around.  Finding those out of the way spots and moments that the rest of the crowd might miss.

I’m seeing more of myself emerge than learning the fundamentals of photography this incredibly good instructor, Greg Georgi is teaching.  His approach is very laid back and informative and he’s all about shooting. Amen to that but…

Here’s’ what I’ve learned:

  • I have a post-production mentality.  I’m usually going face first into things and I’ll fix it later.
  • I tend to look for the story not the F-stop so adjustments allude me at times.
  • My eyesight is not conducive to manual focus.
  • Trying to see the playback in the glare of the day aggravates the hell out of me which makes adjustments all the more elusive.

So I’m an accidental photographer, shoot enough and you’re bound to hit something. I truly want to learn to coordinate the triangle and I’ll try to interrupt myself to make adjustments but as long as my photos make me happy and no one’s depending on them I’ll be fine.  There’s bound to be a story in there.  Perfection really isn’t my thing, too boring.

So on a creativity scale of one to ten this week was a fifteen. I’m grateful to those exceptional people who share their knowledge and revel in the act of teaching and the care and feeding of hungry minds and souls and look forward to being with them again some time.

Have a good week, look for the ordinary moments they are truly what legacy is made of…

An Introvert in Vegas – Part Two

When we escape, we shed our introvert persona in the most subtle ways.  We know we’re escaping to something we totally geek out about so we’re in our element.  We have no problem doing things alone, in fact some times we prefer that so we don’t have to engage in all that small talk.  Give us a damn good conversation that goes beyond the weather and the latest jargon and we are in…

So off I go to geek out at the Neon Boneyard.  As I already said what Vegas lacks in sophistication and culture it surely makes up for in glitz and excess but it does have history.  There’s no denying that and I’m a history geek so the Neon Boneyard fit me to a tee.

It’s easy to get one of the ubiquitous cabs and it turns out it’s my first cabby’s first day.  I look at the bellman…really?  He confirmed, it’s the kid’s first day.  What a joyful twenty minute ride.  A young man with an accent I couldn’t place.  He misses his family but didn’t share where they were.  Please forgive me but I must use the GPS… he was incredibly cautious and sloooowwww. We chatted about Vegas, how it’s no place to be in the summer. And he hopes to be in school by then. But so what, we made it by the time my tour started.  My guess would be confirmed later that my fare was a bit more than it probably should have been but we enjoyed each other’s company.  Hopefully his confidence will grow and his self conscientiousness will subside. And a new life is in store for him.

From their website: In 2012 the Neon Museum Boneyard opened at 770 Las Vegas Boulevard North.  The nearly two-acre campus includes an outdoor exhibition space, known as the Boneyard, which features more than 200 signs, seven of which are restored, a visitors’ center housed inside the former La Concha Motel lobby and the Neon Boneyard North Gallery which houses additional rescued signs and is used for weddings, special events, photo shoots and educational programs.

So basically we toured a lot full of broken down, pieces and shards and rust and chipped paint.  I loved it.  Our group was small, maybe 8-10 people and our guide was cool and knowledgeable.  As I’m prone to do I hung behind and poked and snapped away.

From the website: The Museum includes nine restored signs which can be viewed as public art and visited on a self-guided tour twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The gallery includes the Lucky Cuss Motel, the Bow & Arrow Motel, The Silver Slipper, Society Cleaners, Binion’s Horseshoe, the Normandie Motel, the Hacienda horse and rider, the Landmark and 5th Street Liquors.

Some of the more prized refurbishments which may be retrofitted with led lights for the night tour.  If you’re going to go, book your night tour as early in your visit as you can, it sells out quickly.

From their website: Most of our signs are exhibited in the Boneyard where they serve as inspiration to fascinated artists, students, historians and designers.  It is home to some of the most treasured and world-famous signs of Las Vegas – Caesars Palace, Binion’s Horseshoe, the Golden Nugget and the Stardust.

The two-acre Musuem campus includes the adjacent Neon Boneyard Park, the Boneyard itself, which houses more than 200 historic signs, and the Neon Boneyard North Gallery which contains approximately 60 additional signs including signs from the Palms Casino Resort, New-New York, Lady Luck and O’Shea’s.

Each sign in the collection has a unique story about who created it, what inspired it, where and when it was made, and how it fits into the development of Las Vegas and the city’s rich history.  Changes and trends in design and technology are also illustrated in the pieces that range from the 1930s to the present day.

As part of our guided tours of the Neon Boneyard, the signs can be viewed at ground level and up close. Each has been donated or loaned by individuals, businesses or sign companies.

A popular destination not only for events and weddings, but also photographers, film and production crews from around the world, the North Gallery enables the museum to keep up with growing demand and international attention the signs bring.  It provides a picturesque backdrop not only for weddings and special events, but also commercial and commemorative photo shoots as well as educational programs.  At this time the North Gallery is not available for guided tours.

There are people running this museum with the same dedication you’d expect from any non-profit trying to preserve history.  It is worth your while to visit for the history but their enthusiasm is contagious. And the hour tour won’t seem long enough.  But that’s ok you can stay as long as you like and then chat with them while they call you a cab.

What begins with a cab ride naturally had to end with a cab ride.  This time, Manuel, a well seasoned cabby since 1982, first in California and now in Vegas, knew every shortcut and back road to land me at the front door of the Aria in at least 5 minutes less during rush hour. He knew a great deal about Fremont Street and “what goes on there”… and managed to give me a good education and highlight some sites along the way back.  And yes it was cheaper, but I can assure you my tip was the same…